Our Masters


Vemana is one of the most popular Telugu poets. He is believed to have lived in the 17th century near Gandikota in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.He can best be described as the poet of the people. British official C.P. Brown was the first to collect and publish Vemana’s poems after obtaining certification and clarification from learned scholars Vemana employed simple style to convey profound philosophical ideas. He talks of commonplace experiences and mocks at the superstitions and highbrow attitude of some persons in society. He is a great social reformer. In his poems one can perceive his desire to purge the society and enlighten the illiterate and the gullible.
There are innumerable translations of his poems. Each translator presents his own interpretation. It is a tribute to the people’s poet that his poems and ideas have been remembered with regard and the poems are recited with ecstasy even today. Vemana is the forerunner of Marx, Periyar, Mahatma Gandhi, and Ambedkar. His personal life is a matter of great conjecture and scholarly debate. The abiding appeal of Yogi Vemana is, indeed, amazing. Only a few thousands of his poems are available, though he is supposed to have composed many more thousands extempore as was his practice!. His pursuit of alchemy seems to have culminated in the realization of Truth and Knowledge.

Translators: Prof. K.S.Sastry & Usha Srinivas.

Prof. K.S.Sastry is a retired Prof of Osmania University. He is a poet, philosopher, thinker.

His areas of interest are poetry, philosophy and criticism. He is a passionate seeker of excellence and truth. Poetry in any language appealsto him immensely. He considers translation Seva to Sahitya.
Usha Srinivas: is a scientist in C.C.M.B, Hyderabad. With her husband K.S.Sastry she translates poetry from Telugu into English. Translation is a hobby for her, a lover of literature and language.


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Black in appearance is musk
Far and wide spreads its perfume
So are the qualities of gurus!
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen

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Innumerable are faultfinders
All in the world have faults
Faultfinders know not their own faults
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen.

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Son with no regard for mother and father
What for is he born what for does he die?
In termite-hill are termites not born, do they not die?
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

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Enough is a spoonful of milk from a good cow!
What for a pot full of donkey’s milk?
Enough is a handful of food gotten with love
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen.

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What for custom sans inner purity?
What for cooking sans cleanliness of vessels?
What for worship of Shiva sans purity of mind?
Beloved of the Bounteous,Vema, listen.

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Diverse are cattle’s colours, milk is one colour
Flowers are of different kinds, worship is the same
Appearances are different, God is one
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen.

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What has man brought, what will he take
At birth, at death
Where do riches go, where does he go?
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen.

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Wives and sons are illusion, families are illusion
Wealth and honour are illusion, body is illusion
The conqueror of illusion is a mystic yogi
Beloved of the Beounteous,Vema, listen.

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