Tripuraneni Ramaswamy, a great reformer

Tripuraneni Ramaswamy,  a great reformer
Highlights

Tripuraneni Ramaswamy, A Great Reformer. At the dawn of 19th century, a reassessment of the existing cultural values began in India and stalwarts like Ram Mohan Roy, Eswara Chandra Vidya Sagar, Ranade, Dayananda Saraswathi became pioneers of the renaissance movement.

At the dawn of 19th century, a reassessment of the existing cultural values began in India and stalwarts like Ram Mohan Roy, Eswara Chandra Vidya Sagar, Ranade, Dayananda Saraswathi became pioneers of the renaissance movement. In Andhra Pradesh, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Gurazada Appa Rao and others took it up. Tripuraneni Ramaswamy had been a worthy successor of the great reformers who undertook the task and strove for the spread of new ideas among Telugu speaking people.

Tripuraneni Ramaswamy was born on 15-01-1887 in Anagaluru village in the Krishna District of the present day Andhra Pradesh, in a family of agriculturists. Ramaswamy grew up in an agricultural background, but was tempered by literary refinement. At the age of 23, he passed matriculation and in the same year, he wrote two plays- “Karempudi Kadanam” based on Palanadu battle and “Kurukshetra Sangramam”, based on Mahabharatha war. He joined the Noble College at Bandar in 1911 to study intermediate course. In those years, he displayed his literary skill and prodigious memory in his Avadhanam.

In 1914, he went to Britain and studied law in Dublin. He not only studied law, but also the vast English literature and modern European culture. After returning to India, he practiced law for some years mostly in Tenali town. But his main activity was directed towards social reform. He launched a full-scale attack on the caste system and the social injustice which were propagated by the Smritis and Puranas and the institutionalised religion. He led the fight against social inequality and inequity.
He chose literary writing as the vehicle for expressing his rationalistic thought for awakening his people. His famous work “Sutapuranam” in four cantos was a fierce attack on ancient Puranas, which were powerful instruments to spread unquestioning faith among the people in custom, tradition, caste system. His inimitable logic and wide range of knowledge displayed in his works was amazing. His poetic work “Kuppuswamy Satakam” reveals the theme of social revolution and speaks about many home truths about social evils, blind faith and indignity to man. In this work, he blazed the train which Vemana heralded centuries back.
In all his other works such as ‘Sambhukavadha’, ‘Suthashrama Geethaalu’, ‘Dhoortha Maanava’, ‘Khooni’, ‘Bhagavadgita’, ‘Rana Pratap’, ‘Kondaveeti Pathanam’, he made a rational analysis of dogmas prescribed by ancient classics and the injustice done to people belonging to lower social order and attacked all the discriminating standards advocated by the Smritis. He was a fighter for the upliftment of the down trodden and the hapless.
Ramaswamy not only expressed his ideas in literature, he tried to put them into practice. He was against the cumbersome procedure of Hindu marriage resulting in unnecessary expenditure. He prepared a simple procedure in Telugu called, ‘Vivaha Vidhi’, where he officiated as priest and conducted many marriages. When he was the Chairman of Tenali Municipality, he did not permit animal sacrifice to appease Gods. He fought against the scourge of untouchability. He was reformer in thought and in practice.
Ramaswamy was an ardent patriot even when he was a student, he wrote a patriotic play “Rana Pratap”, which was proscribed by the British government. When he was studying law at Dublin, he wrote to Krishna Patrika, a Telugu weekly appealing to Indians to support the Home Rule Movement started by Annie Beasant. He pleaded for India’s independence. Ramaswamy wrote many patriotic songs inspiring the people to the heights of sacrifice during the independence movement.
He was an ardent lover of Telugu language and culture and was proud of the history. He was an educationist and was a member of the senate of the Andhra University for three terms. He was recipient of many honours and was popularly known as ‘Kaviraju’, a title conferred onto him.
This great revolutionary thinker and poet died in 1943, but left his imprint on the development of rational thought among Telugu speaking people.
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