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A pioneer of cultural renaissance

A pioneer of cultural renaissance
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Dr. Ganta Jalandhar Reddy Suravaram Pratapa Reddy, considered to be one of the pioneers of cultural renaissance in Telangana and who had...

Dr. Ganta Jalandhar Reddy Suravaram Pratapa Reddy, considered to be one of the pioneers of cultural renaissance in Telangana and who had immortalized himself with the work 'Andhrula Saanghika Charitra' that won him the first ever Kendra Sahitya Academy Award to a Telugu literary work, was born on May 28, 1896 to Narayan Reddy and Rangamma. A Initially not so bright in studies, he had a strong memory power and was able to surprise his teachers by verbatim recital of 'Sanatana Dharma Prasnothara Malika'

In 1904 Reddy's uncle Ramakrishna Reddy got him admitted to a B M Missionary School in fourth standard. Once his teacher Raghuramaiah severely beat him, with an intent to make him study seriously. This put off Reddy, who skipped school and started playing marbles. He was chided by his uncle who later was instrumental in Reddy becoming a writer, scholar, investigator, critic, social reformer, poet and a patriot. When in ninth class, Reddy learnt Sanskrit from well-known scholar Vellala Sankara Sastry and read several Sanskrit books. In 1921 he studied BA as a private candidate and completed BL degree in 1924 from Nizam College.

Even while studying BA he published articles in 'Matruseva', 'Pinakini' and 'Kala' magazines. He agreed to give up meat for learning Sanskrit from Vedam Venkataraya Sastry. He was a tee-totaller. Following advice by Manavalli Ramakrishna Kavi he took up a serious study of books like 'Uttara Harivamsam', 'Dasakumara Charita' and ' Keyurabahu' . A Like a regular student, he studied geography, astrology, sciences and produced many essays. It can safely be said there was hardly any literary activity not pursued by him.

Reddy did not take up practice after completing BL. Upon being appointed as dean of Reddy Boys' Hostel he took up the task seriously and was instrumental in developing the institution. He was able to inculcate many good qualities among the hostel inmates, keeping them away from vices. He developed the hostel library making it 11,000 strong from a mere 1,000 books. He not only ensured increase of students, but also payment of scholarships to them. His able management created jealousy in some persons who alleged that a book 'War of Indian Independence' was missing from the library. This forced Reddy to give up the dean's post.

Later he became editor of 'Golakonda Patrika' launched by Rajabahadur Venkatarama Reddy. He was able to render service to the country, Telugu language and contribute impartially to the all-round progress of the people of Andhra Pradesh. He was able to reflect the daily's aims in the editorials and boldly criticize in the daily the dictatorial rule of the Nizam, thus awakening the people of Telangana, rousing their passions.

He reacted strongly to a publication which claimed that there were no poets in Telangana and that they lacked ability to write poems. Reddy was so angry with such remarks that he brought out a special issue on Golconda poets, after bringing to light many writers from interior villages, who were unknown till then. This was indeed a bold step, particularly at a time when people were reluctant to converse in Telugu and instead used Urdu. He was critical of this practice describing it as a reprehensible act.

Well-known persons who brought about an awakening among the people of Telangana like Komarraju Lakshmana Rao, Madapati Hanumanth Rao, Munagala Raja, Rajabahadur Venkatrama Reddy were among his associates. Reddy strove hard for the uplift of women and created public awareness on issues like social evils, untouchability, prohibition, child marriage and widow remarriage.

Reddy brought to light the historical background of monuments like Padmakshi Temple, Siddeswara Temple, 1,000 Pillar Temple and Warangal Fort. In his poetry master piece 'Premaarpana', he proved that for pure and true love caste, community and social status do not matter. He wrote in simple words the devastating effects of liquor consumption. His other outstanding works were 'Desamaatha', 'Parusa Vedi-Dharmapala', 'Mithruda', 'Telugunadu' besides a novel 'Sudhanta Kantha', which did not see the light of the day, and 'Maa Tenugu', 'Mityruda', and 'Padmini'. His work 'Hinduvulu Pandugalu' brought him wide recognition as a top Telugu literacy figure.

Reddy died on August 25, 1953. Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma commented on his life as one of high morals and dedication marked by abiding faith in the Hindu-Muslim unity for which he made sacrifices. In 1917 Reddy got married to Padmavati, daughter of Reddanna. By the time he completed BA he had two sons.

Till today Suravaram remains one of the best literary personalities of Telangana who took literary and historical research with equal seriousness and made a lasting contribution to not only his region but the entire history of Telugu people.

The writer is Head, Department of Telugu, A V College, Hyderabad

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