A significant historical novel
A book-launching program was held on June 9 at Mahaboobia high school, Warangal. The title of the book was 'Rudramadevi', a historical novel written...
Pran Rao worked as lecturer in English and retired in 2002. His literary career started with screenplay writing for a film 'Maabhoomi' produced by B.Narsingarao and directed by Gowtham Ghosh. This low-budget art film received many prestigious awards and Pran Rao received Nandi award in the category of screenplay writing.
Thereafter he wrote screenplays for films like 'Rangulakala' and 'Matti Manushulu'. He had also written dialogues and screenplay for 'Ramudu-Bheemudu' directed by Allam Sreedhar. Pran Rao has written many novels and short stories. His works include "Chelimi", an anthology of children's stories; "Neelipapa", the first novel in Telugu on preservation of environment, "Vennela lo Koneru" "Malagani Bathi", "Kavitha", "Neelambaram", "Sirulayya", "Andam", "Ramudu-Bheemudu", "Neeti Needa", "Purivippina Nemali" and "Wrong way". He has also published two anthologies of verses: "Thuphaanu ku yeduruga Nadavara" and "Hamsa Geethi".
"Rudramadevi" depicts the rule of the first Empress in the history of Telugunadu. She was the daughter of Emperor Ganapathideva, the greatest of Kakatiya Emperors. His rule is considered a golden period. He was Emperor for 63 years (from 1199 to 1262). Ganapathideva was the first Emperor who brought the entire Telugu area under one rule. He shifted the capital city from Hanamkonda to Warangal or Orugallu, as it was called during those days. Orugallu was also known in history as 'Eka Shila Nagaram' (city built with one rock) and also as 'Andhra Nagari'. Ganapathideva started construction of an earthen bund and a rock bund around Orugallu to make it impregnable to any external enemy.
He was also instrumental in constructing many irrigation tanks which were planned in such a way that the outflow from one tank would reach another tank, so that not a single drop of water went waste. They were called chain tanks, great engineering feats, and all these tanks are intact even to this day providing water to the agriculturists of Telangana.
The popular belief is that Ganapathideva didn't beget sons only for this reason; he enthroned his daughter, Rudramadevi, in 1250 as Ganapathideva had two sons with his third wife, Somaladevi. Ganapathideva felt that Rudramadevi was more efficient and chivalrous than her younger step-brothers- Harihara Deva and Murari Deva. Nobody could imagine that a woman would be elevated to an Empress. It was done in the interests of the safety and welfare of the people and the empire.
When Rudramadevi was born to Naramba, the first wife of Ganapathideva, people were told that a son was born to the Emperor. Rudramadevi was brought up as a boy and the secret was kept until she was enthroned. She was called Rudramadevi Maharaj, given training in sword fighting and horse riding. She was also taught how to rule and how to defend the empire against the enemies.
Rudramadevi proved herself a competent ruler and a benevolent Empress. She endeared herself to the people as she always looked after their welfare. She completed the earthen and rock bunds around the city. But her step-brothers could not digest the fact that their father had enthroned a woman ignoring their claims.
Hariharadeva, with the help of their maternal uncles, the Sravana kings who were ruling the region around Devagiri, plotted a rebellion against Rudramadevi, but she crushed it with the help of the people. A few Army generals, who did not like being ruled by a woman, too rebelled. She suppressed these rebellions and met external invasions with the help of loyal subordinates.
Rudramadevi personally led the military forces and proved her mettle in the battlefield. The Cholas, the Pandyas, and Yadavas suffered such setbacks at her hands that they did not think of invading her kingdom again. According to some historians, Rudramadevi was assassinated while she was praying in a temple. All these historical events are graphically depicted in the novel. Pran Rao has created some incidents which have no historical basis.
One such incident is that when Rudramadevi was young, she fell in love with sculptor Ramappa who built the famous Ramappa temple at Palampet near Orugallu. Ramappa had taken Rudramadevi as a model for the carving of Madanikas (the dancer) on Ramappa temple.
However, this particular episode has been depicted in a very subtle and artistic way, underplaying the romantic angle. People believe that Rudramadevi suppressed her love and married the Chanakya king Veerabhadrudu. But relations between Rudramadevi and her husband were not so good because of the presence of overbearing male ego in Veerabhadrudu. This part of Rudramadevi's life is also depicted subtly.