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A SILENT REVOLUTION

A SILENT REVOLUTION
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A SILENT REVOLUTION. Many languages may flourish in one place and it becomes impossible to bisect them. It’s foolish to look down upon each...

Many languages may flourish in one place and it becomes impossible to bisect them. It’s foolish to look down upon each other in the name of language and culture as every language and culture would have its strengths and weaknesses. They are never static as they are always changeable as rivers. It’s always wise to inherit the good and to relinquish the bad and then only is progress possible.

Nearly 200 years ago, my great grandfather had migrated from Venkatapuram, a hamlet in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, to Ravanaiahgari Palle, a small village in Chittoor district, at the behest of the villagers. They wanted him to start a school for children and train the elders in stage acting. The school was called Palukootam and those plays were called aatas. My uncle used to relate that his some of his kin lived in Venkatapuram and he wished that we should revive family ties through marriages between the families. Thus the migration by my ancestor transformed our destinies beyond imagination.

Many of our relatives still speak Tamil at home. My father, whose mother tongue is Telugu, continued the Tamil legacy and benevolently translated many works from Tamil to Telugu. Even now our relatives are spread over both the sides of the southern border of Andhra Pradesh, their communal functions like marriages are conducted in both states and at all times their gatherings are heterogeneous in nature. Let me confess to you that I developed a peculiar grouse against Tamil as my relatives from the other side of the border never concealed their snobbery against us. Hence the publication of ‘Thondanaadu Kathalu’ has not only helped me to introspect, but also revive the historical oneness of the region which had to circumvent many ways during the last two centuries.

The early Sangam classics of Tamil literature (around 2nd century BC) observe that Thondanaadu is famous for pure waters and sages such as Ramanuja, Ramana Maharshi and Jyothi Ramalinga Swami who were born here and preached here. Many historical forts like Chenji, Chandragiri and Vellore are located here. Its capital Kanchi was one of the ancient citadels of education. Thondanaadu of the past included the districts of Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Kanchi, Villupuram, Kadalur of Tamilnad, Pondicherry and a major part of the districts of Chittoor and Nellore of Andhra Pradesh. The way that that region got bifurcated, ruled and managed by different kingdoms and governments not only become a fascinating history but also reflect the ordeals of common public who are more susceptible and vulnerable to any political upheaval.

Tamil is the major language of Thondanaadu at present and Telugu occupies the second place. But it’s not a water tight compartment as many people, especially the scheduled castes and also many other casts like Kapus and Kammas of Thondanaadu of Tamil Nadu, speak Telugu as their mother tongue. Some of them have been struggling to retain Telugu schools to provide suitable education to their children. Similarly many Tamil schools survived in the bordering places of Andhra Pradesh in spite of many difficulties. Thondanaadu had been a land of two languages and the language-based state division had been a menace to it. ‘Thondanaadu Kathalu’ asserts that it is high time we realise the importance of co-existence and to learn the better things of the other to strengthen their own individuality. Any great culture would be a product of such mutual understanding and respect.

The cultural oneness of this region is reflected in their food habits and folk arts even now. An 18-day folk performance called Mahabharatha Yajna is a typical example of its unique culture. A temple of Dharmaraja is very common in the villages here and the names like Dharma, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Draupadi are common in all these villages.

Sa Vem Ramesh and Otra Purushotham, the editors of ‘Thondanaadu Kathalu,’ selected 20 stories each from Telugu and Tamil. The Tamil stories are translated into Telugu and the Telugu version was brought out a few months back. A Tamil version of the same book with the Tamil translations of the Telugu stories is in progress. Telugu writers of the volume include stories of masters like K Sabha, Madhuranthakam Rajaram and Kaluvakolanu Sadananda where as Tamil writers include Annadurai, Jayakanthan and Sivasankari. Many of the stories of the anthology reflect the ethos of the people of the region conspicuously.

The protagonist of K Sabha’s story ‘Mithunalagnam’ goes to Kanchi to buy silk saris for the marriage. The heroine of C Venu’s ‘Navvina Dhanyarasi’ wears a sari woven in Banavaram (Vellore district), the poor farmer’s wife in Namini Subramanyam Naidu’s ‘Palapodugu’ turns towards east and prays the god of Tiruttani to come to her rescue, the setting of Madhuranthakam Rajaram’s ‘Rathilo Thema’ is a dilapidated fort in the vicinity of Arcot, the narrator of V Prathima’s Sidhilalu goes to her maternal grandmother’ village in Tamil Nadu. The toys of Bharatham in Gopini Karunakar’s ‘Bharatham Bommalu’ reach a village near Tirupati. An important character in RM Uma Maheswara Rao’s ‘Norugalla Adadi’ is nicknamed as Medraasayana and the entire action of Mahendra’s ‘Besinbridji Daggara’ and ‘Jilleella Balaji’s Koluvu’ take place in Madras and Thiruthani respectively. In his story ‘Dosela pandaga’, Otra Purushotham observes that the frontier people of Tamil Nadu are alone preserving a festival of Telugus though the Telugu people had forgotten it long back. CN Annadurai, the very first Tamil writer of ‘Thondanaadu Kathalu’, was not only a politician who became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu but also a renowned writer, whose mother is a Telugu.

Many languages may flourish in one place and it becomes impossible to bisect them. It’s foolish to look down upon each other in the name of language and culture as every language and culture would have its strengths and weaknesses. They are never static as they are always changeable as rivers. It’s always wise to inherit the good and to relinquish the bad and then only the progress is possible. ‘Thondanaadu Kathalu’ affirms the need for mutual understanding and mutual progress. Thus the laudable work turned out by Sa Vem Ramesh and Otra Purushotham is nothing short of a silent revolution.

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