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Love The Country

By Gurazada Appa Rao

02 April, 2016

Gurazada Venkata Apparao (1862–1915)

This is to remember and celebrate Gurazada in his 110th year and his all-time great poem DESA BHAKTI, written 1910, which is highly relevant today in the context of debate on nationalism, patriotism and sedition.

This is note is compiled from Wikipedia and other sources

Gurazada Venkata Apparao (1862–1915) (also often transliterated as 'Gurajada') was a Telugu poet and writer of Andhra Pradesh, India. He wrote his Magnum opus, the Telugu play, Kanyasulkam, staged for the first time in 1892, which became an instant hit. It was the first Telugu drama expressly written in spoken dialect, which is often considered the greatest play in the Telugu language. In 1897, kanyASulkaM was published by Vavilla Ramaswamy Sastrulu and Sons, Madras. This drama was written more as an accessory to his crusade against social evils than for literary enjoyment. The Kanyasulkam was the first to achieve both the aims. And an unparalleled achievement it was! It was staged countless times from 1892 to this day, the last was in 2015. He himself re-wrote the second edition of kanyasulakam and published it in 1909. This edition was completely revised and greatly expanded compared to the original version. It is this edition that made the drama a truly outstanding work of art. This all-prose drama that runs over 7-8 hours, if played full length ( as indeed it was staged, the latest 5-6 times in the last few years, during his centenary celebrations and after) was staged countless times but in abbreviated form of 3 hours or so. Each character developed a life of its own and they all came together in an unforgettable comedy in form, but a tragedy about feudal values in content. It was made into a film in 1955 with lead actors NT Rama Rao ( as Gireesam, an immortal character who had all trappings of English education, sophistry and reformist outlook but a sheer opportunist, an anti-hero) and Savitri, the greatest film actress in Telugu, who acted in a few other languages too, as heroine Madhuravaani, the immortal character of a prostitute, an honorable profession of those times, who was honest and more virtuous than many pious characters in the drama. .

Kanyasulkam ( Bride price, literally. In those days men used to buy brides, often too young, aged 8 or more, but before she attains puberty) is about the deplorable condition of widows in traditional Brahmin families in the Andhra region of India during the 19th century. The play is a highly thought-provoking social drama dealing with social issues relevant to the time. Gurajada Apparao was deeply troubled by the double standards, hypocrisy and social inequalities in the Indian society. The English preface to the first edition of his play states: "Such a scandalous state of things is a disgrace to society, and literature can not have a higher function than to show up such practices and give currency to a high standard of moral ideas. Until reading habits prevail among masses, one must look only to the stage to exert such healthy influence." Perhaps for the first time in Telugu literary history, a prostitute was given a very positive image so much so that she is shown to better the lives of many people during the course of the play. The play is ageless in the sense that its projection of the Indian mindset and psyche is very relevant and applicable in Indian Society today. The play was in some ways way ahead of its time and was very bold in criticizing the popular opinions and practices during that era. It frequently jabs at the male-dominated society of India, by bringing to the forefront certain egoistic idiosyncrasies of a typical Indian male, in an unflattering manner. It also questions the practices of witchcraft, sorcery, and their popular usage in medical practice during that period in India.

He wrote poetry in a modern metre he devised, Mutyala Saralu ( strings of pearls, literally ), in matra Chandassu. Desa Bhakti was also written in that simple, beautiful form. Many poems and short stories in modern style were written during that early period. These were perhaps the earliest instances of modern short stories in Telugu. Also published several essays supporting the use of vernacular as formal language. He championed the cause of spoken language in Universities also and his DISSENT NOTE to the University became a historic document. (Asammati patram Minuet of Dissent - Report against the decision of Madras University to retain classical language as the platform for curriculum development -1914) Finally spoken language forced itself through the print media and ultimately into universities too. Madras University honoured him by making him a "Fellow." He was a lecturer who taught the F.A. and B.A. classes several subjects including English Grammar, Sanskrit Literature, Translation, Greek and Roman Histories. In 1891, Gurajada was appointed to the post of Epigraphist (saMsthAna SAsana pariSOdhaka) to the Maharaja of Vizianagaram.

Gurajada Apparao was an influential social reformer of his age and was lauded as Mahakavi, meaning "the great poet". In 1911, he was appointed to the Board of Studies by Madras University. The same year, Gurajada and his friends started the Andhra Sahitya Parishat to promote the use of spoken dialects. The next year, he was invited to attend the meeting of the Bangeeya Sahitya Parishat (Bengal Literary Association) at Calcutta. His was a universal lyric for all times which proclaimed : Desamante matti kaadoyi, desamante manushuloyi meaning, A country is not made of land; a country is made of its people.

Gurajada Apparao is popularly known in Andhra pradesh as Gurazada, his surname. He is the most popular poet among Telugu writers, pioneer of modern Telugu literature. . The townhall is constructed on his name at Vijayanagaram, his home town, and Vijag by the Govt of A.P. Almost every popular town has a street named after Gurazada. Statues of Gurajada are seen in Hyderabad, Vizag, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Vijayanagaram and many more towns. His poem 'desamunu preminchumanna' is the most popular patriotic song in the Telugu language.

His all-time Great poem Desa Bhakti is a lyric with universal appeal. It is highly relevant today in the context of the debate on nationalism, patriotism and sedition.

It is a contrast from Rayaprolu Subba Rao's (1892 - 1984) , another popular Telugu poet of nationalist school. His most popular lyric begins as follows :

Edesameginaa Endukalidinaa,
Pogadara Nee talli Bhoomi Bharatini,
Nilupara Nee jaati Nindu Gauravamu .

Whichever country you go to, wherever you set foot,
Whatever dais you ascend, whatever anyone says,
Praise your Motherland Bharati,
Keep up your nation’s whole dignity!

However , the poet goes into ecstacy and says :

leduraa ituvanti bhoodevi endu,
leruraa manavanti pourulinkendu,

( Nowhere there is motherland like this ,
and no-where-else could be found citizens like ours ).

Both songs were popular in their own way, but due to indiscriminate, Nehruvian nationalist fervour of that era, its chauvinist tone was not taken note of by many.

Together, they sum up and reflect today's approaches to nationalism etc, Gurazada’s being the modern, progressive, universal anthem. And Rayaprolu’s blinded by chauvinism, inobjective as it was and remains.

(Desamunu preminchumanna)
Love the country

Telugu original : By Gurajada Appa Rao (1862–1915), written in 1910

( Translated By Ch J Satyananda Kumar, 29 September 2010 )

Desamunu preminchumannA
Manchi annadi penchumannA
vaTTi mATalu kaTTi peTToi
gatti mEl talapeTTavoi

Love the country brother
Promote that is good hither
Stop loose talk all together
Think to do solid help brother

pAdi pamTalu pomgi poralE
dArilO nuvu pATu paDavOi
timid kaligite kamDa kaladoi
kamDa kalavADe manishoi

Where milk and crops run over
In that way you toil for ever
When food stuff is there, muscle too would be there
One who has muscle is the real man beware!

IsurO mani manushulumTe
dESamEgati bAgu paDunoi
jaldukoni kaLalella nErchuku
dESa sarukulu nimchavoyi

If men are distressed and depressed
How the country will be advanced
Be in haste to learn all arts and skills
And pile up country- made goods

Anni dESaal kramma valenoi
deSi sarukulu nammavalenoi
dabbu tElEnatti narulaku
keerti sampada labbavoi

Spread to many a country
the goods made and sold by your gentry
The men who can’t fetch riches
Their name and fame shall be in ditches

Venuka choosina kAryamEmOi
Mamchi gatamuna komchemEnoi
Mamdagimchaka mumdu aDugEi
Venuka paDitE venakenOi

What effect when you turn back and ponder
Little good in the past, no wonder
Don’t be dull, march and leap ahead
If you get back, you shall backslide behind

Poonu spardhanu vidhyalamdE
Vairamulu vaanijyamamdE
Vyardha kalaham pemcha bOkOy
Katti vairam kAlchavoi

Have rivalry in learning alone
Competitions are in trade alone
Don’t rake-up futile squabbles
Set fire to the hostility of swords

dEsAbhimAanamu nAku kaddani
voTTi goppalu cheppukOkOi
pUni yEdainaanu voka mEl
koorchi janulaku choopavoi

Don’t claim patriotism as virtue of you alone
Don’t boast of false claims in high tone
With resolve do some good thing
To show the people that fine thing

vOrvalEmi piSAchi dESam
mUlugulu pIlchEsenOi
orula mEluku samtasistU
aikamatyamu nErchavOi

The demon of envy and jealousy
Sucks and swindles the country
Be elated to help the others and
Learn the sense of unity

Parula kalimiki porli yEDchE
pApikekkada sukham kaddOi
okarimEl tana mEla nemchE
nErpariki mEl kollalOi

One who envies and weeps when others prosper
Where is comfort to such a sinner
One who deems others good as his good
For such deft person blessings are many

Swanta lAbhamu komta maanuku
Porugu vADiki tODupadavoi
dESamamTE maTTi kAdOi
dESamamTe manushulOi

Giving-up a bit of your profit
Help the neighbour for his uplift
Country means not mere mud
But, country means, the men

cheTTa paTTAl paTTukoni
dESastulamtA naDava valEnOi
annadammula valenu jAtulu
matamulannI melugavalenOi

Holding hand with other’s hand
All the country men should walk in a band
Like brothers and sisters
All castes and creeds should stand in a strand

Matamu vEraitEnu yEmoi
Manasu kalasi manushulumTE
jAti yannadi lEchi perigi
lOkamuna rANimchunOi

What if the faiths diverge
Uniting hearts if men can merge
The nation shall rise up
And shall shine and stand out in the world

deSamaniyedi doDDa vrukshamu
prEmalanu pUletta valenoi
narulu chamaTanu tadasi mUlam
dhanam pamTalu paDavalenoi

The great tree which is the country
Should bloom the flowers of love
Drenched in the perspiration of men
The crops of wealth should yield

Akulamduna aNigimaNigi
Kavita kOyila paluka valenoI
Kalukulanu vini dESamdabhi
mAnamumulu molakettavalenOi

Sinking and slipping behind tree leaves
The Cuckoo should sing sweet lyrics
Listening to its poesy
Fondness should sprout up in the country

Malina dEhula mAlalanuchunu
Malina chittula kadhika kulamula
Nelavosamgina varNa dharmama
Dharma dharmambE

Branding dirty bodied men as untouchables and
Placing the real filthy-hearted men in high castes,
The moral code that made such unjust classification
Is indeed an act of immorality without justification

Mamchi cheDDalu manujulamduna
Yemchi chUDaga reMDe kulamulu
Mamchi yannadi mAla yaitE
mAla nEnavudun

When pondered in mankind
Good and bad are the two castes found
If good is viewed as untouchable
I shall indeed become an untouchable

Matamulanniyu mAsipOvunu
GnanamokkaTi nilachi velugunu
Amta swarga sukhambulannavi
Yavani vilasillun

All religions shall fade away
Wisdom alone shall stand and glow
Then all the comforts of heaven
Shall shine in the world

kapaTam vamchana krouryam netturu
dhana vrukshaniki AhAram
adhikArAniki AdhAram

Hypocrisy, fraud, cruelty and blood-thirst
Are the food for the tree of money
And the base and support of power





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