Kandukuri, a great reformer, remembered on his death centenary

 Kandukuri Veeresalingam

It was hundred years ago on May 27, in 1919, that Kandukuri Veeresalingam (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919), widely regarded as Father of Renaissance Movement in Telugu society and literature,  breathed his last at the age of 71.

Kandukuri, as he was popularly called by his surname, was a great social reformer, a man of action, a bold  journalist, and a pioneering and  purposive writer of Andhra, then part of the Madras province, India. His main seat of activity was the town Rajamahendravaram (pronounced as Raja-mahendra-varam), on the banks of river Godavari.

He was one of the early social reformers who defied his times, encouraged women’s  education, remarriage and rehabilitation of widows,  which was bitterly opposed by the society, by the educated too,  during his time.

He inspired generations of reformers and purposive writers, and continues to do so.

Veeresalingam awakened Andhras out of their suffocating medieval orthodox customs and superstitions.

He established in 1874 a girls school at Dhavaleswaram,Rajamundry,   to encourage women’s education.  In 1884, he established another school for girls at Innispeta in Rajamundry.

The Hita karini school that was upgradedby Kandukuri in 1907, later  renamed after Veeresalingam’s name, was the first co-education school in Andhra.

The second feature of this new school was it started admitting children from panchama (SC) communities too. There were five such panchama High School students to begin with. And it was free for them like for girls. The students were successfully trained to treat them well irrespective of gender and caste.  “I was surprised to learn that even in the Christian School , they were not admitting mala (SC) children if they were not christians, ” wrote Kandukuri in his auto-biography. It had more than 500 students in his life time itself. (NBT 1972).

Earliest girls schools were opened in Madras (1837), Mysore (1842),  Travancore  (1864) and Hyderabad  in 1896, but all of them were set up by western missionaries.

Jyotiba had  already opened a school in 1848 for the girls of brahmin and other intermediate communities, and another school in 1851 for dalits and ati-sudras, with the help of his  brahmin friend. (Gulamgiri by Phule. Sec 15 on Education). These were by local initiatives led by Phule. So were Kandukuri’s schools.

Though he was born in an orthodox Brahmin family, he wrote plays criticizing the attitude of Brahmin priests such as Prahlada (1885), Satya Harischandra (1886).

Kandukuri  had started Widows Homes, arranged and funded their remarriages, education and rehabilitation, and published  journals focussed on women’s education, welfare and enlightenment.

In all these activities, spead over 50 years, the frail and ailing (asthma) man that he was had faced the  wrath not only of his community, but of the larger  society of those times. He faced litigation, false court cases, calumny,  financial difficulties,ex-communication,  media war, wrath of officials whose corruption his journals  exposed, and even physical attacks, by hirelings too.  He faced all of them undeterred, his wife Rajya Lakshmi (1851 November- 1910 August 12) standing by him in everything as his comrade-in-arms. She was educated and trained by him to be a teacher and writer too.

He had educated and  trained hundreds of students who stood by him and defended him from others’ onslaughts, including physical attacks. He wrote that he could not have carried on but for their support.(NBT 53-54). One such swami, a jagad guru, tried to overwhelm Kandukuri but had to quit the town when challenged by 200 students. Kandukuri’s skills of organization and leadership can be seen in many  such incidents. 

Police also stood by him as they were bound to protect enforcement of reformist laws. Perhaps they were better than today when law-enforcing agencies are protecting reactionaries,arsonists,  lynch mobs etc  and their highhandedness. 

There were also a few showy supporters and patrons for  his activities who however backed out and let him down under community and public pressures.(NBT p.73, 77 ) 

There was one good, democratic  feature too in Rajahmundry. Those whom opposed him used to enter into organized public debates, basing themselves on scripturs etc. Sometimes they would fix a date ansd come later too. In many such debates, he defeated them by his argument. Some of them conceded defeat too. (NBT p.71)

One can see lot of similarities in the lives and work of the Kandukuri couple and Jyotiba  (1827-1890), and Savitribai Phule (1840–1890).

Inspired by Brahmo Samaj, Kandukuri  opposed idolatry, and  constructed a  ‘Brahmo Mandir’ in 1887. His home  town  was called Rajahmundry, for a century or more, until recently when it was given back its historic name, Rajamahendravram.

He opposed superstitions, black magic etc, and wrote and worked against them. He wrote and published  books on natural and physical sciences, including health matters, more so of women. He published others’  books too (more than 20)  including on language and literature. (NBT p.146). he compiled his articles into books and published. He wrote and published satitre (prahasanams) about social, cultural,  degeneration etc, some going on in the name of religion and caste too.

He however strayed from the science of  astronomy to astrology as was common in those days not only in India but in west too. So many books on Jyotish Sastra gave an impression that it was science. It continues till date, being taught in some universities, even before RSS influenced them. NT Rama rao had introduced it in Telugu University, for instance. 

He ridiculed and exposed  cheating and deception by priests. (NBT p.143). He wrote and published, in the style of Gulliver’s Travels, a book Satya raja’s Travels in which he exposed how women were exploited and cheated.  (NBT p.138)   

 Among his copious  writings are his auto-biography (Sweeya charitra, in Telugu ) in two parts (each around 300 pages), published in 1910 and 1915. National Book Trust (NBT) in 1972 publihed it as a single volume, in a shortened form (about 200 pages), abridged by  Kutumba Rao Kodavatiganti (1909-1980), himself a great progressive writer. (This volume in Telugu  is briefly cited as NBT in this writeup.)   It was reprinted several times thereafter, the Fourth  Reprint in 1990, cited here. The latter, apart from wikipedia etc.,  is one of the sources for this write-up.   

                                                  Kandukuri Veeresalingam                                                                   (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919)

***                                   ***

Veeresalingam, born in an orthodox Brahmin family in Rajahmundry, to Subbarayudu  and Poornamma, fought against the very orthodoxy that was nurtured and sustained by his community as part of age-old customs.

He hailed from an orthodox Brahmin clan of Kandukuru village of Nellore area in coastal Andhra,with a feudal background. His forefathers worked as divans (Ministers) in feudatories and zamindaris, and shifted to Godavari tract, first to Eluru and later to Rajahmundry, for their livelihood. A migrant is usually identified with reference to their place of origin. Kandukuru village thus gave him the surname, Kandukuri,  as is the custom in many Telugu families to this day.

His forefathers had a religious past associated with Veera Saivism on one side, and Vaishnanavism on another. But given their earthly activities as divans, they had turned a little liberal and philanthropic too. He inherited these good traits but shunned orthodoxy.

After studying in an Indian street school, he was later sent to English medium school where his talents were recognized. His good nature and studiousness earned him the best student award in his school. He displayed leadership qualities very early on in his life and  organized a strike by students (1860) when English teaching was too poor, and the strike saw that an inefficient Head Master was transferred and replaced. He completed his matriculation in 1869 and got his first job as a teacher in Korangi village, later shifted to his home town, Rajahmundry. Later he became a Telugu pandit in Government Arts College in the same town. He worked for some years in Presidency College, Madras, and then again came to back to his home town.

Veeresalingam, exposed to modernity and English education,  was inspired by the principles of Brahmo Samaj leaders like Raja Rammohan Roy, Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Maharshi Keshab Chandra Sen. He started his own Brahmo Mandir in Rajahmundry near Godavari bridge in 1887. He was often considered as Raja Rammohan Roy of Andhra.

MG Ranade (1842-1901), felicitated Kandukuri in Madras (1898) and named him as Vidyasagar of the South India. Letters of appreciation from Vidyasagar etc are there. (NBT p.62)

Justice Ranade was a founding Member of Congress in 1885. He was founder-leader of ‘Social Conference movement’ with the mission “ Humanize, Equalize, and Spiritualize”, and also of The Widow Marriage Association in 1861. He also established Maharashtra Girls Education Society in 1885. These were Ranade’s  common causes with Kandukuri, who was made in 1902 the President of Social Conference of Madras Province.

BR Ambedkar in his 1943 Ranade Centenary speech called him a ‘great,  devoted and courageous reformer’. His words are no less apt for Kandukuri.

Kandukuri had joined the Congress party  in 1885-86 soon after  it was founded, when it was still  an explicitly a loyalist organization of the British. Being more a social reformist than a politician, in the line of  Raja Ram Mohan Roy who was close to Lord William Bentinck, he continued to have close relations with the British. He was given the title Rao Bahadur, a  title of honour bestowed during British rule in India to individuals for their service to the society under the Empire. Rao (Rai in the North India) means “prince”, and Bahadur means “brave” or “most honourable”.

In modern India social reformists were often political conservatives and liberals, while  political radicals were often socially conservative. For him patriotism meant something different from nationalism as can be seen below. He had seen – we can also see – many unprincipled and unscrupulous men and vested interests, masquerading as nationalists, then and now.

KV Narayana Rao  in his authentic, highly annotated,  most quoted, academic work The Emergence of Andhra Pradesh (1973, Popular Prakashan, Bombay) wrote about Veeresalingam :

“ He believed that the efforts of a real patriot should be directed to secure the maximum benefits for the largest number (irrespective of caste or religion). (Viveka vardhini 1880 july and 1883 january). A country is progressive only when the masses are educated and civilised.”

“ He felt that social reform should precede or at least be simultaneous with political reforms. Without social reforms, people could not fully reap the benefits of political liberty. Social reform could be achieved by own efforts whereas   political reforms depended upon the grace of others (i.e., the rulers). Hence wise men ought not to neglect the easy work of  social reforms. …”

(KV Narayana Rao 1973. pages 9-10)

In one of his speeches (1908 April 8) he said : “ Instead of real patriotism, there is the spread of national chauvinism in many. Even evil customs of our country are being hailed as good traditions. Even good practices of other countries are being denigrated as evil features. Thus real progress of  is being disrupted.” (NBT p.158)

The above paras explain  the rationale of the reformists’ approach. Many nationalists saw them as loyalists. Whatever the viewpoint, Veeresalingam occupies a unique place in the history of modern era of India, more so of Andhra and Telugus.  KV Narayana Rao (1973) sums up his views and work thus:

He wrote and lectured fearlessly and is usually likened to Voltaire.His work was mainly in the literary and social spheres. He believed that the country would never progress unless native languages were improved.However advanced the official language (English) might be, it could never become the language of the country. A good language could be considered developed only if there were good works in that language. He wrote that competent people should write in prose in the native languages on ethics and natural sciences. He wrote a number of  books on a variety of subjects to propagate modern ideas and culture; and started Viveka vardhini, a Monthly magazine in 1874.”

Voltaire was the well-known champion and writer of  French Enlightenment.

Kandukuri  was one who worked for 50 years  tirelessly to realize in practice  what he wrote. Of his own literary activities, he wrote in his auto-biography:

“ I penned the FIRST prose work in Telugu. I was the first to render drama in Telugu; the first Telugu book on natural sciences and on history were authored by me. I was the first to write books in prose for women…”

Whether he was indeed the first writer, as claimed above, was disputed in recent times by some critics. It can however be safely said that he was a pioneer in many respects, whether literally first or not. It is not so material too. He was unsurpassed for his multifarious contributions. To call him a mere writer  would be highly inobjective. After all many writers are hypocrites and do not practise what they write.Unlike them  Veeresalingam, a prolific writer of purposive literature, was a man of action in so many areas.

He  was modest about himself, and wrote that he had many limitations in his life and work. He wrote that “first attempts would certainly have limitations and many defects. We can only develop through review of such mistakes. These can help later-day writers to be more responsible.” (NBT p. 145)

He said he was engaged in the easy work of  social reforms, as seen above. He was not flawless as nobody is. He was a believer, in One God,  though not an  idol-worshipper. He had his own idiosyncrasies. He was limited by his times, his social settings and reformist views. But by far, he strove to go beyond his limitations. 

***                            *** 

Though born in  orthodoxy he became a reformist who fought it all his life inviting social wrath, including from near and dear. He antagonised many of his donors and friends also, through his unsparing journalistic writings,  whenever  they committed glaring social mistakes or indulged in public corruption.

Though born in a family of feudal divans, he did not hesitate to name and criticise them when he felt it necessary and paid for it. He mentioned, as follows,  an episode in his autobiography:

The Zamindar of Polavaram had married an young girl aged ten even when his legal wife whom he deserted was alive and protesting. Kandukuri,  in one of the journals he founded (Satya vadini, 1901, March 29 issue. Satya vadini means advocate of truth),  made a sharp criticism of the educated zamindar who claimed to be a reformer and who had donated Rs 1000 ( a huge amount in those days)  to the Widow Orphanage founded by Kandukuri.  The zamindar was  a chief patron of Arya Mata Bodhini, a journal claiming to champion Arya  dharma and religion. Piqued by the criticism by Kandukuri, Arya Mata Bodhini launched a tirade against Kandukuri which he boldly  refuted through  his columns : ‘Even if you were to give Rs. 10000, I would have rejected it for such immorality. I may not be rich, am not a zamindar, but have spent, from my own resources,  amounts  ten times more as the whole world knows. And the zamindar donated not to me, but for  an orphanage for widows.’ (NBT p. 150-152)

***                               ***


Veeresalingam was married to Rajyalakshmi in 1861. At the time of marriage, he was 13 years old, and his wife was 8. His wife, born with the maiden name Bapamma, in a nearby village Kateru, was renamed, as was quite common in those days, post-marriage Rajyalakshmi, (1851 November- 1910 August 12). She was married early as was the custom then, to Kandukuri aged 12, and was a great companion in all his activities. She lost her mother in her infancy, was brought up by her maternal uncles who, exceptionally in those times,  had given her formal primary education as a child. Kandukuri after marriage gave her further education, and made her the first teacher in the Girls’ school he founded, at a time when no  woman was ready to come forward as a teacher. The couple was ostracised, troubled, and harassed for their reformist zeal but they stood up together until last.

The couple had no children of their own. Kandukuri wrote that he had no particular desire to have his own son, nor  thought of adopting one. They adopted a boy born to one Sriramulu Gogulapati, who married a widow, and gave up the child born of his first wife. He had named him after Veeresalingam, and requested Kandukuri to adopt him. Rajya Lakshmi desired to adopt him, and so was adopted. (NBT 147)

Rajya Lakshmi was more like Savitribai Phule as a comrade-in-arms of her husband  than Kasturba gandhi who was an unwilling partner who fell in line.

She defied the society and faced the wrath of the community.

When his wife died in her sleep, he was upset. He narrated about her life of multi-sided suffering because of his activities.  Kandukuri narrates some episodes about her in his auto-biography: (NBT p. 181-182)

Kandukuri Veeresalingam and Rajya Lakshmi

She used to warmly receive any strange widow who arrived at our home for help. She used to give them food, clothes, shelter etc even before I arrived from outside. As soon as I entered my home, she would tell me with a smiling face : ‘good news for you’ and showed me the new arrival.

She used to give them literacy and education. If the young widows  erred by ignorance or past bad habits, she would correct them  like a mother in a secret manner without letting others to know about it.

We had set up an orphanage for destitute women, a Patita Yuvati Rakshana Shala, in front of our house for such widows and deserted women. She used to look after that work, and tried to rescue them from their plight and their past, fallen ways.There  were  five such women who were rescued during her lifetime.

There was a brahmin widow who came to our place being pregnant. My wife took care of her, sent her to the Christian Maternity Hospital in our town. When a child was delivered, the woman tried to give up her child to the hospital staff. My wife,  who came to know of that, rushed to the hospital and brought both the woman and the child  to our home. Later the woman left behind the child with us and left to her parental home. My wife named the child as Premavati (beloved child) and brought her up. When my wife died, I handed over the child to the hospital , where she was growing up. (They already had adopted a male child)

One day during a summer, when I was away at school, a man of panchama caste was found unconscious, he was found lying in sand that was too hot….My wife noticed it, and asked for help if any passer-by would help to shift him to the dais (arugu, sitting place) in the front portion of our home. But none cooperated, not even sudras, because he was a mala(SC)  by caste. Then our friend Kanaparti Sriramulu was found  going that way….My wife and he both held him together on either side,  lifted and shifted him. Then she went inside, washed herself, and extended necessary help to him. …

She was a real worshipper of God. But long ago, she shunned idolatry, and took to Ekeswaropasana. She wrote suitable songs and sang them. The only prayer hall exclusively for women was set up by us in Rajahmundry. Nowhere else  including in  Madras city such a hall was there.

***                                         ***

In 1907, Kandukuri  took over another school that was being run by poet-teacher  Chilakamarti, his friend and a worthy successor, who desired to venture into nationalist  journalism. Kandukuri worked hard to run it and develop it into a High school. He obtained necessary permissions and contributions  for a bigger building.  It had good, new features like a Rest and Relaxation Room  for girls during leisure periods. It was run as a co-education school  upto school final grade. Many warned against it as it was customary for girls to be married by age 8, and early pregnancies were common.  Despite attendant problems and risks, Kandukuri took   it over and ran it. He felt it would help cultivate in men the need to respect women as equals. It was free education for women. Following this  example, later, the  College  in Kakinada town also  started admitting women and made it co-educational.

A Bengali elite, Heramba Chandra Maitra, President of City College, Calcutta, was the Chief Guest when the upgraded school was re-opened. The Chief patron of the school, the Maharaja of Pithapuram, issued instructions, without prior information even to Kandukuri, to rename the school after Veeresalingam’s name. Its name was Hita karini school earlier. It is now running with 500 students. It had a prayer that was related to god; apart from that there was no teaching or preaching of any religion in the school. (NBT p.164-165).

In the orphanage cum school for widows there were 150 inmates at one time.They used to create many problems too and needed to be manged. Six teachers were engaged, including three women. (NBT p.148)

Kandukuri  performed the marriage of Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949), famous poet and freedom fighter, near his temporary home,  in ‘Brahmo Mandir’  he had set up, not only in Rajahmundry but  also in Madras, where he had worked for some years. Sarojini was an elite Bengali who married a Telugu physician Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu, a Telugu man.  It was a marriage between persons of different castes, regions, and languages, performed with approval of elite and educated parents on both sides.

He had occasion to visit the Sarojini Naidu couple at Hyderabad (Secunderabad) in 1909, when Sarojini had fondly  introduced him to her children, including Padmaja Naidu, the latter-day politician and Governor, as their grand father. Kandukuri halted for a day at Hyderabad, enroute to Bombay. He was on a mission to raise funds for the social activities he was engaged for decades, including  an orphanage for widows that ran into financial crisis. He was implementing the decision made by Hitakarini Samaj, which  he had founded, to raise funds so as to continue the work.

He also fought against the system of concubines called nauch system. Keeping concubines was regarded as a status symbol.  Most of these concubines were from Devadasi tribe/caste. Usually in the houses of these Davadasis, the corrupt officials made illegal deals.  So, it became a common practice to use these concubines to get favors from the officials.  Veeresalingam attacked this sexual corruption in the society.

He accommodated women who were exploited, in the school cum  orphanages, educated them and arranged rehabilitation.Unlike a few other reformers, he was not sympathetic to prostitutes and opposed prostitution which he saw was linked up with men of power and pelf.

Remarriage of widows was not appreciated in the society during thos e days, and he opposed this by arguing that widows were not prohibited from remarrying by quoting verses from the Hindu Dharma Sastra to prove his point. His opponents used to organize special meetings and debates to counter his arguments, and even resorted to physical violence against him when they failed to stop him. Undeterred, Veeresalingam started a Remarriage Association and sent his students all over Andhra Pradesh to find young men willing to marry widows. He arranged the first widow remarriage on 11 December 1881. For his reformist activities, Kandukuri gained attention all over the globe. The Government, in appreciation of his work, conferred on him the title of Rao Bahadur in 1893. Later he established a widow home.

He ridiculed the opponents of women’s education in many satires, lampoons and drama like “Brahma Vivaham.” Through his writings he criticized early marriages, Kanyasulkam (price of bride) and marriages of old men with young girls.  His novel Rajasekhara Charitramu is considered to be the first novel in Telugu literature.

He was always a  frail man in physical health, but was indomitable in spirit, strong willed against all odds. When he was six months old, he suffered from smallpox, a dangerous disease during that time, but somehow he survived. He lost his father when he was four years old. He was adopted by his paternal uncle Venkataratnam.


Veeresalingam was a scholar in Sanskrit, English and Hindi  besides Telugu.As a writer, he began in the old way, with traditional themes. But soon he felt literature should be used as  a weapon to fight against social evils, and all his later writings  reflected the same.

He was also known by the title Gadya Tikkana, meaningTikkana of Prose’. (Tikkana, of 1205-1288 was a great poet,  the second among the trinity  of Telugu poets, known for his simple style, with less of Sanskrit influence.) Prose was not deemed as ‘great’ in Telugu  literature for centuries. Kandukuri felt the need for prose to serve as a vehicle of ideas in moden times and took to prose writing. He was however writing in a bookish (grandhika), classical style, difficult to understand by common readers. He later realized the need, as a reformist and purposive writer,  for writing in simple, spoken style for which there came up a movement for vyaavahaarka bhasha , championed by Gidugu Rama Murthy (1863-1940) and Gurazada (Gurazada Venkata Apparao (1862–1915). Though senior to them, he did not hesitate to emulate them in this respect.

He presided over a language conference for the purpose in 1919, the year he died.  He wrote many of his popular writings, including novels, essays, social satire etc in such simple spoken style  meant for his missionary social work. Among his writings, he rated as most valuable and important was his work ‘History of Andhra poets’, a scholarly work covering about 200 poets, periodising them into three groups: Those upto 1450 AD,those of ‘medieval’ period from 1450 to 1650 AD, and those of ‘modern’  period after 1650. He compiled this work by his painstaking work spread over more than three years, depending on epigraphy, monuments, palm-leaf resources located at various places including Oriental Manuscripts Library in Madras ( he wrote he spent there from 10 am to 5 pm daily during summer holidays), and Saraswati Bhandagar of Thanjavur. He lost in a tram one related note book, a result of a month-long work in  Madas Library. He searched in vain, advertised to pay a reward of Rs.25 if someone helps to trace it, again in vain. Then he had to spend an extra month to go to the Library once again.He however modestly wrote : It needs to be further researched and revised, but it is beyond me at my age  and limited resources.  (NBT p.141-143)

 He was a  bold and committed journalist-editor who founded and/or edited several magazines.  Viveka vardhini ( a promoter of wisdom), a Monthly magazine he founded  in 1874 was a pioneer and marked a turning point in journalism. He used it a weapon to promote social reform, to criticise social evils, to expose corrupt government offcials, to educate people, more so women in socio-cultural matters etc. He wrote :

“ If we write against corruption the government authorities are angered. If we criticise gentlemen indulging in prostitution, they are upset. If we suggest shunning old and bad customs, the common public are inflamed. If we expose immoral deeds are irreligious, the Acharyas (swamis) arev displeased. If we nhave to carry on our journal without hesitation, we need to take in our stride and so much of opposition.”

He in fact faced the wrath of all such forces, including physical attacks, court cases and litigation,  not to speak  of calumny and starving of funds. He was an undeterred journalist, an early investigative journalist too. He also maintained several other journals like Chintamani, Satee hitabodha, Satya samvardhani, Satyavadi etc., and helped develop the Telugu literature and reformation of the society.

Sati hita bodhini was a magazine he founded and devoted for social and  cultural education and enlightenment of women. Haasya sanjeevini (elixir of humour), a sister magazine of Viveka vardhini, specialized in social satire.  He was a co-editor (1904) of Telugu Janaanaa, a magazine focussed on women’s education.      He published a novel Rajashekhara Charita in 1880, originally serialized in Viveka Chandrika from 1878. Generally recognised as the first Telugu novel, it is inspired by The Vicar of Wakefield, a novel by the Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith.

Kandukuri Veeresalingam served as one of the members of the first Indian National Congress (INC) meeting in 1885.

He also fought against the system of concubines called nauch system. Keeping concubines was regarded as a status symbol.  Most of these concubines were from Devadasi tribe/caste. Usually in the houses of these Davadasis, the corrupt officials made illegal deals.  So, it became a common practice to use these concubines to get favors from the officials.  Veeresalingam attacked this sexual corruption in the society.  Sir Veeresalingam Kandukuri was a multifaceted personality and he reformed the society with his literature and revolutionary activities. He was a crusader and one of the greatest leaders that India ever had.   He was not only a reformer, but also a literary activist. His literary activities were varied.  He was the first to write a Telugu novel,  Telugu drama, books on natural sciences and history in Telugu, and Telugu prose for women.  He was considered the father of renaissance in Andhra.

Kandukuri was a rare one who could earn some money as a writer -publisher. He earned as much as Rs 20000 as a senior examiner at College level over a period of 25 years, apart from his salary. He spent thousands of his earnings for the causes he worked for. This was apart from raising donations from sympathisers. He did run into financial difficulties, but never gave up his work. He was an able organizer obviously.

Lakshminarasimham Chilakamarti (1867-1946), was a great teacher, journalist, writer-successor to kandukuri. Apart from being a writer he was also a great social reformer. He started a school for socially backward people in the year 1909 and administered it for 13 years. He also campaigned for widow remarriages, a social problem and a taboo at that time. He participated in social reformation activities as a member of Brahmo Samaj and Hitakarani, reputed organizations for social work. He also started a weekly called ‘Desamaata’ and used to write nationalist articles criticizing British policies. Unlike Kandukuri, he was fierce nationalist.

Chilakamarti  aptly wrote an elegy on Kandukuri :

He was a very towering poet who gave his all …his body, home,  time, money, education …for the welfare of the people of this world.  

His social  reformist zeal, his indomitable spirit, his unflinching commitment and dedication to the causes he believed, and his insistence on action, despite heavy odds, in whatever he  believed and preached, are traits worthy of emulation by the new generations.

(The writer of this tribute is an observer of socio-political affairs and  has contributed earlier to countercurrents.org.)


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