Friday, February 18, 2011

Originator of social renaissance Ramaswami Tripuraneni

RAMASWAMI TRIPURANENI-Iconoclast social revolutionary

While Britishers were ruling India National Congress party emerged to fight for country’s independence. In those formation days were born M.N. Roy in Bengal  and by coincidence Ramaswami Tripuraneni was born in Andhra .They both were born in the same year ( 1887).
In this essay  Ramaswami Tripuraneni , will be called as RT hereafter.

Tripuraneni Ramamamba-Chalamaiah couple gave birth to five children and RT was fifth and last>    Mr Gopalakrishnaiah, Narasaiah,Sriramulu and Subrahmanyam were educated.The fifth one RT was born on 15 th Jan 1887 in Angalur village, (Krishna district, Andhra, India).  RT had his primary education in his native village and continued his middle school in Gudivada , nearby town. Then he joined in 4th form in Bandar (now called Masulipatam) the head quarters of Krishna district and cultural, literary center. RT was interested to learn Sanskrit language but the traditional Brahmin scholars refused to give him instruction since it was taboo for non-Brahmins to learn the holy Hindu language!
But RT was adamant and learnt the Sanskrit language under the guidance of Asuri Kantaiah (district registrar). A famous poet was living in those days in Bandar and RT had the great opportunity to learn poetry under his guidance which inspired him to write much of his poetry with that inspiration.

Just as M.K.Gandhi married Kastuiba at the age of 11, just so RT also married Nagamamba (daughter of Atluri Nagamma, Amaraiah) at the age of 11. In those days child marriages were not yet prohibited and legal acts were not yet passed.
RT passed matriculation examination in 1910, at the age of 23. He wanted to study F.A  which was equivalent to intermediate. F.A is (father) Fellow of arts. But RT could not get through since he was engaged otherwise like sports and poetry writing. He went to Mumbai (called Bombay) to study law but did not continue.
 During his school and intermediate studies RT had already produced literary pieces. One such writing was RANA PRATAP, a play about a ruler who inspired him. But the British rulers banned that script before it was printed. The other two writings of RT were KAREMPUDI KADANAM ( WAR IN KAREMPUDI), KONDAVEETI PATANAM ( fall of Kondaveedu kingdom). In 1912 RT wrote KURUKSHETRA SANGRAMAM (battle at Kurukshetra near Delhi). All this literary adventure was done during early education days. He also wrote poems entitled:  NAADU-NEDU ( Then and now) in which one poem was about Kamma caste to which he belonged. Later he discarded the caste prejudice and emerged as a secularist.

Law in Dublin, Ireland
Just at the beginning of first world war, RT went to Dublin, Ireland via England to study law. He started from India on September 18, 1914 and reached the destination by 23 November. While studying law RT continued his interest in literary writings and contributed articles to KRISHNA PATRIKA edited by Mutnuru Krishnarao and  published from Bandar. His correspondence from Ireland indicated that  he had no belief in supernatural powers, superstitions and demons. He returned from Ireland after completing his law course by 1917 and reached India on 11 November 1917. During his stay in Ireland RT wrote one revolutionary play entitled; SAMBUKA VADHA ( Killing of Sambuka). (say why it is considered revolutionary)
RT practiced law in Bandar courts from 1917 onwards and (simultaneously paid attention to) also actively participated in the non-Brahmin movement in Andhra. He attended couple of conferences and was an invited speaker. (spoke)
After (4 years law) practicing law for four years in Bandar, RT was offered editorship of a journal RAITU. Pamulapati Krishnaiah and Jagarlamudi Kuppuswami choudary wished to establish that magazine. RT accepted the offer and moved to Tenali. But the magazine ( did not take place) never took off. However, RT remained in Tenali and (continued) again engaged in  law practice at Tenali.  He was also active in politics.  When major towns and cities were authorized by the British to have limited local rule (and at the same time) he became chairman of Tenali municipality. He served in this capacity for over a dozen years,  from 1925 to 1938.
A public debate was arranged in Kollur village, in Guntur district between Pushpagiri Sankara Peetham and non Brahmin movement leaders. RT presided over it in 1924 which had become eye opener to all sane thinkers in Andhra. (say what was the gist of his speech and /or arguments)

During his tenure as chairman of the Tenali Municipality RT abolished the sacrifice of animals in temples in Tenali.

He established Sutasram Ashram ( name of his residence) which has become (pilgrim place) center of congregation for poets, artists, and social reformers (activists).

His first wife gave birth to the famous writer Tripuraneni Gopichand and Sarojini. She died on 15 Jan 1920. Then he married again, but  had no children. She also died and then RT married third one who gave birth to the famous writer Gokulchand and Choudarani.

RT was very active in social reform as well as in literary activities during the days when he was municipal chairman of Tenali. In 1929 RT was honored in Gudivada, and taken in procession on elephant where he was given the title KAVIRAJU (king among poets) by Andhra Mahasabha, a literary forum.  Bezwada Ramachandra Reddi from Nellore presided over the function.  Along with Challapalli Zamindar  several other literary personalities and social activists attended the function .

RT wrote VIVAHA VIDHI (marriage oath) in Telugu during 1929. That revolutionized the community and several persons came forward to get married with Telugu oath which is an eye opener. The orthodox  who were using Sanskrit chantings as marriage oaths, were furious and called it blasphemy. Hitherto only Brahmins served as marriage priests where as RT  book and the call for social revolution enthused several non-brahmin persons to perform marriage using his marriage oaths in Telugu.
During this period Arya Samaj, which considered all puranas and Vedic claims as  mere myths,   became widely recognized in Tenali region and RT also came under its influence.

RT contributed major writings called KHOONI (ASSASINATION). Sutapuranam,Poetry in 4 parts; Kuppuswamy satakam, dhoorta
maanavaa, poems.
Towards the end of his life RT wrote a  revolutionary book reinterpreting the sacred Hindu text BHAGAVADGITA.
One notable feature of his plays and writings is to preface with lengthy preface which reminds us  of Bernard Shaw.
During early 1940 a meeting was arranged between M .N.Roy and Tripuraneni Ramaswamy in Tenali. They met and discussed their views on social reform,  concepts of secular humanism (say here if any substantive ideas emerged) in the presence of Tripuraneni Gopichand and Avula Gopalakrishna Murthy. But it was so brief that they could not go into details on any thing or reach specific modes of action.
Similarly RT and Ramaswami Periyar, leader of the Dravidian movement, met in Madras earlier to his meeting with MN Roy, and discussed  topics of secular interest with special interest in improving the lot of the less educated classes.
RT was very much influenced with the Dravidian movement  in leading people out of blind faith in myths and related mystical stories and blind beliefs in Gods etc,. He attended the  conferences organized by the movement in Tanjore, Ongole and other places.
Andhra at that time was in Madras state. Hence there were close contacts between Andhras and Tamils on cultural, political matters. A movement  to empower the non-brahmin caste members who were denied access to education for several centuries was very actively supported.  Justice party, a political party dominated by non-brahmins unlike the congress party which was supported by the traditional educated classes, ruled Madras state from 1922 to 1937. All those factors impacted on molding the views of RT on social reform and secular politics.
RT died at the age of 55 on 16 Jan 1943. By that time his impact was considerable in Andhra area.


The first major impact of RT commenced with his stage play SAMBUKA VADHA(assassination of Rishi Sambuka ) that he
wrote between 1914-17.  The play which depicted assassination of a mythical sage whose actions defied the caste system and the classification of some people as untouchables, was enacted on stage.
The play roused the interest of the suppressed classes in the Hindu society.

The lengthy introduction to the play by RT is a logical analysis of the Hindu myths and the self aggrandizing views of the higher classes. RT exposed the attitude of Brahmins towards non Brahmins in his lengthy preface.
Sambuka was non Brahmin seer who went on penance for attaining heaven. Non Brahmins were not supposed to do meditative penance(Tapas) to attain Moksha. If they do, the children in the kingdom would die. That was popular myth. Hence non Brahmins were prohibited from Tapas. When Sambuka had undertaken Tapas , Seer Narada provoked the king and Vasista seer encouraged King Rama to kill Sambuka. Vasista quoted Smriti sayings about this and asked King Rama to kill Sambuka. Rama obeyed his Guru Vasista and cut the head of seer Sambuka with his sword.
Sacrificing humans was in vogue among Hindus during Ramayana period to propitiate gods.

Reactionary  writers like Viswanatha Satyanarayana, who staunchly supported the existing hierarchical caste system,  and his followers published plays, novels and other articles critical of RT. They vigorously campaigned against the views of RT as false and contrary to age tested traditions. However RT rebutted all their criticisms and published several articles with cogent arguments exposing the irrelevant and unsubstantiated statements of his critics.

Seer Vasista welcomed Seer Valmiki with tender cow meat. Killing calf was in vogue in Ashrams which Vasista followed. In those days Saivites were vegetarian and hence vaishnavas  depicted them as demons. In his detailed preface RT explained all the cunning things of Brahmin seers in whose grip kings were puppets .

 RT also expressed his views  on the probable time when  Ramayana might have taken place.  He opined that it might have occurred around 2370 B.C but not 8 lakhs 60 thousand years as mentioned under division of Yugas.

RT  opined that Sugriva abetted Rama  to kill his brother Vali???. RT said that Rama is younger than Sita but that was not uncommon in those days. (unrelated statements say why these two statements are connected)
RT appears to have accepted the  Aryan invasion theory proposed by western trained Indologists. According to TR following invasion of India Aryans took the defeated people as slaves (dasya) and thus the so called sudra caste was created. Prior to Aryan invasion he assumed that there were only three divisions –Brahmins, kshtriyas and vaisyas.   

(great eye opener)

RT wrote his magnum opus poetry entitled Sutapuranam in four parts. He adopted traditional literary style but theme is novel and revolutionary. In his elaborate preface RT wrote  that the division of four yugas is nothing but concoction and falsehood.Purans and immoral  (how is this related) and  highly partial towards the brahminical hierarchical caste system. The nasty description of women in puranas was no way helpful for their upliftment according to RT.
In Sutapurana  RT adopted social innovations and condemned people who adore statues and worship them with gold and clothes while poor people suffer for want of basic needs. HE  emphatically stressed that to tell the truth is his aim in the poetry.
He put all his doubts before seer Suta for answers. They are:
How can seven seas are poured with both hands?
Where are wings to mountains?
How is it possible for hills to give birth to humans?
How can mutual contradictory aspects in Puranas could be reconciled?
Why Sanskrit language is prohibited to sudras?
Is it true that learning Sanskrit will take sudras to hell?
The sons of Sagar made seven holes in earth and the water emerged out of those holes became seven oceans.Can it be true?
How can Ganges come from sky?
Why did Indra spoil the penance of people in all places?
How is it that people were tortured on the basis of Manu smriti(Code_
Suta Seer says that heaven is full of sex which doesnot deserve for decent persons.Then he questioned the propriety of prohibiting sudras from learning sastras.
When they create 10 heads to one person, how is it that they fail to provide 20 hands?
RT opined that Srikrishna made Pandavas to fight Kauravas in immoral way and got them defeated.


Viswanatha  Satyanarayana published a play entitled Venaraju  in which he depicted the king as a  cruel and immoral king. To counter this and tell the story in proper order RT wrote with more authentic basis a play called Khooni ( Murder)
In that play Brahmins plotted to kill Venaraju  with the pretext that he canvassed Charvaka or atheistic hedonistic philosophy. What the puranas described as sinners were actually good people who helped with philanthropy and kindness.


(Great parody and critiq)

RT published his last work under the title Bhagavad Gita. It is a  parody. He took the theme from War of Palnad area in Guntur district. He compared  war of Palnad  to Kurukshetra battle. Brahmanaidu as Krishna, Balachandrudu as Arjuna.Through out he maintained satire and criticized original Gita. Brahmanaidu says that  he was born as Krishna in Dwapara Yuga , created tensions between Kauravas and Pandavas so that they annihilate each other. Thus Brahmanaidu claims that he established Dharma.He gave this lecture to Balachandradu as moral teaching. According to Brahmanaidu all persons are one in creation and there are no specific morals to specific people. He denied that the four varnas are created by him. He claims that originally he created only three kinds of persons where as  Sudras were added later out of evil design. Then panchamas were added who are called fifth grade persons.Brahmanaidu says that there is no moral in the division of humans and all things were deception only. He pleaded that people should know the truth through scientific method and questioning. He also claims that he emerged for the welfare of Telugu people. At every stage RT criticized Bhagavad Gita of Vyasa.

SATAKAS( 100 poems)
RT published poems entitled  Sutaasram Geetaalu, Are the Telugu people cowards?, Telugu Jodulu, Telugu Nayakulu, Pratapa Rudriyam, Sarangadhara, Naadu-Nedu, etc

RT officiated innumerable weddings with Telugu oath ceremonies and under his inspiration many persons took it as social revolutionary program.
After the death of RT his literature came into vogue and popular.
2011 was observed as his 125th birth anniversary.His complete writings were brought out by Mr J.S.R.Krishna( Ithanagar,Tenali, Guntur district, AP, India)

Innaiah Narisetti