‘Andhra Ratna’, Duggirala Ramakrishnayya, Ravinutala Sreeramulu,
Emesco, Hyderabad, pages 56. Paper Back, 2016, Price Rs. 30/-
Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy praised Duggirala Ramakrishnayya as the topmost of Andhra patriots and intellectuals who won laurels and distinctions as speakers. While being a student Duggirala read Sri Aurobindo and Tilak. To begin with, he studied under the exemplary preceptor Panchapagesan Iyer. In the college at Guntur he became a close friend of Nadimpalli Narasimha Rao. The duo went to England even without telling their parents. Nadimpalli studied M.A (Hons), Ll.B. and acquired the title Bar at Law early. Owing to his other interests and avocations, Duggirala returned only in 1916.
Duggirala had a delectable sense of humour besides inordinate dedication to patriotic work. He translated Pothana’s Bhagavatham into Telugu and won the esteem of Ananda Kumaraswami, who introduced him to Gandhiji saying “He is the future mahatma, the upcoming exemplary lover of Mother India.”
Ramakrishnayya studied M.A. (Economics) and also obtained a degree in human medicine. He also started translation Abhinaya DarpaNam as ‘Mirror of Gestures’.
In 1917 He went to Ooty and met Pattabhi Sitaramayya and Sir Alexander. The Englishman took him into Madras Education Service and employed him in Rajahmundry Training College. In a short while he fell ill and also fell in the bad looks of the Principal who ordered the gates to be closed for him for his anti Govt activities. But Duggirala began speaking in an empty room where students flocked quickly. He was castigated for that.
Later Duggirala was appointed as Vice-principal at Bandar (Machilipatnam) Andhra Jaateeya Kalasala. Then, Freedom movement was gathering momentum in our country. Kompalli Hanumantha Rao tore away his law degree and joined the Congress Party. Duggirala too never liked submission and resigned his job in Jateeya Kalasala. When he was living in abject poverty Vavilla, the printer, gave him Rs. 1,116/- and asked him to write Raja Tanrtam.
This young man is a captivating singer. He requested Rayaprol Subbarao to write patriotic poems and mellifluously sang them on Andhra Maha Sabha demanding a separate state for Andhra. (Then it was part of composite Madras State.)
In 1921All India Congress met in Bezawada. Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ali brothers, Maulana Azad, Purushottam Das Tandon among several others participated. Pingali Venkayya the maker of our national flag was there. The glory of the tricolour came out splendidly.
On March 31, 1932 along with Rama Dandu volunteers Duggirala arrived at Bezawada and defied the police. Soon Duggirala inspired and goaded students to join the struggle for freedom. He spoke vociferously to 1200 students. He led the Chirala-Perala agitation against the establishment of a Municipality making the Panchayat defunct to increase the revenue by ten times. He made the people there desert the place. The agitation shook the Whites. A Biritsh officer said, “It has shaken the foundations of the Biritish Govt. The Collector clamped Sec. 144 but there was none to beat the drum - what they called ‘Tom Tom’ - to send round orders. The Collector said: “I see Swaraj with my own eyes. Wellingdon was not the Govt of Cheerala, Gopalakrishna is the Govt here.”
Duggirala was tried by the Dist. Magistrate in 1921. The magistrate said that he made hateful comments on the Emperor. When the inspector read out the copies of his remarks, Duggirala said the he had compared the govt heads with demons and he stood by it. “The government has destroyed the country. You say it is not true, but I say it is not a lie.” The Magistrate said “Being an extraordinary speaker you’d bring in laughter.’ Duggirala then spoke about Ravana, the demon king. He said that in his view Lord Wellingdon was Ravan, his eight ministers were as his eight heads and the tenth was Thyagaraju Chetty. The Magistrate laughed in merriment.
Gopalakrishnayya used talents which brought dismay to the government. The government wanted to replace panchayat by municipalities to augment income. When he was asked to go away he went to a nearby palm tree field and spoke to the palm trees. He addressed them: ‘You hold your heads high and look at the sky. You’d never bend your heads look down.’ People left the village to the palm tree field. The government retained panchayats.
For disobeying him the Collector got him arrested at Berhampur. Duggirala said that he would go there on foot and went singing drawing crowds all the way. He went on singing mellifluously:
Come along, come along the sinful fellow
B.A., B.L though you studied
Though you enjoyed swaying on a rich swing
Though you ate rice cooked in sweet milk
It is true that you reach Yama’s abode.
It surprised listeners that the song was written by a Harikathakesari Mynampati of Tangutur of Ongole Dist. (Several hundreds of miles from Berhampur.) The govt tried him along with another case against him in Bandar. But Duggirala suffered the imprisonment with a smile, holding his head high.
In 1922 when he came out in Trichinopalli prison, eminent leaders like Rajaji, E V Ramaswamy Naiker, Yaju Hussain and V V S Aiyer, came to see him. Duggirala spoke about his experiences. Andhra Kesari Tanguturi Prakasam, Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (top ranking Andhra leaders) attended the meeting. He was very close to eminent men of that time Nanduri Subbarao, Basavaraju Appa Rao, Kolevennu Rama Koteswara Rao, Adivi Bapiraju who studied in Madras Law College. All these were renowned patriots too. He had a knack to win the hearts of men. He won the friendly affection of men like Ananada Kumara Swami. When C R Das introduced himself to him he himself, he said: “ My name is Chirala Ramadas.” He ran the journal “Sadhana”. His friend Nadimpalli praised Duggirala’s style as Dr Johnson’s.
Duggirala had his own ideas of poetry. The objective of poetry is to spiritualise and please the readers. The poet is one who makes a person stuck in mire and mud come out clean, not to take him into more mire. He was religious minded. In 1926 he sold his wife’s silver plate and with that money laid the foundation stone for for Koddandarama and Ramalingaswamy temples. He brought out extempore poems on Sri Ramamalinga and Sri Ramachandra. He died very early, at 38.
Ravinutala Sreeramulu illustrated with copious examples Duggirala’s humour calling him Hasya Chakravarati, Emperor of Humour. He was a great Andhra, The Diamond of an Andhra, Andhra Ratna.