Dharmavaram Ramakrishnamacharyulu was a precocious child. From his very young age he was an avid reader of classics in Sanskrit and Telgu. This voracious reading kindled a desire in him to write. His yearning for literary effort bore fruit in 1886 due to a peculiar circumstance and he wrote and staged a Telugu drama as a challenge. He established Sarasa Vinodini Sabha and wrote with great facility 29 successful plays. He also took the lead roles and produced the plays. His familiarity with mythological classics helped him to write original plays rather than adapt or render from Sanskrit or English as was the practice at that time. He was also a repository of music. He introduced songs and poems in Telugu dramas. In addition, his knowledge of western dramas led to his writing the first tragedy in Telugu. Thus he led the modern Telugu drama movement for about 26 years. Such sustained and successful efforts culminated in the con-ferment of the title of Andhra Nataka Pithamaha on Dharmavaram Ramakrishnamacharyulu.
The original publication in Telugu is by Dr P.S.R. Appa Rao, retired Director of Telugu Academy. He has rendered yeoman service to Telugu literature by this biography after a through research.
Sri D Ajitha Simha (b. 1927) has rendered Dr Rao's version into English for the benefit of non-Andhraites. He is the grandson of Dharmavaram Ramakrishnamacharyulu.
In the history of Telugu drama, Shri Dharmavaram Ramak-rishnamacharyulu is the first person to be remembered. Though by profession he was a lawyer, by character and temperament he was a dramatist, patriot, authority on music and a great actor with such innate talent. He worked for 25 uninterrupted years and earned great fame and the title of Andhra Nataka Pithamaha. In addition he had been venerated as gurudeva by Shri Sambandham Mudaliar, the Tamil Nataka Pithamaha. He introduced poetry in Telugu dramas and also pioneered the singing of songs on stage. He was thus responsible for establishing a new tradition in Telugu drama. Discarding either the translation or adaptation of plays from other languages, he wrote around 30 original plays.
When the Andhra Pradesh Nataka Akademi asked me to write a monograph on this great man, I gladly undertook the task and it was published in 1973. When Sahitya Akademi asked me to write a monograph on Acharyulu, so that more people to could get acquainted with the works of this great man, I deliberated for a long time as to whether I should write a monograph on a subject which I had covered before. The first version, commissioned by the Andhra Pradesh Akedami assumed a fair knowledge of the life history of Andhra Nataka Pithanzaluz and his dramatic work. However, very few non-Andhras would have this familiarity with his life or his works. This monograph was therefore written to acquaint non-Andhras with the life and works of Andhra Nataka Pitizanzaha.
It is indeed fortunate for me that I have the privilege of translating the biography of my grandfather Dharmavaram Ramakrishnamacharyulu. I came to know more about my grandfather's accomplishments and greatness thanks to this biography.
A word about the original. The masterly presentation of the evolution of dramatic art through the centuries in India and in Andhra is commendable. The language of the original is quite succinct and precise and I have attempted to stay as close as possible to it. Apparao's review of the more important plays of Acharyulu is erudite. The all-pervasive erudition of Dr Apparao is evident in all the chapters. Any shortcomings in this translation are entirely due to my in-ability to render the nuances of the Telugu language into English.
I acknowledge with thanks Shri Bhanumurthy, Shri Balabadhra Rao and Smt. Kamala Purnanandam for their help, particularly in grappling with some of the difficult passages. Above all, I am grateful to my wife Smt. Lalitha and daughters Kum. Srilatha and Sudeepa for checking the translation.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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