Sreeramulu Dasu

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Father: Kannayya

Children :-

  • Kesava Rao Dasu
  • Narayana Rao Dasu
  • Madhava Rao Dasu
  • Govinda Rao Dasu
  • Vishnu Rao Dasu
  • Madhusudana Rao Dasu
  • Saradamba Vemuri
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    Date of Birth 8-4-1846 @ Kurada
    Married 25-3-1859 @ Kurada
    Died 16-5-1908 @ Eluru
    (Spouse) Janakamma B.1853 Kurada
    Daughter of Kurada Lakshminarasimham and Sarvalakshmamma
    Died 27-9-1927 Bezwada @ residence of Dasu Vishnurao garu.

    In Brief
    +Legendary patriarch of the Dasu dynasty, Sreeramulu was a multi-faceted genius who excelled in many fields – literature, drama, music, dance (choreography), astrology, social reform, teaching – and was an eminent legal practitioner.
    +Sreeramulu was born in Alluru in Krishna district in an affluent Brahmin family. He did not go to school and except early initiation by father, Kannaiah, he was self-taught. He earned a name for himself as a Telugu and Sanskrit scholar when he was just 19 years.
    +Through self-study he learnt English and became a reputed lawyer of Eluru without going to a school or college.
    + He was a recognised astrologer
    + He was an exponent of Indian classical music
    +He was a great lyricist
    +He loved gardening and was member of the Madras Horticulture Club
    + Many great people might have excelled in their chosen field of activity, but Sreeramulu was unique. He made a big mark for himself in so many fields, each distinctly different from the other. He was a self-made man.
    + Mahakavi Sreeramulu is truly the Pride of the Dasus and a fount of inspiration for the younger generation Dasus.

    In Detail

    The most illustrious son of Dasu Kannayya garu and Kaamamma garu was born on April 8th, 1846 at the residence of his maternal grandfather Mr. Kurada Ramachandrayya in the village of Kurada, in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, India. At the time of his birth his parents were living in a village by the name, Korraguntapalem and he grew up there for a while, till his parents moved to another village Alluru. His initiation to education (Akshara abhyasam) was performed at Korraguntapalem and his first teacher was Mr.Adivi Subbarayudu just for about six months. Later he studied under another teacher Mr.Gudlavalleti Perraju when he learnt the Sanskrit Amarakosam and Bala Ramayanam. He learnt reading , writing and arithmetic under the guidance of his father at Alluru. His father was no scholar, but was very knowledgeable and so could guide the young Sreeramulu in acquiring the basic skills. He lost no time in reading books like Maha Bharat and other great Indian epics thereby making great strides in his studies.By virtue of his intrinsic talents Sreeramulu acquired sufficient proficiency in Telugu by his own efforts. At the age of 12 the ceremony of Upanayanam (the ritual of wearing the sacred thread required for a Brahmin ) was performed in the year 1858 along with his cousin Uppaluri Krishnayya. Shortly thereafter his father felt the need of English education for the young talented Sreeramulu and took him to Bandar now known as Machilipatnam a town in the district of Krishna district, about 30miles from Alluru. He stayed with Mr.Adivi Venkatisivudu a close relative residing at Bandar.


    The next stage in his education started with his admission in the school newly started by a Christian Missionary Mr. Noble at Bandar in 1843 and later known as Noble School There were some Hindu boys also studying in that school. It was the first school in that area imparting western type English education. While he was studying there, the teachers noticed the outstanding talents of the young brilliant Sreeramulu and were very affectionate and considerate towards him. During that period his parents learnt of some conversions to Christianity of some boys in the school. They were deeply concerned and alarmed over the prospects of Sreeramulu becoming a Christian, although Sreeramulu had no such intentions at all. However his father decided to move him away from the school, and so took him back to Alluru. Thus the short sojourn of young Sreeramulu's urban English education came to an end. Sreeramulu was the only son of his parents. The life at Alluru was very comfortable with nice farms and gardens with the luxury of matching dairy farm also. He spent his life in the company of his other family members and friends in the serene surroundings of Alluru. During this period he learnt Sanskrit and Telugu by his own efforts. A vivid description of his life in Alluru can be found in his epic book Devi Bhagavatam. His poetic skills started during his stay at Bandar. He wrote a lyric "Jaya Jaya Soma Linga" while still a student at Bandar. He wrote a book titled "Satrajiti Vilasam" in folklore music style while he was still 14. Though it was written at such an young age, poetic skills were very eminent.

    However he suffered a serious set back in health due to serious illness in 1859. After he recovered from his illness, stage was set for his marriage. He was married to Ms.Janakamma , second daughter of his maternal uncle Mr.Kurada Lakshminarasimham, on 25th of March, 1859 in the village Kurada. While he was spending his time happily at Alluru progressing in his studies as well, he lost his maternal grandfather Mr.Kurada Ramachandrayya garu in 1860. Young Sreeramulu was growing impatient with an urge to learn more. He left home on one night in April of 1865 without telling anyone at home in pursuit of learning and knowledge. His destination was a place called Akiripalli in the feudal state of Nuzvid. The feudal lord of Nuzvid Mr. Shobhanadri Apparayaningaru, was an enthusiastic promoter of education and supported those in quest of learning and knowledge. He died in 1868. By that time Akiripalli acquired importance as an educational center and was visited by many reputed scholars and educationalists. Akiripalli was a center for vedic studies. Mr.Sreeramulu stayed at Akiripalli for ten months and studied Sanskrit language and sanskrit grammar besides acquiring other poetic and literary proficiency. During his stay at Akiripalli, he received a stipend of half a rupee per day from the zamindar of Akiripalli. After completing his stay, he returned to Alluru.


    As he returned home his wife Ms. Janakamma joined him. During the following period of his stay at Alluru, he spent his time improving his proficiency in Sanskrit and other intellectual skills. To mention of the intellectual skills, he performed the tests called Ashtavadhana vyastakshari. It is a test of the intellectual capabilities of a scholar. It involves performing eight different tasks simultaneously. There will be eight scholars subjecting the person performing this avadhanam or test. It requires high caliber of intelligence and scholastic abilities to successfully complete the test. Young Sreeramulu was not only having all the professional talents needed, he was also an Ekasanta grahi which means a person capable of remembering any thing instantly at the first instance. Due to his extra ordinary capabilities he received patronage from many well known zamindars and earned the respect from many scholars in Andhra Pradesh.

    His first son Kesava rao was born in 1867. This was followed by the birth of his other children as in 1869-70 of Narayana rao, and in 1871 of Madhava rao. His attempt to do a business activity in 1871-72 ended up in losses. However his keen interest in literary and scholastic activities was ever on the rise. He was in continuous pursuit of such activities. By the encouragement he received from his well wishers and Mr. Panganamamula Balakrishnayya , the deputy tahsildar of Kaikaluru, he took up teaching job. He joined the high school at Gudivada as Telugu teacher, in 1872 where he continued till 1874. He then joined as teacher at another school at Kavutaram and held the job for an year. During this period he started learning English and picked up the language very fast due to his high caliber of grasp. His fourth son Govinda rao was born in 1874. He also wrote to poetic works during this period, by name Vedachala mahatyam, and Krishna arjuna samaram.

    In 1875 he left Kavutaram and went to another nearby village called Dokiparru at the invitation of the residents of that village. He set up a school there. Many joined the school and he was revered by one and all in the village. He continued there till 1878. He was earning about Rs.1500 per annum. He was also writing many books in verse. But none of them are traceable now. His fifth son Vishnu rao was born in October 1876 while he was at Dokiparru. During his stay at Dokiparru he learnt English and passed the tests to practice law.

    He decided to leave Dokiparru in 1878 to set up legal practice at Bandar. But the residents of the village loved and respected him. On the eve of his departure from there, they honored him by offering flowers of silver at his feet and took him in procession in a palanquin shouldered by the elders of the village. When he commenced practice of law at Bandar, he had five sons. In the early days of his stay at Bandar, he had an attack of small-pox and was taken to Alluru. He came back to Bandar after recovery and continued his legal practice. Soon he picked up in the new profession. He passed higher examinations in criminal and civil laws in English. He used to write the subjects he studied in Telugu poems and remember them. While practicing law, he never let his scholarly skills idle. Along with his legal profession, he was not only writing poetry but also commenced publishing a journal at Bandar. He was also actively associated with many social issues like widow remarriages.

    In 1880 he performed the marriage of his eldest son Kesava rao garu with the eldest daughter of Kondamudi Ramachandra rao garu who was then a deputy tahsildar in Dharwad district of Bombay presidency. This marriage was celebrated at Bapatla. The last child a daughter Saradamba was born in 1881. An year later in 1882 he bought a big house and after face-lifting the house, he shifted his residence to stay there. He continued to stay there till he shifted to Eluru. He became an extremely successful lawyer and also a renowned literary figure. During this period he sailed by ship to Madras.


    In 1883 he appeared for qualifying examination to be a 1st grade pleader at Rajahmundry. He passed the examination in 1884. The subcourt that was at Cuddalore was shifted to Eluru. He decided to shift to Eluru to practice in the newly set up subcourt. Accordingly he moved his family and entire set up to Eluru. His legal practice flourished there and had clientele comprising of affluent people in and around that area. Simultaneously his literary fame also was growing. He participated in the golden jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria of England, carried out at Eluru and composed several poems for the occasion. In 1889 he constructed a new house at Eluru, in a spacious plot with a big garden surrounding. He was also interested in horticulture and was a member of Botanical society at Madras. The house he built for his stay in Eluru was later sold to the Gandhi National School. In 1887 he performed the marriage of his 4th son and held a big party for the Europeans at Guntur. This was unique and unusual for a Hindu to hold a party for non-Hindu white people. This was an example to illustrate his broadminded and progressive outlook in life. In all he had six sons and a daughter.

    Eversince he came to Eluru he was fully occupied with his legal activities. His literary activities were not significant. Nevertheless he wrote several books on the then current social problems like the differences between the two Brahmin subsects of Vaideekis and Niyogis; on the issue of tonsuring of widows etc. During 1893-95 there was a dispute regarding performance of rituals for the Vaisya community. The Vaisyas wished to follow the traditions and customs similar to Brahmins would conduct their daily rituals just as the Brahmins do. But the Brahmin priest would not conduct rituals in the house of vaisyas according to vaidika tradition. This conflict was resolved as a result of the enlightened interpretation by Sreeramulu. He published an exhaustive report titled " Vaisya dharma deepika" to set at rest the dispute. He was also an active social reformer. Some time in 1891 many thefts and housebreaking were taking place in Eluru with the passive support of the police. He led a deputation to the concerned government officials to put an end to the problem. After long negotiations there were mass transfers of the police staff and the thefts stopped. In 1890 he wrote a drama in Telugu and staged it. He was a lover of music ,dance, drama and arts. He wrote a book on the art of dancing titled "Abhinaya Darpanam". He also taught the art of dancing . During those days, the professionals sought his appreciation and approval of their skills. He set up a new school called "Hindu Patriotic School" to help an young teacher who lost his job from the Middle school at Eluru. He also established a Music School in Eluru to encourage music. At a time when the society put a taboo on women learning music or studying in schools, he encouraged his 7yr old daughter learning music and literature.

    In 1892 he wrote the book "Telugu Naadu" which described the characteristics of the different communities of Telugu region. It is replete with humor he planned it to be a survey of the various castes and sects in the Telugu region. He completed the description of Brahmin sects and could not write about the other castes before his death. He wrote several books in prose and poetry on many social and political issues prevailing during that period. In 1895-96 he had active interest in politics and social problems. He was invited to Mysore where he addressed a public meeting at Ranga chary hall and received a public ovation. In 1900 he gave a Harikatha performance at Vizianagaram on the social problems. He was attending and participating actively in every social and literary conference. Women were not usually in attendance at such conferences in those days but Sriramulu used to take his wife too, some time the sole woman audience in such conferences. His speeches were scholarly and were spiced with a musical rendering of poems and songs. Every speech was a verily a harikatha.

    In 1905-06 the movement for freedom started in Bengal. Mr.Bipinchandra pal a leader in the movement came to Bezwada, at the request of the young men attending the meeting, Sreeramulu presided over it, while the elders were hesitating to preside. In 1901 while he was in Madras he addressed a meeting of the Northern circaars progressive Union where he delivered extempore poems in Telugu on the duties and obligations of students and also on Telugu literature. He was in Madras in connection with a legal case. Since he had some spare time, he translated books like Sringara Sakuntalam, Ratnavali, Mudrarakshsam, Mahaveera charitra, Malati Madhukareeya, Kuranga Gaurisankara uttara Rama charitra. In the later half of 1899 he was in Warangal district participating in resolving some secular differences on special invitation by the local elders. While he was there his only daughter Saradamba expired in her 19th year after delivery on 26-12-1899.

    Another subject in which Sriramulu was interested as thoroughly as a fully informed scholar , was astronomy. The excellence about his knowledge was that he was very often explaining even to very young people very interesting and intricate details in an easily intelligible language whose source must have been a deep understanding of the subject. His life was one of continuing study, and art of reason and a saga of dharma and goodwill. He lived as an elder of the society.

    The demise of his only daughter and the death of second son Narayana rao garu shocked him immensely. He however faced the calamities bravely. Thereafter under a divine inspiration of goddess Kameswari he undertook to write the epic Devi Bhagavatam which he completed in record time . The printing was completed by 1907. In 1905 -06 he renovated the temple of Lord Someswaraswamy in Alluru. His health started deteriorating and he passed away on May 16th,1908 survived by people that can store him in their memories for generations to come. We have every reason to be happy and proud of being the descendants of such a versatile person.

    Copy of the extract from Encyclopedia of the Madras Presidency and the Adjacent states (1920-1921)

    Edited by V.L. Sastri, B.A., M.B.A.S.,

    Editor –in-chief Assisted by

    S. Krishnaswami Ayangar, M.A., M.R.A..S., F.R.Hist., S., M. Venkatarangaya., M.A. And C.S. Srinivasachari., M.A., M.R.A.S..

    Compiled and published by the Oriental Encyclopaedic publishing company, Cocanada and Post Box 473, Madras. Joint Proprietors: P. Lakshminarasaiah, Dr. V. Gopalakrishna, B.A., M.D., And V.L. Sastry.,B.A., M.R.A.S., 1920-1921

    All Rights Reserved.

    The late Pandit Dasu Sreeramulu, poet, essayist, and orator, Ellore was born in April 1846 of a respectable Niyogi Brahmin family at Kurada a village in the Krishna District.

    In his tenth year he studied Telugu and Sanskrit classical literature by his own efforts and the same time interested himself in the study of Hindu Astronomy. In his twelfth year this prodigy performed Ashtavadhanam and Vyastakshari in the Nuzvid and Vallur samastanams and received in the latter estate the first prize for poetic skill and talent. He developed his studies latter and in his twentieth year attained remarkable proficiency in Sanskrit grammer, literature and philosophy. He continued his studies for another six years and secured a teacher’s place thereafter. Two years latter he shifted to Dokiparru, close to Gudivada, and founded a school there.

    Though he began his Englilsh education rather late in his life, he acquired a fair knowledge of the language by his assiduous application to it, and was able to come out successfully in the general test and the Second Grade Pleadership examinations in 1878. Immediately he set up his practice as a lawyer at Masulipatam and continued in the profession for 6years, and passed the First Grade Pleadership examination. He thereafter settled down at Ellore, where he continued in his profession for 10 years, and in 1895 he retired from the legal profession to devote himself to the arduous authorship of a number of useful works for edification of the public on literary, social and miscellaneous subjects.

    Under the first head, which the late Pandit began as early as in his twelfth year, are many Sanskrit and Telugu dramas, and in 1902 his masterpieces exhibiting his skill in both the languages, Aandhra Devi Bhagvatam and Sankuntalam were written. His association with the Social Reform Movement for a long time enabled him to render meritorious services in connection with a magazine of Social Reform, in addition to his works on the subject. His miscellaneous works in Arithmetic, science of expression and Logic, written in Telugu, will amply repay perusal.

    He was a fluent speaker, an able writer, a good debater and a keen controvertialist. He made extensive tours in the Northern Circars and the Nizam’s dominions for several years, delivering lectures on diverse subjects. He passed away in his sixty-second year at Ellore, in his own house.


    Friday, Jul 18, 2008
    Resurrecting a polymath

    He wrote poems, taught dance, practiced law, did medical research and broke social taboos.
    Multi-tasking is a cliché.More than a century before this piece of jargon was coined, there lived a poet in the land wedged between the Krishna and the Godavari who wrote scholarly works on music and dance, practised astrology, learnt Persian, dabbled in medical research, was an arbiter of social customs and habits, attended literary sessions even while practising law.
    A maverick, he scoffed at suppression of women and condemned tonsuring of widowed women, like contemporary and great social reformer, Kandukuri Veersalingam Panthulu.
    That was Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu, the versatile genius and author of Telugu translation of Devi Bhagavatham, his magnum opus. This work involving 6000 poems was completed in only six months.
    The only son in an affluent Brahmin family in Kurada in Krishna district on April 8, 1846, Sriramulu cultivated a thirst for acquisition of knowledge early in life.
    He wrote Somalingeswara satakam when he was only 12 years old and Satrajiti Vilasam, a yakshaganam, at 14, a year after he married Janakamma. A restless soul, Sriramulu disappeared from home in Alluru to learn Sanskrit and avadhanam at Akiripalli, a seat of traditional learning.
    The Nuzvid zamindar granted him a monthly stipend of Rs. 15. His poetic genius flowered while at Machilipatnam where learnt basics of English. But for the early education under teachers, he was a self-taught scholar, having acquired proficiency in different disciplines. Learning the language by himself, he passed ‘first grade English pleader’ to be a successful lawyer in Eluru.
    Srirama kavi, as he was also known, was an outstanding vaggeyakara (composer) who wrote javalilu, kruthulu and padaalu which are popular with top singers and dancers to this day. Abhinaya darpanam a treatise on dance, was another major work. He set the compositions to raga and tala. Established dancers of the day like Chadalavada Pichai, Chadalavada Madhuram, Pinapaka Bhavani learnt music and dance from him.
    It did not matter to Sriramulu that they were devadasis. Sriramulu started a music school in Eluru, headed by Nallanchakravarthula Tiruvengadacharya and honoured several musicians and men of letters.
    He taught music to his only daughter, Saradamba, – a taboo those days. He used to take Janakamma to literary gatherings, breaking another taboo.
    Most of works of Sriramulu, who died on May 16, 1908, are lost. In this centenary year, an effort is being made, including by this writer, a great-grandson of the poet, to restore his legacy.
    Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu smaraka samithi is undertaking the mission to resurrect this forgotten genius who was hailed by scholars as ‘second Srinadha’ and restore him to the pedestal that he richly deserves.
    * * *

    His writings: దాసు శ్రీరామ విరచిత గ్రంధములు
    1 ఆచార నిరుక్తి
    2 దురాశపిశాచ భంజని
    3 ఆంధ్రవీధీ దర్పణము
    4 స్వరజితులు
    5 జానకీపరిణయ నాటకము
    6 మనో లక్ష్మీ విలాస నాటకము
    7 అచ్చ తెనుగు అభిజ్నానశాకుంతలము
    8 అచ్చతెలుగునీతిమాలిక
    9 రత్నావళి
    10 మాలతీ మాధవీయము
    11 మాళవికాగ్ని మిత్రము
    12 ముద్రా రాక్షసము
    13 ఉత్తరరామచరిత్రము
    14 మహావీర చరిత్రము
    15 కురంగ గౌరీ శంకరము
    16 మంజరీ మధుకరీయము
    17 సంగీత రస తరంగిణి (కుమారుదు దాసు నారాయణ రావు అసంపూర్తిగా రచించి మరణించుటచే, ఈయనచే పూర్తి చేయబడినది.)
    18 తర్క కౌముది అను న్యాయబోధ
    19 అభినవ గద్య ప్రబందము
    20 సాత్రాజితీ విలాసము
    21 వేదాచల మహత్యము
    22 కృష్ణార్జున సమరము
    ౨౩ లక్షణా విలాసము
    24 ఆంధ్ర దేవీభాగవతము
    25 తెలుగునాడు
    26 భృంగరాజమహిమ
    27.పతిత సంపర్గప్రాయశ్చిత్తోపన్యాసము
    28. వైశ్యధర్మ దీపిక
    29. నౌకాయానము
    30. పాశ్చాత్య విద్యా ప్రశంస
    31. పునర్వివాహ విచారణ
    32. నమ స్కార విధి
    33. అభినయ దర్పణము
    34. త్రిమతములు
    35. విగ్రహారాధన
    36. శ్రాద్ధ సంశయ విచ్చేది
    37. ఆంధ్ర వీధి
    38. కృతులు
    39. ప ద ములు
    1. చిలకల కొలికి శతకము
    2. సోమలింగేశ్వర శతకము
    3. ముద్దుగుమ్మ శతకము
    4. చక్కట్లదండ శతకము
    5. సూర్య శతకము
    6. కామాక్షీ శతకము

    వీరు ఆశువుగా , 6 నెలల్లో తెనిగించిన ఆంధ్ర దేవీ భాగవతము ప్రత్యేక సాహిత్య కావ్యము. ఆయన్ని ఆశుకవి సింహులు అని పిలిచేవారట.
    ఇవి గాక జావళీలు , పదములు మరియు బహు కృతులు కూడా ఆయనచే రచింపబడినవి.

    Article Written by Dasu Kesava rao(II) and published in New Satantra Times in 2008

    He was a man of many parts. He translated Sanskrit classics, wrote social plays in pure Telugu, composed songs in praise of Sri Venugopalaswamy, choreographed dances for devadasis, set up schools for the poor and scoffed at blind beliefs bedevilling the society and was an authority on astrology, ayurveda medicine and avadhanams. He was a busy lawyer, besides.

    That was Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu who strode Telugu literary and cultural scene like a colossus in the later half of the 19th century. Not much is known, except to the scholarly, about this forgotten genius most of whose great works remain hidden in the pages of history. Devi Bhagavatham in Telugu is his magnum opus which overshadowed many of his other equally outstanding works. The famous Tirupati Venkata Kavulu, were the first of the four to translate Devi Bhagavatham and Sriramulu the last. But it was Sriramulu who published it first and Chellapilla Venkata Sastry wrote the foreword lavishing high praise on the author.
    Born the lone child in a rich Brahmin family at Kurada in Krishna district on April 8, 1846, Sriramulu cultivated a yearning for knowledge and scholarship even as a child. Kannaiah and Kamamma brought up many other poor boys and girls as their children. They sent Sriramulu to the Noble College at Machilipatnam, but recalled him fearing that he might be lured into embracing Christianity by the missionaries there. He came into contact with a number of scholars in Machilipatnam, where his poetic talents blossomed. Back in native Alluru, he composed songs and wrote Somalingeswara satakamu when he was just 12 years and Satrajiti Vilasam, a yakshaganam, at 14! In between, he married Janakamma, 5 years younger. Finding Alluru too small a place to satisfy his hunger for learning, he escaped to Akiripalli, a centre for traditional learning, in the summer of 1865 to be amidst scholars, to enrich knowledge and to know more about the world. He learnt Sanskrit grammar with a modest stipend from Nuzvid Zamindar Apparao. He also mastered Avadhanams in Telugu and Sanskrit, performing Avadhanams in the Court of Nuzvid Zamindar and Thotla Valluru Zamindar, great patrons of letters.

    Sriramulu then moved to Gudivada in 1871 as a teacher where he learnt English from Rentala Venkata Subba Row, a lawyer and authority on Shakespeare. He also worked as teacher in nearby Kowtharam where he completed two kavyas, Vedachala Mahatmyam and Krishnarjuna Samaram, in his twenties. He started a school at Dokiparru at the request of the village elders. He found time to compose ‘Samvarnopaakhyaanam’, a yakshaganam while learning law by himself and preparing for vakil examination. The people of Dokiparru carried him on a palanquin in a procession to the outskirts, showering gold and silver flowers en route, when Sriramulu bid them adieu to take up legal practice in Machilipatnam.

    While practising law, he pursued teaching and writing. He showed avid interest in the Kuchipudi Yakshaganam. Vempati Kodandaramaiah and Tadepally Vissayya, renowned Kuchipudi artistes, benefited from his guidance. Sriramulu shifted his legal practice to Eluru where a sub-court was just set up. He had the distinction of filing the first suits in this court. Most of his clients were patrons of arts and letters. They admired Sriramulu not only for his legal acumen, but also for literary eminence. The Thotlavalluru zamindar was a close friend. Even as a busy lawyer, he composed a number of krithis, padams and javalis, particularly on Sri Venugopalaswamy, the presiding deity of Thotlavalluru. These javalis were avidly learnt and practised by the devadasis. He was a good musician too. It was common for devadasis to entertain during marriages and temple festivals. As a choreographer, he helped Chadalavada Pitchai, Chadalavada Rajaratnam, Pinapala Bhavani and Chadalavada Madhuram, devadasis, become accomplished performers. Sriramulu founded a school of music at Eluru and appointed Nallanchakravarthula Tiruvengalacharya and Gabbita Yegnarayana as instructors. He wrote ‘Abhinaya Darpanam’, a treatise on music and dance. His javalis are popular to this day with leading dancers. Diwakarla Tirupati Sastry and Chellapilla Venkata Sastry, known better as Tirupati Venkata kavulu, Adibhatla Narayanadasu, Vavivala Vasudeva Sastry, Kandukuri Veeresalingam and a host of others were his guests.

    Telugu naadu and Chakkatla danda, done in pure Telugu, are among his popular works. Telugu naadu is a survey, replete with humour, of the habits and customs of different sects of Brahmins, This work was incomplete as he could not cover other castes. It can be likened to the Veedhinaatakam of Srinadha.

    As a shrewd observer of trends in society, he started a journal ‘Analpa jalpita kalpavalli’ to propogate correct views on tradition and custom. He condemned the evil practice of tonsuring widowed women and wrote ‘Randa mundana khandanam’. He was not an arm-chair reformist or rationalist. He had the courage to defy custom and send his only daughter, Saradamba, to learn Sanskrit and music. Getting her married became a big problem for this very reason. Relatives who attended his son’s marriage at Guntur in1897 were annoyed to find some Europeans at the dinner table. Sriramulu, a perfect socialite and host, stood his ground. He did not follow most of the meaningless social injunctions laid down in the name of tradition and custom. In 1890, Guntur Bhanumurthy, a vaidiki Brahmin, unknowingly married the sister of a widow. The poor man turned to Sriramulu for solution when the issue led to shcism between the niyogi and vaidiki sects. Sriramulu, who was well-versed in rituals, wrote “Patita Samsargi Prayaschitha Vishaya Kopanyasam’ and “Duraachaara Pisaacha Bhanjani’, scholarly treatises on dharma sastra. These books helped put an end to the debate.
    There was another controversy in 1893-95 over Vysyas’ move to conduct daily rituals like the Brahmins claiming they too were entitled to vedic rituals. Purohits would have none of this. Sriramulu took up their cause, much to the discomfiture of Brahmins. A jagadguruswami, then camping at Machilipatnam, unable to counter the arguments of Sriramulu, quietly left the town. Then Sriramulu wrote ‘Vysya Dharma Deepika’ based on dharma sastras and court proceedings. Eluru town was bedeviled by a series of daring thefts. Sriramulu led a deputation to the district magistrate with a well-argued petition. Interestingly, the thefts ceased after a wholesale transfer of the police officials and constables.! He started a school to rehabilitate Basavarala Ramabrahmam, an English teacher who was sacked on fake charges.

    In 1893 one Swaminnnatha Ayyar was posted to Eluru to preside over the subordinate court. He was corrupt and arrogant.. Sriramulu and his friend, Goteti Venkata Siva Rao, made a close study of his corrupt practices and sent a detailed complaint to the Presidency authorities. A commission was appointed to enquire and Swaminatha Ayyar had to quit the judiciary. Another sub-judge, Manavallaiah, too shared a similar fate and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. Sriramulu never allowed official misbehaviour to pass unchallenged. When freedom fighter Bipin Chandra Pal visited Bezawada in 1905, he found none venturing to preside over his meeting for fear of angering the British. Sriramulu rose to the occasion boldly.

    With the sub-court shifting to Machilipatnam in 1895, Sriramulu retired voluntarily from legal profession and engaged himself in literary and social pursuits. He participated actively in every social and literary conference, accompanied by his wife, she being the sole woman audience at such meetings. Sriramulu’s speeches were scholarly and laced with musical rendering of poems.. Every speech was verily a harikatha. He started writing his magnum opus, “Devi Bhagavatham”, in 1900 and completed the 6000-poem treatise in six months. It is an example of scintillating brilliance and rich imagination.

    Dasu Sriramulu or Srirama Mahakavi passed away on May 16, 1908. Acknowledging his versatility, Chellapilla Venkata Sastry called him ‘second Srinadha’. There could be great poets, great pundits, men with great fortunes, but it is very rare to find a soul as blessed as Sriramulu even among millions (‘kotikokkaraina chekuruta arudu’), he said in his tribute. Great scholars like Viswanatha Satyanarayana memorised Sriramulu’s poems from Devi Bhagavatham and Telugu Naadu in their younger days.

    Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu smaraka samiti, which has taken up publication of his works, has planned to organize a series of literary events to mark the centenary year of his death to create awareness of the life and works of Sriramakavi. Andhra Pradesh Cultural Council dedicated the valedictory session of its week-long literary programme recently in Hyderabad to the poet-scholar. The council chairman, Dharmavarapu Subrahmanyam, Prof. Bethavolu Ramabrahmam, Prof. Vakulabharanam Ramakrishna, Prof. Dwa. Na. Sastry and Potturi Venkateswara Rao, former chairman of AP Press Academy, spoke about the versatile abilities of Sriramulu.

    (eom) Words 1470 July 16, 08

    This may be considered as a companion item to go as inset for the main article.- kesava rao


    Thus spake Sriramulu on Shastras

    The rational and modern outlook of Dasu Sriramulu is best illustrated in English in his book, ‘Patita samsargi Prayaschitta Vishayakopanyasam’. He writes: “The shastras are now-a-days enshrouded in a thick mist of ignorance. Some modern reformers, on the other hand, are under the preconceived notion that they are merely a mass of unconnected doctrines, totally out of keeping with the times, and that no measure of reform is possible on the lines therein laid down. Some bigoted Brahmins, on the other hand, mistaking the use for Shashtra, interpret it so as to suit their views. But I have always been of the opinion that the Shastras, if followed in their true light, will not only condemn every usage inconsistent with the welfare of society, but will tolerate every reform calculated to promote it. My views on this subject have been set forth in my two pamphlets, entitled Duracharapisacha bhanjani and Acharanirukti’.

    The book published at the Hindu Press, Mount Road, Madras, in 1891, was priced six annas.
    Publication in The hindu
    Editors: Pl. use Sriramulu picture with story.

    Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu

    By Dasu Kesava rao (II)

    He was a multi-faceted genius. In literature, he was likened to Sreenadha, as patron of arts, he was Sri Krishnadevaraya, as a patriotic lawyer he reminded one of Prakasam and bracketed with Kandukuri Veeresalingam, his contemporary for his reformist outlook.
    Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu, celebrated 19th century poet who died 100 years ago, was this and much more. He was a playwright, avadhani, composer, choreographer, teacher and researcher in traditional medicine whose proven abilities in these diverse fields were acknowledged by the society.
    His was the first published Telugu translation of Devi Bhagavatham, done in 6 months, although his famous contemporaries, Tirupati Venkata Kavulu, were the first to write. Telugunaadu, Suryasatakamu, Kruthulu, Padamulu, Javalilu’ and ‘Abhinaya Darpanamu’, a treatise on dance, are among the many of his works.
    Yet, little is known about this self-made scholar and his achievements to the present generation, with the exception of men of letters, singers and performing artistes. Many of his works are lost. The efforts of Mahakavi Dasu Sriramulu smaraka samiti over the past 30 years have spawned renewed interests in his work. The Department of Culture has set the ball rolling for year-long programmes to mark the death centenary of Srirama Kavi.
    Born into a rich Brahmin family in Kurada in Krishna district on April 8, 1846, Sriramulu developed insatiable thirst for learning from childhood on. He composed songs and wrote Somalingeswara Satakam when he was only 12 years and Satrajiti Vilasamu, a yakshaganam, at 14. His talents were further honed in the company of scholars at Akiripally where he learnt Sanskrit grammar and avadhanam.
    He opened schools and taught in Kowtharam and Dokiparry villages even while preparing for law examination. When Sriramulu moved to Machilipatnam to take up legal practice, the villagers elders bore him round on a bedecked palanquin. Such was their love. Again, when an English teacher of Eluru, was sacked for no reason. Sriramulu started a school with him as headmaster. He also started a music school in Eluru with the famous Nallanchakravarthula Tiruvengadacharya as principal.
    A staunch reformer, he opposed tonsuring of widowed women and defied social norms to teach music and dance to women, including outcastes like devadasis. He allowed his daughter to give concerts and regularly took his wife to literary gatherings. He took on two corrupt judges, had one of them removed from service and another put in jail!.
    Firebrand Congress leader Bipin Chandra Pal, who visited Bezawada in 1905, found none volunteering to preside over his meetings for fear of incurring the wrath of the British. Sriramulu came forward to chair the meeting.
    He died on May 16, 1908.
    Here is the article by Sri Thanikella Bharani, in SUJANA RANJANI" publication by Silicon Andhra association, issue of March 2012.
    సాధారణంగా కళాకారులకి లౌకిక వ్యవహరాలు పట్టవు. వాళ్ళది అదోలోకం. కలల్లో బతకడం..కానిదేదన్నా జరిగితే కళ్ళనీళ్ళుపెట్టికోవడం బొత్తిగా లోకజ్ఞానం లేకపోవడం
    కాస్త పేరుండగానే నాలుగు రాళ్ళు సంపాయించుకోండయ్యా అని ఎవరైనా చెప్తే ‘నిధి చాలా సుఖమా’ అని త్యాగరాజ కీర్తనలూ..
    కారణం ఏమిటంటే కళ సున్నితమైనది.
    కళాకారుల సున్నితమనస్కులు..(కళాకారుల్లో కర్కోటకులూ ఉన్నారు అది వేరే విషయం) అయితే అవసరమయితే గుండెరాయి చేసుకుని..మంచికోసం తిరగబడ్డ వారు కూడా ఉన్నారు.
    అందులో ఒకరు

    దాసు శ్రీరాములుగారు.

    ఆయన 1864 ప్రాంతంలో పుట్టారు.
    నూజివీడు ప్రభువు రాజా శోభనాద్రి అప్పారాయణి వారిచ్చే విద్యార్ధి వేతనములతో చదువుకుంటూ సంగీతము, సాహిత్యము కూడా నేర్చుకున్నారు.
    ఇటు చదువూ అబ్బింది! అటు సంగీతమూ అబ్బింది!

    న్యాయవాద వృత్తి చేపట్టి...ఏలూరులో ప్రాక్టీసు కూడా పెట్టారు. అది వృత్తి.
    జావళీలు, పదాలు, స్వరజతులూ, కృతులూ రాశారు. ఇది ప్రవృత్తీ!

    ఎందుకంటే వెధవ కళలు కూటికా - గుడ్డకా అంటూంటారు చాలామంది! కూడు గుడ్డా ఉంటే జీవితం అయిపోయిందా!అందుకే ఓ మహానుభావుడన్నాడు ‘Few Live - Many Exist' అని. కొంతమంది బతికేస్తూ ఉంటారు. కొంతమందే జీవిస్తారు.
    కొత్తిమీర - కరివేపాకు కావాల్సిందే. పులుసులో పడేస్తే ఘుమఘుమలాడతాయ్...మర్నాటికి ఫినిష్.
    కానీ మల్లెపూల పరిమళం సందర్భాన్ని బట్టి ఏళ్ళ తరబడి అనుభూతి మిగులుస్తుంది.!!
    సరే శ్రీరాములు గారి ప్లీడరీ మూడు పువ్వులు.. ఆరు కాయలుగా నడుస్తోంది..బోల్డంత సంపాదనా, కీర్తి-ప్రతిష్టా!
    పేరు చెప్తే చాలు..రెండు చేతులూ ఎత్తి దండం పెట్టే స్థాయికి ఎదిగారు.
    దీనితోపాతు వీలు దొరికినప్పుడల్లా సంగీత సభలు నిర్వహించడం. వొచ్చిన విద్వాంసులకి ఘనంగా సన్మానాలూ..
    ఆత్మకింపయిన భోజనాలు..
    ఆ కాలం ఎలాంటిదీ?
    సంగీతమైనా, సాహిత్యమైనా కేవలం ‘పురుషులకి మాత్రమే’ స్త్రీలకు కూడదు..పైగా దోషం!
    సంగీతం గానీ, నృత్యం గానీ, ఆడవాళ్ళు చేస్తే రాణిస్తుందీ అనేది శ్రీరాములు గారి నిశ్చితాభిప్రాయం.
    అంచేత ఆయనే ఏకంగా ఒక సంగీత పాఠశాలని ఏర్పాతు చేశారు.
    స్త్రీలకి సంగీతం - నృత్యం నేర్పించబడును. అని ఏలూరంతా ప్రచారం చేయించారు.
    ఆ రోజు సంగీత పాఠశాల ప్రారంభోత్సవం.. ఆయన దగ్గర పనిచేసే స్టాఫ్..తప్ప పురుగులేదు!
    సంప్రదాయ సంగీత విద్వాంసులంతా పాఠశాలని వెలేశారు.
    మద్యస్తు వాళ్ళు మనకెందుకులే అని అటేపు కన్నెత్తి చూళ్ళేదు..
    సంగీత పాఠశాల బోర్డు..కళా..కాంతీ లేకుండా వేళాడుతోంది..
    ఒక్కరంటే ఒక్కరొస్తే వొట్టు..అటు చేరడానికీ విద్యార్ధులూ లేరు..స్పందించే సభికులూ లేరు..
    బెంగేసింది శ్రీరాములు గారికి..మనసులో మధనపడి పోతున్నారు.
    ఏవిటీ దారుణం.‘వరవీణా మృదుపాణీ’ అయిన సరస్వతీ దేవి ఆడది గదా..
    మరి ఆడాళ్ళు సంగీతం నేర్చుకోవడానికి అభ్యంతరం యేవిటి? ఎందుకుంటుందీ?
    నాజూకైన ఆడవాళ్ళ కంఠంలోని మార్దవం మొగాళ్ళకెలా వస్తుందీ? సున్నితమైన గాజుల చేతులు వీణ మీటడంలోని సొగసు పురుషులకెలా సాధ్యం!
    అవన్నీ సరే అర్ధనారీశ్వర రూపాంతర్గతమైన మహిళల పట్ల ఈ వివక్షత ఏమిటి?
    పురాణాల వరకూ ఆడది ఆదిశక్తే!
    పరిగణనలోకొచ్చేసరికి పనిమనిషి ఈ దుర్మార్గాన్ని ఖండించాల్స్తిందే!
    శ్రీరాములు గారి మనస్సులో ధను‘ష్టం’కారం!
    ఎవరు రాకపోయినా ఈ సంగీత యజ్ఞం ఆగదు!
    అని తన కన్న కూతురైన ‘శారదాంబ’ తో సంగీతం - నృత్యం రెండూ ఆరంభించారు.
    కాస్సేపటికి ఇద్దరు మహిళలొచ్చారు.
    మేం సంగీతమ్ ,నృత్యం నేర్చుకొనటానికొచ్చామండీ!
    పులకించిపోయారు శ్రీరాములుగారు..
    మీ పేర్లేంటమ్మా!
    చదలవాడ పిచ్చాయి..!
    పినపాక భవాని...!
    చాలా సంతోషం తల్లీ..ఎవ్వరూ రారనుకుని బెంగపడ్తున్నా..
    కానీ మేమూ..
    అయితే ఏవీ...మనమంతా సంగీత నృత్యదాసులం. కట్టండి గజ్జెలూ..
    తానే గురువై నృత్యాన్ని ఆరంభించారు.
    ఆ రోజుల్లో.. సంగీతం, నాట్యం వేశ్యలు తప్ప నేర్చుకునేవారు కాదు.
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