At the dawn of 19th century a reassessment of the existing cultural values began in India and stalwarts like Ram Mohan Roy, Eswara Chandra Vidya Sagar, Ranade, Dayananda Saraswathi were pioneers of the renaissance movement. In Andhra area K. Veeresalingam, Gurazada Appa Rao and others took it up. Tripuraneni Ramaswamy had been a worthy successor of the great reformers who undertook the task and strove for the spread of new ideas among Telugu speaking people.
Tripuraneni Ramaswamy was born on 15-01-1887 in Anagaluru village in the Krishna District of the present day Andhra Pradesh in a family of Agriculturists. Ramaswamy grew up in an agricultural background, but tempered by literary refinement. At the age of 23 he passed Matriculation Examination and in the same year he wrote two plays ÂKarempudi Kadanam” based on Palanadu battle and also “Kurukshetra Sangramam” based on Mahabharatha war. He joined the Noble College at Bandar in 1911 to study for Intermediate Course. In those years he displayed his literary skill and prodigious memory in his Avadhanam.
In 1914, he went to Britain and studied law in Dublin. There he studied not only law but also the vast English Literature and the modern European culture. After returning to India he practiced law for some years mostly in Tenali town. But his main activity was directed towards social reform. He launched a full scale attack on the caste system and the social injustice which were propagated by Smritis and Puranas and the institutionalized religion. He led the fight against social inequality and inequity.
He chose literary writing as the vehicle for expressing his rationalistic thought for the awakening of his people. His famous work SUTAPURANAMM’ in four cantos was a fierce attack on ancient Puranas which were powerful instruments to spread unquestioning faith among the people in custom, tradition, caste system. His inimitable logic and wide range of knowledge displayed in his works is amazing. His poetic work Kuppuswamymy Satakam” reveals the theme of Social Revolution and tells many home truths about social evils, blind faith and indignity to man. In this work he blazed the train which Vemana centuries back heralded.
In all his other works such as ‘SAMBHUKAVADHA”, “SUTHASHRAMA GEETHAALU’, ‘DHOORTHA MAANAVA’, ‘KHOONI’, ‘BHAGAVADGITA’, ‘RANA PRATAP’, ‘KONDAVEETI PATHANAM’, he made a rational analysis of dogmas prescribed by ancient classics and the injustice done to people belonging to lower social order and attacked all the discriminating standards advocated by the Smritis. He was a fighter for the upliftment of the down trodden and the hapless.
Ramaswamy not only expressed his ideas in literature, he tried to put them into practice. He was against the cumbersome procedure of Hindu marriage resulting in unnecessary expenditure. He prepared a simple procedure in Telugu called,’Vivaha Vidhi”, himself officiated as priest and conducted many marriages. When he was the Chairman of Tenali Municipality he did not permit animal sacrifice to appease Devatas. He fought against the Scourge of untouchability. He was reformer in thought and in practice.
Ramaswamy was an ardent patriot even when he was a student, he wrote a patriotic play “RANA PRATAP”, which was proscribed by the British government. When he was studying law at Dublin he wrote to Krishna Patrika, a Telugu weekly appealing to Indians to support the Home Rule movement stared by Annie Beasant. He pleaded for India’s independence. Ramaswamy wrote many patriotic songs inspiring the people to great heights of sacrifice during the independence movement.
He was an ardent lover of Telugu language and culture and was proud of their history. He was an educationist and was a member of the senate of the Andhra University for three terms. He was recipient of many honors and was popularly known as ‘KAVIRAJU’, a title conferred on him.
This great revolutionary thinker and poet died in 1943 but left his imprint on the development of rational thought among Telugu speaking people.
His eldest son Tripuraneni Gopichand had left his own indelible mark on the telugu literature.
Gokulchand Tripuraneni has contributed his literary might to the telugu literature. One of his most famous and outstanding works is in the form of a drama, reflecting the drought of Bengal in the 1950s.
Pitcheswara Rao Atluri, a Royal Indian Navy mutineer, during the Indian Freedom movement, married Ramaswamy’s youngest daughter Chouda Rani. She is perhaps the first woman, to run a bookstore exclusively in Telugu language in Tamilnadu the land of Tamils, in the peninsular India. She too contributed to the telugu literature in her own way. She passed away in 1996.