C3al·i~ipati ~udl·ay}'a Chouiderl


Reform Movement in Goda~ari District: (1878-1939) An Attempt To-Wards Social Justice

BY .




Pro!. (Smt.) P. Ramolakshmi, Nagarjuna Untverslty,


Among all the Soda-religious reterrn movements in lnd\'8, erahmo-Samaj was the oldest. It combined in itself the reform of both religious practices and social customs. The radical 'I)Ji-tradit,ional approach that Brahmo Same] preached found a ready response in Coastal Andhra. There was an attempt C)f Brahma Haidu, to break the caste barriers through poputarising VaishnsvifSm in 12th century A.D. in a remote corner of Andhra, PalnCldu. But this ended in vain. Again the poet-philosopher Vemana exposed the contemporary practices in 'gentle~ irony and subtle humour', understandableeven to the people of minimum education Both of them attacked social inequalities. But with r~g€Jrd to women. their ideas were no better than the can .. ventlonal Hindu views.


The appeal of Brahmo-Sama] for re1.igious reform and social action reached Andhra. The schools and colleges became the nerve centres of reform actlvitv. Brahmo personalities like Raja Rama Mohan Roy, Oevendranatha Tagore, Kesav Chandra

, Sen. Rlbindranatha lagore, Hemachandra Sarkar. Mazumdar, Sitanadha Tettwabhushen. Bipin Chandrapal began appealing to the educated Andhras A network of Samajas sprang up in Andhra '0 promote the Brahmo- ideals with the intention that it was "a synthesis of the doctrines of the European enllqhtenment w-ith the philosophica, views of the Upanishads".

The earliest 'rarthana Sarna] in Andhra was established in 1878 by Veete,alingam in his own hcuse at Rajahmandry- Pandit Sivan!tdha Sastri visited Rajahmundrv once in 1181 and again in 1890 for propagation of Brahmoiam. The prayers em.

phaslsed the oneness of God while the meetings focussed on the need for reform. These were attends d by students, Vijeyawada Prarthana Samaj was established in 1880 by Bethapudi Jogi

urya Prakasa Rao. At Machilipatnam, Samaj was established n '9-2-1882. Students from Andhra -Jateeva Kalasala were Iso taking interest in it. Next in importance was the Prarthaa Samaj at Kakinada. It was founded in 1888 with 15 mam-: ers. The holding of Theistic conference at Kakinada in 1SES Iso added to the spread of Brahma Samaj. Between 190'.04,

')rahma Pracharaks visited Kakinada. The most promirent were ri V. R. Shinde from Bombay and Hema Chandra Sarkar from alcutta.


The year 1901 proved to be a turning point in the history

f this Samaj. "ao Surva Rao returned from NEwington an~ became the Raja of Pithapur. Venkata Ratnam Naidu was chosen as the principal of Pithapur Raja's college at Kaklnada and hence, he shifted from Secunderabad. Veeresalingam in that year, returned from Madras to Rajahmundry. So, with the ret rn of these three personatities to Andhra, the reform zeal' manifested itself ;n a movement with a widened base. The leadership of Venkataratnam Naidu, coupled with the patronege of pithapur Raja transferred Kakinada into a second Calcutta. , , 910, at the time of Babu Hemchandra Sarkar's visit to Kakinada, the name of Prarthsna Samaj was changed to Brahm

tarna], The year 1917 proved to be another significant ve Devulapalli Venkata Krishna SastlY, Peddada Ramaswamy, dipati Venkata C halam and Mokkapati Ramamurthi joined 5 maj With the building of the orphanage and Up.sana Mandlr t ere was consistent activity of the SarTIsj. Its inherent -_ .• _gth was revealed when it questioned the propriety of .at .. ratnem's action in joining the Justice party. An 8OJD.1I'4I December 4.1917 was signed by 17 members of Kak·~ ...... - pOinting out that he joined 8 narrower crgani2IifIQ."1I.

c ste and requested him to rece nsider his d 1

ned a meeting and tried to convince in vain the t at he lolned it 8S the party stood fOl 80cl I JUSIHRt


Krishna patrlka, june 15, 1918 criticised the growing disunity among the members of Kakinada Samaj. It condemned the attitude of the Kakinada Samaj of considering non-Brahmos has timid and hypocratic. Again Krishna Patrika wrote an editorial in 1918. Palaparti Narasimham while trying to answer the erie

· ticlsm gave priority to institution rather than rationality. To this Chalam replied in his letter dated .Januarv 11# 1919.

The other Prarthana Samajas established in 19th century

. were~ one at 8himavaram in 1890. The Samaj at Parlakimidi was founded in 1893 and Guntur Prarthana Serna] vias founded in 1898. The Samajas that were established in 20th century were those at i Epuripalem in 1900; Peddapuram and Bapatla in 1901, Chirala in 1902; Narasaraopeta in 1904; Eluru, Visa- . khapatnam and Narasapuram in 1206, end at Pithapuram in 1911. Among them the one Pithapuram, founded by Mokka .. pati subbaravudu and Koka Subbarao was more active due to the constant inspiration of Venkataratnam Equally important were the Epuripalem and Chirala Samajas, being activated by Pillarisetti Seetharamaiah, Akurathi Chalamayya, Akurathi Sreeramulu, Krishnamurti etc.

Though various samajas were established at various places of Andhra, it was Rajahmundry-Kakinada region alone that kept up the movement by supplying waves of committed followers who cared on the Brahmo traditicns.

Social reform movement in Andhra was mostly associated with the movement in Godavari district The waves of ecmmitted followers coming from the institutions like P. R. Cotlege and Orphanage were responsible for the consistent streng of the Samaj This provided the distlnctlon to this region. Th~tsamajas at Machilipatnam and Guntur occupied promin a while, Rajahmundry-Kakinada continued its lead.

Another Brahmo samaj, with great vigour, set itself for social justice. first it attended to the r6ctification of in

the institution of marriage, It successfully carried t

widow marriage movement. The marriages done might

but the courage and confidence created made many unfortunate women to face the challenges bravely When the leader. reati .. sed that rehabilitation through marriage was having ita own constraints, they began emphasizing education and employment as an alternative. With regard to this, they had the suppo,t of traditionalists also, as Hindu serne] too, supported the cause of education.

Then the reformers began looking at other areas of lnius, tlcei nautch suffering under sexual discrimination, Adi Andhra suffering under caste discrimination and or phan being left out due to class discrimination Brahms Samaj Ieaders in Andhra reacted positively to these problems of nautch, untouchlbility and the orphan They worked for the abolition of the naUfe ~ uplifting the Adi Andhra and protecting the orphan. Hence the entire movement was intended to inculcate the spirit of sett .. respect amonq women inculcating nautch, Adi Andhras 8nO

rphans and thus enable it to be in line, marching tcwarct. mo elflity and progress. They looked at western education as the leveller.

Canadian Baptist Missionary Society started fanctioning in Kakinada from 1869. It started schools at Kakinada, Pithapur m, Barnac h&ndrepuram, ftajahmulidry and Peddepuram. 11 rln girls school at Kaktnada. In 1885 it started Timpany Me

ri I School at Kakinada. Boarding echool for girls was founded in '876 at Jagannaikapur near Kakinada In 1883, boys schools were started in Ramachandraputam and f'eddlp am.

Socia' reformers started their own schools. gam founded 8 high school in November, \181, _,.---- 1IlW\4 ...... free education to the g.r Is snd penchama bOYI. narasimh&m, Dronamraju Krishna Rao, CbUak narasimham emuteted the example by IdGin te the ftWrtD ..... sc ools. With the founding of Hitakarini Samej, IW sc 00.8 and widow's Home appe'tn'd.

Higher education catMed to the needl of t

Pithapur House patronised the col 8 MIIIt",,·Ntl ..


Degree College at Rajahmuncfry was maintained with government funds. Zanana educat ion or Home educatir n for girls was imparted in RaJahmundry. As a result of the spread of lit,eracy spirit of questioning the contemporary religious and social pract ices increased By imbibing the ideas otecue lity and social justice, the reformers could carryon fight against 8ge.old customs like early marriage, restrictions on widcw marriage, against caste system, agains, concubinage, and against restrictions on education.


1. Patronage of Rao Surva Rao 8ahadur, R. V. K. M. (7885-1965)

In Surva Rao, there was sh arp intal lect and senstive heart.

,," ,

"In the history of Brahmo Samaj, nc bidv displayed such gene-

rosity to spread Brahmo dharma as the Raja was". K Rama Sastri, "with him (Pithapur Raja) as Wii h h's leaders from Ram rnohan to Veeresalingam, Social reform is not a fashion but 3 faith: not a convenience but a conviction", He provided venue for Congregat ional prayers in his "thana" for Kaklnada Samaj Later, he built an Upasana Mandir, on the lines suggested by Naidu garu, imbibing the architectural featues of mosque, church and temple, at a cost of one lakh of rupees in those days. Further, he built orphanage in 1903 The Raja also, bestowed his attention on Sadhsnasrarna bv bearing its expenses for propagation of Brahmo Dharma. He furthe( created a Trust 'Aneth' Brahmo Dharma pracharak Trust.

With one lskh of rupees for books and transalaUons on Brahmo Samaj available at subsidiary prices. so as to propagate theistic ideas. I n the same way, he had given financial sup· port to a net work of institu t i ens I ike city college at Calcutta (Rs. 75000), Women's university at PUll8. besides the V salingam Theistic High School, RajahmundlY He SUppOl number of women"s hospitals, maternity homes Mel Reaou. Homes in several plaes To \ha upkeep 0 tH- . aW:~ at Raj~hmundry, he gave Rs- 60 evef¥ manth fer acm.t. later raised it to Rs. 100 per month for ctee~8OII'"


2) Education;;1 Institutions

Schools and colleges established by social reformers were under the manaqement of Brahma Samaj members. JSYfnti Ganganna was the Head rraster of Veeresalingam Theistic High

chocl. Rajahrnundry while Guruju Venkata Swamy worked 8S the Head Master of the Orphanage schoc I, Kakineda between 1917-53 Or. Vemud Ramakrishna Rao end Peddada Rama swarnv I the Successive principals of P R. College, Kakinada \I\'ere anustanic Brahmcs. Thus various batches were groomed against Brahmo background.

Educational institutions began supplying committed Br#3hmas and svrnpatheslsers in large numbers. VeeresalingBm er d Venkata Ratnam , ... aidu. influer ced '/ruth in getting their live •. committed to reform work and made them volunteers in action oriented programmes Veeresalingam, in his autobicqraphv, says that his students were always hi~ supporters in reecuing the 'child widows frem their homes and in gf,ttirg them settled through marriage. The regard many students had towards Venkata Ratnam was beautifully expressed by the Krishna Sastry in his verses, pointing to the 'nspiraticn they received, in hi "Brahrnai sh i".

The students at the R.R f3h R. High School at Pithepurem,

. the collegiate school at kakinada .. the Veeresaliogam ThEistic High School at Rajahmundry and the P. ft. College were at

pporters of ref\ rm cause Another feature associated

these educational institutions was the principle of co-edu t adopted with success uu~ to the gener sity of the Raja, education was opened to, the poor, women students Depressed Classes.

This free education policy along with the Ofl"!'Mllr'I

torial skilled teachers prcpagating Prahmo dous impact from the Principal's chait ... nursery (orphanage) and sanctuary iupasana M •• " • .,.

nter parts of this rosary {College)". In 19 8 joined the college as Tutor.

3) Contracts with Bengal:

Godavari District was having -lntlmata contacts withBen, gar Various Brahrno leaders visited Andhra several1imes tor spreading Brahmo Dharma In a similar gesture many Brahmos

. from this region continued their contacts witt- Calcutta. Many of them both men and women received their lraining there and became Pracharaks. Pedabapaiah. Pillarlsettl 'Sitaramaiah, Dr. V. Ramakrishna Rao, Palaparti Narasimham and his wif~ .Batnamanikymba, PalavajjulaLakshminarayana and Venkataratnamma

, . - . . '

Smt. 'Gnarrambs, Aokkam Balakrishna Rao and Smt R Sunda-

ramma, Akurafhi-Chalamayy'a, -Nabhi Jagennadha Rao etc, were all trained at Sadhanasramam at Calcutta. For the Brahrnos in

.. • ' 4.

Kakinada,Calcutta became 1he spiritual capital.


Veeresalingam (1849-<1919),' and Venkataratnam 'Naidu (1862.1939') provided unique leadership 'Both-01'them were -in 1-eaching prcfession and trained them 'how to mould 1heir personali1ies and work for the upriftment o'f the 'Society Both of them were crusaders of women education, 1'ehabrlit8tion of the unfortunate women ~ VeeresaLingam wDrked for widow mauiage while Venkata Ratnam was for 'setting the dancing girls through 'man.iage), insis1ence on puritanic ways of living, find ,of all without caste, class and gender. They pDl!>ulariFed these 'thrtlU9h personal appeals, lectures and publk:ationa •

. Next to the serviCEs of the Pithapur Raja. thO pal·li Krishr;l8~a9tr.v (189.7- 1-980) -stand Quf unique for PGPularisin,u 8fahmo .prinCiples throug sifnt»le QUS sfangs g08$ to -Krishna Sastry. -He was f8 rr.t,gas An.,_ Tagore and Trailokya Sanyal. Hk5 eongs W-.I..aWlhmo samaj for the purpose of prayer, and for procession . and nagara sankeertanas

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Gudipati venkatachalam was a close disciple of Venkat.

Ratnam Naidu and came under his impact He was giving sermons and lectures. He even became the secretary of Andhra Brahmo Sadhanasramam and activated it through Nagara Sankeertanas. He was contributing articles to [ournals in support of Brahmo Ilharn1a. He introduced attendance at prayer meetings and Maghotsav8s.· The impact of these towering personalities on the students and youth was significant. Whether Anustanic or not, almost every student came under the impact of puritanism ard progressive ideas regarding women, education and public life.

5) Structural support to Kakinada Samaj .

There were some institutions meant for the propagation of Brahmo Dharma, "Sadhanasrama' was founded by Raghupati Venkata Ratnam Naidu on 26-11-1911 in association with Kavi kondala Sambasiva Rao Jayanti Venkata Narayana, Kamraju Hanernantha Rao, V. P. Raju and Tallapragada Prakasa Rayudu, A Trust called " Andhra Brahmabandhu hidhi" with an amount of Rs 5000/. was deposited by Dr Vemuri Ramakrishna Reo to help financially the miss ionaries and sick Brahmo8. Nabhi J • gannadha Rao was its secretary.

6) Papers and M3gaz;nes

To spread Brahmo Dharma, Andhra lirahmo Dhar.,. Mel ... nasrama started bringing "Dharma Jyothi" a monthly Ir ~7-9-1939. There was another monthly 'Dharma Sadhanil ming from 1 .. 11·19 I'. spreading theld.als of BrahmO .... It

-The puhlleetlontef these papers eAd -th' .

. . en readersh i p in G d .

distract could be another reason for God' caveu

the headquarters of Brahrno Sarna], avan district becomin~

,V) l mpeci

1) Orphans

. The genesis for the establ ishrnent of Gannadh R

1C I ~ ar amaraya

aruna ava was the informal friedly talk between V k t R

d P' h -. en a a at-

nam an It ,~pur Raja ,~ury_a Rao about the possibilities of hu-

man. sy~pa~hles expressmq itself in various ways like hospitals nursing homes, asylums for the aged and orphanages. The Raj~

rea<?ted to t~e .Iast one savinq "1 would do an'lthing _ for that ,

• . know- w.hat It IS to be an orphan" , Sir Arthur Lawley laid the

.. foundah~n .stone for it in 1907. Smt Rajya lekshrnl. Ananda Bao one of the earliest inmates.of the lnstitution.savs that the-' re were attectionate Iy looked after by the Royal Household at Pithapor }VenkafaR8tn.m~Naidu garwwhom -they cal1ed as peda-

,'u" and setles.nt-superintendents, 'The inmat-es W8te tgiven baslc.eduoetton (till 'I For..m) in: an; attached ~ scheol wi.,.. ,Guruji cVehkata Swamy··at hedamaster from 191'7-5:3. A~ong with forrlu~r'educatioA"skills·tike-sewing and singjng.were-teught to them. They-were allowed to .srav on tiil' they. complete their educaticnal career and get suitably married. Its superein-

'tendents-were V. :':P.-Raju, PiliarisettiSitaramaiah, Nabhi Jaga- nrtadtTa -Rao, Ak~Tathi Chatamayya and I\,"srakani Janaki Ramsw Yf&. AU c""ttl'em happened to be anustanic Brahrrres and were

"prach8faks-ofhtghest order They showered their tove'an'd'affe'ettan' to - Them and brought 'hem up as tJrahmos 'witf1'Ot1t'~v 'tt'istincttorr'of caste, ctass and gender, -Royal couple'alwavs m-

rodueed 'the irrmates of' the or ph_nage to' their awn chUdterr" :tJro'hers.aOd sisters, asking them '''to remember that atwaVS"'· Thus the inmates of Karunalave reared to in 'Srahmo traditio-

als; ... continued to be. the committed. members ?' Reform

Mo emen.t. It.provided the Grg8n~~ational bactiM' YeMent 'UhtlUghr theinm&kes oamerfrom ·flM t

they wete Slight! to be. 0fl8. 1ih8Y.admit t-dley

felt themselves 8S orph8ns~sincetlWY ad,:b ....... '


mous personalities throughout and hence did not miss happy childhood.

2) Ad; Andhr8s or P8nchamas

The presence and participation of a large nUIT ber of people belonging to the lowest social cader added a new dimensic n to the Brahmo Samaj in this region .. The policy of the reformers towards Adi Andhras was to free the stigma impurity. At the same time was an lIppeal to the touchaetes to identify themselves with "the kith and kin, the flesh and blood of those who are called the depressed classes". Venkata Ratnam Naidu says nit is not in a spirit of patrc.nage, it is not from its necessity for the political advancement of the country .. it is not even as an expression of scciat justice, it is wholly and 8fsentiallv, on the basls of the righte(Jus dispensation of God, which treats all as the equal enjoyers of His blessing".

Brahmo leaders p'8cfsed close adherence to ~di Andhr ••• Kandukuri Rajya Lakshrnl once brcugh1 a fainted ~di '-ndhra to her house with the help of Kanaplrthi ~reeramulu and served him. In a similar way, VenkataRatnam aidu brcUGht four Adi Andhra girls from ponneri railway station. He looked after them as his own children and got them educated.

The refor mers started schools 10 educate these children.

Veeresaligam establisht d 8 school ""hich admitted in 'anch8m8 boys who were giVE n free education. The Pithapur Raja donated Rs. 70,000 to the development of the school. Chil ....... 1C11 Narasimham established Aammohan school for penche ... in Rejahmundry in February 1909 upto 4th at8ndarcl. 1 were no fees. ~ ven the slates .and books were supplied to children as incentives to come to the school. Ita pec. to offer English medium too.

By 1915, the strength of the school rose to 1 end 7 teachers. The f ithapur A.ja,. from fhia

making annual donation of Rs. 500. A nEW H ij8n ---

N.rasimha Rao, was appointed in the school but ,

for higher pay in Missionary school.


. There was a systematic and orpanlzatlonat attempt f d·

. h h . D • 0 e u.

eating t e pane arnas In n8Jahmundry. A society came u _

der the presidentship of Chilakamarti LakhmiNarasimham ~tun t up a net work of 10 schools around Rajahrnundry and m~na::d them through Government grants and donations. Tallapragada Prakasa Rayudu, another Brahmo was its secretary.

The external outfit of health and education were provided by the patronage of the e~tate. The idea of self- respect was implanted in them by the Brahrno lyrical-poet Krishna Sastry.

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He had a very close association -, with the Adi Andhra lodge at Pithapurarn and he gave the name "Sudharma" to the prayer hall there. The attitude of the Brahrno leaders was "forseeing education as the best solvent of all problems and leveller of society" and it ilwas imparted free in all its stages to Harijans, not in segregated insti tutions but in his college and high schools which were opened to all other classes" Almost ell of them, along with education also received training in Brahmo Sarna], Many of them began propagting it while the rest were

employed in top posttions.

The following were, Harijan men benefitted by the rnuniflcience of Pithapur Raja by their stay either at Pithapuf 'Or 8t Kakinada and rose up in lives; Sabba Neelakantam, retired •• - cretary, Government of India, Delhi, Padmasree Boyi Shearn'· nna. famous poet and chief nanstator to goverl"lment of ~ ra Pradesh, Dr P. Rama rao, surgeon, Government Hvderabed. Bhupati Rammohan rae, joint secretary (R'A",am Secretariat, Hyderabad, Boddu Rammotaan r80 (btftUClftL Karunalaya) lawyer Hyderabad, K. Krishh8 lVurthv,


Dr. G. Rejendra Prasad, M. B.B.S., Dr. P. Veeraju, Bhupati Swamy, Tahsildar, Badugu Venketa Reddy, Tahsilder etc. Thole who chose the teaching line include D. Apparao, Pamu R8 ... mmurthi, Kasi Appanna, Kommu Appa Reo etc. The beneficiaries also include 8ejja ~ ppala swamy, and .itipudi Genapati Rao, ex-MLAs. Venkanna studied at Rammohan school in Rajahmundrv and at P. R. College at Kak inada, He became Deputy Tahsildar. He named his child as Lakshmi Narsimham as Markendeyulu did. In a similar manner, the names of Krishna Sastry ard Tarakam were given to the next generation in appericiation of their services to the Harlian cause, We do find the first line of Harijan leaders coming up.

The list of beneficia, ies of Pithspur Estate also iftclude 8 number of women who were able to rise up in their careers. Some of them were; Dr Boddu Sarojamba. M B B S ,Smt Boddu Sarojini, teacher, Smt R. Vimala Devi, teacher, Smt Kommu Damayanti, teacher, Smt. R Meenakshi, warden, Medical college hostel, Kakinada, Smt. K. Kamala, Hostel Mana , and Smt. S. Paripurna, Asst. Women Welfare officer. Besides~ladies there ware Smt. A.. Karunamma, Smt, O. Surya Kanamm& Smt, V. Venkata Ratnamma, Smt. T. Suryakantamma, Smt. M. Karuna Devi, Smt P. Venkata Ratnamma, Smt. N. Babayamma, Smt. Pandiri Narasamma, Smt, Pandiri Meenakshi etc. T. large number of beneficiaries acknowledged their debt U1e Pithapur House.

By the time, Gandhi was propagating the idea of r.amftVJ .. of Untouchability, the people in Godavari district had already

been familiar Hence, during on" of Gandhi.n mee ngs,

Rejahmundry, his attention was drawn to the pioneers- Veeresalingam and Pithapur Rajah wh working in this part even on a larger m.... by

in audience. Then Gandhi acknowledged it :00 •• _.-

the reformers.

The services of Brahmo leaders WI'. acknoWI8GJQII8 contemporary Harijan community. Many AfJl Arul¥Al.


davs.:nam~d I eif' lcm °ldren iter I L8~Bbmi ras, (Cbitaka~a _), KI\.ahna .. SB~tI\Y. (D'&~u18panV)ali'ld :Tar kam,\Kamb\mmpa.. lJ tRam.afiWl. ~)) and.' Llpp.D'J\Md$.t,ammo·.cauae.

3) Wo~

~he t'ed~thtlna'I_~M1ew ltb~Jma'n~'beiAg PttP~ liet!lle!8nd .bread - winner and woman being care- taker of home and fami-

fNl.,_S'efthl'!l5I~' :attJn~k.d'.'Df';tlM'rM.eimet'8, They w~ed wotma. '_ ~i.....,.!mer:sstf 'wilttl,..dtlJ'eation.aFKi+ta : __ laer- J)e.f.t .in JQ.Qiatv.._ ,Ad,te"~~f1ieso -of- -aeQi·ualOD.4 .rre' ra iWOlltBn tbeg_

" .. tlllSi;ldiv&<p8:r$. .GlW11fllt rSGcia"'lfe.fDtm i' m'OVe1l\ellt. .1 her:.-~were ~c.r~s*rs,(ier fl~r "CfWS6- Veeresalingam'furJ wid&w man1isge .. Ra)!a$~am VenkaJa ,~ivJKfufother,c8ducation and ,Aaghupati Venk8-

ta,ratQa.Ql t(U -BRti,-A8utcb. and:,Socil.puroity •. Among tRam.'I.e.v,sBJs ·n,is .concern fOI women·jn lha-toRe of-. radical ferojnJil lo. his .hock IISatY..81a.ja Purvadesa Yatraw" fir-

st pLU>lisbe.d in _ , 8-91. T.be_ strnna.dosa o.f satue In this makes him the .exponent.of radical .. fe~inismill A~dhla, p.riar .. v.en to Chalarn.

'Brahmo ~ amajinsisted on weekly cong"egat1onal prayers

ilnd meetings andbrcuqht the the w men frequent1v into Dubllclife Regular_ andspecial pravers and frequent get.togethers bt'OUJJh_t 'so.cJa'fiza!ion at 8 steady. pace arne ng women. Tftey began meeting outside their homes and were interacting wi\ll .. p.e,apje the"famitv and retativea ctrde .. ':h8Y~ ~ un-

ders.ta.ndioG rne discussions centering,around .thell raartlageabi.

~, r,am8fJ~g8~ .. 8d.UC8tiQnal-cur-ricuIYm e&c. AU .sra~o .

U&l. Mlowed,rev«en~ial attitude, \QwlUds ,wome ., blJajQM, l'laying ,conalrn for lefotm.

Spouses beQllll laking active part-in Sal1UlJ .ctiadties. . thay wets first, to..ccwe.u.ndar·the i.mpact,Df B.rahmo. m fa~" i~ was. t.he palt1-c-ip.l.ion.ol th.i~ 'Iuge I .. ,.I.m:·_"': ,_, C!'4OU!ted n",e h. :5mt. KBltdukllf1'·~ .. led ....

..... t!ofJl, ...

-K, ,V. .. raaahngent tM86 t bIl· .ani" tG

int -and·· °ojp81. in the, . iti

iuta mi 1 ban1 on . lJ

by following her husband in social reform work.


Ie hearted supportto veeresalingam in all his anti-traditional activity. She stood by his side even when many of his mal. friends were withdrawing themselves and were undergoing pu rificatory rites She shar€d fifty years of his life and her hearty and consistent cooperation was acknowledged by Veeresa~ lingam in the dedication of his autobiography to her.

Rajyalakshmamma, besides showering her affection end hospitality on all es.a house-wife. managed :the women's winG of the prarthana Samaj .as a Pracharak. Eyery Sunday, she wa~ gathering the neighbGuing wotnen and inmates of the widow Home for prayer meetings. e he W8S promoting the Brahm" ideas of worship tflrough lectures and songs and was teachin them music, stitching, home-managnment and basic educati • She composed several devotlonal songs in which she expressed herself. asking for health to her husband, her feelings on se':' paratlon from faste-r son. She prayed for the progress of Prathana Samaj also. Shehad a 'mudra' of her own-like Tyagaia and Annamayva, she uses her name at the end. In her Kolata", song, there was the idea of promotion of female literacy along

~ith the concept of God She further wrote me rning songs lullabies. She narrated herexperiences of going to various pi

es and their benefit. She appears to be the first Brhrno w an writer as her book 'keertanalu' was published in 19~ 1.

Kotikalapudl Sitamma, orator and writer was the t08 aughter of Veeresalingam couple. Her speeches in the ~6'- .. hana 8amaj meetings were compiled into a book called '--_. avana Manjari'·. She was 'contributing articles to '''Hindu VUtIsri'" and "Teluqu Zanana'" on (January '1907) female -.n.I1U..-

tiona She was addressing the Ladies Association meetings

he organised the women's association at Rajah 1902. She influenced Vempati Santabayamma (one .' .. 1aQlII

ditors of Hindu Sundari, started in 1902 wl1i1e th osaliganti Ramabayamms) who became a£r h enoe Hindu Sundari gave priority to widow marrl .... f ......

f Veeresalingam. K'otikalapudi Sit.mme we. ott

the literary meeting «, Kavithagoshtuluotl" ". b

f I'ithapur.


Komarraju Sundaramma, a child widow and the daughter of 8 friand of Veeresallnqam was a lady of strong will- power and could eppos the decision of Veeresalingam even. She was promised to Kamaraju Hanumantha Rao, a student of Rajahmundry college. The marriage was put off by Veeresalingam because of the rustication of the groom from college rolls. She insisted on getting married to him only and Veeresalingam finally yielded.

Nabhi Sundaramma, the spouse of superintendent of orpha, nage, Nabhi Jagannadha Rao enjoyed the love and affection of the Inmates of orphanage at Kakinada, not only for her attitude towarda them -but also for her regular family prayers.

The active woman memb-ers of Brahmo Samaj include Peddada Manikvamba. wife of Sathiraju and Peddada Seshamma wife of Ramaswamy and Smt. Saguna Mahalakshrnl. wife of ~ambhampati Rama Sastry alias Tharakarn. R. Vimaladevi, wife of Sivananda Rao, Sivayamrna, wife of Abbai, Chinna wife of V. Sathira]u. Kommu Damayanti etc.


Among the women pracharakas, nobody came naarer to Gyanamba of Vijayawada who happened to be well-versed in Telugu, English, Bengali and Sanskrit. She was an orator and poetess and founded Yuvatijana Prarthana Samajam at Vijayawada in 1914. She was the moving spirit in all the meetings held in connectian with the centennary celebrations of the de. 8th year of Rammohan in 1933.

Ranganayakamma, wife of Gudipati Venkata Chalam WI the earliest woman pracharak in this regien. She changed her name as Malatibai and began going from house to heMIN for propagation 'of faith and for encouraging many women t [oin in nagara Samkirtanas and in Magha celebrations 8 by Chalam 8S the Secretary of the Samaj.

But still, there were some pracharaks that went region. Among them, mention be mlde of A 1n M.a •••


wife of Palaparti Narasimham. Their marriage was solemnized b Veeresalingam a1 Kakinada in 1913. She, with her husban. g ve her services 10 the development of Guntur Samaj In a, similar way, Rajyalakshmi Ananda Rao, the foster daughter of

abhi couple later founded the Visakhapatnam branch of the-

5 mal,

PalBvajhula Venkata Ratnamma, wife of t.akshrninatevena, r sident of Narasapuram was the first lady to undergo training Sadhanasrama at Calcutta Sadharana Brahmo Sarna]

Jayanti Suramma, wife cf J. V. Narayana spread ~rahmQ Dharma at various places through lectures. She c(;u'd IKkir6

. people even in strongholds of orthodoxy .like Mangalavarampet naar Berhampore.

Women's OrganizaL"ions:

Women began having separate organizati( n for them

v s. In 1902 K. Sitamma founded a Ladies wjng ot Ptartha.a oa sarna] at Rajahmundry.

Sri. Vidhardhini Samaj at kaklnada was fouded' 't9{)G

P luqurtha Lakshmi NarascR1embe. ~ he was. the presi Ba.

Ianthrapu Seshemma and Damerla Sitlmma raviv d it in 18

ahila Sabha

In Pithapur, there was one ladies aascciatloe. under presidentship of Rani Chinnamma Devi.

Stree Vidyabhivardbani S&m&j at RhjahMUAdty !)e4!lan ..... ducting competetive examinations fo gk' under 18 y Godavari and Krishna districts from 1907 onward. Fou

edals were instituted by the crqenlzatron. Besid .. r were many gold and silver medals instituted bV ~ ...

to encourage literacy among their woman folk •.

First Andhra Mahila Sabha held at Guntur

ided over bv Pu4uguft ik&htniDAI---tunl ..

uoati • In 18 2, "'."I •.• IIQI1 .. IIMlttall.,;


davofe which discussed issues like marriage, home management, tole of women in national movement, nature of women educarton etc.

Kakinada hosted in May 1916 the seventh Andhra Mahila Ssbha Achanta Rukminamma presided over the meeting. It was attended by about 100 delegates It discussed the bride price and dowry, education, life style of a widow, libraries, health etca

The sixth liIashtra Mahila Sabha met in Rajahmundry in November, '932.· Achata Lakshmidevi was its president. Members discussed issues of untouchability, education, social taboos etc.


Response of Women to Social Reform Movement:

Women writers like Damerla Sitamma, Kalagara Pichamma wrote articles in support of enhancement of marriableage. Except the first widow marriage, all other widow marriages were done on the initiative of either bride or one or her female relatives like bride's mother or sister or in some cases sister-in. law •

. - Musalakanti Ramabai focussed public attention on the plight 'of widow by publishing many articles in Hindu Sundari during '190'4-5. She pleaded for the remarriage as a way of rehabilitation. Another move was requesting the women fold to send their' signatures for the abolition of disfigurement of widow. She got them published and made an appeal to the governor tor abel ishing that rite.

At the same time, women in Kakinada di~played r.-ct nary tendency also For example, one of the earliest mtlGltD-

nes from Kakinada "Savlthri " published under the editt p

Pulaguntha Lakshminarasamba opposed the idea of remarr tor women. It advocated pious and obedient life for we .. n The editor: Lakshminarasamba criticised Surra

Bangaramma for addressing the married widows ganalu' , respected ladies. It roused public debet ainst remarriaGe. In 8 si milar way, the Sr.. i~"_,,_

. at Kakina~a headed by Balanthrapu Seeham


Seshamma and Kallepalle Venkata Ramanamma did not allow the married widows into their organization. (Hindu Sundari July 1911, P. 7). Oamerla Sitamma told the child widows eittle; to devote their time for education, and jobs like teacher. and doctors 01 lead ascetic lives This opinion was due to the impact of Hindu Samaj founded in 1904 .. opposed Brehmo samaj. Then, many started giving priority to education and employment as a way of rehabilitation rather than getting them married. Widow marriage was opposed by the Iollowers of Hinduism not because it was against the religion but because it was propounded by reformers who had a definite lean towards Brahmo Samaj Veeresalingaf11, Karumuru Kamaraju, Kamaraju Hanuma. rna rae. Kavikondala Sambasiva rao became anustanic Brahmol. In Rajahrnundrv. a rragazine, 'Hindu Desabhlvardhtnt' was started in 1106. Its editor wes Shvama Rao, 8 teacher who published a ns ws about widows home at Rajahmundry as a home of women with loose character. This was intended to obstruct the

. cause of widow remarriage movement. Veeresalingam filed 8 suit against this in a court, against syama Rao and he won it.

In 1892, a journal Satyanveshini was started with 'he Intention of criticising every move of Rljahmundry P,arthanl Samaj.

The period from 1829 to 1919, from the evolution of Satl to the passing of Sarada Act was a period of change in t position of Indian women She became aware of hrr seoondlrY position; wished fer reforming the institution of mErrj~ and society even. In 1829, only men agitated for the abolition of Sati. By 1929 \flomen brought pressure for the legal a DOli nI1an:! ot child marriages. 'he respondents to the social re'ofm of three categories Kandukuri Rajvalakshmi carried forward aims of her husband, Veeresalingam in the capacity of ..-1tCKlR: spouse. So was the case with Kamaraja Sund.famme. Seshamma etc. The second category of women -we,. tho

made use of the press and platform. 60me examples we kalapudi Sitamma" Pulagurtha Lakshminarasa."bI" Malnl •• Ramabai, Balantrapu Seshamme etc. The •• we,


ted and frequently expressed the need for reform through erticles and lectures, They became famous by their own efforts for fighting against the traditionalists Third category belonged to the third generation of the reformers those .that becaMe leaders of the masses and participated in the national movema-

· nt The names of Vedantem Karnalamma and Smt Ranga'nayakamma remain as examples of political participation.

We find some Brahrno Sam_gist women entering into free. dom struggle Karuna, wife of Garimella Satya Vaerabhadra Rao alias Gandredu Gandhi was an ective congress wcrker. Ve-

·dantam Kamalamma, wife of Venkata Krishnayya also entered into freedom struggle from Brahmo background B. Kameswaramma, the daughter of Peddada Sundara Siva rao gave up her teacher post, participated in the salt satyagraha movement and

. was lathi-charqed at peddapurarn. .

CIJitti Ranganayaka~ma, wife of Cbala 11 and her sister Dr. · Ranganayakamma made their hcuse at Vijayawada a centre of .>~pinning activity and entered into freedom movement. The leadership given bv Srnt. Kaiuna and Smt. Vedantam Kamala-

· mma inspired many women to enter into the national movement Bennuri Krishnavenamma, the mother of I~ urqabhai, Madduri Venkata Ramanamma ~ 1906-1943) and Palakodeti Syamalamba - (1901-1953) had entered into freedom movement

. Thus we find women extending their sphere of activity to political arena too. The social reform movement has 1- ready brought the women folk outot their homes, frequ.ntly for prayers and meetings. Socialization, thus scarted made them to inter.act with people outside their known circle family members and relatives. Then political participation Inereased their socialization. Thus the social reform movement made the women conscious of thelr participation leading to r wemen's movement .

Nautch and Prostitution

The reformers were bent on dissuading youth fr

and prostitution Hence they insisted on oaial r'''-''~

menta It was in two ways; dissuadi"g lAS ¥0uth to avoid casions of m~ting nautch th,()ugh insistimg on purity pledges and settmg the cornmunrtv in an honourable way th ough

jobs 0 men end marriage for woman. J "

Vseresalingem used to take si~ned letters from YOUlh tbat they would neither attend nautch party nor ell gage them for any auspicious occaslon I n the event of violation, they could be expelled from -the membership of the e,anmo Samaj~ . Rauhupati Venkata Ratna:m NBidu who found Suddhj- Movement instated on high moral values .'and pLedges continued to be taken from youth. H is approach to the. nautch problem was to g.t

- men married and men to be educated and .-employed.

Response from Nautch.


. .

, 'Krishna Patrika" published and new~ items r •

ding the attitude towards this reform A. Narayana Rao appealed in November 1909 to the community to refo,m themselves in the wake of the purity movement. Anonymous ,.ttefl, published in Kr-ishna Patrika revealed t+te appreeletien 0-' :the members to the efforts undertaken by 'Darsi 'Chenct1'8'ah and Yarnini PtJrna Tilakam and their readiness to heip finanei fly for spreading enlightened ideas- among the girls.:

In 1911, forty families of prostitute cernmunltv from ddapuram, refo:nrd themselves as a result of the above lopments. I n a similar gesture, -there was mae,.f mallie ""a,m".'

bers of nauteh comrr.unity 8t Guntur in 1806, vi g

accampeny on musical instruments duriq parfo

.eduoate their gir1s and get them married camm" ,

formed to ~mpl8ment this deoision nd to find the Wfeng"".

The movement laid stress on purity in p,i ate "18. rn was shown towards ,Kalavantilluia community baclU

"8 hereditary and acknowledged profession f~ _.Wl.

the attacks of time or change and endowed With the prav

ges of social sanctions". Venkata retn.m pleaded

nautch in his leclur. ,dated .10 .. 12-1 i . 1 .. n~

800namy 88 the country .wa. poor and Ute ._.


e Trust humanity since they were victims of social tyranny and morality. In the tone of radical feminist, he raised his voice in saying. '. Is it not a most damaging proof of our selfish callousness. We allow thousands and tens of thousands of God's children to thus immolated on the unhallowed altar of m'an's inchastitv ? Is the law of repentence and reconciliation the privilege and monopoly of man alone?" • He turrher stated ''If there were no men with capering hearts. the existence of dancing girls would be an lnconcelvabtnrv. You shculd fasten the blame upon the demand .. not upon the supply. It is the toddy buyers that need to be reformed, not the tc ddy sellers".

He further appealed to all men to cullvare the habit of 100. king upon everv woman as mother or sister. He asked them to "Respect Woman, care for her .. wcrk for her, give her knightly shel ter and protection, and you shall find the loftier emotions gaining sway in your heart and touching your life to finer issues:'

This attitude of pursuading the members was a novel feature. It contrasts with the situation in Bengal. The autobiography of Manda Pevi Mukhopadhyay, an educated fallen woman, was published in 1929. It tells us that she made 811 attempt of coming away from sinful path by seeking admission into Brahmo Sarna]. She was refused edmission by Krishna Kumar Mitra on the gr9und that "8S such girls been admitted it .. would impair the sanct ity of the Serna], I-

At Kakinada, Gandhi was met by 8 group of woman aad girls belonging to kalavantulu families'. Gandhi admits that ha coeld not put them his usual questions of contributions ... maj fund and ability to spin. He aked them to change thiir profession. For that he said, they were w·lti,. jf tt. flu. te provides them livelihood. This made tti dep'86s

Gandhian attitude of looking at them a's "thieves .t _

virtuell aod keeping them aloof contrasts with Venk. view of finding fault with the demand and r ..... i ...

the unfortunate women in h~oura~e ways, in'tcHlttl1


into the mainstream. In this context, , remember cne family. getting honourably s ttled and'supplementing the tnccme thrcl'gh th ale of textiles Similarly, I am reminded of a Brahma family which choose a girl from this mmu it as a da h.·or in-jaw.

Thus Brahmo Samaj in Andhra was more humane t<.wards this community. I f offered practical suggestions of self-improvement thrcugh education, employment and marricge 1 hus it dl ffers from the Gandhian view of condemnation and avoiding them.

Results of Women Participation

1) Brahmo Samaj encouraged women to enter into pubiir. life. Spouses gathered a large number of outsiders even and thus social life gathered momentum. Nagara San keertanas and celebration of Maghotsav8s made the rich and peor. educated and un-educated men and we-men join together. Thus it familiarised them for future participation in national movement.

2) The Brahmo women pre vide us the first exarr ples of high. Iy educated and employed working women. The girls, picked up by Venkata Ratnam were educated and were employed.

3} Women began appreciating Inter .. caste mar. iages 8S the started raising above their caste distincticns. Sri. K. Rama Sa ... strvs rrarriage with Suguna PJahalekshmi. Or. Ram 8rahmam' marriage with Manorama, 5athi Raju's marriage with Dr. Virnalamma, Koka Sivananda sastrv's marriage with Dr. Parmatma sarn were but a few examples of inter-caste weddings.

4) The participation of wcmen in large numbers played an BG-_ tive rate in getting the ueoitional society relaxed. thus WfMnBlt cotributed to the enrichment and furtherance of Srahmo

At the same time, transition phase had. revealed i side. The socio-psvchotoqlcal difficulties faced bV th

ad child widow were apparel. The experiences of ... tnJIt'"


Mahalakshamamma, Padmavathi and a host made Chalam to go to the other extreme of vlsuallslriq a tree society. Thus questions were raised about the new conditions and present reforms.


1) Leaders loosinf! respect !

leaders themselves were criticised for some of their actions. Venkata ratnarn joined the justice party in 1917 which be. came a matter of public criticism. Chalarn believed that Ven-

kat- ratnam's only weekness was his excessive love for Pithapur Raja and it made hi 11 an object of criticism. Venkataratnam Gould not convince his followers about the need of his joininq the Justice party 'The adjectives he used for the Justice party; like the party of depressed community and that of social justice could 'not convince the- followers as their entry was objected on the qround that they were Brahmins By that time, thev came to known that he joined the caste association of Telagas. He attended Non-Brahmin conference at Bikkavole on October 27, 19T7~ Chalarn who moved many with his sermons and lectures dritted him another direction, raising the doubt of sanctify ot marrfage without love and high moral stendards insisted by the ~am8 j. Both the traditionalists and Bra .. hmosernajtstscritlclsed him. Hence Sowrice puts it thet V8I't- 8taratnam1s caste weakness and Chalem's women weakness ecunted more fo, its decline. However, Vemuri Ramakrishna Rao, Peddada Ramaswamy" Nabhi Jagannadha Rao, T. Prakas8 ra. 'yudu, Kambhampatl Tarakam etc. ContinuAd 1heir committed services and hence Its continuance.

2) RaiSing Revivalism

The tours and teachings of Mrs. Annie I in A dhra

began attracting the attention of the peopJe. Those who we,. afraid of a leap in social reform through Brahmo Samtlj rHIlY.

taking 8 step through Hindu Samaj. Nyapathi 8

supported Vet resaJingam in his widow· rema,riage I:nrllN1tl~""

deviated from him bV founding the Hindu Sa . 1ft 1

WI. due to his own younger brother Nya i S.1I1I1GI.


marrying mahalakshmamrna, the aunt of Gudipati venkata Cha. lam. The supporters of Hindu Samaj include the management of the c\f;8gazine of 'Savitri' from the beginning and 'Hindu Sundari at a later stage, opposing the widow marriage.

3) Freedom!lt10vem_e,!!

Nationalist movement, since 1930 attracted a large number f scttve people. Many women who were invisible came out penty to participate in the movement at the call of Gandhi nd hence reform activity was sidetracked.

4) Lak of Resources

This also counted for the decline of, the movement. The Pithapur Raja could bestow his many giits in the earlier phases. A fter Independence, there was neither patron nor resources to t e srehmo cause.

5) Slackness in morals:

Brahrno Samajists began insisting on modernising the way 0 living With emphasis on reason and humarism, they bleat. advocating the measures of inter-dining, simple marriage" an public life for women, There was appreciation to this ext But the suicide of Mokkapati Ramamurthi, the plight of Sri M h slakshmamma. and Smt. Kommuri IIadmavathi bejng the ca tre of attraction for some members marred the picture of ms] Chalam became a controversial figure. The Mahar of Pithapur Surya 'Rao's private life, after his Sh88tipurthi 1945, became objectionable even to his former admir.,s.


The reform movement in Godavari district inculcat rit of Self· respect among the weaker sections-orpha ,

ns and women. it gave a helping hand to them in .,t _

the obstacles in the way of developlnq theit per8OtfWIIl ••• movement. in this district, reached those lection their involvement. Hence, the general statement

limited only to the alite"" need I further Pf I .... '.


The movement tried to make common person an elite' through education and employment. ~s against the other districts, the movement continued with vigour, atleast here, upto the death of Venkata Ratnam Naidu in 1939. The number of Anustanic Brahmos might be small; but the greater number of sympathi. sers, consciously or unconsciously, carried on the reforms, ini. tiated by the 5amaj.

Social reform movement, by conscientising Marijans and women, initiated their further progress and was thus instrumental for the oncoming women and Dalit movements.

I • I


Vaikuntam, Y.

Education and Social Change in Andhra <1880w1120)

Ramakrishna V.

Social Reform in Andhra, 1848-1911

Kesavanaravana B.

Political .and Social factors in Andhra, 1900w1947

Ramakrishna Rao V. (Ed)

Message and Mlnstrations, Vols., II, III, V, VI & VIII

Chetana Kalbagh :

Women and Development, VOl. 4 Sarojini Haqini

Who's who in the Freedom Movement, Vol. 1

Chalapathi Rao l. V.

Durgabhai Deshmukh (Life and Message) Sharma R. S.

Perspectives in Social and Economic History at Early India

Sandip Bandopadhvava I

fhe Fallen and Non-cooperation

Madhu Kishwar I Gandhi on Women Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XX. No .,

Proceeding of Third National C,onference on Women's,Studi .. at Chandigarh. Vol. 2

Sri R.V,K M. Surya Rao Bahadur, Maharajah of Pithapurlm Shastipurti Souvenir

Sitaramamurti, C.

Our Maharajah - A Pageant

APHC Proceedings, Vol. XVIII

Hindu lundari, 1902-0'7: 1 0-18 Telug~Zanana, 1900-04 .1908 - 07 Janmat San, Everett

Women and locial Change in India

Puti Krishna Murthy

The Changing Condition of Women in Andhr.

Vijaya Agnew

Elite Women in Indian Politics


2. 3.

4. 5.









NaJinikantha Rao, B. and Sriniv8sacharyulu, B. (Ed). Krishna Sastry Geya Samhita - 1 : Amrwta Veena.

Smt. P. ftamalakshmi has done her M. A. in History in , class with 1 st rank in 1971 from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, She has been awarded Ph. D. for her Northern Circars under the English East India Company (1766-1857) from Andhra University in 1977 •. For sometime she worked in the Internetiona I Telugu Institute, Hyderabad as Research Assistant in Hi~ story, Lecturer in History Department, Sri Venkateswara Uni. versity college, Tirupati and Lecturer, P. G. Department of History, A. C. College, Guntur. She joined the .Department of History and Archaeology, Nagarjuna University as Reader in 1985. She has become professor in the same Department in 1994.

Ramalakshmi was Director, Centre for Women's studies, Nagarjuna University for sometime.

Her areas of - interest are Historical Method, Economic HIstory, Social History and Women's studies,

She was the author of 'Social and Economic History India (1000-1707 A. D.)' (P. G. Level) in Telugu and ·N ..... ..: jjwala Poratamu', translation of Sipan Chandra's 'llfJK'~ ggle'.

A t present, She is engaged in the writting of • IWomen in History' and a Monograph on Chilakama,thi Narasimham.

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