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Who was Gurazada Appa Rao?

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 16, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted a stanza from Telugu poet Gurazada Appa Rao’s poem ‘Deshabhakti’ - it is human beings, not lifeless things, that make a country' , while launching the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme

While launching the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted Telugu poet Gurazada Appa Rao’s stanza that states that it is human beings, not lifeless things, that make a country.

The stanza, from the poem ‘Deshabhakti’ (Patriotism), calls upon the countrymen to help others, sacrificing a bit from one’s own profits.

Born in 1862, Gurazada was a versatile literary genius, who brought in modernity to Telugu literature, both in terms of form and content. He was a poet, short-story writer, linguist and playwright.

Considered to be the first modern short-story writer in Telugu, he used simple Telugu expressions in his literature to fight against social stigmas.

The stanza that the Prime Minister quoted today is taken from Deshabhakti, one of Gurazada’s popular 14-stanza poems written in 1910. The stanzas are extensively quoted by newspapers and writers even today.

Gurazada, who served in the court of the kings of Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh), wrote the popular play ‘Kanyasulkam’ (bride price, or the price a groom’s family pays to the bride’s family), lampooning the inhuman practice of selling girls in the guise of marriage at a tender age.

The frail man that he was, Gurazada passed away at just 53, leaving behind a rich legacy of literature. He is referred to as ‘Maha Kavi’ (Great Poet) by Telugu literature lovers.

The influence of modern Western literature is evident in the form and content of Gurazada’s works. He invented a poetic form named ‘Mutyala Saralu’.

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Published on January 16, 2021
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