Rao Bahadur was a title of honour issued in British India to individuals who had performed great service to the nation....
(Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం) (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919), also known as Kandukuri Veeresalingham Pantulu
(Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం పంతులు), was a social reformer of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...
. He was born in an orthodox Niyogi
Niyogis are a sect of Hindu Brahmins who gave up priestly occupations and are predominantly Telugu language speakers, from Andhra Pradesh, India.-Theories of origin:...
Telugu Brahmin family. He is widely considered as the man who first brought about a renaissance in Telugu people
The Telugu people or Telugu Prajalu are an ethnic group of India. They are the native speakers of the Telugu language, the most commonly spoken language in India after Hindi and Bengali...
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...
literature. He was influenced by the ideals of Brahmo Samaj
Brahmo Samaj is the societal component of the Brahmo religion which is mainly practiced today as the Adi Dharm after its eclipse in Bengal consequent to the exit of the Tattwabodini Sabha from its ranks in 1859. It was one of the most influential religious movements responsible for the making of...
particularly those of Keshub Chunder Sen. He got involved in the cause of social reforms. In 1876 he started a Telugu journal and wrote the first prose for women. He encouraged education for women, and started a school in Dowlaiswaram
Dhavalaiswaram or Dhavaleswaram , anglicised as Dowlaiswaram,is a suburb situated near Rajahmundry in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India.It was part of Rajahmundry urban agglomeration....
in 1874. He started a social organisation called Hitakarini
Kandukuri Veeraselingam Pantulu expressed the opinion, “The denigration of women has ruined our society,” and dedicated his entire life to the cause of uplift of women in his society. He started a magazine named Vivekavardhini
(Knowledge Improver) at Davaleswaram, in which he wrote about women’s uplift, criticised superstitious beliefs among people and rampant corruption among officials. Initially he used to get it printed at Chennai but when the magazine picked up in popularity, he set his own press at Rajahmundry. He launched Satihitabobhini
, a special magazine for women. Through it, he enlightened women about their rights.
He organised the Rajahmundry Social Reform Association in 1878. Initially, it concentrated on the anti-nautch movement to discourage the hire of nautch girls for celebration, but later concentrated on widow remarriage.
He organised the first widow remarriage in the area on 11 December 1881.The groom was Gogulapati Sreeramulu and bride was Gowramma.Many English Police officials attended the marriage. Pyda Ramakrishnayya of Kakinada extended financial support for it. However, both of them faced severe opposition from society. He succeeded in bringing about a change in the mindset of his people and gradually more and more people accepted widow remarriage.After the third widow marriage, Eswar Chandra Vidyasagar sent a message congratulating him.Later a widow orphanage was established.
His progressive thoughts brought in severe criticism and opposition but he continued unabated. He fought to abolish child marriages and Kanyasulkam (a kind of dowry given by the groom to the bride's parents).
In 1881, his contemporary social and religious reformer, Kolkata-based Sivanath Sastri met him at Rajahmundry, during one of his missionary visits. About his meeting, Sivanath Sastri writes, “The next day I went by boat to Rajahmundry, and shall gratefully remember the love and affection of Veerasalingam and the hospitality of his wife. Veerasalingam’s wife is a remarkable person. On one hand, she is strong willed, powerful and dutiful. On the other, she is soft hearted and dedicated to the well being of others. It is because Veerasalingam got a wife like her that he was able to carry on with his work in spite of social oppression.”
In the History of the Brahmo Samaj
, Sivanath Sastri writes Kandukuri Veeraselingam Pantulu, “He constructed the first Brahmo Mandir in the Andhra country at Rajahmundry in 1887, he constructed a Widows’ Home, a two storied building and a similar one for the Social Reform Association at Madras; he started the first theistic high school, the Hithakarini School at Rajahmundry in 1908; during the same year he willed away all his property for the benefit of Rajahmundry Widows’ Home and the school, and placed them under the management of an association, the Hithakarini Samaj. The movement spread from Rajahmundry to Coconada (presently Kakinada), Parlakimedi, Palakole, Narsapur, Vijaywada and Tenali.”
He is also credited with the setting up of Brahmo Samaj at Bangalore.
Veeresalingam panthulu is popularly called Gadhya Thikkana
. He wrote about 100 books between 1869 and 1919 and introduced the essay, biography, autobiography and the novel into Telugu literature His Satyavathi Charitam
was the first social novel in Telugu. He wrote Rajasekhara Charitamu
inspired by Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefied
. To him literature was an instrument to fight social evils. He was a poet of considerable renown.
He was also one of the members of the first Indian National Congress (INC) meeting held in 1885.
He died on 27 May 1919. A statue of his has been installed on Beach Road, Visakhapatnam.
Really he did a great job for social reform.