Monthly Archives: December 2015

Dance: Perini Thandava

PeriniThandava

While many of our classical temples and artforms have been preserved throughout the ages, many more have been lost to the ravages of time and the pages of history. And yet, through the steadfast and stubborn dedication of our cultural exemplars, some of these precious cultural gems have been revived. The rebirth of Telangana‘s heritage dance, Perini Siva Thandavam, is one such success story.

Perini Siva Thandava, or Perini, is the traditional dance of warriors before battle honoring Lord Siva. It had been mentioned by the great commentator Nandikesvara. The Kakatiyas were great bhaktas of Nataraja, and thus, the Perini art form attained its peak under them.

Historyperinishivathandavam

As with much of Telugu heritage, the story of Perini Siva Thandava begins with those very Saivite of Royals, the Kakatiyas.  The temples and tales they left behind tell of this legacy.

Ganapati Deva‘s  commander of the elephant corps, Jayana Nayak,  is said to have performed the dance before his army to boost morale. It therefore became a natural method to stimulate the warrior spirit.

With the fall and destruction of Warangal, however, the grand tradition of Perini Thandava was lost during the pillage and rapine of the Turkic invaders. It became all but extinct until 1974, when it again graced the stage for the first time in 800 years.

Padmi Shri Nataraja Ramakrishna is the guru of Natya who is responsible for reviving this artform. Ramakrishna would go on to revive not only Perini but Andhra Natyam as well. Fittingly, his mother was from Nalgonda district in Telangana and his father was from East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. Though he was born in Indonesia, he soon returned to India.  Nataraja Ramakrishna was a student of Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, and studied under Natyacharya Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri, the famous Kuchipudi exponent who opened the dance style up for women. Starting from 1971, Ramakrishna gaaru closely studied not only historical texts such as the treatise Nritta Ratnavali, but also the dance poses of the famous statues of the Ramappa Temple just outside of Warangal.

After decades of dedication, he was able to first write commentaries on the style before instructing students, ultimately nurturing the return of this great warrior dance.  [3] An exponent of Kuchipudi, intructor of Bharatanatyam, progenitor of Andhra Natyam, and reconstructor of Perini, he truly was a jewel of the Telugus.

Incidentally, Vempati Chinna Satyam, another student of Vedantam Sastri and an Andhra Ratna in his own right,  famously choreographed the Thandava dance for NTR in Narthanasala. Whether it was influenced by Nataraja Ramakrishna’s efforts in Perini is a question for Nataraja himself.

Either way, one can practically imagine Arjuna, even post-Brihannala, dance in Perini Thandava’s martial fury before entering the Kurukshetra.

Characteristics

periniposePerini takes its name from the Sanskrit word Prerana (“to inspire and invigourate”). Indeed, the rhythm and pace of the dance clearly achieves just that, no doubt one of the reasons why it was used by the famous Kakatiya general to inspire his troops.

There are in fact two varieties of Perini, one is Perini Siva Thandavam for men and the other is Perini Lasyam for women.

Classical dance has two styles, Margi and Desi.  Margi is more spiritual in nature, while Desi is more popular and dramatic in nature and theme. Though Perini officially belongs to the Desi class which became predominant in Telangana, even casual observance affirms its Saiva spiritual qualities. Indeed, Lord Siva is considered the Supreme Dancer, and one of the objectives of Perini is to bring the dancer closer to consciousness of him. Above all, Thandava itself is the name of the dance of destruction performed at the end of each Kalpa. While recent attempts to secularise the dance attempt to deny this link, the proof itself is in the name given by its reviver: Perini Siva Thandava.

In any event, the most immediately noticeable aspect of this dance is the rapid-fire tempo and execution of moves. It is easy to see why it was the virile dance of warriors. “An interesting aspect about this form is its Music. Use of Conch, Drums, Bells and [Rhythmic] Syllables change the atmosphere enabling dancers to reach a point of frenzy.” [4]

According to noted Perini exponent, Kalakrishna there are  five ‘angas’ of Perini:

Ghargaram (footwork), Vishamam (acrobatic), Bhavashrayam (imitation of nature, animals and demons), Kaivaram (in praise of kings and gods) and Geetam (music). [Nataraja Ramakrishna]reconstructed Ghargaram and Vishamam parts — the rest he could not because of paucity of funds and dancers willing to train). [2]

There has been some debate about whether Perini is a classical (saastriya) or colloquial (janapada) dance. However, even a casual observer of dance can see the redolence of traditional strictures  of classical dance and the principles of the ancients at play.  It is imbued with the rasas of Raudram (fury) and Veeram (valour). Indeed, the text on which it is primarily based (Nritta Ratnavali) and Natyacharya Nataraja Ramakrishna’s own training in Kuchipudi and revival of Andhranatyam only further weight the argument in favour of classical status. At present, due the reconstructed nature of both Andhranatyam and Perini, neither have received classical status from Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Future

Perini Siva Thandava is an important part of the heritage of traditional Telangana and one of its many contributions to the common Telugu culture. Whether for floats or future public investment, this great heritage artform must be given patronage at all levels of society: government, elite, and mass.

It is now considered the state dance of Telangana. Though traditionally associated with men, due to the martial associations and applications, scholars of Saastriya Natya have determined that Perini is also for girls. Perini Lasya was formed, and is now taught along side Thandava. Lasya refers to feminine grace while thandava refers to the vigourous male martial aspects. Irrespective, merely watching a performance of Perini is enough to inspire even the most Gandhian of pacificists to leap into battle! Truly, it is not only a dance of destruction for our enemies, but a spiritual experience for performers and audience alike.

While recent moves to revive it are indeed welcome, it will take the effort of local leaders and eminent citizens to ensure this traditional dance is preserved and passed on to the next generation.

Perini’s renaissance itself is not only a success story for the Arts of Ancient and Medieval Bharat, but serves as a case study for the Revival of Classical Indic Civilization.

References:

  1. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/moments-in-time/article4560141.ece
  2. http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/others/sunday-read/Perini-Lost-and-found/articleshow/48127957.cms
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/article2084870.ece?homepage=true
  4. http://web.archive.org/web/20091027175137/
  5. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-telangana/course-on-ts-dance-forms-introduced/article7840454.ece
  6. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/in-need-of-attention/article659855.ece
  7. http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/andhranatyam-lasya-dance-tradition-of-andhras-rare-book-NAJ098/
  8. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/steps-to-revive-perini-shiva-thandavam/article7728823.ece
  9. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/perini-has-lasya-too/article6571706.ece
  10. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/article3231261.ece

Composers of Andhra – An Historical Perspective Part II

The following Post is part of a Series composed by Ashok Madhav garu, vaggeyakara.


AndhraVaggeyakarulu

Continuing our Series from last week, this week Part II features Carnatic Composers of Andhra since 1900.

Munuganti Venkata Rao Pantulu (1902-1964), from Kakinada, was precocious and was quick enough to grasp the intricacies of Carnatic music at a young age. He was a
popular performing artiste. He was known to be a dedicated music teacher and also for promotion of classical music in Kakinada area. Amongst his many disciples, Emani Shankara Sastri and Voleti Venkateshwarulu were prominent. He took to composing kritis at much later date. The following kriti, “Neeve gati Bhavanipati” is set in the rare raga-Pravrutti.

Mahendravada Bapanna Sastri (1905-1968) studied music under the tutelage of Regella Jagannatha Sastri and was a good concert artiste. He has composed several tana varnas, javalis and kritis. His compositions have appeared in his book “Kritimanjari”

Ogirala Veera Raghava Sharma (1908-1989) from Kovvuru has composed over 150 kritis. He being a devotee of Devi, many of his compositions are in praise of Parashakti. The following is on Devi too –“Sri Gayatri devi sanathani”- Valaji. He became a sanyasi when he turned 60 years of age.

Nori Nagabhushanam Pantulu (1905-1984) (Secunderabad) was a disciple of Hari Nagabhushanam. He served on the faculty of the Music College in Secunderabad. He
has composed varnas and swarajathis.

Mulukutla Sadashiva Sastry (Tenali) was known for his harikatha kaalashepams. His katha-kaalashepam on Ramadasu, Thyagaraja and Tumu Narasimha dasu was popular
amongst the masses. His kriti, “Rama dasam ashraye” in Ritigoula is appealing.

Patrayani Seetharamaiah (1900-1957) (Vizianagaram) was the son and disciple of Patrayani Venkata Narasimhaiah. He was a noted composer and has composed about 30 kritis. Two of his kritis, “Iha para saadhaname”-Smruti ranjani and “Naada nanda mura”- Mukhari are listed here.

Vinjamuri Varadaraja Ayyangar (1915-1991)(Guntur) was a student of Tiger Varadachari. He has tuned many compositions of Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya,
Sadashiva Brahmendra, Tumu Narasimha dasa and others. He himself was a composer of varnas, kritis, javalis and thillanas. His javali, “Kanti saigachesene” -Manirangu is well known.

Sripada Pinakapani (1913-2013)(Karnool) was a retired Professor of Medicine. He was also a musician of merit, besides being a composer of varnams and kritis. He has set tunes to several keerthanas of Annamcharya. Two examples are “Vandeham Jagatvallam” in Hamsadvani and “Vaade Venkatadri”-Vasantha. “Parama dayakari” -Varali is a representative of his own composition. He was honoured with the title of Sangeeta Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy in 1984.

Voleti Venkateswarulu, Srirangam Gopalaratnam, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy and Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana were his well known disciples.

Tadepalli Venkatasubramanya Sastri (1918-1989) was a noted scholar in Sanskrit and Telugu. He was a prolific composer-more than 600 kritis. Two of his kritis are mentioned. “Idi kadasaari”-Hamsanandi and “Advaitasaara”- Sourashtram. He took to sanyasa at his advanced age. His son, Dr. Tadepalli Lokanatha Sharma is a well known musician.

Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana (b.1928 ) from Hyderabad has been on the Music faculty of various Universities in Andhra. He has composed some kritis. His composition,” Srinivasa varadayaka”-Nattakuranji is heard sometimes.

Ch. Krishnamacharyulu (Vijayavada) (b.1929 ) is an eminent scholar in Telugu, a musicologist and a good composer of kritis. He developed the concept of ‘garbha kritis’, wherein the same lyrics of a kriti could be set for more than one tala structure. The following two kritis,. “Gouri sukumari”- Vasantha and “Maarajananim ashraye”- Natakapriya are mentioned here.

Because of Mangalampalli, Bala Murali Krishna ‘s(1930- ) own efforts, his compositions -varnams, kritis and thillanas are currently in use. Being a concert musician himself, he makes it a point to present his own compositions in his concerts. He is one of the few musicians, who has composed kritis in all 72 melakartha ragas. He is a recipient of the title, Sangeetha kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy in 1975. Two examples of his kritis are “Vadamela”- Kokilapriya and “Shyamalambhike” in Mayamalavagoula.

Dr. Sree Ramachandra Murthi Sistla (1938- )is from Guntur District originally and now he is based in Ottawa, Canada. He is an engineer by profession. He has been a prolific composer of Telugu keerthanas. He is the author of Sriharidasa Sankirtanamulu, Sriharidasa Padamulu, Sri Vishnu Sahasranamamulu and Srihari Gitananda Lahari. His keerthanas are laden with bhakti and bhava and music for the lyrics is set by other musicians. “Nila megha shyamuni” in Sama and “Jeevan muktulamu” in Saranga are two keerthanas come to mind.

Komanduri Seshadri, (Secunderabad) (1949- )is a performing artiste and a Professor of music at a few Universities in Andhra. He has composed several kritis and
padyams. He has also composed a few ‘garbha kritis’. His two kritis are listed here: “Paramatmuni” in Kalyana vasantham and “Harihari ena rave” in Kedaram.

Dhenuvukonda Subba Rao (Ongole) is a versatile composer. Compositions of his, “Daivalalama”- Tilang and “Gajamukha deva”-Sri ragam are popular.

Mulugu Sivanandam or Mulugu Sivananda Sastri hails from Tenali. He has composed the following kriti, “Tyagaraja gurudevam”- Aarabhi besides a few more.

Paarupudi Chalamaiah from Rajamahendravaram has composed some 30 kritis or so. One example is, “Hey Kapaalini” in Behag.

T.N.C.V.Narayana charyulu(Guntur) was a vainika and musicologist. He has edited ‘Gandharva Vedamrutham’, ‘Annamacharya Swara kusumanjali’ and authored
‘Padmavati Nakshstra ragamalika’ and ‘Ranganatha Keerthanalu’. The following kriti is popular. “Tamasamu elanayya”-Bhavapriya.

S.S.Rajasekharam (Bapatla) is primarily a composer of varnams. Among his few kritis, “Sabha chesi muchata”- Kharaharapriya is more commonly rendered.

K.V.N.Sastry (Karnool) is a Sanskrit scholar, a violinist and a composer. One of his compositions mentioned here is “Bhajare Hanumantam”- Hindustani Kapi.

Pappu Someshwara Rao (Hyderabad) has been active in composing kritis. One example of his kriti is, “Bhargavam” in Bhairavi.

M.S.Balasubrahmanya Sharma (Ongole) has composer of kritis. The following is listed. “Saraswati namostutue” in Saraswati.

There are a few women composers like Gidugu Lakshmikantamma, Burra Suramamba, Kakuturi Padmavathi and Smt.Chandolu Raghava narayana sastri have made a mark.

It is gratifying to note that so many vaggeyakaras from Andhra have contributed significantly to the musical treasure of Carnatic music.

Prapatti
Click here to buy this book!

The author of this post, Ashok Madhav garu, is an accomplished Carnatic composer who has composed in all 72 Melakarta ragas. We thank him for his kind permission to reprint this piece, a version of which was originally published at at carnaticcorner.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Andhra Pradesh’s Fibre Optic Grid: Internet for Rural Households

The following Post was composed by Anil Prongs. You can follow him here on Twitter.


Internet- the network of networks brought a transformational change to our world. It made communication easier, transformed businesses, and changed how governments function. The internet revolution in India has played a key role in the country’s development.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ envisages to connect every village to the internet through an optic fibre network but the vision of ‘tech savvy’ Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh takes it to a whole new level that is connecting every household to the internet–particularly rural households. I will confine this article to rural areas.

Providing a high speed broad band connection to every household at an affordable price (at Rs. 150) is the aim of Fibre Optic Grid (FOG) project. The main component here is laying the optic fibre over 30,000 km at a cost of RS.333 crores which enables internet connection to 1.2 million households with speed ranging from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps. In addition business enterprises get on demand availability of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. The project not only aims to connect every household, but also to create a computer literate and an entrepreneur from every household. An encouraging aspect is that Google India has come forward to help make this project a success.

One area where this project is beneficial is in education; students in rural areas don’t get access to quality education. With internet access, students get the benefit of e-learning where learning is interactive, encouraging young minds to think and innovate. Nowadays, educational institutes offer online training; rural students can now learn just sitting at home. Online skill development courses can make rural youth job ready, as with internet availability learning these courses isn’t difficult.

Presently, rural youth are migrating to large cities in search of employment especially for IT / ITES based jobs. Why not bring these jobs to the rural areas itself?? Unemployed youth can get jobs which operate on internet connectivity with internet access in place. There is a huge scope for local entrepreneurship through rural startups as there is sufficient infrastructure. Imagine an e-commerce website maintained by a local entrepreneur who sells handicrafts made by local artisans or a kisan call centre which provides information on agriculture to local farmers. These startups not only encourage local entrepreneurs but provide jobs to locals.

It is imperative that the potential of the internet be tapped for the upliftment of the rural areas. Modi’s Digital India is on that very frontier combined with Chandrababu‘s Vision Andhra Pradesh. Together these will allow our villages to see sustainable development both economically and technologically.


Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Personalities: Nedunuri Krishnamurthy

Nedunuri

In line with our primarily music and mostly Carnatic focus these past few weeks, our next great Andhra Personality is one who is synonymous with Annamayya. Exactly a year since he passed away, this Post is dedicated to the Life and Legacy of Musical Maestro and Guru of many famous students, Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy.

Background

youngnedunuri

Nedunuri Krishnamurthy was born on October 10, 1927 to Ramamurthy Panthulu and Vijayalakshmi in Kothapalli (Pithapuram taluk), East Godavari district. He was the youngest of four sons, and learned varnams in his youth, under local vidvans. His mother was herself part of vaunted lineage of musicians, and one which he himself would go on to ornament in the highest fashion. He studied under Dwaram Narasingha Rao Naidu and later Sripada Pinakapani, via Government Music College, Vizianagaram.

Later, he went on to become a top rank vocalist for All India Radio, and soon, was giving performances globally. He would eventually lead all four of the major Andhra Pradesh music colleges. Following this he became Dean of Faculty of Fine Arts and Chairman, Board of Studies in music of the S.V. and Nagarjuna Universities.

He is survived by two daughters and a son, namesake of his guru, Pinakapani Nedunuri.

Above all, however, it is his commitment to the classical Carnatic tradition, and refinement and taste over passing pop-culture fads, that mark him as a top-rank performer, and fine arts leader.

Achievements

Balamurali Krishna honours Nedunuri Krishnamurthy

Known as Gayaka Choodamani, Nedunuri gaaru’s imprint on India’s classical (saastriya) musical tradition is undeniable. Indeed, at a time when the Carnatic world is becoming westernised and the Hindustani world is becoming bollywoodised, his efforts at reviving tradition and passing it on to the next generation were exemplary. As a musician, he had the honour and the skill to tune the compositions of Annamacharya to universal acclaim and eternal fame. Nedunuri tunes to 108 Bhadrachala Ramadasu Kirthanas and ‘Dasarathi Satakam Poems’ are ‘fountains of Bhakti Rasa” [7] It is not for nothing he is referred to as “The Doyen of Carnatic”.

Nedunuri’s Notations have been acclaimed as unique universally.

He was committed to passing on to posterity his vast accumulation of knowledge, teaching not only music, but Sanskrit and Telugu as well. His students include such famed musicians as Padma Shri Shobha Raju, Garimella Balakrishna, and the Malladi Brothers. But his personal achievements and awards were no less impressive:

  • Central Sangeeth Natak Academy award in 1986
  • He had the unique distinction of serving as the Principal of all four of the major AP state music colleges.
  • Received the Kalaaneerajanam Puraskar of Govt. of AP in 1995
  • Winner of the Best Vocalist award of the Madras Music Academy twice
  • Oversaw ‘Annamacharya Padartha Prakasika’ a treatise giving the quintessence, in Telugu, of the 108 compositions of Annamayya tuned by Nedunuri
  • Asthana Vidvan of TTD and Asthana Sangeeta Vidvan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha
  • Established the Nadasudha Tarangini Trust to preserve and pass on the chaste traditional values of Carnatic

Legacy

Telugu is very important. Language is very important, for a musician.

The Carnatic world mourned the passing of Nedunuri gaaru, exactly one year ago. After a long battle with lung cancer he left the world on December 8, 2014. And yet, despite the passage of time, his legacy very much remains in the hearts and minds of those who admired his skill and his adherence to tradition. In fact, he established the Nadasudha Tarangini Trust for this very purpose. “Under the auspices of ‘Nadasudha Tarangini’ three volumes of Annamayya Pada Sourabham consisting of 108 Annamacharya compositions (set to tune by Nedunuri) with notation have been published. ” [7] Perhaps it is for this reason his renditions of not only Annamacharya, but Telangana stalwart Bhadrachalam Ramadasu have become very popular, and his dedication to the former’s Sankeerthana is recognised by all.

There is no sangeetha sabha within and outside the country (US, UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore in particular) for which he did not sing.[3]

nedunurialbum
Click to buy his albums and books today!

He set the tune to the Annamaya tunes we enjoy, but we do not honour him, after all, we Telugus have phillim stars to worship.

It is the height of travesty that this highly accomplished vocalist and violinist did not receive a Padma award, while B-grade Bollywood clowns and third rank film stars have managed this through political sycophancy and personal compromise. The man whose musical notation brought to life the poetic majesty of Annamayya, remained committed to music, despite this slight. But perhaps that is the greatest lesson of this sishya of a Padma Bhushan and guru of Padma Shris: commitment to carnatic excellence and personal integrity are greater than any political award. Put another way, it is not titles that honour men, but men who honour titles. This Asthana Vidvan of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams and Kanchi Kamakota Peetha received spiritual recognition that no popularity contest could match. His Sangeeta Kalanidhi award from the prestigious Madras Music Academy alone shows his place among true connoisseurs of the arts. His love of language not only extended to his own mother tongue, Telugu, but also recognised others as well. ” Sri Nedunuri found great value in team efforts and a willingness to accept Tamil compositions that he felt as deep and effective for audiences across India.”[5] As such, he mastered diction not only in Telugu but in Tamil as well. He remains ‘Nada Yogi‘ to all who appreciate the classical tradition.

He overcame poverty in his youth, learned Sanskrit and Hindi due to free instruction, and studied under great masters and musicologists to make an imprint of his own.  Balancing this traditionalism, there was a style and delicacy that he maintained.

Nedunuri’s style was the epitome of elegance with an emphasis on aesthetics and subtle embellishments. His was a smooth and delicate voice that handled nuances with ease belying the practice and rigour that were behind it.[2]

The best way, however, to remember this great Andhra Personality and Carnatic master is through the words of his very own students.

References:

  1. http://www.nedunuri.com/about.html
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/article3217349.ece
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/article3217349.ece
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/pithapuram-mourns-sangeeta-kalanidhi-nedunuri/article6673486.ece
  5. http://www.carnaticdarbar.com/news/201401/20141211.asp
  6. http://carnaticdarbar.com/legends/Maestros/legends_nedunuri.asp
  7. http://nedunuri.com/documents/NedunuriResume.pdf

Personalities: Muktyala Raja

Background

Raja Vasireddy Rama Gopal Krishna Maheswara Prasad better known as V.R.G.K.M. Prasad, was the last Raja of Muktyala. The village and fort that gave the name to his family’s estate is also the seat of the famous Chennakesava Temple and the namesake Muktesvara mandir.

Well known throughout Andhra, the Vasireddi dynasty was a clan with a number of families ruling different jagirs. Though originally the titled Rajas of Amaravati and Muktyala, they, like the Maharaja of Vizianagaram, were derisively termed zamindars with the rise of the EIC. In fairness, it was usually the cowardly loyal allies of the British, such as the Nizam, who were granted the greatest titles and honours, while patriots who revolted, such as Venkatadri Naidu, had their titles taken.

Vasireddy Venkatadri
Vasireddi Venkatadri Naidu

From the Muktyala line of the clan, V.R.G.K.M. Prasad was born on October 4, 1917, in Muktyala Village. The Vasireddis originally rose from Chilakaluripeta, having won possession of various villages. Demonstrating the correct path to power, they formed a familial league and were able to rise to royalty. The paterfamilias was Chandramauliswara, who incidentally, was also known as a man of the people, famed for generosity. Ramalinganna was the founder of the Muktyala line.

Mukyala Fort

But of all the lineage, why is V.R.G.K.M. Prasad the one who became synonymous with the title ‘Muktyala Raja’? Let us find out.

Achievements

NagarjunaSagarDam.JPG

Elected representative to the Assembly of old Andhra state from Jaggayyapeta (known for its ancient buddhist sculpture), he was known as an MLA of the people. Even early on, he was active in working for the development of civic infrastructure. He understood very well that prosperity of the people and business success was made possible by public works and public minded thinking.

jaggayyapetaDespite his Royal background, he was less concerned with princely titles and more concerned with the common good.He personally saw to the construction of a road through thick forest.

The establishment of the Krishna Farmers Welfare Society is reputed to have been founded by him. This underscores the traditional commitment of Rajas who have a deep connection to the land and close relationship with farmers.

Above all, he was the driving force behind the construction of the tallest Masonry dam in the world: Nagarjuna Sagar Dam.

The world’s tallest masonry dam named after Acharya Nagarjuna would not have been a reality but for the perseverance of Muktyala Raja, who took along with him the likes of Acharya N.G. Ranga, Moturi Satyanarayana, K.L. Rao, Vavilala Gopalakrishna, and took the initiative in constructing the dam across the Krishna.[3]

He himself is credited with the proposal of Nagarjuna Sagar as the site for the dam construction, originally slated for Pulichintala. By some accounts, he personally donated some several thousand acres and lakhs of rupees to the construction of the immense dam, with facts that speak for themselves [4]:

  • Drinking water to over 1,000 villages and to cities like Hyderabad, Nalgonda, Miryalguda, Guntur, Ongole and Chilakaluripet
  • The value of the agriculture produce in the areas served by the dam is estimated at over Rs. 1 lakh crores annually.
  • 600 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water flows from the dam to fields in the 6 districts
  • Nagarjunasagar’s reservoir, accounts for 408 tmcft at full level, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world

Legacy

File:Muktyala raja 2.jpg

“Muktyala Raja passed away on August 28, 1972, leaving behind a legacy of determination, hard work, and perseverance.” [3] As a leading force behind Nagarjuna Sagar dam, Muktyala Raja’s legacy is best described as follows:

Families of farmers, who could not afford one square meal a day, not only turned rich but provided employment to lakhs of idle hands across the countryside. Today, Andhra rice is exported even to Myanmar (Burma). The agony of Vijayawada, Macherla, Amaravathi and numerous other places caused by floods every season ended.[4]

Prosperity of the people and productive private enterprise was made possible through public works from public minded politicians. Whether as Raja of Muktyala or MLA, V.R.G.K.M. Prasad represented how real statesmen think and act.

Title or no title, he was a Raja who looked after his Praja. In an era where “wily politicians” are defined as those who barter away the most of the common inheritance for personal gain, he was a leader who gave away personal wealth for the common good.

Naysayers may argue that the credit for the dam goes to the engineers, Nehru, or the Public exchequer, but his personal initiative and investment has been attested to by all. But in remembering him, perhaps the best way would be to merely recite what was written about his own ancestral relative, Vasireddi Chandramauliswara:

His charitable disposition and tenderness of heart are well known, and in the fullness of time, there is every  likelihood of the country being benefited substantially and materially by his numerous benefactions. He is equally famous for his gentlemanly behaviour, unostentatious simplicity, guileless heart, innocent modesty and other higher nobler qualities that distinguish great men.[2]

Mukthyala Raja Vasireddy 04.jpg
Entrance to Muktyala Fort

References:

  1. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/151118/nation-current-affairs/article/muktyala-fort-be-open-public
  2. Vadivelu, A. The Aristocracy of Southern India, Volume 2. Mittal Publ: Delhi.1984
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/rich-tributes-paid-to-muktyala-raja/article3967329.ece
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/mag/2005/12/18/stories/2005121800150200.htm