The real sense of place, any place for that matter, has demographic connotations, but not merely geographical boundaries. So is the case with Vijayawada, that embodies the conventional and also modern impressions with all dichotomies of class and creed.
Bezawada is a group of eminent personalities from social, cultural, political and economic ethos in the modern times that turned it into a city of optimism. KostaLife succinctly commemorates a few stalwarts, who changed the length and breadth of the city in various spheres.
1. Dr TVS Chalapathy Rao
A close associate of Andhra Kesari, TVS, as he was fondly called, was a freedom fighter, a social activist and the first chairman of the Vijayawada municipality after Independence. The darling of the masses gave up his lucrative medical practice to render yeomen services to the general public. With absolutely dearth of power-mongering attitude, his tenure in highest office lasted short while; otherwise, he could have served the people more effectively.
2. Dr K L Rao
An eminent engineer with distinguished career and of International repute, Padma Bhushan Dr Kanuru Lakshmana Rao, is known as the ‘father of Irrigation’. ‘The Cusecs Candidate’ (title of his autobiography) designed many irrigation and hydro-electric projects, including Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, the world’s longest masonry dam on River Krishna. Entered politics in his 60th year, and after being a union minister in Nehru, Lal Bahudur Sastri and Indira Gandhi regimes, he remained untouched by the squalor of murky pool of politics.
3. Chandra Rajeswara Rao
Even a novice in Andhra politics, particularly the left politics, need not have to rack his brains to name one of the most firebrand Marxist revolutionaries and theoreticians of Indian first generation. Chandra Rajeswara Rao (1914- 1994), the most admired son of the soil, joined undivided Communist Party of India in 1931. Chandra worked for party in various coveted positions. Besides being a shrewd leader who led the workers’ struggle for over six decades and being an important crusader in Telangana Rebellion (1946- 51) , Chandra was an author, historian, social commentator and theorist who astutely adopted Marxist and Leninist ideals to Indian conditions.
4. Gottipati Brahmaiah
A towering personality in the field of altruist politics, Gottipati Brahmaiah (1889–1984), fondly called as Rytu Pedda, plunged into freedom struggle, courted imprisonment, and subjected his family to great suffering at a time when independence to India was a distant dream. He spent fifty out of his 86 years of life in the days of pre-independence. In sheer academic terms, he was inferior to other front-ranking leaders of his time, including N G Ranga. But, he held his superiority by the strength of his humility, integrity and honesty. One of the pioneers of the Zamindari Ryot Movement, Brahmaiha was awarded Padma Bhushan two years before his death.
5. Rampilla Appalaswamy
Renowned trade unionist, Rampilla Appala Swamy (1874- 1981) was considered to be a Bezawada Methuselah, a character in Old Testament reported to have lived the longest. He assumed the title ‘Syed’ to drive home the point about secularism. He was responsible for the starting of many labor unions. Seeing his popularity among the working classes, many political parties allured him into politics, but in vain. He confined to his trade union activities until he breathed his last.
6. Edupuganti Bala Veera Raghavaiah
While flipping through the chapters of progressive Vijayawada, one must acknowledge Edupuganti with all his noble qualities and the indelible stamp of his endeavors. His long association lasted more than a quarter century with Vijayawada Cooperative Central Bank as its president, was a saga of its growth to a gigantic proportions. Foreseeing the development in the industrialization, Edupuganti started Vijaya Spinning Mills. He served on the board of directors of several companies.
7. Dr. K S Sambasiva Rao
The saintly physician of Vijayawada who served for more than a half century, Dr K S Sambasiva Rao was acclaimed as the doctor of masses. Born in 1906, he did his graduation in medicine from Royapuram Medical School in 1929. He started practicing in Bezawada, following the track of his father, who was also a doctor. His son, eminent writer and doctor, Kommuri Venugopala Rao took over the mantle from him and continued his legacy.
8. Dr. Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao
Dr Pinnamaneni was one of the stalwarts of surgeons in Andhra Pradesh. Born on 16th December,1910 at Neppalli village near Vijayawada, he rose from an unassuming start at the school as a truant to an eminent position in Surgery. Lagging behind in studies even to his younger brother, an eminent ENT surgeon Dr P Narasimha Rao, Pinnamaneni realised and succeeded him by one year and obtained a Post Graduate degree in Surgery in 1940.
After a stint in Government Service, he resigned in 1950 and set up private practice in Vijayawada. He was not only a competent surgeon but a philanthropist of very high values, integrity. Suave by temperament, Dr Pinnamaneni was no eloquent speaker and he preferred to be one.
9. Raja Vasireddy Durga Sadasiva Prasad
The Raja of Jayantipuram, Vasireddy D S Prasad was a Buddhist scholar of high reputation. Born in 1899 on Chaitra Suddha Padhyami, in a distinguished Zamindari family, Vasireddy, unlike his affluent peer group, spent his life in quest for knowledge. With an impeccable authority on Pali language, he translated many Buddhist works into Telugu.
10. Patibanda Sundara Rao
Voracious reader and scholar, Patibanda Sundara Rao (1905- 89) was a unique Shavian and the founder of only Shaw society in India. An ardent admirer of George Bernard Shaw, Patibanda met his mentor during 1933, when Shaw on board a vessel en route to Bombay. A thorough scholar of Shaw complete works, Patibanda inspired a generation with his teachings.
11. Karnati Lakshmi Narasayya
One of a few surviving stalwarts of the golden era of Telugu theatre and well known folk arts exponent Karnati Lakshmi Narasayya was born in 1928 at Tunikipadu in Krishna district in a rural family of modest means. From the beginning of his career, Karnati, the people’s actor, has been intolerant of the view – ‘art for art’s sake’. Karnati witnessed the suffering of the people under Nizam’s rule. Rebellion by intuition, he felt an urge to protest against the oppression at a tender age of seven. He was attracted to folk arts like burrakatha, veedi bhagothams, tolu bommalata, gollasuddulu and kolatam to enlighten the superstitious and taboo-ridden society. The 86-year old pleasant conversationalist, who thrilled audiences with his state-of-the-art presentation of folk arts and plays in Praja Natya Mandali, still keeps his spirits intact.
12. ‘Kavi Samrat’ Viswanatha Satyanarayana
Father of Modern Telugu poetry Sri Sri ascribed Viswanatha Satyanarayana (1894- 1976) as the Golden Nib of Telugus. The towering personality in Telugu literature, Viswanatha was the first Telugu literary personality, who received Jnanapith award, the highest literary award in India. The legendary litterateur had great diversity in his writings, as no literary aspect which was not touched upon by Viswanatha in his works. He had his impact on all genres of writing in his own way.
He had displayed his ‘intellectual egotism’ by making some changes in the basic Ramayana with unfazed conviction. His grip of Telugu and Sanskrit languages was enormous and the great writer had few parallels. He was also well versed with English. His works evoke immense interest even today and rightly so because they were literary masterpieces and also dealt on a variety of subjects with phenomenal dexterity.
The great sons of Vijayawada set an exemplary example of guts, revolution and rebellion against poverty, backwardness and created a new benchmark in their respective fields with impeccable progress.