|Musings of Acharya Ranga on Govada|
Govada has lagged behind in venturing into the field of English education. Turumella, her neighbour has already made great progress in this fields and gained an enviable place among the official ranks in the growing field of administration by founding a High School in the early twenties and by encouraging most of her kisan youths to gain English education. By 1951, Govada youths began to feel impatient with their elders’ concentration upon education through Sanskrit and Hindi. So they persuaded my uncle, the late Sri Pavuluri Venkayya Chowdary to take the lead by making his own munificent donation, in establishing the High School. When the District Educational Officers began to threaten the withdrawal its recognition unless a permanent building was provided, the youths found in Sri Venkaiah Chowdary a willing donor of the needed valuable site and funds. Since the School was named after himself, Sri Venkaiah Chowdary evinced great interest with enthusiasm for the school, and I was asked to preside over and to persuade the then Governor of Madras and also my famous fellow freedom fighter, the late Sri ShriPrakas to lay the foundation stone for the school building in 1953.
It is interesting how Sri Venkaiah Chowdary, of all the thousands kisans, had come to be the principal catalyst for this English educational institution in the otherwise Gandhian Govada.
Sri Venkaiah Chowdary was sent to Guntur in 1900 to study English in the Christian High School. I do not know who inspired his uncle, Sri Ramanayya of Nidubrole, who was also my grandfather to send him for English studies at such a distant place. Sri Venkaiah Chowdary did not make much progress beyond middle matriculation standard. But he did gain some knowledge of outside world, some acquaintance with higher levels of modern knowledge and studies and took interest in subjects and affairs, which were far beyond the reach or the kisans of those days.
His venture into such urban areas and English studies served then one lively purpose in our family. My mother Smt Atchamamba used to talk about Sri Venkaiah’s English studies and display his bulky copy of English Dictionary and exhort me, who used to display extreme dislike of the local teacher and his school to follow in the foot prints of Sri Venkaiah Chowdary and learn to study both Telugu and English. Even today I remember how I used to finger his books in English with admiration and affection, as I was trying to gain knowledge of English and feel that if it was possible for Sri Venkaiah Chowdary of our family to go for his English studies to what then appeared at a distant town Guntur, in those days when communications were so poor, it might be possible for me also learn and progress in studies.
Thus Sri Venkaiah Chowdary’s ancient uncompleted efforts to learn English in the beginning of this century has not only contributed in some to my own studies in Oxford and to my brother, Sri Lakshmi Narayana to prosecute post graduate studies in Calcutta and to Smt Bharathi Devi going to Oxford but also oriented Govada, his own village, into English education field. Thus has this Sri Venkaiahh Chowdary has also enriched the village library, by gifting a building.
Even more useful is the new feature of an increasing number of graduates and postgraduates, Who are settling down in Govada in their agricultural self employment. Only with a sufficient number of such graduates in every village, joining the rank of enlightened Kisans, the
Self employed messes of kisans and artisans can manage to deal in a self reliant and honorable manner with the growing number of bureaucrats coming to gain control over the expanding spheres of rural life. We need them to provide competent leadership for Panchayats, Cooperative Societies and strengthen the acticities, social and cultural organizations. Let us hope that their presence would also give a meaningful significance to Gandhian call for youths to g back to villages and provide cultural spice and social variety in rural life. Let Govada Youths make themselves useful in this direction also.
|Govada’s Role in Kisan Movement|
Govada has attained special distinction in Guntur District for its abiding loyalty to the cause if Kisan Mazdoor Praja Raj during the Second World War, Gandhiji gave the call for `Quit India’ campaign against British imperialism. The Kisans of Nidubrole, Appikatla and people of
Tenali Taluka distinguished themselves by their daring contributions to `Do or Die’ activities. Unfortunately the communists pursued the pro-Russia and anti Indian policy of supporting the British War efforts because of their mistaken passion for aiding the allies of their Soviet Socialist Father land. They mobilised their supports in a big Kisan rally in Tenali in 1943 when we were all in Jails, and tried to condemn the National Congress and also Kisan Congress.
The people of Krishna and Guntur districts were scandalized by that communist demonstration of anti-Indian loyalties. The Kisan youths of Govada and its neighbouring villages of Amrutaluru, Inturu, Yelavarru, Paparru approached me, soon after my release from detention, with their offer to organise the patriotic demonstration, in support of our Gandhian ideals. Govada Youths were specially inspired by what they considered to be the triumph, achieved by us of the all India Kisan Mazdoor movement when Mahatma Gandhi offered his Blessings to our ideal of democratic Kisan Mazdoor Praja Raj, as opposed to and contrasted with the communist ideal of Dictatorship of the proletariat. So they took the lead in making all arrangements for holding the conference in their own village. Thus Govada became the battlefield for gaining the hearts of Kisan and Mazdoor masses for our democratic idea; and Gandhian struggle for national freedom. Sri M.Bhaktavasalam, Sri A. Kaleshwara Rao, Smt Bharathi Devi and several other leaders joined us on that memorable platform. That Govada’s mammoth Kisan conference in 1945 put into the shade the Tenali’s communist demonstration in the post-war Andhra’s patriotic career.
Stung as they were with their failure and shame, some communists waylaid the Kisans on their return to their villages and belabored a number of kisan leaders, Sri Veluvolu Sitaramaiah, a freedom fighter and leader of Amurutaluru, was beaten that he had to be treated for a week in hospital.
Ever since Govada has grown into as steady and strong a centre for Kisan movement as Appikatla and Kakumanu in Baptla Taluk. Her people, whether they be Kisans of Mazdoors, irrespective of their castes and religions have been strengthening the champions of Kisan cause in every election, for Assembly, of for Lok Sabha. Thus our popular and able Kisan M.L.A Sri Yadlapati source of strength and enthusiastic support.
Govada & National Reconstruction
Mahatma Gandhi visualized the indispensability of Indian’s need to undertake the `Garibi Hatao’ campaign, simultaneously with the struggle for Swaraj. So he gave as much importance and encouragement to the work of Desabhakta Venkatappaiah and Swami Sitaram (Sri Gollapudi Sitarama Sastri) and Rajaji as to that of Prakasam and Srinivasa Ayyangar of south India.
In the same way, Govada and Ghantasala came to achieve as much frame as pillars of our struggle for Swaraj through their response to constructive program as Chebrole and Ananthavaram for their record figures of Satyagrahis during that period of freedom fight. What are now being canvassed as rival programs as `Total revolution ‘ and `Garibi Hatao’ were then practiced by the Gandhians as `Constructive programs’ and `Political Campaigns’, but there were some sections among congressmen, Who followed one or the other reads for freedom as if they were better alternatives; though both were the equally needed wheels of the same cart or Swarajya’s Radham.
Govada and Khadi Movement
In Guntur District, Govada responded to the Khadi Movement just as enthusiastically as Ghantasala in the Krishna District. Gandhiji urged that the poverty of rural women could be fought, their under-employment reduced and growth of rural poverty arrested through the revival and development of cottage industries, and Khaddar being the most universal need of all people and spinning wheel being its production, he prorogated the movement for introduction of the spinning wheel (charkha), consequent revival of Khadi weaving and thus provided the national stature to Khadi movement. By the 1934 he broadened that movement into that eventually assumed the shape of the village and rural industries campaign. To Gandhi and Gandhian extension or presentation either by Vinobha Bhave or Jayaprakash Narayan. So Govada has had the unique distinction, in this Guntur district of 900 villages, of having hugged to its heart, this constructive aspect of our Gandhian total revolution.
Economists as well as politicians use to urge that through Khadi, We could help our women to become financially self-reliant and socially stronger and fight poverty in the most effective and constructive manner. Govada’s women have exemplified our faith and strengthened our preachings through their loyal adherence to khadi. When ambar charkha was introduced, they were the first to experiment with it on a large scale. In wearing Khadi to the gradual exclusion of mill cloth, their response was the largest to this day, Govada’s women hold the palm of honour in their constructive contribution to this total revolution of the Ghandhian conception. Theirs is the best, through not so, exuberant achievement in our march towards`Garibi hatao’.
Govada Women in Freedom Struggle
Women are much economically help less than men because of the prevalence of greater periods of unemployment for them and higher incidence of underemployment among them. Gandhiji therefore appealed to all genuine congressmen and other patriots to encourage mere and mere women, especially rural women to take the charakha’s spinning and associated Khadi activities, right upto wearing khadi and provide thereby, this source of employment, within their own home, and within their own social environment. Constructive Workers like Swami Sitaram canvassed for support for the Khadi movement. He found in Govada his biggest centre of support. The credit has come to the women of Govada for having excelled even Kavuru, the main centre of
Swami’s Ashram and constructive activities. Smt Bharati Devi used to hold these wonderful women of Govada, as the architects of Purna Swaraj, we therefore paid many a visit to them, with as much spirit of devotion as in a pilgrimage.
Many women satrygrahis have come forward from Govada to strengthen the successive campaigns for Swaraj. It became our family privilege to come into personal contact with one of them Smt. Chinnammayi, some forty years age. They have always remained in the vanguard of everyone of the campaign in the vanguard of everyone of campaign that was initiated either by Swamiji or by our family in the village and Kisan movements. For instance they played a significant role in the Harijan uplift movement by persuading the caste-Hindus to throw open local tanks, temples, and schools for Harijans. Indeed they spirited away, as it were, the devil of un-touchability in their socially regenerative manner.
Hindi Prachar from Govada
To this day, India has not gained universal support for developing a common national language. In fact there is greater resistance too now than in 1920-40 for its emergence because of shortsighted and chauvinistic impatience of some Hindi-faddists. In these early decades of our Swaraj movement, Mahatma Gandhi preached the national need for developing Hindustanior Hindi as opposed to English, as one of the vehicles for our national unity. South Indians hailed that movement also as a part of our national renaissance. Govada came forward in this direction also and both women and men began to learn Hindi as enthusiastically as Turimella and Duggirala took to English. Govada proved that the results have been equally beneficial, even from the angle of employment. Amrutaluru led the way in these districts in starting its centre for teaching and prorogating Sanskrit among non-Brahmins also, in these remote, unregenerate first decades of reaction of the priests of this century. Forward-looking Kisan youths of both Amrutaluru and Govada defied social taboos against their learning the so-called sacred and priestly language of Sanskrit and began to gain their debut into that wonderful world of Indian's ancient culture. By 1950, the hundreds of kisan pandits who gained their Sanskrit scholarship through the famous Amrutaluru school have fanned themselves in all directions and into all Andhra Districts and beyond.
Indian civilization has had the unique distinction of respecting and recognising the personality and prestige of the village, as the worth while and inspiring center of culture and human activity. Such a personality was achieved in the west by cities like Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Paris, and London. Berlin and in recent times, by New York, Washington, D.C, Chicago,
San Francisco and Detroit. In India too, Hastinapura and its later Swaroop Delhi, Patalipura, Kanuz, Kanchi, Madhura also gained similar historical importance. But not many distinguished poets or patriots, philosophers or prophets, Savants or saints had either arisen from or claimed inspiration from such cities as frequently or belatedly as had the many more numerous opposite number of distinction and lasting renown claimed their origins, early inspiration or final consummation of their achievement from village of Indian civilization.
Western Way and Rural India
Till to-day, the hold that the personality of a city gains on the aggressive loyalties of youths is exemplified by the historic rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, in their much vaunted rivalry in the annual boat races. In recent decades Harward University is vainly jealous of the spiralling reputation of Princeten. It is equally true, more frequently asserted, much for on longer ages, that villages vie., with each other. Fights, ending sometimes in violent outbursts, take place between the people of rivalling villages, if their reputation for excellence either in agricultural production, Cattle-breeding or the cultural attainments or mannerisms in prenunciation, speaking or singing are ridiculed or are not adequately appreciated. The sense of loyalty for the personality and prestige of their respective villages is so high that sometimes riots take place, when the boys of one village try to play some pranks with the girls of another village during some festivals or marriages. The folk tales of not only Rajasthan which are better known but also of other areas are replete with such stories of local wars in which hot-bloods displayed their youthful heroism in the defence of the prestige of their respective villages.
Our Traditions & Culture-Govada
It is in that tradition that the villages with ancient history to their credit like Bhattiprolu and Chebrolu with their rare possessions of Buddha’s Stupas demand our respect. Many villages continue to endeavour to achieve similar distinction. Govada, which is almost equi-distant between Chebrolu and Bhattiprolu had gained great reputation and enviable place among the villages enriched by the Krishna Delta during the Gandhian era. Govada’s loyalty to Gandhi’s constructive programme, her women’s contribution to the success of khadi and village industries, her kisans enthusiastic espousal of the ideal of Kisan Mazdoor Praja Raj and her devotions to the three revolutionary strains of these five decades; that is, the self respect, national freedom, and kisan, kalakar and Mazdoor inovements has placed her in the midstream of social revolution.
Govada’s Role for Rural Prosperity & Culture :
The Govada Youths were not satisfied with the reputation achieved by the elders of the earlier generation Sri Alapaty Devayya by helping the Maha Sivaratri festival around their local temple for Shiva to be half as good as the great festival of Kotappa Konda. So they have delved into the secrets of inscriptions and kaifyats from the days of Mackenzie. They were happy to discover that Govada has been in existance for many centuries. They have learnt that it existed with some distinction during these items, when their local jain saints engaged in discussions with the Buddhists of Bhattiprolu and Buddham, the beloved centres of Buddhists.
It is good that the youths of Govada are not content with these laurels won in ancient times or even under the inspiration of Gandhiji. Sri Devayya’s son Sri Suryanarayan has initiated Kisan Seva Samiti and organised Agricultural and Cattle Exhibitions for a number of years. Bharati Devi sent our cows, fruits and other products as exhibits and won prizes for some of our exhibits and was proud of these trophie from Govada.
In recent years, some of her graduates have achieved high distinctions, as teachers, lecturers, administrators, agronomists, scientists and some have gained high positions in worldly orders in England, America and Canada, demonstration that their kisan byeproducts of Gandhian age can shine in post-Nehru era also.
Place of Govada in Social Revolution
When Mahatma Gandhi began to warn against the Centuries long trend of rural people trecking to towns to find better or loner employment to escape from the almost suffocating social suppression, backward classes or Harijans or religious taboos and orthodoxy, most of the demegraphers, sociologists and economists thought his was a hopelessly unhistoric and impracticable call. Even those of us who realised the danger of that unceasing drift of populations of all countries from rural to urban centres were not too hopeful of arresting that process of unbanisation, merely through propaganda.
The Western sociologists continued to be hopeful that city life would continue to be progressive, and whole some, in socio-economic spheres. Most of them were convinced that the continuous process of urbanisation would be serving the social revolutionary purpose of releasing rural folk from their narrow social and mental horizons, and oppressively reactionary forces. Even census experts were trying to indicate the rising degree of population drift to urban centres as a feature of growing liberalisation of social atmosphere and cultural progress. For a long time, the press as well as politicians used to be happy over the rise of towns into cities, cities into greater metropolitan centres.
When we, the Gandhians, raised our slogan "Go Back to Villages" we were ridiculed, by the European-minded administrators, both Indian and English and the elite of Indian Universities, as out-moded and out-dated ruralites seeking to live as hermits of the bye-gone ages.
But, the post-atom bomb era has administered an equally explosive shock to all the blissfully urban minded and urban-centred intellectuals and administrators. The growing atmosphere of social and individual violence, in the dealings of people, as groups and individuals, the rising wave of psychological and irrational outbursts of madness, semi-mad disturbances in homes, clubs, places of entertainment, streets and alleys have shocked the public into realising the eruption of an extraordinarily uncurable social recluse. Socialogists have traced the growing wave of adolescent and criminality, domestic disharmony to the unnatural, dehumanising urban atmosphere, caused or intensified by city’s congregation of peoples in a few congested centres, narrowly circumscribed social confrontations of peoples of different age groups or social melee. The environmentalists, ecologists and sociologists in general have come to realise at long last that there is wisdom and wholesome guidance in the experiences, thoughts and preachings of Thoreau, Emerson, Gandhiji. They now advocate the stoppage of further growth of metropolitan and urban centres, breaking up cities into a number chain of smaller cities, building up work or industry centred towns cushioned with each other by wide and broad belts of green country-side and rapid dispersal of populations as between towns and town-ships, as there are no longer such centres of human habitation as own villages.
The demographers and sociologists of the west are busy with preparation of plans as to how to strengthen their administrators in their efforts to check growing social phenomenon of individual, even group-wise suicide mania, meaningless violence, too great a tendency to divorces, too frequent breaking-up of family life, the brittle and fearful relations between parents and teenagers and epidemical atmosphere of burning the candle at both ends in sexual, social and political spheres of their urban nations.
Is not all this a confirmation of Gandhiji’s diagnosis ? Will it not be foolish for Indians not to take warning from the bitter experiences of the so-called highly civilised. 100-storied palace-denizens of the West ? Even the communists of Soviet Union who had been rushing headlong towards urbanisation and sky-scrapers right upto 1967 have begun to cry a halt. The process of liquadating their villages and congregating the rural folk into new agrarian townships with their workshops of agricultural machines is now being re-organised in favour of developing whatever villages are still available into modernised centres of culture with their fully-equipped agro-industrial workshops and polytechnics.
When such is the latest trend at once progressive, whole-some and humane in all the modern areas of populations with all their latest manufaturing and atom-bomb cultures, I am firmly convinced, about the great boon that Indian civilisation has vouchsafed to us by preserving our villages from Chola and Chalukya times, rich with their inscriptral records of Panchayati Raj traditions and administrative equipment.
Certainly Gandhiji is vindicated, in his passion for village life and rural atmosphere; Prakasam was far-sighted when he diclared, to be followed four decades later by Mao Tse Tung, that Indian populations are dispersed so much in her five lakh villages, that hundreds of atom bomb explosions cannot destroy either India as such or Indian population or Indian cultural moves and intellectual moorings.
I concede that our villages, as they are at present built and existing have to be overhauled, and given a radical social shake-up and hygienic spring cleaning. Our villagers have to be helped to live in cosmopolitan social proximity, as between families pursuing different socio-economic occupations and cultural opportunities. That is, Harijans must be free to live in the midst of others, their houses as well as village artisans have to be welcomed to be situated side by side with the homes of peasants and priests. Sanitation facilites, sources of drinking water, hospitals, clinics, schools, play grounds, have all to be developed fully and with the specific purpose of serving all classes and social cadres in an equal humanitarian manner. All these and other egalitarian facilities. With all the equipment now available for towns and townships are urgently needed and have to be fully achieved within the next twenty years.
This is the really civilised approach It can be achieved. In this approach alone lies safety and future health for world population and certainly, for our masses, who are soon going to be 100 crores-far exceeding the populations of Europe and American hemispheres.
All this has to be built upon and around our villages:most of them so rich in their hoary traditions of civilised living and so many of them cherishing humanism.
Govada is one such fortunate centre of progressive humanity. It is situated in what had once hearkened to Buddha’s teachings. It is in the environs of these wonderful Buddha Stupas of Bhattiprolu, Chebrolu and Amaravati. It has had the glory of Gandhi’s presence and inspiration of his speeches and vibrations of his repeated movements along the reads within and all around it. It has had the special advantage of welcoming and hugging his epochal assurance that India’s happiness can be achieved through democratic Kisan Mazdoor Praja Raj, buttressed by maximum enjoyment of self-employment.