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A literary colossus

Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyuam

Kondepudi Subba Rao

Vizagites, the literary circles in particular, could proudly boast themselves of having an epitome of an erudition whose prolific pen finds peering expression with amazing felicity in all forms of creative writing in both the prosaic and poetic idioms in Telugu.

Meet the grand old celebrity, Kondepudi Subba Rao, who deserves to be hailed as a colossus of Telugu letters. A graduate in economics, he neither formally qualified for a degree in literature nor its equivalent titles of any university. A pardox indeed!

Kondepudi was born in a family of lovers of classical literature to Ratnamba and Soorraaju in Chebrolu in West Godavari district in November 1916. When he was seven, he lost his father and had his education in penurious circumstances. After schooling at Chebrolu, he studied Intermediate and B.A. in the P.R. College of Kakinada and was the proud recipient of a gold medal for having secured the first rank in B.A. final examination of Andhra University in 1938.

As the adage in Telugu goes `Poovu puttagaane parimalinchunu', his penchant for classical literature and his flair in creative writing bloomed even as a school boy. He invariably stood first at all the competitions in all literary events, including debate and elocution, all through his scholastic career, besides having the choice to participate in school and college seminars on literature.

After graduation, for two years till he was selected as a clerk in the Defence Accounts Department in 1940, he had the distinction of being the editor of the first two volumes of the encyclopaedia, `Andhra Vignanamu', compiled and published under the aegis of the Devidi Principality. Even being in service outside Andhra, his articles and essays, `Chitti Talli', `Telugu Seema', `Kadambham', etc., were published as serials in prestigious magazines of those days, `Bharati', `Krishna Patrika', `Andhra Patrika' and the likes.

Fortunately enough for the Vizagites, he was on deputation for a few years at Visakhapatnam before his retirement in 1974 and he opted to settle down in the port city which, thanks to the insuperable service rendered by stalwarts in all the fields of all fine arts, achieved a niche for being called as the `cultural capital' of AP.

As per the dictates of his own conscience, he chose the arduous way working day and night ardently treading a path of nurturing, cultivating and realising heaps of literary harvest of richly nutritious food for thought of soul-stirring and soul-soothing quality.

`Kaavyanjali', an anthology of hundreds of poems under three heads, `Pranayaanjali', `Bhaashpaanjali' and `Pujaanjali', was his first published work in 1976. Since then he accomplished more than hundred such works in all the traditional and modern forms of Telugu literature of which about 50 have already been published, the most invaluable among them being `Ramayana', `Uttara Ramayana', `Bhagavatham', `Devi Bhagavatham', `Shanti' and `Anusasanika Parva' of Mahabharatham, `Sivaananda and Soundarya Lahari's, `Mukundamala', many an oratoria and so on.

Subba Rao seems to be quite at home with the mellifluently flowing Paanchaali diction, the chaste and simple idiom of the ever great poet Pothana,and hence was rightly conferred with the title `Abhinava Pothana'.

Numerous are the titles conferred on him and awards he received from prestigious literary bodies from far and wide. Kavisekhara, Madhurakavi, Bharathi Prasanna, Kaviprabha and Viswasahithi are but a few examples.

That Kondepudi has been an unswerving upasaka of the traditional padyaprakriya, a unique feature not only of Telugu but all literature as well, gets amply reflected in his effort at establishing significantly a literary body called "Andhra Padya Kavitha Sadassu'' for which he was the president and now its Kulapathi. The bi-monthly magazine, `Prasanna Bharathi', edited and published by himself, is yet another example of his immense zeal to save the Sampradaya Padya Prakriya from fading away into the oblivion.

The title, "Sri Kalaapurna'', of the US-based Sonti Renaissance International Foundation conferred on him last week is yet another feather of exalted status in his cap.

Kondepudi, an epitome of self-evolved prolificacy manifesting as a colossus of Telugu letters and a paragon of a crusader for traditional poetry in Telugu, richly deserves many more such titles and awards, of the national stature in particular.

A. RAMALINGA SASTRY

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