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A tale simply told

RANEE KUMAR

Have you heard of the Molla Ramayanam?


HYDERABAD

Have you ever heard of a Telugu woman scholar who had written the Ramayana in her mother tongue in the most beautiful, poetic yet simple language? Well, this great intellectual was called Atkuri Molla and she belonged to Gopavaram, a small hamlet in Nellore district. She is said have lived in the 16th Century (prior to 1581). Molla, in one of her introductory verses to the Ramayana, says she is the daughter of a potter who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. She did not have a conventional education and she says her reading and writing came as a divine gift from God! She was also a sensitive writer because she refused to dedicate her Ramayana to any king as was the general practice those days.

Molla Ramayanam, as it is called even today, is full of verses in which she tells the story of Rama in clear and easy Telugu without using Sanskrit words so that any person who knows to read and write can understand it. Her greatness lay in the fact that she never claimed her wisdom and knowledge of all the earlier scholars who had written the Ramayana but in fact she was well read in all versions of the great book. The opening poem of her Ramayanam says- "Ramayanam has been written many times but does one stop eating food just because it is eaten every day? So too is the story of Rama. You can write, read and love it any number of times."

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