My maternal grandfather, Dr.Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D. was the personal physician, friend, and confidant of Amarajeevi Potti Sriramulu. My grandfather had published a paper giving a detailed account of the changes in the clinical condition of Potti Sriramulu during the entire period of the fast from 19 October 1952 to 15 December 1952, a historical fast unto death. I did not learn about the history of the formation of Andhra Rashtra and later Andhra Pradesh from visiting libraries and from reading books. I am eye-witness to the historical process and I learned about the key personalities involved in shaping these historical events through my family connections.
After leaving the shores of India in 1984, I had no problems of identity as people of other countries very easily find me as a person of Indian origin. However, while I lived in India, my identity had been a very ticklish issue. My birth place is Mylapore, Madras. Since I belonged to a Telugu speaking family, I met problems with embracing the local identity and describe myself as a native of Madras City. As I grew up in Madras, I have seen the growth of Dravida Munnetra Kazagham(D.M.K) as a political force.I had saw the bullock cart processions led by Shri.C.N.Anna Durai. As a kid, I grew up with an uneasy feeling. I lived with a sense of fear that the D.M.K Party would not let me claim Madras as my native place. (Because of Lord Kapaleeswara, I still keep a very strong sense of my emotional bonding with Mylapore.)Simultaneously, in 1952, I had witnessed Shri.Potti Sri Ramulu who had fasted unto death for the creation of a separate State for the Telugu speaking people. This was a historical event. In this fasting saga, my maternal grand father Doctor.Kasturi Narayana Murthy, M.D played a significant role in his capacity as the personal physician of Potti Sri Ramulu who observed the fast in Mylapore in the house of Sri.Bulusu Sambamurthy. Incidentally, my grand father for the first time in medical history had carefully documented the changes in the medical condition of his fasting patient and later published a paper.The fast began on October 19, 1952 and ended on December 15, 1952.This historical event was also witnessed by my maternal grandmother’s brother who was fondly known as ‘Thambi Mavayya’ and his name is Budhravarapu Ch. Narayana Murthi, a high-ranking State official. I remember watching the massive funeral procession of Potti Sri Ramulu as it marched through Mylapore and it became a turning point in the history of post-independence India.The political map of India was redrawn. Prime Minister Nehru had to reluctantly agree to the formation of Andhra State and later this historical event paved the way for the formation of linguistic States throughout India in 1957.
On October 1, 1953 the new State of Andhra had come into existence with Kurnool as its Capital. Prime Minister Nehru had attended the inaugural function. My grandfather was among the dignitaries seated on the dais. In that Andhra State formation’s Inaugural Function, my grandfather was included as he had witnessed the greatest act of sacrifice and he symbolized the presence of that Departed Soul of Potti Sri Ramulu. Prime Minister Nehru was very upset and visibly angry and had refused to formally meet my grandfather. My grandfather, Dr. K N Murthy had described that Nehru’s face turned crimson with anger and had resembled a red apple. My grandfather had narrated to me that he made an attempt trying to greet Nehru with due courtesy and had extended his hand to offer a hand shake.Nehru had specifically refused to extend his hand and give a hand shake.’Andhra Kesari’ Sri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu garu was chosen as the first Chief Minister and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was selected as the Deputy Chief Minister.Budhravarapu Ch Narayana Murthi was appointed as the first Law Secretary in the newly formed Andhra State Government and had lived in Kurnool. All of these people known to me had immense respect for Prime Minister Nehru and had valued his contributions to our Nation. Telugu people wanted to take part in National Affairs with a sense of Self-Pride and as equals. The Tamils undermined this sense of Self-Respect which Telugu people value in their dealings with others.
There is a sense of sadness and bitterness about the regional politics of this country where language had become a major player in the political arena. Eventually, the State of Andhra Pradesh had come into existence on November 1, 1956 after the addition of nine districts of Telangana which were earlier a part of the State of Hyderabad. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the first Chief Minister of the newly formed State of Andhra Pradesh. The City of Hyderabad was chosen as the Capital for the newly formed State of Andhra Pradesh. The government buildings vacated in Kurnool were given to Kurnool Medical College. Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu Garu took the initiative in the formation of Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati. Kurnool Medical College is affiliated to Sri Venkateswara University. The history of the formation of Andhra Rashtra with Kurnool as its Capital still survives at Kurnool Medical College and the residential quarters. My grandfather left Madras city and found his new home in Hyderabad and Hyderabad became my travel destination for all of my vacations.I had my schooling in all the three areas which came together as a State to represent the Telugu speaking people. In the Coastal Andhra city of Rajahmundry, I could develop a strong sense of Telugu Identity and I am proud of that Identity and cherish that Identity that describes me as a Native of Rajahmundry. I was a student at Danavaipeta Municipal High School from 1955 to 1961. While I was a student at Government Giriraj Arts College in Nizamabad ( 1961 to 1965) of Telangana region and later while I was a student at Kurnool Medical College in Kurnool ( 1965 to 1970) of Rayalaseema region, the student community had expressed some negative feelings about my Telugu identity and a true sense of harmony was sadly lacking. This particular statement has offended my friend Shri. Apkari. Suryaprakash( who is a well-known Telugu Poet and was recognized by AIR as the Poet of the Year) of Nizamabad who did his B.A. degree course at Giriraj Arts College while I was a B.Sc student. I need to clarify my observation. It is not my intention to state that my friends; I had only two friends while I studied in Nizamabad, namely Shri. S. Mohan Reddy and A.Surya Prakash did not entertain any negative feelings towards me. I am only speaking about the rest of the student community. I had participated in College Elections on two occasions while I was in Giriraj Arts College and got defeated both the times. Suryaprakash being a student of the B.A. class did not take part in my election which was exclusively decided by the B.Sc students. I am saying that I did not enjoy enough support amongst my classmates studying B.Sc to get elected. This election experience has painfully followed me while I was a student at Kurnool Medical College. I had tried and had failed in the College Election where the concerns about my Identity have played a role. We need to admit and recognize that there are regional differences amongst Telugu people and these differences become apparent in the political arena. My friendly connections to these places had survived. Amongst Telugu speaking people, three political identities exist, the identities of Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, and Telangana. This did not distract me from serving my Nation. In 1967, I had the opportunity to represent the State of Andhra Pradesh at a National Student Seminar on ” National Integration “. This was a month long major event and the Seminar took place in New Delhi. Many in the student community viewed the language factor as a major hurdle in achieving the goal of National Integration . While I got rejected in the College Elections because of regionalism amongst Telugu people, I still made my personal choice, and got married in Cuddapah making Cuddapah (Kadapa) of Rayalaseema as my second Home Town.
While I was posted at Secunderabad, Sri.N.T.Ramarao founded the Telugu Desam Party in 1982. NTR’s message was that of upholding the self-respect of Telugu speaking people and he won the election in January, 1983. I had supported NTR and his Telugu Desam Party and had hoped that the new party would build bridges and bring Telugu people together onto a single platform and would give Telugu people an opportunity to play a meaningful role in National Affairs. I was particularly happy with the 1982 Election results because of N.T.R. led Telugu Desam Party performed very well across the three regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telugu people truly joined hands to project an image of Unity and Solidarity. Telugu Desam Party had started with a noble mission and had slowly slipped in its resolve to uphold its ideals of uniting Telugu people and bringing them together on a common political platform.
SANSKRIT, THE LANGUAGE OF MY CULTURE:
The ‘Three Language Formula’ was conceived as a solution to bring Indian people together and to overcome the linguistic differences. Under this formula, I had studied Telugu as my first language(mother tongue),English was my second language(Link language), and studied Hindi as my third language(national language).All the central ideas and thoughts that define our Indian Culture find their expression in Sanskrit language.I wish that I had studied Sanskrit as my third language under the ‘Three Language Formula’. I am very hopeful that Sanskrit could play a more useful role in promoting National Unity and National Integration. During the years that I had spent in Indian Army, I became fond of both Hindi and Urdu which had firmly linked me to the rest of the Nation. The sweetness of Urdu could foster a better relationship between Hindu and Muslim Communities. While I had lived in Nizamabad, the golden voice of immortal Mohd. Rafi had shaped my love for Urdu language. While Telugu gives me the sense of personal identity, and a sense of personal dignity, Sanskrit gives me the ability to connect to my past, and provides a sense of historical purpose; I still need Hindi and Urdu to reach the rest of the Nation; and English provides the bridges to cross the linguistic divide. The story about Telugu speaking people, their aspirations for regional identities continues today and all of Telugu people should come together to discuss this issue.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.