|Born||April 16, 1848|
|Died||May 27, 1919(aged 71)|
Rao Bahadur Kandukuri Veeresalingam also spelled as Kandukuri Veereshalingam (Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం) (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919), also known as Kandukuri Veereshalingam Pantulu (Telugu: వీరేశలింగం పంతులు), was a social reformer of Andhra Pradesh. He is widely considered as the man who first brought about a renaissance in Telugu people and Telugu literature. . He was influenced by the ideals of Brahmo Samaj particularly those of Keshub Chunder Sen. He got involved in the cause of social reforms. In 1876 he started a Telugu journal and wrote the first prose for women. He encouraged education for women, and started a school in Dowlaiswaram in 1874. He started a social organisation called Hitakarini Samajam (Benefactor).
He had many firsts to his credit: novelist (Rajasekhara Charitra inspired by Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of the Wakefiled), critic, autobiographer, biographer, essayist, poet, writer of plays and playlets, satirist, investigative journalist (One judge dispensing judgments and dismissing justice committed suicide after the expose), scientific writing. He translated many books from Sanskrit and English into Telugu. He also contributed to children’s literature by basing his children’s book on Aesop’s Fables. He was all for vernacular Telugu, which became the precursor of the language now.
Sri Kandukuri Viresalingam Pantulugaru was born on April, 16th, 1848 in Rajamahendravaram (Rajahmundry) into a Telugu Brahmin family.
In the History of the Brahma Samaj, Sivanath Sastri writes Kandukuri Veerasalingam Pantulu, “He constructed the first Brahma Mandir in the Andhra country at Rajahmundry in 1887. He constructed a Widows’ Home, a two storied building and a similar one for the Social Reform Association at Madras; he started the first theistic high school, the Hithakarini School at Rajahmundry in 1908; during the same year he willed away all his property for the benefit of Rajahmundry Widows’ Home and the school, and placed them under the management of an association, the Hitakarini Samaj. The movement spread from Rajahmundry to Cocanada (presently Kakinada), Parlakimedi, Palakole, Narsapur, Vijayawada and Tenali.”He is called as "Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar" of South.
He is also credited with the setting up of Brahmo Samaj at Bangalore
Veereshalingam pantulu is popularly called Gadya Tikkana.He wrote about 100 books between 1869 and 1919 and introduced the essay, biography, autobiography and the novel into Telugu literature.He also wrote "Abhagyopakhyanamu" a humorous satire on the Andhra society.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam is considered as prophet of Modern Andhra. Veereshalingam awakened Andhras out of their suffocating medieval orthodox customs and superstitions. He was not only a reformer, but also a literary activist. His literary activities were varied. He was the first to write a Telugu novel (Rajashekhara Charitramu), Telugu drama, books on natural sciences and history in Telugu, and Telugu prose for women. He was considered the father of renaissance in Andhra.
He was a reformist writer. His initial writings were in classical style of Prabandhas. He wrote several Shatakas, such as, Gopala Shatakamu, Markandeya Shatakamu etc. His Abhagyopakhyanamu is a humorous satire on the Andhra society. His Rajashekhara Charitramu was the first Telugu novel.
Social reform activities
Veereshalingam was one of the greatest personalities and earliest reformers in India to demand for radical changes in Telugu Indian society. He had a keen insight, great courage and dynamic energy. He fought against untruth and championed the cause of progress with vigor. He fought for education for women, and remarriage of widows. He arranged the first widow remarriage in India on December 11, 1881.He started Vivekavardhini, a monthly journal, to point out and criticize the defects in the society. He also maintained several other journals like Chintamani, Sati hitabodha, Satyasavardhani, Satyavadi etc., and helped develop the Telugu literature and reformation of the society.
He also established an organization called Hitakarini Society and donated all his property for the social activities to improve the society and support various organizations set up by him. He ridiculed the opponents of women's education in many satires, lampoons and drama like "Brahma Vivaham."He was also one of the members of the first Indian National Congress meeting held in 1885.
Last days and Death
In his last days he admired the vernacular Telugu (Vyavahara Bhasha) and the then independence movement organized by the Congress. He published the "ANDHRA KAVULA CHARITRA" (History of Andhra Poets), which is the basis for the history of Andhra and Andhra Literature. Sri Viresalingam started the revolution to reform the then existing Telugu language usage which led to the birth of "Vyavaharaika Bhasha". This revolution was later successfully handled by Sri Gidugu Ramamurty of Parlakimedi and Sri Gurajada Apparao of Vizianagaram. Every common and ordinary Telugite should be grateful to Sri Kandukuri Viresalingam, Sri Gidugu Ramamurty, and Sri Gurajada Apparao for the fruits of their indefatigable battle - the culture and creation of "Vyavaharika Telugu".
He died on 27 May 1919. A statue of his has been installed on Beach Road, Vishakapatnam. His contributions to social reform, specifically to causes such as widow remarriage, are well-remembered in Andhra Pradesh.
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He has done proof editing for the famous Ayurveda Book in American English - "Vastu Guna Dipika" 3rd edition, in December, 1908