The book Mahodayam: Jateeya punarjeevanamlo Gurajada sthaanam by noted literary critic KV Ramana Reddy, popularly known as KVR, is the second edition of the book printed in 1969. A prominent figure in the ‘Viplava Rachayitala Sangham' (Revolutionary Writer's Association) — Virasam in short — KVR's Marxist leanings can be gleaned more in his comments on the social mores of Gurajada Appa Rao's times than in any ideological analysis of his works. Certainly the changes in literary style, language and close relationship with social developments are of interest to anyone, and more so to leftist critics.
The present edition has an interesting raison-de-etre. Coming as it does 14 years after KVR's demise, it is actually Virasam's tribute to the critic and his ever supportive wife Saradamba who passed away in 2009 and is the first book published under the aegis of the KVR Saradamba Memorial Committee. It is deemed relevant even today as it not only interprets Gurajada's masterpiece Kanyasulkam but also analyses Gurajada's work vis-a-vis prominent Telugu literary personalities amid the socio-political milieu of the day. In the process, it also dispels several myths about Gurajada.
Taking a biographical route Mahodayam traces Gurajada's literary growth from his childhood through his close relationship with Ananda Gajapathi Raju. Even as it does so, KVR delves into the regional and national developments during the two to three decades prior to Gurajada's life. For instance the cause and effect that Brahma Samaj and Arya Samaj, and later the Theosophical Society, had on social reformers and writers and poets of the day. Also, philosophies of these organisations had also influenced literary criticism and popular perception about writers. Gurajada's description of prostitutes and his support for them, as evident in many of his works (take Madhuravani's character in Kanyasulkam for instance) had tarnished his reputation so much so that he was branded a ‘loose' womaniser. KVR defends Gurajada's reputation with evidence from his life, letters and little notes that had been saved.
Indeed for a student of Telugu literature, Mahodayam is a comprehensive guide to Gurajada's life and works. The actual date of Gurajada' birth, the controversy surrounding the date when Kanyasulkam was first written, its enlarged rewritten version, and reasons are all dealt with. But Mahodayam isn't all about Kanyasulkam. Sarangadhara, Desabhakti geyam, Muthayala Saraalu, Nilagiri Patalu, Poornamma and his stories are all discussed in detail.
It has three sections, Udaya Sandhya that deals with the state of Andhra literature that existed prior to and during the British rule, Arunodayam that gives details of Gurajada's life and Saptaaswaalu which researches Gurajada's works as literature and poetics. KVR's book is a serious literary book and as such is replete with footnotes and cross references. As such it may be little difficult to digest his prose and derive its essential message. Yet the literary, historical book is surely a treasure for those looking for rigorous analytical criticism of Gurajada.
By K.V. Ramana Reddy K.V.R, Saradamba Smaraka Committee
For copies: Dr. S. Ramakrishna Santhi Nursing Home, Opposite Nirmala convent Patamata, Vijayawada- 10