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Scripting a change

Gudipoodi Srihari
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Tribute Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy was the first ever scholar to create an alphabet for a tribal language and making it easy to comprehend. Gudipoodi Srihari

Marking Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy’s 150th birth year, the Telugu Bhasha Dinotsavam’ (August 29) was celebrated. Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy was instrumental in fighting for introduction of ‘Vyavaharika Bhasha’ (spoken Language) replacing the sankritised texts found in writings of many authors before him and during his period too.

Gurazada and others like Kandukuri Veeresalingam also made an effort; Gurazada used mandalikam and Veerasalingam’s works were a mix. Many celebrations were organised around the state to recall the services of Gidugu to Telugu spoken language.

Gidugu Ramamurthy was born at Parvatalapeta near Vamsadhara River on the border of Orissa. His father Veeraraju worked as revenue inspector and died when Ramamurthy was just 12 years old. It was a struggle for him to survive.

He studied privately and passed his matriculation, staying in his sister’s house and began his life as a teacher in Gajapati Maharaja School, Parlakimidi for 55 years.

The ‘nationalist’ and ‘linguist’ in him rebelled against merging this Telugu dominated area with Orissa state at that time.

His fight against this resulted in removal of his son Sitapati from government service.

Albeit being a historian as well, Ramamurthy was unable to read ‘Sasanas’ on stone tablets clearly.

To understand them he studied books that were imported by Vizianagaram Maharaja’s son Kumara Raja. He studied various language scripts and after deciphering the ‘Sasanas’ he wrote books on languages and scripts.

He wrote on ‘Kalinga (Orissa) Charitra’ and published them with support of friends like Gurazada Appa Rao.

That’s not all, Gidugu even developed a script for the ‘Savaralu’ tribe. He picked up their language visiting places, began conversing with them in their own language, and learnt their songs (folk) and stories.

The script is now called as ‘Savara Bhasha’. He even founded schools and paid teachers from his own pocket and began teaching their children how to write and read not only their language but other languages too. He wrote ‘Savara’ grammar and then went on to write the Savara-English dictionary.

Influenced by his works and the movement for spoken language, poets like Dasarathi wrote on him extensively in their works. Ramamurthy had studied many languages and comprehended the philosophy of language. He pleaded for lucidity in text books. In his time there was only a poetic approach and never was a prosaic treat. He launched a monthly titled Telugu to drive his point.

Gidugu became famous all over the country not only for changing the tenor of using sanskritised Grandhika Bhasha in writings, which could be followed by a few scholars; to a spoken language understood by the entire community but also being the first ever scholar to create alphabet for a tribal language and rendering their language easy to comprehend.


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