While studying the history of any nation or place or person or an event or a matter, the relevant geography and chronology must be borne in mind.
Gadicherla Harisarvottam Rao plunged into the National Movement, chanting Vandemataram in April 1907, in his 24th Year at Rajamahendravaram, a town, 500 km away from his hometown, Kurnool.
He was there for hardly ten months to study Teacher’s Training. Social reformer and leader of the Telugu Renaissance Movement Kandukuri Veereshalingam, who had little opposition in the Social life of Rajamahendravaram was opposed to the Vandemaataram Movement.
In his Autobiography, he wrote: “A Bengali orator Bipinchadra Pal came and addressed the immature youth and roused their emotions, with a different kind of Nationalism. As they lacked worldly wisdom, youth became outrageous. They started moving with him shouting the Vandemataram slogan with Swadeshi insignias around their neck. ……. They considered me devoid of patriotism and did not heed to my sane advice. Students were debarred from the academic institutions and literates were declared ineligible for Government services.”
Gadiicherla Harisarvottama Rao was born on September, 14,1893 in Kurnool and had his School Education in Municipal High School, Kurnool.
Hailed as ‘Andhra Tilak’; a doyen among Indian Nationalists Gadicherla was the Second Andhra to get a Post -Graduate Degree in 1906, under a scholarship instituted for the backward Rayalaseema region.
He dispelled the doubts about the authorship of Amukthamalyadha by Srikrishnadevaraya, a forgotten emperor poet.
He was the first student to be rusticated in Andhra – during Vandemaataram Movement in 1907. Credit goes to him as the first (1908-11) political prisoner in A.P. and the first Journalist in the country to be imprisoned for his editorial in Swarajya, alleged seditious writing. Nominated the first editor of Andhra Patrika -(1914-16), he espoused the National cause and laid an unshakable foundation for Telugu Journalism.
He moved the resolution for naming the Ceded Districts as Rayalaseema in the Andhra Political Conference at Nandyal in Nov. 1928. Of, course the name Rayalaseem was suggested by another doyen of Telugu literature Dr Chilukuri Narayana Rao.
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During the freedom struggle, Gadicherla worked with national leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal, Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sardar Patel.
He groomed a generation of leaders like Neelam Sanjeev Reddy, Sardar Nagappa, and Tarimala Nagi Reddy. He was one among the first to start journals to rouse nationalism (Kowmodaki from Nandyal, Aindravathi from Pattikonda) and he translated the word ‘Editor’ as “Sampadaka” (సంపాదక).
As first Congress MLC from Kurnool District, (1926- ’30) in Madras Legislative Council, Gadicherla bestowed attention for the improvement of KC Canal and urged in the Madras Legislative Council for a road from Doral to Srisailam and also responsible for laying it.
During the electioneering in 1925, he earned the encomiums, ajata Sathru from none other than his rival candidate Cumbham Sharabha Reddy.
He nurtured the Library Movement in Telugu speaking Regions. Founded by Ayyanki Venkataramaiah and an indivisible part of the National Movement, the Andhra Pradesh Library Association is the oldest surviving Library Association in the country.
Stalwarts like Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Pantulu, Tanguturi Prakasam, N.G.Ranga , P.V.Narasimha Rao, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, and Suravaram Pratap Reddy were associated with it. Gadicherla was its President for a record 24 years (1936 to 60).
He had the rare distinction of being the Vice-president of the Indian Library Association, Culcutta, and the first Director of Adult Education in the Madras Presidency.
He founded and was elected the first President of the Sweepers and Scanvengers Association of Madras Corporation from 1920 to 1922.
Influenced by his jailmate, Yerukula (Tribal) Sunku, he presided over the First Rayalaseema Yerukula Conference at Rayadurga in 1946.
He conducted enlightenment camps at Kalvbugga and Mahanandi in Kurnool District and Hindupur in Ananthapur Dist and trained Congress, social and agricultural volunteers.
A linguist and a multifaceted scholar he penned about 20 books in Telugu and English. and delivered hundreds of messages through All India Radio, Vijayawada, and Madras.
He tirelessly participated in every movement formed as part of the National Movement, Co-operation, Literacy, Khadi, Library, Gram Swaraj, Prohibition, Swadeshi, Rural upliftment, etc.
He was the author of the Sri Bagh Pact (the Magna Carta for the development of Rayalaseema). Many more epithets can be inscribed on the graveyard and the cemetery of Gadicherla Hari Sarvottama Rao, one of the most illustrious sons of A.P. of all time.
He breathed his last on February 29, 1960, at Madras, in the home of his only daughter, Dwaraka Bai, and Son-in-law, Nallan Chakravartula Parthasarathy, musician Couple, leaving four grandsons too- Sriram, Mohan Krishna, Lakshman, and Sudhakar.
Constructed, on the eve of his Sashthapoorthi, in 1946, by his foster son Paturi Nagabhushanam, Hari Sarvottama Bhavanm in Patamata, Vijaywada was the first memorial for him, where a library in his memory is maintained all the 365 days. Paturi was instrumental in organizing his centenary celebration from 1983 to 1985 in Hyderabad, Vijaywada, and Kurnool.
In 1993, the District Central Library and the Zilla Grandhayala Samstha Buildings in Kurnool were named ‘GADICHARLA HARISARVOTTAMA RAO SMARAKA BHAVANAM.’ Efforts in this regard by K.C.Kalkara (author of this tribute), and K.Rosaiah, respectively the then Chairman and the Secretary, of the Kurnool Zilla Grandhalaya Samstha are noteworthy. With a substantial contribution from his grandsons, Gadicherla Foundation erected a life-size statue of the patriot in the premises of the Zilla Grandhala Samstha, Kurnool, on 29th Feb. 2016 on the occasion of his 56th Vardanth.
A large gathering witnessed the unveiling by TG Venkatesh, Rajya Sabha Member, former Minister and Patron of the Gadicherla Foundation, and IYR Krishna Rao, former Chief Secretary and Chairman of the AP Brahmin Welfare Corporation. The Initiative was taken by S.Dhana Reddy and Smt Lalitha, respectively the Chairman and the Secretary, the Kurnool Zilla Grandhalaya Samstha is gratefully acknowledged.
Nandyala was the Centre of activity for Gadicherla. Without Kadapa Raghavendra Rao, there was no Visweswaraiah; without Immaneni Hanumantha Rao there was no Tanguuturi Prakasam Pantulu and without Sivasankara Ayer, there was no A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. The list is unending. Without Kadarabad Narasingh Rao, there was no Gadicherla.
Known as Nandyala Gandhi, a wealthy Congrissite and philanthropist, three times Chairman of Nandyal Municipality, Kadarabad, not only sheltered Gadicherla and his wife and daughter but bore the financial burden too.
Under the guidance of Janamaddi Hanumanth @ Brown Sastry of Kadapa, Gadicherla Foundation was started in 1997 to perpetuate the memory of the son of the soil.
Every year at least two meetings/ Seminars are organized and on the occasion of his Birth Anniversary on 14th, September, an outstanding person in any one or more fields in which Gadicherla had struggled, is honored. Celebrities, who received the Gadicherla Award include Dr. Velga Venkatappaiah, Medasani Mohan, Ravichettu Narayana Reddy, and Janamaddi Hanumanth Sastry, Library Science/Movement and literature; Pothuri Venkateswara Rao and Raghavachari, Veteran Journalists; Vavilala Gopalakrishayy, Gadiyaram Ramakrishna Sarma, Venkat Kalyanam, Kaloji Narayana Rao, Kodati Naraya Rao, Agarala Eswar Reddy, Smt Suryadevara Rajyalakshmi (woman) and Ch.V.P.MurthyRaju, Freedom Fighters, Legislators, Writers, and Gandhians; Sangeetha Kalanidhu, Sripada Pinakpani; Dr. Kadarabad Rabindranath, Agricultural Scientist; Bhaskar Reddy, Cooperator; Buddiga Subbarayan, Adult Educator, Katragadda Venkateswara Rao, Thimma Reddy and Madala Veerabhadra Rao, Academicians, Professors and Historians; Piratla Sivaramakrishna, Tribal Welfare, Gurumurthy Pendakur, creating a bridge between Kannada and Telugu.
Gadicherla did not seek positions or power. Those who came on their own were utilized for public welfare. A Gandhian to the core, he did not hate opponents. He listened to all of them. He toured the nook and corner of Andhra regions and important cities in the country. He left an indelible mark in all the places he visited. Till his last breath, he dreamt of Andhra, Rayalaseema, Farmers’ Welfare, Library, and Adult education.
(KC Kalkura is an advocate and the president of Gadicherla Foundation (Kurnool), Andhra Pradesh Library Association (Vijayawada -1914), Telugu Basha Vikasa Udyamam, Sahithi Sadassu)