Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tapi Dharmarao: A Telugu Cultural Anthropologist

Tapi Dharmarao: A Telugu Cultural Anthropologist
P.Kesava Kumar

Tapi Dharmarao is the one of the founding fathers of telugu modernity through his distinctive writings of social sciences He is an eminent modern scholar, writer, literary critic, journalist, rationalist (hetuvadi) and a social scientist. Tapi dharma is a progressive non-brahmin intellectual. One of the founding members of Abhydaya Rachayitala Sangham (Arasam) He had reinterpreted the rituals and religious beliefs from the view point of modern social sciences, exclusively from anthropology. Through his writings he made an attempt to expose the superstitions and popular beliefs base on reason. He tried to provide scientific explanation to social and cultural practices.
He was a native of a village in Sreekakulam, and born in Berhampur on 19, September 1887. His father Tapi Appanna Naidu was a medical practitioner and mother’s name was Narasamma. His early education was in Sreekakulam till 1900. (till third form) and continued further in Rippan High school of Vizianagaram. He did his F.A. in Parlakhamidi. He was a pet student of Gidugu Ramamurthy at Parlakhamidi. He had completed his B.A. graduation from Pachayappa College, Madras.

Tapi dahamarao was a self made scholar. Initially to compete with Brahminical scholars, he was excelled in classical literature and Prabandhas and started writing in brahminical dialect called grandhikam. In the meantime he got in opportunity to read the world literature, while working as a tutor to the sons of zamindars. By that time west is marching ahead of modernity by questioning the religious authority and its practices. For the modern western philosophy, doubt becomes the source of knowledge. They adopted scientific approach to understand the social traditions and customs. In the early decades of 20th century social sciences got its prominence. In order to understand the religious and social behaviour of modern times, they started searching clues by exploring the primitive societies. Though the colonial scholars had certain prejudices against the colonized or primitive societies, but produced significant knowledge about earlier human societies. Tapi dharmarao got inspired by this social science method and started introspecting about telugu society. In the light of available anthropological writings of the west, he started analyzing the institutions such as marriage, sex and kinship; and religion and temple, which plays the crucial role in human civilization. Though his writings contain commentaries and social explanations of the continuing traditions, but had great political implications. To share his modern views to larger public, he adopted spoken language and changed his style. However, his writings were a serious blow to religious world view in general and brahminical ideology in particular. His writings are popular and path breaking in telugu society.
The prominent writings of Tapi Dharmarao are ‘Devalayala Meeda Bhutu Bommalenduku?’ ‘Pelli- Dani Puttupurvotharalu’, ‘Inupakatchadalu’, ‘Pathapali’, ‘Kotha Pali’, ‘All India Adukkutinevalla Mahasabha’, ‘Sahityamormaralu’. ‘Rallu-Rappalu’ is a biography of Tapi that covers from 1887 to 1908.Apart from this, he was the trend setter in telugu journalism. He introduced the spoken language in journalism. For some time, he worked as an editor for telugu magzines ‘Kondegadu’ and ‘Janavani’. In 1940, he was established a popular weekly named ‘Kagada’. Tapi Dharmarao was the founder of book publications named Veguchkka Grandhamala.

The essays containing Devalayameeda boothubommalenduku were first published in prajamithra edited by Gudavalli Ramabraham. This book deals about the sexual performances in temples as a part of religious reverence. He provides many anthropological details about the nude sculpture of temples as a part of carrying tradition. In contemporary times, these nude figures have symbolic meanings and reveal the cultural and sexual life of earlier societies. This reminds the free sex in society in general and sexual performance in the temples to please the gods in particular. In this way, Tapi Dharmarao as a social scientist directly hits the claims of so called morality and regulated sexuality of contemporary hindu society.

Chastity Belts are the symbols of patriarchal society. Patrirachial society is well equipped with various social conventions and religious practices to control women. The chastity belts are the brutal expression of male power over women. Where as the other means are cultural and religious, and the chastity belt is the physical assault over women’s freedom. Tapi Dharmarao’s Inupa katchadalu (iron Chastity belts) is the direct attack on feudal and patrirachial ideals, which are continuing one form or other through custom. He gives an historical note about this. He illustrates this point through the available literary and cultural narratives. He got fired over siggubilla samskriti.

1 comment:

neenee sagar said...

he sure was a beacon of light for a society that resisted change