Gurajada Apparao

Gurajada Apparao

Gurajada Apparao

Gurajada Venkata Apparao (1862-1915) was a renowned Telugu poet and writer from Andhra Pradesh, India. His literary contributions are deeply rooted in the Telugu language, and he is widely celebrated for his monumental work, the play “Kanyasulkam,” written in 1892, which is regarded as one of the most significant literary achievements in Telugu literature. In addition to his prolific writing, Gurajada Apparao was a pioneering social reformer of his time, earning him the title of “Mahakavi,” meaning “the great poet.”

Gurajada Apparao Biography Age, Family, Career and More

Gurajada Venkata Apparao’s influence on Indian theater was groundbreaking, and he earned esteemed titles such as “Kavisekhara” and “Abyudaya Kavitha Pithamahudu.” His literary pursuits were not confined to a single genre; he frequently explored the realm of poetry. He is credited with pioneering a distinctive style of Telugu poetry that left an enduring mark on the literary landscape.

In 1897, “Kanyasulkam” was published by Vavilla Ramaswamy Sastrulu and Sons in Madras, dedicated to Maharaja Ananda Gajapati. Apparao’s educational journey led him to Maharaja’s College (MR COLLEGE) in Vizianagaram, often referred to as the “VIDYANAGARAM of ANDHRA,” where he meticulously crafted some of his most magnificent and lasting literary works.

Apparao, in collaboration with his brother Syamala Rao, also ventured into English poetry. His poem “Desamante Mattikadoy – Desamante Manushuloy” deeply resonated with every Telugu individual, regardless of their level of literacy. Gurajada’s poetry had a profound impact, reaching a wide audience. The editor of the Calcutta-based magazine “Rees and Ryot,” Sambhu Chandra Mukherji, was so moved by his work that he republished it in his publication. Gurajada’s poetry was characterized by its simplicity and clarity, making it accessible and vibrant, like crystal-clear streams of thought.

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Early life and education

Gurajada Venkata Apparao, a prominent figure of his time, was born on September 21, 1862, into a Niyogi Brahmin family. His birthplace was the residence of his maternal uncle in the picturesque village of Rayavaram, near Yelamanchili, in the Anakapalli district. His esteemed parents, Venkata Rama Dasu and Kausalyamma belonged to a Niyogi Telugu Brahmin lineage deeply rooted in tradition and culture.

Gurajada’s life mainly revolved around Vizianagaram, known as Kalinga Rajyam during his era. He grew up with a younger brother named Syamala Rao. His initial education began in Cheepurupalli while his father was employed there. Interestingly, the roots of Gurajada’s ancestors can be traced back to the Kalinga region, where they migrated from Gurazada village in the Krishna district.

After the passing of his father, Gurajada continued his education in Vizianagaram, excelling particularly in Sanskrit. In 1882, he successfully completed his matriculation, and in 1884, he achieved the prestigious distinction of obtaining an F.A. (First Arts) degree.

1908 Congress session at Madras

Gurajada Venkata Apparao, a prominent figure of his era, was born into a Niyogi Brahmin family on September 21, 1862. His birth occurred at his maternal uncle’s home in the scenic village of Rayavaram, near Yelamanchili, in the Anakapalli district. His respected parents, Venkata Rama Dasu and Kausalyamma belonged to a Niyogi Telugu Brahmin lineage that held deep roots in tradition and culture.


During the past decade, Gurajada Appa Rao, along with his brother Syamala Rao, had been diligently composing a collection of English poems. This creative endeavor mirrored their literary ambitions and their eagerness to express themselves in a language that transcended linguistic barriers. In the following year, Gurajada received a significant invitation that marked a crucial milestone in his literary journey. He was invited to participate in a meeting of the Bangeeya Sahitya Parishat, also known as the Bengal Literary Association, held in the lively city of Calcutta. At this gathering, Gurajada’s work, “Sarangadhara,” which had been published in the esteemed periodical “Indian Leisure Hour,” received substantial acclaim and recognition. However, Gurajada’s most renowned literary contribution was yet to be unveiled.

His masterpiece, “Kanyasulkam,” delves into the distressing plight of widows in traditional Brahmin families in the Andhra region of India during the 19th century. Notably, “Kanyasulkam” distinguishes itself as the first Telugu drama intentionally composed in the spoken dialect, marking a pioneering achievement in Telugu literature. 

The play transcends mere entertainment, delving into profound social issues that were highly pertinent to the era in which it was written. Before “Kanyasulkam,” there had been sporadic instances of spoken dialect usage in certain parts of Telugu dramas. For instance, Veeresalimgam Pantulu incorporated some spoken dialect content into his works, most notably in “Brahma vivahamu.” However, “Kanyasulkam” represented a watershed moment as it seamlessly blended the spoken dialect with the dramatic narrative, achieving both linguistic authenticity and societal relevance.

Personal life

In 1885, Gurajada Venkata Apparao embarked on a significant new chapter in his personal life as he entered into the sacred institution of marriage. He married Appala Narasamma, marking the beginning of a shared journey characterized by mutual support and companionship. Despite embracing married life, Gurajada’s passion for learning remained unwavering.

In 1886, he achieved another noteworthy milestone by earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Sanskrit. His dedication to education and his diverse talents were becoming increasingly evident. For a brief period in 1886, Gurajada also served as the Head Clerk in the Deputy Collector’s office, gaining valuable administrative experience. 

However, his heart remained firmly devoted to the realms of academia and literature.

On the auspicious occasion of Vijayadasami in 1887, Gurajada embarked on a new phase in his career by taking on the role of Lecturer (Level IV) at M.R. College. This appointment came with a monthly salary of Rs. 100, underscoring his commitment and expertise in the field of education.


In 1913, Gurajada Venkata Apparao chose to retire, bringing his distinguished career to a close with a deserved pension of Rs. 140. His retirement represented the culmination of a lifetime devoted to education, literature, and social reform.


Other literature works

  • The Cook (N/A. An English Poem -1882)
  • Sarangadhara (In English, a long poem, (pada kavya) -1883. {Refer to a letter addressed by the Editor of Reis and Rayyet, to Gundukurti Venkataramanaiah, dated:14-8-1883)
  • Chandrahasa (N/A. An English long poem, padya kavyam – Authorship and Date uncertain)
  • Victoria Prasasti (English poems in praise of Queen Victoria presented to the then Viceroy of India by Maharani of Reeva -1890)
  • KanyaSulkamu (Drama, First Ed. -1892, Completely revised second Ed. -1909)
  • Review and Introduction in English to Sree Rama Vijayam and jArji dEva caritaM (both Sanskrit works -1894)
  • Edited (1890s) “The Wars of Rajas, Being the History of Hande Anantapuram, Thathacharyula kathalu,” both originally collected by C.P. Brown. These works were published after Gurajada’s death.
  • Review and introduction in English to Harischandra (An English Drama -1897)
  • Minugurlu (children’s story, perhaps the first in a modern style -1903?)
  • Kondubhatteeyam (Unfinished humorous drama -1906)
  • Neelagiri patalu (Songs describing the beauty of Nilagiri hills where Gurajada recuperated from an illness -1907)
  • Gurajada Venkata Apparao, in his article titled “Madras Congress,” published in The Hindu, offered a critical perspective on the proceedings of the 1908 Congress Party Annual Session held in Madras. In his analysis, Gurajada scrutinized the perceived shortcomings within the Congress Party, highlighting issues related to focus, integrity, and the lack of a strong resolve to confront British colonial rule.
  • “Canna kalapu cinna buddhulu,” an essay denouncing the superstitions associated with the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1910.
  • In 1910, Gurajada Venkata Apparao made significant contributions to Telugu literature through his poetic works “Mutyala Saralu” and “Kasulu.” What set these poems apart was Gurajada’s use of his unique meter, known as “matra Chandassu,” which added a distinctive and innovative touch to his verses.
  • Bilhaneeyam (Unfinished drama, Act I -1910, Act II -1911)
  • Lavanaraju kala (Poem -1911)
  • Kanyaka (Poem -1912)
  • Subhadra (Poem -1913)
  • Visvavidyalayalu: Sanskrit, matru Bhashalu (Report submitted to Madras University -1914)
  • Asammati patram (Minute of Dissent -report against the decision of Madras University to retain classical language as the platform for curriculum development -1914)
  • Dimcu langaru (Poem -1914)
  • Langarettumu (Poem -1915)
  • “Sree gurajada appa ravu gari Daireelu,” Collected dairies of Gurajada published many decades after Gurajada’s death. Editor: Burra Seshagiri Rao
  • The comprehensive collection of Gurajada’s literary works, titled ‘Gurujadalu,’ was compiled and edited by Sri Pennepalli Gopalakrishna, Dr. Kalidasu Purushotham, and Sri Mannem Rayudu. This anthology was published by the MANASU Foundation, based in Hyderabad, and was first released on September 21, 2012.
  • “Subject For An Extravaganza” is an English poem authored by Gurajada Venkata Apparao. This poem was published in the ‘Vijaya’ magazine, which was edited and published by Ramadasu Pantulu, around the year 1940. Gurajada’s foray into English poetry showcased his versatility as a writer, allowing him to reach a wider audience with his literary talents.
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