Sri Suravaram Pratapa Reddy ( 1896-1953) was among the greatest and versatile Telugu scholars born in present day Telangana region, Itikalapadu village of Mahabubnagar district on 28th May 1896. He studied Sanskrit literature and grammar under the guidance of Vellala Sankarasastri. Later he finished his FA at Nizam College, Hyderabad. Then he obtained BA and BL degrees from Presidency College, Madras and became a lawyer for a short while. While studying in Madras, he became hugely influenced by the national movement, and vowed to change the situation in nizam’s Hyderabad.
Sri Pratapa Reddy’s multi-faceted prodigious contributions in the field of social history, political activism, journalism and literature are legendary, in the then Hyderabad during the Nizam tyrannical rule. His seminal work `Andhrula Sanghika Charitra’ (Social History of Andhras) on the history of Telugu people, was first published in 1949 and has since gone through many editions, winning the prestigious Kendra Sahitya Academy award. In this book he described a thousand years of Telugu cultural and social history. Some of the interesting points in this book were: Men used to wear mattelu (toe rings) during Nannaya period (~1000 AD). Telugu script is called `onamalu’ derived from Om Namah Sivaya of Saivism.
Journalism – Golconda Patrika
Sri Pratapa Reddy was moved by the sad plight of Telugu education in Hyderabad state and the way people were kept away from their own mother-tongue Telugu. He was disturbed by the fact that Urdu was the ruling language and Telugu had no respect. Very few schools were there in Hyderabad during those days, and no facilities for Telangana Telugus to study in their mother tongue. Raja Bahaddur Venkatrama Reddy, the police commissioner of Nizam State, employed him as the secretary of Reddy Hostel in Hyderabad, which was established in 1924. Reddy set up a very good library in the hostel and brought activity and discipline among the students. He quit his job at Reddy Hostel to launch a Telugu language journal `Golconda’ for the benefit of Telangana people.
Sri Pratapa Reddy established Golconda Patrika in 1926, and was it’s founder-editor. Golkonda Patrika, was a very important milestone in the Telugu cultural- literary firmament in the then Telangana region. It was published twice a week, at a time when other magazines like Meejan, Zameen, Rayyat etc were run in the state language Urdu. At that time, only two other Telugu magazines were published, `Telugu’ from Warangal, and `Nilagiri’ from Nalgonda.
In one of the editorials of Golconda he wrote that the purpose of the journal was two-fold: 1) to serve Telugu language in Telangana and 2) to help develop everybody in Telangana without any tribal/caste prejudices. In his editorials, he directly questioned the Nizam Govt, The Nizam was angry and passed a rule that all the editorials are to be carried with the permission of Information dept of govt. To counter that, he published a compilation of quotations of many international intellectuals as editorials, which posed further problems to the Nizam. Many of his articles appeared in journals like Sujata, Shoba, Bharati etc. He also started the journal `Prajavani’ in 1951.
Sri Pratapa Reddy compiled the works of 354 Telangana poets –the famous chronicle `Golconda Kavula Sanchika’ and firmly established the stature of literature and poetry from Telangana region.
Sri Pratapa Reddy wrote approximately forty books, including Nizam rashtra Palanam, Haindava Dharmaveerulu, Hinduvula Pandugalu, Bhakta Tukaram, Mogalayi kathalu, Sanghoddharana, Ucchala Vishadamu, Grandhalayamu, Yuvajana Vignyanam etc.
Sri Pratapa Reddy was a scholar in Sanskrit, Telugu, Urdu, Parsi and English languages. He had tremendous admiration for Telangana Telugu. He used to say, “British Andhrulu Brownvandhram matlaadite memu tarakyandhram matladutamu. (British Andhras speak Telugu-English, and we speak Telugu-Urdu).
Sri Suravaram Pratap Reddy is known more for his active participation in and leadership of the social and cultural renaissance movement in Telangana during 1920-1948 period that defied the Nizam autocracy and worked for the liberation of the people from the horrible feudal cum monarchical dictatorship of the days which prejudiced and oppressed the majority community in the Nizam Hyderabad State and especially the Telugu people of Telangana.
Sri Pratap Reddy was active in the Library movement in Telangana and in reaching books to every nook and corner of the region. He became president of Andhra Library movement in 1942, and was President in Granthalaya Mahasabha in Khammam in 1943, and President of Andhra Saraswatha Parishad in 1944.
He was the first President of the famous organization – Andhra Mahasabha – held in 1930 at Jogipet, Medak district. They passed a resolution that Andhra Mahasabha activities will be conducted in Telugu only. He consistently propagated the idea of unity of all Telugu people and was an ardent supporter of the concept and demand of Vishalandhra. The book Telangana Andhrodyamam is a very precious and useful historical compilation of the cultural, linguistic cum political struggles of the period from 1920s to 1948 in Telangana; mainly under the banner of Andhra Mahasabha from 1930 onward – it contains many references to Sri Pratap Reddy’s contribution to the Andhrodyamam.
Though he had no interest in politics, he contested the first elections held in Hyderabad state in 1952 from Wanaparthi and became a legislator in Hyderabad assembly. As he was away from group politics, he wasn’t made a minister in the Sri Boorgula Ramakrishna Rao cabinet.
He welcomed the struggle for formation of Andhra State but did not live to see it, nor did he live to see his cherished Visalandhra (Andhra Pradesh), as he expired on 25 August 1953.