Dharmanna, a Telugu warrior
Chalamala Dharma Rao, popularly known as C Dharma Rao and Dharmanna for close circle, left behind a legion of...
Chalamala Dharma Rao, popularly known as C Dharma Rao and Dharmanna for close circle, left behind a legion of friends and admirers when he breathed his last on Tuesday morning. He loved his mother tongue and developed a prejudice against Hindi. He led a sort of movement for forcing the government officials to do correspondence in Telugu. He spent his life singing the glory of Telugu and fighting for its rightful place. A six footer with affable demeanour and unassuming nature, Dharma Rao is a familiar presence in gatherings related to Telugu literary and language movements. A writer himself with his first article published by Telugu Swatantra in 1954, he wrote scores of articles in dailies and periodicals mostly on language issues. Rao who was born at Peda Avutapalli in Krishna district 80 years ago did his Intermediate and degree at Eluru. Velcheru Narayana Rao and Muktevi Laxmana Rao, who made a mark in Telugu literature, were with him at the college. They remained thick friends. He started with degree course with honours in Maths, but ended up as a graduate in English literature. Dharma Rao joined government service and worked as deputy secretary to government and secretary to the Official Language Commission when Nanduri Krishnamacharya was its chairman. Configuration of Telugu type writers were done at Dharma Rao's instance and he got stenos and typists trained in Telugu typewriting. He made knowledge of Telugu typewriting an additional qualification for government jobs. He insisted that the application forms seeking employment must be made available in Telugu. His pet argument was that calling Hindi alone as the official language of the country is a not justifies. He wanted all the languages recognized by the Constitution to be treated equally as national languages. After retiring from the government service, Dharma Rao plunged into the activities of his interest. He founded "Janahita", a literary organization, with former justice Avula Sambasiva Rao as chairman and ran it purposefully for many years as its secretary. A list of 103 important books in Telugu literature, written by the first poet Nannayya to the present day writers, was prepared and published. His desire was that every Telugu household should have a set of all these books. He was a diehard fan of Gudipati Venkata Chalam, a wonderful prose writer who changed the mindset of women of at least two generations. He organized Chalam centenary celebrations in 1995 and got a bronze statue of Chalam set up at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram in Vijayawada. He considered Chalam as a liberator of women. Dharma Rao is gregarious in nature. He loved to organize birthday celebrations of his friends involving a large number of writers and poets. The last gathering he attended was on the 6th organized by his follower and friend Vemuri Venkaiah at the latter's residence. On the eve of his retirement from government service in March 1992, Dharma Rao threw a party to his friends at a farm near Hyderabad where about 300 writers, poets and linguists spent hours reciting poems, remembering great literary personalities and enjoying themselves. Dharma Rao will be remembered as a great organizer who led a movement for the enrichment of Telugu and as a person who loved his mother tongue and motherland. A warm-hearted friend who believed in the virtues of good olden days and found it difficult to compromise with the self-centred and artificial ways of the modern world.