Golkonda Literary Festival (GLF) -Golkonda Sahiti Mahotsavam held in the heart of Bhagyanagar at Keshav Memorial Institute of Commerce, during 20-21 Nov 2021 heralds the resurgence of Bharatiya cultural pride in Telugu land. As the nation is approaching 75 years of Swaraj in the year 2022, the festival was infused with the theme of `Azadi kaa Amrit Mahotsav’, researching and celebrating several forgotten or ignored freedom movements and revolts, and highlighted the contributions of `Unsung Heroes’ from Southern India. The first edition of festival conducted with the spirit of “Swadharma, Swabhiman, Swarajya” had several thought- provoking debates and panel discussions, multiple book launches, honored great scholars and authors; the auditorium reverberated with cultural performances- music , dance and plays reflecting the age-old classical arts of the region. Prof Kasireddy Venkat Reddy and author-journalist Sri G. Valliswar were the overall convenors of the event. Despite intermittent rains, hundreds of book lovers, literary personalities, scholars, researchers, youth, history enthusiasts and artists participated in all the events.
Several organizations including Samachara Bharati, Pragna Bharati, Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, Samskara Bharati, Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Parishad etc collectively hosted the grand GLF event on a common platform. Reputed Publishers partnering with the event included Samvit Prakashan and Media, Sivananda Supatha Foundation, Veda Publications, Organizer, Sandeepani, Lokahitham, Jagruti; Media and Outreach Partners are Nationalist Hub, Nijam, Bharat Today, Hindu-eshop, Vishwa Samvad Kendra Telangana; and Research Forums and Centers include Samvit Kendra and Center for South Indian Studies. All the partnering organizations strived day and night to make the event an excellent exercise in intellectual exchange of views, putting forth informed debates on forgotten histories and heroes, as well as a forum of nationalistic and cultural resurgence.
Book Exhibitions, Arts and Cultural events
Publishers have put up many book stalls; there was a rare book collection on display for book-lovers. The Regional Outreach Bureau of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt of India, as part of Amrit Mahotsav has supported the event by putting up a Photo Exhibition/ Chitra Pradarsana of `Prominent Telugu Freedom Fighters’ which attracted wide viewership, especially students, who shared their own pictures from the Amrit Mahotsav photo booth. Another highlight was a separate book exhibition with books related to Freedom Struggle of the nation, which attracted lot of attention. An essay competition was held for students and youth to write on patriotic and nationalistic themes, ten winners in Telugu and English, selected by the jury were presented with certificates. As part of cultural events, school students presented an elaborate dance drama on the nearly 1000year old Kakatiya fort of Golkonda, eventually leading to the then Home Minister Sardar Patel’s historical `Operation Polo’ which liberated the Hyderabad state in September 1948. As a part of the Fest, an evening book launch session was also held in CCRT, Madapur with various scholars and enthusiasts, authors Dr Ratan Sharda and Dr Rahul A. Shastri among others participated in the session. In the valedictory event, the ancient energetic Perini Sivatandavam classical dance performance was presented. An Audio-visual show on Liberation struggle of Hyderabad was also presented.
Book launches in the Inaugural and Valedictory sessions
In the inaugural session, three important books were launched by the Chief Guests, Union Culture Minister Sri Kishan Reddy, Governor of Haryana Sri Bandaru Dattatreya and other dignitaries on the stage. Dr Ratan Sharda’s `Sangh & Swarajya’- translated into Telugu by Sri Khandavalli Kesavanath as `Swarajya Sadhanalo RSS’ was released on the occasion. Dr Kasireddy Venkatareddy’s Telugu works on Nizams, translated by Pradakshina as `Nizams Rule Unmasked’, and Prof Sarangapani’s `Angleyula Dopidi’ are the other two books released on the occasion. The authors and translators were felicitated by the dignitaries on the stage. On the 2nd day, Sri Kandakurti Yadavarao’s important book on forgotten heroes `Agnyatha Veerulu’ and Itihaas Sankalan Samiti’s `Charitra Parisodhana Vyasavali’ were launched.
In the inaugural event, inimitably compèred by Sri Sai Krishna of Nationalist Hub, stalwarts representing various nationalistic organizations inaugurated the Lit Fest. Union Minister of Culture Sri Kishan Reddy and Governor of Haryana Sri Bandaru Dattatreya graced the occasion and inaugurated the Photo Exhibition and the Fest. Famous litterateur octogenarian Padmasri Kovela Suprasannacharya was felicitated by all the dignitaries on stage for his yeoman contribution in the field of literature. Acharya Suprasannacharya recollected that Henry Derozio from Calcutta in early 19th century revered the nation as Bharata mata, one of the early personifications of the nation as mother and Devi, and Sri Aurobindo’s inspirational speeches in the context of Vandemataram movement, and said Sri Arabindo had a vision of Viswaroopa during his jail term. He said it’s a fitting tribute that the Vaishnava Saint Sri Ramanujacharya’s statue in being installed in the city on the occasion of his 1000th anniversary.
Sri Kasireddy Venkatareddy, presided over the session. In his opening remarks, he said the name `Golkonda Lit Fest’ is appropriate as we recollect Sri Suravaram Pratapa Reddy’s `Golkonda Kavitha Sanchika’ in 1934, a compendium of works of350+ poets from the region as a mark of pride against the Nizam rule when Telugu language was suppressed. He also recollected the sacrifices of the ministers Akkanna and Madanna, who were beheaded by the marauding Mughal army of Aurangzeb in the 17th century. He said there is a great need to research and write about the region of the period between 1857-1948.
Sri Kishan Reddy speaking on the occasion, congratulated the organizers for their efforts in bringing out the forgotten histories into the public realm for future generations. He also extended his best wishes on behalf of Govt of India on celebrating [email protected] `Amrit Mahotsav’ and hailed the move to announce freedom fighter Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary as the `Tribal Pride Day’ and said we need to take inspiration from the lives of many heroes from Telugu land like Alluri Sitaramaraju, Komaram Bhim, Sarvai Papadu. Sri Bandaru Dattatreya speaking on the occasion said `Respecting and appreciating great literary personalities is respecting the history and culture of the nation’. He said several nationalist organizations and personalities protected and safeguarded the nation at critical points of time in history. As Chancellor of Haryana universities, he is getting smaller [email protected] conclaves done to instill patriotism in students. The emphasis on Atmanirbhar Bharat will help our nation grow as Vishwaguru among the comity of nations.
In his keynote address RSS Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarini member Sri V. Bhagaiah in his excellent inspiring speech brought out several facets of the interconnect between literature, social movements and independence struggle and gave several examples from Bharatiya literature, especially Telugu in the way literature and arts reinvigorated the nation at crucial points of time in our history. He said literature sharpens the mind and gives us Viveka, it has always flourished in the nation, starting with Vedas and Upanishads, great kavyas and plays of Kalidasa and others. Only Bharatiya culture survived the severe onslaught despite being subjected to centuries of brutality by Islamic and invasions, church and British cultural invasions. He gave several examples from the works of Sri Suravaram Pratap Reddy, Gurram Jashua, Jandhyala Papayya Sastry, Vunnava Lakshminarayana, Tummala Sitarama Sastry, Bhandaru Sadasiva Rao and others. He lauded the efforts of the legendary Historian & Indologist Kota Venkatachalam in decisively debunking Aryan Invasion theories, even in the days these false theories were widely prevalent. Bharatiya literature always provided knowledge, history and sciences, and Literary Festivals like these leave us with immense responsibility to change the Narrative Discourse and work towards reversing De-nationalization, De-Culturization and De-Hinduization that occurred in our nation. Dr Gopal Reddy, President Samachara Bharati proposed the vote of thanks.
Five plenaries were held spanning the two-days Fest, in which over 24 speakers and researchers presented their papers. The themes were
• Panel discussion with Publishers, Authors and Distributors
• Panel discussion on the role of Literature and Folk Arts in Freedom Struggle
• Panel discussion on Movements for `Swa’
• Panel discussion on Unsung Heroes
• Interaction with Yuva Writers
In the first plenary with `Publishers, Authors and Distributors’- Sri BS Sarma introduced the session moderated by Sri Valliswar. The main speakers were Dr Ratan Sharda and Dr Annadanam Subhramanyam. Dr Sharda said the main issue is of Book Distribution, we need to find writers, nurture them and develop distribution networks. The market also needs to cater to the new age youth with low attention span, with a different style and presentation. Dr Annadanam Subhramanyam spoke about the reading and listening habits of people in Telugu land, and discussed how freedom fighters like Lokmanya Tilak, Maharshi Aravindo, Subhashchandra Bose, Mutnuri Krishnarao, Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao, Suravaram Pratap Reddy, Subhramanya Bharati, Adivi Bapiraju, Shoebullah Khan and many others ran magazines and journals to transmit their ideas with the result that a host of freedom fighters emerged deeply influenced by the thoughts of Swarajya. He said writers must always write, even today we have a treasure of unprinted works. Smt Subbalakshmi from National Book Trust, Smt Jyoti Vallbhoju of VJ Publications, Sri Nannapaneni Rajasekhar from Megaminds, Sri Rajagopal from Sahitya Niketan, Smt Parimala Nadimpalli, Sri Vidyadhara Buddhiraju from Samvit Prakashan, Smt Ananthalakshmi participated in the session and gave valuable inputs.
In the Plenary on the `Role of Literature and Folk Arts in Freedom Struggle’- Acharya Dr Kasireddy
Venkat Reddy with a great command gave a historical sweep of the subject. He traced the history of literature with the contributions of Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the spiritual nationalism of Swami Vivekananda, Lokamanya Tilak, Maharshi Aravindo, Gandhi ji, Veer Savarkar, Netaji Bose, Tagore etc in the awakening of national spirit. In the Telugu land in particular, he spoke extensively in the way literature ignited the minds of the people and enabled the struggle for Independence. He specifically recalled the contributions of Kavyas, historical novels, Geyas/songs, folk tales and ballads, and skits in the freedom movement paying tributes to great litterateurs including Dasaradhi, Suravaram Pratap Reddy, Garimella Satyanarayana, Garikapati Mallavadhani, Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Nori Narasimha Sastry, Gadiyaram Venkata Sesha Sastry, Chilakamarti Lakshmi Narasimham, Mudigonda Veerabhadram, Basavaraju Apparao, Vanamamalai Jagannathacharyulu, Gurajada Apparao, Rayaprolu Subbarao and many others
In the Panel discussion on `Movements for `Swa’- Sri Veerender introduced the session moderated by Sri Giridhar Mamidi. The main speakers in the extensive session were Sri Hebbar Nageswara Rao of Goraksha Movement, Sri Venkata Raghuramulu of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Sri Goparaju Narayana Rao of Jagruthi magazine, Sri Raka Sudhakar Rao, writer and historian, Dr Vidya Deodhar of Maharashtra Mandali.
Sri Hebbar Nageswara Rao spoke on the importance of Gomatha and said in our literature the cow was venerated and equated with Mother Earth. Sri Venakta Raghuramulu spoke about the historic role of Arya Samaj in the nation, especially in Hyderabad Liberation Struggle. Tracing the history, he said Arya Samaj paved the way for social reform making Yagnas, Havans and Vedas accessible to people of all communities and contributed to the elimination of caste discrimination in society. Arya Samajis of Hyderabad Pandit Narendra, Sri Keshav Rao Koratkar started the Swaraj Movement in Hyderabad, Pandit Narendra was imprisoned in Andamans Cellular Jail Kalapani. They were many stalwarts who were inspired by Arya Samaj including Lala Lajpat Rai, Swami Shraddhananda, Vandemataram Ramachandra Rao etc. Today close to 700 DAV schools are functioning in the country. Sri Raka Sudhakar Rao, writer and historian, in his inspiring and informative talk gave a comprehensive picture of many simultaneous struggles that happened in the preceding decades leading to Independence. He traced the history of Swadesi education – which was instrumental in setting up many schools, the library movement, the establishment of Literary- Saraswata Parishads across the Telugu land, establishment of newspapers, magazines and journals in multiple languages which inspired millions towards freedom movement, establishment of Swadesi Industries in the Telugu region, setting up of Hindu nationalist organizations in southern India, the effort of musicians and artists etc. He also touched upon the legendary Indologist Sri Kota Venkatachalam’s works which completely debunked Aryan-Dravidian theories. Sri Goparaju Narayana Rao gave a historical view of Tribal and Peasants’ revolts against British Forest Laws under the Colonial rule all across India, and especially in Telugu region. Starting with Indigo revolt, he went on to describe Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s rebellion at the end of 19th century, and listed the series of Tribal revolts that happened in Telugu region, in the Manyam agency areas from 18th Century, and the many sacrifices of great heroes like Alluri Sitaramaraju, Komuram Bheem among others. Dr Vidya Deodhar spoke on the illustrious contributions of Maharashtra Mandali and Sahitya Parishad in the raising of Swadeshi consciousness in the Hyderabad region under the nizam rule. She explained about the immense role played by Marathis in the Arya samaj movements, in Gorakshak movements in the protection of Hindu dharma, in the setting up of schools and colleges like Viveka Vardhini etc.
In the Panel discussion on `Unsung Heroes’ – moderated by Smt Usha Turaga Revelli, the main speakers were Sri Ratnakar Sadasyula, author and historian; Dr Vamsha Tilak of Samajika Samarasata and Smt Vijaya Bharati. Sri Ratnakar recounted the historical and versatile contributions of several not so well-known Telugu figures in the history of freedom movement in Telugu region, especially Sri Pingali Venkaiah, the designer of the tri-color, Sri Gadicharla Harisarvottama Rao- known as Andhra Tilak, Sri Kasinadhuni Nageswara Rao, Sri Kanneganti Hanumanthu of Palnadu Satyagraha, Sri Pragada Kotayya, Sri Tenneti Viswanatham and many others. Dr Vamsha Tilak emphasized the contribution of several freedom fighters belonging to the backward castes and communities, starting with the SuhelDev Maharaj, and the army commander Kannamadasu in the famous Palnadu war a thousand years ago. He also mentioned the valor of Queen Velu Nachiyar of southern Tamilnadu and her lady army commander Kuyili who sacrificed herself as a human bomb to destroy the British armory in the famous battle which secured a win for her queen. He also made a mention of the glorious contributions of Lahuji Raghuji who was the ideological leader of Phadke, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule etc. He said that not many are aware that Sardar Udham Singh who was hanged in 1940 for the assassination of former Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer was a Chamar. Dr Vijaya Bharati spoke about the contributions of women in the freedom movement. As the subject is vast, she mentioned the illustrious role of Duvvuri Subbamma, Uddharaju Manikyamba, Panaka Kanakamma, Kambhampati Manikyamba, Maganti Annapurna etc who were active in Khadi Movement, Women’s education, library movement.
In the lively `Interaction with Yuva Writers’, several young writers participated with great enthusiasm with exchange of views and ideas, Sri Ayush Nadimpalli from Samachara Bharati conducted the session. He gave valuable inputs to the budding writers, bloggers and columnists. Dr Sudakshana in her excellent exposition in another session focused on the freedom fighters from Telangana region.
In the `Anuvarti / Follow-up and Way Forward’ session, Sri Valliswar, Sri Annadanam Subhramanyam, Sri Vedula Narasimham, Sri Amarnath Reddy conducted the interactive discussions with senior writers and columnists on the way forward. Along with exchange of ideas, several useful suggestions and inputs were given.
On the 2nd day, Golkonda Sahiti Mahotsavam concluded with a grand valedictory event. Program began with an enthralling performance of `Perini Nrityam’, a classical dance form in Veera Rasa, which invoked Bhagwan Shiva in various forms of Pancha-bhutas. Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, currently Chancellor of Central University of Hyderabad was the Chief Guest. Padmasri Dr. T Hanuman Chowdary, Pragna Bharati Chairperson & Padmasri Prof Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Central University of Bihar, Motihari were special guests. Prof Kishan Rao, Itihas Sankalan Samiti; Prof KVK Sharma, Samskara Bharati; Prof Gopal Reddy, President Samachara Bharati, GLF Convenors Prof Kasireddy Venkat Reddy and Sri G. Valliswar were on the dias.
Sri Valliswar presented a synopsis of the deliberations of the 2- days Golkonda Sahiti Mahotsav. Sri T. Hanuman Chowdary speaking on the occasion said India has weakened since 1947 due to the leftist agenda, which generated many RNIs- Resident Non-Indians who work against the nation. Today there is an internal war in the national discourse on India versus Bharat. He said such Utsavs are important to make a self-reliant Atmanirbhar Bharat filled with national pride. Sri Sanjeev Kumar Sharma commended the Festival on the theme of Swadharma, Swabhiman and Swarajya and said it will also lead to intellectual and spiritual Swarajya. He said Bharatiya literature was always an integrator, it is unfortunate that literary fests have been held hostage for decades, now Lit-fests like Golkonda Litfest are opening a new vista for writers with a nationalistic view. Justice L. Narasimha Reddy said GLF will remain a milestone as it has brought all nationalist thinkers, authors, artists and youth together. He mentioned the contributions of Sri Narayanarao Pawar in Hyderabad liberation struggle and called him as Telugu Bhagat Singh, luckily his hanging was averted as Freedom came to Hyderabad.
Sri Sunil Ambekar, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh delivering his keynote valedictory address stated that Swadheenta as well as Swabhasha played a key role in the independence movement. With focus on languages, the fields of Bharatiya Fine arts, architecture, music and dance struggled to find their own space in society and thereafter played a key role in the freedom struggle. Bharatiya literature had dozens of magnum opuses containing knowledge of Sciences, environmental consciousness, Ayurveda etc. For instance, Kalidasa’s Meghadootam vividly describes the topography, geography and changing seasons. He said a flood of good literature will wash away the trash which got accumulated in the society. He emphasized that our history is a glorious epoch of resistance and victories, and not of defeats. At this important juncture in history, people are awakening to the nation’s Swabhiman.
Dr Amarnatha Reddy proposed the Vote of Thanks to all the organizations and individuals who contributed immensely to the grand success of Golkonda Literary Festival/ Golkonda Sahithi Mahotsav which would become a very important landmark in the resurgence of nationalistic pride in Bharatiya literature, arts and culture.