KALOJI NARAYANA RAO
A relentless fighter against injustices
Dr. Raparla Janardhana Rao
He was a fearless fighter, against any cause of injustice, drawing swords against any institution at any time, in any form, plunging into the battle unmindful of the consequences, and of the formidability of the foe. Fights he must, that is all, and would never brook any “Anyaay”. Complacency against any apparent injustice was something unknown to his calibre. Looking away from any injustice was not his grain. He was a rare combination of a poet and a dynamic socio-political activist. Let’s hear his own words which form the core of his philosophy that ran through all the years of his rich life of 89 years, and his poetic compositions.
To do acts of injustice is ‘anyaay’
To be complacent to injustices is ‘anyaay’
To stare on not fighting injustices is ‘anyaay’.
Kaloji’s poetry is direct and hitting in simple regional idiom and with a purpose. He devised the Telugu slang as a sling to strike the evil practices of the society. He was adept at writing poetry in sweet Urdu participating in several Urdu literary fests. As he would wield a felicitous pen in chastening the society from its stupor and diehard conservative ways, he was equally eloquent in his fiery orations. He would keep the hearts of his audiences Aflame with the fire of the reformative agitation’s. And one would invariably find Kaloji wherever there was a public agitation.’ And nothing surprising to find him the recipient of innumerable honour topped with Padma Vibhushan.
One more significant feature of his life needs special mention. He was not only great in leading a rich noble life of public service for 89 years, but also great in his death too. In the old order of sages like Dadheechi, Dileep and Sibi, he willed that his eyes to be donated to L. V. Prasad, Eye Hospital and his body to Kakatiya Medical College to be dissected and made use of by the medicos. Thus the long procession of mourners with state honours inched their way to the medical college and returned empty without any funeral rites of elaborate cremation. Great strange man: And see how he titles his great work of lyrics, his ‘magnum opus’ as “Na godava” which means “My prattle or My Nonsense”, which speaks of his unassuming way of life.
Kaloji was born on September 9, 1914 in Manikonda, a small village near Warangal, a district headquarters, A. P. State. His father was of a Maharastrian origin, Kaloji Ranga Rao, and mother Ramabai hailing from Karnataka. To the confluence of two streams he added his own in his birth and growth as a Telugu celebrity. He was endearingly called as ‘Kalanna’ (brother Kaloji) ‘Naranna’ (Narayana Rao) by his friends and followers.
During his college days Kaloji was a student leader, and later participated in “Grandhalaya Udyamam” Library Movement used as a cover to fight against Nizam Rule. Later we find him in VandeMataram and agitation against British rule, during rajakar’s atrocities in the Nizam State. At the age of 25, he tasted the first prison life imposed by the Nizam. He became a lawyer and married Rukmini, who gave her ungrudging support through out her life and is alive. He was imprisoned by the Nizam twice during Quit India movement and Razakar regime in Nizam state was released only after Police Action instituted by Sardar Vallabhai Patel in 1948. Kakatiya University conferred on him doctorate for his selfless services and literary brilliance. And during the Prime Ministership of Sri P. V. Narasimha Rao, he was conferred upon the title Padma Vibhushan.
Here is one example of his fearlessness in tackling the highest in his pursuit of defending social justice. During the autocratic regime in the Nizam State, one Battina Mogilaiah, a freedom fighter, was stabbed in broad day light by the Razakars in the streets. And Kaloji reacted fiercely to this and wrote strangely a Te1ugu lyric addressed to Sri Mirza Ismail, the Chief Minister of the state
“Did you find out the ‘badmash’ that stabbed Mogilayya in the street?
Did you atleast-console Mogilayya’s mother and wife for their loss”
Kaloji must have been a dare devil to address the Minister in that vein in a Telugu lyric using the word ‘badmash’. He must have been prepared to face the worst consequences for daring him in the den.
His ‘Kalam and galam’, ‘pen and voice’ were equally, potential and, he left his book of poems ‘Naa Godava’ or ‘My prattle’ in seven volumes behind. In every one of his poems, he bemoans the sufferings of the deprived. In one lyric he states,
“Don’t know why, I can’t keep quite
My heart burns when injustices, “I see”.
I am sure that these lyrics if rendered into English and given the needed publicity, would earn for him, the Nobel Laureate.
It would not be doing justice, if we do not know the other dimension of this great man. He would spit fire in his expressions at injustices, but at the same time like an innocent child burst into tears, with a heartfelt of milk of human kindness.
Just a couple of anecdotes from the pages of his life. When Kaloji lost his mother while he was but a baby, he was entrusted to the care of his elder brother Rameswaram who was then just six years. Later they both became lawyers. And Rameswaram looked after Kaloji when the later immersed himself in serious of agitations. It is also said, ‘no Rameswaram no Kaloji’.
Dr. Dasaradhi Rangacharya the famous writer of “Amritam Gamaya” fame and Kaloji were neighbours and close boyhood friends.
When Kaloji lost his elder brother Rameswaram, he was all in tears, unsuppressable staying in Dr. Dasaradhi’s house, Here are the words of Kaloji to his friend, “Ranganna, when my mother died I got into the fold of my brother’s arms who was just six. And now I am 83 and he 89.He never let me down, nor even thought of getting rid of me. But did I ever take his advice? I followed my own ways”.
Another time his friend Dr. Dasaradhi’s wife was celebrating her 60th birth anniversary. Kaloji could not attend the function on that day. Next day he went to his friend’s house and asked “Where’s my, sister Kamalakka? I have come to present her with Rs.116?”, Saying this he barged inside the house and offered the gift amount. In his obituary Dr. Dasardhi states “who can hold Kaloji from his intent?”. He stated right calling Kaloji as an irrestible activist which epitomizes his life.
When Kaloji was in Intense Care Unit a fellow human rights worker went in to see him and remained silent standing and looking at his mentor in his terminal stage. This was Kaloji, who was earlier praised as ‘Death would be fearing seeing Kaloji’. Seeing his erstwhile colleague Kaloji burst out “Come on, why don’t you speak”? That was the lion in its last stage.