That the foundations of Indian culture were deeply embedded in Dravidian
culture is now an incontrovertible fact. Dravidian culture is one of the most
ancient cultures of the world. Those cultures, slightly contemporaneous to one
another, slowly started fading out. However, the primordial Dravidian culture
continues to thrive without losing its quintessence despite the apparent changes
in systems of dress and address.
Dravidian University is established through a Legislature Act by the
Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1997 with the extended support of Southern
States, at Kuppam, a tri-lingual junction in the south western part of Andhra
Pradesh, 4 km. away from Karantaka, 8 km. from Tamil Nadu and about 4 hours
drive from Kerala, to promote a spirit of integration among the speakers of
Dravidian languages, thus building a strong path of National Integration and
advancing research and studies in Dravidian languages which are about 27
both inside India and outside like Beluchistan and creating a strong awareness
of the integrated character of Dravidian Studies, a major branch of Indology.
Besides the research programmes, the University serves the community
with several modern, employable and innovative courses of study. .
Integration at all levels is the motto of Dravidian University.
Innovation is its force and strength.
Prasaraanga (Publications wing) and Anusrijana (Translation Bureau)
are the two most significant wings of the University from out of its several on
going progressive activities.
Rachakonda Viswanatha Sastry (1922-93) ‘Ravisastry’ for short, is a
household name in the world of Telugu fiction writing. A prolific writer of
short stories, novels and plays he stands supreme as a realist, socially
concerned and committed to creativity. Once he famously proclamed that
every writer worth his name should think twice before he writes whether his
writing harms the good or helps the bad. He saw to it that whatever he wrote
had not helped the bad or harmed the good. It was only for "bread and
butter’ that he was in the legal profession (as ‘Poor man’s lawyer’) but that
too, luckily for us, made him a poignant narrator in pungent irony laced
with moving pathos. His long legal stint (since 1948) made him come face to
face with advocate crooks, unjust judges, small time criminals, homeless
street walkers, cruel police, rotten rich, cunning ‘politricians’ and unseen
deities in duty to well known devils.
A thorough study of Ravisastry would result in an application of
literature to social structure, and a sociology of literature. It would also
develop a dynamic theory of the Telugu society entwined with its cultural
environment. Himself an avid reader and admirer of Dickens and Chekhov,
besides a wide array of western fiction, he had no patience with Sartre or
Camus. He is a perfect writer presenting a profound picture of race,
moment and milieu, giving the readers a mirror reflection of social process.
His realism is neither stark naked nor a mere factual one but one that presents
truth of detail besides truthful reproduction of typical characters under
typical circumstances. As a master craftsman he gives reality a figurative
expression making documents monuments. He is a poet at heart to a fault
and has an obsession with similes. Some of his short stories are poems in
pity. His longer narratives are built on logic and the ‘negation of negation’.
‘They seem to have their own logistics. All his characters speak their own
language sliding into a certain slanguage. Thus he preserved the
Visakhapatnam regional dialect and restored it for future. In terms of
dialect he is a preserver but not a destroyer. The phonological and semantic
patterns in the North Andhra dialect his characters use are to be seen from
their sources from root to branch to-flower.
Ravi Sastry’s stories (about 60) were collected in seven volumes that
appeared from 1951 to 1982. Alpa Jeevi (1953) was his first novel. Then
followed Raaju Mahishi (1968) Govulostunnayi Jaagratta (1973) Rattaalu
Rambaabu (1977) Sommulu Ponaayandi (1981) Moodu Kadhala
Bangaaram (1982) and finally J//u (1983) all of which made him a literary
pioneer with social concern. A Gandhiest turned Marxist, in personal as
well as social life he always exuded empathy and enthusiasm. He loved
music and drama. He was against the literary theory of alienation and the
political construct of totalitarianism both of which made him see the
insides of the jail for nineteen months, occasionally released on parole
during ‘Emergency’, (June 26, 1975- Jan. 20, 1977) an earth quake which
demanded the writers on ‘which side’ they were.
Ravi Sastry’s contribution to drama is no mean. His three plays ‘Nijam’
(1962) Tiraskriti (1957) and Vishaadam (1962) also are protest plays making
obvious what is suspected and clarifying what is complex. These plays are
of the most "underground" sorts. He surfaced as an actor in ‘Nijam’ and
directed his plays. He left the cine field as script writer with his characteristic
Ravi Sastry is never overtly political. He has a vision of life with a
public dimension. He presents images of horror in the intense language of
his /umpen characters who are caught between acceptance and rejection of
their unhappy lot. But one day they will be out and out for revolt. One
should be afraid of even cows then!
Ravi Sastry depicts the common man- the ignored, insulted and injured.
Even bootleggers, pick pockets, cheaters and prostitutes seem to have a
hurt in the heart. Ravi Sastry the writer of such under dogs is against moral
and thought police. He examined with utmost empathy the nature of reality
in relation with the object world. So his aesthetics is a new code mixture of
karuna and roudra.
In this context I am also happy to announce that Anusrjana of Drvidian
University is shortly issuing a translation of Ravisastry’s epoch making
novel Alpa Jeevi as part of Five Classic Fictions assigned to Dr. Kakani
Chakrapani, a highly skilled translator. The other four classics done by him
are- Rajasekhara Charitramu, Maidanam, Chivaraku Migiledi and
Asamardhuni Jeeva Yatra.
Ravi Sastry stood for values: social, ethical, legal and personal. So we
call this collection- Values & Other Stories. Out of the 26 stories included
in this collection, only 7 are the published ones either in journals or
anthologies. The rest are assigned to the selected and gifted translators.
We owe much of the success of this project to Dr. Rachakonda Narasimha
Sarma garu, younger brother of Ravi Sastry who took keen interest in
obtaining copy right from Ravi Sastry’s heirs R.L.N. Prasad & R.U. Kumara
Sastry. Permissions for printing are given by the respective translators. I
thank them all and congratualate Sri V. Mohan Prasad, Director, Anusrijana
on his editing job to his best.
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