Gurajada Appa Rao (1862-1915)

Sontha labham kontha maanuko/porugu vaadiki thodu padavoy./Desamantey matti kadoyi, desamantey manushuloy. (from the 18-stanza poem Desamunu Preminchamanna, written in 1910). Meaning: “Give up some of your own welfare/profit, to lend support to your neighbour. / Soil does not make a country, but it is people who do so.”

Gurajada was a poet, a writer and a social reformer who wrote in support of gender equality and against caste and communal prejudice.

Desabhimaanamu naku kaddani/votti goppalu cheppukokoi./Pooni yedainaanu vokamela/ koorchi janulaku choopavoi.

(Don’t claim patriotism as virtue of you alone,/don’t boast of false claims./Resolve to do something good/and show that to people around you.)

Mathamu veraitenu yemoi?/Manasulokotai manushulunte/Jaathamannadi lecchi perigi,/ lokamuna raanimchunoyi. (What if our religions differ?/If one is human, our hearts unite./The nation shall rise and prosper,/shining and standing out in the world.)

Gurajada’s message, that a country is not defined by its geography but by its people.

Liberalism, secularism, modernity, rationalism are not merely “Western” ideas. They find resonance in scholarly Indian writing going back centuries. 

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