Monday, February 16, 2009

C. P. Brown, THE SAVIOR of TELUGU CULTURE

C. P. Brown, the Savior of Telugu Culture

British rule in Andhra had both positive and negative aspects.
On the positive side of the coin, we have eminent people like
Charles Philip Brown who rejuvenated the Telugu literature.

Charles Phillip Brown's father Reverend David Brown, a Christian
missionary, came to Calcutta in 1786. Reverend Brown learned several
Indian languages to understand the culture and religion. Charles
was the second son of Browns, born on November 10, 1798. The family
went back to England after the death of Reverend Brown. Charles
studied Sanskrit in college with an aim to work for East India
Company and obtained a gold medal in Sanskrit Studies. East India
Company sent him to Chennai (Madras).

Charles arrived in Chennai on 4th August 1817. At that time he
didn't even know that there existed a language and nationality
called Telugu or Andhra, just like anybody outside India even
today. He joined St. George College to learn Telugu from
Kodandarama Pantulu. He became proficient in Telugu within sixteen
months at the time when Telugu Pundits didn't know any English at
all.

In 1820 Sir Thomas Monroe came to Chennai as governor and
ordered that every official in the Company should be proficient in
the local language and perform their duties in the local national
language. (Compare the situation today: Many officials feel shy to
speak in Telugu in State government offices. Central government
officials have a right not to speak Telugu. Even the kirana merchant
in Hyderabad looks at you like an idiot villager if you speak in
Telugu. English or Hindi or Urdu works wonders in Hyderabad, the
Capital City of Telugus).

Charles started his career in Kadapa (Cuddapa) as an assistant
to the Collector, Mr. Han Bury. The collector used to speak very
fluent Telugu. (Many collectors in Andhra Pradesh today are non-
Telugus and don't speak Telugu at all.) Mr. Bury became the role
model for Charles. Charles tried to emulate him. Charles Brown
established two schools in Kadapa and arranged for free education in
Telugu and Hindi with Indian teachers. He arranged for free meals to
the school children. He also started two more schools in
Machilipattanam, with free food for students.

He got interested in Vemana's literature in 1824. He studied
Vemana's and other Telugu literature, and Telugu meter and grammar
under the guidance of Venkatasivasastri Tippabhatla and
Advaitabrahmasastri Vatthyam. Charles Brown was transferred to
Rajamundri in 1825. He continued his study of Telugu literature. He
collected the written scripts of Telugu Kavyas (poems) that were on
the verge of extinction. He hired some copyists/writers
(raayasagaallu) to prepare fresh copies. He reprinted Andhra
Mahabharatamu and Andhra Mahabhagavatamu. He found a shelter for
the destitute Goddess Telugu Saraswati and was able to redecorate
her like a married Indian woman.

He went to London on vacation (during 1835-38) and collected
2,106 hand written books in South Indian Languages from the India
House Library and sent them back to Chennai Library. He edited and
published several Telugu and Sanskrit books after he came back from
London. He collected sayings, stories, poems etc. that were popular
at that time among common population. He also wrote several grammar
books and learning materials for English people who were interested
in learning Telugu. Madras Oriental Library hoards several of C. P.
Brown works.

Charles Brown spent his own money for the development of Telugu
and even took loans for the same. He saved every penny for the
development of Telugu. Even in the tough financial times he didn't
give up his Telugu development programs. He retired in 1854 and
settled in London. He worked at London University as Telugu
Professor for some time. He died in 1884 on December 12 at the age
of eighty-seven. His selfless service to Telugus and their culture
and literature is unparalleled even among Telugus. Every Telugu
Indian should remember his services to Telugu culture and its
preservation.

Hanumachchastri Janamaddi says, "minuku minuku mantunna Telugu
waangmayadeepaanni snehasiktam chesi prajwalimpachesina
aandhrabhashodhdhaarakudu C. P. Brown." (C. P. Brown, the savior of
Telugu Culture and Literature, rekindled the dying lamp of Telugu
literature with his friendship and service.)

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