Gurram Jashuva Biography

Gurram Jashuva Biography

Born: 28 September 1895

Death: 24 July 1971

Gurram Jashuva or G Joshua  was a popular Telugu poet, born into a poor Christian family in Vinukonda, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India. He was discriminated as an untouchable in school, college and professional life. Jashuva was born to Virayya and Lingamma. Because of the intercaste alliance of his parents, their poverty and their caste, his childhood was spent in alienation from close relatives, undergoing severe hardships and being subjected to inhuman treatment from the society which considered his caste untouchable. His parents raised him as a Christian. In spite of this, Jashuva often drew his inspiration from Hinduism and Hindu mythological epics. This angered his Christian society, which was quick to proscribe Jashuva’s family from their community. This did not deter Jashuva who continued to write excellent poetry in Telugu. He graduated with Ubhaya Bhasha Praveena (scholar of Telugu and Sanskrit languages) and initially worked as primary school teacher. He worked as Telugu producer in All India Radio, Madras between 1946-1960. Protests against untouchability and segregation have been common themes in all his works. His main works include Gabbilam (A bat), Firadausi (A rebel) and Kandiseekudu (A refugee). Some of Jashua’s verses had been incorporated into popular mythological play Harischandra especially those in the cremation grounds scene.

He initially worked as primary school teacher. He worked as Telugu producer in All India Radio, Madras between 1946-1960.

Protests against untouchability and segregation have been common themes in all his works. His main works include Gabbilam (A bat), Firadausi (A rebel) and Kandiseekudu (A refugee). Some of Jashua’s verses had been incorporated into popular mythological play Harischandra especially those in the cremation grounds scene.

Jashuva’s many works include “Gabbilam”, arguably his most famous work, fashioned after Kalidasa’s Megha Sandesam. In “Gabbilam”, however, it is not a yaksha using the cloud as a messenger to convey his longing to his loved one; instead it is a hunger and poverty stricken “daridra naaraayaNuDu” requesting a “bat” visiting him from a nearby Siva temple, on a sleepless night, to convey his prayers to “kaaSee viSvanaatha” and “viSaalaakshi annapoorNa”. As Arudra comments, “the yaksha suffered for only one year, but the protagonist of gabbilaM is carrying on the curse from his previous live- the curse of untouchability”. And Jashuva’s hero in gabbilam remains a bachelor so as not
to pass on this curse to his offspring! He muses at the irony of his situation, where a bat is allowed inside a temple but not a human being! He cautions the bat to convey his message to Siva as it hangs from the roof close to his ear, at a time when the “poojaari” is not around, because often “dEvuDu varamiccinaa — poojaari varamiyyaDu”. Thus in several entreaties, he begs the “sage bird” to fly over the various landmarks of India to Kashi to convey his anguish to the Lord Siva.

Consider his outpourings of anguish on hearing of the assasination of Mahatma Gandhi,in his work “baapoojee”. His enormous love and respect for Gandhiji, almost bordering on devotion, is poignantly expressed in these 15 odd poems eulogising Bapuji’s life and workand lamenting his death as this country’s misfortune.

Awards:

He was presented the Sahitya Akademi Award for the work ‘Kreestu Charitra’ in 1964.

 He was appointed as Member of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in 1964.
He was awarded Kala Prapoorna by Andhra University in 1970.
He was awarded Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1970.

Jashuva Sahitya Puraskaram was instituted by a literary foundation being annually presented to eminent poets from different Indian languages. The Founder secretary Hemalatha Lavanam is Jashuva’s daughter.