28 Aug 2012: Juvvadi Gowtham Rao no more


Juvvadi Gowtham Rao (b Feb 1, 1929), a prominent Telugu litterateur and lover of literature, flew away into the celestial realm on 24th August 2012 at Karimnagar, his hometown - leaving the Telugu literary world in sadness.  

Gowtham Rao was famous for his musical rendering of the Telugu epic poem Ramayana Kalpa Vrikshamu of the literary colossus, ‘Kavi Samrat’ Viswanatha Satyanarayana – the first Jnana Pith Awardee in Telugu. Learned in music and gifted with a melodious voice, he toured the entire state of Andhra Pradesh reciting the poems from the Ramayana Kalpa Vrikshamu and regaled the audiences of three generations. Audio cassettes of his singing of these poems had come out. An ardent fan and devotee of Viswanatha, he knew him right from the early 1950s and this bond grew stronger when Viswanatha was the principal of SR Degree College at Karimnagar during 1958-60. Studying in depth the nuances of Telugu metrical poetry, Gowtham Rao, a man with the courage of his convictions, penned a number of literary critiques in an impartial and objective way and they created ripples in the literary arena. Viswanatha Satyanarayana was so affectionate to Gowtham Rao that he dedicated two of his poetic works – Shashi Dootham and Bhrashta Yogi – to him. Gowtham Rao served as the literary amanuensis to Viswanatha during the latter’s Karimnagar stint. 

An M Com and LL B, Gowtham Rao was a freedom fighter. Politically, he was a socialist with close contacts with leaders like Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and George Fernandes. He contested the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat as a Janata Party candidate. Realising later on that the humdrum of politics was not his cup of tea, he fully dedicated himself to study of literature.  

The last active participation of Gowtham Rao was at a befitting book launch at his own residence at Karimnagar in June 2012. It was the 762-page monumental compilation in English, Viswanatha – A Literary Legend, edited and compiled by Dr Kondal Rao Velchala, a dearest friend of Gowtham Rao. And it was “dedicated to the dearest devotee of Viswanatha - Sri Juvvadi Gowtham Rao of Karimnagar.” What a providential tribute! 

Here is what Viswanatha poeticized about the literary taste of Gowtham Rao, while dedicating his Bhrashta Yogi to him. 

“A sensitive critic in fact is rarely born in the world; he may be just one in ten thousand, and his face lights up when he meets a work of art. One such is Gowtham Rao of Juvvadi family. A poet gets a friend like him for he has been his friend through previous births.”

(Report by: U Atreya Sarma. Aug 28, 2012) 

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