Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Charles Brown, who saved Telugu literature from decline

Charles Philip Brown .www.engr.mun.ca
Above image:  Charles Philip Brown (1798-1884), British administrator under the East India co., became a  brilliant scholar of Telugu through sheer hard work and passion. He intimately connected with Telugu literature for decades and made voluminous contribution in that fine language............
 
Nannaya -- the Adi Kavi (the first poet). telugubasha.net

Composit Andhra State (Now Telengana & Andhra states). en.wikipedia.org
 
Charles Brown (November 1798 – December 1884) -  born in Calcutta on 10 November, 1798, son of David Brown, a manager of an orphanage and a missionary was a scholar in many languages including Sanskrit. Upon  his father's passing away, he returned to England and after his long stay there 1812- to 1817 he decided to pursue a career in East India Company and, accordingly, he landed in Madras after training in civil services at  Haileybury College.

As part of the company's new rule to learn an Indian language, introduced by Sir Thomas Monroe, Governor of Madras in 1820, he chose Telugu language as his favorite choice and began his studies under the guidance of Velagapudi Kodandarama Panthulu, a great scholar and teacher in Telugu. Driven by passion and interest, he devoted considerable time to learn Telugu and amazingly gained reasonable proficiency in that language. After successfully completing the exams including Telugu, he assumed his civil service assignment as deputy to Mr. Hunbury, the collector of Cuddapah whose  knowledge of Telugu was remarkable. Taking inspiration from him to improve his proficiency in Telugu to a higher level, he took sincere efforts to learn advanced Telugu. As an administrator in  Machilipatnam in 1824 and then in Rajahmundry in 1825, he worked very hard for the welfare of the people. 


Charles Philip Brown, Telugu Scholar. www.engr.mun.ca
Telugu language is one of the richest languages in India. The great Tamil poet Subraminiya Bharathiyar used to call it a musical language - "Sundara Teluingil pattu essaithu."(compose song in beautiful Telugu). For unknown reason, the contribution in  Telugu literature hit a hiatus and was not encouraging and after the decline of Vijayanagara rulers, who were great patrons of Telugu. The Telugu literature  was slowly dying out and at stake were its  legacy, heritage and resilience. A spark was needed to put the language back on the pedestal. Remarkably Charles brown,  an English administrator in the districts of  Cuddapah and Rajahmundry, singularly with support from scholars, came to its rescue and breathed life into the dying Telugu literature. Hence the local Telugu people called him  Brown Dora (Brown Dorai in Tamil; Dorai often referred to White man by the villagers).

His  vast works included the following:
 

He took interest in Vemana's literature in 1824 and  studied Vemana's works and other Telugu literature. Under the able guidance of Venkatasivasastri Tippabhatla and Advaitabrahmasastri Vatthyam.
 

Actively involved in the restoration of some  written   scripts of Telugu Kavyas (poems) that were on the verge of extinction.

Since 1824, he had started collecting old books of Tikkana and Potana and poems of Vemana, he edited and published several Telugu and Sanskrit books.

He hired copyists/writers (Raayasagaallu) to prepare fresh copies and get them  reprinted- Andhra Mahabharatamu and Andhra Mahabhagavatamu.

He made Telugu-English dictionaries available to the scholars and authored chronicles and monographs in literary journals and  translated many poetical works.

He also wrote several grammar and prose books and learning materials for English people who were interested in learning Telugu. Madras (Chennai) Oriental Library still has many works of C. P. Brown.

He also wrote articles about the stories of the manuscripts he collected in The Asiatic Journal in London. 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 tough financial times, he didn't give up his passion for Telugu development programs. He retired in 1854 and settled in London

On health grounds, he went back in England and worked as a Telugu Professor at the London University for some more time before his death on 12 December 1884 in London. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery (The General Cemetery of All Souls) in London.


He never neglected his duty as a British administrator during his tenure in Andhra (Madras presidency). Particularly at that time there was famine between (1832–1833) in Guntur  and other areas. Charles Brown, intelligently took several precautionary measures to prevent tragedy. His smart and timely efforts  were well appreciated by the people and the administration.

Charles Brown established two schools in Cuddapah and two more schools in Machilipattanam. The schools provided free food to students and free education which included Telugu.

Among the oppressive, ruthless  British rulers under the EIC, there were bright and intelligent men like Charles Brown, who without expecting any reward or fancy titles from the British Crown, tirelessly worked hard for the progress of a rich alien language and in this process they earned the love and affection of the Indian people for ever. He did voluminous masterly work in Telugu. Further, in a way, they have become immortal personalities in India. As for Charles Brown, he was a Karma Yogi, a dedicated worker. 


The Telugu people as well as Indians owe a lot to Charles Philip brown who rescued the Telugu literature from total decline and loss and surfaced and exhibited the beauty and richness in it. In the area of Carnatic Music, the Telugu language has made a valuable contribution. The Telugu language is quite indispensable for young people who want to learn Carnatic music which is fundamental to many branches of music, including film music.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Phillip_Brown
C. P. Brown history from Vepachedu research foundation (external link).
The restless British Pandit (external link).