[Translation by U
Atreya Sarma – on Sep 30, 2010 - of the full page feature in
the Andhra Prabha Daily, Sep 26, 2010]
Rajaram is a Splendour
of Andhra in English literature. Even at 79, his pen is sharp.
Though he has been penning since 1965, the shine and quality
of his writings hasn’t dimmed. The poet-writer has been, without
rest to his pen, enriching English literature for the last 45
years. The abridged version of the Ramayana that he composed
in simple English for children and youth sold 1000 copies in
no time. There is a saying that children’s literature is for
elders – for the first readers of such literature are always
the elders! Thus Rajaram’s Ramayana has attracted the attention
of, and appealed to, even the elders. His writings have won
an acclaim of being delightful to all age groups. Lovers of
literature cutting across national and regional identities have
been showering praise on his works.
Each one has to play his part For the social upkeep in tact To promote a nation’s welfare Or to keep away from warfare.
Poetry is always
inspired by Nature. Rajaram was travelling from New Delhi to
Vijayawada by train in 1965. He was in the first class compartment.
The distant hills and glades, and the greenery, seen through
the window, enchanted him a lot. The rhythm of the running train
swung his mind in a flight of fancy. That bliss gave him an
ineffable sweetness, and the consonance of the words conveying
his feelings resulted in his debut poem, A Song of the World.
It was a unique coincidence that the railway official got his
springing inspiration while on a running train. And that poem
was published in the souvenir of the South Indian Cultural Association
of Vijayawada. Seeing it in print, he was overwhelmed with joy.
He realised that there was a poet in a corner of his being and
that he was capable of writing poetry. So did begin his poetic
odyssey. Since then he has been composing poetry whenever possible
and it has been winning the hearts of poetry lovers. He compiled
all this miscellany of scattered blossoms into A Banket
(sic instead of Bouquet) of Oriental Poems. This
is replete with the poet’s 40 years of feelings, experiences
and emotions, as well as prayers, religious themes, children’s
songs, jokes, etc. He says with confidence that his works would
to some extent or the other help those living abroad who are
keen on learning about our culture and traditions. He dedicated
this anthology to his father Ramachandran, who he says was his
How many have the courage Or, more strength at any age To break this stale bondage That shackles at every stage?
That poets across
the world have begun to talk about A Bucket (sic instead
of Bouquet) of Oriental Poems is a testimony to its poetical
power. The fact that his poems have been posted in various websites
(sic USA), www.thepoetsroadhouse.com (UK), www.kavitanjali.com
(Canada) point to the popularity of his work. Rajaram’s poetry
has been on display on our country’s websites like ndtv.com,
triand.com, and myspace.com.
Going into the
personal details, Rajaram was born in Chennai and has settled
down at Juhu, Mumbai. Retired in 1989, he has been leading a
stable life without any economic encumbrances. Born in 1931,
he assumed official responsibilities in the South Central Railway
at Vijayawada in 1964. Working continuously for 25 years at
that place, he considered himself to be an Andhra. He closely
intermingled with the Telugus. While at Bezawada, he took part
in many social service activities. He was the secretary of the
‘Funds (sic instead of Friends?)) for Small Pleasures’
that was set up there. This organisation was meant for the health
protection of the destitute children. Besides (medical) treatment,
it tries to keep them happy by buying them toys and playthings.
This organisation which grew thanks to Rajaram is still flourishing
at Vijayawada. He was always in the forefront in catering to
the minimum needs in the railway and government hospitals. As
the treasurer of the South Central Railway Bharat Scouts &
Guides, he rendered a yeoman’s service. He created an awareness
and promoted scouting. He relentlessly strove. The spirit of
service in Rajaram hasn’t flagged a whit be it now or then.
He has been donating part of his pension every month for the
benefit of cancer patients.
Rajram’s 17 poetic compilations have come out. They have become
very popular since he expressed profound feelings in a simple
language devoid of any bombast. Rajaram has created a chapter
for himself in world’s poetry. Former President Kalam, who read
some of Rajaram’s creations, flooded him with praise. Sahitya
Academy (Mumbai) and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mysore) have described
his Ramayana as a masterpiece. His works have been reviewed
and appreciated worldwide by many poets, writers and literati.
Each of Rajaram’s
following writings is a pure gem in itself. 1. Ramayana
2. Krishna Leela 3. Mahabharata 4. Shilappadigaram
or Killer 5. Manimekhalai 6. Adi Sankara 7.
Nala 8. Harischandra 9. Meera 10. Sakuntala
(based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Sakuntalam) 11. Saint
Thyagaraja 12. Gautama Buddha 13. Swami Vivekananda
14. The Holy Bible 15. Saint Bernadette (A real
story based on the Song of Bernadette) 16. A Bucket
(sic instead of Bouquet) of Oriental Poems 17.
To me the death of a bird Ushers a touch of gloom in that world A depressed sense of sorrow Deep in my heart o’er a sparrow.
“I love a lot to
write poetry. I’ve written poetry on various themes for the
children. For the sake of elders I’ve written on religious themes.
It’s heartening that almost all of my works have won universal
praise. My grateful thanks to the websites which have held my
poetry dear to their heart and made it available to the worldwide
lovers of poetry.
“One day Santha
Mohan of kavitanjali.com called me from Chennai and suggested
it would be good if I wrote something to convey our ancient
literary wealth to the present generation. As soon as I heard
this, the Ramayana by the (world’s) first poet Valmiki
came to my mind. And it was published in instalments under the
column ‘World of Rajaram’. I composed the Ramayana with
a resolution that it should afford a smooth, easy and at-a-stretch
reading for children as well as anyone who is interested in
learning the story. So I adopted only the essence of the story,
skipping the many descriptive parts. Though I mostly relied
on Valmiki’s Ramayana, I adapted the other versions too
for some episodes. There is no mention of Lakshmana-rekha in
the Valmiki version. But I included it in my rendition. This
is how I made some more modifications,” explained the humble
and discriminating Rajaram. This Ramayana was published
by Sri Sri Sitaram Seva Trust and distributed by the Bhakti
Vedanta Book Trust (Juhu, Mumbai).
Encouraged by the
success of his Ramayana, he rendered the Mahabharata
into English. Veda Vyasa composed the Mahabharata in
Sanskrit and it comprises 18 books (parvas) and about
one lakh slokas. There are divergent opinions on the time of
the Mahabharata story which has inspired and regaled generations
and generations of people. It occurred in 3139 BC according
to one section of scholars, and somewhere during 950-1500 BC
(sic instead of 1500-950 BC) according to another viewpoint.
Rajaram has adapted the Mahabharata – which has stolen
the hearts of the international community – in 120 poetic sections.
Mahatma Gandhi observed that a reading of the Mahabharata
gives the experience that comes out of a study of the (whole)
world. Rajaram says that if Vyasa’s Mahabharata is read
it gives us the knowledge of our culture that had flourished
five thousand years ago. In his characteristic broadmindedness
and breadth of vision, Rajaram suggests that readers should
go to the original works without an impression that his Ramayana
has given them the full insights into them.
from the successful percolation of the stories of the Ramayana
and the Mahabharata to the present generation, he rendered
Sri Krishna’s revels into English poetry and got acclaim. He
did this by adapting the Krishna Leela work by Bhakti
Vedanta Prabhupada. He did a lot of exercise to compress the
thousands of the original slokas into 150 pages. It was enterprising
indeed (on Rajaram’s part) to poetise the Ramayana, the
Mahabharata and the Bhagavata which already existed
in a large number in English prose.Very recently, Rajaram’s
poetic talent has been recognised and rewarded by museindia.com,
a renowned Hyderabad-based website, which awarded a prize to
his poem, A Driftwood I Am. The Andhra Pradesh (sic)
Central Institute of English & Foreign Languages has prescribed
his long story, The Haunted House, as the non-detailed
text book for Intermediate.
is included in the Chinese Dictionary of World Poets,
compiled by the Chinese Quarterly Journal and the Greek