A Crusader

Homage to Nirmalananda


Influenced by Hindi writers Muppana Malleswara Rao, kept his pen name as Nirmalananda Vatsa-yan. He translated hundreds of stories from world languages through Hindi and English medium with different pen names like ‘Telugu Daasu’ ‘Vipul’ etc. Most of his translations were published in ‘Vipula’, a Telugu monthly magazine dedicated to translations of stories from different languages. He was born on 20th of October 1935. His native place is Anakapalle in Vizag district, Andhra Pradesh. Continuing his literary work even at the age of 84 he suddenly collapsed on 24-07-2018.

His father, who was under the influence of the National movement advised his son to study Hindi and accordingly Malleswara Rao passed some Hindi examinations after his high school studies. The famous Sarada Library in that town helped him a lot in shaping his literary career. He joined as a typist in Railways and retired as a store keeper. The employment in railway department and frequent transfers gave him a chance to visit several states and learn Oriya, Bengali and English. As he was very much interested in literature, he used to attend literary meetings held in various states and thus got acquaintance with several writers in the country.

In 1979, during the 2nd conference of Janasahiti held at Vijayanagaram, he worked as a member of reception committee. At that time he was working at Srungavarapukota. In that conference he took the membership of Janasahithi. Even by that time he was popular as Nirmalananda. He and his friends translated Sri Sri’s poems under the title “Aag Ugalta Hua! Aasman ki Aur Bhadta Hua!” and published it in 1970 and presented it to Mahakavi Sri Sri on his 60th birthday celebrations held in Visakhapatnam. He attended those celebrations by coming all the way from Jharsuguda in Orissa. He organised ‘Telugu Sahitya Prachara Samithi’ at Jharsuguda. The Hindi translations of Sri Sri’s poems made by Nirmalananda and Bhimsen ‘Nirmal’ were praised very much by famous Hindi writer Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinakar’; K Ravi Varma, Editor of Hindi fortnightly ‘Yugprabhat’ published from Calicut, Kerala; G Sundar Reddy, head of the Hindi Department, Andhra University. Recently i.e., after 41 years of this publication, on the eve of Sri Sri’s birth centenary, Nirmala-nanda translated Sri Sri’s entire ‘Maha Prasthanam’ into Hindi. It was published by Tarimela Nagi Reddy Memorial Trust in 2011.

He became Janasahiti’s state executive member in its 3rd conference held at Gudivada in 1981. In September of that year,‘Prajasahiti’ brought a special issue on People's writer of China, Luxun on his birth centenary. Nirmalananda played a major role in bringing out that special issue. By the September of 1982 under his editorship a book of essays on Luxun was published. On the eve of Palestine National Day in 1984 he edited the book ‘Nenu Nelakorigite’( Even if I Die….) consisting of Palestine stories, poems and articles. In 1986 with enormous efforts he translated for the first time, Bhagat Singh’s works into Telugu as ‘Naa Netturu Vrudakaadu’. (My Bloodshed Will Not go Waste.) It is a 300-page volume with 3 editions till date. He made wide correspondence with Bhagat Singh’s nephew Jag Mohan Singh and Bhagat Singh's brother’s daughter Virendra Sindhu, and secured from them Bhagat Singh’s writings in English and Hindi and translated them into Telugu. On the date of the launching of the book, the 23rd of March 1986 [death anniversary of Bhagat Singh], Nirmalananda gave up his chain smoking habit forever by taking an oath in a public meeting. That’s why he was able to work as an editor, as a full time activist of ‘Prajasahiti’ from January 1991 and brought out 177 issues without any break. Under his editorship it started reaching the readers regularly. While launching the 200th issue at Kadapa, he promised to bring out 400th issue also. His statement was proved true by launching the 400th issue in January 2017 as its honorary editor.

As an editor of a magazine devoted to people's literature and art, he encouraged young writers by making them write and correct them and publish them in Prajasahithi and other magazines. He used to remove the laziness of writers by taunting them by writing letters, giving telegrams and sometimes visiting their houses. Thus he was able to bring out the magazine regularly with appropriate articles at appropriate time. Special issues planned and executed by him secured a good name to Janasahithi and Prajasahithi. In December 1993, January 1994 and February 1994 he brought out consecutively three valuable special issues.

The affinity of Nirmalananda with Mahasweta Devi is remarkable. A special edition on her was brought out in March 1997. He published the stories of Mahaswethadevi in Telugu with the title of SANICHARI. On the eve of the birth centenary of Alluri Sita Rama Raju, an anthology of articles by several authors was edited by Nirmalananda by name ‘Manyam Veeruni Pooru Daari’ (The War Path of the Hero of Manyam) and got it launched by Mahasweta Devi in the tribal hamlet of Duggeru of Vijayanagaram district. Some of the other works of Nirmalananda include the translation of poems from various Indian languages with the title of ‘Kalaala Kavaathu’ (Flag march of Pens); an anthology of poems expressing condolence to Naagi Reddy titled as ‘Kalaala Nivaali’ (Homage by poets); translation of Seela Veeraraju’s poems with the title of ‘Sahithya, Vividh Sandarbh’; translation of Kundurti’s poems as ‘Mere Bina’; and ‘Naagireddypai Interviewlu’.

Translation is a creative art. It is necessary to take the literature of one language into another, for mutual understanding. This is the task taken up by Nirmalananda. He brought the literature of other languages into Telugu and introduced Telugu works to readers of other languages. He constantly encouraged new writers and made them poets, translators and critics. He was a workaholic. Luxun once said that he would work like a bull for the people. Nirmalananda not only worked like Luxun but also made all Janasahiti members also work like bulls for the people. Nirmalananda is an inspiration and a role model to all those writers and artists who work for people without being swayed away by left adventurism or right deviationism. He constantly responded to the agonies of peasants, agricultural workers, dalits, adivasis and workers of all countries by creating literature in their favour suggesting new democratic revolution as the immediate solution which will lead ultimately to communism. He used to expose those writers who argue that commitment to ideology and organisation throttles their creativity. He always enthused the activists to write their experiences in various literary forms and thus enrich the people’s literature. He was an active member of All India People's Literary Forum which was formed in 2012.

Janasahiti salutes to Nirmalananda who at this ripe age also acted as an honorary editor and active member of Janasahiti. In the 12th state conference of Janasahiti, in Vijayawada on October 7th, 2017, Nirmalananda said “as a member of an organisation I worked as a translator and editor. All this is collective work and I am part of it. I wish the younger generation to take up the responsibility of making Janasahiti and Prajasahiti much more effective”.

Vol. 51, No.6, Aug 12 - 18, 2018