Progressive writings were being seen right from the 1930's onwards. The first conference of the Andhra Progressive Poets (Abhyudaya Rachayitala Sangham [ARASAM]) was held in Tenali in 1943. It was presided over by Tapi Dharma Rao. The 1943 conference, however, must be seen as only the first organized effort of ARASAM. By 1933, progressive writings were being published in Telugu language. Such developments were, of course, the result of exposure to socialist-communist literature and ideology. The years 1928-29 witnessed the underground distribution of socialist-communist ideological texts in Chennai and Andhra districts. Bhagat Singh, who, through 1929-31, had evolved into a leading Marxist revolutionary, was executed in 1931. His martyrdom had a profound influence on the thinking of young men who later became important figures in the progressive poetry movement.
In 1933, S. Muddukrishna started publishing Jwaala, a periodical journal, as a forum for progressive writers and thinkers to express their ideas of socialism and equality. The year 1934 saw the formation of the Congress-Socialist Party and the Communist Party of India. Working-class ideologies were becoming popular among the intelligentsia, and the universities and colleges in the composite Chennai state (including the districts of Andhra) often became the centres of new, revolutionary thought.
Some of the recurrent themes of this poetry produced during this period are class conflict, legends of heroes of the past and the realization of a socialist state. Abhyudaya poetry incites the weak and the lowly to shake off their contentment and resignation and fight for their rights. Progressivism spread the message of freedom and equality and an aversion to wars, which always result in large-scale massacre. Its dream is a classless society based on the principles of liberty and equality.
The most important aspect of the Abhyudaya movement was the emergence of Sri Sri as a powerful voice. Sri Sri, who may be seen as Gurazada Venkata Appa Rao's intellectual heir, had moved away from Bhava Kavitvam and made his poetry a tool of Progressivism. He struck his first note of revolution in the poetic work, Supsthasthikalu, in 1929. After that, he made revolution the major thrust of his work and declared his ideological commitment to socialism in Jayabheri (1933). His Mahaprasthanam (a long poem, 1934) is a landmark work in the development of Abhyudaya Kavitvam and carries in it the program of the progressive writers. Sri Sri pledged himself to the task of working-class welfare and the upliftment of the labourers in Pratigna (1937). Sri Sri became the ideological role model for many Telugu poets. Pattabhirami Reddy demonstrated his dissent through Fidelu Ragaala Dozen (1939). He carried his dispute with tradition so far as to assert the breaking up of traditional meters and the grammar of Chinnaya Suri. Sistla proclaimed his revolt against Bhava Kavitvam through Navami Chiluka (1938), which, he hoped, would pave the way for a new, people's poetry. Narayanababu opposed the idealism of Bhava Kavitvam and made a strong case for realistic and naturalistic modes of presentation. Abhyudaya kavitvam soon became a powerful movement and attracted a large number of poet practitioners. Chief among these were Puripanda Appalaswamy and "Papa," whose lyrics anticipate the experimental poetry of a later period.
The publication of Niagara (1944), an anthology of progressive verse, gave voice to many Abhyudaya poets, including Kundurthi Anjaneyulu, Bellamkonda Ramadasu and Yechuri Subramanyam. Others who drew influence from Sri Sri and the movement published their progressive verses. Dasarathi's Agnidhara (1949) and Rudraveena (1950), Somasundar's Vajrayudham (1949), Arudra's Tvamevaham (1949), Anisetti's Agniveena (1949), and Gangineni's Vdayini (1950) are some notable examples of this phase.
One important strand of Abhyudaya Kavitvam concerns itself with the liberation of Telangana. Even after the Independence of India, Hyderabad remained under the feudalistic rule of the Nizams, through Paigahs, Zamindars, Jagirdars, and Inamdars. Poets of this region urged the freedom of Telangana from this oppressive regime. This movement was supported by the Communist Party. Dasarathi is the most important figure in this movement. Among other poets who spearheaded the Telangana movement through their stirring poetry, Kundurthi Anjaneyulu and Kaloji Narayana Rao are prominent.
Although the progressive movement lost some of its momentum by 1955, it may be said to continue as long as there are social problems and poets who raise their banners of revolt. There was some disenchantment with the progressive movement, mainly because of a general disappointment with communism. While Dasarathi and Somasundar abandoned the progressive movement more or less completely, Sri Sri and Arudra remained steadfast in their adherence to the movement. In 1965, C. Vijayalakshmi wrote Vishadabharatham, which may be identified as the last important work of the progressive movement.
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