Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy (1863-1940) was a Telugu writer and one of the earliest modern Telugu linguists and social visionaries during the British rule. He championed the cause of using a language comprehensible to the common man (‘Vyavaharika Bhasha’) as opposed to the scholastic language (‘Grandhika Bhasha’).
Gidugu Ramamurthy was born at Parvatalapeta, Srikakulam near Vamsadhara River on the border of Orissa, His father Veeraraju worked as revenue inspector and died when Ramamurthy was just 12 years old. It was a struggle for him to survive. He studied privately and passed his matriculation, staying in his sister’s house and began his life as a teacher in Gajapati Maharaja School, Parlakimidi for 55 years.
Albeit being a historian as well, Ramamurthy was unable to read ‘Sasanas’ on stone tablets clearly. To understand them he studied books that were imported by Vizianagaram Maharaja’s son Kumara Raja. He studied various language scripts and after deciphering the ‘Sasanas’ he wrote books on languages and scripts.
Ramamurthy had studied many languages and comprehended the philosophy of language. He pleaded for lucidity in text books. In his time there was only a poetic approach and never was a prosaic treat. He launched a monthly titled Telugu to drive his point.
Gidugu gave a social base to Telugu literature and rendered services to the tribals, especially the Savaras, in Parlakimidi area of Srikakulam agency area and tirelessly worked for the development of tribal languages. He gave Savara language a script and prepared lexicons. During his research for Savara language, he had to travel in the forests resulting in excessive use of quinine due to which he became deaf.
‘Kalinga (Orissa) Charitra’
Developed language script and prepared lexicons for the ‘Savara’ people (Munda tribe)
– The British Government conferred on him the title of Rao Saheb not for loyalty to the Crown but for his service to the Savaras, to pedagogy and to Telugu.
– The British Government conferred on him the title of ” Kaisar-i-Hind Medal on him in the year of 1933 for his services
– The Telugu Language Day is celebrated on his birthday 29 August.
– Lovingly admired and referred him as pidugu (a thunderbolt) rhyming with his surname, Gidugu
– European linguisticians like Jules Bloch and Daniel Jones recognized his work on Munda linguistics as pioneering and original.