Lakshmikantamu Pingali (1894-1972)
Lakshmikantamu was born into a Brahmin family on January 10, 1894 in his maternal grandparents’ home in Artamuru. His father was Venkataratnamu. His mother was Kutumbamma. Ancestors of Pingali family were Tikkana and Suranna who belonged to Goutama gotram (lineage of sage Goutama).
Lakshmikantamu studied up to fifth grade in Guduru, 6th and 7th grades in Repalle, and from 8th grade through his BA in Bandaru. After finishing SSLC, Lakshmikantam worked as a copyist for 2.5 years in the sub-court of Vijayawada. After finishing BA, he taught at Bandaru Noble School and later at Bandaru Noble College until 1926. After a brief stint at Madras Oriental Manuscript Library as a researcher in 1927, Laksmikantam served as the president of Andhrasakha, a division of Andhraviswa Kalaparishat from 1931 through 1949. He began this new career by preparing syllabus for Telugu and Sanskrit literature courses. He taught history and criticism of Telugu literature to BA (honors) and MA students.
Later, he served as a literary adviser to All India Radio and directed several Sanskrit rupakas (dramas). He was appointed in 1954 as a member of working committee of Central Academy of Literature. In 1961, he was appointed as a professor at Venkateswara University, Tirupati. From 1968 till his death, he served as a member of Board of Governers of Telugu Academy and Chairman of Academic Council.
In the beginning of 20th century drama was very popular in Andhra. Lakshmikantam played proficiently several roles together with his brother Narsayya. His roles included Arjuna in “Gayopakhayanam,” Krishna in “Narakasuravadha,” Rakshasa in “Mudrarakshasam”, and Dharmaraju in “Pandavodyogavijayalu.” He also participated in another popular literary tradition called Avadhanam.
It was a fashion to write poetry as a pair. Pingali Lakshmikantam paired up with Katuri Venkateswarrao and became famous as Pingali- Katuri Poets. Their joint ventures are tolakari and soundaranandnam. Laksmikantamu’s independent writings include Madhurapanditarajamu, gangalahari, tejolahari, atmalahari, andhravajnmayacharitra etc. He translated “All Men are Brothers,” a history of Mahatma Gandhi from English. His radio speeches were compiled and published as “Na Radio Prasangalu” and his literary essays were compiled and published as “Goutama Vyasalu.”
Professor Pingali Laksmikantamu was a unique and rare personality with diverse interests like poetry, drama, literary criticism, history, teaching, administration, oration etc. He brought the Telugu literature to it s new heights and became eternal in the minds of his students and Telugu people.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, January 2002
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