Bhagavatula Sadasiva Shankara Sastry

[Aarudhra] (31 August 1925 – 4 June 1998 / Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh / India)

Biography of Bhagavatula Sadasiva Shankara Sastry

Bhagavatula Sadasiva Shankara Sastry poet

Bhagavatula Sadasiva Shankara Sastry (Telugu: భాగవతుల సదాశివ శంకర శాస్త్రి), known by his pen-name Arudra, is a highly respected author in Modern Telugu literature of Andhra Pradesh, India.

Early Life

Arudra was born in Visakhapatnam on 31 August 1925. After the primary education here, he shifted to Vizianagaram in 1942 for his college education. He became attracted to Communism after coming into contact with people like Ronanki Appalaswami and Chaganti Somayajulu.

He joined the Indian Air Force as a band boy in 1943 and served it till 1947. He shifted to Madras and worked as editor of `Anandavani' magazine for two years. Joining the cine field in 1949, he wrote lyrics and dialogues for many films.

He married noted writer, K. Ramalakshmi (a columnist and a writer-critic in her own right) in 1954.

Literary Works

Arudra was a multifaceted personality. He wrote many poems, essays, short stories, dramas, translations, film songs, detective stories and a book on Chess.

Tvamevaham (You are none other than me) and Samagra Andhra Sahityam (An Encyclopedia of Telugu Literature) are landmark works of this great writer.

He wrote poetry Koonalamma Padaalu in 1964. In this poem, he describes contemporary society in a sarcastic way in a very simple style.
Arudra wrote several poems on his reminiscences of the Second World War.
His Clerk Surya Rao was a reflection of modern city life. He projected the city from various angles.
He penned popular lyrics for many block-buster films based on the Ramayana. He added to the field of Ramayana studies with his scholarly work called Ramudiki Sita Yemautundi? (1978) (bluntly translated to: How is Sita related to Rama?)
He translated the Tamil treatise Tirukkural into Telugu.
He belonged to the school of progressive writers 'Abhyudaya Rachayitala Sangham', (a very potent force in Andhra Pradesh).
He was an accomplished chess player and wrote a book about this game.
Incidentally, he is a nephew of Sri Sri (Srirangam Srinivasa Rao - most celebrated modern Telugu poet).


Tvamevaaham written in 1948 is a masterpiece. It was based on the contemporary violence and lawlessness during Razakar movement in Telangana. The Razakar attrocoties were sponsored by the Nizam against his own people who wanted to overthrow him in favor of democracy and join the Indian Union. In this kaavyam, death spoke to a human being and says, "you and I are the same (tvamEvaahaM)."

An imaginary sand clock and a water clock were used by the poet to depict time in Tvamevaham. The `hours' are a symbol of the rich and affluent, the `minutes' denote the attitude of the middle class and the `seconds' are likened to the mentality of the working class. A stop watch was depicted as an instrument to measure `revolution'. The `key' fanned revolution, while the `alarm' was a warning of the prevailing situation.

The Samagra Andhra Sahityam

Aarudhra first published the SAS in 12 parts between 1965 and 1968. It spans the Telugu literature from the 9th century CE to modern times. He chronicled the history of Telugu Literature in 12 volumes:

Early and Chalukya Era (From 8 - 9c CE to end of 12c CE)
Kakatiya dynasty (1200 - 1290 CE)
Padmanayaka Era (1337 - 1399 CE)
Reddiraju Era (1400 - 1450 CE)
Early Rayala (Vijayanagara) (1450-1500 CE)
Later Rayala (Vijayanagara) (1500-1550 CE)
Nawabs' (1550-1600 CE)
Nayaka Kings (1600- 1670 CE)
Later Nayaka Kings (1670-1750 CE)
East India Company (1750 - 1850 CE)
Zamindari (1850 - 1900 CE)
Modern (1900 CE onwards)

Are You Sure Sita Was His Wife?

Ramudiki Sita Yemautundi? or Are ye' sure, Sita was his wife?, put before the public the riddle of Mandodari, Sita and Hanuman and their origins in a lucid and scholarly way. It was a bold attempt at cracking the Valmiki-Ramayana code and in the process de-mystified the story of Rama to the middle-class -Literate- modern day- telugu reader.

The book explores the Buddhist and Jain sources of the story of Rama. It also surveys the Khotan Siam (Thai), Laos, and Malaysian versions of the story of Rama. Here is a sampling from the 'Dasaratha Jataka ', a Buddhist Tale:

Buddha narrates the 'Dasaratha Jataka' tale to a householder who was grieving the death of his son....Long long ago.. Dasaratha was the king of Varanasi. He had sixteen thousand wives.The Queen had two sons and a daughter.The eldest son was called Ramapundit and the younger one was called Laxmanpundit.The daughter was called Sitadevi. The Queen dies after sometime. Dasaratha marries again, and comes to like her the most. She begets a son named Bharata...When Ramapundit returns from the forest, he marries Sita and rules for 16000 years...Bodhisatta concludes the story stating that Dasaratha was none other than Shuddhodana (Father of Buddha) in an earlier reincarnation. Similarly, Sita was none other than Rahulmata(Mother of Rahul or Wife of Buddha) and Ramapundit was none other than Buddha himself.

Aarudra's questions like "How is Sita related to Rama?" or "Were they just Husband and wife?" may sound naive or sacrilegious but a serious study of genealogies, as revealed from different sources, logically leads to them. To deny the existence of such stories, per Arudra, would amounted to intellectual dishonesty.

Bhagavatula Sadasiva Shankara Sastry's Works:

List of His Works
Poems (Kavyas): Tvamevaaham, Sinivaali, koonalamma Padaalu, Intinti Pajyaalu. America Intinti pajyaalu
Lyrics: Gaayaalu-Geyaalu, Pailaapacceesu, Yencina Padyaalu, Yetikedadi, Kondagaali Tirigindi.
Translations: Veera Telangaana Viplava Geetalu (from English), Vennela-Vesavi (from Tamil), Kabeer Bhaavaalu and Batvaada-Arudra (from Hindi).
Dramas: Udgeedha, Geyanaatika, Raadaari Bangla, Saalabhanjikalu.
Dual Poetry: Rukkuteswara Satakam (with Sri Sri), Meemee (with Sri Sri and Varada)
Research Work: Samagraandhra Saahityam, Arudra Vyaasapeetham, Raamudi ki Seeta Yemavutundi?,
Other works: Arudra kathalu, Mahaneeyulu, Chadarangam, cinema scripts and lyrics.

Film Career
Arudra is a very popular writer contributed greatly to the success of Golden Era of Telugu cinema. He wrote good stories, dialogues and lyrics for many films.

Beedala Patlu (1950) (lyrics)
Kanna Talli (1953) (writer)
Pakka Inti Ammayi (1953) (screen adaptation)
Veera Kankanam (1957) (dialogue)
Chenchu Lakshmi (1958) (lyrics)
Illarikam (1959) (dialogue)
Jayabheri (1959) (lyrics)
Aradhana (1962) (lyrics)
Bhishma (1962) (lyrics)
Dakshayagnam (1962) (writer)
Manchi Kutumbam (1965) (lyrics)
Farz (1967) (story)
Goodachari 116 (1967) (story and dialogue)
The Train (1970) (screenplay)
Mosagallaku Mosagadu (1971) (story and dialogues)
Andala Ramudu (1973) (lyrics)
Muthyala Muggu (1975) (lyrics)
Yashoda Krishna (1975) (writer)
Mahaakavi Kshetrayya (1976) (writer)
Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977) (lyrics)
Mallepuvvu (1977) (lyrics)
Anugraham (1978) (dialogue)
Kondura (The Sage from the Sea) (1978) (writer)
Thoorpu Velle Railu (1979) (lyrics)
Pelli Pusthakam (1991) (lyrics)
Mr. Pellam (1993) (lyrics)

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