Kanyasulkam - Preface to First Edition
The following is a reproduction of preface to the first edition of Kanyasulkam. Many of you may have read this and those who have not seen should read this. There is no better judge than Gurajada himself on his Kanyasulkam play. The reason behind why he undertook such an arduous task of writing this play was very well explained in this preface. In addition, justification in its own right, was given why he had chosen the style of language in which the play was written. The reader is left alone to be the judge to assess and admire Sri Gurajada's style and philosophy. Please not that this preface was written in English by Gurajada. Observe the stylistic elegance in his English! vyavaha'rika Telugu which we use in all walks of our life is a gift by Mahakavi Gurajada also. -- PALANA.
KANYASULKAM - PREFACE TO FIRST EDITIONUnder the order of His Highness the Maharajah of Vizianagaram, a list was prepared 10 years ago of Brahmin SULKA MARRIAGES, celebrated in the ordinary tracts of Vizagpatam District during 3 years. The list is by no means exhaustive as the parties concerned were naturally averse to admitting acceptance of bride - money; but such as it is, it forms a document of great value and interest. The number of marriages recorded reached 1034, giving an average of 344 for the year. Ninty nine girls were married at the age of 5 years, 44 at 4, 36 at 3, 6 at 2, and 3 at the age of 1! - the babies in the last instance carrying a price of from 350 to 400 rupees a head. Strange as it may sound, bargains are sometimes struck for children in the womb. Such a scandalous state of things is a disgrace to society, and literature can not have a higher function than to show up such practices and give currency to a high standard of moral ideas. Until reading habits prevail among masses, one must look only to the stage to exert such healthy influence. These considerations prompted me to compose KANYASULKAM.
I clothed the play in the spoken dialect, not only that it is better intelligible to the public than the literary dialect, but also from a conviction that it is the proper comic diction of Telugu. Dramatic style is no doubt, determined to extent by usage. But the absence of any real dramatic literature in Telugu leaves a writer free to adopt that outward form which he dreams most appropriate for the presentation of his ideas. The metres in use in Telugu with their alternative restrictions, are incapable of imprinting to language conversational ease which is indispensable in a comedy, or continuity in which, as Mr. Ward remarks, lies real life. One might invent new dramatic measures - but it would be a superfluous task, so far at least as comedy is concerned as prose is gaining ground all over the world for dramatic purposes.
It has been remarked that the use of what is wrongly termed the VULGAR TONGUE mars the dignity of a literary production, but that is a piece of criticism which one need not heed at the present day when the progress of the science of language has established better standards for judging the quality and usefulness of tongues than the whims of grammarians of old linguistic strata. The Telugu literary dialect contains many obsolete grammatical forms, an inconveniently large mass of obsolete words and arbitrary verbal contractions and expansions which are necessitated by a system of versification based both on alliteration and on quantity A licence, which no doubt, has its own advantages of introducing Sanskrit words to an unlimited extent, has been but too eagerly availed of by the poets who brought glossaries into reqisition, revelled in fantastic compound formation and made the Telugu literary dialect DOUBLY DEAD. This is not the place to dilate on the question of linguistic reform; but this much might be said. If it is intended to make the Telugu literary dialect a great civilizing medium, it must be divested of its superfluous obsolete and Sanskrit elements, and brought closer to the spoken dialect from which it must be thoroughly replenished. There is not much dialectical difference in the Telugu generally spoken in the various parts of Telugu country; so a new common literary dialect can be established with comparative ease if only able writers set about it in right earnest.
Recently, I happenened to read BRAHMAVIVAHAM by Rai Bahadur Viresalingam Pantulu garu and found that there were some parallel passages in our plays, a thing perfectly natural considering that his piece traversed the whole field of Brahmin marriages. But it will be seen that these plays have little else in common, our treatment being essentially different. BRAHMAVIVAHAM was meant to be a pure comedy of manners, while in KANYASULKAM humor, characterization, and the construction of an original and complex plot have been attempted - with what success, it is for the public to judge.