Atukuri Molla, a famous Telugu poetess who authored the Telugu-language Ramayana, is the greatest example of “caste is no bar when it comes to education and knowledge”.
Born in a poor family, Arukuri Molla was a Kumbhar (potter) by caste. Her father – a headman of potters – was a Saivite. Like her father, Molla also worshipped Shiva and claimed Sri Shiva as Guru and her inspiration.
Despite her inclination towards Shaivism, she was so deeply moved by the story of the King of Ayodhya that she decided to take his story to the masses. Her work – “Molla Ramayana” is considered to be the simplest of all Ramayans written in Telugu. She primarily used simple Telugu words and avoided the use of difficult Sanskrit words, unlike poets of an earlier era like Tikkana who used Sanskrit predominantly.
She was a humble and a sensitive writer. Her humility has been embedded into her writings as she paid a profound debt to all the scholars who had written Ramayana before. Her sensitivity reflects in her decision of not dedicating her work to any king as was the general practice in those days.
Her Ramayana was filled with ease and simplicity that appealed the ordinary readers. She was even invited to the royal court of Krishnadevaraya to recite Ramayana in front of the king and his poets. This unusual woman spent her later years at the temple of Lord Srikantha Malleswaram in Srisailam.
She was adorned with many honours from time to time. The highest one came from the India Post. A Rs. 5.00 commemorative stamp was issued to honour the literary advancement of Atukuri Molla . The stamp features Molla sitting near a tree busy writing a manuscript.
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