Lest We Forget
Published by The Kudmul Ranga Rao Birth Centenary
Celebrations Fund, Mangalore, 1959
The Finger of Destiny touches some people and marks them out for tasks that most fellow humans would not dream of doing, or, more important, would not be capable of doing. Kudmul Ranga Rao (1859 - 1928) who later in life took to saffron robes as Swami Ishwarananda, was one such. The epitaph in "Lest We Forget" says it all..." (he) realised God in the service of the Poor, the Weak and the Downtrodden". Ranga Rao worked his entire life for the removal of many curses that have bedevilled Indian society over the millennia - Untouchability, Poverty and Emancipation of women, particularly widows and all sections of society who lacked support in life. He worked for Human Rights long before the word was invented and became globally fashionable.
A teacher turned lawyer turned social emancipator, his life was his message; he worked without recompense, and with very little support. The principles he stood by in the times he lived in, and the type of work he did, earned him the praise of many, but the ire of many more. He had to face ostracism in the wider community and even physical threats to his family. He, however, stood firm by his ideals. He did not do this for recognition, but because he believed in what he felt. Recognition came to him after he had passed on, but what he strove and struggled to achieve has been universally recognised today. Today, many institutions with similar goals as his have multiplied, but Ranga Rao fought his battles alone, with unmatched perseverance and humility.
In the history of coastal Karnataka, or even elsewhere, there have been few personalities who worked in areas he chose, and his memory lives on today through the institutions he created. May his tribe increase !!
This slim work captures the emotions and respect of his contemporaries towards him.