Duvvuri Subbamma was one of the first women from south India to participate in the Indian freedom struggle. Apart from being a true nationalist, she was also an excellent orator who invoked patriotism through her fiery speeches.
Born in November 1880 into a lower middle-class family of the Vaidiki sect in Andhra Pradesh, Duvvuri Subbamma did not get any formal education and was married at an early age to a poor man Duvvuri Venkayya. Her husband died nearly a decade after her marriage leaving her childless and destitute. She was related to Tirupati Venkata Sastri, an eminent poet, and scholar of the region, and sought his help. Under his guidance, she passionately pursued classical literature. She established a firm grasp on Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatham.
Role in Freedom Struggle
Later she was also swept by the ongoing wave of nationalism and jumped into Indian freedom movement. She became an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and actively participated in Salt Satyagraha of 1930 and Quit India movement. She established the women’s wing of the Andhra Congress in 1921 and ensured good participation. She often went to jail for her active participation in anti-British protests. Once a jailor asked her to apologise to which Subamma famously responded by saying ‘Even my foot nail will not say such kind of words.’
Role in national awakening
She toured Andhra extensively, condemning the British and building up sympathy for the cause among common people. Since she was well versed in Indian mythology, she often quoted from these books to invoke the spirit of nationalism in youth and made people emotional with her speeches at meetings.
In 1924, she started a school for women, the Sanatana Stree Vidyalaya, at Rajamundry, where seats were reserved for widows. In those days, when most women were expected to be veiled, Subbamma took part in sabhas and stood as an example for women.
She also campaigned to separate Andhra from Madras. She died on 31 May, 1964.
As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who were part of the Indian Independence Struggle. You might have heard about some of them but most do not find a mention in our history books or popular memory. These were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom. This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and valour over the next one week leading up to 15th August 2017. Write to us, if you have any names to add to this list. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org