People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

May 30, 2010


Comrade P Sundarayya for Our Generation


R Arun Kumar



TWENTY Five years have passed since Comraderade Sundarayya breathed his last. A new generation, who had no opportunity to see the great leader, leave alone interact with him has emerged. Many changes, some momentous, have occurred during this period. Five years after the death of Comraderade PS, Soviet Union and the entire East European states have collapsed. Buoyed by this, the imperialist forces launched one of their deadliest counter attacks on the livelihoods of world people. In our country too, neo-liberal economic policies were initiated and are implemented with much gusto.


These changes have brought about new lifestyles. Individualism, consumerism that were prevalent earlier, were further encouraged. The present generation that had grown amidst these changes is naturally affected by them. The values of earlier generations are naturally challenged by each subsequent generation. But society evolves only by developing on the values that it had learned from the earlier generations – absorbing the good and discarding the bad and outdated. In this churning that takes place all through, it is necessary for us to try to understand some of the characteristics that stood out in Comraderade PS.


Comraderade Sundarayya had stated, “Simple life, firm in convictions, firm in discipline, that should be our model in our personal life and our personal life certainly reflects in our activities and in our social behaviour”. He not only exhorted others to live this ideal life but led by example. Right from his childhood, he used to mingle with the agricultural labourers working on their lands, eat with them and learn from them. In 1941 when the Party was in a financial crisis, he donated his share of property to the Party. He used to attend the parliament on cycle. He never cankered for power or facilities. Comrade M Basavapunnaiah speaking about PS, says, “All his life he spent on only one thing – books. Apart from this, he had practically no expenditure – the barest minimum necessary for survival”.




Comrade PS not only spent most of his money on books but he virtually devoured books. The reading habit he developed in his childhood, was cultivated throughout his life. Comrade MB said, “He toiled for 14-15 hours a day. In that, study was an essential part. Whether in his house or wherever he stayed he had a huge library...He used to read a lot, discuss a lot. He had a sharp and gifted intellect. After having dwelt on a subject in detail and having studied it thoroughly, when he formed an opinion no one has been able to make him budge from it, neither inside the Party nor outside”. Of course, if somebody came up with concrete facts and figures to prove his opinion wrong, he would never think twice for accepting his mistake.


Comrade PS urged everybody to give prominence to study. He said, “Do not feel that education ends either after seven years or ten years of schooling or even at the college level. Education, if you ask me, continues till you die, even at the ripe age of 80 or 100, you will have to continuously educate yourself. Otherwise, you will remain illiterate; not in the technical sense of illiteracy, but you cannot follow what is happening in the sciences or in the humanities or in your own field of activity also”. Study for Comrade PS is not just about reading books, though it formed an important part.


Study for him was being thorough in the field in which one is working, gathering information and learning from people. As Comrade MB succinctly mentions, “Always in his pocket he carried a notebook. In that, detailed information used to be there – how many Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs in which state; how many peasants and how many workers; what is the past and tradition of the people of a particular region, what is their cultural make-up; geographical regions; how many cusecs of water is there in the Ganga; how irrigation can be improved in a particular area; the latest discoveries in science – everything used to be written in that notebook. He himself was a ready made encyclopaedia”. The survey of villages in Andhra Pradesh which he had conducted to understand the class characteristics in rural areas is a classic case of concrete study. It is this meticulous study that had helped him in developing his understanding of the concrete conditions. This understanding helped him fight both the right revisionist and the left adventurist trends in the Party. This thorough study was possible because of his live contact with the masses.




Learning from the masses was Sundarayya's motto and that way he tried to integrate Marxist theory with practice. Comrade B T Ranadive mentions this quality of PS, “Perhaps no other leader of the CPI (M) except the valiant A K Gopalan was so much in the midst of the masses all the time. Living contact with the people, with the most down-trodden sections, accessibility to cadres and members, a simple way of living, all helped him to secure ever new victories for the Party”.


Another distinguishing characteristic of Comrade PS is his immense concern and love for comrades and his modesty. Comrade MB says, “He was ideally self denying, but when it came to the question of other comrades, he was extremely kind-hearted and did all that was at all possible under the given circumstances. His love for the comrades, especially our Party cadres was unparalleled and many a Marxist-Leninist leaders will have to borrow this special trait from Comrade Sundarayya. I have not seen Comrade Sundarayya use a harsh word to me nor to anyone else. He was firm, resolute but modest”.




Comrade PS was not only firm and resolute on principles, but also exhorted all the comrades to inculcate such traits. Tracing this quality from the great freedom fighters and founders of the Party, he says “These comrades till the end firmly held to the principles of Marxism-Leninism and our younger generation must understand how difficult it is to stand firmly by the principles of Marxism-Leninism and try to apply them to our own conditions. It was not for one year, two years, but for 50 and 70 years, a whole lifetime that they adhered to them...It is this firmness which we should understand which our younger generation must think over, the example they have to imbibe and it cannot be imbibed in a short time, it is a lifelong struggle and dedication to the cause of the toiling people of our country...Now whenever we have to go through a difficult situation, feel a little bit dejected or demoralised, asking how long it will take for the revolution to succeed, how long we have to carry on – and this is nothing unusual, we are not always on the upswing, very often we despair and are in moods of dejection – the lives of these veterans inspire us”. The life of Comrade PS is also a perfect example of how a communist should stand firm and defend Marxism-Leninism in spite of all adversities.


For all those lazy laggards who say it is impossible to emulate all these 'great people', Comrade PS states that they are not super-humans who have come from another world but just normal people like you and me. He says that they have derived their 'greatness' because of their immense belief in scientific socialism, which taught them to be resolute in their efforts, act with determination, iron will and discipline to realise their dreams.


Comrade PS advised the younger generation to lead a virtuous life. “Communist morality, human morality demands that when you stand by the toiling masses, your attitude towards your teachers, your attitude towards your parents and your attitude towards the people should be entirely different...I want our younger generation wherever they are, to stand for human decency, to stand to build a new society. If you become useless, you will be aping the ruling classes' behaviour and not the great glorious path which Marx and Lenin have pointed out”.


Right from his childhood, Comrade PS stood firm for the protection of human decency. Thus he naturally resented all forms of discrimination and exploitation. He not only fought against the economic exploitation of the ruling classes but also fought against social oppression and opposed caste discrimination. As Comrade MB had pointed out, speaking about the man, who at 23 years of age became a member of the Central Committee of the Party, at 33 was leading the famous Telangana armed struggle and at 51 became the youngest general secretary of the CPI (M) after a protracted ideological struggle, is: “His contribution is a sea and I have spoken only a drop”.


His life teaches us modesty as opposed to craving for posts and positions. It teaches us to have firm conviction on Marxism-Leninism, thorough study, iron discipline and simple living. His life teaches that degrees don’t measure one's intellect (he had studied only till matriculation) and that knowledge is not gained just by reading books. It is also gained by learning from people, living for them and fighting for them. His life is a lesson to every 'theoretician' and 'practical worker' on how to amalgamate these two and in the process enrich both of them. His life is indeed worthy of emulation as it teaches us of some of the eternal values that the present generation needs to inculcate.