CP Brown

CP Brown : A Restless Pandit

(10.11.1798 – 12.12.1884)

Charles Philip Brown’s name stand out like a beacon among European scholars who contributed to Telugu studies.  He rendered an unbelievable service to Telugu with an amazing zeal and interest.

He was the first Indologist to publish Telugu classics with commentaries.  He collected a large number of palm-leaf manuscripts.  He had in its payroll about 20 Pandits in transcribing native authors, in preparing correct editions, in framing indexes and commentaries.  He was paying salaries from his private sources to them.

C P Brown

Charles Philip Brown was born in Culcutta on 10.11.1798.  His father Rev David Brown was senator chaplain of the East India company in Bengal.  He joined the Fort St George College, where he studied Telugu and Marathi and passed out in June, 1820.  First he was appointed as second Assistant to the Principal Collector, Cuddapah in August, 1820.

Hunburry, the Collector of Cuddapah was speaking Telugu fluently.  His example inspired Brown.  He became very fluent in Telugu in two years and excelled Hunburry in Telugu scholarship.  His passion for the accumulation of knowledge was very strong.  While at Machilipatnam he read about Vemana in the book ‘Hindu Manners Customs and Ceremonies’ and began collecting palm-leaf  copies of verses of Vemana.  He translated 1200 verses and published them in 1829.  Brown’s magnum opus was his dictionary, Telugu-English, English-Telugu and mixed dialects in 1852.  His dictionaries are still considered standard and his often re-printed.

While his monthly salary was only Rs. 500, he spent on the faire copy of the Mahabharatha (Telugu) Rs. 2714.  He may be a valuable collection of documents, extracts from News Papers and research material running to 34 volumes of over 20,000 pages which he donated to India Office Library.  He gave 5751 manuscripts to Government Oriental Manuscript Library, Madra.

Bishop Caldwell described Brown as a Restless Pandit.  He resigned from service in 1855 and left for London.  C.P. Brown died an Octogenarian on 12.12.1884.

To perpetuate the memory of C.P Brown, Savanth of Telugu Literature, a Library building was constructed at Cuddapah on the very site of Brown’s Bungalow known in those days as Brown’s College.