Kandukuri Rajyalakshmi was a committed and compassionate social worker. Born in a traditional Brahmin family on the banks of the Godavari river, she grew up with her uncle’s family after losing her mother at an early age. At the age of 9, she was married to the then-13 year old Rao Bahadur Sri Kandukuri Veeresalingam Panthulu, who would go on to become one of the most prominent reformers of the state of Andhra Pradesh.
At a time when women seldom left their houses, she was a trailblazer who went to school and focused on education.
She stood staunchly by her husband when he arranged the first widow remarriage in Rajamahendravaram on December 11, 1881 – with all of Rajamahendravaram in opposition. In addition, she played a pivotal role in educating and supporting widows resident in a shelter established by her husband.
The couple also worked to find suitable grooms for these women and would perform the sacrament of ‘Kanyadanam’ during their weddings – a role usually played by parents and one that remains extremely important in Indian society to this day.
She later turned her home into a school for women; it also functioned as a shelter for the ill, the orphaned, and the destitute. The Kandukuri couple arranged medical services for those who needed them.
Rajyalakshmi also abandoned idolatry and encouraged her husband to establish separate prayer halls for women. She went on to establish a prayer society for widows in Anandashramaram where she lived and offered prayers every morning and evening.
The social reformer Kandukuri Rajyalakshmi, who did not get much fame in history, left this world in her sleep in 1910.