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In 1949 – hardly 2 years from Indian Independence – a monthly magazine was born that would thrive for the next 6+ decades – to disseminate the science of sex to masses. Named “Abhisarika” (the heroine who goes forth in the dead of the night to meet her lover, undeterred by the darkness and the nocturnal creat
In 1949 – hardly 2 years from Indian Independence – a monthly magazine was born that would thrive for the next 6+ decades – to disseminate the science of sex to masses. Named “Abhisarika” (the heroine who goes forth in the dead of the night to meet her lover, undeterred by the darkness and the nocturnal creatures), the magazine took its birth in Tenali, a politically, socially and culturally happening town of the then undivided state of Madras, presently in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh.
'abhisarika' - illustration by 'Bali'Abhisarika was born at a time when pornographic mags were ruling the market. It was born out of a deep desire to negate the destructive effects of the myths and misconceptions these other magazines were propagating rampantly. Soon after its coming into being, Abhisarika rose to a position of reverence and distinction as a magazine discussing the science of sex openly on a scientific footing and dispelling the sexual myths in the society. At a time when sex was a strong taboo, Abhisarika was a way ahead of its time. The daring personalities like Alapati Ravindranath, Dhanikonda Hanumantha Rao, and Ramsha made it possible for sex knowledge to reach the common man in 50s and 60s.
Alapati was probably the first in Andhra Pradesh to start a magazine to impart scientific knowledge about the unspoken life in the bedroom. ‘Rerani’ (night queen) as it was named, was published in 1949 by Alapati and edited by a luminary Dhanikonda Hanumantha Rao, who later (in 1949 itself) started his own magazine Abhisarika along similar lines.
Rerani and Abhisarika have both stayed away from lewd and obscene writings and remained confined to scientific aspects of sex, based on the information available to the editors of that time. While Rerani was discontinued after some years, change of guard in 1960 helped Abhisarika thrive and march into the 21st century.
Ramsha & Siriesha
Ramsha, who wrote free-lance to Abhisarika earlier, ably assisted by wife Siriesha, took over the reins of Abhisarika in 1960 and continued the mission started by their predecessor. Soon the names Ramsha & Siriesha became inseparable from Abhisarika.
Ramsha was a truly versatile personality – a poet, writer, playwright and literary critic, well versed with English, Sanskrit and Telugu literature, and an eloquent speaker and an imposing personality. With his worldly wisdom, rich experience and exposure to diverse social milieu, Ramsha had met instant success with Abhisarika. Ramsha and Siriesha together made a wonderful team in dispelling sexual myths and misconceptions in the community and in helping thousands and thousands of anxious and anguished individuals and couples – young and old – to overcome their sexual and marital difficulties.
In the days when resources – leave alone formal training – in Sexology was almost non-existent in India, the works of Havelock Ellis, Marie Stopes, Edwin Hirsch, David Cauldwell, John Money, David Reuben, AP Pillay, and the Sexology magazine published from New York helped build the knowledge base of the Ramsha-Siriesha team. This was in addition to the rich Indian treatises of erotica, like the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, Rati Rahasya of Kokkoka, Ananga Ranga of Kalyanamalla, Panchasayaka of Jyothitisa, Rati Ratna Pradeepika of Proudhadevaraya, Nagara Sarvaswam of Padmasri, among a host of others.
Ramsha Darbha 1962Ramsha & Siriesha have written more than 40 books in various matters of sex ranging from masturbation to sexual aspects of infertility to manuals for sexual pleasure and marital harmony. The question and answer column in Abhisarika called “Adagandi Chebutaanu” (‘You ask, I answer!’) introduced in the 1960s was the forerunner of all the sex help columns found today in every Telugu magazine. Sometimes special supplements were printed to accommodate the huge number of questions that poured in. The couple worked overtime to write for the magazine, answer queries over phone and counsel in person – almost always free of fee.
Ramsha’s incisive editorials carried immense popularity. Through the editorials he gave calls for numerous social / statutory changes such as legalization of abortion, increasing the marriageable age for boys and girls as means of population control, women’s rights and the like.
Ramsha DarbhaThough, at one point of time, Ramsha’s firm opinions about certain aspects of sexuality (ex: masturbation) contradicted the contemporary thinking, by and large the contribution of Ramsha and Siriesha to the society was immeasurable. They took sex-help and sex information to the door step of the common man. As remarked by a reader – “Abhisarika, true to its name, went in search of its readers and educated them”.
Through the early part of the 3 decades of journey of sex-educating the masses, Ramsha had to face intimidation, criticism, humiliation and virtual ostracizing by his contemporaries, but undeterred by adversity, he relentlessly continued his pursuit.
Siriesha died of a heart ailment in 1982 at the age of 47. Ramsha passed away in 1990 at 67 in a car accident.
The responsibility of the magazine was taken in 1990 by their son Dr. Poosha, a PhD in Human Genetics and a trained sexuality counsellor,
Dr. Poosha Darbha
Poosha is a Doctorate in Human Genetics from Andhra University, India and is a Fellow of the Council of Sex Education and Parenthood International. He is also a life member of the Indian Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and was member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. He has been practicing Psychosexual Medicine since 1989 in Andhra Pradesh, India.
He is currently the editor of the oldest Indian sexology magazine for the lay public in the Indian language Telugu, published since 1949. He has written and published a number of books on Sexual Medicine, HIV/AIDS, the Kama Sutra, STDs and Menstruation and other topics in the vernacular Telugu.
Dr. Poosha is active in Rotary, and would serve Rotary International District 3020 (encompassing 70 rotary clubs in the north coastal part of Andhra Pradesh India) as District Governor in 2013-14.
PUBLISHED WORKS – BOOKS
1. 1990 You and Your Health (in Telugu)
2. 1991 Sexual Medicine (3 Parts) (in Telugu)
3. 1992 AIDS – Let us Prevent lt. (in Telugu)
4. 1993 Premature Ejaculation : Causes and How to overcome it. (in Telugu)
5. 1993 Yogic Cure for Common Illnesses (in Telugu)
6. 1994 Sex Anatomy – A guide for the to-be-married and just-married
7. 1999 The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (in Telugu)
8. 2001 Sexually Transmitted Diseases – You can avoid them.
9.2002 An Illustrated Dictionary of Sexology (English)
1. Poosha, DVR, M Satyanarayana, S mathew, and CS Rao (1982): Genetics of Palmar Total Interdigital ridge coounts. South Asian Anthropologist, 3-13-15.
2. Padmavathi, VJ, Poosha, DVR and Busi BR (1984): A Note on the age at menarche and its relationship to diet, economic class, sibship size and birth order in 300 Andhra girls. Man in India, 64:175180.
3. Poosha, DVR, PJ Byard, M Satyanarayana, JP Rice and DC Rao (1984) : Family Resemblance for craniofacial measurements in Velanati Brahmins from Andhra Pradesh, India. Amer.J.Phys.Anthropol 65:15-22
4. Borecki IB, Malhotra KC, Mathew S, Vijayakumar M, Poosha DVR and Rao DC. A family study of dermatoglyphic traits in India: Resolution of Genetic and Uterine environmental effects for palmar pattern ridge counts. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 68:417-424, 1985.
5. Borecki IB, Rao DC, Lalouel JM, McGue M and Gerrard JW. Demonstration of a common major gene with pleiotropic effects on immunoglobulin E levels and allergy. Genetic Epidemiology, 2:327-338, 1985.
6. Byard PJ, Poosha DVR, Satyanarayana M, Rao DC and Russell JM. Path analysis of family resemblance for craniofacial traits in Andhra Pradesh nuclear families and twins. Annals of Human Biology, 12:305-314, 1985.
7. Byard PJ, DVR Poosha, and M Satyanarayana : Genetic and environmental determinates of height and weight in families from Andhra Pradesh, India, Hum. Biol., 57:621-33, 1985
8. Byard PJ, Poosha DVR, Satyanarayana M and Rao DC. Family resemblance for components of craniofacial size and shape. Journal of Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology, 5:229-238, 1985.
9. Malhotra KC, Vijayakumar M, Borecki IB, Mathew S, Poosha DVR and Rao DC. Resolution of genetic and uterine environmental effects in a family study of new dermatoglyphic measure: sole pattern ridge counts. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 74:103-108, 1987.
10. Mathew S, Vijayakumar M, Borecki IB, Malhotra KC, Poosha DVR and Rao DC. A family study of dermatoglyphic traits in India: Resolution of genetic and environmental effects for Manus, pes and total ridge counts in man. Journal of Genetics, 66:93-100, 1987.
11. Poosha DVR (1994) Control of Orgasm: Man-on-top method. Paper presented at the 3rd Asian Conf. Sexology, New Delhi
12. Adolescent Sex Education – Article published in News & Views of CSEPI
13. Male Dyspareunia – Article published in News & Views of CSEPI
14. Control of Orgasm Man-on-top method. – Article published in News & Views of CSEPI
15. Priapism – a review. Article published in News & Views of CSEPI, Vol 78, 2006
16. Gene Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction. Article published in News & Views of CSEPI, Vol 80-81, 2007,
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