Welcome to ChitrapurEbooks.com, a community website dedicated to digitising and collating eBooks, articles, commentaries that are iconic in the collective memory of the Chitrapur Saraswats.
The Community (aka Bhanaps/Amchis) has experienced exponential and (sometimes) turbulent change in its 300 years+ of existence, and our endeavour is to glean the positivity from it, and look at the present & future, through the prism of it's past. The works presented here are unedited, mirroring the life and times they were written in, giving the reader a flavour of the past, in the present, thereby refreshing memories across communities and people. We hope this corpus of writings will provoke and sustain reader interest, and continue to connect The Community to it's rich, lively Heritage.
We invite you to join us in this journey of discovery.
The Chitrapur Saraswat Community has had a significant head start over many other groups in the country, in the matter of community enumeration and creating internal statistical records. The first national head count (done by the English administration in India) took place in 1881, and our community head count, done by the Saraswat Club (predecessor of the Kanara Saraswat Association in Bombay/Mumbai) happened as early as 1896. The resulting product was a fascinating one–of-a-kind heritage calendar cum census, inspired by the efforts of Sh. Shamrao Vithal Kaikini (President of the Club) who convinced the then spiritual head of the community, HH Pandurangashram Swamiji of the utility of such a compendium for the Community. The “Panchanga” (Almanac) aside from enumerating the population, its distribution and education, also gathered a variety of information under one cover e.g. thumbnail sketches of saints/poets of the community, auspicious dates in the year and, most interesting, a railway guide to important pilgrimage centres in India.
Listing of the population continued in successively improving versions of the Census compilations in 1911, 1922 and 1932. In 1956, a more thorough and extensive Census was carried out, and a more scientific approach adopted with a Census Report and statistical table being incorporated with a Directory of members spread out over different cities nationwide. This was possible with major demographic changes in the community that took place in the Inter Wars and post Independence period, with major population shifts to urban centres, leaving villages and rural landholdings behind... a trend that has almost reached its apogee with an overwhelming majority of our population not only concentrated in cities, but also settled down in many countries of the English speaking West; a phenomenon accelerated by the growth of Information Technology in all its avatars, and an exponential rise in advanced education across the Community.
The 1971 and 2001 Censuses show further sharp changes in demographic movement — by 1971 greater Bombay replaced Mangalore, accounting for nearly 54% of the total population, and the 3 cities of Bangalore, Bombay, Madras accounted for nearly 65% of total population. Quantitatively, Chitrapur Saraswats were an insignificant fraction of the country`s population, accounting for just 0.00004% of India`s population (then) of 547.36 million. In other words, for every 100,000 Indians, there were only 4 Chitrapur Saraswats! However, as ground realities over time have shown, the Community's contribution to social, economic and cultural advancements of the Nation has been totally out of proportion to its total numbers.
Other interesting facets of statistical information come out of the analyses in the Census reports e.g. in the eight odd decades since 1932, our community population has moved rapidly from a mature to an aged population i.e. persons aged 65 and over grew gradually from about 4.5 % to 7.5% in the 1970s, and exponentially to 20.1 % by the turn of the century! The figure is higher than that of Japan, which is the most ageing nation in the world today with 16% of its population aged 65 or more (corresponding figures for the developed world are 15%, and rest of India is only 3.6%)
For these and other interesting insights into the demographic spread of our community, do read the operative parts of the Census reports which we have digitized. We have not included the Directory segments. Census reports, graphs and pie charts and other indicators would serve as planks for further examination and base material for research on the Community in the present century, and these are all included.
The latest Census figures (as in the 2016 version) still peg us as a microscopic minority ... we are barely 25000+ globally... a mirror representation of Small being truly Beautiful.
A century ago in November 1918, guns fell silent the world over with the declaration of Armistice. The global conflict that preceded it (July 1914—Nov 1918) dwarfed all wars that had gone before it, right from the Stone and the Bronze to the Medieval Ages. In this maelstrom that churned the early 20 th century world, our tiny community, though not exactly termed as ‘martial’, also featured in different areas around the world and made vital contributions to the war efforts worldwide. Much before that, however, there are stray references to soldiers in the community. Our pre Chitrapur ancestors would have occupied important civilian and military posts under local rulers in the Konkan - there is reference to one of Pandurangashram Swamiji`s relatives being “a military officer who ended his days as a sanyasin in Pandharpur”. Though there is no concrete documentation for this, one can be imaginative and surmise that some of our ancestors might have sailed in Kanhoji Angre`s flotilla that combated Portuguese pirates and raider ships off Konkan coast in 17 th -18 th centuries.
World War One saw some in the community join the Services, primarily in the Medical Corps, some in combatant sector also. There were some who saw action in West Asian region, and became well known in the community. Capt Kalianpur Harihar Bhat, a medico,
saw action on Western front in the First World War, and became a fatality there. A Medical Relief Fund, named after him, existed for a length of time to keep his memory alive. Capt NR Ubhaya was taken a POW in Mesopotamia, but luckily survived the travails to return home in 1919. Yet others played important roles in their fields of activity.
Many more served in the Armed Forces during World War Two (Sept 1939—Sept 1945), and many laid down their lives for the cause of global peace and stability. The KSAs of that era document such instances. In Independent India, with conflicts in Kashmir, the border conflicts with China, Pakistan brought out many heroic acts by Aamchis serving in the Armed Forces. Over the years, Aamchis have continued to join the combat wings of our Armed Forces in considerable numbers, many of them have reached the highest levels of command in their chosen branch, and wherever there has been action either in peacetime, disasters or conflict, we have seen them participate and keep the flag of India flying high. Brig.(Ms) VS Taggarsi, in the 1960s, was perhaps the only Chitrapur Saraswat lady officer (Mily. Nursing Service) who headed her wing first in Northern Command, and then in Western Command, retiring from Chandimandir hqrs in 2001. Lt Gen Benegal Mukund Rao (1902-1991) was another distinguished doctor who served in the British Indian Army, and after Independence, became the Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps and was appointed as Hony. Surgeon to the President of India. He was the first Chitrapur Saraswat to be promoted to the rank of Lt. Gen in the Army.
To document this saga comprehensively, the KSA had, in 2004, embarked on a project to collate and chronicle the wealth of heritage and contemporary material on our Defence Services, focusing on the role of our community members working shoulder to shoulder with our countrymen and women in the national defence efforts... Thus, the first ever All India Chitrapur Defence Convention was organized (in cooperation with KSA) to bring together all Services personnel from the community to honour and recognize Aamchi ex-Servicemen, discuss matters of mutual interest, draw the attention of The Community, and indeed of the nation, to the role of Chitrapur Saraswats in this vital area of national security. Along with a general Directory of all serving and retired Defence personnel, a comprehensive Souvenir was brought out to mark the Convention of 2004. This Souvenir not only highlighted the contributions and lives of Defence personnel over the past century, but also that of civilians who worked in the Defence sector, the “Veer Naaris" (wives and mothers of martyrs) and families of those in Armed Forces, as also the younger generations of personnel in the Defence sector. As such it is a unique record, which will take a lot of effort to replicate and update at a later time.
www.ChitrapurEbooks.com is proud and happy to digitize the extant record, to familiarize the community at large, and those outside the community, with the values and traditions of Indian Armed Forces and the role of Chitrapur Saraswats in it. As also to motivate younger generations in our community to serve in the Forces. The Souvenir covers almost every conceivable aspect of Defence activity from colonial days to the contemporary, and would be a valuable addition to knowledge about a very different aspect of community life. The range of writings and material collected under one cover demonstrates the result of hard work and dedication by the KSA`s team led by Gen Prakash Gokarn, PVSM, AVSM and the Convention coordinating and Directory Committee coordinated by Gen BN Rao, AVSM, VSM and Bar, and individuals / institutions assisting them through the Pune Aamchi Martial Clan [PAMC] and the Project AMCHIS coordinated by Sh. Mahesh Kallianpur, then Chairman of KSA.
To add special flavor to the material already existent in the Souvenir, www.ChitrapurEbooks.com has also added accounts of particular tasks undertaken in exceptionally adverse conditions---the tasks of constructing the world`s highest bridge at Khardung La (that found mention in the Guiness Book of Records) by Gen Sudhir Vombatkere,VSM (Download here) ; the map of a monumental trek by Aamchi civilians (along with others) during World War Two, (The Dinkar Benegal saga) ; the acts of extreme bravery in face of enemy fire by Air Cmde. Ramesh Benegal during the 1965 and 1971 conflicts (Download here). Accompanying vintage photographs/diagrams lend a perspective to these writings. We hope that, viewed holistically, these works would present a unique view to readers about key activities of Aamchis in a hitherto untapped and unwritten area.
www.ChitrapurEbooks.com thanks and and acknowledges the gracious facilitation afforded by the following individuals for compiling this segment:
~ Gen. Prakash Gokarn PVSM, AVSM, former President of the Kanara Saraswat Association, Mumbai
~ Gen. Baindur Nagesh Rao AVSM, VSM and Bar, Coordinator, Pune Aamchi Martial Clan [PAMC], Pune
~ Sh. Jairam Khambadkone, presently Chairman, the Kanara Saraswat Association [KSA], Mumbai
~ Sh. Arvind Benegal from Atlanta, Georgia [US] for material on his uncle, Sh. Benegal Dinkar Rao
~ Gen. Sudhir Vombatkere VSM, Mysuru, for his article on building the record making bridge at Khardung La, his collection of accompanying illustrations and additional material on Air Cmde RS Benegal.
~ www.Bharat-Rakshak.com for the permission to reproduce the article "Flying with the Legend".
~ Air Marshal Rajwar, author of "Flying with the legend", a veteran of 2 wars, and navigator to CO of 106 Sqn. (then) Sqn. Ldr. Ramesh Benegal during the 1971 ops in The Eastern and Western sectors.
Temples in India come in all sizes, shapes and have their own histories. Whether it is the majestic structures at Madurai, Thanjavur and Gangakondaicholapuram, or the humble shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha at Aldangady (to take an example), each has its focus of faith, its unique impact on society around it, and most important, its role in social and spiritual cohesion. In the 1937 HH Anandashram Swamiji Jubilee Souvenir, the revered Swamiji observed:
”Although the rules relating to image worship may require it to be conducted by individuals separately, this may be impossible in the present conditions. Nevertheless, the fact that our forefathers have been observing congregational image worship in temples has made it possible for us to remember God in the difficult days. Sankata Bandaga Venkatramana: the minds of those who are in trouble naturally run in the direction of temples ... Devotion is inspired and strengthened by mass action ... may all those who have striven for restoration of such temples be blessed.”
The late Sh. Ugran Sundar Rao, sometime member of the Standing Committee of the Mahasabha (1955-65), pioneered the laborious task of preparing a compendium of Chitrapur Saraswat temples and shrines. In a true labour of love, he covered the length and breadth of the Kanaras, visiting each village, enumerating the genealogy of the founders and archaks at each shrine, its architectural history, so that these structures can serve as link and reminder to all members of our community—whether they are resident or emigrated to distant cities within the country or to lands globally—to remain in contact with the heritage of our ancestors. In his preface, Sh. Sundar Rao has detailed the extent of the tasks undertaken, the people contacted for local histories of each shrine. A list of Saints from our community (expanded further at the suggestion of HH Parijnanashram Swamiji), useful photographs, and a map of the Kanaras (courtesy Dr. Frank Conlon) indicating the provenance of villages of the Kanaras, (and consequently) family names, further embellishes the value of the book. It also serves as a handy guidebook for the task of updating the histories of each shrine, which is very important when the tasks of renovating individual shrines come up. Under the enlightened, energetic, able guidance and leadership of the present Mathadhipati, PP Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji, the task of renovation and restoration of our shrines has gained accelerated importance and momentum. A book like this will therefore only help gather and focus the community's energy and attention to further improve and celebrate shrines, small or big, for the spiritual and material well being of all. A highly recommended read for all, especially the younger generations.
Rising from humble rural surroundings in Karnataka, Nalkur Sripad Rao, (Sripadmam to all in the Community, ”Sippy”Rao to outsiders and business associates) lived a remarkable life of achievements and creativity in an India and world that is hard for contemporary society, busy with its instant sound and memory bytes, to imagine. He was, and perhaps is, to date, the only Chitrapur Saraswat to head, at different times, three premier organizations that are familiar to the Aamchi world, and in the milieu of Mumbai and beyond—The Kanara Saraswat Association, the Standing Committee/Mahasabha of Sri Chitrapur Math and the Shamrao Vithal Cooperative Bank. But more than that, Sripad Rao had pioneered Pest Control Services in India, setting up a company that set the benchmark for such services in India, at the same time setting up model farms, agro units, laying the foundation for fair trade practices and good management in these areas. He used benevolent and ideal management practices long before B- schools in the country taught these to greenhorn managers, and created a happy workforce that worked as a well oiled machine to give results.
All the wealth the company and its ancillaries generated was put to optimum and good use in social welfare—schools, NGOs to teach better agricultural and vocational practices, improvement in work practices, medical assistance in key areas. Alongside, Sripad Rao paid attention to our community organisations. An active Rotarian, he was also the founder member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. Many perhaps are not aware of the key catalyzing role he played in restoring peace and harmony in the community that had seen rifts over leadership at Chitrapur Math in the last quarter of the past century, and how he, from the backrooms, quietly helped in healing those rifts, bringing about understanding in the community, and most important of all, in the anointment of a new spiritual leader that we in the community are so fortunate to be blessed with today.
Ms Vidya Gunavanthe has sketched the life and times of this personality, a sort of “Croesus and Santa Claus rolled into one”, in this slim biography, with a great measure of understanding and balance. A very interesting and fulfilling read, the book is generously peppered with photographs of a Man and his Times which are gone by, but whose “creations”, whether they are organisations or human persona, still abide.
(CeB thanks Wg Cdr (Retd) ND Mohan VSM, for contributing this article on his father, Sh. Nayel Deva Rao)
It's indeed a pleasure to write this introduction to my father Nayel Deva Rao, the inventor of Kannada shorthand. Though the Kannada language is old and rich, it appears no one had seriously attempted to formulate Kannada shorthand till he published his book in 1933. He had also thought of (and initiated) steps to introduce a Kannada shorthand typewriter, but there was neither a sponsor nor could he get financial support, in spite of the fact the project had reached an advanced stage and produced a prototype.
Sh. Nayel Deva Rao, was born in April 1875 in a small village Nayala, which is about five Kms from Bantwal, off the Mangalore-Bangalore Highway. His parents Bhavanishankar and Parvathi led a rural life farming their landed property a few kms from the banks of the Netravathi River. There were frequent floods in the rainy season inundating their lands and home. There were no schools in Nayala so he studied in Puttur at the Puttur High School. His class mates among others were Sir Vombatkere Panduranga Rao who retired as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court and Mannige Shankarnarayana Rao, who was Legal adviser to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. In those days they had to study under kerosene lamps and shared the cost collectively. They studied at St Aloysus College in Mangalore and graduated in the early 1900s from Madras University earning thier Bachelors in Arts. Fortunately my father was supported by Scholarships (one of which was mysteriously named "An Austrian Gentleman's Scholarship, No. 1") to complete his Graduation. A few months before the Final BA Examination he suffered from a small pox attack but miraculously survived to see another Day.
Jobs were scarce at the time and in order to add some skills for employment, he studied Pitman Shorthand in Mangalore and passed with flying colours. This stood him in good stead for furtherance of his career and paved the way for inventing Kannada Shorthand in later years and even became a stepping stone to the higher
His first employment was in the postal Dept in Shimoga before joining the Govt of Mysore (Now Karnataka) administrative service. Subsequently he cleared the Mysore Civil Service Exam, equivalent to IAS all India Service now. His dedication, hard work and perseverance pushed him to the position of Asst Secretary when there were only three Secretaries in the Mysore Govt running the State Administration: A Chief Secretary, an under-Secretary and an Asst-Secy. His knowledge of shorthand probably played a part in his also being appointed the Chief Reporter, Translator, etc. He was to report the legislative proceedings which were in Kannada/English. He was to translate Kannada speeches into English simultaneously as is done in the present Parliament. He was also Personal Asst to the Dewan of Mysore, Sir Albion Bannerjee, who later become the Dewan of J & K. He took premature retirement from Service though the Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail wanted to extend his service and give him an extension.
After retirement he devoted all his time to invent Kannada Shorthand and published the first ever text Book on the subject in 1933, which was a result of his pioneering effort. Many of the students he trained gained employment in the government as shorthand writers. In later years he wrote many letters to the Chief Ministers of Mysore and the Central Education Minister to popularise Kannada shorthand with an offer to hand over all remaining copies of his text books but to no avail.
He was responsible for establishing the Mysore Secretariat Club Cubbon Park, opposite the Century Club in Bangalore for Govt Servants. He also engaged himself in the Cooperative Movement and was a founder member of The Malleswaram Cooperative Bank, and The Malleswaram Coperative Society (Now liquidated). It may be of interest to know, that in the initial stages of the creation of the cultural section, the rehearsals of plays conducted by The Canara Union of Bangalore were often held at our house, Sitanivas on 5th Main Road, Malleswaram. Some of the regular participants whose names come to mind are Sode Shankar, Basrur Bhavanishankar, Kallianpur Surendra, Bolangdi Shivaram, Nayal Sanjiv Rao, Nayal Shantha among many others. Even against the protests by neighbours about the noise created during rehearsals, the activities went on in the silent/still nights of Malleswaram.
The Freedom Movement in India threw up an amazing spectrum of personalities across our huge and diverse society - multi lingual, multi religious, multi cultural - 'multi' in every aspect you can imagine, yet united in its goal of regaining sovereignty for the country. This unity of purpose was the key to eventual success of our Freedom Movement, no matter what the travails along the way. Conversely, and sadly, it is divisiveness and a lack of syncretism in our society that hobbles every step in the same country today.
The vast swathe of sentiments generated against the colonial system had its leadership pillars, so to speak, in every part of our country a century back - in the coastal region of Karnataka (then part of Madras Presidency), one name that stands out in collective memory is that of Karnad Sadashiv Rao - a successful lawyer turned social reformer, and principal organiser for the Freedom Movement in the Kanaras. In the language of the day, some called him the "Uncrowned King of Kanaras". Under the influence of the Mahatma, he threw himself wholeheartedly into organising the Freedom movement, and in fundraising for this struggle. Prior to this, he had been active with Kudmul Ranga Rao (more about him here) in advancing the cause of women and widows, in social and education reform especially for girls, combating poverty and working to improve the lot of 'depressed classes', whom Mahatma Gandhi later addressed as Harijans.
Post Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy (1919) when the Mahatma launched the first Satyagraha Movement, Sadashiv Rao was the first in the Kanaras to sign the Satyagraha pledge. He further took up the cause to introduce the region to the Indian National Congress, which had been absent till then in the area. Moving between districts, towns and villages, Sadashiv Rao carried the Congress banner far and wide, gathering workers, farmers and ordinary people to the greater cause of Freedom. For 17 years, till his untimely death in 1937, he remained the heart and soul of the freedom struggle in the region... And he progressively sacrificed his all, body and soul, to the Cause.
It was his activities that brought the national leadership -the Mahatma, Deshbandhu CR Das, Jawaharlal Nehru, C.Rajagopalachari, Sarojini Naidu, the Ali Brothers and many others to the Karnataka region ... In many activities, he worked actively with Umabai Kundapur (more about her here) another icon of the Freedom Struggle in the area. Sadashiv Rao also remained the biggest proponent of Congress' Constructive Program, opening Rashtriya schools, weaving and spinning centres for Khadi, schools for girls, and Khadi Bhandars. In the process, he incurred huge debts, causing immense personal hardship to himself and family. Dr Zakir Hussain, (then) Vice President of India, and himself an eminent educationist, writes in his tribute "He (Sadashiv Rao) was a "Khudai Khidmatgar" of the Kanaras ... always in the vanguard of the freedom struggle, he died a destitute, but left a rich legacy of human endeavour, service and sacrifice".
We feel privileged to bring the life story of this true "Deshbhakta" to all our readers, and to our community, especially the younger generations. Through his life and actions, Karnad Sadashiv Rao raised the bar of equality, justice and selfless service very high, to help create a new India, which he, sadly, did not live to see.
We bring our hands together to revere a great soul. May his achievements always remain a beacon to us,now and in the future.
A family may have one or two publicly distinguished members, but the subjects of this book are four equally noteworthy and extremely capable Chitrapur Saraswats, excelling in their chosen professions to impact social and political events in the India from late 19th century to mid 20th century.The "Benegal Brothers" as they are known, had an equally dedicated and large hearted father - Benegal Raghavendra Rao - a medical man, who, after a full career, made it his life's mission to do charity work in South Canara and elsewhere. That, then, makes it five!
The eldest, Sanjiva Rau, assisted by a government scholarship and sheer grit, completed a double Tripos in Mathematics at Cambridge, narrowly missed joining the Indian Civil Service,but succeeded brilliantly in the Educational field,was associated with several path breaking institutions such as the Hindu College in Benares, later with colleges in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). With his wife, he worked for educational institutions for women in Allahabad,and at Rajghat, again in Benares. As a Theosophist, he was active in educational institutions started by the thinker J. Krishnamurthi.
The second brother, Narsing Rau, etched an equally distinguished career in public administration and the judiciary. A contemporary of Jawaharlal Nehru at Cambridge, he was the only Indian to join the ICS in 1909. He was associated in the creation of the Government of India Act 1935, which gave limited autonomy to Indian provinces, and later served as a conduit to the increasing Indian demand for 'Poorna Swaraj'. Appointed by the Constituent Assembly as its Legal Adviser to shape and create the Indian Constitution in preparation for Independence,he became a member of the pivotal committee (headed by the then Law Minister, BR Ambedkar), mandated to create this crucial document that is today the bedrock for a free, secular and sovereign India. Appointments as Representative of free India to the United Nations, and as a Judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague followed. In each of these Narsing Rau gave of his best, a true believer in equity and impartial rule of Law, an upholder of the best in all his actions.
The third brother, Rama Rau made his mark in administration. Also a civil servant, he gained expertise in finance, becoming the longest serving (to date) Governor of the Reserve Bank of India - 10 years - and also served as Deputy High Commissioner of India in UK, and Consul General for India in South Africa.
The fourth and youngest brother, Shiva Rau, a journalist and activist took up the cause of trade/labour unions in pre and post-Independent India, as also women`s education and livelihood (his wife Kitty, an Austrian, worked with Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya) and to improve their status in a newly independent society. Shiva Rau was, interestingly, an elected member of the Lok Sabha (from Mangalore) and later nominated to the Rajya Sabha, in both capacities making definitive contributions to the working of democratic setups in our national institutions.
Brilliant and catalysing careers, sketched very competently and painstakingly by the author, Kanchan Karopady Bannerjee, who also embarked on her path of rediscovering her own community while researching the Benegals. The book is a lively read, replete with anecdotes and side stories, conversations with family members and friends, maps and photos - all giving a parallel picture of a confident and evolving community, of which the Benegal Brothers were avant garde members.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya was a true Renaissance person, if ever there was one. Born to a noted Chitrapur Saraswat family [nee Dhareshwar] of Mangalore at the turn of the 20th century, she overcame many personal adversities to work over amazingly diverse areas of activity in colonial and post colonial India that was increasingly swept into what was perhaps the most momentous and non violent Independence Movement in the history of Mankind. Young Kamaladevi quickly grasped the true import of Independence - not just physical, but also mental. She realized what a whole new perspective it had opened out before a poor and struggling colonial economy and polity - she realized how many sacrifices would have to be made by such a diverse country and how much its leaders and peoples would have to work to get the colonial masters to concede Independence to India.
Wherever there was action in the political field, she was there: she was the first woman in India to contest (and lose by a narrow margin) an assembly election in Madras Presidency, she was the only woman who took up cudgels with Mahatma Gandhi to include women in the Salt Satyagraha; when the Satyagrahis marched to make salt at Chowpaty (Bombay) in 1930s, she was in its forefront. She was imprisoned for many years by the British, but her spirit only burnt brighter for the cause of Freedom . Along with another Aamchi, Umabai Kundapur (more about her here) she helped create Mahila Dal (women volunteers) of the Indian National Congress and served along with Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali to mobilize women in the National movement. She helped shape the All India Women`s Conference to take up the cause of what is today a "trending " movement - gender equality.
Her travels to countries as diverse as the US and Egypt, Ethiopia and (pre Communist) China sensitized the world to India's freedom struggle. Partition in 1947 disappointed her, but she threw herself headlong into the task of rehabilitation in traumatic times, an equally daunting task - to give livelihood and self respect back to a displaced people, far more in number than in today's Iraq, Syria or Libya. She virtually singlehandedly laid the foundations for the revival of handicraft and cottage industries in India, helping create jobs for vast numbers. In her own words:
"post 1947, I stepped off the highway of politics into the side lanes of development".
Not just that, she helped revive Theatre, the Folk Arts, built up institutions like the National School of Drama, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the India International Centre, to attract the best talent of the land. The Bankura horse (today a symbol of cottage handicrafts in India) was her "discovery", as was the revival of Ikat and chic khadi garments. True to her life and her mission, her Memoirs are written (in 1986, 2 years before she passed on) in a most unassuming, matter of fact style, with least emphasis on importance of her catalysing role in so many national ventures. To this day, they remain a true testament of her faith in the people of India.
www.ChitrapurEbooks is privileged to bring her Memoirs back to the community that gave birth to her, in the hope that her example will serve as a role model not only to generations of youngsters (of today, tomorrow and the days after) within the community, but in fact to anyone, anywhere in the world who reads her extraordinary account. We are also happy that, courtesy her family members, we have been able to source many of her family photographs, not in public view earlier. (See them here)
Kamala Dongerkery, originally from Dharwar, a writer/musician, activist and social worker, was wife of a well known educationist, Sundar Dongerkery, who was successively Registrar and Rector at the University of Bombay before Independence, and post Independence, the Vice Chancellor of Marathwada University set up in Aurangabad,Maharashtra. The couple was active in the pre and post Independence era in both the educational and social fields. Inspired by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Kamala began writing on, and working for, promotion of the saree as a garment, as also other textiles, handicrafts, toys and jewellery. Her several books on these subjects are still around, and in many areas she pioneered activity, to promote these crafts. Appointed to the All India Handicrafts Board, she was equally active in the area of women's welfare, juvenile courts and at the All India Women's Conference, and SNDT Women's University, Bombay.
This book minutely records her observations on the diverse cultures of the people and personalities she met on her travels. The couple lived a fruitful life, supporting the idea that our vast democracy is not progressed only by movers and shakers (and leaders very often portrayed as messiahs), but also by good, diligent and honest citizens working in harmony with their surroundings.
The Finger of Destiny touches some people and marks them out for tasks that most fellow humans would not dream of doing, or, more important, would not be capable of doing. Kudmul Ranga Rao (1859 - 1928) who later in life took to saffron robes as Swami Ishwarananda, was one such. The epitaph in "Lest We Forget" says it all..." (he) realised God in the service of the Poor, the Weak and the Downtrodden". Ranga Rao worked his entire life for the removal of many curses that have bedevilled Indian society over the millennia - Untouchability, Poverty and Emancipation of women, particularly widows and all sections of society who lacked support in life. He worked for Human Rights long before the word was invented, and became globally fashionable.
A teacher turned lawyer turned social emancipator, his life was his message; he worked without recompense, and with very little support. The principles he stood by in the times he lived in, and the type of work he did, earned him the praise of many, but the ire of many more. He had to face ostracism in the wider community and even physical threats to his family. He, however, stood firm by his ideals. He did not do this for recognition, but because he believed in what he felt. Recognition came to him after he passed on, but what he strove and struggled to achieve has been universally recognised today. Today, many institutions with similar goals as his have multiplied, but Ranga Rao fought his battles alone, with unmatched perseverance and humility.
In the history of coastal Karnataka, or even elsewhere, there have been few personalities who worked in areas he chose, and his memory lives on today through the institutions he created. This slim work captures the emotions and respect of his contemporaries towards him.
May his tribe increase !!
If there was any Eminent Person in the CS community in terms of seminal ideas, and their realisation for benefit of the entire community in the 19th/20th century, it would doubtless be Rao Bahadur Sripad S. Talmaki.
Known as the Father of Housing Cooperative Movement in a rapidly industrialising Bombay Presidency, he was also responsible for laying the foundations of the Shamrao Vittal Cooperative (SVC) Bank, creating the Saraswat Social Club, which burgeoned into the Kanara Saraswat Association (KSA). As if that was not enough, this institution builder went on to compile "Saraswat Families" and "Collection of Konkani Proverbs" publications which have been pillars of collective knowledge of the community's historic, linguistic and genealogical past, and are reference points to this day. Talmaki's lifework is an astounding tribute to his perseverance and intellectual efforts. The KSA Special number, Dec 1967 brings out the high points of his lifelong labours, focusing on his single mindedness in guiding the betterment of a community still emerging from its rural cocoon,and helping it,as it were, "lift itself up by its bootstraps".
Edited by Pandrang Row
Gentle readers, we present to you a rather unusual chronicle of an Aamchi family, originating from occupant of a manorial house in Mangalore,and stretching out through Chennai, Delhi, London, Sweden, UK and Europe and eventually back to Mangalore/Bangalore. "A Gentle Life" is an amazing autobiography of Naimpalli Sita Shiva Rao, transcribed wholly from her memory, and worked into print by a grandson and others.
What strikes a reader are the masses of relatives, friends, eminent personalities, political and distinguished persona who inhabit her mental "stage". In this age of nuclear families, the following statement would make for a lot of jaw dropping......" I have 36 nephews and nieces from my siblings. There were hordes of children in the house when I grew up, and couple of aunts as well"..........Daughter of a noted family of Mangalore ,and married into another, Sita Shiva Rao vividly describes the life, food, festivals and ambience of days that exist today only in (fading) memories. Marriage into the Naimpalli family brought her to their large mansion/estate called "Shiva Baug"on Mercara Hill in Mangalore. This palatial hilltop structure often hosted visiting English administrators and grandees (before Independence) and eminent Congress leaders, civilians and military officials after 1947. Mahatma Gandhi stayed at the house,as did, later, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and other politicos of that era. The author narrates interactions with many of them.
Sita Shiva Rao's husband, a ranking official in the Imperial Tobacco Company [ITC], was one of the very few India based functionaries in this pucca sahib company. Travels with him gave her many interesting experiences--- in Sweden (where the couple happened to be on India's Independence Day (1947), in Delhi where they witnessed India's first Republic Day (1950) and in London on the Queen's Coronation day (1953). A truly global experience long before the word became so common!
Summing up her life, she thanks the Almighty for such an excellent memory, which gave her capacity to span the ages - from the era of the bullock cart to that of planes, cell phones, Skype and emails. The book shows the sociological flows in a community that has rapidly moved out of its landed-agrarian roots to the urban framework of living and thinking. That her life and times coincided with the rise of India's oldest political party, and some of its leaders, gives it a further edge. This unique blending of the traditional and modern is perhaps something that generically (and genetically) characterises the Saraswat community.
Generously peppered with photographs, the book is intersticed with parallel accounts by the successive generations of the Naimpalli family. We leave the rest to your curiosity and imagination!
Uttara and Dakshina Kannada, the centre-point of Saraswat communities, has had a number of outstanding teachers and educationists whom generations of students (who in turn gained eminence) have remembered with fondness and admiration. One such avant garde teacher, and non fiction writer, extensively using Kannada language to communicate scientific matters to school level students in early decades of 20th century, was Tonse Mangesh Rao (b. 1877). He taught at the high school level, maintained a level of interest in practical science to have a home-laboratory, design several gadgets and install the first power gen set at a theatre in Mangalore. Mangesh Rao enthused the student community in applied sciences, and wrote "Kindergarten Kaipidi" a lexicon of teaching methodology......a Kannada version, if you will, of Madame Montessori!
He was the also author of 3 other handbooks - 'Prakruti Shastra' (Nature Study); 'Rasayan Shastra' (Chemistry); and 'Padartha Vijnan Shastra' (Physics) all written in 1929. They were reader friendly, gave interesting analogies, and werewritten to make it easy to comprehend ideas in Kannada... and this at a time when The English language had already become the foremost tool for learning and advancement. Mangesh Rao was one of the earliest proponents of the system of imbibing knowledge through understanding and interest, rather than by rote, a precursor of Western methodology of disseminating knowledge, and that too not in an alien tongue, but one's own language. He was doing all this, amazingly, tucked away in a remote corner of the then Madras Presidency.
We should all feel proud of teachers like him who laid a firm intellectual foundation for their students, and worked to create a de novo base for modern society.
This is a 'rags to riches'story - with a difference. Devarao Ubhaykar, as someone noted, learnt to 'give away (his wealth) until it aches'. From humble origins in Hubli, Karnataka he worked his way up, by sheer dint of industry, honesty and perseverance in the burgeoning textile industry in Bangalore and its environs. Fate dealt him a kind hand in that his activity coincided with an economic boom in that sector in the WWII years when textile mills in India revved up to meet demands of the military sector. He built up an unprecedented level of trust and repute, worked with distinction in Sirur/Mysore and later Minerva Mills and used the wealth he built up in philanthropy work. His "Deena Deva Sangha" cared for all round welfare of mill and other workers at
a time when they had few welfare measures or sympathy inside or outside the government.
He also helped in the war effort with assistance to military hospitals and contributions to Red Cross. He used his wealth in village uplift schemes, opened Students Homes to care for needy students. The spread of his charity and welfare ideas practically covered much of peninsular India. His daughter, Sharada, who has authored her father's life chronicle, talks poignantly, of how in the midst of all his work, he proved equally caring for his family and community. It all goes to show how one who realises good in the service of the poor, the weak and the needy, and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi "wipes the tear from every eye", brings out the best in Humankind.
Through the mists of Time, the perennial philosophy of the Chronicle of our Gurus - the GuruParampara - has been the Upadesha (spiritual advice) given by our Gurus to the laity. Based on this seminal chronicle, composed by Sant Umabai Arur, running to some 6000 verses/psalms, Dr.Hattiangdi has made a cutting edge selection of 86 "illuminating" verses, and translated them into English. For HH Anandashram Swamiji, the Ninth Guru, the author has, in his words, attempted "a more realistic picture" by composing 24 verses based on the hallowed Swamiji`s thoughts. These form the"Words of Wisdom".
The late Sadanand Bhatkal, of Popular Books, who claims responsibility for resurrecting this slim volume from the author`s filing cabinet and bringing it to print, notes Dr.Hattiangdi`s "relentless spirit of enquiry, a seeking after knowledge, and amazing creativity backed up by devotion and dedication.
"Devoted deeply to the Master’s lotus-feet, Become liberated from this transient world. Only by controlling the senses and the mind, Will you behold the Divinity seated in your
"Lyrical Wisdom of Shankaracharya" examines the lifetime achievements (compressed into a span of just 32 years) of this phenomenal yogi-teacher-philosopher through 9 stotras and 12 Mahavakyas (sacred utterances) written by him. Selected and translated into English by Dr. Gopal Hattiangdi, the contents of this 63 page volume will surely act as a beacon to Self Realization, and add to our value system.
"Devoted deeply to the Master’s lotus-feet, Become liberated from this transient world. Only by controlling the senses and the mind, Will you behold the Divinity seated in your heart."
Chitrapur Saraswats have always laid great emphasis on songs for sacred events and daily prayers. Nowhere is this more evident than in the compilation of the "Chitrapur Padyavali" by the doyen of the Community Vaidiks, Shukl Lakshman Bhat ji (1902-1964 CE). Gifted with a powerful voice, Bhat ji had also cut several 78 rpm discs with "Shankara Narayana" and other iconic hymns in the 1940s. In the Padyavali, all favourite bhajans that Aamchis grew up with, and still sing, are put together, each with the appropriate raga.
Dr. Frank Conlon's "A Caste in A Changing World: The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans c1700-1935" is the piece de resistance of serious writing on the history of Chitrapur Saraswats, and evolution of social and religious developments within this community since late medieval times to the 20th century. Dr. Conlon is Professor Emeritus of History, South Asian Studies at University of Washington, Seattle; This publication was part of his doctoral thesis.
Dr. Conlon's overview of the Chitrapur Saraswats gives us, and the wider world outside, a mirror to the progression of a microscopic community from humble rural settings to the major metropolises of India; the role of the spiritual centre - Sri Chitrapur Math, and its leaders - in binding and keeping the group together; the rise of social leaders and organisations in the community that helped it metamorphose, literally, from a "cocoon to a butterfly." To bring it into contemporary context, we have a companion interview with Dr. Conlon.
We take inspiration from "A Wrestling Soul", biography of a remarkable polymath who had a deeply felt mission of changing Indian society of his times. Narayan Chandavarkar (1855-1923 CE) was a successful lawyer, legislator, keen social reformer and a guiding example to the younger generation. Among his multifarious activities, he attended the very first meeting of the Indian National Congress, Calcutta 1885, and presided over its Lahore session in 1900. The body, still in its infancy, speedily attained the role of a mentor for colonial Indians seeking Freedom, achieved half a century later. The book, written by his nephew in 1955 to mark the birth centenary of this extraordinarily able Chitrapur Saraswat, is dedicated to "The Youth Of India". We sincerely hope today's youth read this, and get inspired in their own lives, wherever they are and in whatever they do.
A perennial Aamchi favourite, and a true labour of love by Sh. SS Talmaki, "Konkani Proverbs, Riddles, Lullabies and Nursery Songs" also finds place in this group. In this age of instant sound bytes, these are themes that have long disappeared from our awareness. We hope this digital avataar will, to a tangible extent, help revive our old culture, and nostalgic values of life that went with it.
Sh. K. Shanker Rao has done an invaluable service to the community by drawing on a (possibly) handwritten Kannada manuscript of HH Pandurangashram Swamiji "The History of Saraswat Brahmans, the Guru Parampara and Sri Chitrapur Math", and extracting selections pertaining to the practice of Dharma and Gayatri Upasana from the "Upadesha" given by HH Keshavashrama Swamiji (1785-1823 CE),and rendered their free translations into English.
In his foreword, Sh. K Shanker Rao notes that "the beauty of these quotations lies in their logical reasoning, and their spread across the vast domain of our scriptures". This systematic and logical process of thinking, so characteristic in our Guruparampara, was also evinced in the discourses of HH Keshavashrama Swamiji which aimed "to continue the intellectual efforts of discouraging the practice, then extant among Sarasvatas, of following Vaisnava practices, as they were primarily Saivites, initiated by HH Shankarashrama I in the 18th century" [Hattiangdi in "Fifty Years of Bliss", 1960].
This collection was brought out by the Madras Local Sabha to mark the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Sri Krishna and Sri Datta Jayanties in Aug 1970.
Published by: Bhagini Mandal, Hubli
Year of print: 1952, Hubli
With the digitization of "Umabai Kundapur: Diamond Jubilee Souvenir" originally brought out by the Bhagini Mandal, Hubli in 1952, we mark another catalyzing step in chronicling the annals of the Chitrapur Saraswat community on this website. Freedom fighter, Congress volunteer in the Civil Disobedience Movement, activist with All India Women's Conference (the pioneering pan-India body of its kind) and a social emancipator who worked for women's welfare all her life, Smt Umabai Kundapur was a role model for her times. To use a well known phrase, "her life was her message". She lived in stirring times, and in her own way, helped create them. This book of short essays, in different languages, views her lifetime achievements through the eyes of her admiring peers, many of whom were giants of India's Freedom Movement. Today, when we all breathe the air of a "Swatantra Bharat" (with all its warts), let us recall with reverence, those who (to use another well known phrase) "gave their Todays for our Tomorrows".
“A simple little book, in the form of a catechism on Gayatri, devoid of clichés and cumbersome explanations ... useful to the modern man”.
This is how the author envisioned yet another of his “pocketbooks”. And reading it, you will discover that it is indeed so. Nevertheless, its scope is profound, and was one of HH Anandashram Swamiji`s favourite subjects.
It is but fitting that Swamiji`s views on Gayatri are also included. Speaking in 1947, He said ’our young men of today will be responsible for the future welfare of the community. To equip yourself properly for this task, you need to develop both your body and your mind……meditating on the Supreme Lord and reciting the Gayatri mantra will ensure both worldly success and spiritual progress.”
Edited by Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi
published in 1965
The pride of place among this group of 8 books invariably goes to ”Fifty Years of Bliss”, edited by Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi and published in 1965 to mark the Golden Jubilee Year of the peetharohana of HH Anandashram Swamiji. This is a comprehensive biography of the revered Swamiji and the accompanying appendices are a mine of information on the Guruparampara and the Community.
Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi, Mumbai, 2002
A variant on the above genre is the translation by Dr Hattiangdi of a long hymn from the RgVeda, authored by a sage named Dirghatamas. In the pocketbook ”A Riddle Unravelled”, the sage emerges as an “observer of the natural world and recorder of its manifest rhythms, embodying both science and poetry” (Ranjit Hoskote in his foreword to the book). We acknowledge our debt of gratitude to our Sadguru, P.P. Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji for His blessings and guidance, that enabled and inspired us to put this collection together.
Kilpady Guru Dutt, a member of the Indian Administrative Service in Karnataka (formerly Mysore Province) held key administrative positions, ending as Director of Public Instruction. In 1957, after the formation of linguistic states, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Karnataka Electricity Board. A distinguished writer and public speaker, he also plunged into community activities, serving as the President of the Standing Committee, Shri Chitrapur Math
Written in mid 1950s, the book gives a sharp perspective on our community in a newly independent India, its historical and spiritual roots; the travels of HH Swamiji; thumbnail career sketches of notable aamchis, and most interesting: his views on the Saraswat psyche. We are happy to present Sh.K.Guru Dutt's work to our readers in the hope that his torch of knowledge will be picked up, and carried further into the 21st century.
Pandurangashram Swamiji was the eighth in the line of succession in a distinguished lineage (Guruparampara) of spiritual leaders at Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali (North Karnataka). He assumed leadership of the community at a critical juncture in British India (1860s) when the Industrial Revolution touched the country, as did the camera, the railway, telegraph lines, the textile industry and English education - all of which changed socio economic perspectives, and impacted the tiny Chitrapur Saraswat community as they migrated from rural confines to urban centres. In these times of rapid change, Panduragashram Swamiji was a spiritual and social anchor for a record 52 years.
In a span of 140 pages (with vintage b/w photos) the biographer profiles the Swamiji as an institution builder, religious preceptor and administrator. With extensive travels (He was the first Guru to undertake the Tristhali Yatra in the North, 1887), pravachans, writings, He gave a defining profile to the community, and set the stage for change.
“Pandurang,Pandurang” is a thought provoking read for not only those wanting to know more about this magnetic personality, but also seeking a glimpse of the socio economic milieu of the community in which He worked, and on which He left a mark.
Pashu-Puraan is a fascinating take on animals and birds that inhabit our folklore, and shows the close relationship between Man and Nature, a relationship that is under great threat in the 21st century tragically due to Man's predation. The relationship with Man and Animal in Pashu-Puraan is, however, very different.
The author mentions that listening to this lore, he was struck by similarity between Ishvara and Krishna, the Pashupatis, and Christ the Good Shepherd. The book carries a perceptive and evocative foreword by HH Parijnanashram Swamiji. The black and white/ colour sketches are by the author`s wife and family.
The Directory of Musicians and Dancers, features over 400 thumbnail sketches of the careers of musicians and dancers in the community. It has been painstakingly compiled by (the late) Pt. Gourang Kodical, Vidushi Lalit J. Rao, both noted and gifted musicians, and the latter's husband, N. Jayavanth Rao, a commentator and connoisseur of music. The community is indebted to them for creating a database on which the future can build. We convey our appreciation to them, and to the Managing Committee of the KSA for permission to publish the e-version.
Author: Shripad Subrao Talmaki
Originally published in 4 volumes by Brittanic Durbar Printing Works, Bombay/The Popular Book Depot, Bombay, 1935-1951. Later compiled into 1 volume by the Kanara Saraswat Association in 2006, Mumbai.
“Saraswat Families” is the result of a lifetime`s labour of love, created by a simple and dedicated man who made it his life's mission to document the social history of our community and establish genealogical lines of all families who make it up. We are talking about Shripad Subrao Talmaki (1868-1948 CE), a resident of Bombay who accomplished all these tasks without a cellphone, or computer, and obviously without Google; in fact without any modern communication and workaday gadgets that we take for granted today. He toiled on with paper, pen (and his mind, of course!), gathering and analyzing data, and by sheer effort and grit, created methodology in many fields for others to follow.
His patient and purposive planning in the field of Cooperation bore fruit for the community - Cooperative housing, banking, social organizations like the Kanara Saraswat Association - they all laid solid foundations for community wellbeing. The Housing scheme was in fact the first of its kind in India and Asia. The KSA which began as a ”meeting place for no higher purpose than card playing and having social talk over a cup of tea” grew over the years to become an achievement in cooperative endeavour for promoting social, physical, economic and general well being of our community, a tribute to selfless work by Talmaki and his contemporaries, later ably followed up by his successors. He multi tasked in an age when that word was unknown. His leadership inspired many inside, and outside the community, and his work became an exemplar, in an age when national and international communications were slow or absent, and when India's fate was in the hands of colonial masters. This alone could have given him name and fame, but he was not content, and worked virtually till his last day on earth.
We salute this illustrious and unique member of our community, and hope that converting his book to the ebook form will assist future generations of aamchis keep his memory alive in our midst. We thank the governing committee of the KSA, particularly the President, Sh. Raja Pandit, and the Secy., Sh. SS Murdeshwar for their speedy assistance in facilitating our mission.