The harmonious co-existence of various cultures and languages of India is unique to Mumbai, a city that has always attracted migrants from other states for employment potential and business opportunities. The Andhras (Telugu-speaking people) are one such community who have prospered well in their new city of adoption. C.P.Brown describes Telugu as the "Italian of the East". It has been influenced by Sanskrit.
One of the early settlers in Bombay city were the Pravasa Andhras (migrated from the Nizam -Hyderabad state and later on from the coastal districts of the erstwhile Madras presidency), who excelled in the armed forces and building construction. The skills of these contractors and artisans are reflected in the grand edifices of the city like Victoria Terminus Railway station, Municipal Corporation building, Rajabai tower, High Court, Bombay University, J.J. Hospital etc. The Andhras have contributed to the growth of this great metropolis in diverse ways and made this city their home since the 18 th century.
With the advent of composite Textile Mills, expert Andhra weavers and craftsmen became part and parcel of the textile industry. Post Second World War saw many Andhras migrating to Bombay seeking services in private and public sectors and as scientists in renowned scientific institutions like BARC, TIFR, IIT etc. Similarly, in Government departments, Banking institutions and public organisations, they made a mark in administration and in public life, accelerating the growth of a multitude of industries.
Since the local Maharashtrians have similar culture and customs, the Telugu-speaking community could easily integrate with them in a cosmopolitan atmosphere while preserving their own identity in terms of language and culture. Mahasabha has also developed fruitful interaction with them as well as other socio-linguistic groups by maintaining communal harmony and fraternity.
The early days
The nucleus of the present Mahasabha was initially housed in a flat in Parsi Colony and subsequently shifted to another at Dr.Ganti Road in the same vicinity. Staging of Telugu dramas by artistes from local and upcountry and celebrating festivals like Sri Rama Navami were the main activities at that time.
In the formative years, the Telugu-speaking people and Mahasabha assumed the role of spreading awareness for education amongst the illiterate migrant adult workforce. They also set up educational institutions like Andhra Education Society High School besides the other Primary and Secondary Schools for their children to enable them preserve their own identity in language, arts and tradition.
Established in 1928 under the Society's Act 1860, the Bombay Andhra Mahasabha & Gymkhana was evolved by the merger of Andhra Home, Andhra Nilayam (library in Pare) during 1924-25) and Bombay Provincial Andhra Mahasabha (situated in the Capital Cinema building in 1927). One of he major landmarks in the annals of Mahasabha was the aJlocation of a plot of land by the Bombay Municipal Corporation through the efforts of late Shri S.M.Y.Sastry. Today, it stands majestic in its own premises, thanks to the dedicated efforts of many people at various stages of its growth. The visionary elders of the Mahasabha made considerable sacrifices and rendered selfless services forthe growth of what started as a small association into a premier cultural organisation in Mumbai. Gymkhana was appended to the name of the Bombay Andhra Mahasabha after 1948 to encourage sports and the institution was registered as a public trust in 1960 to expand its activities further. It has also been a launching pad for many upcoming artistes and professionals.
New building complex
The foundation for the new building complex was laid by the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Jagadguru Sri Jayendra Saraswati in February 1980 and was inaugurated in February 1989 by Shri Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, former Governor of Maharashtra who also ensconced Ashta Vinayakas in marble, sculpted and donated by Shri G.L.Narayana. It comprises of a multipurpose auditorium-cum-badminton court, basement and mezzanine hall, library and an open-airauditorium and a small temple for Lord Venkateswara. The old wing houses the office, conference hall, gymkhana (now housed in basement), canteen and guestrooms. The latter was inaugurated by Shri Kona Prabhakara Rao, former Governor of Maharashtra in September 1985. All this had taken shape through the funds raised by cultural shows organised by the untiring efforts of many active members and well wishers.
A document of Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association was brought out in June 1992 and subsequent amendments are updated as and when they are resolved. Board of Trustees and Managing Committee manage the r affairs of Mahasabha. Whereas the former (Chairman, Secretary and four Trustees) manages the property belonging to Mahasabha, the latter (President, General Secretary and three Vice-Presidents, three Joint Secretaries, Treasurer and nine Members) is responsible forthe conduct of the day-to-day affairs of Mahasabha in the fulfillment of the objects set out. The General Body is the supreme authority for formulation of policies.
The prime objectives of Mahasabha is to promote culture, literature, artistry and social advancement, symbolising the spirit of the Telugu-speaking people without distinction of language, religion, caste or creed, thereby striving for national integration. Further, as an apex body, to establish close bonds of fraternity with sister associations in and around Mumbai and forge cultural links with Maharashtra and other states. Pursuant to this, Mahasabha has been organising various activities to meet the needs of not only the members but also other communities keeping in view the cosmopolitan nature of this great metropolis. Thus, Mahasabha had in the past organised a full length Marathi play 'Surrogate Mummy' by a Marathi theatre group, a two-day dance feast 'Glimpses of Indian Dances' and 'Samantar' by Aruna Sayeeram and Neela Bhagwat who explored similarities in Carnaticand Hindustani styles through a vocal concert. In yet another event Niranjan Goswamy - a Bengali, and an Andhra - Srinivas, shared a platform presenting pantomime and mimicry besides scintillating performances by mimicry maestros Nerella Venumadhav and Johnny Lever. Shri ManoharJoshi, Minister of Heavy Industries graced an exhibition of handicrafts by Smt.Pasam Kamala Prasad of Hyderabad.
Mahasabha coordinates with Sri Vekateswara Pooja Mandir Trust to perform traditional religious pujas. Ugadi is also celebrated with gaiety.
The cultural wing caters to the tastes of the members as well as the cosmopolitan audience and programs are organised in many of the 64 art-forms mentioned in the Sastras viz. music, dance, drama, folk arts (Harikatha, Burrakatha, Tholu Bommalata) etc. Maestros and leading artistes like Pt.Ravi Shankar, Pt.Bhimsen Joshi, Smt.M.S.Subbalakshmi, M.Balamuralikrishna, Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, Emani Sankara Sastry and his disciple Chitti Babu, U.Srinivas (Mandolin), Sivaprasad (Whistle) et al have delighted the audiences with their dazzling performances. Yella Venkateswara Rao, (mridangam maestro) and his troupe presented a rhythmic extravaganza. Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, Vedantam Satynarayana Sarma, Sachin Shankar, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Raja & Radha Reddy, Shobha Naidu, Sarala Kumari, Meenakshi Seshadri, Hema Malini, etc are just a few of the great dancers who have enthralled our audiences with their recitals. Kishore Kumar, S.P.Balasubramanyam, P.Suseela, Kalyanji Anandji, Louis Banks (Jazz pianist) et al were also featured.
Melattur Bhagavata Mela - a rare presentation of Yakshagana by the traditional Bhagavata Mela troupe from Melattur of Tamil Nadu was also organised. Mahasabha joined hands with sister associations and Nehru Centre to support Shri G.M.Sarma (convenor) in presenting Kuchipudi Mahotsav '93, the first of its kind in Mumbai. A galaxy of maestros and dance exponents from all over the country participated, enchanting the audiences for three days with their performances and lecture demonstrations. Banda Kanakalingeswara Rao, Prayaga Narasimha Sastry, Suribabu and Nataraja Ramakrishna presented their dramas and entertained the audience. Andhra Nataka Rangotsavam was yet another mega event hosted. Mythological and social dramas by local amateur groups and professionals from upcountry and annual playlet competitions were staged.
Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana is celebrated annually to pay obeisance to the poet-saint through music by local artistes, music lovers and students in a divine atmosphere.
Literary and Gymkhana
The literary wing conducts Vignana Peetham, a series of lectures ranging from Fine arts to finance and Medicine to management by eminent personalities who have excelled in various fields, sharing the treasure trove of their expertise and knowledge with the members in an open forum.
Sahitya goshti for lovers of Telugu literature is yet another event conducted regularly featuring personalities like Veturi Anandamurty, Yandamuri Veerendranath etc. Writer's meet had eminent participants like Vasa Prabhavati, Vedula Sakuntala, Turaga Jayasyamala, Potukuchi Sambasiva Rao, K.V.Bhaskara Rao, S.M.Y.Sastry et al. Renowned scholars like C.Narayana Reddy, Mrs.Vasireddy Sitadevi, Yaddanpudi Sulochana Rani, Malati Chandur, have participated in Ishta-goshti. Poetic expositions like Srinatha Vijayam, Indra Sabha and Bhuvana Vijayam, by Prasadaraya Kulapati and K.Sivaiah; Sridevi Vijayam by Srikrishna Bhagwan; Ashtavadhanam by Diwakarla Venkatavadhani, Dwigunitha Ashtavadhanam by Harsha Chakravarty (7 years old) and Janadurga Mallikarjuna Rao (14 years old), Satavadhanam and Chaturgunita Ashtavadhanam by Medasani Mohan were some of other sterling performances.
Mahasabha organised a Praja Vedika meet on "Marriage - Arranged or Love", under the aegis of Shri Gollapudi Maruti Rao in co-operation with Gemini television. Malladi Subbamma, a social activist from Hyderabad shared her views with our members. Pottl Sreeramulu Telugu University conducted a seminar on educational and cultural needs of Andhras in Mumbai.
The monthly Newsletter is a live wire publication that updates members with Mahasabha activities. Mahandhra, a quarterly magazine published earlier, encouraged local writers.
Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Library is a full-fledged library with wide collections of various books besides new additions every year and newspapers, periodicals etc.
The Gymkahana conducts competitions and promotes sports activities like Caroms, Chess, Table tennis, Shuttle badminton etc.
The ladies wing founded in 1937, earlier located in Kuvar Kunj and later shifted to Mahasabha premises, organises activities for women and children besides 'Vivaha vedika' a bureau for prospective brides and grooms for the Andhras in the metropolis. Festivals like Varalakshmi vratam, Dassera and Sankranti are also celebrated in the traditional manner and Pasupu-Kurnkum distributed in the memory of Smt.Boddupalli Kamala and Smt.Jaya Vithal. Indoor and outdoor games, sports, competitions for children in drawing/painting and picnics are conducted every year besides projecting women achievers. Handicraft exhibitions are arranged to present the skills and talents of the members in art, craft and handmade articles.
Youth and young talent
Promotion of youth and young talent is yet another objective of Mahasabha. Top ranking students in X and XII Standards are rewarded. Opportunity is provided to the youngsters to exhibit their acquisitions in fine arts, sports etc and Nalam Sakuntala memorial prizes are awarded to the winners in music and dance.
Honouring the achievers
Mahasabha takes pride in honouring distinguished personalities- for their achievements in their respective fields. Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Vijaya Raghav Rao, Jnanpeeth Awardee C.Narayana Reddy and Dadasaheb Phalke awardees Jairaj and Akkineni Nageswara Rao and industrialists Dr.V.LDutt, Dr.B.Vasudeva Rao and many other eminent persons like D.Rama Naidu, N. Gopi et al were among those felicitated.
Good will and social obligation
All these pursuits have not blinded Mahasabha to its social obligations like providing succor to the unfortunate victims of catastrophes. It has always lent a helping hand to individuals and the nation in the hour of need. Be it cyclones, earthquakes and floods, the members have participated in relief operations and contributed in money and kind besides offering voluntary services.
Mahasabha is committed to shoulder its responsibility to society and discharge the same by holding free medical camps for health check up and immunisation, blood donation drives and Hepatitis-B vaccination. We also help cancer patients by providing them accommodation on concessional basis.
Mahasabha has taken steps to promote healthcare (free classes of yoga), help to the disabled, scholarships for meritorious and poor students for higher education in Medicine, Engineering, Science, Technology etc besides guidance etc.
Membership is open to all citizens of the country above the age of 18 years, who are willing to meet the objectives of the Mahasabha, its constitution and bylaws. It consists of Patron members, Life members and Special members (Honorary, Institutional, Casual, and Youth between 12 to 18 years of age). With the membership gradually increasing every year, Mahasabha beckons patronage of new members. Directory of members is revised periodically.
Upgrading the infrastructure
The selfless efforts of several individuals and donations from innumerable patrons have resulted in the edifice that stands tall in its own premises. To these, Mahasabha is ever grateful.
Mahasabha has completed 70 years of yeomen service for the welfare of Telugu people and other communities. As the organisation is growing, it behoves us to provide adequate amenities to our members. Having provided continuous services to the Telugu community, keeping pace with the socio-economic conditions, it has now become necessary for us to assume additional responsibilities and challenges.
Any non-profit making institution like Mahasabha has to depend on its own financial viability and selfless service. Therefore, the exigency is to enhance the finance base to meet our commitments, add some more facilities and complete projects like constructing a state-of-the-art auditorium. Mahasabha is concerned with these tasks and looks forward to receiving generous support and contributions from the members, philanthropists and well wishers as in the past.
In this endeavour, we are presenting a two-day mega event of dances, drama, mimicry, skits by Telugu cine stars, orchestral music, fashion show, competitions, seminars, etc to cater to all tastes besides free medical camps, food and amusement stalls, shopping mall, etc on 10 m & 11* November 2001 at Mahasabha premises.
Compiled by Dr.Konduri S Murthy
THE DOCTRINE OF SPIRITUALITY
C. Krishna Murty
Spiritual enquiry has been a part of the continuous evolution of man from the infancy of the world. The relationship between Man, the world and the God above has been a constant and contipuous subject matter study. Man started evolving himself from inanimate to animate and inarticulate to articulate. He emerged from primitive life to the civilised life. At every stage of development and throughout the process of development he is conscious of the mysterious supreme power. He recognised Godliness pervading the Universe.
The faith and the mystic word "God" by which it is well known is totally accepted by some and vehemently criticised by others.
Faith is above reason. It will not fit into a frame work of arguments, No explanation can afford to satisfactory answer, as it is a matter of experience. Any number of explanations cannot give an experience.
Mastery of mind is the secret of success. One should understand where this mind is located in the body. There is no particular region of mind in the body. It pervades throughout the body and the sum total of actions and reactions of the mind is relayed through the Brain located in the head region of man.
To control mind is to control the entire human system. The thoughts, the habits, the food initiate a variety of actions into the mind of man.
Man is mind. Mind is thought. Thought is power. Hence thoughts should be controlled. Knowledge is power. God is Chitsakthi. i.e. intelligence and energy. Nature possesses in abundance intelli-gence and energy. Man is a miniature product of intelligence and energy. Man is microcosmic and Nature is Macrocosmic. The Microcosmic (Man) wants to identify with macrocosmic (Nature) and be a repository of intelligence and energy. This is scientific. This technique of acquiring tremen-dous power hidden in man and nature is embedded in spirituality. To unfold this one has to practise a holy way of life and purify his body through regulation of food and hygiene and his habits by rigorous discipline and thirdly his mind with sublime and divine thoughts. This is not easy process. One must act to it then he experiences his difficulty, to observe punctuality of mental repetition of a mantra of his choice or regularity in attending to divine practices.
Firstly, he should remove slowly the bundle of opinions from his mind and fill in its place, strong convictions. He should develop good thinking by transplanting good thoughts by removing hatred, envy, anger, evil, worry, desires and subdue his mind to a peaceful state and harmonious mind is essential for a reformation of a spiritual r rnind. The vibrations produced in a spiritual body trans-forms the molecules in a set pattern and produce tremendous energy. It is like a dry battery which can discharge electricity at any time when is put to use.
Just like the converged sun rays burn an article so also the concentrated thoughts transmits power, and also transmits energy.
Swimming cannot be studied from the books. However much is it explained as one cannot learn it unless practised under the guidance of swimmer. If one is afraid of water and yet wants to be a swimmer he can never imagine to be a swimmer. Likewise, spiritual experience cannot be ex-plained except to be felt by any individual by his own effort, None can swim for others as one has to swim for himself.
Spiritual power is acquired through higher concentration i.e. developments of mental functions to the upper limit.