[GHHF] Bala Samskar Kendras – Remembered the life and achievements of a great Social Reformer, Sri Kandukuri Veeresalingam

18 Apr 2023 803 Views

Nancy Wilson Ross (1901 -1986)
"Hinduism – not only in philosophy and literature but also in art – has the capacity for immense conceptions, profound an subtle apprehensions, that can entice the imagination and stun the mind with their depth, range and boldness. The many masks of the many gods, their various appearances and incarnations, have been employed to suggest the infinitely possible variations of one supreme essence.” 
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation is very happy to inform you that we have started Bala Samskar Kendras (Schools for children and youth) to enrich them with the greatness of Hindu Dharma and appreciate the sacrifices many leaders have done to protect Bharat. There are many kings who have achieved new heights in their skills, talents, and strength. Unfortunately, Bharath denies its history to its own children and glorified the most undeserving rulers. The government has corrupted the minds of young students since Independence from 1947. It is our effort to teach them the greatness of our scriptures, enrich their minds with timeless wisdom, create a sense of pride through time-tested moral and ethical compass, and make them proud of the science behind all our customs and traditions.
Bala Samskar Kendras started in 2021 and now we have about 200 Bala Samskar Kendras in five States in India and four in Bangladesh. They are very active and large number of children are attending and many parents are impressed with their own children and how much they are learning and how they changed behaviorally. Students were taught to chant Hanuman Chalisa. 
Kandukuri Veertesalingam Pantulu
Social Reform India, Widow remarriage, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Women Education India, History Andhra Pradesh,
Kandukuri Veeresalingam was the ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy’ of Andhra Pradesh. He was a social reformer, activist, writer, “the quintessential Renaissance man”. “For all the efforts made in bringing our social reformism, he was popularly known as "Gadya Tikkana" by his well-wishers and followers.”
He had many firsts to his credit. “The first person to conduct a widow remarriage in Andhra Pradesh, the first to start a co-educational school here. And as a writer, the first Telugu novelist, the first autobiography in Telugu, the first to write a history on Telugu poets and the first Telugu writer to translate scientific books”.
Early life of Kandukuri Veeresalingam
This legendary scholar was born on April 16, 1848 in an orthodox Brahmin family in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. Unfortunately, his father, Subbarayudu passed away when he was just four years old; therefore he was brought up by his paternal uncle, Venkataratnam.
In spite of poverty and many hardships, Veeresalingam’s mother managed to send him to a government district school where his exceptional aptitude and gentle behaviour were first noticed. He was awarded the title of the best student in the school.
“At the age of 5 he joined a local school, where he soon learnt the Bala Ramayana, Sumathi Satakam, Krishna Satakam in due course of time. A brilliant student, he joined the Government High School in Rajahmundry, in English medium, when he was 12, and that is where he studied English literature, as well as the works of Keshav Chandra Sen, that influenced him tremendously.”
He tried for a Government job, but when the officers said that he needed to bribe if he wanted one, he refused to take it up.” Finally after finishing his matriculation in 1869, he joined as a teacher in Korangi village. He taught for two years, was a brilliant teacher and “then moved to Dhavaleswaram near Rajahmundry, as the headmaster of an English medium school.” Lastly, he also tried to awaken them on the social evils in Telugu society.
Social Activism
 Veeresalingam soon opened a girl’s school at Dhavaleswaram as he genuinely felt the need for encouraging women’s education. Next was a widow’s home. He started the first theist high school, the Hithakarini School at Rajahmundry in 1908. In the same he donated his wealth and property to Rajahmundry Widow’s home and school.
Since Pantulu’s main focus was social reform so after quitting his job in 1876 he started a monthly magazine in Telegu called Vivekavardhini.
As soon as it gained popularity, Kandukuri Veeresalingam established a printing press at Rajahmundry itself. Through the publication, Veeresalingam raised voice against bribery, superstitious beliefs and child marriage which were prevalent in society then. The magazine also included several articles on empowering women. Apart from women related issues, he fearlessly exposed rampant corruption amongst government officials.
Another magazine called "Satihitabobhini" was launched which mainly wrote about the condition of women in Indian society.
Veeresalingam focused on bringing about positive changes in Telugu society.
Campaign for widow remarriage and girl’s education
In 1878, the ‘Rajahmundry Social Reform Association’ was founded that emphasized on widow remarriage. 
In his seminars, he used verses (shlokas) from ancient scriptures to convince people that re-marriage of widows was not forbidden by Hindu dharma. “Veeresalingam, spoke of the importance accorded to women’s education in Ancient and Medieval India, citing the examples of Raja Bhoja and Sri Krishna Deva Raya, whose courts had many prominent women poets and scholars. He claimed that India declined only when it began to treat the women like slaves, and did not educate them.”
Veeresalingam’s reformist activities were appreciated far and wide. The British government recognised his achievements by conferring the title of "Rao Bahadur" in 1893.
He created a sensation throughout Andhra by advocating remarriage of young widows through his writings and speeches. He spoke against child marriage, evils of caste and devdasi system.
Being a very courageous social reformer, Veeresalingam Pantulu never succumbed to the pressures from society. He gave a further push to the movement against the prevailing social evils through his writings and speeches. He worked persistently towards uplifting the status of the women.
Veeresalingam Pantulu lived his whole life with determination to eradicate social injustice against women; he truly made an ever-lasting impact on Telugu society. In a sense, Veeresalingam laid the foundation of modern Andhra society with the remarkable reforms he brought in the late 18th and early19th century India.
On May 27, 1919 Kandukuri Veerasalingam left the world, physically, but his legacy would live on forever.  The tribute by Arudra, the famous Telegu writer reads,
"For a man who was physically weak, Pantulu garu had an iron will and determination who strengthened the nation as well as Telugu language. No title is appropriate for such a luminous personality, he is the Brahma of Modern Andhra- Arudra, famous writer.” (Source: eSamskriti.com)
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