Monday, October 7, 2019

The Grateful to Gurus Initiative and the unique story of the Chilkuru Balaji ('Visa Balaji')Temple

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

If you are from the telugu states, you would have definitely heard of the “Visa Balaji” temple. The temple is located in a village called Chilkuru, close to Hyderabad. It got the name “Visa Balaji” because of the belief that if you visit this temple then your US Visa dream will be fulfilled!
Yesterday (Sept 29th), I came to know that the chief archaka of this temple, Sri C.S.Rangarajan, not only holds a degree in Bio Medical Engineering (Osmania University, 1988), but also has several Biomedical engineering patents to his name! Following an inward calling, Sri Rangarajan quit a very lucrative job and became a full-time archaka at his ancestral temple at the young age of 35 years, to serve the temple and its devotees!
Devotees visiting the temple would have observed that there is no Hundi in this temple; and that there are no special lines, pujas, and privileges for VIPs. However, devotees would have definitely not known that Sri C.S.Rangarajan and his family won a 20 year long legal battle with the government, to stop it from taking control of the temple.
Yesterday, we also came to know that in 2018 Sri Rangarajan re-enacted the 2700 year-old ritual of 'muni vaahana seva', wherein he carried a 25 year old Dalit devotee on his shoulders into the temple premises to commemorate Bhagwad Ramanujacharya's 1000th Birth Anniversary! It took me a while to digest this wealth of information! All along we only heard about the “Visa Balaji” temple but never knew about how multi-faceted the chief archaka of this temple is.
Yesterday, my learning didn’t stop at knowing about Sri Rangarajan only. At the #Grateful2Guru program, I had the wonderful opportunity to know about 24 such gurus who have displayed unparalleled commitment to their dharma and to the society. #Grateful2Guru is yet another innovative concept developed by the Indic Academy, through which, this year they have honoured 108 outstanding gurus across India. Yesterday’s event at Hyderabad honoured 24 such gurus.
We also learnt about Dr. Korada Subramanyam who has 8 M.Phils and 1 Ph.D to his credit, across subjects that spread from Paniniyan Grammar to Occidental theories of languages to Vedangas! We learnt about that in addition to the lifelong dedication to music, Sri Mohan Hemmadi had also conducted various programs to raise funds for Indian Army during the 1962 war. We learnt about how Sri Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma continues to conduct free Learn Sanskrit in 10 days classes, whilst being an extraordinary achiever in Sanskrit Astavadhanams and Satavadhanams. We learnt about Dr. Deekonda Narsing Rao who has so far hosted more than 600 videos on Youtube on Sanskrit learning.
We learnt about how former DGP of AP, Sri Arvind Rao, post retirement, went on to learn, write and become a valued teacher of Vedic and Sanskrit studies. We learnt about how Dr. K. Seshu Lata Vishwanath went about travelling to every nook and corner of the telugu states to render and popularize the composition of her guru Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy. We learnt about Dr. P Geervani who is an eminent researcher in Food Science and Tehcnology. We learnt about Sri K.V.Ramakrishnamacharyulu who is a pioneer in computational linguistics.
And of course we learnt about many other gurus who have spent their entire lifetime towards various dharmic fields (some of them even retired as principals of colleges and vidya peeths). With due respect to all of them (am appending the entire list of those who were honoured, to this article), my intention of mentioning a few was only to highlight the variety of topics in which various gurus have contributed immensely.
Amidst all this, there is one thing that has left a lasting impression on my mind. And that was the child-like enthusiasm of many of the gurus while the citations for the other gurus were being read out. These gurus, accomplished beyond belief, were very expressive in their appreciation of their fellow accomplishers. It was really a sight to watch them being unabashed in their admiration, even intercepting the citations. It is perhaps because of this humbleness that they have reached where they have.
This program was presided by Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji who very aptly described that many gurus are unsung heroes because a diamond never has to market itself. Just like a diamond brings value to those who adorn it, these gurus have bought value to out lives through their lifelong commitment to their passion. There was no one in the audience who could have disagreed with this.
No mention of this program is complete without referring to the short yet powerful speech by the founder of Indic Academy, Shri Harikiran Vadlamani. His awesome outlining of the vision of Indic Academy was referred to by both Sri Aravinda Rao garu and Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji too.
What these gurus have accomplished in such trying and difficult conditions is very difficult to fathom. To many of us in the audience, this was indeed one of a kind of felicitation program that has enriched our knowledge. It was indeed inspiring to witness so many gurus who have spent a lifetime on a cause and the subject they dearly believe in, often facing hardships all along their path.  #Grateful2Gurus is indeed a pioneering initiative that will bring into limelight many more gurus in the coming years.
The list of gurus we were grateful to are as follows:
  1. Sri Bhagavathula Anjaneya Sarma
  2. Sri Burugadda Narasimhacharyulu
  3. Sri C. S. Rangarajan
  4. Sri Chalamacherla Venkata Seshacharyulu
  5. Brahmasri Chirravuri Sreerama Sarma
  6. Dr. D. Narasing Rao
  7. Sri Daruri Raghavachary
  8. Brahmasri Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma
  9. Dr. K. Aravinda Rao
  10. Smt. Dr. K. Seshu Latha Viswanath
  11. Sri K. V. Krishnamurthy
  12. Sri Kandadai Ramanujacharyulu
  13. Sriman Kandala Venkata Ramakrishnamacharyulu
  14. Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam
  15. Dr. Medasani Mohan
  16. Sri Mohan G. Hemmadi
  17. Dr. N. C. Tiruvengalacharuyulu
  18. Sri Narendra Kapre
  19. Dr. P. Geervani
  20. Brahmasri Pasumarthy Ramalinga Sastry
  21. Dr. Sahadeva Dasa
  22. Dr. Sripada Subrahmanyam
  23. Dr. Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary
  24. Brahmasri Viswanatha Gopalakrishna Sastry


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