Tag Archives: Social work

Through character building, ordinary people can reach extra-ordinary height

Through character building, ordinary people can reach extra-ordinary height: Shridhar Sagar


Shridhar Sagar (or Shridhar anna as he is lovingly called), is the director of Hindu Seva Pratishthana. After his education, he worked as a Manager in a Bank for 2 years before he decided to dedicate his life for social service. He joined the Rashtriya Seva Bharati, a Social Service Organisation, as a coordinator and helped organize community activities and train volunteers. He worked in many service organisations in different capacities throughout Karnataka. In the year 1989, he joined Hindu Seva Pratishthana and started working as a coordinator. Since then he has been very active and has overseen the birth and the growth of many projects. He became the Managing Trustee and the Director of Hindu Seva Pratishthana in 1997. In this interview Shridhar Sagar talks of the concept of Seva, about the different projects of HSP and how HSP is helping people internalize the value of Seva. Excerpts from the interview.

What is the main objective of Hindu Seva Pratishthana?
HSP’s main objective has been to bring a positive change in the society through community development. We believe in character building and in making men and women who can contribute to the community. We believe that through character building, ordinary people can reach extra-ordinary heights. Through our various programs, we have been able to involve a large number of young people into community development.
What is the philosophy of Hindu Seva Pratishthana?
Hindu Seva Pratishthana believes in ‘Seva Dharma’. Seva, we believe, is one’s Dharma (one’s duty). It should not be done for name or fame or for any other returns. It has to be selfless. But more importantly Seva should restore the dignity and self-respect of its beneficiary. The compassion that accompanies our ‘Seva’ should be capable of transforming a person from a receiver of ‘Seva’ to a giver of ‘Seva’. It is also important that through our Seva we create a strong and a harmonious society.
What do you think of today’s youth? Are they socially responsible? Are they receptive to the ideas of Seva?
There is currently a very strong notion that today’s youth are careless or are not responsible. My experience with young people helps me refute this. Today’s youth are very much receptive to the ideas of Seva and community development. For example look at the Sevavrathi program of the Pratishthana. Every year we invite young people who have passed a minimum of tenth standard to come forward as volunteers. These people have to stay away from their homes in different service project locations sacrificing many of their material comforts for a period of three years. HSP has been successful in attracting and training as many as 4123 Sevavrathis in the past 31 years. Out of which notably 3681 are women. These volunteers have worked on rendering yeomen service in service projects in various states including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.  This Sevavrathi program is an example of what today’s youth are capable of achieving.
Give us a brief introduction to the projects run by the HSP.
Hindu Seva Pratisthana has been serving the needy, the under-privileged and the marginalized people, irrespective of their class, caste, creed and religion. It is trying to instill the values of seva in the society and helping thousands of people internalize Seva as part of their daily lives. Currently, HSP is mainly focusing on ten projects.

Aruna Chetana: Aruna Chetana is a school for differently-abled and special needs children.  This year, Aruna Chetana completes 24 years of its existence. The school aims to cater to the physical, psychological, educational and health needs of the children. Aruna Chetana has received an award from Women and Child Welfare Department, Govt of Karnataka, for being the best school for special needs children.
Nele: It is a project that has a number of shelter homes for street children, rag pickers and destitute children. We started this project in the year 2000 with one center and 15 children. Today, Nele has 283 children in 10 centers in Bengaluru, Shimoga, Mysore, Tumkur and Bagalkote.
Prasanna Counseling Center: We have been running a counseling center where hundreds of people avail psychiatric counseling free of cost every month. Reputed psychiatrists, doctors and specialists from centers such as the NIMHANS and Victoria Hospitals volunteer here every week. Trainings are also conducted for volunteers who wish to become counselors themselves.
Child Guidance Center: We also conduct free counseling for children who require psychiatric counseling.
Seva Kirana: Under this project, we have a number of non-formal schools for the children of slum dwellers across Bangalore. The project apart from providing education to these children also focuses on the holistic development of these children through cultural activities and sports.
Vidya Nidhi: Through this project we offer scholarships to poor students to enable them complete their education.
Samagra Shishu Shikshana: This project works towards providing comprehensive education to the children, mostly at the primary levels of schooling. The aim of this project is to help and guide the children in all their educational needs. Over a thousand children are being benefited through this project.
Youth for Seva: It is a platform that engages the youth mostly college students and young professionals into different community development activities. Thousands of young people have been connected to different service projects through this initiative.
Nele Swavalambana: Through this project, tailoring and other employment oriented training is provided to women and youth from the economically weaker sections of the society so that they can become self-reliant.
Yoga Bharati: HSP has trained more than a thousand people all over Karnataka in the ancient practice of Yoga through special yoga camps and workshops based on the traditional Patanjali School of yoga.

Any new projects of particular focus that are coming up?
HSP believes in investing in change-makers rather than in the change itself. We believe in creating dedicated volunteers and social entrepreneurs who can work on different existing projects and also start new projects of their own. Training of volunteers is also essential for the continuity, improvement and the growth of the social endeavor. We are planning a center at Yelhanka in North Bengaluru that has the infrastructure for training volunteers and social workers on a continuous basis. The permanent facility with all the modern amenities dedicated solely for volunteer training will help run the training programs on the sustained basis and with improvised methods. The proposed center shall be able to run training programs for over three hundred people and cater to 12 different types of trainings at a time, both occasional and continually run programs.
Our focus will be on inspiring new people to volunteer and on creating dedicated social workers.

Source: http://hinduseva.org/uncategorized/interview-with-shridhar-sagar/

Balasaheb Deorasji’s Biography in Telugu – A Festive Occasion

Balasahebji’s life history in Telugu – A Festive Occasion

By Dr. Vaddi Vijayasaradhi

Swargiya Balasahebji Deoras is a well known figure who was admired and respected by the svayamsevaks, the general public and admirers in Andhra Pradesh. Balasahebji made annual visits to Andhra Pradesh from the time he took over as Sarsanghchalak in 1973 till he left his body, except in 1976 during which he and other patriots were put behind bars when emergency was declared.

His mere presence was memorable experience for all the participating karyakartas, whether it was a training programme for new entrants or Shibiram for all ages and holding various responsibilities or public functions attended by normal public or while touring during natural calamities to give courage to the people or any other special occasion.

This writer has seen Balasahebji Deoras in 1973. Due to the indisposition of the then Sarsanghachalak Pujya Guruji, it was decided by the senior karyakartas to send the then Saha-Sarkaryavaha, Balasahebji to attend the Sikshavargas to be held in April, May and June of that year. Accordingly, in 1973 Balasahebji had come for the Sangha sikshavarga held at Ghatakesar near Hyderabad. Usually when any national level (Akhila Bharata sthayi) leader comes, his message would be in the form of a speech (bouddhik). However, he said that he would like to clarify the doubts of the participants. While this announcement itself was surprising, he very patiently had answered all the questions posed by the participants, how so ever irrelevant they could be. He was supposed to stay for three days but due to the demise of Pujya Guruji, he had to leave for Nagpur on the second day itself.

After taking over as Sarsanghachalak, he visited Hyderabad and Vijayawada. The next year he visited Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. After taking over as Sarsanghachalak, he presided over a public meeting held at Visakha Municipal Stadium organised by Sri. G.S.K. Arya who was the Visakha Vibhag Sanghachalak and the main pillar of the relief work after the cyclone. Balasahebji attended the Sangha sikshavargas held at Bhagyanagar in 1974 and 1975.

Soon after the conclusion of the 1975 sikshavarga, emergency was declared and within the next few days ban was imposed on Sangha. For about 18 months, Balasahebji was kept in the Yerwada jail near Pune as a MISA detenue.

After the ban was removed, as a part of his nation-wide tour Balasahebji visited Hyderabad. He was taken from Begumpet airport to the Sangha Karyalaya in Barkatpura in a grand procession (shobha yatra) which is uncomparable. It looked as if the entire city had assembled to welcome him. He was welcomed by important personalities. Everyone was overwhelmed with joy on seeing that view. A public meeting was held at Ghoshamahal Stadium in the evening. There was not much time for conducting Sangha Shiksha Varga in 1977. However, Balasahebji toured all over the country with a view to improve the Shakhas. He happened to visit Andhra Pradesh in December during that year. On November 19, Diviseema in Krishna District and nearby places were hit by a devastating cyclone causing immense loss – personnel, livestock and property. There was an eerie silence all around. Thousands died and remaining were searching for shelter at which time the svayamsevaks had come forward and started relief work.

Most difficult part was removing the dead bodies. None came forward but the swayamsevaks did the job. Under the leadership of Sri Sreedhar , groups were formed to remove the dead bodies and cremate them. Sri Divi Dwarakacharya, Sri Bandaru Dattatreya, Sri Vedantam Sangameshwara Shastri, Sri Kallepu Vidyasagar Rao and others came to Diviseema from their place of work. Hundreds and thousands of svayamsevaks had come from the four corners of the country to participate in the relief work. With great planning they made available the necessities to the affected people and won laurels from all. Seeing the service of swayamsevaks, Sri Prabhakar, a Sarvodaya leader, praised RSS, saying “RSS means Ready for Selfless Service”.

Balasahebji came to Vijayawada after shortening his tour in the Karnataka area. He travelled by road to Diviseema. He visited the most affected villages such as Mandapaka. He consoled the people who were taking shelter in a Junior College at Avanigadda. In the evening he attended a meeting presided over by Sri Mandali Venkata Krishna Rao at Gandhikshetram. He handed over some items so as to enable the affected people restart their lives. He also handed over Rs.50,000/- to the Cyclone Relief Committee stating that when he was leaving Bangalore, the Swayamsevaks of Bangalore, having known that he was going to visit the cyclone affected areas, had collected 50,000/- rupees and handed over to him. That was an indication that help is going to pour from all over the country and extensive relief work & rehabilitation can be taken up.

Subsequently, relief and rehabilitation took place on a warfooting. Cottages were built. In Parrachivara village and Moolapalem, pucca houses were proposed to be built. The village now known as Deendayalpuram was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister Marri Chenna Reddy and Sri Atal Bihari Vajapeyi, the then External Affairs Minister handed over the houses to the villagers. His message was “Nature will not be under our control. Sometimes nature shows its anger causing destruction. We cannot stop it. But by our constructive work we can over come the destruction” and he praised the work of the swayamsevaks.

Many rivers were in spate due to the cyclone in 1977. Many streets in Anakapelli were submerged due to the over floods in river Sarada in Visakha district. Hundreds of houses were damaged. Sriramnagar was born at such a place due to the work of swayamsevaks. This was inaugurated by Balasahebji Deoras himself. State Minister Padmanabha Raju was the Chief Guest. Not only people from many villagers of Visakha district but also the tribals of Paderu district also participated in the meeting and enjoyed.

During that time the words uttered by Balasahebji are unforgetable – When the society faces troubles, it is natural that swayamsevaks would respond. Outsiders may be surprised at the immediate response being shown by the swayamsevaks but not the swayamsevaks. If any swayamsevak does not respond to any loss caused by any danger, then it is surprising. Some people will be asking as to how such a training is given. There is no special training for this. Attending daily Sakha inculcates qualities such as , listening to each other and helping each other and because of this they are able to serve the society better.

After the emergency was lifted, Balasahebji used to share his jail experiences. Some of the opposition leaders who were jailed along with him used to question as to how the svayamsevaks are able to move together without any arguments, fights, difference, etc.. He explained to them that the feeling of ‘thy need is greater’ is inculcated through attending Shibiras. Hence, in jail life also svayamsevaks are able to face the difficulties.

As part of his annual tour he participated in several programmes held at the main kendras of Nellore, Thirupathi, Proddutoor, Ananthapuram, Kurnool, Palamur, Karimnagar, Nizambad, Warangal, Khammam, Bhuvanagiri. Once while travelling from Visakhapatnam to Kirandole, he got down at Araku Station to enable the Vanavasi karyakartas from Paderu, Araku and Hukumpet mandals meet him.

Two tours undertaken by him, after being affected by paralysis and ill-health are memorable. The ban imposed after Ramajanmabhumi was lifted in 1993. There was a bomb blast by jihadis at the Madras Karyalaya. The front room of the Karyalaya was damaged. Eleven persons including the residents of karyalaya and visitors had died in the blast. Whole country was stunned. Sri Srikanth Joshi who was was his sahayak says that, The moment this was heard by Balasahebji he wanted to visit Chennai and console the surviving members. However, due to his health condition, Doctors did not agree to move him. Balasahebji was mentioning to everyone who came to visit him and feeling bad for his helplessness. Every time he was seeing me (his sahayak, Srikanth Joshi,) he was telling him that he wanted to go to Chennai.

After a few days, the doctors had permitted him to go to Chennai on the condition that he should go to Hyderabad from Nagpur and take 2 days rest and then if he does not have any problem he should fly to Chennai. Accordingly, after taking 2 days rest at Hyderabad he flew to Chennai. He was taken on a wheel chair.

Balasahebji in wheelchair

Just before landing at Chennai one of the Airhostesses spoke to him. For anyone, iIt looked as if he was going for a special treatment . She asked him as to which hospital he was going to. He said “I am not going to any hospital for treatment. I am coming from Nagpur to visit and console the relatives of the people who died in the recent bomb blast”.

She was surprised at that. She apprised his health condition and age. He cannot walk, his right side is paralysed. His age must be around 80 years. There was a tube attached for passing urine and a urine bag was hanging by his side. In that state, such a long journey?

The aircraft landed in the Airport. she bought a wheel chair. She and Srikanth Joshiji together could put him in the wheel chair with great difficulty. A car was stationed at the end of the airport to pick up them up. She took the wheel chair up the car and helped him to sit in the car. She touched his feet after he sat in the car. She said, “Your are really a Mahatma. At this age, in this condition and with all the troubles you have come to share the grief of the people. I have never seen such a person in my life. Really you are a Mahatma.” . and turned back. The car went into Chennai.

It was about 10.30 in the morning by the time we reached our place of stay. Balasahebji pressurised me to take him to the Karyalaya. He was informed that at 4 pm the family members of all the people who died in the blast have been informed to assemble at that time and Balasahebji could meet all of them at that time. He calmed down after that.

Doctors had examined him and were worried. His blood pressure was 180/110. He was given tablets to reduce the BP. Doctors were wondering as to how to take him to the Karyalam. By afterooon his BP had risen to 220/120. Doctors expressed fear that if this condition remains, he may have a heart attack or could be paralysed once again.

Balasahebji was questioning the delay. He was asking as to why they were not leaving. Then Sri Srikanth Joshi informed the doctors that they have to go to the Karyalam and there is no escape from it. In case his health deteriorates, they should be ready with emergency services and oxygen. If he remains here, his BP will further raise. Doctors had to agree. We took him to karyalam leaving everything to God.

Seated in the wheel chair Balasahebji approached the photographs of the martyred svayamsevaks. He offered floral tributes to each one. He put tilak and lit the lamps. He offered dhupam. He was shaking with grief. He looked around the damaged karyalam with tears flowing from his eyes. Nearly 200 svayamsevaks and families were seated in the shamiana, among them were relatives of the martyrs such as mother, sister, brother, father , etc.

They were introduced to Balasahebji. Balasahebji spoke for some time with great difficulty. “I have come to meet you. In fact I should have come earlier. How can I console you ? How can I reduce your grief? I am the Sarsanghachalak, head of the institution. I should have come first. I should have come and consoled you first. But doctors did not allow me to come. I have come as soon as they have allowed me to travel. Please pardon me. This kind of murder of svayamsevaks causes a lot of grief. It is impossible to fill the gap. I have come to meet you. My health condition is not good. Still it is my duty to meet you. I also share your personal grief. I can understand your grief.”All the family members of the martyrs were moved by this and some of them spoke “By your coming our grief has reduced. Even in this condition, you have come this far just to share our grief. This is what we want. You are really like God. You are really a Mahatma.”

Babasaheb was not allowed to talk much. His speech in Hindi was translated in Tamil. After the Prarthana, he was taken back for rest. Doctors heaved a sigh of relief and checked his BP. It was 120/80 just normal.” That is the life of Balasahebji.

Since he was unable to undertake tours, due to ill health in 1994, Rajju Bhayya was handed over the responsibility of Sarsanghachalak. Now there were no responsibilities on him. In that condition, he once came to Bhagyanagar. He travelled to the ancestral village of Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of the Sangha, Kandukurthi in Nizamabad district. By then, the temple of Keshavaswamy was under construction due to the initiative and plans of Sri Moropanth Pingle and others. Sevabharathi was promoting education scheme through Keshava Vidyalayam. Doctorji’s statute was placed in the Vidyalaya. It was one of his wishes to visit the village and see the memorials. After getting relieved from his responsibilities, he had fulfilled his desire. “Better late than never” and “we have to be wiser at least after the event” are the two sentences which were frequently used by him.

His speech was incoherent at that time. His message was read out by Srikanth Joshiji. He explained about historical and mytholigical importance of Kandukurti village – being the southern triveni sangam a confluence of Godavari, Manjeera and Haridra rivers. Vinatha, one of the wives of Kashyapa Prajapathi loses a bet and becomes a slave to Kadruva, another wife of the Prajapathi. Vainatheya (Garutmantha) brings amrutha from heaven and gives to his step mother at this very place and frees his mother from the slavery. Balasahebji said that this mytholigical story has caused people like Lokamanya Tilak to participate in the freedom movement. He also explained about the new direction Doctorji had given to the country.

During one of his visits to Vijayawada, Balasahebji said that his ancesestors were from Vijayawada. They had migrated to Nagpur and settled down there. Their surname was Devaraju which has become Deoras over a time (Some people having the surname ‘Deorasu’ are living in Bandar).

This writer had the privilege to translate some of the bouddhiks of Balasahebji Deoras. The importance of his speech was that we will not feel that he was talking on a very heavy topic. We feel that he was still speaking the foreword and would be listening very attentively. It would be for an hour or hour and a half. We would return home thinking about the content.

All political parties of this country talk about democracy, secularism and socialism being their main adarsh. These adarshas will remain so long as the Hindus are strong majority in the country. Places where Hindus have become minority have been torn from the country. No democracy, secularism or socialism can be seen there. Hence, everyone has to recognise the need to keep this country as a Hindu desha – Balasahebji reinterated this time and again. Can anybody having historical knowledge deny this?

Such a great personality, whose life we saw with our own eyes – He was Sangha and Sangha was him – that is the way he lived – His life history being released in Telugu is a festive occasion for all of us.

Source in Telugu : Jagruti. Translated into English by Smt.Sarojini Rao