BIOGRAPHY OF LATE. ‘ACHARYA’ CHANDA KANTHAIAH SHRESTI
The founder of the A.V.V. Institutions , Late. Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti, a great Philonthrapist, a Social reformer, a legendary, a selfless human being and a gentleman of varied talents, was born on 28-11-1904, according to Telugu Calender, Karthika Bahula Shasti, to the holy couple of Sri. Chanda Rathnaiah and Smt. Jaggamma. Though he had no formal education he was a fluent speaker in Urdu and Sanskrit languages in addition to Telugu which is his mother tongue. He had to undertake various petty jobs in his adolescent age to eke out his lively hood as he was not born with silver spoon. He struggled a lot for overcoming many hurdles which came across in his life. He started his career as a humble business man and within a short period he blossomed to a successful businessman by imbibing the techniques and tactics of the business.
After withstanding in his business, he got married to Smt. Rohini, daughter of Sri. Nagaiah. Their life flourished day by day after their marriage and reached the great heights emerging as one of the big business tycoons in Warangal town. But, for a long period they did not have children and adopted his co-son-in-law’s daughter and performed her marriage grandiosely. After sometime , they were blessed with two sons, Late Vidyanath and Dr. Vijay kumar and two daughters late. Omkareswari and Smt. Vasundhara. He accumulated lot of wealth by putting rigorous efforts in his business but he was not at all inclined to enjoy a luxurious life. He was always thinking to utilise his hard earned money for the benefit of the society around him. He endowed huge amount for the philanthropic and spiritual activities. He was dynamic and valorous in donating for the betterment and uplift of downtrodden.
In those days, the entire Telangana region was under the autocratic rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad. The people of the region were deprived of their language, culture, education and heritage of their own motherland. The education was not accessible to the common man. Even few educational institutions were located in Hyderabad ,Urdu was only the medium of instruction from the elementary school to the university level. The people were not even allowed to speak Telugu freely and were subjected to humiliation if anyone speaks Telugu.
Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti could not tolerate the heinous condition of the people and plunged with strong determination for renaissance of the language of his motherland to provide the opportunity to the deprived to learn through their mother tongue, Telugu. The establishment of Andhra Vidyabhi Vardhani High School was the outcome of his relentless efforts for providing facility to learn education through Telugu medium. In association with the prominent persons belonging to the town, such as, Vaddiraju Rajeswar Rao, Madiraju Ramkoteswar Rao, Kaloji Rameswar Rao, Tandra Venkata Ramnarasaiah and Kaloji Narayana Rao , Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti established the A.V.V. High School in 1944 in the Warangal town with Telugu as the medium of instruction which is the first and foremost educational institution established with a sole motive of imparting education through Telugu medium in Telangana region even when the Nizam government was reluctant to grant permission. He contributed Rs. 72,000 for the establishment of the School besides bequeathing his share 0-8-3 worth Rs. 3,00,000 in Rice Mill in favour of Andhra Vidyabhi Vardhani Sangham for the management of School. The School was inaugurated on 29th November, 1945.
He also undertook several philanthropic activities notable among them are the construction of four rooms for a Sanskrit School in Warangal and also got constructed two general wards and quarters for doctors and nurses for a government hospital in Warangal town which is named as “Chanda Kanthaiah Memorial Government Maternity Hospital” after his demise in 1969 as recognition and appreciation for the selfless service rendered by him. A land admeasuring 5 acres in the heart of Warangal city was also donated by him for Mahathma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital which is the biggest government hospital in Telangana region where patients from every nook and corner of Telangana region are admitted for treatment. He granted donation in cash to the Banaras Hindu University. He also provided all facilities for the establishment of Kakatiya Nature Cure Hospital near Warangal Fort. A big library was arranged in the School premises to enable every student to read text books and other books with his own expenditure. Further he also contributed himself and mopped up resources from other philanthropists and munificent public and constructed a building for Sri Vasavi Grandhalayam and a hostel for poor vysya students in Warangal .He donated a gold necklace embodied with agates to Rajabahaddur Venkatram Reddy Women’s College, Hyderabad and presented gold ornaments to Andhra Yuvathi Mandali, Hyderabad in 1954.
The flavour and fragrance of noble and generous qualities of Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti was spread over all the corners of Hyderabad state enlightening the Nizam government to bestow on him the award “Moon of Nizam” and “Darje Awwal” in acknowledgement of his noble and generous personality. The people of Warangal town gave him warm reception and took him in mammoth procession for being honoured by the Nizam.
He had not confined for social service but also tightened his belt for bringing reforms in the society by evicting the certain old traditional practices being observed in social functions ,such as, observation of certain formalities in marriages and other functions incurring huge expenditure as an indication of prestige and dowry system etc.
Chanda Kanthaiah as a true humanist had firm belief in the theory that “ God is omnipresent and indwells in every human being, the service to human is service to god.” It was practically implemented by several charitable activities for the mass of poor and socially and economically oppressed . He helped so many poor families in performing marriage of their daughters by presenting clothes and also Mangala sutras made of gold. He also performed funerals for nearly 110 people who died without successors. A reservoir in Polasa village of Kareemnagar district was got repaired in 1946 which brought 300 acres of land into cultivation.
Chanda Kanthaiah was also an ardent patriot which is manifested by the donation of all the gold ornaments adorned by his wife, the pious lady, smt. Rohinamma for freedom fighting when Mahathma Gandhi attended the public meeting at Warangal.
Chanda Kanthaiah was a staunch devotee and a spiritual minded gentleman who organised several devotional and spiritual programmes. Spiritual discourses were arranged with the eminent philosophers and erudite Vedic Scholars in the School premises for months together. He performed Sacred Yagnaas and yaagaas in Yellandu and Dharmapuri and distinguished Vedic Scholars were magnificently honoured. He went Badari on a pilgrimage along with his friends and relatives by hiring three compartments in train at his own cost and got the blessings of Buch Maharaj. In obedience to his instruction, Chanda Kanthaiah gave donation for construction of a house for Badarikasram. 108 couples were worshipped and silver made cows were donated. A Sanskrit conference was also organised there. He was an obedient disciple of Sri Sri Sri Srimannarayana Tridandi. A Debate on Vedic Philosophy and Rudrayaga were performed with the elite and proficient persons of Vedic Philosophy belonging to Manthini and they were splendidly felicitated.
In 1944, Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti was gloriously felicitated with the title “SANATHANA DHARMABHIMANI” and “THYAGASHEELA” in the “VIDWAD PARISHAD SABHA” held in Varanasi. In 1946, he was awarded with the title “ABHINAVA RAGHU” by the Gokarna Shankara Pheetadhipathi in the “PANDITHA PARISHAT SABHA” held in Alahabad. In 1953, Aryavysya Association president Sri B. N. Gupta, greatly felicitated Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti with the award of the title “ACHARYA” in Mahabubabad.
In 1955, he renounced his business and dedicated himself to the devotional and spiritual life. He was deeply influenced by the spiritual discourses of Kalyan Sevak Maharaj. He constructed a Gyanamandiram in Siddeswara temple and a building for Radha Swamy Sathsang. He followed the devotional and spiritual discourses of Pandit Fakir Chand Maharaj of Hoshiyarpur of Punjab.
Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti created a legend in rendering multifarious service to the mankind. A rarest in rare cases, such a unique and virtuous personality as of Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti, are found. The property and wealth which is earned and accumulated by investing his own wisdom, intellect and talent was not preserved for his sons or daughters but bestowed absolutely for the benefit of the society, a magnanimous act of Late. Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah is laudable and commendable by one and all in unison. Further, he also preached his sons and daughters to follow the same path.
He had an ambition to elevate the School he started to the level of Degree College to cater to the needs of the aspirants of higher learning, particularly belonging to the most backward and poor, which could not be accomplished during his life time.
In the last days, he suffered from ill health and was admitted to M.G.M Hospital for treatment. Several times he went unconscious and whenever he came to conscious, he used to speak about the growth and development of the School with his intimate associates, Sri. Bhupathi Krishna Murthy and Sri. Y. K. Sastry. He could foresee his death and entrusted his property to Sri Bhupathi Krishna Murthy and Sri. Y. K. Sastry for the purpose of utilising it for the development of the School. He took his last breath chanting the verse of Pothana Mahabhagavatha “Evvani Che Janinchu Jagamevvani Lopalanundu Leenamai” and his great soul merged with the super soul on 26-08-1967.
To fulfil the cherished desire of Late. Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti, the A.V.V. Sangham donated One Lakh Rupees for the establishment of Degree College which is named after Chanda Kanthaiah Memorial Degree College.
The life of Late Acharya Chanda Kanthaiah Shresti would be an inspiration for the present and as well as to the forthcoming generations . The award “Acharya” is a befitting title for him as he had put into practice the four Purusharthas; Dharma, Artha, Kama and Mokha in his real life with utmost sincerity and honesty. He is “Nishkama Karma Yogi” as he performed all the deeds of charity and service without expecting any material benefits . Though he does not exist physically amidst this society, his good deeds live forever. His is immortal. His name and fame would remain for ever so long as the Sun and the Moon remain. His celestial soul rests in heaven brightening like a star and always throws his divine light on the destitute.