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Activities of Amma Seva Samithi, Hyderabad – A Retrospective
Around 1964 a nucleus of 4 or 5 devotees residing in Hyderabad and Secunderabad gathered to form what was then named as Matrusri Adhyayana Parishat with the prime intention of meeting regularly every week or fortnight at one of the devotees’ houses and discuss about Amma’s sayings and philosophy or share the latest news about the developments in Jillellamudi. The house of Sri Chandramouli Venkatakrishna, an established Lawyer of the twin cities used to be the venue for such meetings on most of the occasions. The group gradually grew, with the entry of eminent persons like Sri. Desiraju Krishna Sarma, a Lawyer of repute, Dr. Sripada Gopalakrishna Murty, D Sc., in Physics and a Retired Principal, Prof. Adapa Ramakrishna Rao, Prof and Head, Dept. of English, Osmania University, Sri. G.K.Rao, a Chartered Accountant, Sri U.M. Rao a Businessman, Sri J. Venkataratnam from the PMG’s office, Sri A. Krishna Sarma a well known Astrologer and Almonac Writer etc. Then the activity shifted to regular congregation of devotees to perform puja to Amma. The puja used to be performed once every week in each of the devotees’ houses by rotation or by prior arrangement.
In 1970 a public function was held for 3 days in the Community Hall of Vidyanagar (Hyderabad), the first one to be held in the twin cities. It was intended to inform the people of the twin cities about the Divinity in Physical form and living right amidst us in Jillellamudi. Sri. Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, who was the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh made his gracious presence along with his wife to inaugurate the function.
An opening lecture by Sri. Chandramouli Venkatakrishna and release of a book in English entitled ‘Garden of Flowers’ by Sri C.G. Westerlund of USA and published by Matrusri Publications were the highlights of the first day’s function. The book was released by Mr. J.F. Neiland, an Electrical Engineer from Holland who was then on his maiden visit to Jillellamudi.
A lecture by Smt. Parsa Janaki Devi, an ardent devotee of Amma with the Minister for Endowments, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, Sri R. Ramalingaraju in the Chair who also spoke later formed the second day’s programme. The third day, screening of an 8mm film and a slideshow on Amma by Dr. Potluri Subba Rao of Chirala provided the grand finale to the function.
A souvenir on behalf of the Matrusri Study Circle (Adhyayana Parishat) was published in Hyderabad during that year under the guidance of Sri. Ch. Venkatakrishna.
While the pujas continued for a couple of years, the Adhyayana Parishat (Study Circle) remained dormant till around 1980. When Sri N.S. Parabrahma Murty took the lead to revive it, it assumed a new avatar as ‘Viswajanani Seva Samithi’. This Viswajanani Seva Samithi saw a rejuvenation of activities by not only holding a regular monthly puja programme at one common venue in Himayath Nagar, but also organizing discourses and lectures for 3 to 4 days and feeding poor people on the concluding day. It was to the credit of Sri Parabrahma Murty that a Seminar was organized for the first time in Hyderabad on the 12th December, 1982 under the aegis of Sri Viswajanani Seva Samithi in connection with the Shastipoorthi Celebrations of Amma’s birthday. Several eminent personalities in the twin cities participated in the Seminar.
In 1983, a special souvenir was brought out by Sri Viswajanani Seva Samithi in connection with the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Amma’s Birthday. The souvenir contained contributions by way of articles from several scholars both in Telugu and English.
Again the Seva Samithi went into a limbo till around 1987 to reappear in a new avatar as Jillellamudi Amma Seva Samithi (JASS) with the entry of Sri M.S. Saratchandra Kumar (MSK) of the British Library who took the initiative to revive its activities. As Secretary of the Samithi he unfurled many activities apart from holding monthly puja programmes at a common venue. The residence of Sri K. Rajendra Prasad an Officer in the NABARD, at RBI Quarters near Masab Tank in Hyderabad was the venue for this monthly puja programmes on every 1st Sunday of each month. It is to the credit of Sri Rajendra Prasad (RP) and members of his family that the puja programme was held here without break for a record 9 years totaling 108 puja events here!!
During this period an Audio Cassette of songs on Amma entitled ‘Anubhava Saaram’ was released at a function held at RP’s residence. The music for the songs taken from the book with the same title and authored by Sri MBR Sarma was composed by Sri MSK who himself is a musician.
The JASS became a registered body in 1994 with Sri. K.S. Ramarao as the first founder President, MSK as Secretary, Sri P. Srirama Murty as Treasurer and Sri VSR Prasada Rao as Jt. Secretary. Regular programmes of feeding under the name ‘Premarchana’ were held on 12th of a month during different times of the year at different places like Home for the Aged, Homes for the Disabled or destitutes, Missionaries of Charity etc., depending on the availability of time slots at these places. The date 12th was chosen in commemoration of Amma’s merger with the eternity on 12th June. This programme continued for 3 or 4 years.
Another project, an ambitious one, was the purchase of a piece of land of 400 sq. yds., on the outskirts of Hyderabad with contributions from many of Amma’s devotees, both within and outside Hyderabad with a view to construct a Temple / Community Hall at a later date. However the project has not taken off till date.
During 1994-95 several other activities were carried out by the JASS with the initiative of MSK, which include preserving in CDs, the autobiography of Amma in Telugu as narrated by Amma to Sri Y. Bhaskara Rao of Singupalem, publication of small booklets in Telugu, a couple of them incorporating sayings of Amma, arranging weekly puja programmes every Sunday at different centers for the convenience of people in those areas.
An important activity of the JASS since around the year 2000 which has become an Annual feature since then is the setting up of a stall in the All India Industrial Exhibition held every year in Hyderabad from January 1st to 15th February. It is intended to spread awareness about Amma and her message among the visitors to the Exhibition through display of the Literature, Photos, Audio CDs & Cassettes of songs on Amma. The stall is kept open from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm and manned by a couple of devout brothers who volunteer and spare their time and energy for this purpose. Everyday an item of food is offered to Amma in the stall and distributed to the visitors as Prasadam. Devotees of Amma in the city come forward to sponsor the item of food to be distributed. Thanks to the committed team of JASS led by the present President Sri VSR Prasada Rao and support and encouragement extended by equally sincere brothers like Sri V. Dharma Suri, Sri P. Premagopal and a few others this activity is being carried out successfully ever since its commencement
A notable service activity that is being carried out with zeal, dedication and enthusiasm by the JASS team, again led by Sri Prasada Rao is organizing ‘Premarchana’programme which involves feeding the disabled, destitute children, visually challenged, aged and infirm. Also, a programme worthy of commendation is, providing woolen blankets to poor people sleeping in the open during nights of winter months on the pavements at different places in the city of Hyderabad, the team going round during midnight looking out for such people.
Thus the JASS has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Let us hope and wish that the JASS gains in strength with the cooperation and support of its members and the divine grace of Amma to carry out these activities in the pursuit of the true philosophy of Amma.