Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan is the 5th Sikh Guru who became a Guru at the age of 18.


Guru Arjan

He built the base of the Golden temple in 1601 CE and also compiled the sacred Adi Granth, which was in the year 1708, conferred the title of Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh, and is revered as the Holy Book of Sikhs.


       Guru Arjan and his team compiling the Adi Granth beside the golden temple

Guru Arjan was also a poet and composed 2312 hymns. These hymns were called “Sukh Mani Sahib”. They console our minds and hearts and have a soothing effect on the reader, the listener and the singer.

Guru Arjan composed these hymns sitting on the banks of Ramsar Sarovar.


Sukh Mani Sahib

The oppression from the Mugals led Guru Arjan to sacrifice his life at a young age of 43 in 1606 CE for which he is reverentially referred to as “Shahid De Sartaj”.

Guru Arjan was sentenced to death by the then Mughal King Jahangir for including Islamic references in the Holy Book. He was made to sit on a hot sheet and burning sand was put on him.

Guru Arjan passed away on 30th May, 1606.

Many years after his death, Guru Arjan’s social, spiritual, and poetic legacy along with the golden temple still stands a testimony to the vision he had for the people.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, born on May 28, 1883, was a major player in India’s Independence. He was a poet, a writer and a politician, who shaped Indian nationalism through the concept of Hindutva, a term that was coined by this leader.


Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Concept of Hindutva

Hindutva has been a much misunderstood word these days, for, the term Hindu has been equated with the religion, Hinduism and many people have termed this concept as an idea of following and promoting one religion.

Hindutva, a Value System

In actual sense, what Sarvarkar meant was a value system based on the culture and traditions of this land. It was a value system that revolved around the core principles of Universalism, Humanism, Positivism, Pragmatism and Rationalism.

Savarkar believed in influencing the masses towards independence, by reminding them of their unique cultural identity.

Activities as youth

Savarkar’s pro independence activities began from his student days in England, where, as a part of the India House, he founded the twin student societies, Abhinav Bharat Society and Free India Society to encourage the youth to participate in Indian revolution for independence.


Veer Savarkar and his friends

Img: courtesy Flickr


He also brought out many publications towards this effect. “The First Indian War of Independence” was one of his major works highlighting the Indian struggle of 1857 against the British misrule. The work was banned by the British administrators.

Fighting untouchability and casteism

Savarkar was against religions, untouchability and openly spoke out against castism. He thereby played a vital role in forging unity among masses. He is credited to have facilitated in discarding the practice of untouchability in the remote areas of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, in less than 10 years.

Netaji on Savarkar

Netaji in his speech of June-25, 1944, acknowledged Savarkar’s perspicacity.


Savarkar with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Starting Ganesh Utsav

Savarkar was also one of the leaders along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started the Ganesh Utsav that became and is still one of the major festivals of Maharashtra, to build national and cultural unity.


Ganesh Utsav

Veer Savarkar Paying Homage to Lokmanya Tilak in 1937

In Jail

For all these, Savarkar was arrested in London in 1910 for carrying out anti-colonial activities. While being shifted to India in a ship, Savarkar tried to escape when the ship reached Marseilles by diving into the water and escaping to the shore. But, the alarm bells were rung before he could be saved by his friends and he was rearrested. He was now sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, i.e, 50 years in jail and was shifted to the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar islands. His brother was also in same jail at the same time for many years, but both did not know of each others’ presence.

Cellular Jail, Savarkar Cell

This did not impede Sarvarkar as he carried out his pro independence activities from jail. He wrote his biggest work on Hindutva while serving his sentence.

In 1921, Savarkar was released on the condition that he would not hence forth encourage and carry out any revolutionary activities.

Speeches across land

Once outside jail, Savarkar concentrated on travelling across the country and giving speeches on the concept of Hindutva that he had formulated while in prison. As an able orator and poet, he was able to greatly influence the minds of the people towards his idea of India.


Veer Savarkar giving speech

President of Hindu Mahasabha

He was elected the president of Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, which he served until 1943.

Against partition

Savarkar was vehemently against partition. His position on partition has been aptly summarized by Ambedkar in his work, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’.

“Mr. Savarkar… insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution…”

After Independence

After Independence, Savarkar continued his agenda of promoting Hindutva through his oratory, poetry and writing skills. He had to sail through a few controversial moments when he was accused in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, but was later acquitted.

‘Veer’ Savarkar

Savarkar passed away on 26th February, 1966. Around 2000 Rastriya Swayam Sevaks conducted a grand funeral for this great freedom fighter. The term ‘Veer’ was added to his name in recognition of the great courage he had shown in fighting the British Rule.

We, Hari and Hema got the opportunity to visit his cell in Andaman Jail. We recollect with pain to have seen the many torture tools that were used then.

The struggle, the freedom fighters have gone through to give us, the next generations, the freedom we are enjoying today truly leave us tearful and speechless!!!

The only words that arise in the silence are,

“Are we living up to the dreams they cherished for India, for the sake of which they underwent so much torture?”

Rashbehari Bose

Rashbehari Bose was one of the prominent Indian leaders who fought against the British Rule.

Role in Ghadar revolution

He played a prominent role in the Ghadar revolution, a pan Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army that was planned by Ghadar party and carried out in February 1915.

Worked as a Clerk at Forest Research Institute

Rashbehari Bose worked as a head clerk at the Forest Research Institute, in Dehradun, which was set up in 1906.

The Building where Rashbehari worked as a clerk, in Dehradun

Leaving for Japan

Post the Ghadar revolution, Rash Behari Bose had to leave India to escape from the British hunt. He left for Singapore on May 22nd, 1915 and from there went to Japan in June, under the impersonation of Raja P N T Tagore, a distant relation of Rabindranath Tagore.

In Japan, he played a key role in the formation of the Indian National Army.

On arriving in Japan, he met his colleagues of the Ghadar Party, Herambalal Gupta and Bhagavan Singh and formulated the agenda against the British, in hiding.


Indo Japan Connect

The Indo – Japan connect from a friendship angle was initiated during the 1915s, when Japan gave shelter to Rash Behari Bose, who was looking for a place to hide from the British. Despite many requests from the British to extradite him, Japan firmly stood by him.

Key thought leaders of Japan, such as Tsuyoshi Inukai, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of Japan, Mitsuru Toyama, a Pan Asian leader of Japan, became his close friends and together they established the platform of the modern day bond between India and Japan.


A dinner party hosted in the honour of Rash Behari Bose in 1915 at Japan.

Mitsuru Toyama is at the centre of the table, Tsuyoshi Inukai to his right and Rash Behari Bose is behind Mitsuru Toyama – A file photo

Becoming a Japanese citizen

When Japan, an ally of the British in the First World War, discovered their identities and wanted to extradite them, Herambalal escaped to US, while Rash Behari came out of his ‘hiding’ by marrying the daughter of a Japanese bakery owner and becoming a citizen of Japan. Through this bakery, he also introduced Indian Curry to Japan.


Rash Behari Bose with his Japanese wife

Nakamuraya Curry

Rash Behari was admired by most of the Japanese as also Nakamuraya Bose. The Nakamuraya Curry launched by Rash Behari in Japan, is still a favourite food, widely sold in food chain outlets of Tokyo as, “Indian Curry”.

More on Rash Behari and the Indo-Japan Connect, in our book, Indo Japan, A Connect Over Millennia.

Saraswati 5

As a journalist

Rash Behari became a journalist and explained the Indian view to the outside world for the next 20 years. It was due his earnest efforts that a conference was held in Tokyo in 1942 to discuss political issues.

Forming of Indian Independence League

The Indian Independence League was soon formed, under the leadership of Rash Behari.  Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was made the president of this league.

Formation of INA

Many Indian prisoners captured by the Japanese army in Burma and Malaysia were persuaded to join the Indian National Army under this Independence league.


Thus, the Indian Army took shape due to the efforts of Rashbehari Bose. It was named Azad Hind Fauj.


Conferred prestigious title

Rashbehari passed away on 21st January, 1945. The Japanese government honoured him with the prestigious title, ‘The Second Order of Merit of the Rising Sun’, the highest recognition for a foreigner.


It is even more heartening to note that a royal coach was sent by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito, to carry the mortal remains of this great Indian revolutionary.



Maharana Pratap


Maharana Pratap is one of the kings who has left a permanent stamp in the minds of the people of this country. He was a Rajput ruler of Mewar, a region located in the present day Rajasthan, and gave a tough time to the Mughals.

Maharana Pratap’s Rajput kingdom, highlighted in this map in orange, was an island in the midst of the Mughal Empire, which speaks volumes about the valour of this king, who had kept the Mughals at bay.

The rivalry between Rana Pratap and Akbar is well known.

Battle of Haldighat

A fierce battle was fought between Rajput King Maharana Pratap and Mughal King Akbar on June 18th, 1576 CE, which has now come to be called the Battle of Haldighat.  Another record says that this battle was fought on 21st June. But these four days from 18th to 21st are commemorated in Haldighat and also at his birth place.


Akbar’s Ploy

Akbar wanted to extend his Mughal Emipre. The ploy he adopted was to take strong Hindu kings under him through friendship. These Hindu kings in turn helped him to defeat other Hindu kings. Maharana Pratap was persuaded by Akbar in every way, to come under him, but the Rajput King refused. Akbar soon lost his cool and declared a war on Rana Pratap. Rana Pratap also made preparations for the battle.


                                                Maharana Pratap and Akbar

The battle

The two armies took stage at Haldighat. Akbar’s Army had 200000 soldiers while Rana Pratap had only 22,000.


Battle of Haldighat

Great Valour of Rana Pratap

The lesser numbers for Rana Pratap did not mean that the battle was a cake walk for Akbar. Rana Pratap and his soldiers fought with great valour. As much as this battle was fought by Rana Pratap’s brave warriors, it was also a story of great versatility shown by his horse, Chetak. Even though Rana Pratap was defeated, Akbar’s army was not able to completely conquer the Rajput king.



Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak at the battle

Sacrifice of Chetak

Rana Pratap’s horse made a great sacrifice in saving his master. Just as Alexander had a brave horse in Bucephalus, Rana Pratap had Chetak. Chetak was a native breed war horse, a Kathiawari.


Alexander on his horse Bucephalus 

Chetak was seriously injured in the battle, but, to save his master’s life, it crossed over a big canal, to safety.


Maharana Pratap crossing the Canal

As soon as it crossed, it fell down dead. Rana Pratap broke down and was moved by the great commitment his horse had shown in saving his life. He created a beautiful garden at the spot where Chetak had passed away. A statue was later erected in its memory at Haldighat, where it had shown great bravery.


Maharana Pratap and his injured horse, Chetak

Scooter and Helicopter in its name

The valour of this horse is so ingrained in the Indian minds that the famous scooter in the 1980s and 1990s of India was named Chetak. Chetak is also an inspiration behind the name of India’s indigenously built helicopter. There is also an Express train in the name of Chetak.


Chetak Helicopter


Chetak Express Train


Chetak Scooter

Many statues have been built over the centuries depicting Rana Pratap on his horse, Chetak.


Statue of Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak

Popular across land

This battle of Haldighat goes down as one of the greatest battles fought by Maharana Pratap.  After this battle, the ethos and valour of Maharana Pratap reached far and wide.

In Coin

His valour has been commemorated by the Government in a coin.


A Serial

A serial on Maharana Pratap was aired in TV, in English, Hindi and other vernacular languages. This serial was very popular, even in regions not visited by  Maharana Pratap.

Such is the spread of his valour all over the land, across languages.




World Turtle Day


Tortoises and turtles are reptiles. They are able to survive both on land and in water.


They were one of the early creatures to make the evolutionary shift from living in water to also living on land. A big shift.                             2

Tortoise Turtle – Difference

The major difference between a turtle and a tortoise is that turtles mostly live in water while tortoises mostly live on land. Some of the other differences being,

Difference in Tortoise Turtle
Shell Dome shaped shells Flat shells
Feet Bent legs and short feet Webbed feet with long claws
Diet Mostly Herbivorous Omnivorous
Hatchlings Hatchlings move to mother’s burrow from their nest soon after birth Hatchlings stay in their next on their own for 3 to 4 months
Life span 80-150 years 20-40 years

Tortoise legends across the world

There are numerous legends associated with tortoises across many civilizations.


In the sequence of Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Divinity Vishnu, Kurma Avatara, the tortoise incarnation, is the second Avatara, incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu. The first in the 10 incarnations was Matsya, the Fish, which can live only in water. The second is Kurma, a tortoise which can live both on land and water, representing the evolutionary leap.


Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and supports the hill on His back during the churning of the oceans, Samudra Manthan by the Deva and Asura.


           Sri Kurmam Temple

There is a temple in Srikakulam district of coastal Andhra Pradesh dedicated to this Kurma Avatara of Vishnu. The temple is called Sri Kurmam. The idol in the temple is not a sculpture designed by man, but a fossil of a real tortoise.


        Tortoises and Tectonic plates

Indian geological texts also describe the earth as being supported by 8 tortoises.

Here, the analogy of the tortoise stands for the 8 solid tectonic plates on the earth’s crust, over the molten core of the earth, which are constantly moving but very slowly, just like a turtle and its hard shell which covers the soft animal inside.


          In Indonesia

The architectural representation of this turtle legend can be seen in the old archaeological sites of central Java in Indonesia and the adjoining Bali islands too.


       American Legend

There is a similar turtle legend that is explicitly expressed in the ancient American legends too, where a turtle dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back mud to create the earth.

Thus, we see that turtles have been revered across civilizations from time immemorial.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin on his study of various life forms, conducted his research on the famous Galapagos tortoise of Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean that live for over 100 years.


World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is observed every year on May 23rd to raise awareness on turtles, tortoises, and their protection.


On this day, animal lovers and organizations come together and organize events around turtles and tortoises.

Caring for Turtles

Turtles might not be favourites of people, like dogs, but it is vitally important that we care for this species, one of the ancient creatures of our planet.

Need to protect Turtles

This Turtle’s day, let us take steps to protect this endangered species, by saving the turtle hatchings on the coasts.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Socio Religious Reformer

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a socio – religious reformer during the British rule, who was a major player in effacing some of the evils prevalent in the Indian society. He challenged some of the practices that had crept into Indian culture which was detrimental to the progress of India. He played a key role in the abolishing of Sati and pitched for women’s rights at a time when superstition and social bigotry was much prevalent in the Indian society.


Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Father of Modern India

For laying down the guidelines for the development of the Indian society under the British Rule, he was given the title ‘Father of Modern India’.  His ideas were propagated through Brahmo Samaj which he later founded.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on May 22nd, 1772 at Radhanagar village of Hoogli district in Bengal.

An Independent Thinker

From his young age Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an independent thinker. He had differences with his father, an orthodox Brahmin, on certain superstitions and practices that were followed in the society. He was also against idol worship.

Travel to Himalayas

He soon left home for Himalayas seeking true wisdom and travelled upto Tibet. He returned home after this Himalayan sojourn.

Entering Marriage

After his return, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was compelled to enter into marriage by his parents, inorder to bring about a change in his thinking process and outlook.  The marriage however did not have any impact on his progressive mindset.

Learning Vedas and Upanishads

Raja Ram Mohan Roy travelled to Varanasi and pursued his interests in Indian philosophy, studying the Veda and Upanishad.

Forming Atmiya Sabha

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was against all superstitions, which he wanted to remove from the society. His first step in bringing about a change in the society was taken when he formed the Atmiya Sabha. The main aim of this association was to trigger socio religious reforms in the society. He vehemently opposed the practices of Sati and Polygamy and pushed for women rights, such as women’s right to own property. Another area of activity for this Sabha was women’s education. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was seen as a savior for women, working to improve their lives.

Founding Brahmo Samaj

In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Samaj through which he furthered his mission of educating people to give up what he called ‘evil practices’ that had crept into Hindu religion.


Brahmo Samaj


According to him, evil practices such as Sati and polygamy were actually allowing Christianity to get converts and bring a bad name to Hindu religion.


The practice of Sati

Immediately a year later, the efforts of Brahmo Samaj and its founder bore fruit, when Sati was abolished in 1829.

Establishing Schools

Raja Ram Mohan Roy established many schools under Brahmo Samaj to spread his idea of education, which was an amalgam of Vedic and Western thought. He felt a change in the education system was necessary for India to make progress in the modern world.

Ever Indebted

Brahmo Samaj remains the legacy of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to this day, an institution that has grown over the last two centuries.

This country will be ever indebted to Raja Ram Mohan Roy for ridding the society of unwanted superstitions and inculcating the true sense of modernism in people at the time of British rule, to bring about a progressive outlook in the minds of the people, away from conservatism.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy.jpg

International Day Of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is defined as variety and variability in living organisms. From our immediate environment to the whole world, the flora and fauna are intensely diverse.

How many amazing varieties of lives we encounter in our life, from insects, to animals, to plants. Each ecosystem brings with it its own set of creatures, who are dependent on each other.

Every life is dependent on the other for its survival, and are part of the food chain. And, even if one life becomes extinct, then the whole food chain is affected.

Thus understanding of the Ecology of living creature, will help us to understand how vital it is to preserve the Biodiversity.

Biodiversity in India

India has been a richly biodiverse civilization from ancient times, partly because of its diverse terrain. From the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south to the Thar Desert in North West, to peninsular plateau, India is a home to a variety of ecosystems.

Ecology and Biodiversity are integral to the ethos of this land.

This diversity is echoed in our Upanishad, which has the sloka, “Ekoham Bahushyam, meaning, “I am One. I shall become many.” Thus Divinity divided Himself into infinite lives, through the universe.

Shiva Parivar

The concept of Biodiversity and food chain is beautifully depicted through Shiva Parivar, Shiva’s Family.

Shiva has Nandi, bull for his Vahana, vehicle and wears a snake. Parvathi has a lion, Ganesha has a mouse and Karthikeya a peacock.  In real world, the lion considers bull as its prey and the bull fears the lion. Similarly, snake preys on the mouse and a peacock preys on snake. Here we see that the family members of Shiva have Vahana that are by nature antagonistic to each other. This is symbolic of Biodiversity and food chain that are the very nature of Nature.


Shiva Parivar

4 types of Creatures

In the Mahabharata, Chapter-5, Sanjaya describes to Dhrtharashtra, the types of life, immobile and mobile.



Sanjaya describing to Dhrtharashtra


Three Categories of animals

Similarly, animals were categorized into three.

  1. Vayavya – those of the air
  2. Aranya – those of the wild
  3. Gramya – Those of the village


Ramayana speaks of the biodiverse nature of the forests.

At the time when Rama was leaving for exile, Kaushalya, His mother expressed her fear about His safety, wherein she says,

“May the huge elephants not harm you my dear son, nor the lions, tigers, bears, boars or ferocious horned buffalo.”

At another place, Sita expresses her delight in witnessing the forest, where she refers to lotus ponds, herds of deer, geese and ducks.


Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine, consists of profound knowledge of Biodiversity. Ayur means life and Veda, knowledge. Ayurveda is the knowledge about life. In Ayurveda, the inter-relationship between living creature and their habitat was establish.

Vriksha Ayurveda, is a branch of Ayurveda that studies the science of flora. In it, various aspects of plant life and forest ecosystems are dealt with. It also describes varieties of plants that have medicinal properties, and are widely used in treatment.



Chanakya’s Arthasastra, gave importance to preservation of Biodiversity.

The Arthasastra divides the environment into several regions like,

  • Aranya – Forest Areas
  • Parvata – Mountains
  • Audaka – Wet and humid regions
  • Bhauma – Drylands
  • Sama – Plains
  • Visava  – Uneven lands

Protection of each of these ecosystems, as well as the creature are given prominence in Arthasastra, which specifies penalties and punishments for injuring living creatures.

Jungles to Concrete Jungles

Today, in the name of progress and prosperity, buildings replace trees in most major cities. Water bodies disappear to make way for residential and business complexes. Jungles are slowly giving way for concrete jungles. This has greatly affected the Biodiversity of our planet.

Humans are the Cancer of this planet

A thought-provoking quote from the Hollywood movie, Matrix states:

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply… until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.

Do you know what it is?

A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet”.

International Day for Biodiversity

International Day for Biodiversity is a UN instituted day observed every year on May 22nd to raise awareness on preservation of Biodiversity.

Only preservation of this diversity can save us from the adversity that our planet is facing these days.

International Tea Day

Tea Day 2

Imagine missing your tea on one of the days, due to various reasons! The signs of uneasiness soon become palpable as we are unable to carry on activities normally. One often wonders why things are going wrong, and the striking reality pops up, that one has missed tea. The effect the tea has on us is aptly summerized by William Ewart Gladstone, who served as the prime minister of Britain on four separate occasions, from 1868 to 1894.

Tea Day 1

While International Tea Day falls every year on 15th December, to celebrate this very popular beverage, every day is a tea day for the common man.

In India

The cultivation and prevalence of tea in ancient India is still unknown, as the tea that we know in the modern world was introduced and popularized by the British during the Colonial era. Before that, there is not much evidence to suggest that India relished tea in any way.

It is known that India is today one of the largest producer of tea, second only to China. As per the 2011 report of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), India is also the largest consumer of tea, consuming about 30 percent of the global output.

Chai is the popular term used for tea in India, and is among the most consumed everyday drinks. This word is derived from the Chinese word Cha, which also means tea.


Cha in Chinese

The British first launched the tea industry in Assam in 1820s. Maniram Dewan was the first Indian tea planter, and is credited with establishing the first private commercial plantations at Assam.

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Mamiram Dewan

Importance of Tea

Tea is consumed both at home and outside.

The people have their cup of hot steaming tea, first thing in the morning in order to stimulate their senses and refresh themselves.

Tea Day 4

There are tea stalls across the urban landscape, in just about every nook and corner of any street. Chai Wallah is a common title given to the person who runs a tea stall. It is well known that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was once a “Chai Wallah”. This term has today become a symbol to represent those who from a humble beginning, rise to great heights through hard work and perseverance.

Tea Day 5

Prime Minister Narendra Modi consuming tea

Apart from being a daily drink, tea

  • is consumed for refreshing the mind after work during ‘tea break’

Tea Day 6

  • is served as welcome drink for guest at home
  • is an occasion for conducting important meetings, Chai Pe Charcha, as it is populary known

Tea Day 7

Varieties of Tea

There are four basic varieties of tea produced, based on how tea leaves are produced, namely,

  1. Green tea (non-fermented)
  2. Black tea (fermented)
  3. Oolong tea (partly fermented)
  4. White tea (least processing)

Tea is grown in 16 states in India. Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala account for about 95 percent of total tea production. The other major tea-producing Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Bihar, Orissa.

The tea has also been branded based on where they are produced. Currently there are 10 major hubs of tea production in India.

  1. Darjeeling Tea (West Bengal)
  2. Assam Tea (Assam)
  3. Dooars and Terai Tea
  4. Kangra Tea (Himachal Pradesh)
  5. Nilgiri Tea (Tamil Nadu)
  6. Annamalais Tea (Tamil Nadu)
  7. Wayanaad Tea (Kerala)
  8. Karnataka Tea (Karnataka)
  9. Munnar Tea (Kerala)
  10. Travancore Tea (Kerala)

There are many other popular variations depending on regional and cultural affiliations.

An Aspect of Indian Culture

In the last many decades, tea has become an integral aspect of Indian culture. Tea is a major part of life at home, work, on the streets and while traveling. Remove tea from everyday life, and you remove the vital essence of a vibrant nation.

Tanguturi Prakasam

Shri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu was an Indian freedom fighter, and the first Chief Minister of Andhra state. A man known for his honesty, integrity and courage, he is one of the tallest names in Andhra Pradesh.

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Shri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu

Andhra Kesari

He is popularly known as Andhra Kesari, for bravely baring his chest to the British police, daring them to shoot him.


Tanguturi Prakasam was born on 23rd August, 1872, at a small village Vinodarayanipalem, to pious Brahmin couple, Subamma and Gopala Krishnayya, in the Ongole district of then Madras Presidency, Today, that district bears his name as Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh.

The district Ongole is known for its majestic looking cows, the Ongoles. The Ongole cows provide high quantity of milk. Some are known to yield as much as 17 litres in a day.

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The Ongole bull

Prakasam’s deeds were also majestic like the Ongole Bull.

Father’s Passing Away

Prakasam’s father was the Karanam of the village, and his ancestors hailed from Tanguturu, which explains his surname too. His father however passed away when Prakasam was just 11, leaving the family burden on his mother’s shoulders. Subamma, his mother left for Ongole, where she ran a small boarding and lodging home, to support her family.  Prakasam himself used to work in homes of the richer people in Ongole, primarily to fund his studies.

Prakasam’s passion for sports

Prakasam’s good physique, made him take part actively in theater, and loved games too. However due to his interest in dramas and sports, Prakasam’s education suffered as he only just got through his matriculation – class 10.

Pursuing a course in Law

Prakasam’s teacher Immaneni Hanumantha Rao Naidu enrolled him in Pre Matric, and also sponsored his education. When Hanumantha Rao, left for Rajahmundry, he also took Prakasam with him, the city then was a well-known educational center. Hanumantha Rao enrolled Prakasam in an Arts course, and later sent him to Chennai to study Law.

As chairman of Rajahmundry Municipality

Prakasam soon became a successful lawyer, and became the chairman of Rajahmundry Muncipality, at the age of 35. However since he was still a second grade pleader, Prakasam could not practice in the higher courts. In those days only barristers could plead in the higher courts, and one of them suggested Prakasam to do the course.

Leaving for London for Higher studies

Prakasam left for London in 1904 in pursuit of becoming a barrister. This was not before promised his mother not to touch meat, liquor or tobacco.

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Prakasam in London

At Madras High Court as First Telugu Barrister

After finishing his higher studies in Law, Prakasam returned to India in 1907 and began his practice in the Madras High Court. Prakasam became the first Telugu barrister to make a mark in the Madras High Court, that till then was mostly an English preserve. One of the most prominent cases he took up was that of the murder of Ashe, the British collector of Tirunelveli district.

A Hands on Leader

Prakasam actively supported the other freedom fighters of his time. He was pretty much a hands on leader, being one of the first to visit the spot of any unrest or riot. When British banned people from attending speeches of Bipin Chandra Pal, Prakasam defied the order by boldly attending them.

When outsiders were not allowed into Kerala during the Moplah revolt, Prakasam was one of the few who defied orders and visited it.

Plunging into Freedom Struggle

Prakasam gave up his lucrative law practice, plunged into the freedom struggle, and donated all his money for the nation, he became the editor of the Swarajya Magazine, in Telugu, English as well as in Tamil.

Becoming General Secretary of Congress

Prakasam became a regular at most Congress meetings and signed the declaration for Satyagraha in 1921. He was elected as the General Secretary of Congress party in the 1921 Ahmedabad Session.

Pakasam’s one Daring Act

Prakasam fame grew with the incident at Parry’s Corner, Chennai in 1928 during protests against Simon Commission. Prakasam was leading the protests at Madras High Court, slogans of “Simon Go Back” rent the air, police fired on the crowd to disperse. A youngster Parthasarathi was shot dead in firing, and the police, warned that any one coming to carry the corpse would be shot too. It was then Prakasam boldly stepped in to claim the corpse of Parthasarathi, when everyone in the crowd was afraid to. As the police turned their guns on him, Prakasam bared open his chest, and shouted “Shoot you cowards, if you have any guts” to police.

 This one open act of defiance by Prakasam made him a hero of sorts, and he was given the title of Andhra Kesari after that.

Helping Congress in Madras Presidency

In 1937, the Congress party swept the elections in the Madras Presidency and Prakasam played a major role in that victory. Though he was the first choice for the post of Chief Minister, Prakasam had to make way for Rajaji, brought out of retirement. Prakasam worked as Revenue Minister in Rajaji’s cabinet, and one of his major initiatives was looking into the Zamindari system then.

A Prominent Satyagraha leader

Prakasam was one of the prominent leaders down South, who led the Satyagraha against the British war preparations in 1941.

Arrested during Quit India Movement

In 1942 Prakasam was arrested for 3 years for taking part in the Quit India Movement, and on his release in 1945 toured all over South.

Chief Minister of Madras Presidency

The Congress once again came to power in the Madras Presidency in 1946, and this time Prakasam was sworn in as the Chief Minister, for the next 11 months.

Meeting the dreaded Razakar leaders

After Independence in 1947, Prakasam once again plunged into activism, toured Hyderabad under Nizam, in spite of Nehru warning not to do so. Prakasam met Qasim Rizvi the leader of the dreaded Razakar’s and warned them that they were pushing their luck too hard.

Finding a New Party – The Praja Party

In 1952, Prakasam founded a new party, the Praja Party and ensured that all the Congress ministers ended up losing the elections. That much was his popularity.

First Chief Minister of Andhra State

When the Andhra State was formed in 1953, Prakasam became the first Chief Minister.

Contribution in Education

During Prakasam’s tenure, Sri Venkateswara University was set up in Tirupathi. It holds a NAAC rating of “A+” with a score of 3.52 out of 4. It was the 31st university to be built in India, and after the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 it is the second oldest university in Andhra Pradesh, after Andhra University.

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Sri Venkateswara University

In Irrigation

Prakasam also promoted water harnessing and irrigation.

After the land forms evolved and stabilized, there were continuous rains which cooled the earth and caused vegetation to grow thereon. One of the earliest rivers to have formed during this period is the Krishna River.

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Krishna River

Krishna has been a naturally flowing river through the rugged landscape of Andhra Pradesh for many a millennia.

It was during Prakasam’s tenure the barrage over Krishna River, near Vijayawada was built, to aid irrigation.

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Prakasam Barrage, Vijayawada

The End

On May 20th, 1957, Prakasam passed away in Hyderabad, after suffering a sun stroke which he got while touring.

The Ongole district, formed in Andhra Pradesh was named after Prakasam, as a fitting tribute to a great son of the soil.

A stamp has been released in his honour by the government.

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He was a great Bida, Son of Telugu Talli, Mother Telugu.

More on Telugu Talli in our book and short film Telugu Talli

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