Everyone should know one’s roots. It is always interesting to know your roots. Some people are fortunate to have their family tree and their roots documented by family elders. Mostly, people like me know the family details upto grandparents level and rest are unknown. It has always fascinated me know about my ancestors. This is the story of my search.
I know, through my father’s autobiography, that my ancestors came from a village called KAKARLA. I found the village through internet as being near Nandyal in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh. My dear Rotarian friends from Rotary Bangalore North West ,Dr. Prabhakar Sastry and Ramadas, joined me in my search and we setout by car from Bangalore to Nandyal on Aug 15th, Independence day 2003. Our search at Nandyal revealed that we should go to Giddalur Taluk office, 35 kms away and enquire there. Luckily, we found an official at Giddalur Taluk office, who had worked at Kakarla. Following his precise direction, we went to Cumbum, 50 kms away, took a turn into Ardavidu road, travelled 5 kms to reach Nagulavaram, where we took a right turn, travelled 5 kms to reach Kakarla. As we approached the village, my friends had to control my driving speed to contain my excitement. A small board on a post proclaimed in Telugu “ Sri Thyagaraja Swamy’s Birth Place, KAKARLA”
I think it is appropriate to tell some facts on my forefathers here. They left our village in 16th century, after the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom. They were all Telugu brahmins, talented in Arts , Music and some were Ashtavadhanis ( who could perform and recollect 8 acts done simultaneously). It could be due to Muslim invaders, or lack of water for agriculture or lack of opportunities etc. They travelled all the way South to Tamilnadu, where Chola, Nayakas , and Maratha Kings , patronised arts and honoured artists. Among them probably was the Grandfather of Sri Thyagaraja swamy of Thiruvayar fame. My ancestors were Ashtavadhanis and on their impressive performance in front of Thanjavur king , were given two villages near Thanjavur ( Ammayappam and Pachakada) as gifts. My grandfather’s Grandfather, was a contemporary of Sri. Thyagaraja, and has personally heard him sing songs. It seems that they used to have nostalgic conversations on their common village Kakarla and were proud to call themselves “ Kakarlam bojulu” .
Anyway, we reached the center of the village at the teashop and were surrounded by curious village elders. Their joy on learning that Iam from Kakarla, was overwhelming. They treated with love and affection which brought tears in our eyes. When I telephoned to tell my wife, Nirmala,( who was in Mumbai in my daughter’s house) from the only STD booth in the village, my voice was choked. The village elders led by Sri Chandramouli took us on a conducted tour of the village. The village has three temples, around fifty houses, a postoffice ( Pin 523333).The temples are Sri Venugopalaswamy Temple, Sri VaraMahalakshmi Temple, Sri Ramalingasway Temple (on the hill). The pujari, Sri Ramakrishna Sarma performed special poojas for us at Sri Venugopalasway temple and I was given the special honour of perfoming pooja at Sri Varamahalakshmi Temple. A sumptuous lunch was provided by pujari’s wife at his home, with love and affection. They insisted that I should have food in the village of my ancestors.
They described the hardships of the village due to lack of water. The children of the village have no school for basic education. The children travel by bus to Cumbum 15 kms away to attend school. There are no basic medical facilities at all. The condition seemed to me the same as it was when my ancestors left the place 600 years ago. We reluctantly left the village with heavy heart, full of emotions and feelings.
I relived the life of my ancestors in those few hours, their dilemma, their brave decision in those days to move lock, stock, and barrel, with kith and kin to faraway lands. Their only wish was to provide education, and prosperity for their future generations. Iam sure they succeeded. May their Souls Rest in Peace !
There is a sequel to the story. When I reached Bangalore, my Rotary friends goaded me that we should help the village in getting water and a school for children. We decided to try to get help from Rotary. After efforts to findout, in which Rotary District the village is, DG Rtn . Shambulingappa of Dist 3160 has come forward to help. The most heartening words used by him was that he would help the village irrespective of which District it belonged to, since a group of Rotarians have persued the matter with interest.