Raja Narsa Goud

Raja Narsa Goud

Raja Narsa Goud(Born in 1866)

The legendary fame of the late Raja Narsagoud of Nizamabad as a friend of the poor was such that people in need would land up in front of his house seeking him out even 30 years after his death. Narsagoud became a legend in his lifetime and itinerant bards who had composed and sang songs in his praise, citing his innumerable good deeds and sang them in village after village, had spread far and wide, even beyond Hyderabad State, his name.

Narsagoud was one of the richest men of the then princely state of Hyderabad, Deccan. He was one of the three leading excise contractors in the Hyderabad Dominion with business interests in Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad districts. His fame as a friend of the poor and as a giver was not just limited to Hyderabad but spread as far as Benaras. According to a well-know story, the then Rani of Sirnapalli, Janaki Bai went in a special train to Benaras with a huge entourage. As the story goes, when awed onlookers wanted to know who this VIP was, the answer they got was “Rani of Sirnapalli.” But where is Sirnapalli, the onlookers asked. The answer came : In Narsa Goud’s Nizamabad! Narsagoud’s business office in Pedda Bazar of Mancherial in Adilabad district, was as big and as busy as a Tehsil Office, according to an old-time resident of Mancherial, Jaganmohan Reddy.

Born in 1866 in Nizamabad district, Narsagoud was the youngest of three children. While his elder brothers, Ramagoud and Lakshmagoud managed the excise business of the family and were constantly on the move, Narsagoud managed the administration and finances of the business, based in Nizamabad town. The trio strengthened the family’s considerable fortunes vastly, making them one of the wealthiest in the state.

Narsagoud not only had a highly developed business sense but was driven by a passion to contribute to society. He made no distinction of religion and caste when he gave. He generously donated for the construction of temples, masjids and dargahs. He built homes or dharamsalas for the poor and ‘satrams’ for Brahmins, among others in Kotgalli and another in Kantheshwar in the town. When a Christian priest in Peddapalli, now in Karimnagar district, brought to his notice that he had no dwelling, Narsa Goud promptly got a house built for him. Such was his social concern that Narsa Goud had wells dug every few km on the road from Nizamabad to Mancharial for the benefit of travellers. He set up homes for the homeless in Vimri village and in Kantheshwar. Every year, before the onset of winter he would distribute a pair of chappals and a ‘gongali’ or blanket to the poor to keep them warm. During summer, he would organise mass feeding of poor with ‘ambali’ or porridge and jaggery ‘pakam’ to fight the searing heat.

The Kantheshwar and Pahadi Dargahs in Nizamabad were constructed by him. As a great worshipper of Lord Shiva, Narsagoud retrieved and re-constructed the ancient Shiva temple of Kantheshwar in Nizamabad and constructed the Shambhuni Gudi in Nizambad and the Shiva temple at Sarangapur, among others. He donated large sums of money to the Mecca Masjid and had the Gurudwara for Sikhs constructed in Nizamabad.

Impressed by the work of Dr. Isabel Kerr, a missionary of the Methodist Church, among lepers in the villages of Nizamabad from 1907 onwards, he supported the idea of a permanent treatment centre for them and donated 60 acres of land at Dichpally and an unspecified amount to set it up. The Leper Home was started in 1915 which was later converted into a hospital and rechristened as Victoria Hospital in 1928. Narsagoud can be thus credited with enabling the setting up of one of the earliest leprosy treatment centres in India. Narsagoud was also responsible for the setting up of the district’s first ever maternity hospital or Jajgikhana, as it was then called. He had the building constructed and handed it over to the government to run it. When the district administration could not find funds to introduce piped water supply in Nizamabad town, it turned to Narsa Goud who funded it.

Narsagoud was a great believer in education and nursed talent in the poor by financing the education of bright youngsters. Those whom he supported belonged to all castes and they went on to become top engineers, judges and even an MP in Lok Sabha. He was responsible for starting the first girls school in Nizamabad. He donated the building for it. Narsagoud was the founder of the Goud Hostel in Hyderabad where the young boys of the community were given free board and lodge as they studied. He regularly visited the hostel and took care of the special needs of the hostellers. Every Christmas, Narsagoud would distribute clothes and other essentials to the inmates of the Dichpalli Leprosy Hospital. In the 1930’s, Narsagoud hosted the Andhra Maha Sabha Conference in Nizamabad.

A unique characteristic of Narsagoud was that he did not believe in having any record of his contribution to the society. So much so when his only son Ramagoud installed a plaque without his father’s knowledge, in the Maternity Hospital stating it was constructed by Narsagoud, the latter had the plaque removed when he came to know about it. He however gracefully accepted the title of “Raja” bestowed on him by “His Exalted Highness,” Fath Jang Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Asif Jah, VII Nizam of Hyderabad State in recognition of his contribution to society and especially to improve the quality of life of the poor. Such was Narsagoud’s standing with “His Exalted Highness” The Nizam of Hyderabad that he was allowed the privilege of sitting next to him.

Another rare honour was bequeathed on him was when “His Imperial Majesty ” King George V of England during his visit to India in 1930’s, honoured him with a medal in recognition of his services to society, undoubtedly one of the few personalities he thus honoured in India. Narsagoud encouraged his son Ramagoud’s entrepreneurial zeal who introduced the silent film to Nizamabad and later, the talkies, too. Ramagoud set up Nizamabad district’s first-ever rice and oil mill and Narsagoud later on financed the second rice and oil mill of the district, set up by Ranga Reddy in Bodhan.

Narsagoud passed away on April 4, 1948 at the age of 82. Those were terrible days in Hyderabad State as Razakar violence had been let loose and fear and hatred had vitiated the Hindu-Muslim relations. The family of Narsagoud was apprehensive of taking his body for cremation since the body would have to pass through Muslim areas to reach the cremation ground. Yet they had no other alternative. With great trepidation, the body of Narsa Goud was carried through the Muslim neighbourhood. The fears were unfounded. As the body neared a house, Muslim men came out, gave “kandha,” carried the body some distance and then gave their place to another Muslim.

Muslim men from almost every house thus helped the passage of body on its final journey, with love, respect and dignity. The homage paid by the Muslims to Narsagoud was perhaps the most touching and an appropriate recognition of his contribution to humanity. Narsagoud, both in his lifetime and in his death, showed that ties of love and respect were more enduring than those of hate. As a Muslim poet wrote in his honour, Hyderabad State did not have a more generous man than Narsagoud and that his generosity surpassed even that of Hatim Tai, the legendary Arab king whose name is synonymous with wisdom, courage, generosity and selflessness.

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