Credits: Prerna Thiruvaipati @PrernaThiruvaip
The first Harijan housing colony in India with pucca houses was built in 1938, at Arthamur Rajahmundry. In 1920, a young Brahmin named Srimannarayanacharya who was very attracted to the call of Gandhiji began actively participating in the independence movement of India. In 1936 there was a big fire mishap in which 128 huts belonging to the Scheduled castes community were gutted to ashes. 27-year-old Srimannarayanacharya felt devastated at the plight of 128 families & decided to donate his own land towards the construction of pucca houses for them.
The colony was inaugurated in 1938 by the then President of the “All India Trade Union Congress”, V. V. Giri. This was the very first Harijan colony in India constructed with pucca houses and was named Srimannarayanacharya Harijan Vada, in Arthamur. Later, 124 such homes were also built by Srimannarayanacharya, in the village of Dwarapudi. Labour Minister VV Giri went on to become an illustrious Governor and later the 4th President of India in the year 1969.
Interestingly, young Srimannarayanacharya who donated his own land and collected funds towards the construction of this Harijan colony went on to become a renowned Sanyasi of the Ramanujacharya order of Sri Vaishnava saints. In the year 1954, Srimannarayanacharya renounced life to undertake Sanyasashrama (monkhood) and came to be known as HH Sri Sri Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji. Jeeyar Swamiji was the first one to conduct the All India Vedic Conference in the Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi during 1973 in which 4000+ scholars from all over the country, including Vedic scholars from Nepal, also participated in the event.
The then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi voluntarily attended the congregation, scheduled to attend for only 15 minutes but ended up spending about 2 hours at the event. This is an incident from the life of HH Pedda Jeeyar Swamiji, who laid a brick in an effort to cement the societal bridge between the Scheduled castes and mainstream Hindu society.