SGS SABHA history

In the early 1900’s, the combined Saraswat community in Madras (now called Chennai) comprised only a few households. Most of them had come to Madras for higher education or for employment in government since the South Kanara and Malabar Districts formed a part of the Madras Presidency. Even so, there was not much purposeful activity to bring them together other than some parties to celebrate birthdays or other happy events in the family. Such meetings helped plant the seed for a common forum for fostering closer social contacts. It was during one such dinner held at the residence of Mr. Kalle Narayana Rao in 1912 (Founder and first President) that the SGS Sabha was born.

When the Sabha was registered and particularly in its initial years, it was lucky to receive financial assistance from the community’s temples at Mangalore, Manjeshwar and Moolky. Among those who helped the Sabha in its formative years, the prominent were Mr. Keshav Narayan Kotnis, Mr. H. Narayana Rao, Mr. Padmanabh Wasudev Kamath, Hon’ble Dewan Bahadur Justice Sir K.P. Lakshman Rao, Hon’ble Mr. Justice V.P.Row, I.C.S. and Rao Bahadur Dr. V.P. Kamath, Sri Rao Bahadur S. Mangesh Rao, B.A., Prof. Presidency College, Sri M. Narasayya Shanbhogue of Manjeshwar, Dr. A. Sarvotham Pai, L.M. & S., Sri Kaup Ramanath Shenai, B.A., M.L., Sri R.S. Vasudeva Shenai, Sri K.P. Seshagiri Prabhu, Sri Sawkar M. Ganesh Srinivas Pai, Rao Saheb Dr. B. Raghavendra Rao, Sri B. Rama Rao, C.I.E., I.C.S., Sri A. Upendra Pai, B.A., Sri R.S. Narayana Shenai, Sri Rao Saheb K.J. Guna Pai, B.A. B.L. of Ernakulam, Sri G. Vamana Prabhu and Rao Bahadur Dr. M. Kesava Pai.

A word of explanation for the use of word "Samyukta" (united) in the name of the Sabha. The founding fathers wanted to dispel the notion that it was a communal institution and the objectives was to “bring together” rather than "separate". They were aware that in several cities there were separate institutions for GSB’s and Chitrapur Saraswats. But in Madras, their far-sighted vision has enabled the Sabha to break down the irrational differences between these two communities. The Sabha's membership is open to both GSB’s and Saraswats and all members enjoy the same privileges.

Right from the beginning, the Sabha gave high priority for the educational advancement of the community by disbursing repayable scholarships. The most important function held was the reception for new graduates and honouring those who had won high academic distinction. Since the Sabha did not have its own premises, these functions used to be held in hired halls. The first scholarship was given in 1920, It was Rs.25 per month for 10 months to a very promising student to complete his B.L. degree course. The person had a very successful professional career and repaid the loan in time.

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