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TM Speech 13: The Joy of Giving: Story of Dokka Sitamma

February 3, 2014


This is my first speech in the advanced speaker manual, “Speaking to Inform” category. The objective of the speech is to select new and useful information for presentation to the audience, organize the information for easy understandability and retention, and present in a way that will help motivate the audience to learn. I will be using some visual aids as well.

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“Who is a hero?”…

Heroes are ordinary people who do extra ordinary things. They make tough choices and decisions. Every culture has its heroes that inspire generations. Interestingly, they never aspire to be heroes to begin with. They are just simple people following their passion with utmost commitment, dedication and perseverance. But why do we need heroes? Why is it important to have heroes?

“Whatever a great man does, that other men also do. Whatever he sets up as the standard, the world (people) follows” – The Gita chapter 3-21

Toastmaster of the day, fellow Toastmasters, dear guests, I am proud to share with you today the story of one of the heroes of my ethnic community. Her name is Dokka Sitamma. She was born in the year 1841 in the Konaseema part of Andhra Pradesh in South India. This was when the British were close to establishing their complete control over India. She grew up in a time where her neighborhood in particular and India in general was plagued by frequent famines. She set her mission in life to serve people food and never refuse a hungry person’s knock on the door, irrespective who the person was – race, creed, religion, or gender. Any person who knocked on her door hungry was served a meal  just like a mother would to her child. She was often called “Annapurna”, the Goddess of nourishment.

The then emperor of India, King Edward VII recognized her charity. One of the years, when he wanted to celebrate the anniversary of his coronation ceremony, he intended that she be present along with the important guests in Delhi during the celebration. He then sent for the chief secretary of the Govt of Madras at that time to bring her to Delhi with full honors. She declined the invite giving a simple reason that she hasn’t been doing this for any kind of recognition and that what she is doing was her basic duty to serve the needy and hungry.  

Dokka-Seethamma-recognition

She even refused her photo being taken. She relented only when he mentioned that he would be fired by the king if he goes back without managing to fulfill the king’s wish. Legend has it that the king placed a life-size photo of her in one of the chairs she was supposed to be seated on and celebrated his coronation anniversary. It is also said that her  photo has been inaugurated by the king in the main hall of the Royal Palace of London.

One day she abandoned a pilgrimage she wanted to go for long because, midway she overheard a few hungry children being consoled by  their father from a wedding party going in the opposite direction, anticipating a good meal at her place. She couldn’t bear the thought that some people knocked on her door for food and she wasn’t there like a mother to serve food for them. She could never complete her pilgrimage again. 

Such was her life, passion, dedication and commitment that to this day people like me are proud to tell her story, build monuments in her name, worship her idol and an entire community treat her as a role model. 

Smt. Dokka Seethamma biography

What drives people like her?

” When you are inspired by a great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be” –  Sage Patanjali (Founder of Yoga)

That is how heroes are made.

My dear friends, the world scripts your eulogy, attunes your song, and eternity smiles with joy embracing you like your mother close to her bosom, when you find that purpose and commit to its fulfillment.

Begin to write the lyrics of your song, for the world to tune it…begin it tonight, begin it now. 

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PS:- Thanks to Phani Dokka (grandson of Sitamma garu’s grandson for the inputs and providing the copy of the recognition certificate)

The images were taken from simple google search and wikipedia (credit to those specific sources)

A good reference (for Telugu readers): http://kallurisailabala.blogspot.in/2011/06/my-inspiration.html

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6 Comments
  1. Sameer Kodukula permalink

    really inspiration.

    – Sameer Kumar Kodukula

  2. sai permalink

    really great

  3. Harish permalink

    Great Lady…we should also try to follow atleast something …………

  4. g rajarao permalink

    lifes greatest personalities whom we have not seen

  5. N Balaram permalink

    Real Bharat Ratna

  6. Uma permalink

    Yes I remember my mom telling me in my childhood about seetamma annadaanam always. She was very revered. I am 53 today and feel proud to have heard of her.

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