Bharathi Theertha has a colorful history. It was established as a nonprofit International Cultural Academy and Research University on March 17, 1924, in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. It was called as Andhra Bharathi Theertha (Andhra Research University) with Maharajah Alak Narayana Gajapathi Raju serving as its Founder Chancellor till 1931. Dr. Burra Seshagiri Rao was the Founder President. Other founding members included illustrious people such as Messrs. P. C. Venkatapathi Raju, Kanukurti Krishna Rao, C. Papa Rao, Vikram Deo Varma, the Maharajah of Jeypore, who later served as the Foster Chancellor or Kulapathi from 1931 to 1941. In its early stages, it had a collaborative relationship with the American International Cultural Academy, Washington, D.C and its chapters were registered as early as 1936 in the states of Illinois and California, USA. Scholars associated with the Universities of Chicago and California during the late 1930s to 1940s interacted with the scholars of Vizianagaram region. It was a golden period for
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Bharathi Theertha during 1936 to 1946, thanks to the efforts of Baron Woldermar De Barkow assisted by Mrs. Barkow, for the contacts that they developed between the United States and Bharathi Theertha. In 1937, Mr. Rufus B. van Kaleinsmeid and Dr. Syed Hussain were the President and Dean of the International Faculty. Also, artists such as Messrs. Rudolf Kiss and Kutzworth sent their oil paintings from overseas during this period for exhibition by Bharathi Theertha in Vizianagaram.
At its inception, Bharathi Theertha had five faculties, which included Sarvadarsana (Philosophy), Sahitya (Literature), Rajavidya (Politics, History, and Law), Lokagama (Practical Arts and Science), and Lalitakala (Fine Arts, Music, and Dance). Mahamahopadhyaya, Kalaprapoorna, Vyaakarana Siromani Tata Subbaraya Sastry, and Sri. Prabhala Lakshmi Narasimham, and Janab Umar Alisha were the Deans of the Sarvadarsana and Sahitya faculties, whereas Sri. Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu and Sri. Veena Ramanayya Dasu were the Deans of Lalilitakala faculty. Sri. Gidugu Ramamurthy Pantulu and G. Seethapathi were the Deans of Lokagama.
During the 1940’s through 90’s Bharathi Theertha flourished under various Presidents with the able assistance of the Late Kandregula Suryanarayana Murty, Advocate, Vizianagaram, A.P. India. It held numerous literary meets, published literary works and honored many scholars from far and wide. With the demise of Mr. Kandregula Suryanarayana Murty in 1999, there was a lull in the activities of Bharathi Theertha, although its rich history and tradition have been touted many times in the media.
In March 2003, Bharathi Theertha was re-registered and Mrs. A. Balamba was chosen as the President along with Drs. Prakasam Tata and Tata S.N. Somayaji as Vice Presidents, and Dr. T.A.V Narayana Raju as the Secretary to rekindle the mission of Bharathi Theertha nationally and internationally. Bharathi Theertha received the not-for-profit organization status from the Income Tax Department in 2006. A nonprofit 501 C 3 organization, with the same name as Bharathi Theertha, was also registered in the State of Illinois. Bharathi Theertha, Vizianagaram, AP received the 80 G tax-exempt status from the income tax department of India in 2006.
Bharathi Theertha has revised its vision and mission with changing times. Its vision is to improve the education, environment, and health of the poor in India and in the USA. Its mission is to do environmental projects and conduct cultural and educational programs by collaborating with other organizations in the USA and India and by connecting with individuals that left India and have a passion to offer their experience and resources for the betterment of the poor and their health.
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