Bus shelters in twin cities are priest's dakshina to people

Srinivasa Charyulu is a priest in a local temple, 'pantulu' in Telugu. He may earn a pittance, live on 'dakshina' given by devotees on their visits to the temple but he is as generous as generous can be. And his generosity evokes more generosity among others. For, he has done the unusual: as the blazing sun beats down cruelly on a scorching summer day, he has ensured that the hundreds of travellers who wait at bus stops get a few minutes of respite in the shade of a temporary shelter. In a city that has about 1200 bus stops but less than half have shelters, Charyulu has put up shelters by spending his hard-earned money. They may be barely 15 but they do cost him about Rs 1000 each.

Thirty eight-year old Charyulu, who is a full-time priest at a local temple, was teaching (free of course!) kids at his summer school of Vedic Pathashala in his two room house in the narrow lanes of Adikmet, off the Osmania University campus when he noticed the plight of bus travellers in front of his house. “They will search for any shade and run for the bus when it arrives. If they miss it, they return to find their shade occupied by others. I noticed this for some days and then decided to do something”, he told Deccan Herald. Since he had put up a structure of bamboo, asbestos sheet and woven thatch to shelter his students he decided to take half of it and relocated it at the bus stop. The idea appealed to him and so he put up a couple of them near his temple in Habsiguda. He put up a small banner giving his mobile number asking people to contact him if they wanted a similar shelter at their bus stop. The banner disappeared but the word spread and he had his hands full. He has put up 15 so far and there are 30 requests pending. Since he attracted media's attention his phone has not stopped ringing. He got calls from even the United States  of America.

How does he manage to raise funds for his venture? Besides performing puja in the temple, he performs marriages and prepares horoscopes. He is amazed that since he began his shelter venture he is getting more work although this is an inauspicious month (adhika masa).

“It is Swamiji's sankalpam,” he says, of Lord Rama's kindness towards him. No less is the contribution of others.

For instance, Ravi, an auto driver, transports the materials needed for the shelter at no cost while the bamboo and thatch weaver Balaiah gives him a discount. His friend Mallesh supervises the construction that takes no more than a few hours, whenever Charyulu is busy with his pujas.

Also there is no dearth of people offering him money to put up shelters at their bus stop but he gently tells them to do it themselves. He, however, offers to send his team to help them. “I cannot take money and put up shelters because then that would become a business venture,” he said.

“In trying to do good work, I should not end up doing something wrong” considering it involves money, he said.

Ask him how he feels and he says, “I haven't done much… after all I have put up only a bamboo shelter… given mere shade. There are so many others who are deprived of so much… Sometimes I feel a small thing is being exaggerated… am I getting too much attention for nothing," he asked. “There is no punyam in it,” he said.

“It is enough that god's blessings are there,” he said. And of course, the blessings of those people who found protection from the raging sun as they waited for the bus to take them to their destination.

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