Raja Narsa Goud

Raja Narsa Goud (1866-1948) was a philanthropist known for his significant contributions to charities, especially those caring for people with leprosy. Raja Narsa Goud paid for the construction of the first water tank in Nizamabad and for further plumbing works with Cheelam Janakibai, head of Sirnapalli. 

Goud accepted the title of Raja, bestowed by Mir Osman Ali Khan. 
King George V gave a medal to Goud during a 1930 visit, in recognition of his service to his community. 

The legendary fame of the late Raja Narsagoud of Nizamabad as a friend of the poor was such that people inneed would land up in front of his house seeking him out even 30 years after his death. Narsagoud became alegend in his lifetime and itinerant bards who had composed and sang songs in his praise, citing his innumerable good deeds and sang them in village after village, had spread far and wide, even beyond Hyderabad State, his name.

Narsagoud was one of the richest men of the then princely state of Hyderabad, Deccan. He was one of the three leading excise contractors in the Hyderabad Dominion with business interests in Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad districts. His fame as a friend of the poor and as a giver was not just limited to Hyderabad but spread as far as Benaras. According to a well-know story, the then Rani of Sirnapalli, JanakiBai went in a special train to Benaras with a huge entourage. As the story goes, when awed on lookerswanted to know who this VIP was, the answer they got was “Rani of Sirnapalli.” But where is Sirnapalli, the onlookers asked. The answer came : In Narsa Goud’s Nizamabad! Narsagoud’s business office in PeddaBazar of Mancherial in Adilabad district, was as big and as busy as a Tehsil Office, according to an old-time resident of Mancherial, Jaganmohan Reddy.

Born in 1866 in Nizamabad district, Narsagoud was the youngest of three children. While his elder brothers, Ramagoud and Lakshmagoud managed the excise business of the family and were constantly on the move, Narsagoud managed the administration and finances of the business, based in Nizamabad town. The triostrengthened the family’s considerable fortunes vastly, making them one of the wealthiest in the state.

Narsagoud not only had a highly developed business sense but was driven by a passion to contribute tosociety. He made no distinction of religion and caste when he gave. He generously donated for theconstruction of temples, masjids and dargahs. He built homes or dharamsalas for the poor and ‘satrams’ forBrahmins, among others in Kotgalli and another in Kantheshwar in the town. When a Christian priest inPeddapalli, now in Karimnagar district, brought to his notice that he had no dwelling, Narsa Goud promptlygot a house built for him. Such was his social concern that Narsa Goud had wells dug every few km on theroad from Nizamabad to Mancharial for the benefit of travellers. He set up homes for the homeless in Vimrivillage and in Kantheshwar. Every year, before the onset of winter he would distribute a pair of chappals anda ‘gongali’ or blanket to the poor to keep them warm. During summer, he would organise mass feeding ofpoor with ‘ambali’ or porridge and jaggery ‘pakam’ to fight the searing heat.

The Kantheshwar and Pahadi Dargahs in Nizamabad were constructed by him. As a great worshipper of LordShiva, Narsagoud retrieved and re-constructed the ancient Shiva temple of Kantheshwar in Nizamabad andconstructed the Shambhuni Gudi in Nizambad and the Shiva temple at Sarangapur, among others. Hedonated large sums of money to the Mecca Masjid and had the Gurudwara for Sikhs constructed inNizamabad.

Impressed by the work of Dr. Isabel Kerr, a missionary of the Methodist Church, among lepers in the villages of Nizamabad from 1907 onwards, he supported the idea of a permanent treatment centre for them and donated 60 acres of land at Dichpally and an unspecified amount to set it up. The Leper Home was started in1915 which was later converted into a hospital and rechristened as Victoria Hospital in 1928. Narsagoud canbe thus credited with enabling the setting up of one of the earliest leprosy treatment centres in India. Narsagoud was also responsible for the setting up of the district’s first ever maternity hospital or Jajgikhana, as it was then called. He had the building constructed and handed it over to the government to run it. Whenthe district administration could not find funds to introduce piped water supply in Nizamabad town, it turned toNarsa Goud who funded it.

Narsagoud was a great believer in education and nursed talent in the poor by financing the education of bright youngsters. Those whom he supported belonged to all castes and they went on to become topengineers, judges and even an MP in Lok Sabha. He was responsible for starting the first girls school inNizamabad. He donated the building for it. Narsagoud was the founder of the Goud Hostel in Hyderabadwhere the young boys of the community were given free board and lodge as they studied. He regularly visitedthe hostel and took care of the special needs of the hostellers. Every Christmas, Narsagoud would distributeclothes and other essentials to the inmates of the Dichpalli Leprosy Hospital. In the 1930’s, Narsagoud hosted the Andhra Maha Sabha Conference in Nizamabad.

A unique characteristic of Narsagoud was that he did not believe in having any record of his contribution tothe society. So much so when his only son Ramagoud installed a plaque without his father’s knowledge, inthe Maternity Hospital stating it was constructed by Narsagoud, the latter had the plaque removed when hecame to know about it. He however gracefully accepted the title of “Raja” bestowed on him by “His ExaltedHighness,” Fath Jang Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Asif Jah, VII Nizam of Hyderabad State in recognition ofhis contribution to society and especially to improve the quality of life of the poor. Such was Narsagoud’sstanding with “His Exalted Highness” The Nizam of Hyderabad that he was allowed the privilege of sittingnext to him.

Narsagoud encouraged his son Ramagoud’s entrepreneurial zeal who introduced the silent film to Nizamabad and later, the talkies, too. Ramagoud set up Nizamabad district’s first-ever rice and oil mill and Narsagoud later on financed the secondrice and oil mill of the district, set up by Ranga Reddy in Bodhan.

Raja Narsa Goud died on 4 April 1948 at the age of 82. His death occurred during the Standstill Agreement when Razakars paramilitaries were active. Goud's family were nervous of taking his body to the crematorium for fear of encountering violence, but Muslims that they met along the way helped to carry Narsa Goud's body with them, in respect for Goud's support of people of different castes and creeds.

Muslim men from almost every house thus helped the passage of body on its final journey, with love, respectand dignity. The homage paid by the Muslims to Narsagoud was perhaps the most touching and anappropriate recognition of his contribution to humanity. Narsagoud, both in his lifetime and in his death, showed that ties of love and respect were more enduring than those of hate. As a Muslim poet wrote in his honour, Hyderabad State did not have a more generous man than Narsagoud and that his generositysurpassed even that of Hatim Tai, the legendary Arab king whose name is synonymous with wisdom, courage, generosity and selflessness.