My Friend Raghunath “Chiranjeevi”

- Dr. Rama K. Jonnada, Morristown, NJ

      The passing away of Raghunath was a great loss not only to his family but to our Community as well. Raghu was a man of vision and pursued his vision with great energy and motivation. The beneficiaries of his efforts are children – our second generation.

      My association with Raghu started in the late 1970’s when I ventured to organize a concert by the great Veena Vidwan Chittibabu in New Jersey. This was the first Carnatic music concert ever organized in New Jersey.

Many people discouraged me saying that it will be a failure. At that time, I met Raghu in Hoboken. At that time, he was a graduate student at Stevens pursuing his Ph.D. He, his wife Prabha and their family friend Simanthini helped immensely in making the concert a great success.

Later, we organized concerts by Bala Muralikrishna, Nedunuri, Dorai Swamy, Mandalin Srinivas, Dwaram Mangathayaru, etc. As we were pursuing these endeavors, we started discussing about our children and how to pass our culture, music, dance, drama and other traditions to them.

Raghu and I met in Dr. Bhavaraju’s house to crystallize a plan. The result was the creation of the Telugu Fine Arts Society

Common characteristics of the functions organized by the association was the participation by a large number of children of all ages. We started publishing

Telugu Jyothi as the association’s monthly magazine. TFAS and Telugu Jyothi became integral parts of our daily lives. It was Raghu’s vision that made this all possible.

How do we carry Raghu’s legacy forward? That responsibility falls on our second generation. The professional, economic, political and social environment of 1980’s when we (the first generation) ventured to create these institutions, programs, etc. is quite different from to-day. The second generation should get involved and shape these associations to meet their needs and of their children (third generation). This is how we should remember Raghu.


Raghu is Chiranjeevi !