Kadapa: We have no right to kill an animal as long as we cannot give it life. At a very young age, Gautama Buddha's teachings like this sparked thoughts in him. He could not bear the sight of animal sacrifices during Jataras and other festivals in villages in his Kadapa district.
Born in a non-vegetarian family, Gundu Venkata Sesha Reddy refused to touch meat at home from the age of 20. Vegetarianism has been his favourite theme from then on and he soon turned it into an activism.
The world celebrates International Vegetarian Day on October 1 every year and those who adopt a strict vegetarian diet are increasing by the day.
Sesha Reddy is credited with turning thousands of people to vegetarianism over the past many decades. He has been holding awareness rallies on vegetarianism every month through the streets of Kadapa.
A retired English professor from a professional engineering college, Sesha Reddy is also a good writer in Telugu. His wife Urmila Devi is also a retired professor in Telugu and collaborating with her husband to raise awareness on the benefits of vegetarianism in terms of health and well-being.
While Sesha Reddy was working as an English professor, he was influenced by Yoga. He learned the basics from a guru and started a yoga and meditation research centre at his home. For the last three decades, he taught these to thousands of people free of cost.
There were two morning and evening sessions separately for men and women. A batch of 30 members for yoga classes and 40 members for meditation classes are carried on for free since the 1980s.
The training session continues for 30 days. He has given training to policemen too – at the district police office. The couple also takes free classes for poor students. They also financially help them.
Sesha Reddy has bagged many prestigious awards. He got the gold star millennium award from the deputy prime minister of Thailand in 2013, the Andhra Ratna in 21012, a teaching excellence in English award in 2013, the state best citizen award in 2012, the Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy Vishista Seva Puraskar in 2016, the Best Master in Yoga and Meditation by the Ayush department of Andhra Pradesh in 2017, the national excellence award in 2017 and the state best teacher award in 2015.
Sesha Reddy told Deccan Chronicle that he was inspired by Buddhist inscriptions which also turned him into a vegetarian. “Vegetarian food is very good for health and it improves our mental faculty. In the US in recent times, as also Japan and other countries, it is proven that those who adopt a vegetarian diet are less exposed to cancer, cardiac arrest etc. I have also held such awareness camps on vegetarian food for the last 30 years.”
Teacher couple Mettupalli Janardan Reddy and Shailaja from Proddutur have been vegetarians for the last ten years since they attended Sesha Reddy’s meditation and yoga classes. Vegetarian rallies are held in Kadapa every month. We are currently staying here as we came to Proddatur on a transfer.
Vegetarianism is good for health and helps the body be more active,” the couple told Deccan Chronicle.
Ramaiah, a tailor from Nehrunagar, speaking to Deccan Chronicle, said he has been a vegetarian for four years after attending the meditation and yoga classes. “Vegetarianism purifies our thinking process and we do not think in terms of harming anyone. This apart, the sweat from our body is clean, odorless, and vegetarian food also improves our digestive system,” he stressed.