Long time Colorado celebrity couple Dr.Yasoda & Anand Sagar
Sagar family in Colorado is as famous as the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Yasoda and Anand Sagar couple has been living for 40 years in this state, and quite known in various fields, be it music, divinity, service or community events. DesiShades got this opportunity to talk to the couple on various aspects, and here are the excerpts.
DesiShades: When did you come to this country? Can you please tell us about your back ground?
Mr. & Mrs. Sagar: We came to US in 1969. My husband did his PhD in Colorado State University, Ft Collins. Main reason we came here was because of our son, Mohan. We went to India after staying for few months and then came back thinking that Mohan health is much better here. Since then he is working in same company. My son Mohan did his masters in Colorado University, my daughter Sangeetha is a chemical engineer, did her PhD and is working in Merck, in Philadelphia. I was home most of the time till my kids were older. This was because I thought my kids should have proper supervision. In those days kids were not exposed to Indian Culture. Almost all the Indians then were mostly assimilated to American culture and society, and with their job and were busy in their career. There were total of 30 families in the whole of Colorado. We all used to gather together, irrespective of region and used to screen Indian movies once in a month. People from all parts of the state used to come over and watch the movies. Mr. Palani started to screen the Tamil movies. When Telugu association started all the functions were started. We used to gather in our club house and perform all kinds of rituals and public functions. Many Swamijiís visited Colorado and we hosted them and had lots of events. We were all like a family and used to organize picnics and visited Taos, Crestone Mahalakshmi temple.
DesiShades: Can you tell us about your profession?
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: I am a physician by profession. I took the EFMCG in 1972. There was a migrant health clinic in Ft Collins. People used to visit from different places. No local doctor would be interested in visiting them. I used to go there and help them. In 1976 I took the exam from New Mexico. I did a voluntary fellowship joined VA hospital and then moved to Fitzsimons Army Medical Centre as an emergency doctor and worked there till 1996. The Fitzsimons Hospital was closed in 1996 and then I was asked to move to Colorado Springs. Now I am retired and started working in the veteranís hospital on part time basis. I put total of 20 years in army service.
Mr. Anand Sagar: I first came here in 1956. Government of India and US collaboration was trying to generate hydro power and generate food crops in India. I worked under a famous engineer Dr. K.L Rao. He was my guru. I became a director in India in central commission and I was sent to US by the government in India for the bureau representation in Denver. I stayed here for one and half year. I designed in the work for Nagarjuna Sagar, Hirakud, Srisailam and all major dams. Second time when government of India asked me to come over for the supervision I came with my family. I travelled many countries - South America, Thailand, Chili, Peru, Philippines, Indonesia, and India. I went to India last month for an advice for the Sabarmati Ashram that is now going to start. They wanted my advice on how to stop flooding for the dam and the construction not to obstruct the Ashram. I work as a consultant. I was graduated from JNTU, Kakinada, in the first batch of the college.
DesiShades: You have been a long time resident in Colorado. What changes have you seen for these years?
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: We bought all our culture, thoughts beliefs and still we are still maintaining them. There is a lot of change in the attitudes and ideas. Today we see many young girls coming all alone not only for studies but for their jobs too. Previously we could see women coming after their marriage but now it has changed a lot. There were girls who came for studies, but stayed back in those days. Now there are so many Indians, more than we I think the present generation is maintaining the Indian culture. In those days the children were confused and were not sure which culture to follow. But now we see many dance and music teachers and getting exposed to more to our culture. There is lot of change in all forms of life. We are all so happy to see the change coming in the past few years. We are so happy to say that the present generation is maintaining our culture and values though we have laid the foundation way back in the past.
Mr. Anand Sagar: When the population was less, there was a lot of unity. We did not have much differentiation. Now as there are more and more people coming, we can see the differentiation in all walks of life. We really think we have to maintain our unity, culture as Indian with this big community.
DesiShades: How did you manage your family along with career?
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: I donít know how I did like that. My kids learnt music and dance. My daughter learned Bharatanatyam from an American teacher. Those days my daughter Sangeetha was the only one who gave performances.
Mr.Anand Sagar: I can say my wife maintained all the puja and culture in our house. So the kids were exposed to the culture. We used to do dramas in the ISKCON temple and perform pujas. We used to take kalasam as Lakshmi Devi and perform pujas on the Diwali day. We used to perform Satyanaryana Puja, weddings and all kinds of rituals.
DesiShades: Mohan is very devotional, to many peopleís surprises, as a kids grown here. How did you make him so connected to the culture?
Dr.Yashoda Sagar: We didnít teach anything to Mohan. I think he inherited the Bhakti part from me. Since childhood, he was so inspired by the rituals and the puja that we used to perform at home.
Mr. Sagar: I was not with Mohan most of the childhood, due to my busy travel job. I was travelling during those days. He felt very lonely when he went to college. He is very devotional by his birth. In mid 90ís after the software engineers started coming to US, he made friends and he was inspired the young generation. He used to teach Alwar Prabandhams at ISCKON on Saturday. It was all because of his self inspiration and from his mother.
DesiShades: Can you brief us your attachment with the Temples?
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: We started Hindu Society of Colorado to get together and perform pujas in Littleton. We started collecting money and slowly bought a house in Stapleton and started collecting the vigrahas. Some vigrahas were donated by others and they lasted for few years. When Dr Gangadharan moved to Chicago, we moved the vigrahas to ISCKON temple and perform pujas there. We used to do processions on Ram Navami, Narasimha Jayanthi etc. In 1993 time, the Hindu Temple came into existence.
DesiShades: You follow the carnatic music very keenly, and also sing occasionally. Tell us about your background in music.
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: All my family members were advocates and only my father was into music. All of them had great exposure to music. My grand mother used to sing lullabies and my grand father was a congress leader for one year. Only my father was more exposed to music. He started to learn from his young age. He ran away from house to learn music and went to Chidambaram where Annamalai University was started. He learnt from Tiger Varadachari, who was a professor in the University. My father used to do all the seva for his guru. My uncle used to play flute. My father acted in one movie called ďLavangiĒ. He was also a recipient of Music Academyís gold medal. He worked as the first principal for the government music college in Hyderabad.
Mr. Anand Sagar: My father-in-law was my maternal uncle. Thatís where I was exposed to music. My uncle used to give performances in All India Radio. He used to stop at our house in Nellore and used to stay for a month. Thatís where I used to spent time with him and was influenced by uncle.
My father was a lawyer. We are from Nuzividu. My grand father was a revenue inspector. It was best of culture in those days. My father was strict revenue inspector. He used to catch all the faults with revenue system. In my early day we were in Madras. My father was posted to Gutty and sent me back to Nuzvidu and I continued my studies there. Every body use to give great respect to my grand mother. My father had a great reputation with all the British officers. I attended the same college that my grand father attended. After that I moved to Delhi for my bachelors. I have close acquaintance with prominent people such as Smt Durgabai Deshmukh, Dr.Suri Bhagavantham, Sri Anna Rao.
DesiShades: Tell us your associations with your fatherís concerts.
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: I used to attend the concerts with my father. I have never learnt any music, but used to travel a lot with my father. I still remember on the day Gandhiji was assassinated, my father wrote a song immediately and sang. Since the age of 3 years, I used to accompany my father. All my brothers and sisters are all well settled and in different positions. One my sister is Telugu PhD, translated Suprabhatam to Telugu. One of my brothers is a Cardiologist in Oregon. Youngest sister completed M Phil and PhD and started working. All this is because my father insisted us to study. My father always encouraged and insisted us to concentrate on studies.
DesiShades: Any other things that we miss to ask you...
Dr.Yasoda Sagar: I am more devotional and involved in sports in my childhood. I am interested in drawing, painting and gardening. Though I was born in Bandar, we moved to Madras where I was exposed to Tamil language and culture. I used to give lectures on Hinduism and explain them about all the Indian Puja and rituals. Mohan used to accompany me in al these activities.
They are the ocean of knowledge and experiences. It is we, who should dig into the ocean and get what we want. The depth of subject these couple know, experienced in the life, and accomplishments they had, can not be covered in one discussion. They are so happy to share their experiences and thoughts with us, for hours together. We will bring more coverage about them in the coming issues of ApneLog. DesiShades thanked the couple to spend more than a couple of hours for the day.