Dokka Seethamma – Telugu peoples’ Annapurna


Many of us have heard her name, out of great affection and respect, many call her Telugu peoples’ Annapurna. Irrespective of her situation, ignoring her own plight and poverty, whoever stepped on her threshold with hunger, she used to satisfy the hunger of fellow human beings. She is none other than `Dokka Seethamma’.

Dokka Seethamma was born in the year 1841, in Mandapeta village of East Godavari district in Andhra. Local people used to call her father, Bhavani Shankar lovingly as  `Buvvanna’, that is someone who gives buvva or food. The reason behind this is – even he used to serve food, to whoever came to him. Dokka Seethamma was born to such a phenomenal person. As there was no opportunity for Seethamma, from her childhood to go to school, she was educated by her father, through scriptures and texts like Pedda Bala Siksha. Even as she was being home educated with such an approach, she was married and hence lost the opportunity to complete her studies.  One day, Dokka Jogganna who was traveling to attend a scholars’ meet, was passing by Bhavani Shankar’s house;  he  had seen young Seethamma there for the first time. As he was very much impressed by her at the very first sight, he instantly sent word to her father Bhavani Shankar garu. As he liked her, and as the horoscopes of both matched well, the happy and satisfied Bhavani Shankar got them married, and she became Dokka Seethamma which was her husband’s surname. In later years, all those who came to Godavari Lanka, used to dine only in Seethamma Gari’s house.



People started talking nobly about the amiableness….the couple used to take utmost care in providing hospitality to the guests without any short-comings, at whatever time they came round the clock. Gradually, the residents of both the Godavari districts, out of adoration, started calling Seethamma garu as `Apara Annapurna’ meaning the replica of Goddess Annapurna. Apart from serving food, she started taking part in many other charitable activities.

Kudos to Dokka Seethamma Garu



An aqueduct had been built in the name of Dokka Seethamma Garu in East Godavari district. She is a great `Nirataannadata’ which means a giver of food always and forever. Without insisting on the persons’ status, caste or community, she used to serve food to whoever came to her doorstep. Her devotion and dedication were so extraordinary that – only once in her life time, she traveled to Antarvedi temple to have the darshan of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. On her way, she stopped her palanquin at the bridge of river Godavari. The palanquin bearers relaxed for a while on the way. The children in a travelers’ group heading towards Gannavaram, started crying out of hunger. The elders persuaded the crying children saying, “we will reach Gannavaram in just half an hour, and there Seethamma Garu will give us food”.  When Seethamma Garu overheard this conversation, she at once stopped her journey to Antarvedi and commanded, “turn back my palanquin. I have to feed them”, and returned home straightaway. That’s the hallmark of the Nirataannadata.

At last, her situation exacerbated to such an extent, that by constantly and continuously feeding others, the couple were left with nothing to eat. One day her husband said, “why still this Annadana? We are left with nothing to eat. If someone knocks on the door, I feel cringed! You don’t stop feeding at all, you serve atleast rice and lentil (dal) always”…..she replied, “when I serve people selflessly, I truly believe that the people who come and eat are the manifestations of Bhagwan Vishnu. Why will he chop my hand when I trust him? He himself will feed us”. One evening Seethamma’s husband went to his field which he regularly ploughs. Once he started digging a pit in the field, something hit the crowbar and made a sound. When he cleared the mud, he discovered a metal pot, on opening the lid of the pot, he was amazed to see the pot full of gold coins. He brought it home and poured out heaps of gold coins.


One again they started feeding hundreds of people daily. When Seetamma’s selfless service was brought to the notice of the British Emperor, he wrote a letter to the Collector of East Godavari district, and ordered him to take a picture of Dokka Seethamma and send it to him. He explained, in the letter, “when I get coronated, I have to offer my obeisance to her. But she never crosses the ocean. So during my coronation, I will place her picture on the sofa, offer my obeisance and then I will get crowned”. The Collector of East Godavari went to her along with a photographer. She refused to take a picture of her saying, “I did not feed people because of felicitations, pictures, and obeisance. I believed that I am feeding Maha Vishnu. Why do I need pictures and appreciations for such a noble cause? The Collector coaxed her saying, “Amma! This is a letter from the British Emperor. If you refuse to give your picture, he will fire me from  my job”. She got convinced and said, `then in that case, I will give you my picture. But you must have food in my house’, and she allowed him to take a picture of her. The British Emperor did actually place her picture on a sofa, offered obeisance, and then got coronated. The appreciation letter that he sent later is preserved in the museum till date.


The greatest mother Dokka Seethamma, who was truly a `Annapurna’, who satisfied the hunger of countless people, passed away on 28th April 1909. If a human being, selflessly, with utmost devotion and dedication relentlessly strives to attain his or her goal, that human-being will  reach the pinnacle  of any height. The Almighty will always protect such human beings. Dokka Seethamma’s life is an evidence of such a blessing.