Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

15 Apr 2023, 23:50 p.m.

Rest In Peace, Nagalakshmi Harihareswara

Sadly, my mother died earlier this year. I'm hoping to write more about her in the months to come, but right now I'm just going to publish her obituary.

Nagalakshmi Harihareswara passed away in North Carolina, USA in late January, 2023 after a long battle with kidney failure.

Nagu was a loving grandmother, mother and wife, a dedicated teacher, a memorable writer, an amazing friend and a prolific organizer and philanthropist. Her maternal energy and blessings were bestowed upon everyone she met. We will miss her deeply, forever.

Born in Bangalore, India, Nagu excelled early in school and athletics, winning many awards and beginning a teaching career while young. She earned a BA in History, Economics, and Kannada, and an MA in Kannada. She married S.K. Harihareswara (Hari) in 1969. They moved, first briefly to Tehran, Iran, and then to the United States in the late 1970s. Hari and Nagu lived in several US states before returning to India and settling in Mysore, where Hari died in 2010.

In partnership with her husband, she organized and led many efforts promoting Kannada culture and literature, especially among Kannadiga diaspora in North America; they cofounded many Kannada Koota associations, as well as the influential magazine Amerikannada, edited several anthologies, and judged countless literary competitions. She also served as Hari’s partner in the thousands of puja services he led, and each Friday prayed with the Lalitha Sahasranama. Nagalakshmi encouraged scores of new writers, singers, and artists, and wrote many essays herself. In 2021, Nagu wrote a well-received memoir, “Yathri” (traveler), reflecting on her life and travels.

Nagu worked as a teacher for many years, both formally and informally, designing and leading classes wherever she went; her Amerikannada contributions included a curriculum for use to teach Kannada to English-speaking children. She also volunteered for many causes, including children’s education and helping victims of domestic violence. As a homemaker and a generous host, she not only raised two daughters but was called “Mataji” by scores of others; Nagu always answered the door or the phone to offer her home to friends and strangers, feeding all with her delicious cooking, and offering wise counsel.

She was predeceased by her husband Hari, and is survived by her daughters, her sons-in-law, her granddaughter, and her siblings.

There will be no immediate public funeral service for Nagalakshmi, as her body has been donated for use in education to a college in North Carolina, per her wishes.

Two memorials are planned in 2023, one in the United States (May 21, South Bay area, California) and one in India, with the specific date and location to be announced later. For further information or to aid with planning the memorials, please contact S. at

In lieu of flowers, please send charitable contributions to the Usha Kiran Charitable Trust which provides eye care to infants and children.

My mother, Nagalakshmi Harihareswara, who died in January 2023.

As I said when my father died: Right now I just wanted to tell you what's up. Your condolences are welcome in comments, emails, or other messages. But I especially encourage you to comment with happy memories of your own family -- or, if you have none of those or none that you want to share, happy memories of any sort.


16 Apr 2023, 13:27 p.m.

I'm sorry for your loss. I bet your mother and my grandmother would have gotten along like a house on fire. <3

17 Apr 2023, 18:18 p.m.

I wish I had been able to meet your mother. Reading this made me think with nostalgia of practicing essay writing for the newsletters my own family has long circulated amongst ourselves. Having a family with a literary tradition is a beautiful gift.

05 May 2023, 13:03 p.m.

I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a phenomenal woman. May her memory be a blessing to your family and community.