Thursday, April 2, 2020

Remembering a great patriot - VV Subramaniya Aiyar ..


"குளத்தங்கரை அரசமரம்" ~  and remembering a great  freedom fighter.  

"குளத்தங்கரை அரசமரம்"  ~  இக்கதையை நீங்கள் படித்து இருப்பீர்கள் என நம்பிக்கையில்லை !  ஓர் பொது அறிவு கேள்வியாக கேட்கப்படலாம்.  இதுவே தமிழின் முதல் சிறுகதை !  குளத்தங்கரையில் உள்ள அரசமரம் தன் வாழ்வில் கண்ட ருக்மணி எனும் பெண்ணின் கதையைச் சொல்கிறது.

Ananda Thandavam directed by AR Gandhi Krishna, produced by Oscar Ravichandran, bombed at box office – it  was an adaptation of  a very interesting ‘Sujatha’ novel ‘Pirivoam - santhippom’ ~ love story of a young Engineer in a project site.  The novel was in two parts -starting in Papanasam and occurring in USA. Many of us who read the story still would have missed out a passing reference !



For sure we have not read our Indian History ~ what we should have read – for it was distorted, different, inappropriate part highlighted by the British rulers and those with red leaning ..  23rd  session of Congress was held at Madras in Dec 1908.  During the year, further anarchical outrages had given Lord Minto’s Govt ample grounds for repression.  Tilak was imprisoned on charges of a  seditious article in his paper, the Kesari.  Aurobindo was undergoing a protracted trial for treasonable conspiracy.   At Tinnevely in  Madras Presidency of British India on 17 March 1908, there was an outbreak  in response to the arrest and subsequent conviction of Indian nationalists Subramania Siva and V. O. Chidambaram Pillai on sedition charges.

வீரசுதந்திரம்  வேண்டி, தம்  இன்னுயிர்  ஈந்தார்  தமை   போற்றுவோம்

In school days, History was no doubt interesting ! ~  what we read about Indian freedom struggle was often a terse statement of India getting freedom through non-violent (ahimsa) means advocated by Mahatma Gandhi.  The history as handed by Britishers and reviewed by commies neither portrayed the cruelty of the rulers nor the sacrifices of innumerable individuals.  Here is one connected to a patriot born on this day 139 years ago !

Va Ve Su Aiyar .. .. .. Varaganeri Venkatesa Subramanya Aiyar, was born in a village near Karur, on 2nd April 1881.  His father Venkatesa Aiyar had settled at Varaganeri, a suburb of Trichinopoly, and in his retired days was resisting mass conversion of the Harijans to Christianity and was arranging for their reconversion to the Hindu fold.  VVS Aiyar,  matriculated at the early age of twelve ranking fifth in the Presidency; and was married the same year !  At 20 he was  practising as a lawyer at the Trichinopoly Bar ; and five years later, he sailed to Rangoon to seek his fortune in Burma. But within a year was bound for England to become a barrister. He came out first in Roman Law and was soon to return to India as an ambitious barrister to make fabulous fortunes, but Destiny was otherwise


There his life was to take a sharp turn as he came into contact with a great freedom fighter – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.  Savarkar influenced him to becoming an active participant in the militant struggle for Indian freedom. VaVeSu was a close friend of Shuddhananda Bharati; with whom he started  the Bharadwaja Ashram at Cheranmadevi.   In 1910, British rulers issued  arrest warrant on his head, for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy in London & Paris.  Aiyar escaped to Pondicherry as it was under French and remained in exile for 10 years.  There he came into contact with Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathi and Aurobindo.  The plot to assassinate Collector Ashe was hatched there, executed by Vanchinathan.  The British blamed him to have a role in the bombardment at Madras by German Cruiser SMS Emden in  1914.

It would be tough to describe  Aiyar's life at Pondicherry for ten years as it was packed with  thrilling exploits, imperturbable courage in the face of worst dangers, and brilliant achievements in literature.   A versatile linguist knowing Latin, Greek, German, Persian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Hindustani, Telugu and Canarese, etc., Aiyar soon mastered French to study Napoleon's War Memoirs in the original ; and wrote a synthetic treatise on military strategy, adapting Napoleon's method of warfare for a war against the British rulers.  Desiring to prepare a background of revolutionary mentality among his countrymen, Aiyar wrote Tamil biographies of Napoleon, Garibaldi, Mazzini, Rana Pratap Singh, Chandra Gupta, etc., and wrote some excellent short stories as well.  He wrote a detailed commentary on Kamba Ramayanam as well in English. 

By foul means, British made the French Government agree to deport Aiyar to Algiers in Africa.  During this time, Aiyar translated Thirukulal in English.   In 1917  Gandhiji came to Pondicherry and Aiyar met him for the second time.   Aiyar became a convert to the principles of Ahimsa and he who never went about without a revolver in his possession, now exchanged it for the takli.    The general amnesty of 1920 saw Aiyar an editor of a Tamil daily newspaperb ‘Desabakthan’ at Madras – but sooner he was sent  Bellary Central Jail on sedition charges for an article published  and it is here that Aiyar wrote his Magnum Opus— ‘A Study of Kamba Ramayana’. 

Papanasam (Agasthiyar Falls) is located in Tirunelveli district – the attractive water falls  is located on the Western Ghats and to the south of Papanasam lower, the lake from where Tamirabarani river originates. This place is linked to Sage Agasthiyar.  This is a popular tourist place, frequented by Aiyappa devotees who also have darshan at Sri Papasanathar temple.  Sujatha’s novel would vividly describe the water falls and the way people lived in that area loving the environ.

Sadly on 3rd June 1925, Aiyar drowned in the Papanasam falls.   reportedly trying to save his drowning daugther Subhadra.  A remarkable career of a true patriot who suffered for the betterment of mother India, had an unnatural ending. Va.Ve.Su. Iyer espoused the political dictum that individual acts of bravery would kindle the ensnared spirit of the Indian masses towards achieving national freedom as he firmly believed that armed struggle was the way to achieving deliverance from the clutches of foreign yoke.

சுஜாதா தனது பிரிவோம் சந்திப்போம் காதல் கதை நடுவே ~ பாபநாசத்தில் உயிரிழந்த திரு வ வே சு அய்யரைப்பற்றி சொல்லியிருப்பார்.  தமிழின் முதல் சிறுகதையான "குளத்தங்கரை அரசமரம்" வ. வே. சு. ஐயர் எழுதிய ஒரு சிறுகதை.


With due respects &  regards to the National hero and all those who suffered fighting for the freedom of Mother India.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Apr 2020.

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