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Monday, August 17, 2020

Serangulam Bashyam @ Arya - hoisting Indian National flag in 1932

Life has changed ! ~ from Mar 24, we are officially on lockdown -  people are expected to remain at home and step out only for essentials !  SYMA Medical centre, lab, Growth all remain closed and there have been no activities .. on 15th Aug 2020, we assembled at our Medical Centre, hoisted National flag maintaining social distance and wearing masks.

Independence Day is the greatest day for the Nation and its citizens – We feel so proud and happy when our Prime Minister hoists the National flag at Red Fort and addresses the Nation.

A flag is a symbolic representation of a Nation and its principles. It is considered a symbol of pride and is unanimously associated with the nation’s spirit and ethos.  The National flag of India in its current form was first adopted during the Constituent Assembly held on July 22, 1947. This was a few days before India's independence from the British was declared.  This is on a post circulating in social media as photo of  the man who hoisted the Indian flag at Fort St. George.  While the incident is a great event, the photo is not correct ! (when pointed out in a couple of posts, they removed the comments !)

The National Flag of India is a horizontal rectangular tricolour of India saffron, white and India green; with the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, in navy blue at its centre.  It is famously  "tricolour" ( तिरंगा, Tiragā).  The flag is based on the Swaraj flag, a flag of the Indian National Congress designed by Pingali Venkayya. Born in 1878 in Andhra Pradesh, Venkayya was educated at Cambridge and grew up to become a polymath — with interests in geology, agriculture, education and languages.  In 1921, Venkayya met Gandhi in Vijayawada and presented a rudimentary design of the flag.  Venkayya inspires otherwise too with the sheer number of nicknames given to him. He was known as Jhanda Venkayya for his role in designing the flag. An avid gemologist, he was also called Diamond Venkayya, and for his knowledge of Japanese language, Japan Venkayya ; Patti Venkayya or Cotton Venkayya because he “dedicated most of his time researching staple varieties of cotton and did a detailed study on a particular variety called Cambodia Cotton.”

By law, the flag is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth or silk, made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The manufacturing process and specifications for the flag are laid out by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The right to manufacture the flag is held by the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission, who allocates it to regional groups.  Usage of the flag is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems. 

In Chennai, as one travels in Beach road aka Rajaji Salai – one of the main attractions is the Tamilnadu Assembly / TN Secretariat and of course the National flag that flutters on a tall flagmast.   This has a long history and dates back to 1644, when the fort was built at a time when it was White town.   The fort is considered to be the first establishment of the British in India. Initially erected as a trading post, it later served as the origin of the modern Indian Army. A live example of the military architecture marvel, the St. George Fort is probably the most noticeable ancient monument in Chennai. The fort holds great historical importance and is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India.  The Govt Museum here  was organised and opened to the public in Jan  1948. The museum began with a small collection of objects of the British Raj donated by the then Madras Presidency Government, the disbanded army units and others. 

Today it is a steel replica, but until 1994, what stood here was a teak beam. Rising to a height of 148 feet, it was considered the tallest flag post in the country. Salvaged from a shipwreck in 1687, it was used by Governor Elihu Yale for unfurling the Union Jack the subsequent year. The Indian tricolour was hoisted on it on August 15, 1947. But that was not the first time the flagstaff had sported the Indian flag. It had done so for a brief while on January 26, 1932, thanks to ‘Arya’ K. Bhashyam, a freedom fighter. This may not be a well-recognised name today, but in his time he was a livewire, organising flash stirs against foreign rule and burning foreign goods in public. In her biography Naan Kanda Bharatham, S. Ambujammal writes that Bhashyam had a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Madras but had become a freedom activist from 1920 or so.

In the Tamil Srivaishnava tradition, Serangolam ( Serankulam) near Mannargudi  is one of five villages collectively known as Panchagramam. The other villages are Karappangadu, Nammankurichi, Peravoorani and Puliyakkudi (Idaikkadu).  Bashyam hailed from there.  Bhashyam’s activities were not to the liking of his aristocratic family. His uncle was Sir N. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, of the Madras Civil Service, later Dewan of Kashmir, and still later, the Railway Minister of free India. Bhashyam’s brother Sadagopan was a senior officer in the South Indian Railway. Their displeasure, however, had no effect, and on January 26, 1932, he committed an act of unparalleled daring. When it was still dark, Bhashyam climbed the ramparts of Fort St. George, and having shinned his way up the riggings of the flagstaff, managed to reach the top. There, he unfurled the Indian tricolour that he had brought along.

All this activity had not passed unnoticed and a considerable police force had assembled at the base waiting for his descent. Bhashyam made his way down and halfway through, jumped on the policemen thereby injuring a few. In the ensuing scuffle, he also managed to thrash a few of them before being arrested. In court, Bhashyam refused to tender any apology and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. It was not the first and it would definitely not be his last tenure as a guest of the State.

Post independence, Bhashyam refused the pension to which he was entitled as a freedom fighter. He eked out a living painting portraits of his idols — Subramania Bharati and Mahatma Gandhi, all of which he signed as Arya. The best-known depiction of the poet, with handlebar moustache and turban, is his. He also sculpted busts and statues of Gandhi and one of these is present at Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya. His statue of S. Satyamurti stands at Ripon Buildings. Bhashyam passed away in 1999 at the age of 93. If we had any sense of history, we would have a plaque in his honour next to the flagstaff inside the Fort.

Was surprised to  read that  17th July  is celebrated in Tamil Nadu as ‘Thiyagigal Thinam’ and in 2017 TN  Ministers paid homage and floral tributes to 3 great freedom fighters ~    Thiyagi Arya alias Bhashiyam;  Thiyagi Sankaralinganar and Thiyagi Shenbagaraman

Now the photo that was referred earlier is one associated with a beautiful temple in  Thiru Ayodhya known as “Ammaji mandir”.   Around 100 years earlier, there was a great person by name Yogi Parthasarathi Iyengar and his wife was Yogi Singamma [the portrait]. Sri Yogi Parthasarathi Iyengar in his wisdom created a press for re-publishing on paper edition,  the great granthams of our Vaishnavaite mahans and in this venture established a press and persons to take care known as -  “Saraswathi Bhandram Committee” – saraswathi bhandaram meaning ‘library / treasure house’ of the works of Goddess of Learning Saraswathi. He spent his fortune towards establishing this and on this place built a temple for Sri Nampillai as the rightful person to own this treasure house at what is known at Komutti bungalow at Thiruvallikkeni.   Yogi Singamma, a century ago, built a temple of Sri Rama at the historic Ayodhya, a typical South Indian type temple, which is popularly known as ‘Ammaji Mandir’.  This temple is being maintained by ‘Saraswathi Bhandaram Committee’ – being taken care of by Dr MA Venkatakrishnan Swami.   Here is a photo taken at Nampillai sannathi and one can see the photo portrait on the wall.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar



1 comment:

  1. பாஷ்யம் அய்யங்கார் பற்றிய செய்தி பலரும் அறியாத ஒன்று(அடியேன் உட்பட)..மிக சுவைபட உள்ளது.. பார்த்தசாரதி அய்யங்கார்..சிங்கம்மாள் தம்பதிகளின் இணையற்ற பணிகளும் போற்றப்பட வேண்டியவை...இவர்களைப் போன்ற சான்றோர்கள் இனி காண கிடைப்பாரகளா...