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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Tributes to a rare jewel of Triplicane - Sriraj, the master !


Years back in Mar 2005, I interviewed him and did an article for SYMA Bliss ~ a decade or so later,  went to his house thinking that a photo-feature on my blog would be good…….. he politely refused and after a lengthy discussion, he agreed upon a condition (can you imagine what it was ?  … read the last para)  .. .. today Triplicane pays homage to him.  Sad SRIRAJ is NO MORE!!

It is place with great heritage and rich legacy … the holy Thiruvallikkeni (Triplicane as crudely rolled and twisted out of shape by the English tongue) -  a place where religion, nationalistic fervour, patriotism, sports, education and the individual dignity have interspersed for the benefit of the State and the larger interests of the Nation.  We have Presidency College, century old institutions like The Hindu High School, NKT Group of Educational institutions and more.   … 

From 2008, SYMA is running a full time Educational support centre – SYMA Growth aimed at providing quality educational support to poor students of X Std and + 2.  The man of the post has been associated with SYMA since its formative years and was bent on eradicating illiteracy.  He lived  simple and many of us would have seen him in the four streets around the temple, little realizing his greatness and his services.  He may look like a very simple next door neighbour,  I found him to be waxing  eloquence and  a true karmayogi.  

Education is the most important thing in life – it will give Worldly pleasures  and give pleasure to the world too; it will not diminish by giving; it will spread the fame of those possessing it; cannot be destroyed… there is no better medicine  than Education that can cure all ills.     Ramanujapuram Ananthanpillai Sriraj, popular as “Sriraj” ... was born in  1947 - the year in which our Independence dawned,  this humble person was born at a small obscure hamlet near the gold mines of kolar in Karnataka.  

Tamilnadu was to reap the benefits much later.  This man had his schooling in the famous Hindu High school of Triplicane; did his graduation (Bsc Physics) and qualified himself with AMIE – Mech. As all young aspirants would do,  joined Bhilai Steel Plant – a veritable industrial establishment in those days; subsequently turned towards business – their own establishment dealing with printing machineries.  The story would  have been a simple one on predictable lines – rise to wealth. But he chose to live his life differently !   

He took up on illiteracy.  Chennai though considered the wisdom capital of the Bharat has clusters of slums inhabited by people with little access to education.  The geography of Triplicane is too well known – all of us know the existence of slums and the standard of living of those inside; many may be blissfully ignorant of their trials and tribulations.  Not for Sriraj.  The urge to serve the weaker lings was always burning within.  Here was a man motivated by Dr Hedgewar’s policy of educating and motivating the society.   

He made a humble beginning by teaching  primary school children of  Hanumanthapuram in the evenings., for moulding should start when very young.  As the numbers swelled, he had to look out for a bigger place.  He did not look outside for solution but shifted the tuition centre to his own house.  For more than 15 years this noble person continued rendering service in style.  At peak, he had more than 100 students with nearly 18 volunteers teaching the school curriculam.  He was keen that along with education was imparted ethics, good conduct and more than anything else the cultural heritage of this wondrous motherland.  He organized school books and guides also for the group which by choice  was  from the economically poor slum children.  Many of his wards graduated (literally yes – completed B Com & et al) with a couple even completing post graduation. At a particular stage, he even made them Computer-literates too,  by having 4 systems properly manned, teaching them the soft-skills.  

Sriraj during the tete-a-tete said the initial mindblock for those children was learning English but  was quick to add that for any one with keen sense of hearing, memory, retention and more importantly the interest and attitude, learning will seldom be a far cry. He rightly pointed  out that the present day English learning is after all something which dawned on this country not more than 160 years  ago or a little more.  His mantra for success was methodology, organized way of doing things,  regularity in doing them, sincerity coupled with hardwork.  He practised his preaching  to overcome the social divide teach other and help in up-liftment.  If only we had more like this unassuming person, perhaps one day illiteracy can indeed be eradicated.  

In my school days (mid 1970s) I have observed cinema posters appearing on Wednesday night & on Thursdays ~ as new films would hit the screen on Friday (sentiment !) Slowly the culture permeated so deep that posters hailing 100th  day – degenerated to 25 days and even successful opening.  There were some hailing the audio release and pooja of proposed films even. Posters used to be the most preferred form of advertisement for political parties too – in some places, even death would be communicated through posters. Now a days, one gets to see lot of flex-boards .. .. one such poster put up near Krishnampet hailing his services put up in 2018 ~

Sriraj lived a saintly life, taking care of his old mother in the best manner. Understand that his mother passed away a few months back and yesterday Sriraj breathed his last peacefully leaving Triplicane and this World. 

On that day, as I requested for a photo of him to be taken, before permitting me, he went to his mother said that a known person from SYMA has come and asked her what she would feel about allowing a photo to be taken – was so intent on avoiding any public glare…. His house in Car Street (which housed Anand Vidyashram) is too well known.  

Very Sad that a karmayogi has passed away ! ~ SYMA and Triplicanites bow his indomitable spirit.  Om Shanthi to his athma.


With grief


Secretary SYMA


1 comment:

  1. Yes I have read your privious posting about Sriraj...காண கிடைக்காதவர்... Om shanthi.