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Monday, October 4, 2021

Remembering the great martyr Subramaniya Siva

The post has important pre-scripts !!

1)   Nation celebrated Gandhi Jayanthi – and many remembered stating that India got freedom without shedding blood .. .. ‘far away from truth’ – freedom was gotten by the sacrifices – blood and tissues of many martyrs and to those not aware, please read this famous case before Madras High Court decided by the Bench of CA White & Miller on 4th Nov 1908 

2)   Vathalagundu (Batlagundu) is a town in  present Dindigul district in the Madurai Region state of Tamil Nadu, India. The name Vetrilaikkundru (Betel leaf hill) later transformed and changed to Vathalagundu. The town is the major gateway to Kodaikanal.  It is a major agricultural hub.  The town is believed to be significant antiquity and has been ruled at different times, by the Pandiyan, Cholas, Madurai Nayakas and the British. 

3)   Sedition  :  is a major offence.  The noun would mean the   use of words or actions that are intended to encourage people to be or act against a government.

ஓர் அரசுக்கு எதிராக இருக்க அல்லது செயல்பட மக்களைத் தூண்டும் நோக்குடைய சொற்களைப் பயன்படுத்துதல் அல்லது செயல்களில் ஈடுபடுதல்; ஆட்சி எதிர்ப்புத் தூண்டல்.

Section 124A in The Indian Penal Code defines Sedition :  whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, .. .. .. .. shall be punished with 104 [imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

4)   We, Srivaishnavaites are naturally attracted to works on the great Acharya – Sri Ramanujacharya. Do you know the author of the book “Sri Ramanuja Vijayam ?


A couple of years  back, Veteran Congress leader Kumari Ananthan set off on an 'ahimsa' (non-violence) march from Marina beach  urging the Tamil Nadu government to allocate funds for the construction of a temple for 'Bharata Matha' in Papparapatti village in Dharmapuri district.  A few years ago,  the elusive forest brigand  was shot dead by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF)  in a place closer to Papparapatti  which has better claims to fame. 

The man who was born at Bathalagundu    – a great freedom fighter, closer to Subramanya Barathiyar, published Gnanabanu, a collection of poems and prabanyamithran magazine in which he published Articles on the importance of attaining freedom for India, freedom struggle and the service of the National leaders. He staged labour agitations in Chennai, Kolkatta, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli against British Government. Despite his illness and the severe restriction imposed on him by the British Government, he did a lot in enlightening the people in political matters and introducing order in their public life. He continued to fight for independence and suffered numerous prison terms while serving his last prison term, he was afflicted by leprosy to which he succumbed in 23 July 1925. 

இந்திய விடுதலை போராட்டத்தில் தமிழகத்தின் பங்கை விவரிக்கும் ஒரு அற்புத சினிமா 'கப்பலோட்டிய தமிழன்'  .. .. வெள்ளையர்களுக்கு சவாலாக  கப்பல் ஒட்டிய வ. உ. சிதம்பரம் பிள்ளையைப் பற்றி, பி. ஆர். பந்துலு இயக்கித் தயாரித்த படம்.  சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியாரின் பாடல்களுக்கு  ஜி. ராமநாதன் இசையமைத்திருந்தார்.   திருவனந்தபுரம் கண்ணுசாமி சண்முகம் என்னும் ஔவை தி. க. சண்முகம் - சுப்பிரமணிய சிவா வேடத்தில் நடித்திருந்தார்.  வெள்ளையர் ஆட்சியிலே சிறைவாசம் எளிதல்ல ~ உடலை உருக்கும், மனதை இளைக்கும், மனிதனை உருமாற்றம் கொடிய தண்டனை.

சிறை வாசத்தில் செக்கிழுத்தல், கல் உடைத்தல், கிணற்றில் நீர் இறைத்தல், தோட்ட வேலை, கம்பளி, ஆடை நெய்தல் உள்பட பல்வேறு வேலைகளை செய்ய வேண்டும். கம்பளி தயாரிக்கும் வேலையை தான் தியாகி சுப்பிரமணிய சிவாவிற்கு முதலில் கொடுத்தார்கள். ஆட்டு தோலின் கழிவுகளை அகற்றி அதை சுத்தம் செய்தல் போன்ற வேலைகளை செய்ததினால் அவருக்கு தொழுநோய் பாதிப்பு ஏற்பட்டது. அதைப்பற்றியெல்லாம் கவலைப்படாமல் சாகும் வரை நாட்டின் சுதந்திரத்திற்காக பாடுபட்டார் சுப்பிரமணிய சிவா.

India was born in midnight ! ~ the freedom was not a day’s affair or that of a single man packing the rulers away !! – it was a just fruit gotten by the sacrifices of very many leaders, many of whom perhaps the people of Nation have not recognised properly. The clamour to advertise that freedom was obtained without bloodshed sent to background many a great sacrifices. 

‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan’  released in 1961 is a great movie by many counts. It was the first movie to be granted tax relief.   The film directed by B. R. Panthulu, having cast of Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan,  S. V. Subbaiah, T. K. Shanmugham, S. V. Ranga Rao, S. A. Ashokan – powerfully portrayed the freedom struggle down South.  The film based on the biography of V.O.Chidambaram Pillai written by Ma. Po. Si.(M.P.Sivagnanam) taught history to later generations.  The film was about VOC (Valliappan Ulaganathan Chidambaram Pillai) – the great man, the advocate, who started shipping venture challenging the British on high seas – he suffered throughout his life and struggled.  VOC along with Subramanya Siva, another great patriot was summoned to Tirunelveli by the Collector  (shown as Winch in the film) – that meeting was also a great scene.  They were charged on sedition and sent to long years of imprisonment.  It was unthinkable suffering that broke their back but never their spirit.   Had it been properly documented, it would break all claims of gentleness and portray the barbarism of erstwhile British rulers.

The man Subramaniya Siva is remembered today.  He was born this day (4th Oct 1884).  Siva was born in Batlagundu ( வத்தலக்குண்டு)  near Dindigul.  In 1908, he was arrested by the British and was the first political prisoner in Madras jail. While serving a prison term, he was afflicted by leprosy and was shifted to Salem jail. Since leprosy was regarded as a contagious disease, the British authorities forbade him to travel by rail after his release and hence he was forced to travel on foot. He continued to fight for independence and was incarcerated many times until 1922.

Known for his fiery speeches and rendering of Mahakavi Barathiyar songs.  The relentless freedom fighter and heroic patriot Subramaniya Siva chose Papparapatti village in Pennagaram taluk as the center of activities during his last years of life and took efforts to establish a Bharatasharam in Papparapatti. He published Gnanabanu, a collection of poems and prabanyamithran magazine in which he published Articles on the importance of attaining freedom for India, freedom struggle and the service of the National leaders. He staged labour agitations in Chennai, Kolkatta, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli against British Government. Despite his illness and the severe restriction imposed on him by the British Government, he travelled places, organising people against the British.   The disease and injuries sustained in the jail hastened his death, which embraced him on  23 July 1925, hardly 41 years of age.

By some accounts, he had bought land at Papparapatti with public support to build a temple for Bharatha Matha. Senior leader Chitharanjan Doss had even laid a foundation stone for the temple in 1923. However, after Siva’s death in 1925, his body was buried at the spot and a memorial was built there.  About a decade ago, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu  J Jayalalithaa inaugurated the memorial of Thyagi Subramaniya Siva constructed at a cost of Rs.40 lakhs in Papparapatti, Dharmapuri District.

Today, we remember Subrahmanya Siva, Thirupur Kumaran  and the sacrifices of those people which gave us the freedom.  Kodikatha Kumaran too was born this day in 1904.

The case referred in prescript 1 was the appeal of the great martyr VO Chidambaram Pillai – referred as  the second accused in Calendar Case No. 1 of 1908 on the file of the Additional Sessions Judge of Tinnevelly. The appeal  was against the cruel sentence.  The offences of which the  appellant had been convicted were three offences of abetment of the uttering by the 1st prisoner of seditious words. The occasions are the speeches made on the 23rd and 25th of February 1908 and the 5th of March following. The appellant was not present on the last occasion, but was present on the other two, and has accordingly been convicted on one charge of an offence under Sections 109 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code and on two charges of offences under Sections 124A and 114 of the Indian Penal Code. He has been sentenced to transportation for life.  .. .. and the man referred was “Subramaniya Siva” on whom the Court recorded that he  made a speech in which in plain language he put before his audience the goal to which they should aspire, the overthrowing of the British supremacy and the liberation of India from a foreign yoke.

July 7, 1908 is a date no patriotic Indian of Tamil origin could afford not to know for it is on that day Madurai-born freedom fighter Subramania Siva became the first patriot in the whole of Madras Presidency (encompassing much of present day southern India) to be found guilty and imprisoned on the charge of sedition in British India. Coincidentally, it was in July 1996 that his birthplace Batlagundu (Vathalagundu in Tamil) was taken away from Madurai district after the latter’s bifurcation to form Theni district. Therefore, it is only apt to recall the history created more than a century ago by Arthur F. Pinhey, the then Additional Sessions Judge of Tinnevelly (now Tirunelveli) district.

The book at the start “Ramanuja Vijayam’ was written by this great freedom fighter in 1924.  The book, out of print for many decades,  was republished by Va.U.Si. Noolagam in recent years.  Written in  Manipravalam – Subramania  Siva portrays his deep understanding of Srivaishnavism as he uses  ‘Poornar’ instead of ‘nambi’.  Periya Nambi has been referred to as Maha Poornar, Thiukottiyur Nambi as Kottiyur Poornar, Thirukkachi Nambi as Kanchi Poornar. 

With regards to great souls ~ S. Sampathkumar.
4th Oct 2021.