Thiru. Vi. Ka, the Tamil Gandhi & His Times.
By. S. Soundararajan
This pamphlet is the shortened version of the first political biography of a Tamil publicist, about whom little is known outside the Tamil region of
She was also coming of age in the sense that Renaissance was dawning upon her in almost all the spheres ranging from music, fine art, literature and above all in politics.
At the dawn of the century, people did not matter; the dominant ruling class did. Two deleterious societal fault lines - the vice-like grip of the caste and the dubious ‘divine right’ of local chieftains – kept the common man shackled to his serfdom. It is said that he was resigned to British imperialism; its administration was fair, peace prevailed, personal domain was safe and it instituted some overdue reforms. Indian soldiers unsuccessfully mutinied in the northern regions in 1857, in what is now termed as the First War of Independence. What was secured was not liberty, but the imposition of British sovereignty. Curzon’s partition of
These developments are extensively covered in literature, but for the role of the Tamil leaders during those eventful five decades. This deficit has also been noticed in literature; three such illustrative comments in 1962, 1970 and in 2008 are cited.  This book on ThiruViKa  seeks to fill that void. He was active throughout this turbulent period as a Tamil scholar, political leader, trade unionist, editor and as a social and religious reformer. A prolific writer, he was much sought after as a public speaker. A Marxist by 1918, he began translating Gandhiji’s speeches in 1919. His book of 1921 on Gandhism is considered the best ever exposition on that subject in Tamil.
He was called the Tamil Gandhi for his austere life-style, disdain for personal wealth, the monk’s habit, the characteristic Gandhian trait of tenacity leavened by an engaging openness of the mind, and even a physical likeness. Like the Mahatma, he was deeply religious in an orthodox way, receptive to all faiths all the same. He has fallen into obscurity even in Tamil Nadu, thanks to changing political trends and shifts in all the spheres in which he had laboured hard. Awards, schools, roads, bridges and neighbourhoods have been named for him; the memory has, alas, faded.
Publicists and scholars of his times thrived on dissent, amity binding them when common cause beckoned. ThiruViKa is the best subject for reflecting on the upheavals of his times as he belonged to many circles; he represents the unrepresented. It is time we kindle an interest on such matters as an equal period has elapsed after federal
[to be continued]
1. Varatharajan, Na. in ThiruViKa (1962), Sivagnanam, MaPo in his Viduthalai Poril Tamil Valarndha Varalaru (The History of the Growth of Tamil during the War of Independence) (1970) and Bhaskaran, S.T in a Book Review in the Hindu of
Sunil Khilnani signposts us to a large number of writings on
2. All proper names are denoted by such-like initials after the first use, adhering to Tamil practice; it is also easy on the eye. A List of Abbreviations provides full names, as transliterated and as given in the text.
3. Sahitiya Akademi,