The native returned thrice to Thullum, his birthplace, which he left in 1890. Dismayed at the derelict remains of his hamlet in 1928, he went back to return in 1938 and met with playmate Appadorai Pillai. His hopes of resettling there were dashed on his third visit in 1940; Appadorai Pillai had died on the day of his visit. He savours though, his accosting Muniammal, his class mate by name, though she failed to recognize him. We see a vignette of rural frankness. She, a poor village housewife going about her humdrum chores, chided the scholar, ‘Chinnasamy! What will you do here? Go back’.
ThiruViKa was born to Vriddachalam Mudaliyar and Chinnammal on
A scare to timid boys, he spared not elders either, if they displeased him. He recalls disturbing public meetings and pelting stones at speakers, whom he did not fancy. He was to become the Tamil Gandhi!
Vriddachalam Mudaliyar, a third-generation scholar, taught Tamil and English to his boys in his thinnaipallikudam, literally the home-school. Keen on reaching the best modern education to his boys, he returned to his Royapettah moorings when Chinnaswamy was seven. Chinnasvamy schooled at
He had to earn a living, his father having died on
A calamity had befallen him in 1918. He married Kamalambikai on
She died on
Reticent and abstemious in private life, he plunged into public life through the Indian National Congress, the Madras Labour Union and by accepting the editorship of Desabhaktan on
He published his autobiography in 1944. His health deteriorated, diabetes ravaging his body. Cataract surgery failed and he lost his eyesight in 1950. He persisted and took to dictating his books, though he suffered much in later life. He was, for all practical purposes, evicted from his rented premises and found it difficult to go about his life in an unfamiliar rented accommodation, having lost his eyesight earlier.
The end came on
The emergence of scholars in his and the earlier generation has some striking features. Most of them missed formal schooling. They took lessons from their fathers at home and then sought out teachers in distant villages. Great scholars, those teachers were obscure and poor. A modern university cannot instill the high academic standards and the wide spectrum of scholarship that they bestowed on their pupils, as to manner born. There is a fair sprinkling of reclusive spirits among them, like Gnaniyar Adigal, Pamban Swamigal, Maraimalai Adigal, Swami Vipulananda of the Ramakrishna Math, Fr. Xavier S. Thani Nayagam S.J, Suddhanantha Bharathi. A significant number of others lost their wives young, but got remarried without much loss of time!