A. Madhaviah - A Verified Factual Record

by M. Krishnan
(Youngest son of A. Madhaviah)

In October 1925, when my father died suddenly, I was a little over 13 years old. 65-year-old recollection can be clouded and coloured by time, and it can be starkly sharp and factual, too that depends on the perceptive acuity and clarity in recall of the person recollecting. I can trust my memory: it is dependable, and I know when it may not be. However, I have verified this record to the extent to which it can be, by scrutinising such of my father's papers (in print and in manuscript) as I have still, and also by consulting the only other survivor among Madhaviah's children, my sister Muthu who, being 10 years older than I, has a longer recollection of my father. I sent her the draft of this record and have corrected and added to it in the light of her comments and what she could add.

I have just had occasion to realise, after a long session with a Tamil scholar doing research on my father's life and works, that there is hardly any record' of Madhaviah, the man, outside my own brief preface to Padmavathi Charithiram (The Little Flower Company edition). How has this come about? Perhaps it was that we, his children, were influenced by his own fierce repudiation of the personal evaluation of one's image, and that it never occurred to us that so vivid a personality could be so lightly forgotten. However that might be, this lack must now be remedied for any authentic, factual image of Madhaviah to survive to his descendants no easy task, but it is now or never, and I think it can be done.

Now for what are termed 'vital statistics' in applications for posts. About a dozen years ago when, after a lapse of three decades I met my old college-mate, G.Parthasarathy, in Delhi, he exclaimed that I was the living spit of my father whom he could have seen only when he himself was 13, for we are of an age. Outsiders see a family resemblance between close blood relatives, even a striking resemblance, that is not apparent to those blood relatives themselves. However, 'G.P.' was not quite correct. At 5-foot 9-1/4 inch, I stand almost an inch taller than my father. My unexpanded chest measurement is 36 inches, and his could have been only about 35: when I was in the senior M.A. class (1933) we went on a botanical excursion to Kodaikanal, and having only a sweater and no woollen coat, I tried on two of my father's tweed coats that my mother had preserved and both were too tight for me under the arms. He was physically much tougher than I am, by no means slim but not stout either, a strong, very evenly built man with whipcord muscles and not an ounce of fat on him. I distinctly remember both of us having our weights taken at a railway station weighing machine when I was 11 it was then that I learnt that a stone was 14 pounds. He was 10 1/2 stones (147 lb) and I about half that. "Look!" he said, "I am twice as big as you!". A dozen years ago, when 'G.P.' remarked on my resemblance to my father, I weighed around 79 kg I have lost 19 kg since. In the mode now in use, my father was 171 cm tall and weighed 67 kg. He was about my colour, neither fair nor dark, and equally sunburnt. A dozen years ago I was less almost-wholly bald, but even so I was 65 then, whereas my father was only 53 when he died. By then he was balding and his crinkly hair, cut short, was getting grizzled. His voice was pitched higher than mine (which is low) and his enunciation was very clear. He was never garrulous, nor was he ever morose and glum his was a vital personality, full of life and go, and his laughter was uninhibited and came in great gusts.

In his boyhood, he had always bathed at a river and he was a powerful swimmer a river in spate was a challenge that he could not resist at times. In my preface to Padmavathi Charithiram I have recorded how, on a bet with Bhavanandam Pillai (of the Madras Police Service) he once swam a mile in the sea opposite where Queen Mary's College stands now: he won that bet, a silver Victoria rupee that he presented to me on my 10th birthday, and which I treasured for long till it got stolen, being negotiable still. There was a dare-devil streak in him. A week after three Englishmen had slipped and fallen to their death in Kuttalam (Courtalam as it was then) trying to get across the torrent at the head of a waterfall along the perilous passage offered by a few small, projecting rocks, he crossed that identical death-track, just to show it could be done.

He was fond of Kuttalam (much wilder and greener then) and often visited it, to have the exhilarating experience of being pounded by the cascades and to have a swim in the rock-girt pools below. He was given (as many were in his day) to the ritual of the weekly oil-bath. I can see him still in my mind's eye, sitting statuesque on a low teakwood stool, waiting for the oil to soak in a rugged, gleaming figure anointed with gingelly oil all over, lost in thought, a formidable figure reminiscent of Rodin's 'Thinker'. I have reason to believe that some of the short poems he wrote for Panchamirtham were composed during these gleaming waits. There were short, curly, black hairs on his back around the shoulder blades, and I wondered why there were none on mine as I can wonder still.

His service in the Salt & Abkari Department of the government was strenuous and required him to cover miles cross-country each day on horseback. Was that why he chose the service ? He was very much an outdoor man and loved the countryside, horses and riding. I cannot remember the time when there was no horse in a stable near the house: in those days there were stables to be had even in the city of Madras. I have a vague childhood memory (we were probably in Cheyoor near Madurantakam then) of his having two horses at the same time, a spirited young grey Arab for the morning gallop and a sturdy chestnut waler for field work. When he was in Morekulam near Ramanathapuram he had a 'panchakalyani', a big, bay horse with white stockings and a white blaze: I was 8 or 9 then, and he often took me, perched on the pommel safely between his arms, miles and miles over the flat, sandy, palmyra-studded countryside during his rounds.

Later (about 1920) he was posted in the Madras office and had no need for a riding horse. He went in for a beautiful, dark green dogcart then, with a huge, dark brown waler named Mary between the shafts. He bought Mary from a high-placed British government officer about to retire and go home, who was keener on her new owner providing her with the comforts she was used to than on his being British he had heard of my father's love of horses. I think his name was Strathie and that he was the First Member of the Board of Revenue, quite an exalted office, whereas my father was only a newly-promoted Assistant Commissioner of Salt & Excise. Well, a couple of days after Mary came to us, Strathie called with a martingale he had forgotten to hand over and was duly conducted to the near-by stable to see the horse and also shown the sack of imported oats bought from a horse-food trader on Mount Road, for Mary was accustomed to oats. A few days later Strathie called again with a spare bit left with him by oversight, and my father asked him to take the horse back if he could not trust him. The visitor left murmuring apologies and never called again.

Perunkulam House, built by Madhaviah in 1922 when he commuted his pension taking premature retirement. He lived here until his death.

When Madhaviah retired prematurely and commuted his pension to build his own house and devote himself wholetime to the Tamil literary magazine, Panchamiritam, we shifted from Triplicane to Mylapore$. He then went in for a lighter carriage and a fast, self-willed, high-mettled Kunigal pony called Willy (because he was so wilful!), a flea-bitten grey of whom my father was very fond. We disposed of the horse and carriage after his death.

$ From the rented house, 79 Bells Road, Triplicane, to our own house, 2/14 Edward Elliot Road, Mylapore both door-number and road-name have been simultaneously changed to 52 & 53, Dr.Radhakrishnan Road.

Even his worst enemy and he must have had some enemies as will be apparent from later sections of this note could not have doubted his physical courage if they hated him, they also feared him. Whether by his example or his genes, none of his children has lacked moral courage, but I have known few men who were physically so fearless. Perhaps he was like that not only because he had faith in his bodily resources, but was also a romantic at heart, and admired all forms of heroism.

PH Cottage
Perunkulam House Cottage, the building adjoining 'Perunkulam House', known as the 'Cottage' which housed his own printing press.

During the last four years of his life, I (the youngest of the family) was with him all the time except while at school. We had our meals together, and my cot was right besides his. We would be up before dawn and go for a long walk, to the Marina and along it to Iron Bridge and back, sometimes even much farther. Often we would reach the Marina as the sun rose slowly, gradually, out of the inky waters and then suddenly popped clear of the sea: one of his self-consciously pastoral poems in Panchamirtham is about such a sunrise.

During these walks he conversed with me on all manner of things, but I cannot recall his ever holding forth on his own exploits. He spoke of the people he had known when he was younger, and of some he admired among the last a rustic, illiterate kinsman who had been an incorrigible playboy and vagabond in his youth and whom the sudden death of his elder brother, the breadwinner of the family, had transformed overnight. He had never married, and being illiterate could find no lucrative employment, but dedicating himself to the family had, by his bodily efforts (as a cook, among other things), somehow provided for his widowed sister-in-law and the education of her sons, till they were grown men and well settled in life by which time he himself was old and spent. I recount this to make the point that Madhaviah's admiration for heroism was as much for sustained, steel-willed fortitude as for daring exploits of spontaneous courage.

After I was grown up, my mother has often related in circumstantial detail the personal exploits of my father. No man had a more loyal companion in life. Born and brought up in an orthodox rustic Brahmin family, she never questioned her husband's nonconformist ways or liberal principles. The Madras Presidency of their days (which even I have known) was a vast and varied kingdom in itself. Besides Tamil Nadu, it included most of A.P. (even places then in it and now in Orissa, like Berhampur and Chilka) and a good bit of Kerala, a much wilder and more jungly vastness. Trains between the main towns were the only form of mechanised transport available: for the rest, it was bullock carts for the family to get to the remote outposts in which my father was posted, and horseback for him for camps and field work. Most of his official life was spent in such places, places like Markapur, Manginipudi and Tarangambadi, that I have only heard of many of them were in the Andhra country.

What my mother told me about incidents in my father's life was richly laced with place-names and the names of people familiar to her but wholly unknown to me. I have only confused, partial recollections of what I heard, general impressions rather than specific incidents. However, this does not matter. One incident (actually an event in his life) that both my mother and two of my sisters (both much older than I) have told me about will suffice to show what sort of a man Madhaviah was.

Duty was of paramount importance to him, and he fulfilled his official obligations meticulously, however irksome or risky they were. But as at present, and even in the distant past long before his days, it was not uncommon for subordinates in service to curry favour with their superiors who came round on tours of inspection, by going far beyond the obligations of duty and supplying them with rich food, drink and other 'amenities' free of cost. An Englishman who was Madhaviah's superior officer (his name, to the best of my recollection, was H.A.B. Vernon) disliked him and commented unfavourably on him in confidential reports because he stuck to his official obligations. Long after my father's death, one of his old colleagues (who also retired as an Assistant Commissioner) told me in admiring tones that Madhaviah was both disliked and feared both by his subordinates and his superiors on account of his strict, incorruptible honesty and that he would "neither offer nor accept so much as a lime". I must confess that this did not impress me as the height of rectitude. In the course of a more chequered career than his, I too have never made nor accepted such an offer. However, I do realise that such conduct often entails one's rightful claims to advancement being overlooked.

When Madhaviah found that in spite of his dedicated service he had been superseded (by an Anglo-Indian, I believe) he appealed to the authorities of his department. He was then posted in some remote station in the Ganjam district of the Andhra country where a notorious gang of narcotics pedlars held sway, and had long held it. No one could break this ring because they had their own armed guards and informers, Madhaviah spoke Telugu fluently. Disguised as a Telugu Brahmin 'Pantulu', with his service revolver and a whistle concealed in the ample folds of his clothing, he entered the den of the opium vendors, having secretly prearranged for a posse of armed policemen to be in hiding close by and answer his summons. Having secured his evidence, he blew on the whistle and displayed the revolver there were twenty or more of the gang there, some armed, but he warned them that there were five bullets in his revolver and that five of them would die before they could get him. The police squad burst in and the ring-leaders were arrested. As I heard it, Madhaviah got his promotion in consequence of this high drama.

He disliked pomp and pretence, and could not suffer fools gladly he positively despised cowardice and deceit. A poem he admired and rendered into Tamil#, James Russell Lowell's 'Freedom', is such a fair indication of his own credo that I give it below (verse and poet's name provided by my sister):

      "They are slaves who fear to speak
      For the fallen and the weak;
      They are slaves who will not choose
      Hatred, scoffing and abuse
      Rather than in silence shrink
      From the truth they needs must think;
      They are slaves who dare not be
      In the right with two or three."

#1 The rendering is there in his the later collection titled , and also in the latest translation collection titled . The first lines read:

All this might suggest a hard, uncompromising, dominating despot a wholly false and grotesquely distorted image of a very human, warm-hearted and generous man. He had an unbounded zest for life and a keen sense of humour he could always enjoy a joke at his own expense. Though it was in literature that his own deep scholarship and urgent talents lay, his fervour was for all forms of creative art, he was a rasika of all the arts. He did not sing but loved to hear classical music and folksongs, too. Among the reputed singers that he knew well personally were Ramanathapuram Srinivasa lyengar ('Poochi lyengar'), the celebrated composer and exponent of Carnatic music, the vocalist Shanmugavadivu (not Veenai Shanmugavadivu, the mother of M.S.S.), Poongavanam, and Veenai Dhanammal whom he engaged to sing the invocation he had specially composed for his eldest daughter's first birthday. His sense of laya was faultless an asset in determining the metrical structure of the poems he wrote. He was no less enthusiastic in his feeling for the graphic arts. Only two of his children, my sister Muthu and I, painted and drew (as we do still) and he encouraged us warmly to pursue our bent. And to every one of us he imparted a quite exceptional grounding in Tamil and English that no school or college could have given us.

2 A poem he wrote that is a favourite of mine, published in Panchamirtham, bears ample testimony to this : I quote it from memory :

=    ::    =

Thinking of his routine day, his death at only 53 years of age does not seem premature. His official duties during his service, and after retirement his preoccupation with Panchamirtham, amounted to a full day's work, but in between and afterwards he had time for his assorted friends, and for long sessions with Tamil and English literature by lantern light, for only in his last years did he have electric lighting. No medical aid was available in the remote stations to which he was posted, and he had to be his own family doctor and dispenser when any of us were ill. A tome on 'family doctoring', a First Aid box, and a well-stocked medicine chest came with us wherever we went. PH Cottage He was the family's sick nurse, too, a most patient, persuasive and cheerful nurse as all of us could testify to. And when we were well, he had time to help us with our problems, tell us stories and cheer us when we felt low, and when the whim took him, to try his hand at some special dish though my mother's culinary expertise (which was considerable) and usually that of a man-cook hired for the job, were already there.

Few outside the family, and not many within it, seem to have realised what a vast reach and sure grasp of Tamil and English literature Madhaviah had. When he died, the Tamil scholar and poet, Raa. Raghava lyengar, who was not given to praising his contemporaries, came all the way from Ramanathapuram to tell us that while he could not say that there were no others whose depth of scholarship in Tamil was as great, none was Madhaviah's equal as a highly informed and discriminating rasika of Tamil literature. It should be realised that both Raghava lyengar and my father had not only an exhaustive knowledge of the classics and the nuances of prosody, and were poets in their own right, but were also among the very few who had a genuine enthusiasm for the odd poetic pieces of the 18th and 19th century, and for occasional verse. They would spend hours together, forgetful of the meal long kept waiting for them, lost in some verse by some obscure poet whom one of them had "discovered", admiring a turn of phrase here and the sharp acerbity of a line there. The black, cloth-bound volume of collected occasional verses titled (the first anthology of its kind ?) that was there in my father's great library, and which I inherited, had many inserts in his own hand and many poems appreciatively marked in blue pencil.

Madhaviah had no expensive habits. He was teetotal and a nonsmoker, wore work-a-day clothes and liked countryside dishes. He spent his hard-earned money on his family and on books. The colossal library he left behind would have disclosed his true identity and values at a glance. The entire range of Tamil and English literature to his times was there, and there were some slim, handwritten volumes too, a priceless collection painstakingly made over decades, that was consumed in a week by termites during a wet spell when I was away in Sandur. I remember that library well.

The Tamil classics from Sangam literature downwards were all there, and also commentaries on them (in different editions), and comparatively modern works, including such masterpieces as Villiappan Pillai's Tirumukhavilasam (which my father specially liked for its uninhibited gusto) and, at the other end of the spectrum, V.P.Subramanya Mudaliar's Kombiviruththam. Religious poetry, from the Alwars and Nayanmars through the Siddhars to Thayumanavar and Ramalinga Swamigal was fully represented -- there were three copies (different editions) of Kural. Silappadhikaram, Manimekalai, Kamba Ramayanam, Villi's Bharatam, Nala Venba, the works of Kumara Gurupara Swamigal, and other such books were on the shelves, as also anthologies like Paththu-p-pattu, Ettu-th-thogai, Naladiyar and some more modern collections. Recent prose and poetic works like Pratapa Mudaliar Charithiram, and of contemporaries like Subramanya Bharati had a chest-high shelf: there were dictionaries, books of Tamil grammar and prosody and a set of Anandarangam Pillai's diary on the shelf above these. Translations of the Vedas (in English), and of Kalidasa, Valmiki and others, and some Buddhist and Jain books the names of which I cannot recall occupied another shelf. A scholar engaged in research into the Tamil classics need not have looked beyond that library.

English literature was no less comprehensively represented. All the poets, from Chaucer to Rupert Brooke, were there, a few (like Fitzgerald and Edwin Arnold) in particular works and the majority in collected works or in sets. There were several editions of Shakespeare, including the three volumes of the magnificent, illustrated de luxe edition by Cowden Clarke. Spencer, Donne, Jonson, Marlowe, Dryden, Pope, Gray, Goldsmith, Cowper, Blake, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Moore, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Poe, Rossetti, Swinburne and some others were all there, and there were quite a few anthologies of English poetry, too, from Palgrave's slim "Golden Treasury' to a huge, blue calico bound tome that we called 'Jack's' I have often consulted it and the delightful 'A Century of Parody and Imitation'. The novelists, right from Defoe (if he can be called a novelist), Sterne, Smollett, Blackmore, Scott, Jane Austen, George Eliot, the Brontes, Trollope, Dickens, Thackeray, Wilde, Kipling (with whom he had corresponded) -- all, all were there, as also the essayists, critics, biographers, philosophers, some historians and chroniclers of India of the past, and dramatists Sheridan to Barrie; Swift, Addison, Pope, Johnson, Lamb, Hazlitt, Macaulay, Ruskin, Carlyle, Emerson, Herbert Spencer, Arnold; Boswell and Lockhart; Marcus Aurelius, Spinoza and some Hindu philosophers; Gibbon (there were others I cannot recall), Abbe Dubois, J.Talboys Wheeler (Madras in the Olden Time), Confessions of a Thug by an author I am unsure of, and the like. The 20-odd volumes of Nelson's Encyclopaedia and the 2 heavy volumes of Webster's dictionary, as well as 3 or 4 other dictionaries, Maclean's Manual, the book of 'Familiar Quotations', three different editions of the Bible (one gilt-edged and bound in black morocco), Sale's translation of the Koran, and a set of maps of the Madras Presidency were also in that library, and the Indian Penal Code and Mulla's Hindu Law.

This detailed account of the library is provided as it answers, in its own way, some strange and unresearched questions about Madhaviah that I have been asked by researchers into his life and works in recent years.

P.N. Appuswami, the Tamil scholar and writer, was the older of my father's only two nephews (the elder son of his only brother, Madhaviah 's elder brother). He was a great admirer of Madhaviah and much liked by him (as by all of us) and was 34 when my father died. Appuswami contributed$ an account of Madhaviah as the pioneer novelist of Tamil to the March 1979 issue of the Tamil magazine, Kalaimagal: for some time before he did so, he had been engaged in research into our common ancestry and had ascertained some interesting facts about it. He spoke to me about these things, and also about what he was writing for Kalaimagal before he sent in the contribution. He told me then that he had established that even in. point of chronological time, Madhaviah's 1st novel (which began as Savithri Charithiram in Viveka Chintamani, a Tamil literary magazine of circa 890, was discontinued, and published as Muthumeenakshi with changes in 1903 later) was anterior to Rajam lyer's Kamalambal Charithiram (published in Viveka Chintamani) after my father discontinued his contribution) I told him then the point was pointless, since both authors had written what they had in total ignorance of the other's efforts and since, in my opinion (with which he agreed) Kamalambal was not really a novel but was a chronicle. At this juncture it is relevant to point out that in his preface to Padmavathi Charithiram, Madhaviah has unmistakably traced the evolution of the novel in English literature, and how it acquired its name because it was something new as a literary form, how the form did not obtain in contemporary Tamil (about 1898) when Padmavathi was published) and how his attempt was to utilise the literary form, already long established and remarkably popular in English, in Tamil.

$ 1972 was the centenary of Madhaviah's birth. KALAIMAGAL for December 1972 carries one of his (Kusika's) short stories and 2 features on him by P.N.Appuswami. The first (@ p. 657 and written under the pseudonym 'Muthanna', the name by which all of us in the family called him) is titled and categorically sets out how Savithri Charithiram was anterior to Kamalambal Charithiram in Vivekachintamani; the second , written under P.N.A's formal name , is at p. 686 and is titled . The March 1979 article of P.N.A. in KALAIMAGAL repeats these facts.

Preface to the third edition, Published 1911

In Appuswami's admirably factual and concise Kalaimagal article, copy of which he gave me and which I have still, he has discussed the total lack of a prose literary form, the novel, till recent times in Tamil, and pointed out that Madhaviah was actually the pioneer of the form in Tamil. He has added that he (Madhaviah) had a considerable knowledge of, and admiration for, the novel as it obtained in English literature, and that his style resembles Thackeray's at times, not that it was imitative he quickly adds that different authors far separated in time, place and language may have the same kind of literary inspiration and that their works may bear similarities in places something every well-read man knows. Based on this passage in P.N.A's assessment and their own literary ignorance, a so-called 'critic' and a researcher have said that passages in Madhaviah are reminiscent of Thackeray and suggested imitation if not downright plagiarism. Such an aspersion cast on a creative artist of Madhaviahi's integrity and stature merits no notice, but I am curious to know why Thackeray in particular was chosen when the entire gamut of 19th century English novelists was at his command.

To what extent do the human associations (as distinct from personal experiences) and reading of a writer affect his writing and his values in life? Both can, but only to the extent to which he himself is by nature predisposed. People have suggested that Madhaviah's revolt against the inhuman social customs of his day among orthodox, conventional men (a revolt exceptional in a man of his setting and community) might have been due to the influence of his mentor, the Rev. Miller, when he was a student of the Madras Christian College. I believe the Rev. Miller was a very fine and upstanding man and that Madhaviah did have a high regard for him (as he did for some other Englishmen, too) but surely his lifelong fight against obnoxious social customs was no more inspired by the Rev. Miller than by the volume of John Stuart Mill in his bookshelf ! What moved him was the blatant injustice and repetitive cruelty, as they must have seemed to a man of his broad humanity and native sensitivity, of these sectarian hostilities and the subjugation of women, and the tragic and ruinous practice of dowry demands as they obtained in his day. Would he have campaigned against the cryptic but prevailing sanctions against the Brahmin community that now obtains, as he did for Harijan uplift, had he been alive today? Not likely. He would have been wholly preoccupied with a battle against torture and even murder to enforce dowry demands that has gained ground considerably since his day, especially outside the Brahmin community. It is significant that he sought only two pledges from his sons when they were too young to comprenend the implications of what was asked of them never to accept the least little bit as dowry, and never to seek as a favour what was rightfully their due he did not live to know how faithfully they kept their word to him.

Two different researchers have asked me if Madhaviah treated his daughters witn the same consideration as his sons and gave them the same liberty. What a question to ask about a man who, in his own lifetime, earned the animosity of a great many people by his uncompromising advocacy of women's rights and the social equality of the sexes!

I have also been asked why he was so severely critical of the Brahmins. He was not. Some of his best friends were Brahmins, and he was not unaware of the cultural attainments (which he valued) of his own community. But he was dead against some degrading and unjust sanctions prevalent in that community (and also in some others) and was severe in his condemnation of them.

It is conceded that like Veerasalingam Pantulu in the Andhra country, Madhaviah was a pioneer social reformer in his own linguistic state, and that being an author his writings reflect the ardour of his convictions. But, it is suggested, that being also a government servant, he did not voice the patriotic fervour within him, as Bharati did. That is not true. He loved English literature and admired some eminently admirable Britishers, but he was wholly against the Raj. It is a provable fact that in an open competition for patriotic national songs in which Subramanya Bharati also took part, the prize (the Ranade Prize) went to Madhaviah for his 51-stanzas-long 'kummi', which was originally published in his - in June 1914, and subsequently included in the small collection of Indian national songs meant to be sung titled ('Indian National Songs' in English, only on the cover) published in 1925: in the preface to this 1925 collection it is clearly specified that the prize-winning 'kummi' was originally published in the "11 years ago" (i.e. 1914) and that it won the Ranade Prize. In 1914 Madhaviah was still very much in service. For the dates of publication see my verified list in chronological order of Madhaviah's Tamil and English works, appended to this record. He had also written many fervent patriotic songs which were in the 1914 and which were certainly not flattering to the Ruling Race. As a fair sample I give below a stanza from his invocatory , the first lines of which run ' '.

Here is the sample:

Extract from my sister's letter of 19 March '90: The contest in which won the prize was held in Tirunelveli about 1912-13 by a panel of judges. The names of the competitors were appended in sealed slips opened only after the judging was over. None of the judges knew who wrote what till the prize poem was announced. Verse 11, lines 3 & 4, originally stood like this:
,the loss of manhood perhaps suggesting a widowed state. One of the judges, the man who raved over the second verse, objected violently to these lines, saying that a poem with such sweetness and felicity of expression should not carry such an inauspicious word as . So the lines were changed to: . .

In many of his writings, especially in the pieces he wrote for Panchamirtham, his patriotic fervour, utter freedom from parochialism and sectarian prejudices, and admiration for many of his contemporaries and predecessors who campaigned against our own social evils and against the Raj are manifest. He had travelled widely even outside the vast, multilingual Madras Presidency of his days, and had a first-hand knowledge of his country. Again and again in his songs one can find his rock-bottom belief in the unity of India and all Indians, for all their religious, linguistic and sectarian divisions.

One last question I have been asked: who were his friends? In trying to answer this honestly I have many limitations. Many of his friends were those whom he had known from the days before I was born and whom I have only heard of, like Lakshmana Poththigal and others whose names I cannot remember. Further, many were ordinary people whom the reader will not know, to whose identities I can provide no clue: moreover they are all now dead and forgotten. I can make this point best by referring to my own friends: I have a great many friends all over India and outside it, men and women for whom I have a warm feeling and who have the same feeling for me, and asked to name them can provide a two-page list which, after being closely read, would leave the reader precisely where he was before however, since they are still there, I can provide their addresses and some account of them. I cannot do that for Madhaviah's friends. Many of them were Tamil scholars, and they were of all sects, all sorts and conditions.

Madhaviah was much admired and well known in his own days only now has he been forgotten. If by the word 'friend', one can also indicate an acquaintance or someone who has a high regard for a man and is liked by him, I can answer the question after a fashion. These, too, were of all sects, all sorts and conditions, and included practically all the Tamil scholars and enthusiasts for literature of his day. Sarojini Naidu knew him and had presented him with a copy of her 'Golden Threshold' (?) inscribed, "A tribute to the author of Thillai Govindan". C.Rajagopalachari knew him and admired him as he himself (Rajaji) once told me long after Madhaviah's death and shortly before his own. Among those who came to our house for a meal Madhaviah kept an open house, loved company and entertained freely I recall V.S. Srinivasa Sastry (because I took a dislike to his smug pomposity), the book-seller G.A.Natesan, Bhavanandam Pillai whom I have already mentioned, the Rev. Larsen (a Danish enthusiast for Tamil) and Father Francis Kingsbury who was truly my father's friend there were many others I cannot remember, whose names I cannot recall. The Irishman J.G. Maloney (who was in government service), the Englishman Popely who was an enthusiast for Tamil, K.S. Venkataramani who wrote in English, Chandy who was in Mysore State service, many others who knew him and whom he knew and who called on him, when we were in Triplicane, a Muslim horse-trader, a huge man with a Roman nose and a patriarchal beard, used to call he had a biting wit which my father greatly relished, though it was often at his own expense. He had a great many friends, among them the Kuttalam Mouna Swamigal.

------ o ------


NOTE: On looking into my father's diaries, personal papers, and some of his books marked 'Library Copy' in his own hand, some years ago, I found them all in the last stages of decay and mouldering. They had all been kept safe in a steel trunk, for 60 years, and whether due to getting damp when my house was twice flooded during these years, or to periodic spraying with insecticides, or the poor quality of the paper they were written and printed upon, they could not be kept any longer: further, many papers and all diaries were marked in bold letters 'Private'. After taking down details of publication from all available sources diaries, "Library Copies' and odd papers in his own hand - I destroyed the lot. This list is from those notes and is authentic.

Francis Kingsbury had contributed a to the last issue of Panchamirtham published after my father's death, in which he lists all his works to the extent known to him. My list contains everyone of the books he lists and some in addition.


S.No. Name of book Publication details etc.



The author was 26-27 when he wrote the first 2 parts.

Part I: as per diary published ............
Part II:...................
Part I: 2nd edition......
Both parts: 3rd edition..
Both parts: 6th edition published posthumously in or about 1928, prescribed as text for the B.A. degree nondetailed study.
Part III: published posthumously ..... 

A 7th edition of parts I&II was published by The Little Flower Company, sometime in the Nineteen Seventies, I think. This has a brief preface by me.

2 Liberal rendering into Tamil of Shakespeare's Othello.
Diary: Published.
2nd edition published by Swadesamitran

February 1903
3 Diary:
2nd edition Swadesamitran
4 Diary: 
No copy with me
5 Diary;
No copy with me
6 Diary: printed Madura Sangam Press at own cost No copy with me June 1914

Swadesamitran press (?)             No copy with me

1916 - 17
8 Swadesamitran press                  No copy with me 1918
9 Indian Publishing House               No copy with me 1923
10 The first edition must have been published much earlier. Only a record of publication of the 2nd edition is available, in 1923. No copy of the book is with me, though this is an important book as evidence of the author's views on dowry.
Original in English. APPH+ 1924
12 APPH+ 1924
13 APPH+ 400 selections from the Kural, annotated. 1924
14 Printed Sri Rama Press 15, Broadway, Madras 1925 ?
15 - original in English APPH+         No copy with me 1925
16 Perhaps printed APPH                 No copy with me 1925

It is important to add the 2 bound volumes of issues of the magazine containing Madhaviah's writings prose and poetic over his last years. I do not have copy now.

Vide page 15 for his English works.

+ NOTE APPH = The Author's Press and Publishing House: Madhaviah's own press and publishing house where Panchamirtham was printed.

in verified chronological order

S.No. Title of book or piece Publication details etc.
1 Poems: DOX vs DOX 1903: No copy with me
2 THILLAI GOVINDAN : Short Stories Poems: DOX vs DOX Srinivasa Varadachari & Co. 1903 No copy with me.
3 THILLAI GOVINDAN'S MISCELLANY Reprint: Christian College Mag. 1907. No copy with me.
4 SATYANANDA Published at own cost at the office of The Mysore Review, Bangalore, 1909

Macmillan & Co, Madras 1914       2nd edition: The Indian Publishing House, Madras - 1924

6 CLARINDA The Cambridge Press: Tondiarpet: Madras 1915 - No Copy with me.
7 Lt. PANJU 1915-16 : 2nd edition 1924-25        No copy with me.
8 THILLAI GOVINDAN Fisher Unwin, England: 1916          No copy with me.
9 KUSIKA'S SHORT STORIES Methodist Publishing House: 1916 No copy                                                       2nd edition: Part I (15 stories) & Part II (12 Stories): APPH: have copy.
10 MARKANDEYA The Indian Publisuing House: 1922
11 NANDA The Indian Publisuing House: 1923
12 DALAVAI MUDALIAR 1924. No copy with me.
13 In 1923 & 24, under the pen-name 'Narada' he had a series of short stories published in THE HINDU, Madras, under the general title 'Stories from Indian Life'. These, in a crumbling state, with the printed columns pasted on to the poor pages of a big notebook, are with me: they may not survive long, and I give the list in the order of publication below:
1 THE LAST STRAW Friday 9-11-1923
4 Ditto continued 8-12-'23
6 SUNDU IN THE MILL 27-12-'23
7 A SOUL'S TRAGEDY 5-1-'24
8 ALEK BHUM! BHUM ALEK! 16-1-'24
10 IF THEY BUT KNEW! 23-2-'24
14 A DAY TOO LATE 17-5-'24
15 KUPPAN'S CONFESSIONS (a set of 4). 4-6, 14-6, 21-6 & 2-7-1924