In 1974, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan, a well-known artiste of Radio Ceylon, in charge of producing a radio program sponsored by the People’s Bank, saw a 30-minute comedy play staged by S. Ramdas at D. S. Senanayake College in Colombo.
Enthralled by the play, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan requested Ramdas to lengthen the play for broadcasting as a serial over the radio. Young Ramadas readily agreed and wrote the script and dialogues for the radio comedy “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” (Hilarious Antics of Clowns) with the message of national unity. Ramdas took hints from the Indian Tamil film “Bharatha Vilas” directed by A. C. Trilokchander starring Sivaji Ganesan and K.R. Vijaya, which emphasised national unity among families hailing from different Indian ethnic groups living in separate portions in a mansion named “Bharatha Vilas“.
Instead of bludgeoning directly into the ethnic amity, and unity in diversity among families belonging to different ethnicities and religions living in separate portions under one roof in a large house, he presented humorously the peaceful coexistence of those people .
Radio Ceylon broadcasted the play continuously for 90 weeks, sponsored by the People’s Bank.
Ramdas, a Brahmin in real life cast himself as “Marikkar”, a Colombo Muslim with the proper enunciation of a Colombo Muslim.
B. H. Abdul Hameed, a Muslim in real life, took on the role a Brahmin named “Iyer”.
K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), another Muslim acted as “Thanikasalam” the villain.
T. Rajagopal took the role of a gentleman of Jaffna origin named “Appukutty”, and S. Selvasekaran took on the role of a Sinhalese named “Upali”.
The play became immensely popular. I too became an enthusiastic fan and listened to the play every Sunday at 4 pm.
In early 1976, Malkar Mohamed, who listened to this weekly radio drama decided to produce it as a film. Ramdas readily agreed when Mohamed expressed his desire.
Ramdas enthusiastically penned the story and dialogues for the film titled “Komaligal” (“The Clowns”).
S. Ramanathan, an experienced personality in the Sinhala film industry consented to direct it under the banner of Amarjothy Movies.
The original actors of the radio play “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” – S. Ramdas, B. H. Abdul Hameed, K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), T. Rajagopal and S. Selvasekaran – took on their respective roles in the film. Sillaiyoor Selvarajan and his wife Kamalini Selvarajan acted as lovers in the film.
The film “Komaligal” produced in 45 days and screened on November 22, 1976, at 6 theatres, became a box office hit and ran successfully, better than any other previous Sri Lankan Tamil movie.
Here is a video clip of the song Ennadi Sithi Beebee written and sung by Ramdas in the dialect of Colombo Muslims. This song became an instant hit even though he mimicked “Ennadi Raakkammaa“, a popular song of that period, sung by T. M. Soundararajan in the Indian Tamil film ‘Pattikkaada Pattanamaa’.
Sathyavaageeswara Iyer Ramdas alias “Marikkar” Ramdas born on May 5, 1947, in Sivagangai, in Tamil Nadu, India passed away on July 13, 2016, at the residence of his daughter Priya in Besant Nagar, Chennai. Though Ramdas is no more with us, the memories of “Marikkar” Ramdas will forever live in the hearts and minds of his numerous fans in Sri Lanka, India, and all over the world.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
– Mother Teresa
Born in 1981, Narayanan Krishnan, a former award-winning chef hails from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
In 2002, while working at Taj Hotels, Bengaluru, India, he secured a job as a chef in a five-star hotel in Switzerland. Before heading for Europe, he went to his birthplace to see his parents. There, on his way to a temple, he saw a distressing scene. Narayanan recalls:
“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli [rice cake], which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”
Narayanan forfeited the job in Switzerland. From June 2002 onwards, using his savings of about $2500, he started distributing around 30 food packets a day for the destitute in and around Madurai City.
Narayanan Krishnan action reminds me of an incident in the Gospel of Mark:
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
In 2003, Narayanan Krishnan founded the nonprofit Akshaya Trust. In Sanskrit, Akshaya means “non-depleting.” In Hindu mythology, Goddess Annapoorani fed the hungry with the never depleting “Akshaya bowl”. Krishnan said that he chose the name Akshaya “to signify that human compassion should never decay or perish … The spirit of helping others must prevail forever.”
Narayanan Krishnan wakes up every day at 4 am and with his team, prepares a simple hot meal. After loading the cooked food in a donated van, the team goes out to feed around 400 destitute, mentally disabled, and elderly people in Madurai. He provides them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.
He not only feeds the needy, he has also acquired the skills of a barber. With the comb, scissors and razor he carries along with him, he cuts hair and shaves those he serves, transforming them into dignified persona. Krishnan says:
“I cut their hair, I give them a shave, I give them a bath. For them to feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them, that they have a hand to hold, and a hope to live. Food is one part, and love is another part. So, the food will give them physical nutrition, and the love and affection which you show will give them mental nutrition.”
Narayanan Krishnan, born into the Brahmin caste says:
“Brahmins are not supposed to touch these people, clean these people, hug these people, feed these people. Everybody has got 5.5 liters of blood. I am just a human being. For me, everybody is the same. “
Many destitute people do not know their names or where they come from. Some, because of their conditions, are paranoid and hostile. They do not beg, ask for help or offer thanks. Even then, their attitude only helps strengthen Krishnan’s steadfast resolve to help them.
“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force in me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”
In 2010, Narayanan Krishnan was in “CNN heroes 2010” list. He was selected among the top 10 out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.
Narayanan Krishnan summarizes his goal:
“What is the ultimate purpose of life? It is to give! Start giving. See the joy in giving.“
EeVeRa, is short for Erode Venkata Ramasamy (September 17, 1879 – December 24, 1973). He was a social activist, politician and businessman in Tamilnadu, India.
An array of regional political parties under the canopy “Dravidian” dominate the current political arena in Tamilnadu. These parties trace their origins and ideologies to the Dravidian movement launched by EeVeRa.
The Indian population is still classified as Aryans or Dravidians based on language families, but genetic research does not confirm this. According to this classification the North Indian languages are Aryan, and the South Indian languages are Dravidian.
The term ‘Aryan’ as a race was first propounded by Friedrich Max Müller. He was a German-born philologist and Orientalist, connected with the East India Company. He lived and studied in Britain for most of his life. In 1853, he conjectured that a group of people called Aryans had invaded India in 1500 BC. The British colonialists of the period and Thomas Macaulay, a member of the Supreme Council of India, supported Max Mülle’s hypothesis. Macaulay asserted that there was a need to develop a breed of Indians “who would be Indian by blood and colour, but Western by morals and intellect”.
During the British rule, the former Indian state of Madras Presidency consisted of almost all regions of today’s Tamilnadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh. At that time, the British, and the Indians schooled in the British system, opined that the Dravidian languages were inferior to the Aryan languages. Sanskrit, a classical language of the Aryan group, was considered sacred.
In the early 20th century, the Brahmins occupied the highest strata in the Indian caste system. They dominated the political scene in South India. Though only 3% of the population in Madras Presidency, they held 60 to 79% of the positions in major government departments.
At that time, many non-Brahmin leaders in the south asserted that Brahmins were Aryans as defined by Max Müller and hence non-natives. They claimed the Brahmins had occupied positions in the government that rightly belonged to the people indigenous to the region. This claim compounded with an antipathy towards Sanskrit spurred on the animosity against the Brahmins. This hostility directed at the Brahmins gave rise to Dravidian politics in Madras Presidency.
The Justice Party
In 1917, Sir Pitti Theagaraya Chetty, Dr. T. M. Nair, O. Thanikachalam Chettiar, and Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar founded the Justice Party to represent the non-Brahmins in the Madras Presidency. It soon became the main political alternative to the Indian National Congress (INC) in the Madras Presidency.
In 1920, the Justice Party won the first direct elections in the Madras presidency and formed the government. During the next 17 years, it formed four out of the five governments and was in power for 13 years. In the 1937 election, it lost to the Congress and never recovered afterwards.
The Justice Party, by its many controversial activities, seemed isolated in Indian politics.
Its anti-Brahmin attitude shaped many of its ideas and policies.
It opposed the appointment of Brahmins in the civil service.
It was against the participation of Brahmins in politics.
It campaigned against the non-cooperation movement in the presidency.
It was at odds with M. K. Gandhi, primarily due to his praise for Brahminism.
Its mistrust of the Brahmin-dominated INC, led the Justice Party to adopt a hostile stand towards the Indian independence movement.
Though the Justice Party pledged to represent all non-Brahmins, it eventually lost the support of Muslims and Untouchables. They accused the Justice Party of serving the interests of only a few castes such as the Vellalars, Mudaliars, Pillais, Balija Naidus, Beri Chettis, Kapus and Kammas.
The Self-Respect Movement
E.V. Ramasamy was born in Erode, Madras Presidency to a wealthy family of Balijas. The Balija is a social group that spread across the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
At a young age, EeVeRa witnessed many incidents of racial, caste and gender discrimination. He married his first wife, Nagammai when he was 19.
EeVeRa was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) party. In 1925, he broke away from INC and formed the Self Respect Movement or the Dravidian Movement. The Self-Respect Movement claimed to promote interests similar to the Justice Party. In addition EeVeRa proposed the creation of an independent state called Dravida Nadu, comprising the four states of South India: Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu.
Nagammai, died in 1933.
In 1938, the Justice Party came under the leadership of E. V. Ramaswamy and his Self-Respect Movement.
In 1944, EeVeRa withdrew the Justice Party from electoral politics. He changed the name of the party to Dravidar Kazhagam, a social organization.
Dravidar Kazhagam originally strived for social equality by eradicating the ills of the existing caste system including untouchability. Later on, Dravidar Kazhagam wanted to end the domination of North India on the politics and economy of the Madras Presidency. And, on a grander scale Dravidar Kazhagam wanted to create a “Dravida Nadu” (Dravidian nation) and do away with the Madras Presidency.
Thus, the roots of Dravidar Kazhagam lie with the Justice party and the Self-Respect Movement.
Dravidar Kazhagam originally strived for social equality, and later wanted to end the domination of North India on the politics and economy of the Madras Presidency.
The Dravidian politics of Dravidar Kazhagam found support only in Tamilnadu.
EeVeRa married for a second time in July 1948. His second wife, Maniammai, continued Periyar’s social work after his death in 1973.
I came across a snippet in Tamil on Facebook, alleged to Periyar. It impressed me, and I rewrote it in English. It is not a direct translation.
One Who Uses God as a Weapon Is a Terrorist!
There are no gods! Gods do not exist! The person who preaches gods is a Philistine. One who believes in gods is a simpleton. One who spreads the idea of gods is a charlatan.
1. How did gods come into existence?
2. How did gods get an image?
3. And what need is there for a god to have a human form?
4. How did so many gods come to exist?
5. How did these gods get wives, children, and lovers?
6. After that, how did the wives, children and lovers become gods?
7. How did these gods get houses, jewellery, clothing, food, etc.?
8. Why did these gods wage war against humans and other creatures, and why kill them?
9. How did these gods get a rank on a scale of importance?
10. Aside from these, how did wells, pools, ponds, rivers etc., become gods?
11. How did these wells, ponds, pools, rivers get a varying range of godlike powers?
12. How much time, money, and effort do humans spend on these entities they call gods?
13. Just compare yourself with the once naked Aryans that ate vegetables and creatures in the raw, and cohabited with their own mothers, daughters, and sisters regardless of how they were related. See how they have attained intellectual progress now! What is your state today?
13. Compare yourself with the once naked Aryans who ate vegetables and creatures, raw, and cohabited with their mothers, daughters, and sisters regardless of relationship. See how great their intellectual progress is; and, what is your status now?
During the summer of 1947, Balakrishna arrived in Rishikesh and hiked one mile to the ‘Divine Life Society’, the ashram of the illustrious Swami Sivānanda Saraswati.
Swami Sivānanda Saraswati (September 8, 1887 – July 14, 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Swami Sivānanda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, a panchayat town in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most part of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.
At the ‘Divine Life Society’ Ashram, Balakrishna read Hindu scriptures and reviewed spiritual books. His sceptic mind evolved into a seeker of truth. He eventually renounced worldly life and became a monk.
Swami Sivananda recognised the latent talent in Balakrishna and entrusted him to organise a ‘Gita Committee’ which included Swami Krishnananda (II), and Sri Nanda Kishore Srivastava, a very learned philosopher from Bihar.
On February 25, 1949, Balakrishna was ordained into sannyāsa (vow of renunciation) by Swami Sivānanda Saraswati and from then on was known as Swami Chinmayananda, or “bliss of pure Consciousness.”
In the summer of 1949, Swami Chinmayananda, with Swami Sivānanda’s blessing, sought out Swami Tapovanam (Sadguru Swami Tapovan Maharaj) of Uttarkashi, one of the greatest Vedantic masters of his time. He set out on foot for the long trek to Uttarkashi, where Swami Tapovanam resided.
In Uttarkashi, Swami Chinmayananda led an extremely austere life and under Swami Tapovanam’s guidance underwent a rigorous study of the scriptures. His day began at 3 am with an icy bath in the Ganga, and after hours of meditation by the river and ended late in the night.
Launching of a new Spiritual Movement
In May 1951, after mastering the sacred texts, Swami Chinmayananda left the Himalayas. He then set out on an all-India tour to visit places of worship. He was miserably disillusioned and disappointed about how the Hindu religious heritage was being taught. He remarked:
“I was miserably disillusioned and disappointed about… the stuff doled out as the best in Hinduism…. My experiences during those five months of roaming only strengthened my conviction that I must execute… Upanishad Jñāna Yajña sessions all over India, in all the great cities.”
With the blessings of his guru, Swami Chinmayananda started his own Yajna Mission in 1951, to spread knowledge of Vedanta to the masses.
Until then the study of Vedanta considered sacrosanct was traditionally the preserve of orthodox Brahmins. So, teaching Vedanta to the public was hitherto unheard of, and the orthodox Brahmin gurus considered it taboo to catechize the ancient holy scriptures to people not belonging to the Hindu orthodox priestly castes.
In December 1951, Swami Chinmayananda held his first lecture series in a Ganesha temple in Pune city.
During his first few discourses on the inaugural day, only a handful of people sat around him. Soon, the size of his audience swelled into thousands. People from all walks of life overflowed into the lanes near the temple. Army officers from the Southern Command came on their bicycles to listen to him.
The Brahmin priests called upon to conduct the Yajña (Vedic ritual) were utterly surprised when Swami Chinmayananda asked everyone in the audience, belonging to all social strata to take part in the rituals.
Swami Chinmayananda taught spirituality as the art of living. He conducted Gita Yajna classes, Upanishad classes and discourses on the scriptures all over India. His discourses brought him public recognition as an outstanding orator. Swami Chinmayananda travelled to many countries and held discourses to make India’s spiritual heritage known to others. He was soon recognised as a master exponent of India’s scriptural lore, its literary heritage, and its varied culture.
Today, the Chinmaya Mission is a worldwide nonprofit Hindu spiritual organisation with more than 250 centres worldwide disseminating India’s spiritual heritage. The Mission spreads the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual system of thought found in the Upanishads, which epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.
I am not sure which one of the religions or cultures gave birth to superstitions. I ardently disbelieve any sort of superstition.
The most recent one I heard and objected upon :
Do not go to the loo when temple bells are ringing
So I asked, what if someone is already in the loo, does he/she have to hold it? Or come out running cuz the bells are ringing?
And what if someone is ill, say has loose motions or weak bladder, what does that person do?
And what about kids, obviously they cannot control the pressure for 15 minutes of aarti time.
And infants? They don’t even know what is God and aarti and excretion and bladder. They are exempted of this rule of not-going-to-loo-when-temple-bells-ring?
That’s not it. I was told another one:
Do not sleep during aarti time
So does that mean specifically evening or morning aarti time too?
But what about the person who is already asleep? Is he supposed to wake up in respect of some everyday prayers being offered to one of our million Gods?
Oh and what about people who work in shifts, who have to work in night time and sleep during the day? God gets upset with them? Oh is that why they’re suffering in night shifts and have to work while the entire world sleeps. And here I thought it was their own career decision to work in such factories and plants and companies.
Oh, and don’t get me started on kids and babies and infants and old and sick people or hospitalized people or people under medication or coma.
Really, not sleeping when temple bells ringing so important? My my.
But by far, the most ridiculous superstition:
Do not to wash hair on Thursdays
Do not to cut nails on Saturdays.
And I question – exactly WHY?
Do we have a scientific explanation as to why I should think about a super-power being angry over my personal hygiene? C’mon think about the people who bite and chew their nails everyday. They must be upsetting God. And priests who take a dip in rivers or lakes every morning, thus wetting themselves completely (including hair), must be not THAT faithful to the Almighty. Otherwise why would they do such a thing.
Attention people. This is the 21st century. Agreed its good to keep faith in a certain super-power, to have belief in karma and doing the right thing. But doing things based on superstitions and hearsay things is foolishness.
Trust me, if you cross a road after a black cat crosses your way – you will not meet with an accident as long as you keep your eyes on the road.