On Coimbatore's busy Vysial street is this odd, old house ...where time remain frozen. It is probably the only house on that busy street that has trees in front. And one of them was planted by the freedom fighter V.O.Chidambaram Pillai.
The wooden door opens into a small flight of stone steps....on both sides of which are long 'thinnai's. You don't get to see such platforms in the newly built houses these days. In the 'good' old days, folks would sit, work and chat on these platforms. It was also available for travellers to sit and relax....As I entered the house, I wondered if anybody sat on these platforms these days. As I knocked I was warmly welcomed in. The house had an amazing old world charm.
The house is called 'Sekkizhar nilayam' and it was in this house that Siva-k-kavimani C.K.Subramania Mudaliar lived. CKS was a lawyer by profession, a five time Councillor and was for sometime the Vice Chairman of the Coimbatore Municipality. CKS and his wife Meenakshi were ardent supporters of the freedom movement. CKS used to correspond regularly with Lala Rajpat Rai and Aurobindo Ghosh and for sometime harboured and supported the famous Neelakanta Brahmachari. CKS was interrogated and his house was searched for hours in connection with the sensational shooting down of Ash by Vanji. The police could find no material evidence, for while they waited for CKS to return from court, Meenakshi had destroyed all evidence and letters.
CKS argued for V.O.Chidambaram Pillai when he was imprisoned in Coimbatore. In gratitude, V.O.C named his third son as Subramanian and his daugher as Meenakshi.
|Sivak-k-kavimani C.K.Subramania Mudaliar|
|Meenakshi, CKS's wife, who was the daughter of the Zamindar of Gangavalli|
But CKS is more known for his massive commentary on the Periyapuranam ( பெரியபுராணம் ). This the 12th of the canonical works of Saivism - called the Tirumurais. The Tirumurais (திருமுறைகள் ), are divine poetry sung by 29 Saivaite Saints and collectively have a little over 18000 poems. It is said CKS had read these over 40 times in his lifetime. The last of this work is the Periyapuranam or Thiru-th-thondarpuranam (திருத்தொண்டர்புராணம் ), which was composed by Sekkizhar , who was the prime minister of the Chola Kingdom, during the reign of Kulothunga Chola II ( or III).
CKS spent over 19 years to complete his well researched , massive and nonpareil commentary on the Periyapuranam. His huge effort was supported by the Madras University, the Tiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, the Dharmapuram Adheenam and the Tirupanandhal Kasi Mutt - which gave a princely sum of Rs 1000 (a huge amount in those days) for the work. The work which he commenced in 1934 ended in 1953 , during which time, he had to suffer numerous travails and tribulations - including non-availability of paper to write (during the days of the world war). This 7 volume commentary is a treasure of Saivite philosophy and living. Apart from this work, CKS has written several books - including one of Sekkizhar and several poems. He was also an active member of the Kovai Tamil Sangam and his contribution to Tamil literature and Saivism is immense.
An ardent devotee of the Perur Pateeswaram temple, which was renovated by his father Vidwan Kandaswamy Mudaliar, CKS instituted trusts for regular conduct of several festivals in the temple. CKS in his later days took sanyas and was called Sambandasaranayala Thambiran. When he passed away in 1961, he was interred near the temple , as per his wishes.
These days, in this old, odd house, which is maintained as such, with all its old glory, lives his disciple and relative Thiru.C.S.Kannayiram, himself an ardent devotee of the Lord at Perur , an author and Tamil poet who has authored 37 works, including a 7 volume commentary on the Tiruvasagam , the 8th of the canonical works of the Saivaites. Going strong at 90, Kannayiram is a voracious reader and has a massive collection of books. He continues to teach and write and six of his works are in various stages of completion. He and his children continue to publish and print, CKS's works. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there is renewed interest in C.K.S's works.
As I took his blessings, collected some books and took leave, I could not help thinking that like C.K.S, his disciple's scholarship and contribution deserves more recognition than he actually enjoys...and there are probably many stories that remain to be told of such old odd houses in various streets.... and the people who live in them.