Stories of great leaders like Ma.Po.Si should be taught in all schools: Vice President

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the stories of great leaders like Shri Mylapore Ponnusamy Sivagnanam (Ma.Po.Si) should be taught in all schools. He was addressing the gathering after releasing the autobiography ‘Enadhu Porattam’ on Ma.Po.Si at the commemoration of in 23rd Anniversary, in Chennai today. The Minister for Fisheries and Personnel & Administrative Reforms, Tamil Nadu, Shri D. Jayakumar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President recalled the remarkable contribution made by Ma.Po.Si as a freedom fighter, a learned scholar of Tamil literature and great leader who forged a new identity for Tamil Nadu, Tamil language and Tamil Culture. He further said that Ma.Po.Si’s literary expositions were immaculate and he delved into ‘Silappathikaram’ and helped spread the epic throughout Tamil Nadu. His work on V.O Chidambaram Pillai, ‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan’ was so popular, it ended up becoming the great  leader’s sobriquet, he added.

The Vice President said that Ma.Po.Si was a great chronicler of events, not only the biographies of legendary figures he admired but also of events that shaped India as we know today. “Viduthalai Poril Thamizhagam” is a great compilation by him on the role of Tamilnadu in the Nationalistic movement, he added.

Saying Ma.Po.Si was a staunch believer in strengthening traditional roots through extensive use of mother tongues, the Vice President said that he loved Tamil language and culture and gave the clarion call that resonated in every Tamil home. “Engum Tamil – Edhilum Tamil” meaning “Tamil Everywhere – Tamil Everything”, he added.

The Vice President said that the need to preserve and propagate the best in our ancient literary and cultural heritage, the inclusive humanitarian approach to development, the care and concern for the common citizens and above all, recognizing the diversity and richness of each state within the national context are most relevant issues for each one of us even today.

The Vice President said that the strong humanistic thread that has been spun by the great visionary leaders like Ma.Po.Si can bring diverse people together to strive for a better future. Our children should learn and understand the sacrifices made by the architects of this great nation and they should understand their teachings and draw inspiration from their lives, he added.

Saying Ma.Po.Si a universal leader, the Vice President said that he did not discriminate between people based on anything, be it religion or caste or creed. He was a true leader to every Indian, h added.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am happy to be with all of you today for paying homage to an illustrious son of our country, Mylapore Ponnusamy Sivagnanam fondly called Ma. Po. Si.

As we commemorate his 23rd Anniversary, we recall the remarkable contribution he made to our nation as a freedom fighter, a learned scholar of Tamil literature and great leader who forged a new identity for Tamil Nadu, Tamil language and Tamil Culture.

It is indeed with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation from his daughter to release  a book on this  great son of Tamil Nadu.

Thiru Ma. Po. Si avargal was a self taught genius.

Unable to complete his education because of poverty, he was so determined to acquire knowledge that he studied on his own and rose to great eminence as one of the foremost Tamil scholars of his time. He won several honorary doctoral degrees besides the Sahitya Academy Award.

He was a freedom fighter and an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi. Rajaji paid a glowing tribute to him for his leadership role in the freedom struggle. He said that described in the independence struggle in Tamil Nadu, Rajaji himself was the Arjuna, while Ma Po Sivagnanam was his philosopher-charioteer like Krishna.

Ma Po Si was a true nationalist and a man who exemplified the best of Indian values.

His principled stand in favour of prohibition antagonized several people of his own caste in the 1940s.  He dared to stand alone and took a firm stand even if it meant crossing swords with the tall leaders like Periyar. He was a a quintessential humanist who was opposed to caste discrimination. 

We also remember Ma Po Si as an incisive researcher, a prolific writer and a captivating orator.

It was in Amaravathi prison that Ma Po Si started his literary journey. His interest in  Sangam literature was kindled by the words of Subramanya Bharathi. He claimed that the simple words of Bharathi acted as a tutor to take him to the next literary level. He attributed all his literary growth to Subramanya Bharathi on whom he wrote  about 10 research books.

Ma Po Si had a great connect with the common man and woman. He wanted the classical literature to be accessible to every body.

Ma Po Si’s title “Silambu Selvar” was conferred on him by R.P.Sethu Pillai not only because of his  insightful research on the Tamil classic, Silappathikaram , written by Ilango Adigal but his untiring efforts to popularize it.

A treasure trove of history to understand life 20 centuries ago in South India, Silappathikaram has an extraordinary literary flavor on par with other classics of the world. Ma Po Si delved into the subtle nuances of this classic that dealt with the life of Kannagi and Kovalan, two ordinary persons who had extraordinary qualities. He is the one responsible to spread Silappathikaram to the length and breadth of Tamilnadu, even among the common man. He conducted the ‘Silappathikara Vizha’ in 1950 for the first time in Tamil history. From 1950 onwards, Ma Po Si’s Tamil Arasu Kazhagam has been celebrating this festival every year.

I am very happy that his daughter Madhavi Baskeran has revived this tradition in 2013, through a Trust run by her in the name of her father.

Similarly, Ma Po Si wrote “Kappalottiya Thamizhan” a biography of V.O. Chidambaram Pillai that became very popular with the  masses. This book was so popular that V.O.Chidambaram Pillai was subsequently remembered by all as ‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan’.

Ma Po Si was also instrumental in reviving the public interest in Kattabomman. Ma Po Si wrote his  biography based on which a Tamil movie was made  for which Ma Po Si wrote the screenplay.

He drew philosophical strength from the great saint of the 19th century – Ramalinga Adigal popularly known as Vallalar.  His writings on Vallalar and interpretation of the great saint’s world-view remain unparalleled and won him the Sahitya Akademi Award. 

Vallalar himself got his inspiration from one of the greatest sages of India – ‘Thirumoolar’, who lived about two thousand years ago, inspiring Tamil poets and philosophers over the centuries. He propagated the idea of “Ondre Kulam, Oruvanae Dhevan’ (Humanity is one community – There is only one God).

Ma Po Si was a great chronicler of events, not only the biographies of legendary figures he admired but also of events that shaped India as we know today.

“Viduthalai Poril Thamizhagam” is a great compilation by him on the role of Tamilnadu in the Nationalistic movement. It details the participation of Tamilnadu people in freedom struggle that took place in the first half of twentieth century. It is  an encyclopedia of Nationalists hailing from the modern Tamilnadu.

He was a staunch believer in the need to strengthen the traditional roots through extensive use of mother tongues and Indian languages. He loved Tamil language and culture and gave the clarion call that resonated in every Tamil home. “Engum Tamil – Edhilum Tamil” meaning “Tamil Everywhere – Tamil Everything”. This was not a mere slogan but a reflection of his inner self. It gained tremendous popularity and is being echoed by every political party.

Even before the independence, in 1946 itself, Shri Ma.Po.Si started a movement called ‘Tamil Arasu Kazhagam’ and demanded proper status for Tamil in administration and education.

His political party had a unique way of functioning. Theirs was the only party to conduct a literary discourse on the previous day and conduct the political conference the next day morning.

Ma Po Si is indeed a versatile personality who has left an indelible impression on the history of Tamil Nadu and India.  His ideas and vision are as relevant today as they were when he espoused them.

The need to preserve and propagate the best in our ancient literary and cultural heritage, the inclusive humanitarian approach to development, the care and concern for the common citizens and above all, recognizing the diversity and richness of each state within the national context are most relevant issues for each one of us even today.

While there are many books about Ma Po Si, the one by his dedicated daughter Madhavi Bhaskaran titled, “Arignargalin Parvayil Ma Po Si” is really a commendable effort to portray the person and the noble ideas and ideals he lived by in a lucid and engaging style. I congratulate her on this great contribution.

I am privileged to launch this book today and dedicate it to the people of our country. There are so many things we can learn from the lives of great people like Ma Po Si.

Silambu Selvar Dr. Ma. Po. Si has left behind a rich legacy for us.

As Tiruvalluvar says,

పెరుమై ఉడయవర్ ఆట్రు వార్ ఆట్రిన్ అరుమై ఉడయ్య సెయ్యల్

(Great men do rare deeds in a proper and perfect way)

The great and rare deeds of this will remain etched in our collective consciousness.

They provide the inspiration for all of us to shape our lives better.

They illumine our paths by a value system that can bring greater fulfillment and harmony in our lives.

The strong humanistic thread that has been spun by the great visionary leaders like Ma Po Si can bring diverse people together to strive for a better future.

I am sure Ma Po Si’s family will continue their efforts to spread the invaluable message he has left behind for the entire humanity.

I hope the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of India will create greater awareness about legends like Ma Po Si across the country.

Jai Hind!”

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AKT/BK/MS/RK

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