The article is about Sri V. Muthusamy Iyer, my husband’s grandfather (maternal) who was a Thamizh scholar. It is remarkable that a scholar of this stature lived in a not so far past. We are proud to be a part of his family
Gem among Tamil scholars
In appreciation of Muthusamy Iyer’s skill, Paramacharya conferred on him the title Gajaaranya Dravida Kavimani.
It was 1924, when Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati visited the house of Muthusamy Iyer, a contemporary of Tamil scholar and orator Ki.Va. Jagannathan, at Aranganathapuram in Tirukattupalli, Thanjavur district. Swamigal accepted ‘biksha’ a t his residence and presented him with a Shanmuga rudraksham. “Earlier in 1920, when my grandfather recited Sankara Sadguru Aatrupadai” in Tamil, Mahaswamigal offered him a silk shawl, in appreciation of his poetic excellence,” said Prof. Muthukrishnan.
Again in 1943, when Mahaswamigal visited Muthusamy Iyer, the latter did padhuka puja with the recitation of ‘Padhukai108,’ which pleased Paramacharya, who, while camping in the next town, invited Muthusamy Iyer and conferred the title ‘Gajaaranya Dravida Kavimani’ on him. While conferring the title, Mahaswamigal said, “Many a time you have rendered Parameswara Stotram and Acharya Stotram in the form of Tamil poems and therefore, we confer upon you the title ‘Gajaaranya Dravida Kavimani.”
When Muthusamy Iyer turned 60, it was celebration time. Muthusamy Iyer composed ‘Arul Vendar Paa’ using all the sixty names of the Tamil years from Prabhava to Akshaya and recited in the presence of Mahaswamigal and he was blessed with a Rudraksha Mala strung in gold.
Muthusamy Iyer’s 125th birth anniversary is being observed by his family now and this writer happened to meet his grandson, the recently retired Professor Muthukrishnan of Anna University.
Muthusamy Iyer was born in 1884 in Tirukattupalli and served as the Senior Deputy Inspector of Schools, after obtaining his M.A. degree and qualified for teaching. At the Teachers’ College, Saidapet, his room-mate was none else than Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. Prof. Muthukrishnan said of his grandfather: “He was a pious man. Had even built a Perumal temple in Tirukattupalli and has given four acres of land for its maintenance. He had helped other temples in places nearby. He also built culverts and provided steps for the water tanks used by the public. He used to handover his entire salary to his mother, as he lost his father when he was barely six years. She would ensure that the money he earned was properly spent and earmarked a portion for saving.”
Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, who was Muthusamy Iyer’s teacher in the Presidency College, Madras, observed in his 60th birthday tribute that Muthusamy was well-versed in grammar and literature. He was adept at research work and was a master in writing about the research he had undertaken on a subject. A powerful orator he composed a large number of poems in Tamil.”
He was awarded the gold medal for obtaining first rank in Madurai Tamizh Sangam examinations and won another at the Presidency College. During his tenure as teacher in Vellore, he composed “Thani Paa Naarpathu” and when he took up the post of Tamil teacher in a school in Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh, his first work of fiction, “Padmini” was released. This was prescribed as a non-detailed text for the intermediate classes.
When Muthusamy was just 30, he did his research on Poruladhikaram in Tholkappiyam. His ‘Thani Paa Kovai’ was released in 1918. In 1932, he composed ‘Anbu Vidu Thoodhu’ on Mahaswamigal. His “Mayuranatha Anthathi” saw the light of the day only in 1942 although he had composed it as far back as 1920. ‘Tiruvallluvar Oruthurai Kovai’ was published in 1950.
The book brought out in 1944 during his 60th birthday celebrations, contains congratulatory messages of many Tamizh scholars, writers and poets, many of them in the form of poems, especially by Desikavinayagam Pillai, Suddhananda Bharathiar, Somasundara Bharathiar, advocate and novelist Ka.Si. Venkataramani, Thanigaimani Sengalvaraya Pillai, Srivatsa Somadeva Sarma, Tirupugazhmani Krishnaswami Iyer, Sir P.S. Sivasamy Iyer, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the Raja of Ramnad Raja Rajeswara Sethupathi, A.K. Paranthamanar, popular writer SVV, P.N. Appusamy and nearly fifty teachers and engineers of eminence! What surprises one is the message of Sami Vedachalam (better known as ‘Maraimalai Adigal’). This is in English and not in his favourite Tamil! Thanjai Vetrivel Pathippagam, in deference to the wishes of Muthusamy Iyer’s sons and daughters, had published this book.
The Hindu carried the news of his 60th birthday celebrations in its November 5, 1944 issue under ‘Provincial News – Tirukattupalli’, while the Tamizh daily ‘Swadesamitran,’ carried it on the following day, 6th November, 1944.
Muthusamy Iyer’s octogenarian son Balakavi Mu. Kothandaraman, now lives in a suburb of Kozhikode, had acquired expertise in reading palm leaf manuscripts and has, like his father’s teacher U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, published many books. When he was serving in the U.V. Swaminatha Iyer Library, International Institute of Tamil Studies and the Institute of Asian Studies, he strove for the preservation and documentation of palm leaf manuscripts opening a department for the purpose. Among his several works in Tamil, the translation of Narayaneeyam in poetic form won him the G. Sankara Kurup ‘Odakkuzhal’ prize.