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Down Memory Lane

Today's posting is "Down Memory Lane" by Sujatha. This article featured in Nrisimhapriya August 2004 issue ( English Edition )

I have never been asked why I became a Tamil writer. Let me think..

I was born in Triplicane and almost from my cradle whisked off to Srirangam by my grandmother. My father was in a transferable job and this was the reason given for my early separation from my parents. Srirangam had its own oddities and charm.

Even now it has some, but today's Srirangam is not my childhood town. Except for the inner Uttra and Chitra streets and the sanctum, every thing has changed irrevocably.

Every morning the Prabandam verses were afloat in our ears recited in a sing-song voice, by little Vishnava boys, thanks to a Vedapathasala established by my ancestor Kuvalagudi Singam Iyengar. This was a Charity Trust for the children of poor Iyengar families. Young and bright-eyed boys were given sustenance, along with Upanishad's and Diyva Prabandam lessons.

They were to learn them by heart before they were twelve. Then, they were sent into the workd to fend for themselves. I followed some of them in later life. Three became cooks. One became an assistant director in Kodambakkam, another a brilliant teacher of Visishtadaita and yet another, an archaka in Vishnu temple at California.

The parthasala model education was not suitable for the modern world. The Trust had to revise the curriculum to enable the boys survive in the world.

Recently, when I visited Srirangam there were hardly any students. The Iyengar community has presumably become prosperous. But even today, the vestiges of the great tradition established in early eighth century and canonised later by Sri Ramanuja, remain.

When Lord Ranganatha comes out of the great temple the verses of Divyaprabandam preced Him. In Margazhi festival, the entire Thiruvaymozhi is recited in decadic from day and night. The temple is steeped in Tamil tradition. You will find even today there are individuals who know the entire four thousand verses by heart. Without much difficulty I can recall a few hundred verses.

The verses got embedded in my memory before I knew their meaning. In Srirangam, even today, you find people greeting each other in chaste Tamil terms like adiyen, devareer, thirumeni, etc., No wonder I became a Tamil Writer.

Srirangam Rajagopuram sketch by Desikan (1993)

Old Comments from my previous blog.

Post by Chakra
Wonderful... both the post & the pic!
Tue, Aug 10 2004 3:56

Post by srishiv
a good article desi...and ofcourse there is no doubt in pic and hatts off as always...:) By the way, desi, from these type of articles only i am geting the details about vaishnavam, and how this vadakalai and thenkalai are getting distinguished and all...well desi, do u know something like putting some burn in hand or leg by punishing themselves to the GOD?? what is your openion about that? i think it is called soornam podarathu? mail me... srishiv..
Wed, Aug 11 2004 1:57

Post by Lazy Geek
As usual sujatha and his amazing humor sense. enjoyed the way he said how those people attained a varied professions in their lives. even if you had taken out the author, people could identify it was sujatha. not many like him are able to accept that things change so drastically even in a sacred town like srirangam. and not to mention, just envied your sketch of the gopuram.
Mon, Aug 16 2004 10:56

Tue Nov 02, 07:59:31 PM IST