A special picture

A picture that I saw in the Puja room of my cousins home, brought back some old memories….

Here goes.

There was this young man ‘R’, in the first half of last century, who left his native place Kumbakonam, and came away to Madras. Here. he was working as a health officer with the Government. And then he had a chance encounter with an astrologer who told him that his lot was not to be in service, and that he was destined for great success in business. And so “R” left the comfort of a salaried job, and started a small shop. This was in the 1920s, and he came under the influence of the Gandhian movement. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s call of Swadeshi, he made his shop totally ‘Swadeshi’. The shop would stock goods of all kinds, but all Swadeshi – made in India. And he called the shop “Indian Industrials”.

That shop was a huge success. As the old saying goes, it would sell ‘from pin to elephants’. More than that, it became tagged with ‘good luck’. Word was that it was good luck to purchase from here! So much so, that even fellow shopkeepers in the market, would make some symbolic purchases from here, for their family functions, like weddings etc.

The shop was such a draw, that it became the focal point for the city elite. Like the case of “V”, a young man who was returning from London in 1936, having qualified for the Indian Civil Service… He got off his ship and made his way straight to Indian Industrials, to catch up on whats-been-happening…

“R” used to drive a motor cycle with a side-car, and was an anchor of the developing culture scene in Madras. He and his partner in business “L”, did their bit in contributing to religion and culture.

Having taken his business to great heights, “R” passed away sometime around 1940. His partner and heirs carried on the shop for another thirty years or so, before winding up the business.

And now, the picture that brought all these memories back.

The occasion:

In the early 1960s. The sage of Kanchi, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, graciously accepted “L”‘s prayer, and graced “India Industrials” with a brief visit. This picture was taken then. The sage, radiance “le spirituelle”, standing with “L” and some others….


Actually, this post is because of the picture. The memories are incidental…



5 Responses to “A special picture”

  1. rspwr Says:

    one of very rare photo of “God in Human form” in a stylish pose with a radiant smile

  2. G.L.N.Murthy Says:

    Dear kameshji,what an excellent photo of Periyuavar standing like lord krishna.It may be one of thousands of people whom the walking God blessed but it stands as a testimony for the kindness showered on the needy people. Nowa days I am regularly hearing the great deeds fo Periyavar from the mouth of Sri Chaganti Kotenteswara Rao gaaru who is the authority on Sankaraadvaita.Recently I heard him introducing Manipantapam, A mighty memorial for the walking God- Murthy

  3. chitra Says:

    simplicity and charisma at its best…

  4. Srinivasa Says:

    The clarity of a 50 year old b&w picture is amazing. It’s a nice photo too given that it’s a candid shot. Very evocative write-up too, Kamesh. If a picture can take you down memory lane like this, you have become a Mama. Welcome to Mama-land 🙂

    Re the pose struck by HH PeriyavaL, it should be noted that sanyasin’s take the injunction against putting down their dandam seriously. So when they need both their hands free while standing, this is the most natural position.

    Just a few months ago, I had darshan of a famous teacher and sanyasin in his ashram, he was standing similarly.

  5. Shruti Says:

    Dear Sir,

    This comment is actually not about this post, but another one:

    I am the grand daughter of VV Sadagopan. My mother, his daughter, ensured that my sister and I grew up with the very songs that he taught you when you were a child.

    We even came out with two volume a compilation that can be heard and bought here: http://www.musicindiaonline.com/album/232-_Tamil_Children_s_Songs/34515-Tyaga_Bharathi_Vol_1/#/album/232-Tamil_Children_s_Songs/34515-Tyaga_Bharathi_Vol_1/

    I have never seen him, but i have of course heard from my mother and aunts all about his music and his charisma and his enthusiasm for life.

    I have now started the journey of discovering my grandfather. the actor, the musician, the teacher, the philosopher… i want to know him in all his avatars.

    It was while i scoured the internet for tidbits on him, that i found your blog. Thank you for your memoir. And also for the photograph.

    Could i pester you a little, yo kindly jog your memory further and let me know if you remember any m ore details about the days you spent under his tutelage? If you could share any other photographs that you might possess or have access to would also be greatly appreciated.

    As you rightly mentioned in your blog, his centenary is fast approaching. And i am toying with the idea of a documentary on him. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would help me with it.

    Warmest regards,
    Shruti Sridharan

    PS: The rumor is right. He did suddenly disappear one fine day in 1980. Some believe it was Sanyas, others think amnesia. either way, you are right about him. He did “dance to the beat of a different drummer”.

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