Eminent Personalities

Kumaraswami Kamaraj (15 July 1903 – 2 October 1975)

Kumaraswami Kamaraj

Kamaraj was born on 15 July 1903 in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, to Kumaraswami and Sivakami Ammal.Kumaraswami Kamaraj, popularly known as Kamarajar, was an Indian independence activist and politician who served as the Chief Minister of Madras State (Tamil Nadu) from 13 April 1954 to 2 October 1963

Kamaraj was called kingmaker because he played a crucial role in the appointment of India’s two Prime Ministers – Lal Bahadur Shastri in the year 1964 and again Indira Gandhi in the year 1966. Thus, people fondly called him the Gandhi of South India or even the Black Gandhi. In his hometown Tamil Nadu, the denizens still credit him for spreading education facility to the thousands under the poverty line

Kamaraj was defeated in the 1967 state legislative elections. Soon after, he was maneuvered out of the party leadership by Gandhi as she consolidated her power. In January 1969 he won a by-election to the Lok Sabha, and later that year he was part of an old-guard leaders’ group that tried to remove Gandhi from power. The party split, however, leaving Kamaraj and his associates with a small splinter group. He nonetheless won reelection to his seat in 1971 and retained it until his death.

During his tenure as Chief Minister, when the municipality of Virudhunagar provided a direct water connection to his house in his hometown, Kamarajar ordered it to be disconnected immediately as he did not want any special privileges. He refused to use the Z-level security that was provided to him as the CM of Tamil Nadu and instead travelled with just one police patrol vehicle. He did not marry, did not own any property and was never tempted by power. When he died, he left behind 130 rupees, 2 pairs of sandals, 4 shirts, 4 dhotis and a few books.

Kamaraj died at his home, on Gandhi Jayanti day (2 October 1975), which also was the 12th anniversary of his resignation. He was aged 72 and died in his sleep due to a heart attack.

P.S.Kumarasamy Raja (8 July 1898 – 16 March 1957)

P.S.Kumarasamy Raja

Poosapati Sanjeevi Kumarasamy Raja was an Indian politician who served as the last Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from 6 April 1949 to 26 January 1950 and first Chief Minister of Madras State from 26 January 1950 to 10 April 1952 and Governor of Orissa between 1954 till 1956. He was born in Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu.

In 1932, he was arrested for disobeying the unjust laws. Thus Rajapalayam gained a distinct place in political map, the credit went to Raja’s lead. In 1934, Raja won central legislature for constituency comprising Tirunelveli, Madurai & Ramanathapuram. At the age of 39, he entered the Assembly as M.L.A in C. Rajagopalachari ministry successfully contesting the 1937 election.

He was elected as the leader of Madras Legislature Congress Party in 1939 defeating Dr. P. Subbaroyan by 105 to 89 in March 31, 1949 and took oath as the Premier (Chief Minister) of Tamil Nadu on April 6, 1949. Prior to becoming the Chief Minister he served as a cabinet minister under Mr. Prakasam formed in April 1946. He also served as the Governor of Orissa from 1954 to 1956.

He donated his house for starting an institution of culture called “Gandhi Kalai Mandram”. Rajapalayam became a great industrial centre mainly due to his drive and interest.

It was said that Raja studied in Srivilliputtur G.S. Hindu higher secondary school and thus he chose his temple as the symbol of Tamil Nadu emblem. And his successor Rajagopalachari might not have minded that the shrine of Andal was now the Madras government’s symbol.

Raja died on 16 March 1957 in Madras, upon not recovering from an illness following his return from a visit to his ancestral village in Andhra Pradesh.

Thyagi Sankaralinganar (26 January 1895 – 13 October 1956)

Thyagi Sankaralinganar

Sankaralinganar was born in Manmalai Medu village near Virudhunagar to Karuppasamy and Valliammai in 1895. He started a Khadi business in Paramakudi.

In 1917, he joined Indian National Congress and participated in the Indian independence movement. Upon C. Rajagopalachari’s request, he left his business and joined Gandhi Ashram in Tiruchengode.

In 1930, Sankaralinganar participated in the Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi from Ahmedabad to Dandi.

He accompanied Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Virudhunagar in 1933. In 1952, Sankaralinganar donated his two houses for a girls school and deposited money to provide food to the students.

Tamil activists demanded a change in the state’s name. During this period, Sankaralinganar started a hunger strike on 27 July 1956 in Virudhunagar, with twelve demands which included Madras State to be renamed Tamil Nadu, the achievement of electoral reforms and alcohol prohibition in India. Leaders like C. N. Annadurai, M. P. Sivagnanam and Jeevanandham requested him to stop his hunger strike but he continued.

His health deteriorated and he was admitted to a hospital in Madurai. After 76 days of fasting, he died on 13 October 1956. The Tamil Nadu Government built a memorial dedicated to Sankaralinganar in Virudhunagar in 2015

Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950)

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi was born Venkataraman Iyer on 30 December 1879 in the village Tiruchuzhi near Aruppukkottai, Virudhunagar District in Tamil Nadu, South India. He was the second of four children in an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family. His father was Sundaram Iyer (1848–1890), from the lineage of Parashara, and his mother was Azhagammal (1864–1922). He had two brothers Nagaswami (1877–1900) and Nagasundaram (1886–1953), along with a younger sister Alamelu (1887–1953). His father was a court pleader.

When Maharshi arrived in Tiruvannamalai, he went to the temple of Arunachaleswara. He spent the first few weeks in the thousand-pillared hall, then shifted to other spots in the temple, and eventually to the Patala-lingam vault so that he could remain undisturbed. There, he spent days absorbed in such deep samādhi that he was unaware of the bites of vermin and pests. Seshadri Swamigal, a local saint, discovered him in the underground vault and tried to protect him. After about six weeks in the Patala-lingam vault, he was carried out and cleaned up. For the next two months he stayed in the Subramanya Shrine, so unaware of his body and surroundings that food had to be placed in his mouth to keep him from starving.

In November 1948, a tiny cancerous lump was found on Ramana Maharshi’s arm and was removed in February 1949 by the ashram’s doctor. Soon, another growth appeared, and another operation was performed by an eminent surgeon in March 1949 with radium applied. Visitors would file past the small room where he spent his last days to get one final glimpse. He died on 14 April 1950 at 8:47 p.m. At the same time a shooting star was seen, which impressed some of his devotees as a synchronicity.