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Nationalist with a revolutionary approach

Syed Muthahar Saqaf and M. Balaganessin

Va.Ve.Su. Iyer gave up his ambition to become a Barrister and joined the freedom movement Va.Ve.Su. Iyer gave up his ambition to become a Barrister and joined the freedom movement



Va.Ve.Su. Iyer.

Syed Muthahar Saqaf and

M. Balaganessin

TIRUCHI: Varahaneri Venkatesa Subrahmanya Iyer, popularly known as Va.Ve.Su. Iyer, hailing from Varahaneri in Tiruchi was a nationalist and an `illustrious son' of the district.

For him, violence was the watchword to break the shackles of slavery. He infused revolutionary nationalism in the minds of the people to fight the British during the freedom struggle. He joined hands with many revolutionary leaders, including Veer Savarkar, and masterminded several plans, which often caught the British regime on the wrong foot.

Born on April 2, 1881, Va.Ve.Su. Iyer after finishing his degree course in Tiruchi, later completed law and practiced in Tiruchi.

Later he went to Rangoon from where he left for London in 1907 for doing Barrister course. At London, he got introduced to Veer Savarkar. Since then his career took a dramatic turn. His ambition of becoming a Barrister gave way to his rigorous involvement in politics and freedom movement.

Meeting with Mahatma

Chances came his way so soon, that he met Gandhiji a year later, when he tried his level best to impress upon the Mahatma that revolutionary creed was the means for winning `swaraj'. But, when Iyer met Gandhiji again in Pondicherry in 1917, his radical thoughts started receding to some extent.

Iyer's fierce activities came to the fore shortly after the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905. Iyer and his supporters Siam Krishnavarma and Haridayal hatched a plan to take vengeance on Sir Curzon Wyllie, an ICS officer, who helped Lord Curzon in the partition process. Without any fear, Iyer gave training to Madanlal Tinkara to shoot down Wyllie.

Vanchinathan's valour

Many would be aware of the historical episode involving Vanchinathan's valour in shooting down Tirunelveli Collector Ashe in a train at Maniyachi railway station in 1911. All may not be aware of the truth that it was Iyer who trained Vanchinathan to execute the plan in all perfection.

In 1916, Iyer arrived at Pondicherry from London where he imparted training to youths in using arms. He was instrumental in formulating several sedative plans against British in coordination with Poet Bharathi and Sri Aurobindo. He also organised cells for revolutionary activities. Iyer remained in Pondicherry till 1920 and then went to Chennai where he continued his activities.

Iyer was not only a nationalist and revolutionary person, but also a scholar and above all a litterateur. Iyer was a linguist and was well versed in Tamil, English, Sanskrit, Latin and French.

He edited `Desapakthan' for some time and spread revolutionary political philosophy to the youths through his forceful and fearless articles. Perturbed over the consequences, the British imprisoned him for nine months. He served the term in Chennai and Bellary prisons. But he utilised the jail term to author nine literary works. He also translated Thirukkural and Kambaramayanam into English.

Bharathi, Va.Ve.Su and Madaviah were the trendsetters for authoring short stories in Tamil, hitherto alien to Tamil readers. Iyer founded the `Tamil Gurukulam', an educational institution in Cheranmahadevi with a focus on vocational skills.

Iyer passed away at the young age of 44 on June 3, 1925. The State Government honoured him by converting his house at Varahaneri into a memorial.

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