Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kalli appointed CSK Director


Former Chemplast man gets into the Board of CSK Ltd.,
One of the best fast bowlers that Tamil Nadu has had and the first fast bowler to take a hat-trick in Ranji Trophy, 68 year old B Kalyanasundaram ( now been inducted into the Board of Directors of CSK Ltd. The letter of appointment was signed this Monday.

This follows his five year stint as the Chairman of the TN State Selection committee that ended last year. He was also a match referee of the BCCI.

The appointment comes at a time when the fate of CSK and the future ownership of India Cements is not clear. Recently, India Cements announced the hiving off of CSK into a separate subsidiary to be owned by the shareholders of India Cements, of which MD N Srinivasan is also a significant shareholder.

This assumes special significance given that Kalyanasundaram was an employee of rivals Chemplast for many years till his retirement as Vice President. He had also played for Jolly Rovers (Chemplast's First Division League Team) for many years in the 60s and 70s. Kalli was handpicked by Sankar in the 1960s and given an employment even before he had received his degree certificate.

Kalli was the first TN fast bowler to play 50 Ranji matches and the first to take 100 Ranji wickets.He was also the first South Zone Player to take a hat-trick in Ranji Trophy and the first bowler to take a hat-trick in a Ranji Final. 

This move into the CSK Board is not sudden. NS has watched him bowl right from his college days. And he was an integral part of the Venkat led TN team right through the 1970s.

Significant Achievement
It is significant achievement for the top grade Engineer (REC) who spent his early schooling years in the temple town of Kumbakonam. Since his retirement from the corporate world, he has taken slow but fundamentally strong steps back into the cricketing world. He first became a selector in the Junior age group and then moved upwards over a period of time in the last decade.

He would watch a number of matches through the year to spot upcoming talent in the age group tournaments. As a state selector, for years one always found him at one ground or the other watching the first division league at the beginning of each season in Madras.

Kalli also was inducted into the panel of BCCI's match referees and received an year's extension as well (after he had reached the age of retirement).

Despite criticism from the inner cricketing circles (sometimes justifiably and sometimes not so) in TN on his role as a selector and a match referee, including being seen as just nodding to some of the 'cricketing decisions' and even if he is now seen as NS' man, Kalyanasundaram's induction this week into the CSK Board is a just reward for his long and committed service to TN cricket dating back to the 1960s and his continued association with the game. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Navalpakkam Ranganathan

Prabhandham classes to students all over the world on Skype
He initiated the now popular Anna Kooda Utsavam several years ago at the Desigar Temple
To start 'Purana' recital this year
Navalpakkam S Ranganathan (Rangappa to his friends) has been straddling between his work in the Secretarial department at the TVS Group firm Turbo Energy and his service at the Vedantha Desigar Temple in Mylapore for the last 25years.

His father Srinivas Thathachariar was completely devoted to Lord Srinivasa serving as an archakar for 45years from 1962.  His father lived a contended life and despite financially strained circumstances, he ensured that he did not deprive his children of any of the basic necessities of life, for which Ranganathan says ‘he is eternally grateful to his father’.

It was Ranganathan’s grandfather ‘Soolai Raghavachariar’ (an archakar at the temple for 20years from 1942 and the first one to tie the Raksha Bandhan on the occasion of the first Brahmotsavam at the temple over 60years ago), who was instrumental in personally initiating him into Prabhandham. He learnt 22 out of the 26Strotra lessons from his grandfather having started out when he was just 7years old.

Defining Moment in his life
1979 was a turning point in the life of Ranganathan for that was the year his grandfather entrusted the young boy in the hands of the legendary Prabhandham tutor Sevilmedu Srinivasachariar. Pleased with the commitment and sincerity of Ranganathan and finding him to be blessed with a sweet and sacred voice, Srinivasachariar showered special affection on him during the 7years of his ‘Prabhandham’ schooling.

If Srinivasachariar was the architect in making him outstanding in his field, Ranganathan’s grandmother Shenbagammal was instrumental in guiding him in the right direction at home not allowing him to deviate his thoughts from his ‘home work’ during his teenage days.

Joins Turbo Energy
Soon after he completed his graduation (in Commerce),  Ranganathan joined Turbo Energy at their office in Padi in 1989 as an accounts assistant. During the 25years there, Ranganathan, who has now risen to the post of Manager- Secretarial, has found his management and colleagues to be very supportive of his service at the temple.

Declined a Tirumala order
In 1997, he was selected as a Prabhandham teacher at the renowned Dharmagiri Dharma Prachara Paatshaala in Tirumala. It was a great honour for him but he declined the post for family and official reasons. He was personally saddened having to reject an offer that came from Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala and remains one of his big regrets to this day.

Presenting during Special Occasions
He learnt the secrets of presenting Gadyam and Arulapadu on special occasions from experts such as Navalapakkam Yagna Varaha Thathachariar, Thiruvahindrapuram Krishna Desikachariar and Vidwan Adoor Asoori Madhavachariar.

During this period, Ranganathan has also presented Upanyasams for which he credits Krishna Desikachariar who motivated him and taught him the nuances of reaching the message across to his audience. Kozhiyalam Dr. K Ananthachariyar was his anchor in guiding him towards presenting Upanyasams.

Ranganathan counts himself blessed that he stayed next to a temple dedicated to the great acharya Vedantha Desigar. From a very young age, he started reciting the Prabhandham sitting inside the temple and this has now continued for almost 30years. With utsavams round the year being a feature at this temple, Ranganathan leveraged that opportunity to present the 4000 verses several times during the year, one that helped him introspect and perfect himself in the recital of the Prabhandam.

Cutting an Album with Malola Kannan
Just over 10years ago, Ranganathan along with Malola Kannan brought out Nithyanusanthanam, an album comprising of select set of songs from the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham that turned out to be a big hit with the devotees all over the world. Buoyed by the success of their first album, the two combined again to bring out CDs containing the entire Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and Desigar Prabhandham.

Special Events at Srinivasa Perumal Temple
In the last couple of years, the two of them combined again on the occasion of Navarathri to present a special Padi Etra Gattiyam praising the Lord as he entered each step on the way to the sanctum.

Ranganatha has also created a special presentation during Azhvaar Thiruvadi Thozhuthal (NamAzvhaar Moksham) as part of the Era Pathu Utsavam at the Desigar temple. Along with his friend Late Narayanan (Nana), Ranganathan was instrumental in starting the Anna Kooda Utsavam in Maasi that has now become very popular.

On most of the festive occasions at the Desigar Temple, Ranganathan has been ‘informally’ bestowed with the rights to take the lead in the presentation.

Teaching Prabhandham Online
In recent times, Ranganthan has taken up to technology and has started teaching Prabhandham via Skype to worldwide audiences with students sitting far away in the UK and US.

His favourite is Thirumangai Azhvaar’s Periya Thirumozhi for its stylish verses and beautiful Tamil words (specifically Thiruvezhikootram and Periya Thiru Madal) and Asthigiri Mahatmiyam, Mummanikovai and Navamani Malai among the Desigar Prabhandham verses.

Future Plans
As part of his future plans, Ranganathan is looking to present more Upanyasams on varied topics, start teaching Prabhandham to young students inside Vedantha Desigar temple and reciting Puranas on special festive occasions at the temple.

Nothing left Untaught
He has been blessed with a sweet voice and has carved a niche for himself in this space with a special modulation in the recital of Prabhandham that stands out in a group. He has earned the respect both from the temple authorities as well as the devotees and among his peers with his knowledge of and in the rendition of the sacred verses.

Ranganathan dedicates the name and fame to his Prabhandham Guru Srinivasachariar who converted the inherent sweet voice that he was blessed with into a shining light through his special attention. When Ranganathan joined the DB Jain College in Thoraippakam, Srinivasacharya went out of the way and came home to teach Ranganathan at his door step, despite having a severe problem in his legs. Srinivasaachariyar also initiated him into Aagaaraniyam, a Grantham of Vedantha Desigar that provides insights into the kind of food to be consumed by us.

‘Nothing was left untaught’ says Ranganathan and one can spot tears rolling down his cheeks as he remembers his great guru.

Ranganathan can be reached on 98434 54448 or

Friday, February 20, 2015

KS Viswanathan TNCA BCCI IPL

The Every Smiling Cricket Administrator from Kallidaikuruchi who has risen to become the right hand man of N Srinivasan
 'The Never Say No' man of TN cricket
In the summer of 1968, a young boy from Kallidaikuruchi, a remote town in the Southern District of Tirunelveli, renowned for Appalams and the ancient Varaha Perumal temple, took the Tirunelveli Express to Madras for he had just got a B Com seat in Vivekananda College. Like many of the boys from the districts who were yearning for opportunities on the big stage in cricket, this youngster too had hopes of making it big in cricket when he made the shift to the city.

But even he would not have imagined that one day, he would be the right hand man of the most powerful administrator in World Cricket.

For a long time now, Kallidaikuruchi S Viswanathan (popularly known as ‘Kasi Sir’ in the cricketing circles) has been the ‘Go-To’ man for anything to do with the administration of Tamil Nadu cricket, someone on whom ICC President N Srinivasan  has relied on heavily over the last two decades for on the ground implementation.

It has been a strenuous period for Viswanathan in recent times managing multiple and very challenging responsibilities at TNCA, IPL and the BCCI all at the same time. And this has had a negative impact on his health. But the broad SMILE is not lost on him.

Early years in Tirunelveli
Viswanathan did his schooling at Sankara Sec School in Thalayathu, on the outskirts of Tirunelveli. He played both junior and senior cricket in the districts. He was an integral part of the Tirunelveli team that won the SS Rajan Trophy (inter districts tourney) in the late 1960s, a team that comprised of stalwarts such as KR Rajagopal, PVR Murthy and PK Dharmalingam. His best moment in his playing career came in that match when he took 5wickets in each innings.

He had been signed up by Jolly Rovers when he was just 16years to play in the competitive first division league in Madras and he would make the weekend trips to play these matches. He was part of the Jolly Rovers team that beat a strong ACC team by the spin of the coin in that memorable Buchi Babu match in front of 3000people at the Marina.

The Name 'Kasi' Viswanathan 
In the 1960s, there were two cricketers from Tirunelveli with unbelievable identity. Both were sons of employees of India Cements, Thalayathu, both had ‘K.S’ as their initial and both used to travel to Madras to play in the city league. One was KS Viswanathan (KSV) and the other was KS Kasi Viswanathan. In one of the matches, PK Belliappa called out for the KSV as ‘Kasi’ and quite mysteriously that name stuck with him from that moment. Today even the international cricketers refer to him as ‘Kasi’. The real (KS) Kasi Viswanathan played for REC Trichy and is now the MD of Seshasayee Paper. He is also the President of District Cricket Assn of Namakkal.

He relocated full time to Madras after he joined the Vivekananda College, a 3year period that saw him play alongside V Krishnaswamy, KG Appaji and PP Swathi. The college won all the five inter collegiate tourneys twice during the three year period, a record that remains unbroken to this day. Viswanathan was the highest wicket taker in the inter-collegiate tourneys and it was a hugely successful period in his cricketing career.

Immediately after his graduation, he joined India Cements in their accounts department and has been with the company ever since.

Turning Point
The move to cricket administration came in as quite a surprise. He had been focusing on his work in the Cost department at India Cements for almost two decades. He had stopped playing league cricket in 1986 (He had played for various clubs in that phase including Jai Hind, MRC A and Prithvi).

N Srinivasan was making a comeback at India Cements after a hiatus and had just taken over as the Managing Director in 1989. He was keen to get the cricketing activity back on track (India Cements had been a big supporter of cricket right from the mid 1960s).

Srinivasan handpicked Viswanathan, who was then the Deputy Manager-Cost,  to drive this cricket revival and provided him with the opportunity to manage the cricketing affairs of the India Cements team. And thus the man from the Cost department took a big and rather unexpected plunge into cricket administration.

In the very first year, India Cements that had taken over a 2nd division team was promoted to the first division. And there was no looking back for Viswanathan ever since as he moved from a team manager to a very powerful position in the TNCA and the IPL

Viswanathan along with Dr Natarajan worked very hard during that decade of revival to get India Cements cricket back into the limelight. Buoyed by the early success, India Cements added many more league teams into its fold with Viswanathan anchoring the cricket administration.

During this period, he had also made the move into cricket administration at the TNCA. In 1995, he became an executive member (Districts) and then the asst secretary of the TNCA at the beginning of the last decade.

In 2008, he took over as the Secretary of the TNCA. That year also saw the launch of the IPL where Viswanathan has remained an integral part, taking care of  the administration of CSK, a team owned by India Cements.

Promotion of Districts cricket
He has a soft corner for players from the districts. He understood well the struggles of a district cricket for he himself had been affected during his playing from the lack of infrastructure and the limited opportunity available to players from the districts.

Over the last 15 years, he has personally monitored cricket in the districts and actively promoted cricket there. Over 125 cricketers from the districts who currently play in different divisions of the city league are taken care of by the TNCA in terms of travel expenses, accommodation and other benefits, quite a boon to the cricketers from the districts.

Viswanathan counts among his biggest achievement the dramatic improvement in the infrastructure in districts and the enhanced opportunities for players from the districts. Viswanathan was responsible for creation of inter districts matches on a round robin basis and converting it into a two day format.  Today, there are turf wickets in Tirunelveli, Trichy, Hosur, Villupuram, Dindigul, Theni, Dalavoi and Tiruvallur.

Rebuilding the stadium at Chepauk in a record time of 16months has been another satisfying experience for Viswanathan.

Working closely with Dr. Natarajan 
Former Jt Secretary of the TNCA Dr. Natarajan and Viswanathan used to meet every day at the TNCA for almost two decades. Dr. Natarajan says that Kasi has been totally involved and committed to the development of cricket in TN and that though he has had differences of opinion with him especially on the promotion of cricket in the districts, he never found Kasi wanting in the period he has  known him. 

'He has a positive attitude of never saying ‘No’ to anyone. He has chosen a path of least resistance but still gets all the jobs done and that is something very special about him. 'At one point of time, he was occupied with so many things – TNCA, IPL and BCCI that I used to wonder as to how he could manage all of these. But sitting in one room, he would successfully take care of everything.'

'Because of his long stint in the Cost Department at India Cements, he is very sharp on the financial implications of any move at the TNCA and is always one step ahead of even the treasurer on this front.'

 ‘If Kasi was an umpire, he would have given a batsman out and then apologised to him. That’s how cordial he is. It is not in his system to be not friendly.’

Current Chairman of TN State Selection committee S. Sharath who played over 100 Ranji Trophy matches for TN scoring well over 8000runs in first class cricket has known Viswanathan for almost 40years - His uncle Swathi and Viswanathan were team mates at Vivekananda College in the late 60s, early 70s.

Sharath considers Kasi Sir as ‘one of the most amazing human beings he has met’. Sharath says 'Kasi Sir has helped hundreds of cricketers in Tamil Nadu not just India Cements players.  He has always given positive inputs and the much needed confidence not just in the cricketing career but in handling personal lives as well. ‘Kasi Sir is a ‘Never No’ man and players in TN look up to him all the time for help and support. He is a father figure for all the TN players of my generation.’

Dip in TN’s Ranji Performance?
The biggest challenge for him in TN cricket has been to motivate the players to perform to their potential. He has been striving hard in recent times to get a team to work on the aspects relating to Mental Toughness and one hopes to find the results in the coming years.

The Ever Smiling Cricket Adminstrator
It is a chilly Sunday morning in February. Viswanathan walks down the steps of his first floor flat, where he has been residing for 45years. There is a Kutcheri going on at the Nageswara Rao Park. He stops by to cheer the young artistes (listening to old Tamil and Hindi songs is his favourite pastime) and continues with his walk. Typical of a Nellaiite, Viswanathan is ever helpful and friendly. There are many (old friends / cricketers) who wish him well during his 45minute stroll at the park. To each one of them, he sports a big smile and engages in a friendly conversation.

There have been many ups and downs in recent times and he has had to encounter some very challenging situations but Viswanathan has remained largely unchanged. His door at the Indian Cements office in Santhome is always open and cricketers keep walking in and out of the room updating him on scores in various matches.

His phone never stops ringing with discussions ranging from a district match to this year’s IPL to the BCCI elections. In every conversation, he is cheerful even if the topic happens to be serious and controversial. It is no wonder that he brings so much positivity and hope to people around him.
From managing the cricket affairs of just one team at India Cements in the early 90s, Viswanathan has come a long way in the last two decades. The performance of CSK has been particularly satisfying for him for he has been actively involved with the selection of the CSK players. Winning the IPL and CL20 in the same year and also bagging the fair play award in 4 out of the 7years of the IPL remains one of the more satisfying achievements for this ever smiling administrator.

For someone who has been so helpful to cricketers in TN providing them with the best of infrastructure and all the support to further their career prospects, it would be apt if the state team rewards him with the Ranji Trophy, the one Trophy that he would so dearly love to have in his kitty before he retires. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thiru Nageswaram Naganathaswamy Temple

Naganathaswamy provides darshan to Rahu on Maha Sivarathri
Thiru Gnana Sambandar,Appar and Sundarar describe the temple, the surroundings and the life of the people in their Thevaram verses
Located 6kms East of Kumbakonam on the Karaikal Highway in the then ‘Shenbagam Forest’ area is the Naganathaswamy temple in Thiru Nageswaram, whose legend relates to the removal of Naga Dosham. An inscription inside the temple provides insights into the construction and renovation of the temple in its current form and structure by Kandirathiya Chozha in the 8th Century AD.

Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thiru Navukkarasar have sung praise of the Lord of Thiru Nageswaram in the 7th century AD and have provided insights into the life in and around this temple during that period.

The Story
Rahu who tempted and lured a Rishi and disturbed his penance was cursed to be born as a human serpent with a body of a snake and the face of a human. To liberate himself from the curse, Rahu went to different temples including to the Nageswara temple in Thiru Kudanthai.

It was at the 2nd period on the Maha Sivarathri day in Masi that Rahu was liberated from the curse here at the Thiru Nageswaram temple when he performed pooja invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva who appeared before him. Hence Lord Shiva here is referred to as ‘Naga’ natha swamy.

Not only was Rahu liberated from his curse but he was also granted the boon of liberating devotees from Naga Dosham who come here and offer their sincere prayers. To prevent devotees from fear of invoking the blessings of a Snake God, it is believed that the venom is washed away in the milk abhisheka that is performed every day when the milk turns blue. It is also to take away the fear of devotees that Rahu provides darshan in an Abhaya Varada Posture with Naga Valli and Naga Kanni by his side.

In memory of this event, Rahu goes on a procession across the four big streets of Thiru Nageswaram on Maha Sivarathri in Maasi and then invokes the blessings of Lord Naganathaswamy.

Saint Poets - 7th Century AD Scenario in Thiru Nageswaram
Thiru Gnana Sambandhar, Thiru Navukkarasar and Sambandhar have sung praise of the Lord of Thiru Nageswaram. In his Thevaram verse, Thiru Gnana Sambandhar refers repeatedly to this place as Thiru Nageswaram, one where devotees throng in large numbers to perform pooja and present the Lord with gifts. In one of the verses he refers to the place as Nageswara Nagar referring to the overflowing Cauvery and bountiful crops.

நெடியா நோடுனான் முகன்நே டலுரச் 
கடுமா லேரியாய் நிமிர்சோ தியனே 
நாடுமா வயல் நாகேச்சர  நகரே 
இடமா  வுறைவா யென இன் புறுமே 

Sundarar refers to the happy people living in this place that has extensive paddy fields. He says that devotees express their thanks every day to the Lord for providing such rousing crops year on year.

அருந்தவ மாமுனிவர்க் கருளாகியோ ராலதன்கீழ் 
இருந்தற  மேபுரிதற்  கியல்பாகிய தென்னைகொலாம் 
குருந்தய லேகுரவம அரவின்னெயி  றேற்றரும்பச் 
செருந்திசெம் பொன்மலரருந் திரு நாகேச் சரத்தானே 

Chozha Period Architecture
There is a 5 Tier Raja Gopuram at the Eastern Entrance. There is one big tower on each of the four sides of the temple. Construction dates back to early Chozha period with improvements done during later periods by other rulers including by the Nayaks.

1000 year old Inscriptions
Several Inscriptions dating back to the early Chozha Period provide insights into the conduct of festivals, the construction and improvements at the temple at different points of time.

There was a donation of 48houses during the rule of Rajendra Chozha I. The income from this was used to maintain the lamps at the temple. The temple was referred to as ‘Mahadeva’ temple of Thiru Nageswaram during the rule of Rajendra Chozha I. Temple vessels in Silver were donated as per his orders. In the 11th Century AD, there was a counting done and a classification made of all the jewels and coins belonging to the temple. There was a provision made for bring sacred water from the Cauvery for Anointment of the Lord during festive occasions.

A very interesting piece of inscription is found on the Western wall of the Naganatha Swamy temple. As per this, 100gold coins were donated to a Kumbabhishekam Committee during Rajendra Chozha’s rule. This donation was to be used for the repair of agricultural canal that was ravaged by floods in the Cauvery. Also, a part of this donation was to be used for providing lectures and conducting Upanyasams to spread the message about Shiva Dharma.

An inscription on the southern wall refers to a procession of the Pasaya Devar Idol. This is now found on the Northern side of the temple.

An inscription on the same wall refers to donation of a land and Gold Coin by Krishna Raman who also assisted Raja Raja Chozha in building a Mandapa at Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur and the installation of the Artha nareeswararar Idol there.

One more inscription on the Southern wall dating back to the rule of Raja Raja Chozha refers to donation of land as well as gold coins for performing daily rituals at the temple.

Sekkizhar's Contribution
Sekkizhar, the minister of Kulothunga Chozha and an ardent devotee of Naganathaswamy was largely responsible for the construction of the inner mandapas, the huge outer walls, the beautiful tank on the southern side and the big gopurams at the temple. In recognition of his contribution, his sculpture along with those of his mother and brother are seen inside the temple. There is also a grand festival celebrated in Vaikasi in memory of Sekkizhar.

Reference to Giriguja Ambika Sanndhi
An inscription on the stone pillar from a mandapa in the Sannidhi Street refers to Giriguja Ambika Sannidhi being inside the Naganathaswamy temple.

Achuthappa Nayakar’s minister Govinda Deekshithar renovated the outer mandapas at the temple in the second half of the 16th and the early 17thcentury AD

Nagaraja worshipping Shiva is celebrated in the 2nd period of Maha Sivarathri in Masi
10day Brahmotsavam starting 3rd Friday of Karthigai - Chariot Festival on the 9th day and Theerthavri on the 10th day
Nataraja Procession on Thiruvathirai in Margazhi
1st day of Thai – Giriguja Ambigai adorned with Punugu

Raghu Procession around 4streets on Maasi Maha Sivarathri

Quick Facts
Deity      :  Naganathaswamy East Facing
Goddess : Giriguja Ambika (Separate Sannidhi North of Naganathaswamy)
                 Piriani Amman
Speciality: Raghu with Nagavalli and Nagakanni
Time       : 6am-1pm and 4pm-9pm
Contact   : Prakash Gurukal @ 97908 94408

How to reach
Thiru Nageswaram is 6kms East of Kumbakonam on the Karaikal Highway and 1km North of Thiru Vinnagar Oppiliappan Divya Desam. 

Buses ply every 15minutes from Kumbakonam Bus Stand on the Karaikal route. Town buses every half hour to Thiru Nageswaram.

Kumbakonam Taxi Contact: Saravanan @ 99945 46416
Thiru Nageswaram Auto Senthil @ 94432 75004

When here also visit Thiru Vinnagar Oppiliappan Divya Desam ( )