Sunday, January 31, 2021

Srirangam Madapalli Fame Lakshmi Narasimhan enters Sainthood

From a crorepathi IT Professional a few years ago to Sainthood in the 40s
Lakshmi Narasimhan transformed the Srirangam Madapalli in 2017-18 but moved on from the temple after being rejected the post of Jeer
End of  January 2021, he has officially renounced family way of life and become 'Dhanurudhas Ramanuja Jeer'

Just under three years after he gave up a high paying job in a MNC and took up service at the Madapalli at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Lakshmi Narasimhan, in his 40s, has given up family life and taken up Sainthood. He will now be referred to as Dhanurudhasa Ramanuja Jeer.

17-18 in Srirangam
This section had in July 2018 written about his transformational services at the Srirangam Madapalli ( However, his stint at the madapalli was shortlived with constant detractors making it difficult for him to pursue the large scale transformation that he was attempting at the madapalli. Following the death of the Jeer of the Ranganathaswamy temple, Lakshmi Narasimhan had indicated his interest for that post and was willing to quickly learn the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham in its entirety. But the temple authorities did not act in his favour with several opposition to him being nominated for the post. Shortly after, he quit the temple initially indicating a temporary leave for physical health issues relating to carrying heavy vessels at the madapalli. But he never returned again to the temple and the madapalli. His mentee of the time, another former IT professional Srivathsan continues to serve at the madapalli in Srirangam.
2019 at Azhvaar Tirunagari
The next year,  in June 2019, this section tracked him at 5am on the Nava Tirupathi Garuda Seva day at Azhvaar Tirunagari Divya carrying sacred water from the Tamaraibarani for the day's utsavam( He had performed selfless service through the Ramanuja Utsavam in the summer of 2019 at Azhvaar Tirunagari Divya Desam. He was also involved in propogating the traditional way of life to the priests in the region. Priests had told this writer in 2019 as to how he would present verses from the scriptures and initiate the thought process of following the traditional ways at the Divya Desam temples even in these modern times. However, his stint there too was shortlived as his traditional ways and getting everyone to follow his way did not find favour with the temple authorities. He moved on from the temple leaving indication to very few people there on his whereabouts. 

2020 at Melkote/ Kirangur
And then, this section spotted him at the Avathara Sthalam of Ananthazhvaan at Kirangur, near Srirangapatna( He had spent some time at Melkote, most of the nights sleeping on the banks of the Theertham before joining hands in service with the now 88 year old Ananthacharya  at Kirangur. Over the last year, he has been at the madapalli at Kirangur much to the delight of Octogenerian Ananrhacharya, who  told this writer that he feels blessed to have someone like Lakshmi Narasimhan joining him out of nowhere.

And earlier today, he officially renounced his family way of life at Melkote and assumed the status of Jeer (
In the few months that this writer had known him in Srirangam, he had always indicated dedicating himself to a life of service to God. Even at that time, he had let go of his family and was living a life surviving on very minimal food and clothing. While the Srirangam Temple authorities were not inclined on making him the Jeer of the temple, he has two years on chosen his own path and renounced materialistic interests in life and will now pursue sainthood.

He is now taking up a round tour of Kanchipuram ( Kooram), Srirangam and Thirumalai.

At the Srirangam Temple in May 2021

It is likely he will return to Kirangur and continue to reside at the Avathara Sthalam of Ananthaazhvaan.

S Vasudevan Triumphant Return TN Cricket

The Return of the Golden Hand
In his first and only year as TN captain, he won the Ranji Trophy in 1988. Now in his first year as Chairman of Selectors, TN has won the T20 tournament that has been elusive for almost 15years

“I know that (TN's good run in white ball cricket in recent years) but what I want is the trophy. Nothing less will be acceptable” - Vasudevan told Dinesh Karthik last month after the captain's appointment
33 years ago, TN cricket was in a fix. Legendary S Venkataraghavan ( had retired. Following his retirement, Bharat Reddy, the wicket keeper from the 1970s captained TN but was dropped soon after ( The senior most player V Sivaramakrishnan retired at the start of the season. It was the year of the World Cup, the first after India’s historic win and K Srikkanth, still in his prime, was likely to be away for a large part of the domestic season. There were some ‘very interested’ contenders who had made known their intention to lead the state side that season but the TN selectors went for the experienced Vasudevan. In the preceding ten years, he had not captained the state once. The years leading up to that season had been dominated by Delhi, Bombay and Karnataka and very few would have given the young and un-fancied TN team a chance. But in his very first year as the captain, he led TN to a Ranji Trophy victory ( He was (and still is) a simple and an uncomplicated man and moved well with the players, most of them then in their early 20s. He allowed them to be their own self and gave them the freedom to express themselves, something that had been sorely missing in the earlier regime. He too played a big part in the triumph contributing with the ball in what was one of his best seasons.

In the last two decades, he has been largely out of the TNCA cricket circuit (except for one off coaching stints), initially focusing on his IT/ Oracle business and then on his role as a coach of a local cricket academy with a limited number of students. It must have come as a surprise to many in the TN cricketing circles that after over 25years, he came back as a State Selector, this time as the Chairman.

And the Golden hand has done it again. After a gap of almost 15years, Tamil Nadu has won T20 trophy (they last won the T20 tourney way back in 2006-07, the inaugural year of the tournament). It must be remembered that TN has done exceptionally well in White Ball cricket in recent years (the team lost the final last year in the last ball of the match). And that is exactly what Dinesh Karthik (who was the captain in the final a decade and a half ago) brought to the notice of Vasudevan soon after his appointment as captain last month when the two met at the TNCA. The easy going Vasudevan can get to be stern when it comes to (cricketing) business and his response to DK was straight and on his face “I know that but what I want is the trophy. Nothing less will be acceptable.”

While he is known to be a quiet man, on the ground he did put his foot down with his expectations in that successful year as captain. In the very first match, he recorded the reason on the morning of the first day of the season for wanting a ‘different’ batsman (who could also bowl) and chose him ahead of the player that the Selector had written and presented as their Playing XI for the match in 1987.

Likewise, now, soon after his appointment as the Chairman, Vasudevan  set the bar high and the expectations right. The message went around to the team that this was a year when they had to go for the trophy. Another year as a finalist was not what the selectors were looking at. Vasudevan pushed up the bar right on the evening the captain was chosen. There were many setbacks for him in the early phase. M Vijay expressed his unavailability after the squad of 25 was chosen (the real reason for his announcement will be kept away from this story!!!). Vijay Sankar informed in advance that he would not be available for the knockout phase. Like a few other teams, TN had lost a few to the test squad but the youngsters came to the fore.

Vasudevan told this writer that he saw great unity in the team and there were positive vibes on the field “I felt the team entered the field with a sense of confidence and a belief that they could beat any team in the competition. Even in the matches that they were behind, they came back strong and won with ease. You did not get the feeling even once in the tournament that it would be a tense finish.”

As the Chairman, he passed on his suggestions through the tournament to the captain and the coach including on the combination for matches “Both of them were very receptive to the suggestions and it has been a very positive engagement in terms of communication with the think tank of the team through the tournament.” 

Sidu's Selecton for the final
The selection of M Siddharth in the final for his first match of the tournament too was discussed between DK, Coach Vasu and Chairman Vasudevan. And he turned out to be the surprise package with a man of the match performance.

As soon as TN won the Trophy, Vasudevan told this writer that one cannot compare with the 5 day victory ( Ranji win of 1988) as T20 is totally a different ball game."I am delighted that our boys did exceptionally well as a unit. I am particularly pleased that the youngsters really did well backed up by Dinesh, KB and Aparajith."

Given the confidence built with this tournament victory that saw TN win all its matches, Vasudevan indicated that all the performers in this team were likely to get a chance in the domestic one day tournament as well to keep the continuity going and to carry this confidence into the upcoming tournament.

For a man who has been away from limelight and any cricketing association with the TNCA for long, this late comeback has been terrific. Like with his cricketing days, when he captained the team successfully a decade after his State debut, here too, the opportunity has been long overdue but within months of his appointment, TN has won a tournament after a decade and a half. He is silent most of the time to the external world but over the last couple of months, few know that he has put in several hours of background work each day on the team composition providing the inspiration from behind sitting at his third floor home in Gandhinagar.

Congrats to the Silent Man of TN Cricket. 

(The star bowler of the Final, Man of the Match, M Siddharth made his debut in the TNCA league as a 11 year old under the captaincy of this writer -

Saturday, January 30, 2021

BCCI Umpire Madanagopal Bio Bubble Quarantine

Locked inside a room for six days without a face to face meeting
Top BCCI 20 Umpire recounts life in a bio bubble and the Quarantine Challenges
In March last year, former South Zone middle order batsman JR Madanagapopal received an email announcing his appointment as a fourth umpire in the 2020 IPL ( that was to be held in India. However, the joy was short lived as the COVID restrictions that came into force a fortnight later meant that only limited number of officials made the trip to Dubai and he lost out on the opportunity. Since then, as with most other umpires in the BCCI Panel, it has been a long wait for him to get back on to the ground. And when the call came for him to leave for Bombay for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, he was excited and looking forward to officiating in a cricket match again.

Locked in a room for six days
However, little did he realise the 'lonely' challenges that lay in store for him in the first week of this new calendar year. After testing negative in Madras, he left for Bombay on January 3. For the first time in his life, he was locked inside a room for 6days and did not physically meet a single human being through till January 9 as part of the quarantine ahead of the tournament.  Even food was placed outside the door and he had to pick the food from there. There was no face to face interaction for 6 days even with his umpiring colleagues and the match referees, let alone the players.

Madanagopal narrates the challenging experience in the initial days of being quarantined and locked in the bio bubble “It was a very challenging experience because usually the BCCI scheduling of matches for umpires is hectic and we are on the field doing what we know best. But here I was locked inside a room and not able to meet a single individual for many days. I never came out of my room for six days. The first three days were really stressful and there was dullness within. We had to do something on our own through the day and night. It was not easy to manage but I constanly gave myself the positive reinforcement on the (umpiring) job that was coming up the next week.”

“Getting an opportunity to umpire after almost a year was paramount in my mind and I did everything possible to overcome that initial stress of being away from human beings.”

Yoga and its positive impact
Over the last many years, Madan has been known to travel light and does not carry stuff that are not considered essential for an umpiring trip. But this time he had with him multiple gadgets including the Tablet, Laptop and the Kindle. While he did use the gadgets extensively, what gave him positive energy was something else “Through that week, I was fully into Yoga and that gave a sense of peace and helped me feel better.”
And then in the second week of January, the mind switched to cricket on the ground. He recounts the experience on the field “After having been away from people for almost a week, for us to see human faces next to you and to be able to talk to them was a refreshing experience. All of us got a positive feel and energy once we were on the field. Of course, everytime the ball went into the stands, we had to 'sanitise' the ball, a totally new experience for us.”

A difficult phase
As a full time professional, one is expected to undergo these. But only after one experiences the bubble, does one get a feel of challenging life can be "It was only after I spent the week all alone inside the room and without a human in sight, could I relate to the difficulties of players being locked in a bio bubble, away from their families. Looking back, I would say that I did reasonably well facing up to the challenges of a quarantine."

And then a Second Quarantine
His umpiring performances in the domestic circuit over the last year (the period before COVID) led him to officiating in the quarter finals and Semi Final. After the round of league matches, he moved to Ahmedabad for the knock outs and he was back in quarantine again, this time for four days “Having experienced Quarantine once in Bombay, I was better equipped the second time and adapted to it better in Ahmedabad for I knew what was comign and how my life was going to be for a few days."

More Quarantines in February??
For the first time in his cricketing career, Madanagopal has been away from his family for the entire month. He is still is in Ahmedabad and will be returning to Madras only after the final that takes place tomorrow evening. However, it will not be a long time together with the family for it is likely he will be required to get back into another long quarantine ahead of Vijay Hazare or Ranji Trophy tournament that will come up in February and could be away in another bio bubble or two for the entire length of the tournament (a full month if its the one day tournament). And that will not be easy on the body and mind.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Kalli B Kalyanasundaram Selector Match Referee Director Advisor

A Glorious Second Innings in Cricket 
A non confrontational personality, he has been a role model as a fast bowler and set benchmarks as a Match Referee 
The un-fancied Temple town ‘boy’ from Kumbakonam found glory for himself as a star fast bowler amidst two spin legends of TN cricket in the late 60s and 70s, and in his second innings in cricket has been a Selector, Match Referee, Director and Advisor
                                            This 'little' young Kalli

(Just under a decade ago, this section featured a story on Kalli the Cricketer. This one looks at his 2nd innings in cricket-

In the second half of the 2000s, two major events unfolded in the TNCA relating to two former Ranji cricketers - One from the 1980s, Southpaw R Madhavan, who returned to Madras after almost 15 years in Dubai and another from the 1960s and 70s, ‘hat trick’ man B Kalyanasundaram, who had just retired after almost two decades at N Sankar’s Sanmar Group. Both had been away from cricket for a large part of their professional career and were handed the post of a Selector almost immediately after they ‘announced’ their availability to be re-associated with TN cricket. The two have had very contrasting mix of fortunes with the TNCA. While the former quit very early (interference in his role being one of the reasons and non- payment of a fee for the professional role and time being another) and has had minimal association with cricket since, the latter understood the internal complexities of the TNCA and hung on just as he had during his playing days. It’s been a glorious second innings in cricket. Here’s the story of Kalyanasundaram’s model of breaking through the shackles and achieving success against all odds.

Fighting against Personal Tragedy 
Right from his childhood, Kalyanasundaram has been one who has had to fight against the tide, quite literally in his teenage days. As a school boy, he spent a lot of his free time swimming in the then over flowing Cauvery of the 1950s and 60s in Kumbakonam. But tragedy struck early in his life as he lost his parents by the time he was into his teens (his mother Savithri when he was just nine and his father, Balasubramanyam, a lawyer who was practising in Kumbakonam, when he was sixteen). These sudden turn of events led him to focus entirely on academics, far away from cricket (sometime in the future, this section will explore a feature on another successful personality who too lost his parents by the time he was 16). 
Amma Savithri with Kumbakonam Lawyer Appa Balasubramanyam

After a short stint at St. Joseph’s college, Trichy, he moved to the reputed REC Calicut for his Engineering (an indication of his outstanding performance in academics). Despite being short in structure, his pace (strength gathered from his swimming years in Kumbakonam), was overwhelming for the Keralites and he found his way into the Kerala Ranji Team during his college days, within a few years of his entry into serious cricket driven by strong performances including in the then popular Tripanathura Pooja tournament. His performances were so overwhelming that 55 years later, the Keralites invited him last month to share his Calicut success story which he did to the who's who of Kerala cricket. He performed exceedingly well in his first year in first class cricket. 
Kerala U25 Team 1965-66 under the captaincy of SK Nair

Soon after his graduation, he came to Madras and experienced real city life for the first time in his life when he reached State Capital in the summer of 1967, the period when N Sankar (later Sanmar Group) returned to the city after his Masters in the US and began his active stint in running cricket that has now lasted over five decades. 

Experiencing Cricket in a Metro 
Kalyanasundaram joined Jai Hind in the second division for a year (he was a bit disappointed at a Ranji player being asked to play 2nd division) as per the instructions of N Sankar before playing for a decade for Jolly Rovers, a period when he worked under KS Narayanan at India Cements. It was also a period when he enjoyed huge success with the TN Ranji team despite being in the shadows of the legendary spin twins S Venkataraghavan ( and VV Kumar. He had to showcase himself as a fast bowler in the few overs he got with the new ball and a bit later with the old ball when Venkat and VVK took a short break. Tales of Kalli itching to grab the ball in Ranji matches when there was no breakthrough for a long time is legendary but he or his teammates went to Venkat to suggest handing the ball to the fast bowler. Almost 50 years after the event ( Kalli took a Hat Trick in the Ranji Final but TN was bundled out in the fourth innings by Bombay), Sunil Gavaskar still refers to him as ‘The Hat Trick’ man, such was the impact of his bowling in that period in the late 1960s and early 70s. 
                        Rakesh Tandon-  One of the Hat trick victims TN v Bombay Final 72-73

In the second half of the 70s, as he moved towards the end of his first class career and with the possibility of a place in the Indian team becoming remote (had he been handed more overs at his peak for TN, he may have bettered his chances of making his way into the Indian team, but Venkat and VV Kumar dominated the bowling. Despite this, he was on the verge of Indian selection but did not get the break and made his way to Coimbatore to join LMW ( where he worked for a decade. Well into his 30s, playing for LMW in the first division league, he gave Ranji Cricketers of the day such as NP Madhavan and S Srinivasan a run for their money. Health reasons as well as his sons’ education led him to return to Madras and surprisingly once again he worked with Sankar this time professionally at the Sanmar Group. By the time he moved to Chemplast in the 2nd half of the 1980s, he had already donned the role of a district representative in the Ranji Panel. But soon after he returned to Madras, he was out of the State Panel with the tag of district representative no more applicable to him.

Decades away from Cricket 
For a large part of two decades, after he joined Chemplast, Kalyanasundaram stayed out of TN cricket surprising including within Jolly Rovers for whom he had played an important role in the success in the 60s and 70s. His only connect with cricket was when he went with Sankar to watch matches in the city especially when VB Chandrasekar (  was batting (VBC was a special favourite of Sankar in the few years that he played for Chemplast). Through this period, Kalyanasundaram’s focus was on professional work, where he rose to the position of VP at the time of his retirement in 2006. 

Role Model for youngsters - Ever Motivating 
Former Ranji cricketer and a match referee for the last decade, S Sharath ( ) remembers the teenaged days of his cricket at Chemplast in the early 1990s “On many days, when I climbed the stairs of the Chemplast office, he would wish me with a motivational talk which would be on the lines of ‘you should score a big hundred in the next match. You have the potential and should capitalize and go on to get big runs.’ I was in college then and these words coming from such a legend were very inspiring for me. And I remembered it every time I went to bat..” 
Interestingly, almost two decades later, when Kalli was a state selector, he came and watched Sharath bat in a first division league match when ATG of TN cricket was on the wrong side of the 30s and had retired from first class cricket. Sharath remembers the words that day from Kalli that was just as inspiring as the one in the early 90s “I scored a century that day. He came up to me at the end of the day and said “Even now, the best of attacks in the state cannot get your wicket. It was a priceless comment and I cherish it to this day. He is a great motivator for all cricketers and his communication is crystal clear.” 
His boss at the Sanmar Group, N Sankar, who turned 75 in November last,( has high words of praise for Kalli “I can certainly certify that when he worked for our company, he was a dedicated, loyal employee. He was primarily with the Purchase Department, and worked on many of our projects and regular purchases.”

Back to cricket after two decades 
Much like R Madhavan (, Kalyanasundaram came back after a longish break from cricket. In fact, over the last decade, in his interactions with this writer, he has often reiterated his ‘ignorance’ of the happenings in TN cricket in the 1990s and the early 2000s for he was completely focused on carrying out his duties at the work place. 

Soon after his retirement at the Sanmar Group, he was roped in by the TNCA as a Selector in the U17/ U19 segment. Another player with his cricketing credentials may have been hurt to be given an age group post but Kalli is philosophical looking back at being handed the post in the U17 category “I had not been involved with TNCA cricket for almost two decades. Hence, it was logical that I start from scratch.” 

And that is exactly what he did. For a couple of years, he went and watched every round of matches in the U17 and U19 segments to get a feel of the talent that was coming up at that time in TN. In the years that followed, he also went around the State to watch cricketers in the age group category across almost all cricket playing districts in Tamil Nadu in an exhaustive talent hunting exercise. 

Over the last decade, he has repeatedly stated his view to this writer that being chosen as an official of the TNCA is something one has to see with pride, almost an equivalent of wearing the state cap (from his playing days). He did not get paid much for playing for the State in the 60s and 70s and his entire stint of 7years as a Selector was honorary without any remuneration “When there were hundreds of top notch cricketers available at their disposal, TNCA in its wisdom thought it fit to hand me a particular responsibility (a Selector’s post). Should I not consider it a matter of pride that they reposed their faith in me of doing a (bloody) good job of discharging my duty to the best of my ability?” 

And then following the sudden resignation of Madhavan as the Chairman of the TN Selection committee, Kalyanasundaram made the leap into the State (Ranji) panel from the age group category. Shortly after, he became the Chairman of the TN Selection Committee. 

Deft Handling of the TNCA 
The processes in the TNCA have always been complex and would be difficult for the common cricket fan to understand. For example, way back in 1987, when S Vasudevan (the current Chairman of TN Selection Committee) - - took over the captaincy of Tamil Nadu (the team went on to win the Ranji Trophy that season), he was simply handed the playing XI by the Selectors of the time on the morning of the first match he captained. Such was the scenario prevailing at the time (it is another matter that he did not agree on that XI handed out to him and made a change). For long, there has been a debate on the role of the selectors in the playing XI. 

Over the last decade or so, coaches have become an integral part of the selection process and they have had their say in the players that they would like in the squad (prior to the selection meeting). Similarly, it has been a given that the TNCA too has had its say in selection matters and that is not new either. In addition to all of these, it is well known in the cricketing circles that the individual clubs in the TNCA and former cricketers too have wielded their influence on the selection committee in various ways. 
Jolly Rovers, Madras - That great Master KR Rajagopal bottom righ

 Through the entire period of his regime as the Chairman, he deftly managed these complexities of the TNCA. To Kalyanasundaram’s credit, right from the days as a selector in the age group category, he has been one who has been present in the grounds to watch the league (and the age group) matches. In those years, one often heard the remark in the cricketing circles - ‘this man really does justice to his role’. Even when a strong personality such as the late VB Chandrasekar became the coach of the TN team (he was sacked within the first year by a ‘player revolt’) and by when the state coach had begun to have a larger say in selection matters, Kalyanasundaram held his ground as the Chairman. 

Of course, many decisions and non decisions during his time were questionable. The Selection committee led by Kalyanasundaram was not bold enough in taking some tough calls that was the need of the day but that has been his style all along. He understood the system as a player in the 1970s and when he came back in the 2nd half of the 2000s, one of the very first things he did was to ‘understand’ the constraints of the system. 

During his time as a player, a period that was dominated by Venkataraghavan and VV Kumar (, he tried to perform to the best of his ability in the 3-4overs he was given in between their long spells. He understood that he was never going to be the spearhead of the attack when the country was dominated by spin bowling. But even in the most difficult of scenarios, of the spin twins bowling a large majority of the overs, he held his own and managed to pick well over a 100 wickets for TN. 

Safe Calls as a Selector 
Similarly, over the last 15 years, he has been one who has understood the system well – the players, the administrators, the coaches and the clubs and its members. He did not try to be revolutionary and was not the one to create ripples and shake the system with his team selection. He took safe calls as a selector. It was clear to everyone at that time he was not one who would change the system with big decisions. There was also no ‘visionary’ selection in that phase but the meetings itself were professionally organised. Clearly, he brought all his corporate experience from Chemplast into the meetings and that was reflected in the way every single meeting was organised over the five years.
Former Central Zone leg spinner S Madhavan is now well into his sixties. With the unlocking of the COVID restrictions, he was back on field late last month and  continues to pick up wickets in the TNCA league. He was part of the State Selection panel under the Chairmanship of Kalyansundaram and says that the communication was clear "His English language skills combined with the ability to communicate in clear terms was outstanding. The meetings were well planned under his chairmanship. Prior to the meeting, we would sit together and discuss informally. Once inside the meeting room, I spoke my mind on the suggestions I had and he would listen to me and each one of us patiently and hear out our views. The meetings were conducted professionally."
Another member of that selection panel, former TN Ranji Captain S Suresh (, who has just succeeded Kalyanasundaram as the Chairman of the CAC, too was part of the state selection committee that he (Kalli) had headed. Suresh remembers the ease with which the meetings were chaired “While he was a real senior to us having played in the 60s and 70s, we were never overwhelmed with his presence. None of us were restricted in any way from expressing our views. He adopted a consensus approach in the meetings and gave utmost importance to the points shared by the panel.” 

The Chairman turns SILENT for five years 
Interestingly, in that phase, all of a sudden the Chairman of Selectors stopped talking with the media (including to this writer) on selection decisions. When this writer called Kalli very early on in his stint, his response was that he had been asked by the TNCA to not talk to the media on selection matters. How odd – the only time in recent decades that Chairman has been asked to be silent!!! Just prior to him, R Madhavan spoke to this writer as a Selector on his vision for TN cricket and also on the selection matters. Immediately, after Kalli’s tenure, Sharath spoke on the big selection decisions he had made within the first six months of his stint and he continued to speak throughout his five year period including to this writer. Nationally it has been a practice for the chairman of selectors to talk to the media on the team selection. It was only during Kalli’s tenure that the TNCA ‘chose’ to take away the ‘spokesperson’ status from the then chairman of selectors. He did not speak to this writer anytime during those five years on selection matters citing TNCA’s mandate to him to not talk on selection matters in the public domain. 

While clear cut communication in classy English has been his strength, this decision was a reflection of his personality of playing it safe at all times. In his mind, he was clear and saw as his role the selection of the team that was best according to him for that season as against justifying that team and the thought process to the media. TNCA handled that part through the five years of Kalli’s tenure. 
Given the cricketing scenario in the country, it is likely that there will be pressure on each of the selectors. These would come not just from the governing body of the time but from club secretaries, friends of the selectors, former cricketers (there are many instances of how former cricketers have got their relatives into cricket), the political class and many others. Given the short term and immediate requirement of each of these classes, it requires great ‘staying power’ to survive in this environment. And Kalli just had that – the knack of survival while at the same time carrying out his duties with great integrity.

Match Referee- The Glory Days in the 2nd Innings
With match referees coming into play at every first class match, there was a new found opportunity for Kalyanasundaram (this of course was a well paid for engagement). Within a couple of years of his retirement from his professional career, in addition to his role as a selector, he had also become a match referee on the back of his first class record and a solid understanding of the laws of cricket and the strong communication skills. He went on to don that role for five years, a period that he considers as one of the most enjoyable of his life “There is a misconception that a match referee is one who books players and downgrades umpires. I always saw it as one of proactive match management, communicating clearly the expectations ahead of the match and allowing it to flow without ‘incidents’.” 

As with his life’s journey, this one too was not a path without thorns. In the early phase, not knowing his cricketing credentials from his days as a star performer in the 1960s and 70s, he was posted for matches that did not do justice to his track record as a player. But as soon as the powers that be of the time noticed the respect he garnered from the players and the umpires and the credibility he brought to the engagement, he was assigned top Ranji and Zonal matches. In October 2011, he was the match referee in the Quadrangular U19 tournament featuring the WI, Australia, SL and India at Vizag. 

The Big Year 
2013 was a big year for Match Referee Kalyanasundaram. In January, he officiated in a six day Ranji Trophy Semi Final between Mumbai and Services after day 3 and 4 were washed out by rain. His high point as a Match Referee came a month later when, aged 67, he officiated in the international tour match involving the Australians at the Guru Nanak College ground in Chennai. Later that year, he was the match referee in an international tour match involving the West Indians in Calcutta. 

IPL eludes him
At that time, his hopes of officiating in the IPL may have been high but as with his playing career, the big call eluded him. As is his way, he invokes the gracious large hearted blessings of Sabanayakar of Chidambaram ( and reminds himself of being blessed with a life full of contentment (something that he has made repeatedly to this writer over the last many years) “Please remember I am not a Kapil Dev. To play for a decade alongside legends such as Venkat and VVK and to bowl to batting legends such as MAK Pataudi and ML Jaisimha,  a man from Kumbakonam could not have asked for more.” 

Another point he has repeatedly made over the last decade to this writer has been the opportunities provided to him by the TNCA "When there are hundreds of well established cricketers who have made TN proud over the last several decades, should I not consider it a great blessing that the TNCA reposed their trust in me as a Selector, referred me as a Match Referee and believed that I could play the role of the Advisor in cricket development." 

He set the Benchmark
Like in his cricketing days, he landed up in several challenging situations as a match referee too but handled it with finesse. He was the official when Murali Kartik ( initated the 'Mankad' out in a first class match.There were other tough matches involving Rohit Sharma, S Sriram and many others but in each of the scenarios, his proactive communication skills came to the fore.

S Sharath, who played over a 100 first class matches and has officiated as a match referee in close to 50 matches says that Kalyanasundaram set the benchmark for match referees from TN “All of us looked up to him as a match referee. He was easily among the best in the country at that time and we learned a lot from him on how to conduct a match and the qualities that make for a successful match referee.” 

Identifying and Initiating former cricketers 
Not only did he perform his role well, he also encouraged other cricketers in the state, who spent the earlier decades as players, to look at match referee as an option to further their cricketing interests. TN fast bowler from the 1990s and a State Bowling Coach for 6 years J Gokulakrishnan (, who has officiated in over 25 BCCI matches, credits Kalyanasundaram for initiating him into match referee “I had had a stint with the state as the coach but did not have any cricketing engagements with the TNCA for a few years. When I was wondering what next on the cricketing front, it was he who seeded the thought in me to explore match referee as an option. In the last couple of years, this has worked well for me. He is ever willing to help cricketers grow in this field and we all look at him as a genuine well wisher.” 
Bubbling with youthful enthusiasm 
Gokulakrishnan’s younger brother and BCCI umpire for the last 15years, J Madanagopal (, has pleasant memories of BCCI and TNPL matches when Kalyanasundaram was the match referee “I found him to be a fantastic referee, who always participates actively in all the discussions and chats/banter among the officials and players. He has superb knowledge of the game and combined with great communication skills, he made for a top referee.” 
But what fascinated Madan the most was Kalli’s bubbling enthusiasm “We always felt he was so young, such is his enthusiasm and passion for the game. He gave us the feeling that he was one amongst us.” 

Absolute Team Man 
Former Kerala Ranji Captain and now ICC Panel umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan ( who has been an umpire in many matches when Kalli was the Match referee, recalls the motivational talks and the incisive feedback that was part of every conversation with Kalyanasundaram which gave the on-field umpires a lot of confidence in carrying out their duty “He was just outstanding as a referee and never missed a single ball. Foremost quality was the fact that he was an absolute team man, one who always wanted to be thorough with LAWS / Playing Conditions and how it should be interpreted. Every time we (the umpires) returned to the dressing room from the field, he would come out to receive us with lot of encouragement and enthusiasm. I have seen innumerable number of times Kalli getting excited (even more than us) and happy when we got a tough decision correct. He would describe in detail his observations of our performance and come up with truly valuable suggestions.” 

Roping in Former Cricketers to play a more active role
Over the last decade, Kalyanasundaram has also come on board the IPL franchise team CSK as its director. A couple of years ago, he was appointed as the head of the Cricket Advisory Committee that had as its role the appointment of the TN Selection Committee. It was he who suggested the names of S Vasudevan (originally for talent hunting and later for the selection committee) and NP Madhavan (as a selector in the age group category)- - to come back into the cricketing fray and for the TNCA to use their cricketing experience. 
NP Madhavan had touched 60 but his employer was keen for him to continue his role as the VP. He had just got an extension at his work place at GVG, Udumalpet (, a place where he had resided for over three decades. One evening, in 2019, he received a call from an unlikely person, one who had rejected him as a cricketer almost four decades earlier at LMW. It was Kalyanasundaram, the Chairman of the Cricket Advisory Committee.  While Madhavan had played some role in districts cricket in the 1990s, he had stayed away from any official connection with the cricket associations in the state in the last couple of decades. Kalli felt credible names were required to be associated with TN cricket and he was keen to rope him in. Madhavan had told this writer in 2019 about the persuasive powers of Kalli "I was not too interested to get back into a cricketing role but Kalli gave some very convincing reasons for me to get back into Selection and almost 'forced' me to agree."

Madhavan was appointed as a U19 Selector. It was yet another example of Kalli going out of the way in search of credible former cricketers and putting forth a convincing argument to get them to make a re-entry into cricket. Vasudevan too had been out of the TNCA for a long time. It was Kalyanasundaram who had repeatedly 'pitched' to get him to play an active developmental role in TN cricket. 

Man of Integrity
TN Ranji cricketer from the 1990s Arjan Kripal Singh has now been a regular in the referee panel. While he has not interacted much with Kalli as a match referee, he counts his integrity as a top quality "I have heard him to be a very intelligent person and one with a lot of integrity."
High on Philosophy and Ethics
LMW cricketer from the 1970s, NS Ramesh, who played for RBI through the 1980s, knows Kalli best from that decade for he was the one who gave him company for many months in Coimbatore (both stayed on/off Alagesan Road) when his wife had been away for the birth of their second son “Right from those days in the 70s, Kalli has been one who has wanted to be philosophically correct and above board in everything he did. He was always a God fearing person and would not venture into doing anything that would be seen as not ethical.” 
Kalyanasundaram has been non confrontational all his life. As a cricketer, he showcased that he was up there with the best having held his own for a decade despite the dominating presence of Venkat and VVK in the bowling unit. And in his second innings, he has managed to hold his own once again for over a decade as a Selector, Match Referee, a Cricket Advisor and a Director. In an association like TNCA, with multiple forces at play, to come so clean is a significant achievement. The fact that he was not a spokesperson of the TNCA during his five year tenure as the Chairman of the Selection Committee was a one of its kind event but that really defines Kalli as a personality – He stays away from controversial situations. 

He will turn 75 next year and one wonders as to what more he has in his cricketing cabinet for he has always sprung a cricketing surprise.  For long, Talent Spotting has been his favourite. He has always been willing to spend time travelling around, especially to remote districts to look at the cricketing talent in unexplored territories. That probably is the closest to his heart. Hopefully, there will be some positive updates on that front. This section will track his cricketing developments. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Vedantha Desikar Srinivasa Perumal Temple Mylapore

A Mega Samprokshanam took place in 1924 as part of the consecration celebrations of Srinivasa Perumal and Alarmel Mangai Thayar Sannidhi 
The temple has over the last century become one of the most popular temples in the city with round the year utsavams
In the summer of 1924, brothers Srinivasan Iyengar and Gopalan Iyengar (the grandfather of former Ranji Cricketer and MD of The Hindu K Balaji - made a generous financial contribution to the consecration of the Perumal and Thayar Idols at the Vedantha Desikar temple in Mylapore that was acknowledged in the speech by A Rangaswamy, the then Editor of the Swadesha Mitran on the Mandalabhisekam day end of July of that year. As an initial contribution made in memory of their father Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, the first Chairman of the Electoral Board, they donated Rs. 1000 towards the consecration. Over the following decades, The Hindu’s family members have been closely associated with the temple and the conduct of the utsavams. Till the middle of the 20th century, The Hindu family would bring bullock cart loads of Homam items and provisions for Thathiyaaraathanai for the utsavams at the temple including for the Pavitrotsavam which has been one of the grandest utsavams at the temple. It originally began as a three day Utsavam, expanded to five days and then for the last several decades has been a seven day utsavam with a Maha Poornahati on the final evening.

The Hindu family’s early contribution
The Mandalabhisekam on July 27 1924 was attended in the morning by large number of devotees. Anchored by Rajam Bhattar of Devaraja Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram (Conjeevaram), the ceremony was conducted as per the Pancharatra agama,  reported The Hindu in a city page story that week.

That afternoon, Rangaswamy emphasised, in a short and lucid speech, the importance of the shrine in satisfying the legitimate religious requirements (of having a Perumal and Thayar Sannidhi at the Vedantha Desikar Temple) of a large section of the people in Madras and prayed for the young people in the locality to live up to the high Hindu ideals of devotion to one’s deity and religious tolerance.

While the consecration of Perumal and Thayar Sannidhi took place in 1924, the Vedantha Desikar Temple itself is said to be over 300 years old.

On that Mandalabhisekam day, special reference was made to the contributions of the members of the Vembakkam community including the late V Bashyam Iyengar’s family, VC Seshachariar, members of the late V Desikachariar’s family and Justice VV Srinivasa Iyengar, who was also the President of the Electoral Board that year.
         The Early Patrons - Kasturi Gopalan Iyengar and Kasturi Srinivasan Iyengar

In that speech, Rangaswamy thanked the generous contribution made by Srinivasan and Gopalan Iyengar of The Hindu. This speech was followed by a lecture by Ananthachariar of Pachaiappas College who extolled the greatness of Srinivasa Perumal.

An announcement was made that day that an Endowment fund of Rs. 4000 was being planned for the  maintainence of the temple and contributions from the general public was sought for this purpose. 

Grand Procession of Perumal, Pey Azhvaar and Desikar
The Hindu reported that on the evening of July 27, there was a grand procession of Srinivasa Perumal, Pey Azhvaar and Vedantha Desikar around the four Mada Streets. Late in the evening, Araiyar Srinivasarangachariar of Srivilliputhur presented Abhinaya of Krishna Leela, one that went on well into the night (this writer wrote a story on his  grandson earlier this decade in The Hindu Friday Review and on this blog -

A Swamyam Vyaktha Perumal Idol!!!
N Sowmyan, who retired a couple of decades ago as AGM of United India Insurance, was a trustee for three years in the late 1990s. Born in 1901, his father Nelvoy Narasimhachar was in his late 20s when he was roped in as a priest within years of consecration of the Srinivasa Perumal and Alarmel Mangai Thayar sannidhi and served at the temple for over three decades till the 1960s. Sowmyan recalls the story narrated to him by his appa almost 70 years ago ‘When the devotees of the Vedantha Desikar temple were keen on the installation of idols of Perumal and Thayar, the then trustees sought the services of the sculptor on Kallukaran street (that was behind the Thanithurai market and the now Mundakanni Amman MRTS station). Much to his delight when he dug up a pit to start his work he heard the noise of strong stone and found the idol in perfect condition. In that sense, I would say our Srinivasa Perumal is a Swayam Vyaktha idol.”
A Scheme Temple from 1908
In April 1908, the Madras High Court promulgated a scheme to govern this temple (with the dominance of the Thenkalayars at that time, it is likely that a dispute between the two sects led to a battle in the court that resulted in the regulation as a Scheme temple) with a board of trustees and that is how it has been for well over a century.

Sowmyan says that the entire zone around the Vedantha Desikar temple was a Betal Nut field owned by the Naidus who were predominantly Thenkalayars.

Electoral Board and the First Trustees
A Vadakalai association was formed where any Vadakalai could become a member. Through a democratic voting system, these members elect a board of 11 members referred to as the Electoral Board which then selects three members as trustees of the temple for a period of five years. In the meeting convened on May 18, 1908, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar of The Hindu was elected as the Chairman of the Electoral Board. T Srinivasa Iyenga was appointed as the Secretary to the Board. C Sesha Iyengar, V Sesha Chariar and L Narayanaswamy Mudaliar were appointed as the Trustees to the temple with A Varadarajan Iyengar as Auditor of the accounts of the temple.
Kasturi Ranga Iyengar - The First Chairman of the Electoral Board - 1908

Veda Parayana Sabha-1905
Set up in 1905. the Veda Parayana Sabha has been organizing Thathiyaaraadhanai and Sambavanai during the big utsavams over the last century. The complete Vedas are recited thrice in a year while the Divya Prabhandham is presented in full a dozen times every year.

The initial decades after the consecration
94 year old K Raman, former MD of Best & Crompton, was born 2 years after the consecration of the Perumal and Thayar Sannidhi. His father KS Krishnaswami Iyengar, who was a Judge in the Madras High Court, later became the Chief Justice of the Cochin High Court. He served as the President of the Electoral Board and also as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Raman recalls the first decade after the consecration “In that initial phase of development, Justice VV Srinivasa Iyengar, The Hindu's Kasturi Gopalan and my appa were the three who took great interest in the development of the temple.”
Former MD of B & C K Raman who visited the temple every week for several decades

He remembers the efforts taken by Kasturi Gopalan when there were issues regarding securing the sacred water from the tank “When another temple refused water from ‘their’ tank, Kasturi Gopalan, who always wore a traditional attire and was an ardent devotee of this temple, went to the extent of building an exclusive sacred tank in his own property.”

K Balaji, grandson of Gopalan Iyengar, remembers the tank from his childhood days in the 1950s and 60s "It was a 65ftx75ft tank and for a long time, in those decades, the tank was brimming with water that sometimes went up to the steps especially in years when there was a bountiful monsoon."
                        Ranji Cricketer from the 1970s K Balaji (former MD of The Hindu)

Traditional way of Aradhanam
Way back in the 1920s, Gopalan Iyengar offered a large hearted instant solution when the temple found it a challenge to secure sacred water. Almost nine decades later, well water continues to be used for Thiru Aradhanam at the Vedantha Desikar Srinivasa Perumal temple while in many of the historical temples in the state, taps have been set up near the Moolavar Sannidhi. A few years ago, when there was severe water shortage, the archakas brought well water from Andavan Ashramam for Thiru Aradhanam. 

For Thotti Thirumanjanam
An important contribution made by Krishnaswami Iyengar was the presentation of the huge silver gangalams in which the deities could be fully immersed and used.
Sowmyan’s father had told him that Kasturi Gopalan Iyengar had played a crucial role in the consecration, both in terms of active participation in the celebration as well as making a significant contribution financially "While a formal corpus was not created, it was Gopalan Iyengar who was instrumental in creating adequate finances for the daily Thiru Aradhanam and providing rice and milk everyday to the temple." 

In that first decade, Kasturi Gopalan presented a Thirumangalyam for Moolavar Thayar, a Swarna sacred thread for Perumal with a Pavitram Knot and Vattil for Perumal and Vedantha Desikar. Right from that period, The Hindu family have been presenting Oil and Ghee Tins to light the lamp at the temple, a process that has continued till today.  Later S Rangarajan, son of Kasturi Srinivsan, presented a Velli Padmam for Moolavar Thayar.

Priest for three decades
Nelvoy Narasimhachariar was a Vedic scholar who studied in Madurantakam. Thiru Kosthiyur Sowmya Narayanan was a teacher there. Impressed with the commitment of the young boy, he handed his daughter in marriage to him. Interestingly, he continued the initiation of his now ‘son in law’ in the Vedas. 

Soon after, Narasimhachariar became an archaka at the Vedantha Desikar Sannidhi of Poundarakipuram Ashramam ( on the East Uthira Street in Srirangam. He was not particularly keen to move out of Srirangam and into a city based environment. However, his father in law who spoke to the then trustee VV Srinivasa Iyengar pushed him into making the move to Vedantha Desikar Srinivasa Perumal temple in Mylapore.
Nelvoy Narasimhachar Bhattar at the Sesha Vahana Purappadu with the two Big Kudais that was a distingushing feature of the procession in the early decades

Two decades later, his salary at the temple was Rs. 8 and the entire amount was taken away as rent for the quarters given by the temple. Sowmyan recalls with great delight that despite this, there were no financial constraints at any point in his childhood in the 1940s and 50s “Prasadam was handed out in large quantities to the archakas as part of their daily share. In addition, devotees who were pleased with the devotional rendering of archakas placed good amount of money in the Thattu.”

90 year old Vimala Rangaswamy, mother of TT Srinivasaraghavan (Sundaram Finance's MD who last week announced his retirement from the company), spent her childhood years in Nadu Street in Mylapore (opposite the Kapaleeswarar temple). Her father ANS Raghavan too had made contributions to the temple in the early years.
Vimala Rangaswamy - a Devotee from the 1930s who's seen the big transformation

She recalls the temple as being very small in those years in the late 1930s "My appa was a traditionalist and a disciple of Vedantha Desikar. The temple in Mylapore was the only one dedicated to our acharya and hence this was particularly close to his heart. He would take me to the temple frequently in my school days (National Girls High School). He used to contribute to the development of the temple and the conduct of the utsavams but would not share the specifics of these even to the family members as he always believed that one should not publicise such contributions to temples.”

"As a school girl, I remember the committed service of Nelvoy Narasimhachar. He was a very sincere archaka and devotees used to like the way he performed the archaka service at the temple.”

75 years of Sripadham
In 1946, Sripadham Kainkarya Association was formed as an exclusive group of Sri Vaishnavas engaged in the service of carrying the Lord during processions in all festivals of the Temple. This year will mark the completion of 75 years of their selfless service. During the big utsavams, the Sripadham and the Madapalli personnel slept within the temple complex so as to begin their service early the next morning such has been their commitment at the temple.

The fire that damaged the dwarapalakas
Around 70 years ago on the Deepavali day, the temple was gutted by a fire arising out of the bursting of crackers. A huge pandal had been put up for three utsavams - Desikar Utsavam, Pavitrotsavam and the Adyayana Utsavam. The Pandal that was put up ahead of the Desikar Utsavam would stay on till the end of the Adayayana Utsavam. 

Fire service personnel doused the fire but in the heat that had been generated the Dwarapalakas had been completely damaged. It was the archakas who slogged over the next month to collect enough ammunition to rebuild the Dwarapalakas. Sowmyan was physically present on the day of the fire and distinctly remembers the period that followed the fire “After the closure of the temple at 11am, my appa would carry a large gunny bag (sack) and visit every house in Mylapore asking if they had any old brass vessels to hand out. Soon there was a heap of vessels. It was from the collection of these old vessels that the idols were rebuilt.”

A Heavy Horse Vahana from Malabar Teak Wood
It was in the 1950s under the trusteeship of Advocate NR Raghavachar that Vahanas were built and Brahmotsavam launched. The key differentiator in that period was that the archakas saw this as their own temple and that reflected in the way they performed aradhana and almost lured the residents into devotion.
                        Krishnaswamii Iyengar - Presented the First Horse Vahana

It was Krishnaswami Iyengar who handed the Horse Vahana to the temple in the 1950s. K Raman recalls the quality of the Vahana “It was my appa who presented the first Horse Vahana that was so heavy it required over 20 Sri Patham personnel to carry it in processions. He sourced the teak from Kerala and the Vahana was built with Cochin Malabar Teak. Kasturi Gopalan presented a number of Vahanas during that period.”

A Great Moment – Raksha Bandanam for the first Brahmotsavam
Soolai Srinivasachar (Rajamani Bhattar) passed away end of last month at the age of 89. His wife Pankaja, who had moved to the temple’s quarters in the agraharam soon after her marriage in the mid 1950s, recalls with devotional tears the first Brahmotsavam at the temple within years of her wedding “My father in law (Soolai Raghavachar) had returned from Pushkaram and had been serving at this temple over the previous decade when the trustee of the time asked him to lead the first Brahmotsavam at the temple with Raksha Bandanam. It was also the time my husband joined the temple as an archaka at the age of 25.”
Pankaja Srinivasachar - a witness to the first Brahmotsavam

Over the next four decades, Rajamani Bhattar worked with five different sets of priests at the temple before he retired 15 years ago. The decades starting the 1960s saw the commencement of something new at the temple and devotees specifically came to the temple seeking that. It was a phase that saw the special devotional presentation of Sahasranama Archanai with a Raagam that captured the devotional attention of the visitors.

While his archanai style was unique, he also drew devotees with his Thiru Aradhanam and Alankaram something that Vimala Rangaswamy vividly remembers “He was one of a kind archaka. His alankaram of Perumal and Thayar was very special. Devotees would gather at the temple specifically to see the alankaram of the day, especially during the big utsavams. He would pay attention to minute details in the entire alankaram process. And it was always a delight for the devotees to have darshan of the Lord once the screen opened for devotees.”
His son Navalapakkam Ranganathan ( is proud to have received feedback from devotees belonging to different generations that such a sweet recital had not been experienced before his father’s entry and not in the last 15years after his retirement.

Voyali during Desikar Satrumurai
A distinguishing feature at the temple has been the Voyali on the final day of the Desikar Utsavam that continues to this day. There have been times when Thiru Kudanthai Andavan has made a trip to specifically enjoy the Voyali of the Sri Patham.  Devotees gather in large numbers to watch the Voyali along the agraharam.

Thaligai in large quantities
Another special feature at the temple in those decades was the presentation, in large quantities, of Puliyodharai on Vedanta Desikar Satru Murai night. Devotees would bring big boxes to carry home the prasadam. Similarly Kadambam and Dhadhyonam in large quantities was a feature in Anna Kooda utsavam that followed immediately after Deepavali.

The Devotee Connect 
By the 1960s the temple had become well established with huge tracts of lands firmly in its control. Almost the entire Venkatesa Agraharam and Alamelu Mangapuram belonged to the temple, donated in centuries gone by, by well wishers of the Vedantha Desikar Temple. The focus then turned to Abaranams and Vessels for Perumal and Thayar and improving the Madapalli

TS Santhanam's Family - Presence at temple 
81 year old S Ram, Chairman, Wheels India Ltd., and Director at Sundaram Finance Ltd., ( recalls his father TS Santhanam being an ardent devotee of the Vedantha Desikar Srinivasa Perumal Temple “My father was a regular at the temple from the 1950s and he used to take me along when I was a school boy. From those early years, all of us in the family would visit the temple on the occasion of our birthdays and thus we made several visits to the temple each year from the 50s. This tradition continued for several decades.” 
                   S Ram, Wheels India - A Patron for 70 years

“It was my appa’s view that the utsavams should continue to be conducted uninterrupted through the succeeding generations and he was particular that the dedicated archakas of the temple and the Vedic and Prabhandham Scholars should be taken care of, financially.” 

“We have been actively participating and contributing to the Pavitrotsavam, Vedantha Desikar Utsavam, Sankranthi Utsavam and the fourth day of the Brahmotsavam.” 

In recent years, the larger Sundaram Group companies have made substantial contribution to the renovation exercises.

60 years ago, there was a discussion about the requirement of an abaranam for the Lord. When Madabhushi Sudharshan’s wife overheard the conversation as she made her way down the steps, in an instant moment she handed the Oddiyanam around her hip. It was with the proceeds from that that a new Kreedam was made for Srinivasa Perumal.

Over three decades later, when all the jewels were stolen in the Pongal week in the late 1990s, Gomathi (now a sub collector) a long time devotee, who saw Alarmel Mangai Thayar without a single Abaranam, burst into tears and immediately returned with an earring and nose ring after purchasing these from the North Mada Street. By the time the old jewels were recovered, the archakas had secured three times the lost jewels from the devotees within a fortnight. Such has been the connect with the devotees at this temple.

87 year old Kamala Kasturi, wife of legendary Editor of The Hindu, G Kasturi, recalls her mother in law Ranganayaki (wife of Gopalan Iyengar) presenting adornments to Alarmel Mangai Thayar.

Principal revokes the suspension order
An event at the Loyola College while he was in the intermediate led K Raman to the Srinivasa Perumal Sannidhi in 1944. That turned into a weekly devotional visit and continued for well over the next six decades “While I was trying out an experiment in the Chemistry lab, ‘elements’ tried to turn Father Murphy against me and I was rusticated for three years. I was directed by my appa to visit Srinivasa Perumal and invoke his blessings. And the order was revoked. And I turned into a full time devotee of this temple.”

84 year old Natteri Parthasarathy has been associated with the temple for six decades. A Vedic Scholar, who underwent Vedic education in Madurantakam, he has been presenting Vedic Recital at the temple since 1960. He has been the head of the Veda Parayana Sabha and on the Electoral Board during this period. He fondly remembers the generous contributions of leading industrialists and corporate personalities of the time “Over five decades ago, Padma Santhanam, wife of legendary automan TS Santhanam handed to the sannidhi a number of silver vessels.  Later, TT Rangaswamy (father of TTS) presented several pithalai vessels to the Madapalli of the temple.” 
                                            Natteri Parthasarathy - Vedic Recital from the 1960s

Archaka Partnership in the 70s and 80s
Rajamani Bhattar forged a partnership with Azhisoor Srinivasachariar (he joined the temple in the early 70s) through the 1970s and 80s. Throughout the decades of his service at the temple, he was clean with his food habits that came into public focus on the Poornahathi day in one of the Pavitrotsavams few decades ago. 
                                 Alankaram Specialist Rajamani Bhattar

Pankaja remembers the day when she saw the real devotion of her husband and his attachment to Srinivasa Perumal “After he fell down near the Madapalli, everyone at the temple tried to convince him to eat, but he refused to drink even a glass of milk till the Utsavam concluded the next morning at 4am and had his first food 7 hours later at around 11am after Thirumanjanam.” 

Samprokshanam in the 1970s- The Biggest renovation in 50 years
In the 1970s, the temple saw its biggest renovation in over half a century, led by Trustee Varadarajan. Till then, Perumal and Thaayar were close to each other separated only by a wall. The location where one now finds the Ramanuja Sannidhi had been the madapalli for several decades. The Azhvaars were seen just behind the Perumal/ Thaayar Sannidhi where one now finds the Chakkarathazhvaar Sannidhi. Ramar Sannidhi was North of the Perumal Sannidhi (Azhvaars sannidhi now). 

It was during that renovation that separate sannidhis were built for Rama (contributed by VD Ramaswamy Iyengar (Bashyam Iyengar’s family)), Ramanuja, Chakkarathazhavar with Madapalli being taken out to a different location east of the temple.  Originally the temple’s main entrance was further West in front of Vedantha Desikar Sanndhi. It was only later did the current entrance come up. Earlier the Veda Parayanam team comprised of only Vaishnavites. It is only in the recent past that Smarthas too been added to the Veda Parayanam team.

Computerisation in the late 1990s
It was during the trusteeship of Sowmyan that Computerisation was introduced at the temple for the first time. When he made a point to GK Raman the then MD of Sundaram Finance Ltd., he sent three desktops and two printers before Sowmyan returned to the temple that evening. It was also GKR who Sowmyan met when the temple was planning to construct a new chariot. Instantly he called the senior Wodeyar (Ramachandra Medical College) and asked Sowmyan to meet him. And this resulted in Wodeyar signing off a big cheque towards the construction of the chariot. GKR too made a sizeable contribution from Sundaram Finance for the construction of the chariot that now runs during the Brahmotsavam.
                      SF's MD from the 1990s - GK Raman - Paved the way for the New Chariot

The development has been huge in the last few decades. From just one hundi and a couple of service personnel to multiple hundis and a battalion of service personnel, the temple has really grown on the back of the huge devotional wave that has struck temples in recent years. Descendants of The Hindu family such as K Balaji, Nalini Krishnan, Nirmala Lakshman and Vijaya Arun (Vaikunta Ekadasi Muthangi as well as Rathnangi) and those in the Sundaram Group have been continuing to support the temple financially and otherwise in recent decades.

Jayaakya Samhita
In the Pancharatra Agama, this temple follows Jayaakya Samhita, one of the rare karmas out of the 100. In most temples, ‘Padmam’ system is followed while this is one of the few temples in the country to follow this Samhita.  It has been such devotional commitment of the priests for several decades from the 1920s that has helped create a positive vibration at the temple

Delighted at the Transformation 
Vimala Rangaswamy is delighted at the transformation the temple has seen “In my childhood years in the 1930s, this was a small temple with Desikar Utsavam as the main festival of the year. The Samprokshanam that took place a few years back and the grand celebrations of utsavams round the year are symbolic of the great development the temple has seen over the decades. It is almost unrecognizable from what I had seen eight decades ago except for the Vedantha Desikar Sannidhi.”
Former trustee Sathyanarayanan passed away a few years ago. But before his sudden demise, he played a stellar role as a trustee in recovering many of the properties that had gone out of temple’s decades in earlier decades. In recent times, a residential quarters has been built for the service personnel and last month Venkatesa Theertham was opened on a property belonging to the temple overcoming pressure from the powers that be who were keen on the property being handed over to them with the intention of providing such services to the mid and lower income people.

Srihari - Creating the next gen of Prabhandham members
The transformation at the Vedantha Desikar Srinivasa Perumal temple is symbolised in the way the Prabhandham Ghosti has been presenting the sacred verses during the utsavams over the last decade or so. Pankaja Srinivasachar recalls the long row of Vedic Scholars that would go into the East Street in the 1960s “In those years the Vedic Scholars clearly outnumbered the adyapakas. There were over 50 Vedic Scholars presenting the four Vedas during the Pavitrotsavam, Brahmotsavam, Desikar Utsavam and Adyayana Utsavams.”
P Srihari- Transforming the Prabhandham Ghosti

Natteri Parthasarathy’s son Srihari ( has been instrumental in creating the next generation of Divya Prabhandham members in large numbers over the last 25 years. A Deputy Editor at the Sports Desk of The Hindu, he would return home well after 1am after ‘making’ the sports pages but for over two decades he has been at the temple at 6am in the morning to initiate the young students into the sacred verses. If there is a vibrant Prabhandham Ghosti today at the temple that easily outnumbers the Veda Parayanam members, almost the entire credit goes to the tireless effort of Srihari.  He is now into the third batch of Prabhandm students, an initiative started way back in 1996. He has ensured that for the next several decades, there are enough Prabhandham experts at the temple to take forward the presentation especially during the large utsavams when the entire 4000 verses are recited.