A Visionary Worth Praising

Sriman A N Srinivasa Guptha Salem

Addepalli Srinivasa Guptha, affectionately called as ANS, was born in the year 1918 at Salem to Adhinarayanan Chettiar and Meenakshi Ammal. The family had prospered in the silk trade during those days. His father was a prominent merchant and an enterpriser. As he lost his father at an early age, he was nurtured by his grandfather A. R. Balasubramaniam Chettiar.

Srinivasa Guptha was married to Saraswathi, and they had six children, 3 sons and 3 daughters. Choodamani, Adhinarayanan (a) Sridhar, Rajendran, Chandrika, Vyjayanthi and Sriram. ANS’s father set up a jewellery business partnership firm for his son, and son-in-law A. V. Ramachandra Chettiar in the year 1928. Initially, he dealt with silverware and later added readymade gold jewellery for sales. Their sons then joined the family business and established their prominent firm under the name Kumbakonam Silver Shop - Jewellers.

ANS was an enterprising young man and ventured out to set up an electronics shop at Madras in 1940s. Guptha Agencies was into music phonograms, radios, and watches. Guptha Corporation was into automobile dealership. A notable advertisement was released in the Hindu 1947 edition. He was a patriot and always wore khadi until his demise. He mentioned that he along with his friends took the decision to wear khadi when Mahatma Gandhi had given a call to support khadi and shun imported clothes. Until his death in 2000, he did the same.

ANS was very much exposed to Vaishnavism even during his childhood days. He along with his devout wife Saraswathi became ardent followers of Sri Vaishnavism and found a good spiritual guide in Sri Thirithandi Sriman Narayana Ramanuja Jeeyar of Sitanagaram. He along with Thanbusamy Iyengar, K. V. Padmanabha Chettiar and other devotees set up Sri Vaishnava Sadh Sampradaya Sabha to cultivate Vaishnavism in Salem and surrounding places.

Saraswathi Ammal, as her name denotes, was a well-inclined lover of music. She along with her husband used to travel to many Carnatic concerts and kacheri-s. The music festivals which were held in temples were their favourite. She made sure that all her grandchildren learnt music, and musical instruments. She had enjoyed performing the musical rendition along with them.

The family shared connections with Kovai, as their first daughter-in-law hailed from Coimbatore. The prominent rice merchant Sri Kulur Mannarsamy Chettiar’s youngest daughter Manjula was married to Adhinarayanan (a) Sridhar, and the eldest daughter Gokula bhai was married to A. R. Venkatachalam into the same family. Further, several top gold jewellery suppliers and gold smiths had numerous business connections and associations.

Srinivasa Guptha worked with many friends and partnered businesses. He underwent basic education and was a little versed in English too. He maintained documents well and kept his wardrobe immaculate. His network of connections made him bridge many wedding alliances and would take interest in the wards’ welfare. He undertook good number of travels and pilgrimage.

ANS was associated with Sri Vidya Mandir Trust which established many schools in Salem and filled the need for the Hindu value-based education in the city. The ANS family had a long-term relationship with the family of Seethalakshmi Ramasamy. Sri Ramasamy was a member of bar association and a union minister. His eminent wife Seethalakshmi Ammal and he set up the first women’s college in Salem, Sri Saradha College for women. Seethalakshmi Ammal, after the demise of her husband, joined the Sri Ramakrishna order of Thirupulathurai. She went on to establish an eminent institution which caters women’s education and empowerment till date. Adhinarayanan (a) Sridhar, the eldest son, along with his family was instrumental to support the institution and sponsored essential infra-structure that the college required.

The family’s kula dheivam is Ankalaparameswari Amman and the temple of the deity is located in the by-lanes of Thirumanimutharu river bunds. First hair tonsure was always performed in the family deity temple premises. The deity was also kaaval deivam for the people of Salem town. Their ishta devata is Tirupati Balaji.

Later, the family practiced good philanthropy and supported the cause of education in Salem and nearby. More than 100 educational institutions run by various governmental and non-governmental bodies were provided support in infra-structure which varied from buildings, classrooms, to amenities.

The business, ANS Kumbakonam Jewellers, further grew under the auspices of his eminent son A. S. Adhinarayanan (a) Sridhar, Rajendran and Sriram. Today, his grandsons and great grandsons are into the business as fourth generation. The group has the distinction of nearing hundred years in the family business. Only few family-run businesses sustain many generations and reach the ever-remembered landmark in the history. ANS jewellery and ANS Dhivyam Jewels were the later entries and are distinguished in the national jewellery circles.

ANS has left an indelible mark in the community and business tradition in Salem and Tamil Nadu.