Janaki Ammal Ranganathan was a staunch Vaishnavaite. She had got her initiation from His Holiness Srimad Andavan Swamigal. Her granddaughter, Shyamala Varadarajan and her siblings were fed with stories connected with the Puranas during their growing up years.
“My grandmother had inculcated my interest in our ancient culture. Eventually Perumal (Lord Vishnu) became the central focus of my life. My father, Devaraj had been a successful entrepreneur and his early passing away caused a lot of traumas for us. However, the will of my mother, Jayalakshmi made life smooth for us. She became a successful entrepreneur. Her parents, Janaki Ammal and Ranganathan came along to stay with us. Their moral support made our lives stable. The blessings of the Lord Almighty made my mother, Jayalakshmi Devaraj receive the best lady entrepreneur award. Mother had managed three companies and was extremely busy during the day. She would return home in the evening and look after us. Our grandparents would attend to our needs during the day,” stated Shyamala Varadarajan. The Varadarajans are blessed with wise and sensible daughters - Vinaya and Sriparama.
Jayalakshmi Devaraj took her kids to a number of temples during their growing up years. Her two sons (Aditya and Rajesh) and two daughters (Shyamala and Jaishree) would accompany her everywhere. They used to meet Swami Chinmayananda often. Shyamala was keen to learn Sanskrit and had already been good at Tamil. Her medium of learning was English and the home tongue was Telugu! Her grandmother took her to the Sanskrit scholar, Vakkil Thiruvenkataswamy Naidu. They used to call him ‘Vakkil Abbha.’ This 80-year-old gentleman knew 7 languages. He got books from R. S. Vadhiyar of Kalpathy Agraharam (Kerala) for Shyamala and she began right earnestly. It was here that she met Geetha who became Swamini Atmaprakashananda during the later years. Shyamala became quite close to Geethakka (Geetha) thereafter. Kaladhar (Swami Paripoornananda) was also a visitor to Shyamala's residence those days. This atmosphere gave her a good foundation.
Young Shyamala attended the Samskrita Bharati Camp at Perks School. This residential camp was for a 10day period and Krishna Sastri, the energy behind Samskrita Bharati took classes then. Shyamala got a good impression about the RSS during the camp. The camp had instilled Devabhakti (Love for God) and Desabhakti (Love for Nation) in her. Thereafter, she began reading the nationalist magazine, Organiser. The young lady picked up Sanskrit through this camp. She joined one more camp due to the influence of her Geethakka during her final year of BBM in P. S. G. R. Krishnammal College for Women. Shyamala studied spoken Sanskrit and Grammar. Geethakka had also started teaching her. The youngster cleared 5 exams in Sanskrit (Equal to B. A. in Sanskrit) and went to learn from Madurantakam Srinivasachariar in the Annapoorani Temple premises at Coimbatore. This temple and the Vedapatashala were founded by the industrialist, Ravisam. Shyamala had got her grammar book by Panini. Her Sanskrit education had prepared her for the higher tasks that she was to undertake later.
Swami Dayananda was Shyamala's first Guru. She attended his programmes at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Coimbatore Kendra). Geethakka had introduced her to the great seer. The Anaikatti Ashram was founded by Swami Dayananda and Jayalakshmi Devaraj would take her kids there during the weekends. They would visit temples at times when His Holiness Swami Dayananda Saraswathi was away on tours.
“I remember attending youth camps those days. Many including Sowmya, Saranya and Aparna used to attend. Ramya Sathpurush was an attendee too. Mother started the Vighneshwar Devaraj Charitable Trust. A camp was organised at the Annapoorani Temple (Coimbatore, India). The main speaker was Swami Dayananda, and we were blessed with the presence of Prema Pandurang. It was an experience by itself for I was just 20 years old then. We invited industrialist, G. K. Sundaram and he blessed us. One Sanskrit Summit took place at the Nani Palkiwala Auditorium (Mani Higher Secondary School) in Coimbatore. I wore a Dhavani (half-saree) and gave the welcome address in Sanskrit,” said the enthusiastic learner, Shyamala Varadarajan.
She expressed with the flow, “Community elders G. K. Sundaram and Dhanalakshmi Jayachandran heard my speech and were very happy. The Chief Guest, Krishna Sastri spoke in understandable Sanskrit and the event went on very well.” She had later done a teacher's training camp with Samskrita Bharati for the teachers and students at the P. S. G. R. Krishnammal College while pursuing her BBM. Her husband, N. Varadarajan is a well-known textile entrepreneur, and he manages a couple of textile mills (The Southern Textile Limited & Cardwell Spinning Mills Limited) in Coimbatore District. His father, Narayanaswamy Naidu had been an enterprising mill owner.
The Varadarajan household is located in a sylvan place and the home is endowed with the pictures of the family elders. The visitors will definitely be drawn to the portrait of His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamy Varu popularly known as Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar. “I came to know about Swamiji through Geethakka. He happened to be the preceptor for the family of Jayanthi Ramachandra, a daughter of the Lakshmi family, and also a well-known dance teacher known for her fine sense of aesthetics. Swamiji had taken Sanyasa at the age of 23 and his book, ‘Do you need to pray’ became my guide. I read the book and wanted to get connected to him, but this was to happen much later. The captioned book gives the answers which can change your life regardless of who you are,” smiled Shyamala while we were served with Basundhi, Sambar vadai and a steaming cup of filter coffee. My wife, Sujatha and son, Madhav Balaji lent an eager ear to the conversation.
N. Varadarajan spoke about the first meeting with H. H. Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar, “We faced a lot of issues post-partition. Some difficulties plagued us. Our cotton party, Guntur Krishnamurthy gave us a photograph of Chinna Jeeyar and suggested that we meet him. We met him in Andhra Pradesh and were immediately drawn towards him. He blessed us by visiting our home in Coimbatore during the year 2008. We were told that any place he steps on would turn into gold and we experienced it. Our life became better in every sense.”
He added gladly, “We had met him for the first time during his 51st birthday celebrations. Swamiji has established the huge statue of Saint Ramanujacharya at Samshabad (Hyderabad) in Telangana. This statue is known as the ‘Statue of Equality.’ Saint Ramanujacharya was a great social reformer. A huge centre is underway in the holy spot. The Tejas of Swamiji will surely enthrall the people meeting him. It will be an unforgettable experience.” It was also wonderful to listen to the young nationalist Varadarajans - Vinaya and Sriparama.
Shyamala invited us to the Corporate Office of their textile ventures thereafter. It housed the facility for ‘Vikasa Tarangini’ and ‘Prajna’. The social initiatives of H. H. Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar, “Swamiji has given me the charge of the Coimbatore region. Vikasa Tarangini is into a lot of social work. We have built toilets for the socially downtrodden at Kulathupudur (Pollachi Taluk). The village is now fully endowed with toilets. The devout Nathamuni, the energy behind the Kulathupudur Varadaraja Perumal Temple, is coordinating with us in this regard. Vikasa Tarangini is also holding medical camps for women. They help in early detection of issues that may lead to cancer. The women receive guidance, and these help them to stay free of the disease. This initiative is known by the name, Mahila Arogya Vikas. The test costs a few thousands in hospitals, but it is offered free of cost by Vikasa Tarangini,” quoted the proud devotee.
“Swarnaamrutha Prashana is one more programme and it is in the interest of kids. We offer a unique medicine which contains medicated gold on Pushya Nakshatra days each month. This tonic acts as a potent immune modulator and memory booster. Kids with learning and other difficulties are getting better after consuming this medication which is based on our ancient system. Vikasa Tarangini began in 2015 with the blessings of Swamiji in Coimbatore and we are happy to be part of this wonderful initiative,” smiled Shyamala while showing the equipment used for medical diagnosis to Jaganathan (Curator, The Verandah Club) and I.
A. N. S. Sriram of A. N. S. Jewellers, Salem (Tamil Nadu, India) is among the well-known followers of H. H. Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar, and the Varadarajans have been associated with such Bhagavatas too. Prajna is the educational initiative of Vikasa Tarangini.
Shyamala Varadarajan spoke at length about the activities of Prajna and her role in the same, “The mission of Prajna is to empower our students with right knowledge, to preserve and spread moral values, our rich Vedic culture and heritage using advanced techniques. We have ten modules with a set of books for each module. Students learn from teachers like us. I was trained in Andhra Pradesh and am willing to train teachers here. Late Gayathri Jayakumar was one of our young bright teachers. We have done camps in our Coonoor guest house too. The pandemic is making me teach online and classes are held during weekends only. Kids from the age of 5 are welcome and we inculcate our tradition in a step-by-step manner. Such kids will become national assets.”
“Each module is designed in a particular manner. While the first module focuses on subjects like the why of basic festivals, simple Slokam-s and interesting stories, the second one talks about devotion to one's parents and God. The students are taught how to nurture, Haribhakti (Devotion to Lord Vishnu). Prajna helps the kids to unravel the secret behind the journey of the soul. This is something that has not been done by modern science. There are several Prajna Centres around the world. In fact, it was designed for the kids in the U. S. A. But now, it is for everyone. We welcome kids to join our classes. Well-read elders too are invited to join our initiative. They will be trained to become ambassadors of Prajna. This is the need of the hour in the world of today.”
The meeting convinced both of us. We were very happy and thankful that we got to learn much about the good work of Bharatiyanaari Shyamala Varadarajan, the lady who is serving the society under the guidance of her Preceptor His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamy Varu.
Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of the Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.
Join our subscribers list to get the latest articles, updates delivered directly in your inbox.
We hate spam as much as you do
If D V Gundappa, more famously known as DVG, were alive, he would be more than 130 years today. His memory lives on to this day. There must be thousan...
‘Tirtha Prabandha’ was composed by Saint Vadiraja. It consists of 235 stanzas. The dvaita sampradaya enriched our country further. It was propounded b...
Bengal Diaries - Episode 10In the late years of 1850, two revolts had profound impact on the British rule over the Indian subcontinent. The first of t...