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When Spring last came to the Flint Hills of Kansas, it brought amid its garish tumbling of flowers and its impudent quarrelling of birds, the visit of a human being who was both a song and a flower. Springtime here does not forget Annadurai. There will be some in Manhattan in the Flint Hills whom every Spring will remind of the sparkling eyed, erect figure, minute but commanding in the majesty of an inner warmth of understanding. Though I know him little more than a year, Anna was one of my teachers/ Courage, joy in humanity, the strength of integrity, the warmth of compassion, these sovereign qualities were joined in a unique amalgam that we called “Anna”. They communicated to everyone who came in contact with him a pride in the humanity we all share with him.

As a student of India, more particularly of South India, I found it exciting that these qualities of soul, the selflessness, the non-attachment, the one-ness with all humanity that are the keystones of the Vedanta should be so forcefully embodied in this brave political campaigner who specifically and outspokenly spurned the forms and rituals of organized religion. Born in the humblest of homes in the city where once Sankaracharya lived and spoke, in the shadow of hundreds of temples. Anna shared with that greatest of world philosophers the ability to separate the teaching from the non essential formula.

Anna returned in triumph from that American tour, only to turn back to the United States for further treatment of a lingering ailment. before the took his final departure in November, 1968, I made a pilgrimage to New York to say goodbye once more. I treasure the memory of those last moments with Anna’s last Fall. Never had I seen him so brimming with life. So full of ideas for Tamilnad, so interested in the life going on around him. For some days he had had strength to visit New York’s parks, to feast his eyes and heart on all the treasures of the world’s great civilizations that New York has stored in her museums. He was returning to his beloved Tamilnad with great new perspectives and hopes for his people.

But before another spring could come, he had gone. He is more than a memory. Furthermore, with later modification of the theory of charisma as embodying inspirational elements, the assessment of its bureaucratic impact requires even further re-examination, we know for example that for many people John Kennedy was a charismatic leader. Yet his charisma served to strengthen formal organizational attachments rather than weaken them. Annadurai also could be cited as as charismatic leader whose charisma facilitated the process of organizational routinization. In this sense charisma was a stabilizing element in Party bureaucratization.

In its overall impact we must say that charisma is a fundamentally revolutionizing force and the lasting impact of charismatic leaders stems from their propagation of new ideas and the challenge they represent to traditional organization and institutions. Because charisma has a compelling effect on men it is capable of detaching them from traditional modes of thought, imbuing them with new ideas and inspiring them to radically alter their environment. It is this fundamentally revolutionary or destabilizing element in charismatic attachments which makes the charismatic leader controversial during his lifetime.

Through their followers, their organizations and the principles which they have espoused, charismatic leaders trend to have a continuing influence on society and its institutions even after their demise. It is this continuing effect which cannot be predicted or foreseen with absolute certainty and which makes authoritative assessment of charismatic leaders a difficult task; a task which must finally rest with the future.

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