Articles About ANNA

ANNA - THE WALKING ENCYCLOPAEDIA                          Back to Article Titles
- Lion B.Appuraj, District Chairman

In the past few years nobody in India has captured the public’s imagination and caused by his death so much public sorrow as Dr.Annadurai. Dr. C.N.Annadurai was born an eloquent orator, an erudite scholar, a prolific writer, a brilliant statesman, a talented actor, a far sighted diplomat, an ardent social reformer, a walking Encyclopaedia and a bedrock of common sense.

Anna’s oratory and eloquence awakened the masses of India from lethargy and to see literature as a vital record of the past events. “He had inaugurated an Era of ‘Tamil Eloquence’, even as poet Bharathi had inaugurated an Era of ‘Tamil Poesy’. What Jawaharlal Nehru wrote about Ghandi holds good to Anna also”. He influenced millions of people in India in varying degrees; some changed the whole texture of their lives, others were only partly affected. Different people reacted differently and each will give his own answer to the question, some might well say almost in the words of Alcibiades, “Besides, when we listen to anyone else talking, however eloquent he is, we don’t reply really care a damn what he says; but when we listen to your or to someone else repeating what you have said, even if he puts it ever so badly, and never mind whether the person who is listening is man, woman or child, we are obsolutely staggered and bewitched”.

To hear him speak in Tamil is an essential part of education of anyone who is interested in understanding something about modern Tamil. But at the same time one should not forget the fact that he was a stalwart in English and had an extraordinary mastery over English too.

A Journalist, Playwright and Author of several works in English and Tamil like Annadurai, should have made but good note of very many books. He had to his credit not less then two score of books and innumerable stories and articles, and the enumeration of each and everyone here is neither possible nor advisable. Thiru. S.M.Balasubramanyam writes, “Even as early as 1943 Anna has questioned the value of ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Puranam’, as proud addition to Tamil Literature”. He argued with scholars like Dr.R.P.Sethupillai and Thiru S.Somasundara Bharathiyar and wanted to keep such works off the people’s track lest the people should forget their splendour.

We have instances in which a politician could also be a good writer and an orator. For instance, we have men like Ghandhi, Nehru and Churchill, likewise writers getting into politics as in the case of Bharathiyar, Milton, Shaw etc. These capabilities may atleast sometimes go well with each other. But an orator to be a playwright, a writer to be a statesman, an actor to be a politician, a social reformer to be a pacifist and the harmonious blending of these and many others too which have not been discerned here is a very rare and queer phenomenon. Anna was a harmonious blending of these traits. Trust, history, has no instance this kind of a towering personality.

Well who questions these calibres and capabilities? None. Nevertheless, we need the answer to the question how Anna has risen to this exalted position. Is it all merely because of God’s gift? Was there no sustained and strenuous effort on Annadurai’s part, which made him come to limelight in a short span of two decades?.

The open secret of his success can be traced in his encyclopaedic knowledge and rich and strong memory power. One can say with safety that it was all because of his voracious reading of books for hours and hours together. Most of his lifetime had been spent in reading and writing books, stories and essays. When many fail even to recognize the idea of maintaining, developing and foresting libraries, he was having his own personal library, since he knew the worth of it. There were days when he used to sit in the libraries to muster and master, to cull and collate knowledge from morning till evening.

He was a regular purchaser of books and also used to purchase the backnumbers of the periodicals in large numbers and go through them leisurely, digest and assimilate them. When he acquired books he acquired knowledge also along with it unlike many who acquire the former and leave the latter. He studied more of History and books of General knowledge. Yet no book was insignificant in his eyes, whether it be ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, by D.H.Lawrence or the ‘History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, by Edward Gibbon. The last book which he studied was, ‘Master Christian’, written by Marie Corelli. To quote his words from the excerpts of his speech in Pachaiyappa’s College, Madras, would reveal how much importance he had attached to reading books.

இந்த நாட்டிலே நம்மவர் வீடு கட்டுவர், அதிலே பல அறைகளும் அமைப்பர். மாட்டுக்கொட்டகை ஒரு பால், பொக்கிஷ அறை ஒருபால், சமையலறை மற்றொருபால் . . . மற்றெதை மறக்கினும் ஆண்டவனுக்குப் பூசை செய்ய அறை அமைக்க மட்டும் மறவார்; ஆனால் அறிவூட்டும் ஏடுகள் நிறைந்த படிப்பறையைப் பற்றிய பகற்கனவும் காணார். படிப்பறை மிகவும் முக்கியமானது. அவசியமானது. அலட்சியப்படுத்தக் கூடியதன்று. ஆயினும் அது அவர்தம் சிந்தனையில் தோன்றாது”,

Can anyone walk off as cool as cucumber saying that it was all because of God’s gift< if a person has to talk on various subjects all of the sudden over a platform and at the same time keep the audience spell-bound and get the title ‘Arignar’, does it not require knowledge? Is knowledge a mere gift? Well, the tone of a person or for that matter, the strong memory power may be a gift. But how about the subject matter? It will be crystal clear that mastery over various subject matters is due to one’s encyclopedic range of knowledge which Anna acquired, since he dwelled deeply into the demesne of books day in any day out and is hence hailed by many as Arignar Anna.

Very many try to excuse their dullness and oblivion by saying that it was all because of ‘Fate’, and ‘fate is all powerful’ – “ Cʉ bgUtÈ ahîs?” But have thay tried in anyway to rise up to anybody’s, if not to their own expectations? Nay, because they find it easy to say that God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and saunt off without exerting to any target.

If C.N.A became the pride of the South, it is because, he had done justice to his own conscience and never had deviated from his principles even in the face of oppositions and took everything with religious fervour. Though on the ordinary parlance, and to the layman he seemed to be an antagonist of religion, he understood and propogated that, ‘service to humanity is service to God’, and hence after his demise he has become for many, a God in himself who lived in their own life time.

Friends, let not your flying days go in vain, since no gold can get them back again. Make haste to plunge deeply into books and try to disseminate knowledge in every direction. Hence it is books, books and nothing but books that can put you in goodstead. Acquaint yourself with the storehouse of knowledge ie library. Silent revolutionists and reformers are there waiting for you in the form of books. In fact Anna himself used to advise his followers to read more and more so that they can equip themselves.

The very purpose of my writing this article is to drivehome into the hearts of my readers that books are the faithful repositories and one should not neglect them which impart wit and wisdom. Anna understood it and put it into practice in his own life tome, and hence became an eloquent orator, a prolific writer, a bedrock of common sense and above all a Walking Encylopaedia.

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