School of Oratory -T.Chengalvarayan Back
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name and fame arose out of many splendorous qualities which
are well known and they can bear repetitive references and serve
as a magnificent model for all to public service. But it is
desirable and necessary to just study and understand the greatness
of his speeches There are many aspirants for practicising the
fine art of public speaking and many have tried to imitate his
style, but few have succeeded in imbibing the nobility of his
Anna’s exuberance of speech was based upon a wide range
of scholarship. His study and understanding of political classics,
literary pieces, economic systems, and social science gave him
the broad basis for the sway of his speeches. His great grasp
of Tamil Literature afforded him the material for his fine speeches.
His scholarship was not pedantic but philosophic. His speeches
were neither a diarrhoea of words, nor they suffered from constipation
of thoughts. His speeches were marked and measured in both matter
In order to be an, effective speaker one should have firm conviction
in his ideas and message. In order to convince the audience,
the speaker must have conviction in what he had to say. Anna
had a firm faith in his chosen ideology and the correctness
of the path. But the greatness lies in his liberalism to change
where events warrant such a change. I found that he was a crusader
for Dravidisthan, but when the nation was threatened by Chinese
invasion, he discarded the goal of separatism and took up the
broad and high national stand.
A speaker should have a purpose. If it is an address to literary
circles, it must be highly critical if it is a marriage function,
it has to be felicitous. Anna had all those occasions to address
and he moulded his speech according to the occasion.
Anna had developed a particular style of speaking and had made
it s fine art. In mixture of words, in texture of phrases, in
structure of sentences, Anna had evolved a unique pattern. His
speeches had a rare felicity of diction, a neatness of arrangement,
marshalling of ideas, and an appeal. He knew how to begin and
more than that he knew when to end. He was not torrential like
a turbulent river. He was rippling like a bubbling brook, with
softness and steady flow. His speeches will not drench the audience,
but will only wet them so that what he spoke could linger long.
Anna was bilingual in speeches. He was addressing vast gatherings,
in Tamil and he was also addressing select gatherings in English.
He was as excellent in English as he was oratorical and elegant
in Tamil. But the basic traits would be found in whatever language
he chose. Such a bilingual excellence made Anna unique on platform.
In all his speeches, Anna had maintained a high tone. He was
very often critical but not condemnatory. He could expose the
other side, but not hurl vilification. He would employ strong
words, but they never had any verbal venom. One the occasions
when he shared the platform with others-I had many such occasion
– Anna always a high tone of respect and regard. On one
occasion-we had been invited to debate on very important subject,
by a college union. Anna took up one side and I had to take
up the opposite side. On such occasions, Anna always would ask
me to open the debate. I never hesitated. A the end of my speech,
I concluded by saying “We are now going to hear Demostheness.
I said it is in sincere appreciation of Anna’s speeches.
Any other person, at best, would gracefully accept the compliment
with tanks and proceed to speak. But Anna did not follow that
conventional way. He began his speeches by saying “we
have all heard Cicero’s oratory”. How nicely he
returned the compliment to me and that was Anna’s art
In recent times, we had great National Leaders who gave the
people. Speeches, which linger even now. We had the thundering
speeches of Surendernath Bannerji. We had the soul-stirring
speeches of Bepin Chandra Pal. We had the magic eloquence of
Annie Besant. We heard the sweet song of Sarojini Dvei. All
these have set up a school of oratory of a special type. Anna,
in his times, by his times, by his style, by his speeches had
set up a new school of oratory with alliterative words and foliage
of phrases and that is the living monument for Anna. We have
succeeding generations who are excelling in the art of speaking
and it is necessary that while following Anna’s style,
they will equally follow the great dignity and glorious culture
which Anna had shown. The path is yet clear.