Monday, March 31, 2014

Ramu of the home

What was the last statue that you remember as being "erected by an admiring public"? Of the politicians, you would probably say. Here is one that has been around for quite a while - at least 50 years, to hazard a guess - which is not of any political leader. What the public admired in him was "A life dedicated to the cause of education, the service of the poor and the building of the "home"". The name on the pedestal says Ramu. Of course he had a more 'proper' name, but Ramu was enough for the public of the time. 

Ramu was C. Ramaswami Iyengar. Together with his cousin C. Ramanujachariar, they were "Ramu and Ramanuja", the most ardent followers of Swami Vivekananda in Madras. They were on hand to welcome him on his return to Madras in 1897 and they urged him to establish a more permanent presence in the city. And so, Swami Ramakrishnananda came over and together, they started off with a home for orphan children in Mylapore, at Kesavaperumalpuram. The home moved into its current location sometime between 1917 and 1921 and has remained there since.

From those beginnings came about several institutions; among them, Vivekananda College, Ramakrishna Mission Boys' School, Sarada Vidyalaya for Girls. Ramu was around for a while, but by 1926, he was struck with paralysis and so could not take active part in the Mission's work. However, he continued to function as the Secretary of the Home, right until his death in 1932. No wonder that the public admired him, and that they had this statue erected right outside the Home that Ramu helped establish!

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