26 Jan In quest of Varinjam Raghavan Pillai: Sri Bhuvanendran’s biographer
Face to Face with Shri Varinjam Vikraman Pillai (and SMK & KPT)
Address; Manager,KKPM UP School, Ambadi, Varinjam, Karamkode.
We, Prof. SMK and Dr. KPT reached the Hill side home, Ambadi, of Manager Vikraman Pillai, KKPM UP School at about 10:30 am. We got off the Bus at Seematti mukku, in NH47, couple of km northerly from Kalluvathukkal. In fact we walked down from the Seematti mukku toward Varinjam say about little more than a km, The road nearly followed a steep and straight course, till it reached narrow valley and took a sharp anti-clockwise bend and proceeded toward Ayur via, Velinallur, where Saami (VRP) had spend the last days of his life in a humble ashramam or hermitage.
At the beginning of the bend and on the north stands a large mansion where Varinjam Vasu Pillai (a Janata Dal leader) kid brother of Saami lived worked from and finally died recently. At the end of the bend, and south of it stands the modern house, Ambadi, where Manager Vikraman Pillai currently lives with his extended family.
Surprisingly, when we gate crashed at Ambadi, the generally busy and active Manager was at his home. He too was sort of stunned by t he fact that he was available himself in the house at that time to see and talk to us. In fact our team never faced any road block in our quest in the research efforts we undertook, for the Bhuvanendran Book Project.
Initially the stocky, fully grayed and grandly bald but clean shaven man with a prominent thin but long mustache appeared to be quiet reserved. When we declared the purpose of our mission, this man became very eloquent and slowly but steadily pouring out with anecdotes. Of life and journey of his eldest brother, VRP who, he frequently quoted by the nick name saami.
In fact when we parted with Manager Vikraman Pillai, as he was popularly known in t he immediate and distant neighborhood, we were fully and completely happy about close to 5 hr we had spend with this man, who was practically dominating the discussion. He in fact kind of stopped us from poking questions when he was pouring out the anecdotal narration. This covered practically the various facets of life and character of VRP.
Now for the details
Parents and family
Father: Shri (late) Narayana Pillai, Kallada,
Chief Karyadarsi or so to speak the only trustee of the temple.of Chittumala Devi – Kuthirakettu marks the grand finale of Annual Pooja.- 18 Karakkars will come with one Eduppukuthira each and one among these will be elected as the first.
Mother: Smt. Kalyani Amma of Vettikkalariyam
The mother delivered 14 children but only eight survived. Shri Varinjam Raghavan Pillai was the eldest one. Others are:
Varinjam Gopinathan Nair (A high School teacher etc.)
Varinjam Vasupillai (A Janatha Dal leader)
Kammala Devi Amma and
Varinjam Vikraman Pillai (Manager of KKPM UP School)
Saami was an an embodiment of compassion to poor, and needy, synonym of unselfishness, brilliant in studies at college and earned scholarship from the government, recalls Pillai. Though Shri Gopinatha Pillai was equally brilliant in studies and earned a government scholarship at College, was opposite of Raghavan Pillai in other respects – like very selfish, stingy, and self promoting and not worrying about others trials and tribulations. Bothe these brothers studied for college in Trivandrum. Shri Raghavan Pillai studied to become a lawyer – the closely guarded and nurtured desire the dad.
Though the legal ownership of the Chituumala Devi temple was originally vested in a group of Brahmin families in Trivandrum, the day to day running of the temple along with the rights to own, safe keep and control the income as well as other landed wealth of the temple was entrusted by the original Brahmin owners to Shri Vasu Pillai of Kallda near Chittumala. .The temple festivities were the sole right of 18 Karakkars. Kettukuthira display was the chief item of the festivities. Such Kuthiras came by canoes as well as on land by the shoulders of devotees from each of the Karas or let us say the families.
Shri VAsu Pillai use to utilize portions of the temple income for ones own needs including the educational expenses of the children who were going to college in Trivandrum. Shir Vasu Pillai was also very close to the Dewan of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer. The dad Pillai desired and sincerely hoped to make use of the Dewan connection to make the eldest son a Judge in the state soon after completing the law degree.
With this noble dream in mind, Shri VAsu Pillai after orally seeking the permission of Chittumala Devi, as and when need arose took money or gold from the temple vault for use in connection with the studies of the children in college. Shri Vasu Pillai also made the solemn promise to the Devi that all the sums he owed to Devi will be returned once the son reaches the Judges Chair and earns an income from the judges job. In fact the dad used to maintain a register about all the sums and gold the former owed to the Chittumala Devi.
One day in a Horse Buggie Shri Raghavan Pillai reached Chathannur to participate in a slogan shouting and picketing protest against the Dewan’s and British rule. Before joining the strikers, VRP had a meal of Cooked rice and butter at home, which he served on his own with out informing mother. Mother caught this self service when she saw the rise pot standing right side up in the kitchen. In fact the water in the pot hafd not completely drained.
VRP shouted slogans like “Mahathma Gandhi Ki Jai; Bharathamatha Ki Jai” and so on. The egg buying/vending shop owner was the one who informed dad about the various deeds that happened on that day.
Then dad came home and departed to Trivandrum to meet with Sir CPR to plead for the release of shri VRP from jail. CPR insisted that due to the anti-state actions .VRP will not be allowed to gho away. But instead agreed to let VRP to take the examinations in t he jail cell. But VRP instead declared that he will not take any examination in the Jail. The intensely and deeply agonized dad came back home and in desperation started rolling over and kept rolling over in the front yard of the house. When the mopm enquired it was the sons adamancy about not taking the examination in the jail that made him roll over again and again in the front yard of the house. Dad died on the seventh day of this incident. VRP was allowed to go home from jail with police escort to perform the last rites to the departed soul and then was taken back to jail.
VVasu Pilla (Janatha Dal leader later) took over the management of the house hold and the properties to help the siblings to attain what ever they attained later.
Para Raghavan, Harijan Postman was a good friend of VRP. These friends on one day sat in the same mat ready to eat lunch to be served by the mom. Mom seved rice and other curries to both fellows. In fact at some point, when there was excess rice served to Para Raghavan, mom had to make the potion smaller, by removing some from the brass plate, and mom later promptly served the same rice to others. Mom never had any clue to the origins of Para Raghavan.
The VRP asked if mother had any objections in serving food to Para Raghavan – a person who shouldn’t have stepped into the house due to the bane of untouchability.
Mon promptly replied “ For me he is also like you only”
Never, kneel down to the British police was a slogan by the spirited N.Srikantan Nair, which attracted VRP to team up with Srikantan Nair. When Srikantan Nair jumped the poison, he promptly went VRP’s house and started a hidden life in the attick of VRP’s house. Srijkantan Nair was a voracious eater and for example,
VRP was arrested again and sent jail.
To express the opposition to British rule VRP and Srikantan Nair decided to follow a policy of not rising up at the sight of any member of the British police. Once it so happened that VRP did not stand on his feet when police party arrived. The angered police started beating up VRP. This made Srikantan Nair to jump up on ones feet to escape the wrath of the British Police.
When British administration ordered killing of Betaji, VRP started publication of a Magazine (monthly) called “Netaji”. Unfortunately, the magazine never saw the light of the day. Copies were bundled together and kept away without circulating it.
Soon one man came rushing to the house asking the mom to put away all copies of “Netaji:” away from and out of the house so that police party supposed to come for home search will not get any clue or any copy of the magazine. Chathannur Vasu Pillai came that evening and removed all copies of the magazine.
CP ordered confiscation of copies of “Netaji” from every where. Police came in search of copies to the VRP house where mom was living with Vikraman Pillai. In fact when Police came to search the house, mom was sweeping the front yard with a broom and Vikraman Pillai was towing behind amma. Police searched for the magazine every where in the house. Angrily police loaded all the furniture in the house. Mom went and lied down in the only remaining piece – a cot in which Vikraman Pillai and mom slept together every night. There was no lady police those days. Out of fear, Vikraman Pillai held on to a limb of mom and police started pulling the boy clinging to the mom so that both will fall off leaving the cot behind. The clever amma kicked the dear son who fell off the cot so thatr police became helpless and left with out the cot. But then on the early evening on tremorse mom and Vikraman Pillai as usual slept in the cot.
This furniture on auctioning was purchase by congress veteran TM Vargheese but did not go back to VRP house in spite of the strong desire to do so by Pattom Thanu Pillai. .
Though the moneis taken from Devi temple were taken on the promise of prompt returni that part did not happen. Devi probably was angry at this and as a result all such untoward things happened.
VRP was allotted the Kottarakkara seat at the time of elections. At the time filing nomination papers for the election VRP strayed some where else and could not participate in t he lection.
There was a picketing organized under the leadership of VRP in the Gun court of Kollam. The styagrahis were lying in a line blocking the path of speakers. Many of them stepped on the bodies while walking across to the dias while only Pattom Tanupillai care fully tiptoed over the bodies. The meeting however ended with out the usual speech making.
Strated publishing a daily called “Jai Hind”. The editorial used to attract a wide readership, yet the daily did not survive for long.
VRP and VGP used to go for reciting Bhagavatham. One would read or recite and the other would explain. Many a times the sessions appeared to be a wordly fight between them which also divided the listenersa to take side and argue. The poor crowd never knew that the guys were only a team of brothers. Similar incident happened once at Varkala on a sivarthri night.
Where ever he goes VRP will be in t he first row.
Kumbalam was a leading figure in the Karunagapally taluk. If any body spoke against this man, the thandars will teach those guys a lesson.
Narayana Pillai used to be in charge of Chittumala Temple for 18 years and conducted the festivities very precisely and promptly. Narayaana Pilla used to accept and obey only the Devi and no body else in the world. However, Shri Pillai no longer was favored by or acceptable to the Karakkar or the important families that participated in kuthirakettu.. In fact, some Karakkars at the time of Kuthirakettu, wanted a different route for the procession carrying the Idol of Devi. In fact, some wanted the Devi procession to stop and allow one particular Karakkar to offer puja and related rituals, practically violating the order that was in place for a long time. This was trick played by and managed by Kumbalathu Sanku Pillai. But, Narayana Pillai’ had a ferocious brother who loved only own brother and no one else. He secretly asked the Potti, if any altercation regarding the route of procession and the first stop arises, just keep the idol at the place of dispute and not take it up again to continue with the procession. If it was not carried out elder uncle will finish off the Potti. The celebrations went on with out any dispute coming to the fore. Chittumala Temple keys were formally taken away from Narayana Pillai, and with that act Devi was too much angered resulting in the down trip of the temple and Karakkar. Currently the Karakkar and the temple have come back to limelight again.
Devi told dad “What ever you said have all been fulfilled” and continued “what about your promises to me that you wrote and kept”
“VRP published a small book “Prathyaksha Pathram”. VRP wrote, “Pattom Thanu Pillai had only one longing and desire, that is to become the chief minister of the state”
VRP was a failure in politics – a field where just and principle individuals totally fail or become utter failure.
VRP also published a news paper “Jai Hind” which also turned out to be a failure. VRP also wrote two books – “Hridayanjali” and second one “Kairali”.CP came under severre criticism in one of the books.
Saami made a trip to Kolkotha to meet Shri Sarachandra Bose, Netaji Subhash Chandra’s bother. Unfortunately the day saami reached Kolkotha, the news of demise of Sarchandra reached him.
Later Saami without any ones knowledge went Himalayas to seek sanyas and asceticism. There was a blackout for a longer while about saami. Later say after six months or so, saami reappeared in Varinjam with fully matted hair, long black beard. He traveled all the way back home in trains with out a ticket .Once reaching Kollam, some one funded saami to get back home by bus. After reaching home, saami completely shaved off the matted hair. Then saami went away to Trivandrum. And from Trivandrum went to Cherukol Bhuvanendra sadanam. Stayed there, observed the various happenings and events that appeared around Sri Bhuvanendran. Varinjam Gopinathan Nair, a teacher brother, was those days a staunch communist.
During the stay at Cherukol, Saami gifted all his landed wealth to sisters and to Vikraman the land where now Ambadi is built. The copyrights of the books of Saami was given away to a nephew (sister’s son)
Later, Saami came to the varinjam homestead along with athbhuthasisu and a party of devotees. There was an altercation then at the house. Vikraman Pillai intervened and declared that “each and every one has civil rights” No one can trespass into those rights. Then Saami went back to Cherukol (Thiruvattar). Saami then joined with Sri Bhuvanendran and made a trip to Guruvayoor. Vikraman Pillai, Manager, recalls “the showering of flowers offered to idol in the temple slowly descending on Bhuvanendran which surprised every one present inside the temple.
Due to blessings of Choittumala Devi VRP came back, recalls Manager.
One of these days, Saami’s amma was bitten by a snake and she died of the complications due to snake bite. Saami did not come to see the dead mom. When asked, Saami answered that:” he knew in advance that thakshakan will finish off mom”. Mom was a god fearing and a devoted individual to god. There was a babmper crop of cow pea around the homestead in that season. Mom was harvesting the cow pea. A snake without mom’s notice was following her. And one day she was bitten by the snake. This strong willed mom, tore off a piece of cloth from her own dress and and tightly tied it above the bitten spot on her leg. She was in coma for about two days before breathing her last breath.
Manager Pillai was due to speak in the school on a weekly public speaking classes, that mom’s death was taken to school to fetch the boy back home. When the time was speaking came up his class teacher with over flowing eyes went to Pillai to ask him to go home without going to the presentation. Pillai did not know the cause of sudden change in the schedule. At home Pillai saw the dying mother showing convulsions. My uncle Vasu Pillai shouted my sister is gone and gone for ever”
During the Vimochanasamaram, Saami joined the picketing of Kollam Collectorate.
KKPM UP School was sanctioned at the instance of Saami taking up the case with Pattom Thanu Pillai, the CM. School opened on 1962 May 25th. Vikraman Pillai with the company of a friend, Thankappan Pillai walked on a wet mid night over to see Saami at the latters hermitage at Velinallur. Thankappan Pillai wanted Saami to intervene in the quick sanctioning of the school which is named after his deceased ascetic brother Kunjukrishna Pillai for which Saami agreed. Only ten Vikraman Pillai appeared in fromnt of Saami. Saami offered a late night dinner of pineapple to both and offered to see both at Trivandrum to see the concerned people, i.e., the CM.. .School is named KKPM UP School- named after late Kunjukrishna Pillai who died of an enlarged heart in a Bangalore.Hospital. The body was brought back home by a party to which Vikraman Pillai too was in.
Saami died toward the end of 1995 at a hospital/home of nephew in Trivandrum. The body decorated with then wreaths placed by leading congress men like O.Chandy and others were taken back to the Velinallur and later to Varinjam and was cremated in the presence of a large crowd of friends and followers. We saw the burial ground now marked by the ritual and traditional coconut tree in the distant backyard of Ambadi homestead.