V V S Aiyar and Gandhiji

The previous post in this series can be read here. That post deals with *Vanchinathan*, who was inspired by Savarkar and V V S Aiyar. This is an interesting twist to the tale. The relationship between V V S Aiyar and Gandhiji.

This is from the book *Kamba Ramayanam – A Study* printed by the Delhi Tamil Sangam in the year 1950. The book has a life sketch of the author by then dead. The two anecdotes that relate to Gandhiji is given here.

Aiyar and Gandhiji:

 Diwali, the universal festival of rejoicing in the whole length and breadth of India, has a special significance to the South Indian. Aiyar and his companions in India House at London were anxious to celebrate the Diwali in Indian style as far as it was practicable in England, and Aiyar went seeking Indian after Indian in London to grace the occasion. But he met with no success. Aiyar heard that one Mr. Gandhi, a man of new ways, had come to London to represent the case of Indians in South Africa. After searching for him in the luxurious hotels and similar rendezvous of fashionable Indians of those days he found him in a humble home and invited him to preside over the celebrations.  Gandhiji made searching enquiries about the mode of celebrations and when he was assured that it would be in purely Indian style he readily agreed. This was the first occasion on which Aiyar met Gandhiji. With his revolutionary zeal, Aiyar did not want to miss the opportunity of pressing his views on the rising leader. He spoke to him with vehemence about the revolutionary creed as the only possibility of winning independence for India. Gandhiji in turn preached him his newly-found satyagraha. Aiyar returned feeling naively confidant that two or three more pep talks by him to Gandhiji would convince him and bring him to his way of thinking.


Aiyar was away when Gandhiji came to India House. The other companions of Aiyar, who were busy cooking, saw a thin, simply-dressed poor Indian and immediately pressed him into service and allotted him all the more menial jobs in the kitchen. Aiyar returned to the house to find the principal guest of the evening employed in the kitchen. He made profuse apologies to Gandhiji but he put him at ease with his winning smile and heartily joined in the celebrations.



Second Meeting with Gandhiji:

Gandhiji came in 1917 to Pondicherry and Aiyar met him for the second time. To this date, Aiyar had not forsworn his belief in revolutionary methods, but when Gandhiji met him it was a case of ‘veni, vidi, vici.’ Gandhiji came, saw him, and conquered him. Aiyar became a convert to the principles of Ahimsa and he who never went about without a revolver in his possession, now exchanged it for the Takli. To his dying day he remained true to his new religion and there were often moments when his closest friends wished that he was not such a staunch devotee of Ahimsa.


Aiyar lived for 8 more years. He was born in 1881 and died in 1925 in a tragic accident trying to save his daughter subhadra who had fallen into a falls, and both died.

From Young India – 18th June, 1925

 (Editorial Page)

V V S Iyer:

The readers of Young India will share my regret over the death by drowning of Sjt, V V S Iyer. I had the pleasure of meeting him in London years ago. He was then a fierce anarchist. But he gradually mellowed down. The fire of patriotism burnt none the less brightly in him. He was a staunch non-cooperator and lately latterly he had intended to devote himself  entirely to conducting the Shermadevi Gurukul. I always regarded him as a fine, sincere and preserving servant of the nation. May his soul rest in peace.

– M.K.G



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