Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tremendous Twins

In April 1996, I was posted as Branch Manager of our Hassan branch (PNB). It was a parvakaala for Hassan as within two months of my reporting there, Hassan's son and MP Sri H D Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister of India. I left Hassan a year later in April 2007 and within a few days he lost his Office. I am neither to be credited nor blamed for his becoming PM or his losing that post. But I have the distinction of being a Branch manager of a nationalised Bank in the serving PM's constituency.

On the day of my joining the branch I asked my staff members why the place got its name as Hassan. They all unanimously said that it is due to Haasanaamba Temple, Haasanaamba being the Presiding Diety (graamadevate) of the town. Haasanaamba Temple is said to have come to exist in 12th century AD during the reign of local king by name Krishnappa Naayaka. The speciality of this temple is that the temple is open only for a few days in the Aashwayuja Maasa, Dasara time, usually October month. It is kept open for about a week only and remains closed for the rest of the year. A big fair is held during this period and people from all over the state come to Hassan at that time to take Darshan of the Goddess. The godess is in the form of a Ant Hill. The belief is that a lamp lit on the last day of the darshan period, before closing the doors of the Garbhagudi, will still be burning bright when the temple is reopened more than eleven months later. The name is said to have come from "Smiling Goddess", in sanskrit hasita  हसित meaning Smile/smiling. When there is no Moorthi (मूर्ति) in the temple, where is the question of a smiling goddess? This question was haunting me for several days.

The answer suddenly dawned to me after a few days. My father was well versed in Astrology and he used to keep Panchaangas of many different places to enable him to write Kundalis of different people requesting him for the same. I was in 3rd standard when I saw one such panchaanga and started reading the big letters - name of the panchaanga on the cover page. I started reading like Simhaasa nanagari panchanga (सिंहास ननगरी पंचांग) ( ಸಿಂಹಾಸ  ನನಗರಿ ಪಂಚಾಗ). My father had a hearty laugh and later told me it is not simhasa nanagari but Simhaasana Nagari (सिंहासन नगरी पंचांग) (ಸಿಂಹಾಸನ ನಗರಿ ಪಂಚಾಗ). The answer was here - name of the place was Simhaasana Nagari or Simhaasana Puri which later on became Haasana Puri and later simply Haasana, much like Mahatma Mohanadas Karamachand Gaandhi becoming Mahatma Gandhi and finally ending up as M G Roads in almost all cities and towns in India.

Several years ago I had to go a branch in Madras (Chennai) by name K K Nagar. The full name is Kalaignar Karunanidhi Nagar and every one knows who Karunanidhi is. Former Chief minister of Tamilnadu and presently better known as father of Kani Mouzhli fighting for her bail from Tihar Jail. The branch is located on one Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar street. As is my habit, I asked the staff there who this Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar was. I got different answers, someone said he was a famous doctor and someone else said he was vice-chancellor of Madras University.

Later on I chanced to stumble on an article in The Hindu newspaper and it made an interesting reading. That led to collecting information from other sources and the summary is given below.

The place was Kurnool in Madras Presidency, present Andhara Pradesh town. Date 14th October 1887. A pregnant woman from Tamil speaking Tuluva Vellalar family is in labour pains and delivers a baby boy. Everyone in the family is happy. Half an hour later the woman again complains of labour pain. 47 minutes after the delivery of the baby boy, she delivers another baby boy. Both boys - the twins were similar looking (identical) twins. The family celebrates the twin arrival. But nobody knows the heights to which the two boys rise in the next eight decades.

Tamil speaking Tuluva Vellalar families are said to have migrated from coastal Karnataka's Tulu speaking area, to places around Tirupati, Chittoor and Kurnool. Hence the name Tuluva Vellalr. Another school of thinking says that they migrated from Srisailam, but has no explanation for the Tuluva in family name. It is said that the Vijayanagara rulers were from Sangama, Salva and Tuluva dynasty. Was there any connection? We do ot know. They were residing in the Tondamandala area, around Tirupati, chittoor and Kurnool etc. It may be remembered that Godess Padmavathi's uncle was Toondamaana Maharaja and is credited with having given the big crown we see in all Balaaji photos.

The twin boys born on 14th October 1887 were named as Ramaswamy and Lakshmanaswamy. Later on they came to be known as Diwan Bahadur Sir Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar and Sir Arcot Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar. They had many distinctions and achievements in their life time, many similarities as well as individual distinctions achieved separately.

  • Both had primary education in Kurnool and later went to Christian College in Chennai. Ramaswamy took to study of Law and later became a seasoned politician and a Leader of the then famous Justice Party. Lakshmanaswamy took to study of medicine and became a famous Doctor.
  • Both the brothers were known for their oratory in impeccable English.
  • Both were elected to the Madras Legislative Council.
  • Both were knighted and became Sir Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar and Sir Arcot Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar respectively.
  • Both were awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws by Oxford University.
  • Both were Vice-chancellors of Universities. Ramaswamy Mudaliar was Vice-Chancellor of Travancore university for 7 years and Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar was Vice-Chancellor of Madras University for 27 years - it is the record for a longest serving Vice-Chancellor.
  • Both served in World bodies - Ramaswamy at UNESCO and Lakshmanaswamy at WHO and FAO.
  • Both were awarded Padma Vibhushan by government of India
  • Both were recipients of a number of Honorary Doctorates - Ramaswamy received 6 and Lakshmanaswamy received 15 honorary doctorate degrees!
  • Both brothers lived long with healthy life. Both had Sahasrachandra Darshana Shaanti, sighting of 1000 full moons, which comes after about 81 years. Ramaswamy lived for 89 years and Lakshmanaswamy lived for 87 years.
  • The twins were similar looking and outsiders had difficulty in identifying the two. In order to solve this problem, Ramaswamy mudaliar sported a moustache in later years.
Ramaswamy Mudaliar focused on Politics, economics, administration, industry and commerce. As a leader of the Justice Party he was actively involved in the Dravidian movement. He was editor of the journal of the party by name "Justice". It is Worth noting that this Journal pioneered cartooning in India, on the lines of "Punch", weekly English magazine. One of his sub-editors was C N Anna Durai who founded the political party DMK later and became the first non-congress Chief minister of Tamilnadu. Anna Durai's initial grooming was under Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar and later E V Ramaswamy naicker, popularly known as Periyar. K Karunadhi and M G Ramachandran (MGR) were groomed by C N Anna Durai.

Ramaswamy Mudaliar was nominated to the Madras Legislative council during 1920-26 and was elected to Madras Legislative assembly during the period 1931-34. He was the Mayor of Madras City Corporation during 1928-30. Nominated to the Viceroy's Executive council during 1939-42 he was a member of the Winston Churchill's Imperial War Cabinet during II World War period, 1942-45. He was sent to the San Fransisco conference of the United Nations in April-June 1945 and chaired the committee that discussed Economic and Social Reforms. His services were well recognised by UNO and he was made the First President of UNESCO and served between 23-01-1946 to 23.01.1947, a tenure of one year. He inaugurated the World Health Conference held on 19-06-1946 at New York. At this four day conference Constitution of a World Body for Health was read out, adopted and approved by the delegates of 61 countries as a result of which World health Organisation (WHO) came into existence.

After his stint in UNESCO, the Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachanmarajedra Wodeyar appointed him as the Dewan of Mysore. He was Dewan during the turbulent period January 1947 to August 1947. He was not in favour of the princely Mysore state merging with india and hence the agitation in Mysore had the famous slogan "ಮೌಂಟ್ ಬ್ಯಾಟನ್ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ ಮೊದಲಯಾರ್ ಕೊಡಲ್ಲ" - Mountbattan kottaroo Mudaliar kodalla which means Even if Mount Battan gives Mudaliar does not give! Finally, Ramaswamy mudaliar agreed for merging with the Indian state due to popular pressure.

Ramaswamy Mudaliar is credited to have arranged a series of Karnatic Music concerts in Mysore during 1946-47 to supplement the efforts of Bengaluru Nagarathnammal for restoraton of the Samadhi of Saint Thyagaraja in Tiruvayyaru.

Ramaswamy Mudaliar was knighted in the Coronary Honours List of 1937. He was awarded Padma Bushan in 1954 and Padma Vibushan in 1970.

In his later years he was actively associated with Trade and Commerce and was Chairman of India Steamship Company Ltd. and Chairman of Tube Investments of India Ltd. till his death. He was the Founder Chairman and managing director of Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Ltd. which the parent body of the present ICICI Bank ltd. Unfortunately, even the website of ICICI Bank Ltd. does not mention this fact and starts its history from K V Kamath. 

The achievements of Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar were no less. He was a well known Obstetrician and an authority on the subject. His book "Clinical Obstetrics", popularly known as "Mudaliar Obstetrics" is an established text book for undergraduate medical students and is very much in use even now. Originally published by Oliver and Boyd, UK in 1938, is being published by Orient Longmann since 1962. Its 11th edition (Updated by Dr Menon) has been published this year, 2011. He was known as "the safest midwife" and called upon to attend very difficult cases. C Subramanian, former Finance Minister and Governor of Maharashtra is noted to have said that Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar's friend's used to joke about his interest in providing good health care to pregnant women as taking a "paternal interest in a maternity hospital".

He was the first India Principal of Madras medical College and Vice-Chancellor of Madras University for 27 years, a record in itself. He was the Chairman of WHO Executive Board during 1949-50 and Vice-President of the 8th World Assembly held in 1955 in Mexico City. He was the president of 14th Health Assembly held in Geneva.

I remember an anecdote told by my Doddappa about Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar. A queen of some European country was due to deliver a baby but despite labour pain for long hours she could not deliver. The attending doctors made all efforts and finally called Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliarin Madras over phone and sought his advice. Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar asked some questions and finally told the solution; the queen should be made go up and down the stairs of the inner palace for half an hour after which normal delivery can be attempted. The doctors found this difficult but finally made the queen to do so. The position of the child in the womb came to the desired position and the delivery was managed smoothly thereafter. Whether this is a actual happening or an exaggeration one does not know, for such things were never recorded in that era. However, considering the achievements of the great man and his distinction as a obstetrician, I am inclined to believe the same!

The achievements of Mudaliar twins is indeed laudable. My only regret is that I could not find the name of the mother of these great persons................She was a real Mahaamaate. My efforts to find her name continue.........


  1. I like this article. It makes an interesting reading. I really wonder how much they have achieved in their life. Hats off to them, to you too, for this brilliant research. I hope you will find the name of the Mahamaate.

  2. Nice to read your write up abt Arcot Mudaliars. They are still very popular in Tamil Nadu. The Queen who was guided by Dr.LSM for a normal delivery is the present Queen Elizabeth and it's not a story. Sir, I think you left Hassan branch in 1997 and not 2007. I hope you can find out their mother's name by referring to Google or Wikipaedia when you are free. I used to go to Landmark for book launches where the author him/herself will read some passages from the books. Some were interesting and some were not. To mention a lot including Jeffrey Archer and Ramachandra Guha. But when I read your write-ups I get the feeling of your reading since I heard a lot from you during lunch hours at Madurai. Thanx Sir.
    Mohan Raju

  3. A good record of the great lives of the eminent Twins - Dr Ramasamy Mudaliar and Dr Lakshmanasamy Mudaliar. For Finding the mothers name, one can contact Andal Damodaran, who is the grand daughter of Dr Ramasamy Mudaliar. Andal Damodaran is herself a well known person in Chennai.

  4. I constantly spent my half an our to read this weblog's articles or revews all tthe time along with a mug of coffee.