On H.Y. Saraswathamma

I was reading the prison diary of H.Y.Sharada Prasad, titled “A Window on the wall: Quit India prison diary of a 19 year old”. [HYSP was an erstwhile media advisor to three prime ministers of India, an author and translator too. Some information about him can be found in the “Churmuri” article here.].

While the book as such was an interesting read… especially given the fact that it was (IMHO) surprisingly mature for a 19 year old, what impressed me more than anything were the copiously prepared notes on various people and various “keywords”, that appeared throughout the book. Amongst them, was an intro about H.Y. Saraswathamma, Sharada Prasad’s mother, who influenced him a lot in formative years. Here it is:

(In case of copy right issues, drop a comment here. I will delete the passage)

She had an immense formative influence on HYS. The inclusive nationalist spirit, a highly evolved value system and a keen sense of discipline that HYS carried till the end is said to have been put in place by his mother, more than anybody else.

Saraswathamma was a self-educated and progressive lady, who had an identity of her own in Mysore. For someone whose formal education hardly went beyond primary school, her Kannada translation of the autobiography of Parvatibai Athavle, the noted social worker of Maharashtra, was prescribed as a textbook for high school students.

Saraswathamma was a daughter of Vajapeyam Venkatasubbaiya who was active in Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s Servants of India Society and initiated the first co-operative movement in South India. He had also worked ardently for the uplift of Dalits. When he passed away Mahatma Gandhi paid a glowing tribute: “I loved Venkatassubbaiya. To meet him was to love him. I have not known a more unassuming man than him. In his death the society has lost one of its most valued, loyal and devoted members, and the country has been deprived of a quiet, unostentatious and selfless worker.”

Saraswathamma continued in the tradition of her father and to this day is remembered in Mysore for the pioneering work she did in the field of children and women’s education through institutions like “Makkala Koota”. She passed away in 1993 and her birth centenary was celebrated in April 2006.

…..One of those stories that inspired me…

Published in: on June 11, 2012 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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