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Academic year 2007-08:
150 year celebration special:
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Life Sketches

Rao Bahadur M. Rangacharya, M.A.,

Life Sketches - Rao Bahadur M. Rangacharya Secretary to the Committee of Management of the Hindu High School, Triplicane (1906-1912)

The Hindu High School had the unique and proud privilege of having on its Committee great educationists, besides eminent lawyers, adminidtrators and businessmen. The late Mr.M.Rangachariar, that versatile scholar and educationists who won the admiration of even western scholars, served the Hindu High School Committee both as an ordinary member and as Secretary, for a period of about six years.

Prof. M.Rangachrya was born in March 1861 at Melkote of a very orthodox Sri Vaishavite family both on the mother's and on the father's side.
Even in the days of his early education at the Wesleyan Mission High School, Mysore, his precocious powers of study and thirst for knowledge were clearly noticeable and these earned him double promotions in his high school forms. He passed his matriculation examination in the first class. Thon he joined the Madras Christian College and came under the influence of the magnetic personality of Dr.Miller. The mutual regard of master and pupil is clearly seen in Prof. Rangacharya's dedicating the first volume of his lectures on the 'Gita' to his master. Those who know Prof. Rangacharya only as the pioneer Professor of Sanskrit Literature might not be aware of his having been a student of Physical Science in his college days and his having passed two out of the three examinations necessary in those days for qualifying himself for the M.B.&C.M. Degree. Because of the persuasion of Dr. Kees, the then Principal of the Medical College, he gave up his medical studies and joined the Department of Education as a Science Lecturer at the Government College, Kumbakonam. Subsequently after taking his M.A. Degree in Chemistry, he became the Profeesor of Chemistry at the Presidency College, Madras. It was only in 1901 that he was appointed to the post of the Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology at the Presidency College. We commonly know him only as the Professor of Sanskrit. If his studies had been varied, his professional activities were multi-sided—in the fielde of electrical mechanics, research in all the aspects of the age-old culture of his as revealed in his article 'The Yugas' and his lecture on the Funtion of Religion in Social Evolution, his translation of Sri Bashyam, his editorship of the Vedanta journal 'Brahmavadin,' his 87 Sunday lectures on the Gita, his edition of the Ganithasara Sangraha (a treatise of Mathematics by Mahavira) with notes and English translation we find only some of the channels in which his brilliant intellect engaged itself.

Even now, his lectures on Sanskrit stidies are remembered by his numerous students as the most valuable studies on comparative criticism. His unassuming manners and his shyness to face even his classes formed bewitching personal traits in his character. He joined the Hindu High School Committee in 1906, and soon after became its Secretary. The extensions of the school biulding between 1906 to1909 were of his planning and carried out under his supervision. He was also instrumental in dedicating the school hall to the memory of Rao Bahadur M.A. Singarachariar, who acted in loco parentis to the school for a long time. His management of the school was marked by sterady progress, and the Rt,Hon;ble V.S.Srinivasa Sastry, who was the Headmaster whjen he became the Secretary, in a public meeting at Ranade Hall recently stated that Prof, Rangacharya was always ready to undderstand and sympathise with the teachers' point of view. In 1912, his failing health obliged him to relinquish his office as Secretary to the School Committee, and he was succeeded by the late Diwan Bahadur M.O.Parthasarathy Iyengar.

Unveiling his portrait at the Ranade Hall, the Rt. Hon'ble V.S.Srinivasa Sastry spoke of him as a big man cast in a big mould, and revealed that Gokhale looked upon him as a possible successor to him in the position of the President of Servants of India Society. Writing of him, Professor K.Sundararama Iyer, his friend and colleagous, observes: "In conclusion, I wish to say this only of him, that, like all who have had the making of greatness in them, his personality—I mean, his talents, his energies and aptitudes and dispositions of all sides taken together—was far greater than all that he was enabled to accomplish amidst the possibilities and conditions of his age and environment. A nature, singularly sweet and gentle, a mind endowed with every faculty for gaining distinction in the world, a versatile genius diligently cultivated sa as to make valuable contributions to the national life in every departement of thought and activity, a life lived in accordance with the highest ideals of truth, purity and loving kindness—these form a combination of excellence, almost or wholly unmatched in this age of social transition and many-sided conflict in South India."

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