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

The Right Hon'ble V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, LL.D., P.C., C.H.

Life Sketches - The 
            Right Hon'ble V.S. SRINIVASA SASTRI There is a certain appropriateness in the Hindu Higher School Magazine devoting a few of its pages to a sketch of the life and work of the Rt. Hon'ble V.S. Srinivasa Sastriar. For nearly 45 years he was connected with school, firstly as its Headmaster for about 7 years and afterwards as a member of the Committee of Management, as its Secretary and later as its President. If now the Hindu High School, Triplicane, is known as a first-rate school throughout India and in some other parts of British Commonwealth, it is very largely due to Mr.Sastriar's connection with it.

He was born of poor parents at Valangiman, a village in the Tanjore District, on September
22,1869. A short time later, the family migrated to Kumbakonam, where he had his education-scholastic and collegiate. At the Native High School, then under the proprietorship of the late Rao Bahadur S. Appu Sastriar, he spent some years bringing credit to himself and the school. Then he passed on to the Government College there and graduated in 1888 with high distinction in English and Sanskrit. Even in those days, he had earned quite a reputation for his accurate English scholarship.

Belonging as he did to a family of orthodox vaodeek Brahmins who were poor, but though nothing of poverty, whose only concern was to live blameless lives as described in the Sastras, setting there a bright example to the Laukik Brahimins at whose houses they officiated, he was strongly attracted to the teaching profession in which, as all know, work is heavy and rewards are few. For 17 long years, he laboured hard as teacher, during the last 7 years of which he was Headmaster of this School.
What were his special features as a teacher? For the first time I tmay say in the history of English education in this Presidency, he began the English practice of treating boys, not as juveniles to be kept at a respectable distance and forwned upon, but as comrades engtaged in a common task and whom one should meet with a smiling face not only in the school room but on playfields also in swimming contests, for the latter of which Kumbakonam is still so well known. As a teacher of English, he won unique distinction, carrying away the only two prizes, instituted by the Madras Teachers' Guild, which were thrown open to teachers in Madras City. Having a high sense of his importance as Headmaster, he treated Managers of schools and Inspecting officers as his colleagues, not as his superiors. As teacher in the Salem Municipal College, he showed to the public that, though he was servant of the Municipality, it was not wrong on his part to draw public attention to centain crying needs of thast municipality and failure of duty on the party of its officers. As one of the most prominent founder members of the Madras Teachers' Guild, he took a great part in shaping its early activities.

Thus, when in January 1907 he joined the Servants of India Society, he had won for himself a great reputation as a fine speaker of faultless English, a bold, fearless and upright Headmaster and public man who could hold his own with the tallest in the land and whose dignity and charm and hate of hate and scorn of scorn was the admiration and despair of many a public ma n and as one, who uttered nothing base in public or in private and wore the white flower of a blamesless life. With such high credentials, it was no wonder that his larger public life extending over a period of more than 35 years was a remarkable success. As a member of the Madras of the Madras Legislative Council and also of the Imperial House of Legislature he earned much fame. Later, as the India Governments' Agent in South Africa, and as its ambassador to plead the cause of Indians in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States he won laurels and gained for our Motherland great appreciation as the home of culture and of a civilisation far more ancient than theirs. To no other Indian was such a rare privilege give, and no other was acclaimed by common consent as the 'Silver-tongued orator of the Empire.' The Master of Balliol openly declared, 'I never knew that the English Language was so beautiful till I heard Sastri speak it.' All of us must be proud of him a noble type of good, heroic manhood.

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