''Pachaiyappa Mudhaliar'', Chennai greatest contributor to charity colonial Madras Presidency ever saw

Philanthropist Pachaiyappa Madras. wikiwand.com

Pachaiyappa mudaliar. istampgallery.com

 Philanthropist Pachaiyappa Madras. cknc.edu.in

 Born in 1754 in a poor family at Periyapalayam village  of Thanjavur district, life was not easy for young Pachaiappa  because he lost his father before his birth.  At a young age along with his mother Punchi Ammal,  he moved over to Black Town (now called George town), Madras where they were helped by Dubash  Narayana Pillai who had contact with the EIC officials. His mother got a job and Narayana Pillai put Pachaiyappa in a school.  Over a period of time, young Pachaiappa  picked up a fair knowledge English - enough to work in the English family.  

In those days in the early colonial period, the EIC officials and the local merchants had to depend on Dubashes who knew two languages besides English,   They were mostly brokers in  trading and commerce and acted in between the natives and the English Bobs -  locally called Durai or sahibs. They were conversant with  a couple of Indian languages besides English. In many places across India  some of the Dubashes got a bad name and were considered  a diabolical race of men who were rapacious  behind the scene wheeler and dealer. As for Narayana Pillai, he had a good reputation  and was a man of character.  Not all dubashes were dishonest. 

Narayana pillai's  bosses were  Powney family comprising the brothers Henry Powney and Thomas Powney  who had  a political clout.  As the boy learned enough English, Narayana Pillai got Pachaiappa a job with the Powney family. When  boys of his age were studying in school to improve their knowledge, this boy opted for employment to run the family with his mother. Being smart and intelligent, he became a Dubash at a very young age of 16 and did his job with honesty and integrity. Over a short period of time  Pacaiyappa became a well-known Dubash in the Madras Presidency. His house was, No.26, Pagoda Street, later to be known as Harris Road, on the banks of the Cooum.

 Apart, his business acumen stood him in good stead and earned  good amount of money in a few ventures.  Pachaiyappa made a mark in his line of business and  won encomium from the English.

When his mentor had passed away during the same time, his employers the Powney family became politically powerful and had close contact with the higherups in the English company. One of the family members rose to  Mayorship of Madras. Being close to the Powney family, Pachaiyappa's  growth was phenomenal. in the later years.  Aided by hard work and dharmic approach, he  grew in stature  and wealth as years went by and, obviously, emerged as one of the richest and most powerful men in Madras.

Quite impressed with his honest business dealings with the English company and their men,  they appointed him as the Revenue collector, a covetous post with power. His business ventures had a touch of his business nuances that helped him  make a big bundle. He not only made a large fortune but also had a large heart. Starting his life from the scratch, he knew all about  the pangs of pain and hunger among the poor. Being charitable, as he was, he  made large donations to big temples and also built choultries - wayside inns for travelers on a pilgrimage. 

Being a patron of Chidambaram Nataraja temple,  he made  big donations and jewelry to the temple.. His big house was always active  offering free food to a large number of people. Though very wealthy, till his death he remained humane and humility and gratitude were his hallmarks. He never forgot his mentor to whom he owed a debt of gratitude and got his son a job with Joseph Sullivan Co. Apart, he made him his agent in Madras and all transactions had to be made through him. 

Quote from  US Prez. George Bush. classy.org/

Having suffered a paralysis for his continuous hard work, he wrote a Will dated 27 March 1794. Being religious, in the ''Will'' he allocated enough funds to conduct   nithya puja at certain temples across India including Kashi and Rameswaram. On 31 March 1794 during his visit  Thiruvaiyaru he passed  away at the age of just 40 leaving behind him a legacy of good deeds, charities and lot of admirers. 

Though some amount  of money was lost due to financial mismanagement by the successors, some funds were redeemed  and set aside in the charities to run the educational institution, etc. It was done through the colonial court. One of the famous  being the famous institutions  Pachaiyappa college of Chennai which began as a school.

The trust made by Pachiyappa was under litigation for decades with no solution in sight. I  believe in the 1990s  the court case came to an end.  It is said  the trust  was worth over several billion rupees and is one of the biggest in India. The trust is taking care of  many religious charities from Kanyakumari to Varanasi, as many as six colleges, a polytechnic and 16 schools in Tamil Nadu. Besides, it owns many properties across the state.  

A protégé of  Dubash Narayana Pillai, Late Pachaiappa's contribution to Madras was vast.