Subramanya Siva, firebrand freedom fighter and visionary

Memorial at Dhamapuri. Subramaniya Siva

 For unknown reasons, the southern part of Tamil Nadu frequently refereed to as "Then cheemai", has produced many freedom fighters who made an indelible mark for themselves in the history of Tamil Nadu. The very first   pre-independence revolt took place in this part by the Palayakkarars  led  by  Veera Pandya Kattabomman. The patriots  from this part fought vigorously against the British and gave inspirations to other people across India.Though much has not been written about Subramanya Siva, unlike other freedom fighters and patriots of this region, there is no denying of the fact that Siva was a dynamic and hard working freedom fighter whose speeches and writings touched the heart of tens of thousands of people across this region and as a result, the freedom movement gained greater momentum in this part of Tamil Nadu than other places. The amazing fact about him is within a short span of 41 years he achieved so much that would normally take twice that time for others. 

Mind you, the British did not offer us the freedom on a silver platter. Behind our independence, one can see the toil and sacrifices of scores of people across India, including many women. Unfortunately, in the past decade or so, we have taken our freedom for granted and the progress, we have made so far is not good enough unless we work hard with patriotic zeal and take the country forward without the scourge of corruption, nepotism and other malpractices in the government offices at the center and state.

Subramanys Siva, B'day Oct. 04.
Subramaniya Siva (04 October 1884 – 23 July 1925)  born in Batlagundu near Dindigul in  the erstwhile Madurai district of Madras presidency was a daring freedom fighter, writer and  a close associate of V. O. Chidambarm Pillai and Subramania Bharathi. Siva's father was one  Rajam Iyer and mother Nagalakshmi. He had two sisters and one brother.  He studied at Madurai in his early years till 12 and later studied at Tiruvanathapuram and Coimbatore. In 1899 he married Meeakshi. When he was Tiruvanthapuram in 1906, for the first time, he listened to the fiery speeches from people belonging to Arya Samaj and other organization. These speeches left a deep impression on him and he decided to imbibe the spirit of patriotism and freedom from the oppressive British rule  among the young people. Soon he began giving thought-provoking, inspiring  speeches on India's freedom and these drew the attention of the Travancore Samasthanam which asked him to leave that place. Then Travancore was a princely State and the British had control over the administration. 

Subramanya Siva's speeches were so good and impressive , they changed the young mind against the imperialistic British. In the course of his political involvement, he developed a close relationship with V.O.C, a staunch freedom fighter and a lawyer and Subramanya Bharathi, a Tamil scholar and a poet. From 1908  till his death, his obsession was freedom from the oppressive British. Before his death, he wanted to see "Free India" like a bird
without fetters on her. Siva was quite proficient in Tamil, English and Sanskrit. A great admirer of Vivakananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his political guru was Tilak.
Subramaniya Siva
Both V.O.C and Siva together organized  numerous meetings  about freedom fighting in Tirunelveli district and gave emotional and thundering speeches against the British and their continued exploitation of Indian and Indian land, besides racial discrimination practiced by them on the Indian soil.

He impressed on the audience how it was important for them to  get the country freed from the British rule. Realizing the gravity of the political situation developing there  and how Siva and VOC whipped up the emotions of the people and turned them against them  through their spell-binding speeches, they arrested VOC and Siva on numerous occasions using various pretexts.  On one particular occasion in 1904 Siva was arrested and given 10 year RI (rigorous imprisonment) Reason: instigating the people against the government, thus disturbing peace and tranquility of the place and sedition.  He was the first political prisoner in Madras jail. In those days, under the British rule, undergoing rigorous punishment was a gruesome  one. It would sap one's energy and you would seldom find repeat-offenders of law. One must have robust health to work like a slave in the galley of a ship. Upon appeal, 10 year rigorous  imprisonment was reduced to 6 years by the court. He was at last released from the jail on November 02, 1912. While in jail he suffered a lot as he was asked to do tough jobs far beyond his capability, like pulling the country oil mill/oil press (in Tamil:Sekku) manually as if he were  a bull, dealing  with unprocessed wool, softening of lime-soaked-dried animal skins, etc. His health was very much affected  while in jail, because of ill treatment and unhealthy surroundings. Through out his life his family life was disoriented and in May 1915 his wife died  at Chennai. After his wife's demise, Siva became a full time freedom fighter, besides, he also played  an active role in the welfare of the workers and advised them to get their grievances and demands clarified through strikes. He started a magazine called  India Desantheri in 1919 and in 1920 he participated in a meeting related to non-cooperation movement in Kolkata under Lajpath Rai. Later his strong speeches against the government invited trouble and in 1921 and 1922 he was again sent to prison.

Because of harsh treatment  during his jail terms, complicated by poor health, he contracted leprosy, a dreaded disease. In those days the treatment was not good enough  and leprosy was considered a contagious disease. So the British authorities did not allow him to use public transport. Undeterred, he went to many places on foot and spread the message of  freedom from the British and fighting  against them till India got her freedom
Subramaniya Siva
He continued to fight for independence and was incarcerated many times until 1922. On January 23, 1923, he started an Ashram at Papparappati in Dharmpuri district and its foundation was laid by great freedom fighter Chitharanjan Das  As his health condition began to deteriorate  further  because of his advanced stage of leprosy, he could not attend the  first meeting of the Indian Communist party in Kanpur. He eventually died on 23 July 1925 at the young age of 4. He wrote innumerable articles related to Indian freedom  and was the author of the journal Jnanabhanu and books Ramanuja Vijayam and Madhya Vijayam.

The  Dindugal district collector's office building  is named as Thiagi Subramania Siva Maaligai after him. Bathlagundu bus stand is named after Siva. A memorial is established at Papparapatti near Pennagaram in Dharmapuri district.