Sri T.S. Avinashilingam is a great institution builder. He has started many educational institutions. The most important of them are two educational complexes. The one is the Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya started in 1930 and now consists of about a dozen institutions including the College of Education, an Arts and Science College, both leading to Doctorate, a Physical Education College, a Polytechnic, an Institute of Agriculture and other institutions providing education for boys from nursery to the highest level. The other is the Avinashilingam Home Science College which is the biggest set up in Home Science in the country and provides in the same campus education for girls from pre-school to Ph.D. along with a College of Education. An integrated Rural Development Centre has come into existence in Vivekanandapuram under his guidance. He also founded a Tamil Academy, through which was published an Encyclopaedia in Tamil in ten volumes followed by the Children's Encyclopaedia also in ten volumes.
This is not just an autobiography of an individual. It is the story of the author's life time covering more than half a century from 1930 to 1985. The book gives a graphic account of his strivings and achievements, the challenges faced and the successes and failures, in these efforts.
At 82 he continues to be dynamic and active and devotes his life entirely to the service of our country and her people.
Participation in Freedom Movement
He spearheaded the Freedom movement in Tamil Nadu from 1930 till the attainment of Freedom in 1947; was imprisoned in 1930, 1932, 1941 and 1942.
He was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly in 1934. In 1946 he was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly and became the First Minister of Education for Madras in Independent India when he introduced Basic Education and reorganised secondary education, introduced the Madras Libraries Act which ushered in the Library movement in the State, improved the status of teachers especially Tamil teachers, revitalised moral and spiritual education in schools by introducing graded study of Thirukkural in High Schools.
In 1951 he was elected to the Lok Sabha and in 1957 to the Rajya Sabha. He served in many National Policy making bodies such as Central Advisory Board of Education, All India Council of Technical Education, National Committee on Agricultural Education of the ICAR, National Council of Community Development etc.
Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya for which Mahatma Gandhi laid the Foundation stone in 1934. The Vidyalaya is an Educational complex in a campus of 300 acres with a Residential High School, Post-graduate Arts and Science College, a Central Library, the Vidyalaya Teachers' College providing B.Ed., M.Ed., M.Phil and Ph.D. courses with extension and audio-visual departments and a Computer Centre and providing M.Ed., in Integrated Education of the Visually Handicapped, the Gandhi Teacher Training Institute, Sri Swami Shivananda Higher Secondary School and a Middle School ; Maruthi College of Physical Education, providing Certificate, Under-graduate and Post-graduate courses in Physical Education.
The "Sacred Touch" belongs to this class. It is, in essence, the spiritual odyssey of one for whom Service to Man is Service to God - Manava Seva is Madhava Seva. It projects, in the process, the history of our times. It also gives glimpses of modern Indian renaissance, of which, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the "morning star", Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the "dawn" and Mahatma Gandhi, the "noon".
I have known, and known intimately, for more than sixty years now, Shri Avinashilingam. Writing a foreword to his autobiography is at once a pleasure and privilege. It is also an opportunity to recall to mind the events of a momentous era, the era of India's unique Pilgrimage to Freedom.
Perhaps, Ayya, as Shri Avinashilingam is affectionately called, chose me to write this foreword because I have a special kinship with him in that I am his guru bandhu. Both of us were blessed (at a very early age) to come in close contact with Swami Shivananda Maharaj, popularly known as Mahapurushji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Chinnu, who was my paternal uncle and a collegemate of Ayya, who too came under the spell of Mahapurushji, took to the ochre robe under the name Swami Chidbhavananda. He shuffled off his mortal coil in November 1985, but will continue to shed spiritual radiance through his Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam at Tirupparaithurai, near Tiruchirappally in Tamil Nadu, and several other institutions of high excellence. Incidentally, he was the inspiration to found the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's "Gandhi Vidyashram" - a residential school for boys and girls in Kodaikanal, successfully attempting a harmonious blending of the best in Eastern and Western systems of education.
Swami Shivanandaji must have discerned that Ayya's temperament best fitted him not for the life of a recluse but one of intense selfless activity - nishkama karma - in the cause of the emancipation of the lowly and the downtrodden and the promotion of women's education.
I am grateful that the institutions which I had the privilege to start have grown well in the'service of our people. It is a matter of pride and joy that the Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya with its various institutions for Science and Arts, Teacher Education, Physical Education, Engineering and Agriculture continue to do good work. The Avinashilingam Home Science College, along with its sister institutions, has grown to be the biggest set-up in Home Science in our country with the largest outreach of people. The Tamil Academy after having brought out ten volumes of the Encyclopaedia in Tamil and ten volumes of the Children's Encyclopaedia is now involved in bringing out the second edition of the latter. The Vivekanandapuram Rural Centre has been doing commendable work. For these I am extremely grateful to my co-workers who have given their best for the development of these institutions and through them in the service of the nation. The silken threads that bind all these institutions are the messages of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.
My family, friends and colleagues have been uniformly kind to me and _ blessed me with the depth of their love and affection, tolerating my youthful impetuosities and outbursts. I have been blessed with many co-workers both in the political and educational fields, who have worked with rare dedication to the cause and great personal affection for me. I don't know how to express my gratitude to them for their love, devotion and dedication, except to pray that God bless them.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
Art & Culture (810)
Emperor & Queen (495)
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