TK Ramanuja Kavirajar the legend

T.K. Ramanuja Kavirajar was born to Kallapiran and Arasalwar on 25.12.1905 in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Born in a traditional Hindu family, Kavirajar was intensely trained in Nalayira Divya Prabandham a divine collection of 4000 hymns on Lord Vishnu sung by the mystic Alwars. Thiruparkadal Kavirayar, who was his maternal grandfather, is credited to have rendered this tutoring to Kavirajar at a very tender age. Thus the poet was exposed to both spirituality and classic poetry at one stroke.

His creative career made an early start while he was in school at Tirunelveli. Kavirajar was studying his ninth standard when he pencilled his first poem in chaste Tamil on nature. The poet displayed similar prowess in English as well.

Before he finished his schooling he had mastered all of the works of Shakespeare and that of the Tamil poet Kamban. He was also fond of astronomy and talented in music. Like most famed poets he met with the downside of life at an early age. Both his mother and grandmother passed away when he was 14. He was adopted by his maternal uncle Kasinivendhan Kavirayar during his graduation days. Interestingly it is accounted that Kavirajar was reading the chapter on adoption from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations when it actually happened to him in life. Luckily for him, his ‘Great Expectations’ were met but not without toil.

Humility is Divinity

Happy be the Christmas day
With sincere love and reverence pray
When the lord our saviour Christ was born
To save frail man from sin forlorn
The star was bright and winds full blew
In radiant light good angels flew
And spoke to shepherds on the lawn
Strewn with dew like pearls that shone
No Palace great or lordly dome
Our saviour chose for his happy home
For sin is there in lofty pride
Trampling down the toiling tide

Family Life

He married Chellammal at an early age. His adopted father died the next year and Kavirajar had to maintain his vast estates which were strained in debts. He therefore had to join his father Kallapiran, who was a lawyer, as a junior and practiced law which he relinquished later as he did not like uttering falsehood. Thanks to his meticulous approach and management skills, his estates and revenues started to stabilise in due course.

The poet was blessed with five children – Renganayaki, Arasalwar, Kothainayaki, son TR Kallapiran and Kasinivendhini. His life twisted again when he lost his wife Chellammal quite early in life. In accordance to the wishes of family and friends, the poet then married Visalakshi after two years. His life twisted yet again when this lady died as well in a couple of years.

Two of his daughters, both named Arasalwar, one of whom was born to Visalakshi, died in tragic succession. One of his classics, ‘Faded blooms’ touchingly portrays the state of mind Kavirajar was in when he lost one of his daughters. Due to his belief in truth, spirituality and gigantic appetite for poetry, Kavirajar bounced back from these calamities to profusely produce poems and prose in English and Tamil.

Gandhian Values

Throughout his life Kavirajar epitomised truth, spirituality and poetic acumen. He led a simple life, mostly in solitude but with fortitude.

No wonder he was taken to Gandhi as fish to water.

He lived as the ‘Gandhi of the south’ and greatly admired the Mahatma.

By looks, law, truth and devotion to Lord Ram, Kavirajar culminated with the Mahatma.

The poet brought out his magnum opus ‘Mahatma Gandhi Kaaviyam’ a Tamil epic on the life of Gandhi comprising of 12285 verses. The first verse of the epic was an instant outpour as and when he learnt about the assassination of the Mahatma. The poet was engrossed in this gigantic effort for 31 long years.

Kavirajar was duly honoured with a title "Kavithendral" and award by the Nammakal Kavignar award committee for his literary services.


All through his life Kavirajar went out of the way to extend his helping hand to all. Kavirajar topped his district in donating maximum acres of land to the Bhoodan movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave which served the landless and poorest. He formed various trusts and carried out both spiritual and social services.

He ran a couple of schools, one of it in a village. He promoted education by serving as secretary of an education charity for 43 years. He built a maternal and child health care home for the suffering poor.

Kavirajar who led a complete life breathed his last when he was 80.

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