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V. V. Subramaniam

(1881 – 1925) – (Tamilnadu)

Varahaneri Venkatesa Subramaniam Aiyar known as V. V. Subramaniam (Aged 44) was born on April 2, 1881 in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India. He was an Indian revolutionary who fought against British colonial rule in India and was also known as V. V. S. Aiyar. His contemporaries included Subramanya Bharathi and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, who subscribed to militant forms of resistance against the British colonial government.

When his militant activities attracted a warrant for his arrest from the British colonial government, he went into exile in Pondicherry, which was then under French rule. Aiyar was also a Tamil writer and is considered the father of modern Tamil short story. He translated the Ramavatharam of Kambar and Tirukkural into English. Aiyar was a mentor of Vanchinathan. While in London to study Bar at Law, Aiyar came into contact with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian revolutionary, at the India House. Under Savarkar’s influence, Aiyar began to take an active role in the militant struggle for Indian independence.

Aiyar’s militant attitude prompted the British Raj in 1910 to issue a warrant for his arrest for his alleged involvement in an anarchist conspiracy in London and Paris. Aiyar resigned from the Lincoln’s Inn and escaped to Paris. Although he wished to remain in Paris as a political exile, he had to return to India.

Aiyar landed in Pondicherry on December 4, 1910, disguised as a Muslim to escape arrest, and remained there in exile for over ten years. While in Pondicherry, Aiyar met with fellow revolutionaries Subramanya Bharathi and Aurobindo. In Pondicherry, Aiyar was involved in the plot to assassinate Ashe, the Collector of Tirunelveli. One of his students, Vanchinathan, assassinated Ashe. Thus, more trouble arose for Aiyar and his companion Subramanya Bharathi.

On September 22, 1914, the German cruiser SMS Emden entered the Madras harbor and bombarded the city. The British colonial government blamed this on the activities of the exiles in Pondicherry and urged the French Governor to deport Aiyar and his companions to Africa. He was arrested in 1921 on sedition charges and spent nine months in prison. As a writer, Aiyar has often been referred to as the “founder” of the short story genre in Tamil. He passed away on June 3, 1925, in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, India.