A few Anecdotes about Tamil Savant U.Ve.Sa (Post No.4135)

Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 6 August 2017


Time uploaded in London- 18-40


Post No. 4135

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.


There is an interesting story about Uthamadhanapuram, a village 3-5 km south of Papanasam in Thanjavur district.

A Maratha king who happened to camp nearby had his food and Thamboolam (betelnut and betelleaves) without knowing it was Ekadasi Day that day – a day of prayer and fasting. As an act of atonement, he established and Agraharam (Street for Brahmins) for 80 Vedic scholars, providing each a house and 10 Velis of land. He named it Uthamadhanapuram, evidently to show how greatly he valued the Dhana (gift)

It was this Uthamadhanapuram that gifted to the world the ‘Uthama’ (great soul) of Tamil learning, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr U V Saminatha Iyer.


Two of many incidents show what Tamil meant to U Ve. Saminatha Iyer. He had picthed upon a girl for his grandson> She was clever, good looking and good singer. But she did not sing any Tamil song nor did she know Tirukkural (Tamil Veda).

Saminatha Iyer asked her, with some disappointment: How can a girl who does not know Tirukkural become my grand daughter-in-law?”

The girl did acquire the qualification and entered his house triumphantly.



Once a friend wished hi many more years of life to see the arrival of his great grandson.

“I want to live for many years but not for that reason”, he said.

Pointing to the piles of palm leaves in the room, he said with an innocent smile “They are my children. I want to see them in print before I die. If I depart suddenly, I wish to be reborn in this Tamil Land to complete the work. But when I come here in rebirth, I wonder if these people (relatives) would let me in”.


Saminatha Iyer needs no new honour. He was a legend in his day – titles and honours were heaped upon him. Mahakavi Bharati sang a verse in praise of him in which he wonders if the foreign rulers with no knowledge of Tamil, honour him with the title MAHA MAHOPADHYAYA, what would have been his fame if he had been born in the days of Pandya Kings!

Addressing him as the king of poets, he tells Saminathan that he may not have money or know the way to enjoy the pleasures of life, but he will live in the hearts of poets as long as Tamil lasts, with words of praise on their lips.



Born on 19 February 1855

Died in 1942

His Guru: Mahavidwan Meenakshisundaram Pillay

Posts held: Adheena Vidwan of Thiruvavadurai

Tamil Teacher at Kumbakonam College

Publications: 100 books including his Autobiography, Edited versions of Sangam Literature, Silappadikaram, Manimekalai and Jeevaka Chintamani.


Source:V Sundaram’s article in Indian Express dated 26 December 1994


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1 Comment

  1. It is so sad that the house he lived in in Madras , which he had named ‘Tyagaraja Vilasam’ in gratitude to Vidvan Tyagaraja Chettiar,( who was instrumental in getting his post as Tamil teacher) was demolished some time ago and no one in Tamil Nadu came forward to preserve it as a memorial for the great man.
    One of the unknown acts of public charity Iyer established was that he arranged for drinking water ( தண்ணீர்ப்பந்தல்) to be given to pilgrims who circumambulated Tirukazhukunram Hill, which is known as Vedagiri. It seems, to go round this hill ceremonially is an act of great merit. Sri Iyer arranged for this drinking water shed at the half way point on the route around the hill, exactly behind the township at the foot of the hill. it was done without any fanfare. We came to know it through the writing of Ki.Va. jagannathan, his student.

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