Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Lakshmana Iyer the Gandhian

An incident where an 80 year old gentleman got into a crowded city bus in Erode wearing clean white ironed khadi shirt and dhoti with a walking stick. As he got into the bus, some four to five people travelling in the bus got up and offered their seats to this person. But he denied their offer, convinced them to sit down and continued his travel. He was on his way to the collectorate to collect the monthly allowance from the government allocated for mid-day meals for the children in the hostel he runs.
This gentleman was G.S. Lakshmana Iyer, a person who owned properties worth thousands of crores of money in and around Gobichettipalayam and who had selflessly given all of his land to dalit communities, for village development, for schools, colleges, co-operative societies, hostels, ITI’s and for industries.
More importantly, I personally look upto him with lot of respect for he was the first municipality chairman in Tamil Nadu who brought it into practice the abolishment of cleaning of human faecal waste by fellow human beings.
Being born into a Brahmin family, he was an ardent follower of Gandhi and went to see him once. Gandhi on hearing his name very simply asked him to work with and for Dalits. And Lakshmana Iyer did the same on coming back to his native. He started off with educational activities for them by starting a school; going on to build houses for the community, later he and his father started giving off their land for co-operative societies, for schools, colleges and industries.
One can go on talking about the philanthropic activities that he extended for the society. He was a hard core and a true Gandhian for he set an example by living such a life and was not just another person who merely spoke Gandhism.
Today is his remembrance day.
He lived a life of only serving people and the society. His work had brought about tremendous betterment in the lives of so many people. But sadly, hardly 20 to 25 people were present at his funeral.
At present, when his old students wish and want to commemorate him by the installation of his statue, there is a lot of opposition from other community groups from around there in doing so. And had he been alive today, he would have also been against the idea of a statue.
At a time when his house had come for auction, some unknown person on hearing the same came forth, bought the house and gave it back to him with the house registered in his (Lakshmana Iyer’s) wife’s name. And it was in the same house that he passed away.
There was specifically one girl who cried the most on his funeral and went with him till the burial grounds. This girl belonging to a dalit community was educated by Lakshmana Iyer and today happens to be a doctor.
In this moment, the biggest realization and learning for me from his life has been that one’s sacrifice and service doesn’t lie in statues, photographs and in news articles. I can only pray that his energy touches me in atleast the smallest way possible and that my thoughts get purified by his deeds.
(via Vishnu Priya)

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