Excerpts from the messages by freedom fighter S. Satyamurti published in The Hindu on the occasion of Madras Christian College's centenary celebrations in 1937.
MLA, Janaury 28, 19370
I happen to be an old boy of the MCC and I respond very gladly to the request of The Hindu to send a contribution…
I joined MCC in 1906 and was connected with the college, in one capacity or another, till the middle of 1910. I was student in the BA class and then was a member of the staff.
About Dr. Miller
My reminiscences of Dr. Miller are very little and rather vague. He was still in active service when I joined the college from Pudukottah. He struck me as a very good old man, with considerable interest in his students and a great love for them. Undoubtedly he was a great and striking personality, and he believed in the high aspirations of the Indian youths. I heard at that time and I remember still that in the heated controversy about the need for conversion of students of the Christian College to the Christian faith, he took a strong line that they should not insist on such conversions, as the aim of the Christian College was to spread higher education. He was also a good teacher. He taught us Shelley. He impressed me very greatly.
Professors and students
Among other professors with whom I came into contact were Dr. Russel and Mr. Pittendrigh and Dr. E.M. Macphail. Both of them were good professors of English. The characteristic feature of the college which struck me then and which has remained with me all these years is that the professors, in spite of their colour, in spite of their race, in spite of their faith, did their best to identify themselves with the college and the students thereof and tried to create an impression that both the teachers and the taught belonged to a great family of not only seekers after knowledge, but also after a higher life. The teaching left nothing to be desired it its efficiency, but there was always the human touch. The professors tried to know their students, remembered their faces and their names. The young student is a very sensitive creature and cannot be free with the teacher, but if the teacher rightly approaches him, he goes direct into his head.
The MCC traditions
During my time in the college I believe it is still being continued; certain professors, who were married and had their wives living with them, used to invite the students for what are called “At Homes”. We, young men, not accustomed to Western life, felt highly flattered at these invitations, when we were taken in and allowed to drink tea with them, and play games. It made a profound impression on us. Again, the teachers used to discuss several problems, not only connected with the actual education of the college, but of the life vitally affecting the students. We exchanged ideas, and I often found in my professors that there was no superiority complex on their part, and they were willing to share with us their ideas in a brotherly spirit.
Above all there was a conscious desire on the part of the professors that the students of the Christian College, when they went out, should be worthy of the high traditions of the college. These traditions were service and sacrifice for others.
We had exciting times when I was in the college. Lala Lajpat Rai was deported. We boycotted classes. We might have come into conflict with the professors, but we did not. They had to enforce discipline, but they did in such a human manner that very soon the excitement passed over, and we were, once more, members of a happy family.
The hostels attached to the college were real homes. The wardens paid us frequent visits and shared our life. In these hostels, there was intimacy. For myself, I have formed at least one lasting and lifelong friendship. Of course, the atmosphere of the college does not depend on brick and mortar. Still, I cannot help shedding a tear over the shifting of the college from the Esplanade to distant Tambaram — distant in a comparative sense. I sincerely hope and trust that the college will prosper even more in its new surroundings and will serve its high traditions in a free and self-governing India. But, whenever we pass by this building, we cannot help having a sigh that the place will no longer be associated with the purposes for which we were there during our years.
India is bound to be soon free and self-governing. The place of Missionary Colleges in a free and self-governing India may be a difficult or easy one, according as the Missionary colleges adjust themselves to the new conditions. I trust that the Madras Christian College will consistently with the high ideals of Him, after Whom it is called, and in Whose name it lives, identify itself with the life and movement of the people of this country. The Indian Christians have played and are playing a great part in building up this nation. The Madras Christian College has played its part in the past, and will, I trust, continue to do so in the future.
If the Madras Christian College continues to live up to its great ideals, I have no doubt in my own mind that, in a free India, the future of the college will be indeed greater than its past. I have no other hope or wish for the college.