The Devan days

The postman knocked several times in connection with what I'd written about Devan of the Ananda Vikatan in this column in Miscellany, September 19.

First off the mark was that walking encyclopaedia K.V. Ramananathan who set me straight on a bit of modern Indian history. He pointed out that Krishnamurthy leaving Ananda Vikatan had nothing to do with the Quit India Movement (1942) but everything to do with the individual Satyagraha movement (1940) which he wanted to join and for which Vasan would not give him permission. Ashokamitran had indeed mentioned this that evening which I wrote about, but I had got my modern Indian history all mixed up.

It was after Krishnamurthy was released in 1941 that he started Kalki with Sadasivam, helped with M.S. Subbulakshmi's earnings from the film Savitri , Ramanathan states. Kalki, I subsequently discovered, had gone to jail earlier for his role in the Salt Satyagraha Movement c.1930-1931, but Vasan appears not to have tried to stop his participation at that time. It was at this time that ‘Thumilan' (N. Ramaswami Iyer) was invited to join Ananda Vikatan as Assistant Editor to hold the fort. It was a position he held till 1937 when he left to join Hanuman . Thumilan, it would appear, may have acted as Editor till Krishnamurthy came out of jail in the early 1930s, but had left Ananda Vikatan by the time Vasan was looking for a permanent Editor on Krishnamurthy parting ways with it. Thumilan and ‘Nadodi' had in turn succeeded Krishnamurthy as Editor before Devan took over, a reader has suggested. I've just referred to Thumilan's stint; as for Nadodi, I can't find reference to him in connection with the Ananda Vikatan story. The closest I came to Nadodi was ‘Naradar' T. Srinivasa Rao who joined about the same time as Thumilan and went on to edit Naradar , another magazine Vasan started c.1934-1935.

Thumilan, after moving about a bit post- Hanuman , became the first Editor of Dinamani Kadir , the first general interest Tamil magazine to attain a circulation of one lakh.

Writing from San Diego, California, R.K. Natarajan goes on to add that Alliance (with Devan Endowment) has brought out all Devan's books in the Tamil original after Devan passed away. Natarajan, however, was surprised to read that Justice Jagannathan had been brought out in English, but was “doubtful whether it (would) bring out the full import of the Tamil original.” I couldn't agree with the writer more; between translation and editing, the Tamil flavour has been lost.