Today is the death anniversary of “Silver Tongued” Srinivasa Sastri.
He was born in Valangaiman near Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu on September 22, 1869 and passed away on April 17, 1946. He was born to a poor gurukkal (temple priest). After graduation he became a school teacher.
Mr. Sastri joined the Indian National Congress but resigned protesting against the non-cooperation movement. Even though policywise he was against Mr. M. K. Gandhi, they both were personal friends. Mr. Gandhi addressed him as his elder brother.
He participated in many international conferences on behalf of India. Mr. Sastri became world famous because of his command over English language and oratorical skills. Whenever he visited U.K., many people consulted him on English spellings and pronunciations.
His mastery over English language was recognized by King George V and and Winston Churchill. Lord Balfour remarked that listening to Srinivasa Sastri made him realize the heights to which the English language could rise.
The British conferred upon Sastri the appellation "Silver Tongued Orator of the British Empire".
Mr. Gandhi sent him the first copy of his newspaper “Harijan” for review. Mr. Sastri sent that back after correcting 27 mistakes. It is said that the British Prime Minister Lloyd George postponed his cabinet meeting for a few hours so he could listen Mr. Sastri speak. Prime Minister George said he was shy to speak his own mother tongue after listening to the chaste delivery of Sastri.
The best tribute for him came from “I forgot his name now”. It is:
Ranjit Singh showed the British how to play cricket and Srinivasa Sastri showed the British how to speak English.