Friday, April 17, 2015

"Silver Tongued" Srinivasa Sastri


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.

37 comments:

  1. Oh, I didn't know about this great man before. Thanks for introducing him to us. I wish there were some recordings of his speech.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. Some libraries may have the recordings. By the way, his grand daughter was married to Nobel Laureate C. V. Raman.

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  2. 'Ranjit Singh showed the British how to play cricket and Srinivasa Sastri showed the British how to speak English' I like this!

    I too haven't heard of him before. Thanks for introducing him to us. Let me ask my son to look for the recordings of his speech. He must have been very very good!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. Please let me know if your son found any of his recordings.

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  3. Thank you so much for imparting this great info to us..I didnt know anything about him..would love to listen to him sometime..

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    1. Thanks for your comments Renu. I would love to listen to him too.

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  4. SG, Nice to read and get information about the great Srinivasa Shastri.
    Posts like this throw light on so many things that are unknown to us. I appreciate your efforts to relate the stamp to the great man. Are you also interested in Philately?
    haven't heard of Aarumuga Ganpati in or near Dindigul .there's a Panchamukha Ganapathi near Theni ,

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    1. Thanks for your comments Chitra., No, I am not into Philately. I deliberately chose this picture of him to tell the readers that the Government of India honored him by issuing his stamp.

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  5. thanks SG, I did check Dinamalar link . I will be visiting Dindigul in the near future.. Will visit this temple too , Palani is not so far from dindigul.just 60 Kms or so. I used to travel daily for my work.

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    1. Thanks Chitra, Looking forward to reading your post on Aarumuga Ganapathi.

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  6. Mother India is fortunate enough to have some brightly shimmering gems. I had learned somewhere about him.But it was buried in forgetfulness.Thank you for digging it.Nice post.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sarala. I am glad you remembered him now.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this SG.. Very informative.
    Proud to live in the same land where great persons like him have lived!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Satya. I am glad you found this post informative.

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  8. This made for an amazing, interesting and an informative read. Thanks for sharing about Srinivasa Sastri. Was not aware of his skill and fame! :)

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    1. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. I am glad you liked this post.

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  9. Harijan was in English? Well, well, didn't know that. So whatever happened to Swadeshi movement? Or was the newspaper targeted at Britishers?

    Nice to know this eminent personality. Isn't there any sample of his oratory or writing skills for readers of our generation?

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sweety. I am sure some library may have his speeches and/or tapes

      Gandhi's Harijan was in English language. He simultaneously published 2 more newspapers. Another in Hindi (Harijan Sevak) and the third one in Gujarati (Harijan Bandu). He perfectly understood not all Indians can read and write in Hindi. Only 60% of Indians - then and now. Another 20% can speak Hindi as a street language, go to Hindi movies, and humm Hindi movie songs.

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  10. wow!!! Silver- tongued!!! It is amazing to know about such unsung Indians! Great post, SG!
    I kind of feel so proud and got goosebumps when I read this post :)

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  11. Btw, although I follow your blog, I didn't get updates for the previous 2 posts of yours! :S let me try following again :S

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  12. Thanks for your comments Roh. We are all proud of him. I don't know how this happened (your not getting the update of my previous posts). I can only say I am sorry.

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    1. Hey SG! :D I found the two emails in my 'Promotions' folder of GMail :D and I have no clue how it went there :) so all is well SG! :)

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  13. thanks for this post! I did not know of all that before! :)

    Interesting info!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Ankita. I am glad you liked this post.

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  14. Was a great man...At least someone remembered him....he also corrected Gandhi's famous autobiography

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  15. Thanks for your comments Subhrashis. I did not know that Mr. Sastri corrected Mr. Gandhi's autobiography too. Thanks for the info.

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  16. Interesting! Thanks for sharing this information. I didnt know about it till I read it here. And there is something about us South Indians and our fascination for the English Language :-) That as a wonderful tribute given to him!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Ashwini. I am glad you liked this post.

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  17. Rt.Hon'ble Srinivasa sastriar's Lectures on Ramayana was his magnum opus.
    These lectures given at Sanskrit College before cognoscenti is a delectable treat to read.This book priced at Rs.250 was available at Giri Trading at Mylapore

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    1. Thanks for your comments Mr. Parthasarathi. And, thank you so much for giving us this valuable information. So many readers have asked me how to get a book or a tape of Mr. Sastri's speech. You made my job much easier.

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  18. Great to know about Srinivasa Shastri... Feeling good to know that many of your readers know him even though I didn't so far.
    Thanks for this post that would make everyone feel 'Mera Bharath Mahan' :)

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  19. That is an interesting story. To teach the British their own tongue !

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  20. We should be so proud of ourselves that we had such an intellectual person within us. Great to know Mr Sasti...You gave him a wonderful stature.

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  21. We should be so proud of ourselves that we had such an intellectual person within us.
    Great to read about Mr Sastri...wonderful tribute to him here.

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  22. Wonderful that after so many years we are still talking about Rt. Hon'ble Srinivasa Sastri. He is my grand father's uncle(mama). I have some 10 photos and 3 letters of Sastri written my grand father. I am sorry to say we lost many. I can share his letters and photo with interested persons. One such old photo is that of Royal Commission for Labour in India taken in 1930. Ramakrishnan

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  23. Does anyone know the incident that happened when Shastri travelled in a London Cab during one his visits? How his eloquent speech stunned the cabbie who insulted him not knowing his true value but assessed him by his simple attire?

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  24. Srinivasa sastri, is said to have taken Abath Sanyasam (being initiated into an Ascetic order during the last hours of ones life ) before he died . His mortal remains were interred in a Samadhi , on the banks of River Kudamurutti , in Valangaiman, his native village , near Kumbakonam. I happened to visit the place recently . The inscription on the Samadhi ( a Brindavanam ) has the name " Srinivasa Jitendriya " surpassing all his titles like Silver Tongued Orator and Rt Honorable

    Neelakantan

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