Swaminathan BA

Born: Batlagundu on 12 May 1932

Passed away: Chennai on 28 January 2016

Aged: 83 years

Funeral Date: 05 February 2016

Service Details

In keeping with his last wish, we donated the mortal remains to the Anatomy Department of Chennai Medical College.
The ninth day ceremonies to speed his Soul on the next leg of its journey were held on 5th Feb, 2016 at Gayathri Gnanavaapi, Chromepet. Followed by further events over the next four days.

The Story

Vittal, as he was fondly called by everyone in the family, Swaminathan was the middle of three brothers - sons of Mr. Ananthavenkatarama Iyer, hailing from Batlagundu, a farming village near Madurai, a city in South India.
Suseela, his dear wife for 53 years, and Rajendran, his adopted son, were his closest family members, on whom he showered unconditional love and affection.
After living in many cities around the country during his years in the IAF, he set up shop briefly in Chennai, before moving to the hometown of his wife - Salem. He spent nearly 15 years there, helping his son finish school with flying colours.
During the late nineties, he moved back to Chennai, and along with his wife, stayed with his son and daughter-in-law Radha Vembu.
Aditya, his grandson and newest recipient of his pampering love, was born in 2000, and T-Rex, his favourite pug dog, and hero of many a poem he penned, came into the family in 2012.
After 84 years of a happy healthy life spent never too far from the doting affection of his loving family, he spent a week in the ICU, and breathed his last one fateful evening.
Here is wishing he spends a lot lot longer in our memories.
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Dear Dad,
After all these years you gave me company, I left home for the first time, to give a talk amid strangers, and you weren't there to wish me luck.
To ask me about the topic and give me your sage advice.
To ask me for the time slot so you could pray for my success at that exact moment.
To use your knobbly fingers and misguided gyro to apply a 13 degrees tilted trapezium of holy ash on to my forehead just as I stepped out.
To ask me even before I kicked my shoes off, how the whole thing went.

But guess what, it did go well, even without you being there physically.
I did place an extra flower at your photograph that hangs on the wall, spent an additional nanosecond asking myself the questions you would, and rehearsing the same lessons you taught me when I was but a kid, way back in the 80s, everytime you accompanied me for the Oratorical Competitions we used to take part in school.

I remember your advice "never to focus on one person in the audience".
And "not to have motionless hands, but to gesticulate appropriately".
I remember that I have to "cover the length and breadth of the audience, and make each person feel that I am actually talking at least a few seconds of the time, to them, directly".
But, most of all, guess what I fondly remember most?

We were going for "competitions" mostly, and I remember how you used to prepare me for war!
You would say, there may be people in the audience waiting to throw you off balance, distract you, upset your rhythm, so, don't get "perturbed by them", don't focus on anybody specific and run that risk.
And, as if to give me practical exposure, you used to make me stand in the hall, and take a seat ten feet in front of me, and ask me to deliver my speech.
And, once in a while, you used to make a monkey face, a face that I couldn't help but laugh loudly at, and see if I can withstand that distraction and still go through with my delivery!

Thanks for the lessons, Pop, and thanks for the memories!

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


My dad had a lifelong love-hate relationship with the Hindi Language.
He didn't learn it formally, but that didn't stop him from gaining an amazing street-smartness about the language, thanks to the years he spent in the Armed Forces, posted at Chandigarh, Ambala, .. and the hundreds of TV Serials (starting with the inimitable Buniyaad and Hum Log all the way down to Shanti!) that he consumed over the many years.
Realizing its importance in the national scene, he got Mom to pursue private exams with the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, and later, got me in the same route too.
Mom and I reached till Visharadh, we are proud to claim. :-)
But, if there was one unfulfilled wish he left with, it would be that he couldn't get his grandson interested in the National Language. Perhaps we should blame the school, or the modern kid's resistance to the antiquated script and its illogical gender-rules, but Aditya never learnt to love the language.
Dad even spent some time putting together small puzzles for Aditya to crack - hoping he could hook the "game player" gene in the kid.

Here are the first four. See if you can get them all!

And, here's hoping that Aditya ends up gaining a wider vocabulary and a stronger grasp of grammar in Hindi than I do!

(Forgive the old man's पहली for पहेली !)

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


(This note below, came in from Suresh Anna, Bangalore. A sample of his pearly-script (that he graciously attributes to my Dad's perseverance) is attached above!)
This happened sometime in the mid-70s. He was at that time a terror - known for his bad temper. It was always his way or the highway. We were a huge joint family of 11 occupying a two bedroom flat (12/8) in Besant Nagar, Madras. He was running an Electrical Sales and Service Shop in Lattice Bridge Road, Adyar, in the name of Vetri Electrical Traders.
Every night when he returned home the first thing he did was to ask me to show my handwriting notebook. I was expected to write at least 1 page in English and 1 page in Tamil, which was relaxed to at least 1 line in English and 1 line in Tamil during times when i was ill. (It didn't matter that I was sick of it all the time!!)
On one such occasion, I had not fulfilled my obligation (for good reason or not) and Chithappa lost his cool. High decibel shouting followed demanding why I did not comply, along with some threats or actual thrashing - which, I don't remember. My dad who probably was happy about Chithappa's intentions about my developing a good handwriting, usually left it between the two of us to settle. However, on that fateful occasion, dad felt it fit to support my excuse. All hell broke loose ending in Chithappa stepping out of our home and finding residence somewhere close by.
That was the first time he made me grieve by parting. For quite some time after that I lived with a feeling of guilt for having been instrumental in my close friend leaving home. He sensed this very soon and on several occasions consoled me saying that it was not because of me that he stepped out. We remained thick friends as ever and I did spend a lot of time with him in G5 BENCO, Besant Nagar, where he had moved.
Then after some time came the second parting - his moving to Salem for good. Once again there was grief all around that he was parting but also happiness that he was starting a new and perhaps more successful life in a new place. I remember that night very clearly. All his belongings were packed and loaded on to a truck and he was ready to occupy the seat beside the driver. I was full of tears and uncontrolled sobbing. He gave me a huge bear hug and his parting words - just before he got in beside the driver- were "I'll miss you, son...".
Now, as I write this, he has handed me a third and final parting in the physical form. I have no other words to say but these... I miss you DAD!!

I have now come to realise that the soul never departs and he will always be with us. So I sign off with that great feeling knowing that his blessings will always be with us.

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


About 25-or-so-years ago, I sent my Dad a handcrafted Happy Birthday Greeting.
It was structured as a fictional story from "30 years ago".
He has been preserving it all these years. Dug it out when rummaging in the forgotten dumps in the trunks under the cot.

Thing is, when I was a toddler in the family, my dad had already taken voluntary retirement from the Armed Forces, and had chosen to be a "home maker Dad". He took care of me and my everything, while Mom brought the loaves in.
Here's the text of the card:-

Frontispiece:- My penwork of my Dad's likeness. Medal pinned to shirt says - Best Father Of Century Award
Inner page left:- I really appreciate the hard work you've put into being a great Dad! (Of course, the fact that I'm a great kid must've helped!)
Inner page right:-
That was about 30 years ago!
A young, handsome, intelligent, chivalrous, noble gentleman was at the crossroads, wanting to take the right direction to a glorious career. (Refer picture!)
- He could have been a relay runner, but it was all touch and go!
- He could have been a great angler, but it just wasn't his line!
- He could have been a great sailor, but he didn't want to be all at sea!
- He could have been an ace tailor, but it just didn't suit him!
- He could have been a professor of statistics, but probably he didn't like it!
- He could have been a great mountaineer, but there were too many ups and downs!
- He could have been a natural painter, but his was already a colorful personality!
- He could have been a great writer, but words never made justice to his thoughts!
- He actually became a jig driller, but you know, he got bored!
- He could have become a pro photographer, and he is thinking of it still!
So, you know what he did?!
He took up a career as a FATHER!

Thanks a lot, Pop, for that decision!
And, by the way...., Happy Birthday To You!

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


Last week, I received my first "pay-hike" after my Dad's passing away. The mind wandered back to those times. The times I used to announce the good news with a pack of sweets and a bowl of his favorite icecream. The advice he used to give me - invariably - every time I talked to him about work and money. How Job Satisfaction was the more important aspect in a career, much more than any "monetary benefits". And the advice he always followed it up with - it was always important to Live Within One's Means. How a person earning a few thousands a month is definitely richer and happier if he spends just half of it when compared to a person earning lakhs but ends up spending in lakhs too. It took a while for me to actually start earning - I was working at a Research Lab at IIT, at a time when my colleagues had gone on and taken up cushy jobs already. So, when, finally, at long last, I got my first "Research Grant Stipend", I sent it to Dad with a letter attached. Had stuck a copy of it on my room's wall and it stayed there for many many years. Here is a photograb of that happy interaction.

Dear Appa and Amma,
With a sincere thanks to the Almighty God for recognising me for what I am worth,
With a hopeful wish that this is just a humble beginning and a sure sign of brighter days around the corner,
With a straight-from-the-heart prayer that this and any future personal financial encouragements do not make me any more individualistic and independent than I already am,
With a personal expression of faith in the greater powers of discretion that lie within you,
With a heartfelt thanks to you both for having made all this possible, through trials, tribulations, and sacrifices galore,
And with an ordered request that you consider this but your own money to be dealt with as you would most want to,
I dedicate this Wad, my first humble bread for the Family, to me in a roundabout way,
Because I am dedicating this to you both who in turn are dedicated to me!!!

With Emotions overflowing from a big jar of Love and Affection,
This is your Loving Son,
D. Rajendran

Date: 14th July 1993
Time: 11-40 p.m.
Place: Madras - 36

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


Worship of female deities known as Ammans has been a Dravidian culture from time immemorial. Pragadhambal is one such Amman with her abode at Thirugokarnam near Pudukkottai.

The Vijaya nagar Emperor who was ruling over Pudukkottai lost one impartant document. All his efforts to trace it were futile. Then he prayed to Pragadhambal Amman for its restoration. The Amman granted his wish and the lost document was found. The king was very happy and to express his gratitude he embossed Pragadambal’s picture on one side of a coin of Araikasu denomination and distributed the coins to his subjects during festive occasions. In those days the Araikasu coins were designed in a semi circular shape. The Amman from then onwards came to be known as “ARAIKASU AMMAN” and people started to pray Her for the recovery of lost / misplaced items.

There is a Lakshmi Kubera Temple in Rathinamangalam, where the marriage of Lord Kubera is performed annually. During one such celebration, a very costly and valuable ornament of Sri Lakshmi was lost and could not be found. The Managing Trustee of that temple prayed to Araikasu Amman and promised to build a Peedam for Her if the lost ornament could be traced. It was to his surprise that he could see the ornament within the temple and as vowed, he built a Peedam for ARAIKASU AMMAN in Rathinamangalam it self very near to the Lakshmi Kubera Temple in gratitude and for the benefit of every one.

Now the Peedam has become very popular not only in Tamilnadu, but also in other parts of the country and devotees throng this Peedam to seek blessings and restoration of lost / misplaced items or to thank Her for her benevolence in restoring their lost items.

Number of instances have been reported about Araikasu Amman’s answers to the prayers of benefitted people like restoration of lost / misplaced items, recovery of lost money, Marriages, Child Births, Reunion of family members and many more.


Now, that's from the About Page of the famous Araikkaasu Amman Temple Website.

I was rummaging through Dad's Godly-Goodies, and I chanced upon a picture.. Mom, who was riding along, exclaimed with a shriek of surprise! "Hey, this is the Araikkaasu Amman picture! I need this one! Have been searching for this for so long! Was even asking Dad for many years now! Wonder where he had kept it all along! If we have misplaced something or lost something, we just need to pray to this Goddess, and set apart a 1 rupee coin, and voila, you'll get what you are looking for!"

I didn't point out to her the interesting irony in the situation. What do we do if we have lost the Araikkaasu Amman Picture itself?


Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


For many many years, Dad's favorite soap bar was "Santoor". He used to quip about how he was misled by the advertising on the wrapper.
The wrapper said, in one corner: For rich, smooth, and glowing skin!
And, for the life of me, he'd say, why am I not getting a smooth and rich glow? I'm following the instructions on the wrapper verbatim..!

But only later, did I explain to him that it could have a different meaning..
I said, perhaps they are saying, this soap is meant for people who HAVE rich smooth and glowing skin!!

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


Peeked into Dad's Sthothram's Bag. So, this is what he has been doing as part of his daily morning routine. So, this is what he has settled into, as an equilibrium, after reviewing hundreds of books and thousands of combinations, customised to suit his taste, to fit his specific kind of desire for inner peace and global happiness. So, these are the Gods he is going to hopefully go looking for, as he journeys through the Unknowns, towards the Unknowable. May he not be disappointed by what he sees and learns.

Rajendran Dandapani shared a photo.


The third memory sent by Byravan M, my maternal uncle, about his favorite Vittal Atthan.
When he was having a shop at Lattice Bridge Road, Vetri Electricals, I used to watch his business with customers, he used to sell the electrical goods without any profit to the customers, when I pointed out to him that there should be at least some basic profit motive in running a business, he immediately retorted that he is not particular about profit but only service to the customers.
That is perhaps why, I wonder, he had to close his shop in a short period!
Here was a man - a business man who never thought of a profit margin for the business!
When I used to visit him at Velachery, the main topic between us used to be only Politics, he was so fond of talking politics with me. He was a great admirer of Thuglak Cho Ramaswamy. He used to call a spade and spade that is why some of our relatives avoided approaching him.
But, certainly he was a perfect man with a bounty of affection for everyone of us, it is unfortunate we lost him early.
Praying for his Soul RIP.

Rajendran Dandapani


This one again is from Byravan M.
Next during the year 1970, I had the opportunity of visiting New Delhi for an official work.
Vittalathan's close friend and colleague in Airforce was at Delhi. I stayed at Delhi in a relative's house and in same Sarojini Nagar.
Ramalinganna (we used to call him as Meesai anna , as he was having a big moustache but a child at heart) Athan's close friend stayed. He met me at that time and told that Susee and Vittalathan wanted me to come to Chandigarh for a day. Vittalathan and Susiakka were at Chandigarh at that time. Then he made a call to Vittalathan and gave the phone to me, Vittalathan invited me and gave me directions from taking a bus from Sarojini Nagar to Delhi old rly station and till reaching the Sector (I remember it is Sector 21) at Chandigarh.
Even the time of reaching the train (Kalka expresss) at Chandigarh station and the autowalas wording and the charge (Rs.3 at that time) every thing was so perfect, word by word, it was so perfect, that I did not even have a small problem during my travel and reaching his house at Chandigarh.
Perfection, we can call the other name as Vittalathan.
At Chandigarh, he returned in the evening from his work, and immediately for 3 hours he took me in his scooter around Chandigarh showing me Rose garden Lake and other places.
It was a memorable event in my life. Susiakka used to say that I am the only person who visited them outside Chennai. While returning also by bus, I was instructed how I should board the bus and reach Delhi and return to Sarojini Nagar at Delhi. Immediately after I reached Delhi, he asked me to inform through Ramalinganna my safe arrival which I did.
Now,during 2007, back when we visited Chandigarh where my second son Arun was employed, the reminiscence of my stay with Athan came to my mind while seeing Rose garden and lake and other places.

Rajendran Dandapani