PSR ran the Egmore Samskrt School founded by his illustrious father P A Subrahmanya Ayyar, a former Professor of English at Annamalai University. The Surabharati Samiti conducted monthly meetings to encourage spoken Samskrt. Close to 600 such meetings were conducted without break rain or shine.
The annual Gita recitation competition held every January attracted hordes from the very young to the very old. In recent years, the participants exceeded 2000 from near and far. Aided by the members of his family, notably his wife Lalitha, a well-known maths teacher and his disciples, he planned and executed the competition to perfection. Every participant was provided with a certificate and the hundreds of winners with books. The six chapters for recitation have been planned for the next decade and more. All these were done through his own modest financial resources.
PSR and his team used to recite all the 18 chapters of the Gita to a metre that became the standard (the Chinmaya Mission adapted this), on specific dates every year.
A passionate teacher PSR taught Samkskrt to hundreds - all for free - and spread the interest in and love for the language. Endowed with a beautiful handwriting, PSR used to send individual letters and regular reminders to prospective participants.
My days with PSR...
My association with PSR extended over six decades. We studied together at the M.Ct.M Boys High School. He pursued his Masters in English Literature, worked with Efficient Publicities as an Account Executive in the 1960s before joining IE. He was the Associate Editor, IE for over a decade.
We grew together at Loyola College through intermediate and again a decade later at IE, along with another young executive S Narayanan. With the close involvement of young artist C L Boopaty, IE was built in quick time as the business magazine of south. We were ready with special issues on several industrial events. At short notice, we produced special supplements on the inauguration of works at the Salem, Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagar steel plants and got these released at the functions participated by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Our work extended to the entire southern region. Narayanan used to be at the project site sending editorial and ad material through phone till the early hours of the day (Remember those were decades ahead of the cell phones with connections uncertain, taking long and expensive). PSR and I would be converting these to edit matter at the printing press in Mount Road, get the issue printed in the next few hours. PSR would be with the press till 6 am, then rush to his house in Purasawalkam and then to Central to catch the Coromandel Express scheduled to depart at 0840 hours. I would rush with the supplement copies and hand these over to PSR for release at Visakhapatnam – steel plant, shipyard, port, etc., on which we produced special issues.
With his background in advertising, PSR helped in the advertisement campaigns of IE. His erudition and humility won him wide circle of friends in the ad world. Many still remember PSR’s regular column Advertising on the March reviewing advertisements. When IE shifted to Guindy he switched to Lokmat and served as business representative in Chennai for a couple of decades.
The perfect gentleman
PSR was methodic, disciplined and had a yen for perfection. He used to relate current happenings to the rich lore of Samskrt literature drawing copiously from Kalidasa Bhavabhuti. After he turned 70, PSR registered for his
Ph D and got a doctorate in Samskrt literature from Sri Venkateswara University.
PSR was a wordsmith facilely describing men and matters with phrases from Samskrt or English. He once described an active personal secretary as a ‘Laplander’ for her closeness to her boss. Of course, such vintages are reserved only for close friends from the adolescent days and family members. PSR donated his body to Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Hospital. IE shares the grief of Lalitha and her family members.