B. R. Rajam Iyer
இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: பி.ஆர். ராஜம் ஐயர்
B.R. Rajam Iyer (B. R. Rajam Aiyer/ B. R. Rajamaiyar) ( January 25, 1872 - May 13, 1898) was an author, novelist, columnist, journalist with inclination towards spiritual and philosophical thinking. His full name was B. R. Sivasubramanya Iyer. Rajam Iyer authored Kamalambal Charithiram, one of the earliest novels written in Tamil. He is considered to be one among the forerunners of realist novels in Tamil.
Rajam Iyer was born on January 25, 1872 at Vathalakundu, Tamil Nadu to Ramaiya Sastry. He had nine siblings. Rajam Iyer's family was into agriculture and a small amount of agricultural land of Ramaiya Sastry was the main source of income to the family. B. R. Rajam Iyer got married at the age of 13 to 9 year old Ramalakshmi.
B. R. Rajam Iyer had his early education at Sethupathi High School, Madurai and completed his FA degree from Madura Native High School, Madurai. He graduated in History from Madras Christian College in the year 1889 and then joined the Law college, Chennai to pursue law. He couldn't succeed in the final exam in law and the failure shattered him. As a result, Rajam Iyer, an introvert and a reclusive person, was confined to himself. Dejected Rajam Iyer came across an anthology by Thayumanavar and the book paved the way for him to philosophy and vedanta. Books like Kaivalya Navaneetham (Cream of Liberation) and the poetries of Tattuvaraya Swamigal took him through the path of wisdom.
B. R. Rajam Iyer was a scholar in Tamil literature. At the age of 17, Rajam Iyer wrote a critical review of Kachikalambagam, a Tamil poem by Poondi Aranganatha Mudaliar. The review, published in the Madras Christian College magazine, was Rajam Iyer's first publication in the print media and revealed his scholarliness. His family got relocated to Chennai during this time. The literary works of Shelley, Wordsworth and Tennyson made him interested in poetry. Rajam Iyer was very much impressed by the Tamil poet Kamban.
In the year 1893, Rajam Iyer got an opportunity to serialize the novel Kamalambal Charithiram, in the monthly magazine Viveka Chintamani. He was only 21 years old when he wrote Kamalambal Charithiram, the second novel in Tamil language. He has stated that the main purpose of writing this novel is to describe the journey of a restless soul indulging in worldly pleasures, experiencing difficulties and then attaining the immaculate, eternal bliss. He has used many proverbs, fables and the vedic and vedantha concepts in a simple and lucid language. He has quoted lyrics from Kamba Ramayanam, Thirukural, Nalavenba, Thayumanavar Paadal, Pattinathar Paadal, Arichandra Puranam, Neethi Neri Vilakkam and also mentioned about "Puck", the demon from Shakespear's Mid Summer Dreams in this novel. These reveal his proficiency in Tamil and English literature.
Though Rajam Iyer has read the British novelists William Thackaray and Oliver Goldsmith, he could write the novel Kamalambal Charithiram without any influence of their style. The novel showed his skills and his perspective about life and was the beginning of a new literary tradition in Tamil.
Apart from this novel, Rajam Iyer wrote a serial Seethai in the magazine Viveka Chinthamani. The plot of this serial was in the form of a dialogue between Janaki and Natarajan admiring the glory of Seetha and proficiency of the poet Kambar. But this serial was not published as a book.
When Rajam Iyer was residing at Triplicane in Chennai, a lady monk was giving sermons near his home. Rajam Iyer was attending the sermons everyday and the lady monk could understand his inclination towards philosophy and blessed him by touching his head. This blessing gave a rare and divine spiritual experience for Rajam Iyer . As a result, he became spiritually inclined and his interest in worldly affairs started to decline.
In the year 1896, M.C. Alasinga Perumal, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, started the journal "Brahmavadin" with a goal to spread the word of Vedanta and Indian philosophy to the masses of the country. Rajam Iyer wrote his first article Manidhanin Sirumayum Perumayum (Man his littleness and Greatness) in this journal. His quest for ultimate truth were reflected in his writings. During this time, Rajam Iyer got introduced to the monk Santhananda Saraswathy Swamigal. Rajam Iyer accepted him as his spiritual master, got spiritual initiation by Santhananda Saraswathy Swamigal and started practicing spirituality, meditation and yoga under his guidance.
Rajam Iyer got introduced to Swami Vivekananda who was visiting Chennai, through his friends. Dr. Nanjunda Rao, yet another disciple of Swami Vivekananda started the English magazine "Prabuddha Bharata" and Rajam Iyer became the chief editor of that magazine. He wrote many articles on religion, philosophy and various aspects of vedanta in the magazine under his real name and pseudonyms. Later, these articles were compiled into a 900 pages book entitled Vedanta Sancharam (Rambles of Vedanta in English)  .
Opinion of other writers
Critic Venkatasaminathan, in his book Ilakkiya Alumayigal (Literary Personalities) wrote that, "A force called Rajam Iyer was like a comet, like the grandeur of a nuclear explosion, throbbing at an extraordinary speed in various directions within a short span of time and then disappeared. The speed and pulse of this movement, its multidimensionality, and the shortness of the time (he) lived baffles those who attempt to understand it. Because of this we pick up pieces from the explosion and assess Rajamaiyar as novelist, philospher and so on'
Rajam Iyer passed away on May 13, 1898, when he was 26 years old, due to intestinal obstruction. It was announced in the June 1898 issue of Prabuddha Bharata that the magazine was discontinued due to the demise of Rajam Iyer. However, the magazine was resurrected after two months, from Advaita Ashram, Almora in August 1898 with the great efforts of Swami Vivekananda.
Biography of Rajam Iyer was published in the year 1909 by A. S. Kasthurirangaiyar as Rajam Aiyar Sarithai (Biography of Rajam Iyer).
In the article entitled Vedantamum Chakaravarthy Perumanum (Vedanta and the Emperor), written in the April 1898 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, Rajam Iyer wrote that, vedanta always tries to topple the emperor and the emperor is in danger as long as vedanta exists. British Government considered this statement as sedition and sent police to his home for enquiry. The police reached Rajam Iyer's home two days after his death and learnt about his demise.
- Kamalambal Charithiram
- Vedanta Sancharam ( Rambles of Vedanta)
- Manithanin sirumaiyum perumaiyum (Man his littleness and greatness)