Tiruchendurai Vaidyanatha Seshagiri
Iyer (1860-1926) was an Indian lawyer and politician who
served as a judge of the Madras High Court and represented the University of Madras in the Madras Legislative
Seshagiri Iyer was born in 1860 in a village Tircuhirapalli
district. He had his early education in his village and studied law
in Madras. He served as a member of the Madras Legislative
Seshagiri Iyer was known for his public work.
Seshagiri Iyer was born to Vaidyanatha Iyer in the village of
Tiruchendurai in Tiruchirapalli
in 1860. He was one of Vaidyanatha Iyer's six children
through his second wife, Komali, the other five being girls.
Vaidynatha Iyer also had six sons namely , Mannarswamy, Ramu,
Venkataraman and Subbaraman through another wife. Seshagiri Iyer's
sisters were Sanamma, Seethalakshmi, Thailambal, Subbammal and
Mannarswamy looked after the early education of his younger
siblings in the family.
Seshagiri Iyer married Kalyani and had two daughters Bhagi and
Nagammal. The family settled down in Alwarpet,
On completion of his studies, Seshagiri Iyer joined as an
apprentice of the famous Madras lawyer of British origin, Eardley Norton
. During this time, Seshagiri
Iyer was responsible for the Hindu Transfers and Bequests Act of
1914. This act is now popularly known as the "Seshagiri Ayyar Act".
Iyer served as a judge of the Madras High Court from 1914 to 1920.
His name was considered for Diwan Bahadurship but was ultimately
rejected by the Governor in favor of K. Narayana Row.
Seshagiri Iyer also functioned as a member of the Senate of the
University of Madras
. In 1916,
disappointed at the very tough nature of the Intermediate
Examination and the fact that very few Indian candidates had passed
the examination, Seshagiri Iyer moved a resolution in the senate
demanding that the pass mark for English be reduced to 30 percent.
He described the tough correction at the examination as "slaughter"
of the candidates. However, there was staunch opposition to this
resolution by British professors. One Rev. Macphail uttered: "You
bring rickshaw-wallahs and jhutkawallahs to the examination hall,
and when they fail, you complain of slaughter".
As Member of the Madras Legislative Council
Seshagiri Iyer represented the University of Madras
in the Madras Legislative Council
1921 until his death in 1926. He presided over a number of
conferences during this time.
Other public activities
In 1917, Seshagiri Iyer was nominated Chairman of the Tamil Lexicon
Committee. As the English Boat Club of Kodaikanal refused to offer membership, Seshagiri Iyer founded
the Indian Boat Club in response to discrimination against Indians
Seshagiri Iyer was one of the first Indian to own a
holiday home in Kodaikanal.
Seshagiri Iyer presided over the public meeting on January 7, 1926
at Soundarya Mahal in which the Madras Music Academy
Seshagiri Iyer died in February 1926.
Seshagiri Iyer was not as good a lawyer as some of the most
prominent ones of the time. However, he was known for his public
spirit. He possessed a "cutting tongue and an easy sarcasm". He was
also regarded as a "frank" individual and was respected by both
moderates and extremists alike.
- Some Madras Leaders, Pg 68
- Some Madras Leaders, Pg 69
- Some Madras Leaders, Pg 70