Sundara Ramaswamy

Birthday: 30-05-1931
Date of death: 15-10-2005
Star sign: Gemini

Sundara Ramaswamy is an Indian novelist, author, translator and poet. He was born on 30th May 1931 in the Thazhuviya Mahadevar Kovil village in Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu and died on 15th October 2005 of lung fibrosis in the US. He was known in the literary community as Su.Ra and wrote poems under the penname Pasuvayya.

Sundara grew up in Kerala for the most part of his life due to which he only knew Malayalam even though his mother tongue was Tamil. In his childhood, he suffered from rheumatism and had to drop out of school. When he was eighteen years old, he learned Tamil on his own. He has two daughters and a son. Sundara began his writing career at the age of 20, by translating the Malayalam novel Thottiyude Makan written by Thakazhi Sivavsankara Pillai into Tamil. He later also translated Thakazhi’s Chemmeen and short stories written by Basheer, Thakazhi, M. Govindan and Karoor Neelakanta Pillai.

In 1951, Sundara wrote his first short story Mudhalam Mudivum which was published in the Tamil magazine Pudumaipithan Ninaivu Malar. The next year, he wrote the short story Thanneer. Sundara was drawn to the Communist ideology in his youth and steeped into Marxist literature. He wrote the Tamil journals Shanthi and Saraswathi whose editors were his friends and held similar view. He was disillusioned from the Communist movement when he read Kruschev’s 20th CPSU Congress address and by the suppression of the Hungarian writers’ revolution. However, he still believed that some aspects of Communism were still applicable to India.

In 1959, Sundara wrote his first poem Un Kai Nagam as Pasuvayya. Sundara published his Tamil novels Oru Puliyamarathin Kathai in 1966, J.J: Silakurrippukal in 1981 and Kuzhanthaigal, Pengal, Angal in 1995. He published a collection of his poems under the title Nadunisi Naigal in 1975 and a second poetry collection called Yaaro Oruvanukkaga in 1987. All his poems were published in the collection Sundara Ramaswamy Kavithaikal. Oru Puliyamarathin Kathai was interpreted in English as Tale Of The Tamarind Tree, in Hindi as Imli Puran, in Malayalam as Oru Puliyamarathinte Katha and in Hebrew Ronit Ricci. Kuzhanthingal, Pengal, Angal was interpreted in English as Children, Women, Men.

Sundara was the editor and publisher of the literary magazine Kalachuvadu. He also wrote stories for the Palanquin Bearers. Sundara won awards like the Kumaran Asan Memorial Award in 1988, the Iyal Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Tamil Literary Garden in 2001 and the Katha Chudamani Award in 2003.


S Ramakrishnan
Sri Ramanananda Maharshi