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Article # 94
Oration at Memorial Service

Author: R.W.Bro. R.Ratnaswami    Posted on: Saturday, April 17, 2004
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Brethren, our beloved W.Bro.Ganesa Iyer Subramaniam, affectionately called by one and all as G.S is no more physically with us. In obedience to the mandate of the Most High, whose goodness and power have no bounds and who of His unbounded and infinite goodness was pleased to summon G.S, he after laying down his tools had ascended the Celestial Lodge Above, entering without dread or apprehension, on his onward journey alone, to that distant land, from where, no traveler can return, leaving us behind, to moan his departure and creating a void, which is irremediable. The name G.S conveys so many things to so many people. A good, well behaved brilliant student, deeply pious and religious person, intellectual, social worker, an erudite and hardworking learned senior lawyer, Past Lions Governor, a devoted husband, a dutiful father, a genuine friend and a sincere Freemason are some of the attributes of that great name.

He left the mortal part for which he had no use, but the good he had done during his life time, the reputation he had built up, the services he had rendered to the poor, the needy and to the friends and brethren and the amount of prayers and pious acts completed by him will always be remembered, until time with us shall be no more and the same had earned him sufficient merit (punyam) that will  protect  numerous generations of his descendants.

 

W.Bro.G.S was born on 16-2-1933, as the third child of the illustrious Late Shri Ganesa Iyer, the then Leader of the Thanjavur Bar, an advocate of great legal learning and erudition, who had attained the perfection of persuasive advocacy and was an example of fairness and straightforwardness. He was a giant in legal profession held in very high estimation by one and all. Besides Law, he was also well learned in the sacred texts and most of the religious literature. It is a rare phenomenon, that all those qualities were deeply ingrained in all his sons. W.Bro. G.S besides imbibing all the learning and noble qualities of his father had emulated him so well that in due time, he himself became an acknowledged leader of the bar in Thanjavur,  a rare privilege acquired by very few.  

It  has to be mentioned at this stage, that W.Bro. G.S , so are his brothers the Late lamented R.W.Bro.G.Ramaswami and W.Bro. G.Rajagopalan are all the third generation lawyers, having become leaders of the bar and Senior Counsel. Their grand father Late Shri. G.R.Kalyanasundaram Iyer was practicing in Kumbakonam for a few years and later shifted to Thanjavur, wherein he became the leader of the Bar.

 

 

W.Bro. G.S  had his schooling in Veeraraghava High School and  Kalyanasundaram  High School in  Thanjavur  and he graduated with B.Com degree from St. Josephs’s College, Tiruchirappalli  and  later took his B.L degree from the Madras Law College in 1955. He was enrolled as an advocate and called to the Bar in 1956

 

 He set up practice in Thanjavur and worked in the Office of his father. His practice on the Civil side picked up in due course and he was also appearing in numerous Civil Cases, Land  Tenure and Estate and Inams Abolition. Cases.  He and  W.Bro.V.Rajappa, an authority in Estate and Inams Abolition had saved the lands of numerous brethren from being taken over by the Government, some of whom were later elevated to the High Court. W.Bro. G.S after attaining the status of the leader of the bar in Thanjavur, later shifted his practice in 1978 to the High Court in Chennai, as well as in the Supreme Court, wherein also, he built a lucrative practice. His clientele included many political leaders, many industrial undertakings and banks, but consisted largely of common men. He treated all of them on the Level and took as much care in preparing the case of a poor man as he would do to the case of a multi millionaire. In fact he gave out his best talents and legal acumen to the common man and tenaciously fought their causes till the end. His legal acumen was recognized by the High Court by nominating his as a Senior Counsel in 1985. He was always surrounded by junior lawyers, to whom he gave considerable encouragement and guidance. His legal learning was so vast and perfect, that within few seconds, he was able to quote the relevant case law almost on any branch of law. In fact, he was admired for his legal knowledge and acumen, that he was characterized as the walking encyclopedia in law. Apart from law, he had acquired immense knowledge on any matter that arose in the cases handled by him. Whether it was Medicine, Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology or Civil or Mechanical or Nautical Engineering or the Practices and Procedures of religious institutions or on any topic under the sun required for the cases handled by him, he acquired an expert’s knowledge within a short time. All that was possible by sincere and hard work and application and he was encouraging all the junior lawyers also to follow suit. His capacity for hard work and the hard work turned out by him was phenomenal. In fact, he was a  Karmayogi, who had dedicated himself to his profession and never shirked from his responsibility of discharging his duties, he owed to God, his neighbour, his clients, the State and to himself.

 

As an individual, he was well learned in all the Sacred Texts and never deviated from the prescriptions contained therein. The Sacred Volumes, he had mastered and  followed the teachings in them in his life. He was the most law abiding citizen and his allegiance to our country was exemplary. The practice of all the Masonic Virtues like Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, Universal Benevolence, Charity and Brotherhood made him an out standing Freemason and a rare jewel of the Fraternity, in which he was initiated on 9-8-1969 in Lodge Cauvery  (No.3848 E.C) and he was raised to the sublime degree of M.M in the same Lodge on 21-2-1970. He joined Sri Brahadeeswara Lodge (No.150) on 22-8-1970. He occupied  all the active offices one after another and was installed as the W.M of this Lodge in 1979. As there was enforcement  of  Prohibition Law, in Tamilnadu State, he arranged the Installation Meeting at Karaikkal, so that the brethren would not even innocently violate law. True to the Masonic teachings, which he followed and observed even in his day to day life, he was exemplary in conduct, courteous in manners, easy of address, but he was always steady and firm in principles and never violated any of the Masonic tenets. The most noteworthy about him was he always carved a niche in the hearts of brethren and fellows following the tenet that “to reign sovereign in the hearts and affections of people is far more gratifying to a generous and benevolent mind than to rule over their lives and fortunes”. That pre eminence was acquired and enjoyed him by the subjugation of all passions and prejudices. In fact, it is common knowledge that the name G.S indicated that he was one to whom the burdened heart could pour forth its sorrow, from whom  the distressed may seek relief and his heart was expanded by benevolence. His hand was always guided by justice and the straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our pursuit in the sacred Volumes.

 

The distinguishing characteristic of a Freemasons heart is Charity and the same was abundantly followed by him and he channelised his activities in this regard through Lionism of which he was elected as the Governor of  District 324-A, which post he filled with dignity and honour and earned the appreciation and respect of all the Lions in this and neighbouring Districts. He practiced, whatever he preached, which is rather rare nowadays. He arranged for his wife to donate her eyes and in spite of protests of some of the relatives, as soon as the doctor proclaimed her dead, he rang up the eye bank and completed the donation, thereby restoring vision to an unfortunate person, who had lost the eye sight. He had also donated his eyes, but due to some health complications, the eye bank did not accept the donation.

 

As regards his social activities, he was always present, wherever he was invited. He radiated happiness by his witty conversation. His presence exuded mirth and happiness and that again is a Masonic requirement of being happy and communicating happiness.

The Brotherly Love, he exhibited towards all the brethren was proverbial and the relief he extended to distressed brethren and fellows was appreciable. He had never hesitated to rush to the assistance and help of the brethren in distress and problems, which earned him reciprocal brotherly love. His was a virtuous and well regulated life, the like of which is difficult to lead.. I am reminded of the Elegy to Ben Johnson. The relevant portion, which applies to G.S is as follows.

                                                  “...Yet ‘tis your Virtue now I raise

                                                   

                                                     A virtue, like allay so gone

                                                     Throughout your form as, though that  move,

                                                     And draw and conquer all men’s love….”

                                               

          His numerous sterling  qualities  had endeared him to one and all. In fact all his good qualities are so interwoven that it is difficult now to serialize them according to precedence. I can not better depict them all, but to borrow from Shakespeare.

 

“His life was gentle and the elements

So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up

And say to all the world  ‘This was a man”

 

Death had no terrors for him than the stain of falsehood and dishonour. The amount of prayers and the study of the Sacred Volumes had conditioned his mind and had helped him to think that death was only a transition and as taught in Chapter 2 of  Bhagavad Gita.  He fully understood the following enunciated in the Sacred Volume.  

 

“ The embodied soul is eternal in existence indestructible and infinite and that the material body alone is factually perishable”  and  that

 

“Just as a man gives up old and worn out garments and accepts new apparel,

in the same way  the embodied soul gives up old and worn out bodies and

verily accepts  new bodies”.

 

“Him, the weapons cleave not; Him, the fire burns not; Him, the waters wet not; Him, the wind dries not”.

His studies of the Sacred Texts had illumined his mind on that most interesting of all human studies namely  “Knowledge of  yourself” and he had a perfect understanding of that portion of the charge, wherein we are told that “ even in this perishable frame, resides a vital and immortal principle..”

 

In fact, several times he had expressed  his wish to leave this world and consoling us that his soul would live and if the G.A.O.T.U grants him the boon of stopping further births, he could be beneath the shadow of His throne along with the saints and other blessed souls and none should sorrow over his death. That reminds us of the teaching in the Holy Book  

 “ Knowing Him ( the Self) to be unmanifest, inconceivable and unmodifiable, it is improper to mourn for Him”

The following  poem also impresses the same teaching.

                                             “ Do not stand at my grave and weep;

                                                I am not there, I do not sleep.

                                                I am a thousand winds that blow,

                                                I am the diamond glints on snow,

                                                I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

 

                                              When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

                                               I am the swift, uplifting rush

                                              Of quiet birds in circled flight.

                                               I am the soft stars that shine at night.

                                              Do not stand at my grave and cry:

                                              I am not there.  I did not die.”

 

 Brethren, W.Bro. G.S had thus completed his earthly existence fulfilling his obligations of Morality,  Piety and Duty. He has become a  “ Living Stone” in that great edifice, a spiritual building, a great Temple not built with human hands-eternal in Heaven and he will for ever live in our hearts.

 

Let us in unison pray to the Most High to grant him everlasting Peace and Bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author is the webmaster and he delivered this oration at the memorial service held to honour the memory of Late W.Bro.G.Subramaniam, a Senior Counsel and a prominent member of the Fraternity.


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