Periannan & Chinnannan

Dr Savarirayan Yesudasan 1882-1969 
(Christian Missionary with Gandhi Ideals)

The Medical Missionary:

Dr Savarirayan Yesudasan was a product of 1904 batch of Madras Medical College. 1910 he completed FRCS from Edinburgh, Scotland and joined as Government Doctor in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1915, while Dr Savarirayan Yesudasan was working for the London Medical Mission Hospital, Earnest Forrester Paton, a final year medical student met him, who persuaded the latter to go to India. Later both were sent by the United Free Church to Poona (Pune) but soon found that they could not reconcile themselves to working with a mission. They disliked in particular what they saw as the mission's attitude to the leadership of Indians and left the UFC, spending some time back in the UK before returning to India in 1920.

Christu-kula Ashram:

After consultation with Indian leaders they established the Christu-kula Ashram (Family of Christ Ashram) at Tirupattur, North Arcot, South India, in 1921. Affiliated to the National Missionary Society, this was one of the first Protestant ashrams and it aimed to promote equality between Europeans (as there were preferential treatments to the British nationals & Europeans in Anglican churches) and Indians and to give an Indian presentation of Christian life and worship.

Social service of Periannan & Chinnanan:

Dr Savarirayan was called as Periyannan and Dr Paton was called Chinnanan. Both worked there for nearly fifty years. They dedicated their life to India and completely identified with its rural people adopting the Indian villager’s dress and way of living. In 1928 Dr Savarirayan went to Sabarmathi Ashram, to meet Gandhiji. In 1932 during the Civil Disobedience Campaign they were arrested and beaten by police in Madras who accused them of picketing. The case gained much attention in India and in Britain and questions were raised in Parliament. On 18th February 1934, Gandhiji came to Tiruppattur, stayed with Dr Savarirayan.

Dr Savarirayan and Dr Paton lived a simple life and gave all their money to the building up of the Ashram and schools. Dr. Yesudasan offered medical service free to the towns and villages around Tiruppatur in a hospital established in the Ashram. In 1950s, this was one of the rural hospitals with X-Ray and Ultra Violet Ray equipment, a first-rate operating theatre and a host of ophthalmic specialties.

As a medical professional, Dr. Savarirayan Yesudasan wrote a book on surgery which was published in the 1940s. He also wrote a book for village use titled Grama Sugadhara Nool, in which he discussed and described various contagious diseases and their spread, simple treatments for common illnesses, and the importance of sanitary practices. As a Tamil scholar, Dr. Yesudasan also wrote about 80 Tamil Keerthanais (Lyrics), biographies of several saintly Tamil Christians and a history of Tamil Nadu -Thamizhnattucharithram.

Family Background:

He is the Grandson of Savarirayan Pillai, of Palayamkottai. Thatha Savariraya Pillai wrote daily notes in Palm leaves conveying 19 century Tamil Social, cultural, financial, caste problems of erstwhile Tamilnadu, which were later published in 3 volumes, each having 1000 pages.