Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kalki is the pen name of Krishnamurthy (September 9, 1899 - December 5, 1954), freedom fighter, novelist, short story writer, journalist, satirist, travel writer, script-writer, poet, critic and connoisseur of the arts.
Krishnamurthy was born on September 9, 1899 at Puttamangalam in the Thanjavur district in an orthodox, large Brahmin family with limited means. After primary education in the village, Krishnamurthy joined the National High School at Tiruchi, about 100 km away.
When Mahatma Gandhi launched his Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921, thousands of students gave up their studies to participate in the movement. Krishnamurthy was one among them. With the Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination just three m onths away, he left school and joined the Indian National Congress. Gandhi's speech at a public meeting in Tiruchi inspired him.
In 1922, he was awarded a one-year imprisonment for participating in the independence struggle. It was during this period that Krishnamurthy came into contact with two great persons, who were to play a major role all his life - veteran Congress leader C. Rajagopalachari and T. Sadasivam , who was to become a life-long friend and partner in journalistic ventures.
Krishnamurthy's first attempt at writing fiction also came during that period. In 1923 he joined as a sub-editor in Navasakthi, a Tamil periodical edited by Tamil scholar and freedom fighter V. Kalyanasundaram , known as "Thiru Vi. Ka". K rishnamurthy's first book was published in 1927.
Leaving Navasakthi in 1928, Krishnamurthy stayed with C. Rajagopalachari at the Gandhi Ashram in Tiruchengode in Salem district and helped him edit Vimochanam, a Tamil journal devoted to propagating prohibition. In 1931, he was again imprisoned for six months.
Next year Krishnamurthy joined Ananda Vikatan , a weekly edited and published by S.S. Vasan , as its de facto editor. The magazine soon became a household name in middle class families. Krishnamurthy's witty, incisive comments on polit ics, literature, music and other forms of art were looked forward to with unceasing interest by readers. He wrote under the pen names of "Kalki", "Ra. Ki", "Tamil Theni", "Karnatakam" and so on. Vikatan published many of his short stories and novels (as serials).
The name Kalki denotes the impending tenth Avatar of Lord Vishnu in the Hindu religion, who it is said, will bring to an end the Kali Yuga and reinstate Dharma or righteoueness among the worldly beings. He used the name because like the Avatar he wanted to bring about great changes, and also in honor of his mentor Kalyana Sundaram Mudaliar , taking the "Kal" from his name and the "Ki" from his own. He is often referred to as "Kalki Krishnamurthy" or simply "Kalki".
In 1941 he left Ananda Vikatan and rejoined the freedom struggle and courted arrest. On his release after three months he and Sadasivam started the weekly, Kalki. He was its editor until his death on December 5, 1954.
Krishnamurthy specialised in the semi-historic genre, where he blended ancient tales, legends and historic facts with fictional escapades to produce epics. The following are his most famous in this category:
- Ponniyin Selvan (The son of Ponni)
- Sivagamiyin Sabadham (The vow of Sivagami)
- Parthiban Kanavu (The dream of Parthiban)
He also wrote social novels, which dealt with social awakening, rights and the Indian independence movement. His most famous in this genre were.
- Alai Osai (The sound of the waves)
- Thyaga Bhoomi (The Land of sacrifice)
He was also a great patron of Carnatic music. He wrote his criticisms under the pseudonym Karnatakam. He also penned many songs and lyrics, most of which were adapted into Carnatic Music.
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