BIRTH AND RISE OF MAHAJANA
Pavalar T.A.Thuraiappahpillai, who was the founder of Mahajana started his career as a teacher and later became the Head master of Tellippalai American Mission school which is presently known Union College. His long teaching career along with the anxiety to educate the people of his village had made him to think of venturing into the field of education further. Although he was fairly happy and well liked by people, he had certain dissatisfaction with the missionary. Inspiration and challenge posed by the Seminary in those days coupled with the service to our community at large had stimulated the intellectual upsurge which had helped to create the Tamil Renaissance.
The founder, who was instrumental in those days in setting up Post Office, Railway Station, Cooperative Society and other institutes and establishments at Tellippalai, had resigned from the Headmastership of the American Mission School in early part of 1910 and had started teaching few pupils at his house on the same day itself. This small school was growing steadily day by day. He was well admired by the people as he had taken this as a great service to the people of the village. He later had shifted the school to the location where the present Mahajana is and had named the school as Mahajana High School Peoples School. The school was growing steadily during his nineteen year teaching career at the school and he passed away on 24th June 1929. During his teaching career he had written so many Tamil poems and these were later compiled on his birth centenary celebrations (1972) in the form of “SINTHANAICHOLAI” BY Mr.A.Sivanesaselvan one of Mahajana’s distinguished old boys. His untimely death had created a vacuum both at home and at the school. At this hour of crisis my grandfather’s brother in law Mr.S.Chinnappah took over the administration of the school as the Headmaster and carried on admirably well under those circumstances.
My father Mr.T.T.JEYARATNAM was only sixteen years of age and was a student at Mahajana English School when my grandfather passed away. He then joined Jaffna Hindu College and got through the London Matriculation in 1930. He then got through the London Intermediate in Arts Examination at Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai in the year 1932 and later started his teaching career at Mahajana English School as an English Teacher. The growth of the school was steady and had a student strength of 180 at that time. His teachers training in 1937 was followed by the success in London Bachelor of arts Examination and his happy marriage to my mother Raniratnam in 1942. While he was progressing well in his endeavour, the school was also growing steadily under the able Headmastership of Mr.S.CHINNAPPAH. His sudden death in the year 1945 had brought in the induction of my father as the principal of the school. He had changed the name of the school as Mahajana College in the same year. The present College crest – with an oil lamp and “KNOWTHYSELF” – was designed in 1946. As the growth of the school was so rapid it was elevated to Grade II college in the year 1947. Ambitious building programme was launched in 1948 at the back of the school keeping the T shaped block of Cadjan sheds in front. Mahajana was further elevated to Grade I College in 1949. A very big carnival was organised – the biggest carnival Jaffna had ever seen at the Jaffna Esplanade in 1954 to raise funds for the ambitious building programme. My grand mother who was both the towering strength to my grand father and instrumental in my father’s success at difficult times, had passed away suddenly at the eve of the carnival. Although this untimely death of my grandmother had shaken my father very much, he never allowed the emotion to get the better of him in any way. Everything went on well according to plan. The teachers, Parents, people of Tellippalai and above all my mother had given him enough courage and strength at the hour of crisis. The standard of education and the expansion of the school were on the move hand in hand at rapid pace. There were many teachers who were instrumental in the shaping up of the school in its early stages. Among them were Ratnasabapathy Master (his brother in law) and Thampu Master (Grand father of Mr.W.Thayalan the former President of Mahajana OSA,UK) who acted as his unofficial advisors in the development of the school. The former guided him at the school and at home while the latter guilded him at the school. Foundation was laid for the golden jubilee block to replace the T-shaped block in 1955 and it was later named as THURAIAPPAHPILLAI MEMORIAL block. A successful Malaysian and Singapore fund raising mission for the said building was achieved. Religious education forms the very foundation of all our work at Mahajana. A Hindu school is the counterpart of a Hindu home and the moral and spiritual development of our young ones is as much our responsibility as it is of the parents. To put this in practise and to guide the students properly to achieve their goal. Religious participation and daily prayer are very important. In this direction participation of our college in the annual festivals at Maviddapuram Kandasamy Temple and at Thiruketheeswaram were initiated in the year 1956. To Implant religious faith and enlighten the tender minds of young children with the righteous and religious sense of values, a temple to Lord Nadarajan in the College premises was consecrated in the year 1960.
Golden Jubilee celebrations was celebrated in 1960 with the opening of the golden jubilee block – THURAIAPPAHPILLAI memorial block – by the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Ceylon – Sir NICHOLAS ATTYGALLE. Mahajana was further elevated to Supra grade and it had become a vested school. The hard and strenuous work which was put during the past fifty years in developing the school had put the school on par with other top schools in the Jaffna Peninsula and had started to reap the fruits of those hard days. The school had started shining in all the fields. The students gaining entrance to the university for all the faculties – Medicine, Engineering, Science, Arts and Commerce was steadily on the increase. The Mahajana which was started to educate our people has started bringing out the hidden talents of the students. Mahajana’s fame had started slowly and steadily attracting students from all over Ceylon – Eastern Province, Upcountry and from certain parts of Colombo. The strength of Mahajana had struck a record level of over 2000 students.
Mahajana had progressed well in the field of sports as well. Mahajana received Governor-General’s trophy at the all-Ceylon Physical Training contest in 1963, and later the winner of Sir John Tarbat shield and Ceylon Schools football association trophy in 1970. They also secured Singer challenge shield in the following year. All these were achieved at the All Ceylon level. Mahajana secured Soccer championships for eight long years since 1967, and also shone well in cricket, Hockey, and Athletics. In Cricket they were the unbeaten champions in the North of Ceylon in 1965. Mahajana also produced high level Hockey teams and athletic teams and earned the distinction of producing two captains (Mr.S.Vamadevan & Mr.S.Mahendran) of the All Ceylon combined school team at different times and also an outstanding high jumper (Mr.V.Elanchenni) at the All Ceylon Track and field events (1967- 1971). We owe our gratitude to Mr.P.Ehamparam, Mr.T.Pathmanathan and Mr.A.Yogaratnam for their valuable contribution in the field of sports. Mahajana performed very well in the Dramatic and Elocution contests over a very long period. Mahajana also climbed great heights in Scouting –Highest number of Queen’s Scouts, Girl Guides, Dancing and Quiz competitions during this period. This was the golden time and I have heard my father saying over and over again that this particular decade was the golden era in the history of Mahajana. Inauguration of the Diamond Jubilee block was launched in 1968. Mahajana celebrated its diamond Jubilee in the year 1970. Mahajana had produced so many outstanding Doctors, Engineers, Civil servants, Accountants, Teachers, Graduates who are serving the people in Sri-Lanka and abroad. Mahajana takes an outstanding honour in producing some outstanding Principals for the rest of the schools in Sri-Lanka.
Mr.K.Krishnapillai who was an outstanding vice principal at Mahajana for a very long time and had a unique place in the development of the school was promoted as the principal to Nadeswara College KKS and then to Union College Tellippalai. Similarly Mahajana had produced very good Principals like Mr.M.Mahadevan, Mr.A.Ramasamy, Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy and Mr.I.Sathiosatham. Mahajana is so proud of it’s principals who have done immense service to the respective locality of schools to which they were promoted as principals. Soon after the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations by the end of 1970 my father retired from the service. My mother’s and family’s contribution was so high in the success of my fathers’ great achievement. His premature retirement had retarded the schools development. During this time the school did not make any progress further and this period was considered as the dull phase in the history of Mahajana. This was troubling my father a lot and to certain extent it was eating into his health as well. My father was trying hard to bring any one of Mahajana’s outstanding principals which the school had produced and it had started paying dividend as Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy was brought in the mid 1975 as the principal of Mahajana College. Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy who was a teacher at Mahajana for a very along time and also had the capability of managing the affairs at Mahajana had no problem in putting the school back on the track on which it was moving over the past seventy five years. He is a disciplinarian like my father and grandfather. His nature and the background on which he was teaching had helped him- of course with some initial problems- to manage the school so well and efficiently. My father was so relieved and I presume this happiness might have made his passing away on 29th October 1976 more smoothly and peacefully. His sudden passing away had shocked the entire Mahajanans.
Mahajana which was not making much progress during the five year dull period comparatively had started gathering momentum once again under the principalship of Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy. He was so interested in the progress of the school and re-launched the Diamond Jubilee block programme. This acquired a great deal of admiration from the parents and teachers of the school and he was able to finish the Diamond Jubilee in 1978 and named it as T T Jayaratnam Memorial block. This was a pledge made by Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy at my father’s funeral speech and he had achieved it and lot more to further the progress of the school. He retired from service after a few years.
Mahajana again went through some rough patches after Mr.P.Kanagasabapathy’s retirement. This was quickly rectified by timely intervention of the old Mahajanans of Jaffna and Colombo. The present principal Mr.S.Nagarajah is co-operating fairly well with the old Mahajanans in Sri-Lanka in managing the school during this particular war torn situation. It is quite commendable that the school is doing well in studies and many students have gained admission to the university under the present circumstances.
Mahajana has been functioning throughout as a family. The students, Old students together with the parents and members of the staff and minor staff functioned for the benefit of the school. Every Mahajanan has sincerity and gratitude towards the school. This brings all the Mahajanans together whatever positions they are in and however much far away they might be. Mahajana has its Old Student Association in Colombo, Canada, England, France and Jaffna. All these Associations function very efficiently in the interest and welfare of the school. Their method of effective functioning and the admirable quality to liaise with one another for the betterment of Mahajana is highly commendable. I take this proud moment to thank all the Mahajanans most sincerely on behalf of our family for their sincerity, gratitude and sense of duty towards the school. It is crystal clear that these proud and loyal Mahajanans whom my grandfather and father had produced will do more and more good work for the school to produce more and more distinguished and loyal Mahajanans in many more years to come. We sincerely hope and pray that Mahajana will rise further and further and hold high above everything, its tradition of service to its society and to the Tamil Nation as a whole.
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