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Brief History

IMPACT OF SASTRIAR ON THE CHURCH AND THE COMMUNITY

I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” - I Corinthians 9:22

Dr. Chandran D.S. Devanesen has this to say about the Sastriar: “Vedanayagam was an artistic, temperamental poet and thoroughly human. But the depth of his devotion to his Bethalem Nathar, Christ, makes him great Baktha of the Lord. Vedanayagam is an inspiring example of the complete identification that we need as Christians example of the complete identifications that we need as Christians with our own people and culture… Vedanayagam helps us to communicate, to promote understanding, to gain appreciation for the creative flow of Christ and His message with Tamil literature and culture contributing to harmony and tolerance”. Sastriar’s evangelism through song and Kalakhepam was greatly appreciated by the Christians of the day. At various places which he visited both in South India and Ceylon he was welcomed and able to conduct edifying programmes in praise of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was honoured and greatly respected by the community.

In a testimonial given at Thanjavur the signatories awarded him a certificate which has this commendation: “He has besides well searched the Old and New Testaments and according to it has complied fifty two books containing the system of Christian doctrine sweetly and metrically. We therefore jointly and with exceeding gladness testify that he is a well learned person and better versed than all whom we have known who spread the gospel of salvation. We pray that the Lord may graciously be pleased to disseminate these divine songs everywhere and make them useful to us and our offspring and all other congregations”.

Such addresses were bestowed on him by the congregations at Madras, Trichy, Tranquebar and other places. Thus church members greatly appreciated the services rendered by the Sastriar and invited him to many places to hold his Kalakshepams. However, the leaders of the church did not always see eye to eye with the Sastriar, leading to broken relationship. Hence the association between the Sastriar and church leaders tended to be one of ups and downs. Sastriar tried his best to maintain a cordial relationship with them, but pastors like Rev. L.P. Haubroe and others disapproved of him and tried to wean the congregation away from his influence. However to this day, the present descendants of Sastriar including both Noah Sastriar – Thanjavur (Grandson of Shem Vedanayaga Sasriar) and Bagavathar Durairaj vedanayaga sastriar - Chennai are invited by Christian members on occasions of joy or bereavement, when they lead the services. Bhagavathar Sastriar has held Kalakshepams all over South India, some parts in North India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Amsterdam, England, Canada, U.S.A and the Middle East.

The Sastriar’s wonder at the divine action which resulted in his call and commission is expressed in the following verse in Jebamali.

How did the light down on the darkness of India
And Christian society be formed.
The Christians from Europe arrived
Rev. Schwartz gathered the Disciples of Christ in Thanjavur

The Siva baktan from Tirunelveli became the disciple of Jesus Christ.
And sang the Garland of Praise
The scripture filled with meaning was given to all races and nations.

(Jebamalai I: 26 verse II)

 
 
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