Monday, December 28, 2009

Kanchi Mahaperiyava's exposition of "Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste"

In June 1961, Paramacharya was camping at Devakottai (in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu). He was in deep penance for several weeks, not talking or even communicating by gesture. One could not know if he even heard the devotees' words. One morning, some people from nearby Ariyakkudi (‘Nagarathar’) had their darshan of Him, and in the course of their talks, it came out that Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the famous carnatic musician, and known simply as ‘Ariyakkudi’, was currently in Karaikkudi. To the surprise of every one, Paramacharya signaled to them, asking if they can bring Ariyakkudi over to meet Him. They agreed and left. That afternoon by three o'clock, Ariyakkudi was at the camp. He was so excited and tense, as Paramacharya had asked to meet him in the midst of his 'kashta mounam' (vow of rigorous silence).
Is not Paramacharya known for His simplicity? So His accommodation at the camp was very simple. His room was on the garden side of a small house. Devotees had to have His darshan through a small window, after passing through dirt and bushes. May be that was His way of admonishing those of us who have grown used to the luxuries of life. On being informed that Ariyakkudi had arrived, Paramacharya signaled to bring him to the rear window. He came, and paid obeisance by falling full stretch at His feet. That was it. To every one's joy, Paramacharya opened His mouth and started talking in a torrent.

"Heard of your receiving the Rashtrapathi award. You would have walked on a red carpet, and been honored in a gathering of eminent persons. But me, I have made you walk on stones and bush and made you sit in a dinghy room. "Why I called you is, I long have had a desire to listen to 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe' rendered perfectly. On hearing you are around, the desire has re-surfaced. Perfect rendition means both the music and the lyrics (sangeetham and sahityam). Many people disfigure the words of Sanskrit and Telugu kirtanas to the extent that we wish they never sang. "The music part (swaras), the rhythm part and the 'sahitya chandas' – what is called 'chandam' in Tamil - would be given for most songs.

The proper way to split and combine words would also be given. The musician has to take care to synchronize the music, rhythm and chandas and split and combine the words correctly so as not to spoil the meaning. The compositions of good composers definitely allow this (padham pirichu padaradhu) but many musicians simply concentrate on the music and rhythm, and ignore the meaning, sometimes leading to ridiculous meanings!

"Even in this song 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe', we have a line 'guruguhayagnana dwanta savithre'. This must be split as 'guruguhaaya agnana dwanta savithre' i.e. 'the one who is the sun for the darkness of ignorance'. Some sing it as 'guruguhaya..... gnana dwanta savitre', ' one who is the sun for the darkness of knowledge'!

"I do not know if you sing the kriti 'Sankaracharyam' (Sri Subbarama Sastri's Sankarabharanam kriti), but Veena Dhanamma's family, Semmangudi Seenu, MS sing this. There is a line 'paramadvaita sthapana leelam' – means 'one who so easily, like a game, founded the great advaita philosophy' - it is to be sung with stress on the 'A' of 'Advaita' (Paramacharya sings
this line) to give the intended meaning. If we really cared, we can, even without proper training, sing with proper meaning. Those I mentioned above also sing properly. But those who do not care, stretch the 'parama' and then sing 'dwaita sthapana leelam', converting the Advaita Acharya to Dwaita Acharya! (laughs heartily for a long time)

"No doubt, in music, there is no Dvaita - Advaita difference. Only music is important. And music makes the mind of the singer into unison with the song - the protagonist of the song. That is why, 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe' is attached to you - a Vaishnavite - or you are attached to it! I have heard you sing that song. I do not have to say anything about your musical ability; and the sahitya part too you do correctly. Which is why I have called you here. "In my dharbar there is only stones and bushes. There is no accompaniment, not even sruti. But please do sing that kriti for me, in spite of all these.” When Paramacharya stopped his torrent, Ariyakkudi was in tears. He prostrated once again, and said "there is no other prestige for me than to be asked by 'periyava' to sing, and singing for periyava. I have no words to express the magnanimity of Periyava, considering me as somebody and giving me this chance. Periyava’s grace has to fill in for the sruti and accompaniment and enable me to sing to the level I am expected to” and readied himself to begin the song.

Paramacharya asked "the raga of this kriti is said to be Kambodhi, but the name given in books is Kambhoji, right?" When Ariyakkudi said yes, Paramacharya continued, "Many of us know Kambhojam is Cambodia (in S E Asia), and that Bharat culture had taken deep roots there. If we inferred that Kambhoji is a raga 'imported' from that place, researchers like Sambamurthy (the late Prof P Sambamurthy) disagree. Cambodians might have imported many things from us, but not we, far advanced in civilization, from them; definitely not in music, where we were much advanced whereas they had mostly folk music.

Then why the name 'Kambhoji'? "I have a thought here - there is another place called 'Kambhojam along India's northern border. Kalidasa, no ordinary poet and quite knowledgeable too, tells Yasha to go this way and that in his 'megha sandesam' – good enough to plot a map! In his Raghuvamsam, describing Raghu's invasions and victories, he has mentioned one 'Kambhojam', beyond the Indus and along the Himalayas. From this, we deduce that, within the extended India (akand Bharat), there was one Kambhojam near the Hindukush mountains. May be our Kambodhi raga was from this place? "Many ragas are named after places, right? Sourashtram, Navarasa kannada, even Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, Yamuna Kalyani, like this Kambodhi might have come from Kambhojam region.

"Researchers say ragas like Mohanam and Kambhoji have been around in most civilizations from time immemorial. Later, may be the raga was given the name of the place that 'polished' it well.
“Kedaram is a place in the Himalayas - you know Kedarnath. Gowla – Gowda region - Bengal. We have ragas in both names, and even Kedaragowla. But all three ragas have been in South Indian music - how? May be the names came from musicans who 'specialized' in these ragas and came from those regions?

People in general, musicians in particular, are referred to with their native places. For instance Ariyakkudi means you! From this, can we say that some of these rags - Kedaram, Gowla, Kannada, Kambhoji etc. - were popularized by musicians from these regions? "Are you interested in research into ancient music?" Ariyakkudi replied "Not much". "But you have set Tiruppavai to tune! But unlike for Devaram songs, tunes have not been specified for Tiruppavai songs, and those whose who recited, did not use a tune. Since only Brahmins have been reciting Divyaprabhandham songs, they have recited only with a kind of up-down delivery (Ethal-Irakkal prasam).

“You set the tune for Tiruppavai according to your manodharma (imagination)?"

"To the best of my little ability" replied ariyakudi.

"But it has become the standard and accepted and sung by other vidwans as well! It seems our ancient ragas have been preserved in their original form (roopam) only in the Devaram songs. Just as the Vedas have been preserved to a note by the Vaidikas through generations, the Odhuvamurthis have preserved Devaram songs - not just the lyrics, but the tunes too. What was a service to devotion, has also been a service to music! The ragas Sankarabharanam, Neelambari, Bhairavi etc. have all been identified as different 'pann's. This list includes Sowrashtra, Kedaragowla, Kambodhi also. Kambodhi used to be called 'ThakkEsi' or something like that. Kambodhi is not a mela raga?" "No. Harikambhoji is the mela raga; Kambhoji is its janya raga" "But Kambodhi is more famous! Just like the son being more famous than the father. Some other janya ragas too are like this?" "Yes, Bhairavi is a janya raga, derived from Natabhairavi"

"OK, you sing. I have been wasting time in useless chat preventing you from doing what you came for!"

Ariyakkudi rendered the song "ShrI subrahmanyAya namasthE" - a rare musical feast. Even without sruti or accompaniments, it still was wholesome. Paramacharya listened to the song with full concentration, eyes closed. Then, "Only because you sang alone (no sruti/accompanists) the song came out with all its beauty. And the words were crystal clear. I say 'thrupthOsmi' (Totally satisfied). Please sing once more - you know why? I will give you the meaning line by line, you stop after every line. Not that you do not know; but let me have the pleasure of dissolving my mind in Sri Dikshitar's lyrical beauty for some more time! More over, others here can also learn the meaning and beauty behind the creations of geniuses."

Ariyakkudi sang one more, this time line-by-line and our Paramacharya gave detailed commentry on the Dikshitar Kriti “Sri Subhramanyaya Namaste”.

Paramacharya further tells Ariyakkudi and the gathering at large, "I'm happy to see that you, coming from a good guru-sishya parampara, are preserving good music. You must also bring up good disciples and keep the tradition going. A Brahmin, having learnt Veda, has a compulsory duty to teach atleast one more person (athyApanam). This can apply to other sastras and arts
too. "One more point about musicians. You should sing the Telugu and Sanskrit kirtanas fully aware of their meaning. It is not fair to say that Tamil songs alone are enough. Great composers in this country have created hundreds of Telugu and Sanskrit songs of much musical and lyrical beauty. If we ignore them, the loss is ours. Do not defend by saying, 'I do not understand them!' - if only we desire, do we not spend time and energy on all sorts of useless things? If musicians dedicate themselves to pure music and proper rendition of words without losing the 'osandha artha visEsham', language can not be a barrier. Now that you are #1 in the music world, do your best towards this. May Subrahmanya's Grace be with you in this endeavor."

NB : Acharya’s commentary for the Kriti is available with me. Those who are interested please let me know.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Temple Visit – Kundrathur

I recently visited two temples at Kundrathur which is about 28 kms from Chennai located in the middle of Pallavaram, Poonamalee and Porur. The Nageswarar temple is the one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other one is the famous temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga. The Murugan temple is on the hillock with all serenity and you will get fresh Oxygen here without the city pollutions and can recharge your soul. You will be surprised to know that this town is also the birth place of Saint Poet Sekkizhar who is the author of the famous “Periya Puranam” which is considered as an important epic in Tamil literature. The poem narrates the life of the 63 Nayanmars or Saivite devotees of Lord Shiva. If there has to be a temple shot in films, filmmakers head to Kundrathur for its multi step entrance and its mountainous view. Films like Vijay’s 'Nenjinilae', Simbu’s 'Kadhal Azhivathilai', the latest 'Azhagar Malai' and TV serial 'Kolangal' and 'Velan' have been shot here. Finds interesting?!! please read on to know more about the temples of Kundrathur.

Nageswarar Temple

The Nageswarar temple is more than 800 years old. The Lord is known as Nageswarar since he is being worshipped by Adi Sesha the foremost and king of all snakes and his consort is known as Kamakshi. This temple is believed to be built by Sekkizhar. This is considered the Raagu sthalam of the Navagraha Temples around Chennai. The temple and its tank are clean and well maintained. This place is also called as “Vada Thirunageswaram” i.e. temple similar to the Tirunageswarm temple near Kumbakonam.

The Thondai Nadu was divided into 24 sections and it was in the division known as “Puliyur Kottam” - Kundrathur - that Sekkizhar Swamikal was born. He was known as Arul Mozhith Thevar. Kulothunga II was ruling the Chola dynasty at that time. He had heard the adage “Thondai vala nadu sandror udaithu”. The plentiful land of Thondai Nadu abounds with scholars. He wanted to test the validity of this statement and also to identify the best of scholars living there. He therefore sent a Palmyra leaf to the land, containing three questions, for the scholars to answer.

The three questions were:

Which is loftier than the hills?
Which is vast than the ocean?
Which is greater than the world?

These questions did their rounds among the scholars and they found it difficult to answer. Finally when it came to Sekkizhar, he answered all the three of them, from the great work, Tirukkural.

The Kural that answered the first question, is “More lofty than a mountain will be the greatness of that man, who without swerving form his proper state, controls himself.” (Kural 124).Sekkizhar quoted the answer from Tirukkural for the second one also “If we weigh the excellence of a benefit which is conferred without weighing the return, it is larger than the sea.” (Kural 103) For the third question, ‘Which is greater than the world,’ he gave the answer, “A favour conferred in the time of need, though it be small is much larger than the world.” (Kural 102)

The questions could not have been answered more appropriately. This incident is mentioned by Kamban, the poet of poets, in his ‘Erezhubadhu.’ “Mannil, Kadalil, Malayil peridhena enni ezhudhik koduththa etrrakai” he says. The hand that wrote the thoughtful answers of which is greater than the world, the hills and the ocean. Kulothunga II realised the greatness of Sekkizhar and honoured him with the title ‘Uthama Chola Pallavan.’ Sekkizhar became the minister of the King. He worshipped Lord Shiva in Then Thiru Nageswaram, near Kumbakonam. The temple tank is known as Surya Pushkarani since it has the distinction of Sun having his holy dip in it. The Champaka tree became the sthala vrksha, since Parvathi did her penance under the tree for uniting with her Lord in the ‘Ardhanareeswara’ form. Sekkizhar installed a Lingam in Kundrathur and consecrated a temple there, in all respects similar to the one in Then Thiru Nageswaram - with a temple tank called Surya Pushkarani and the Champaka tree as the sthala vrksha. Therefore, the temple, which in all respects is a replica of the original temple, is called Vada Nageswaram. The direct rays of Sun fall on the presiding deity in the month of Masi, on 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.


The wedding festival of the Lord and Devi is celebrated on the full moon day of the month Chithrai followed by Brahmotsavam for 10 days. In the following month, Vaikasi, birthday of Sekkizhar is celebrated on the star Pusam. The temple underwent many changes and additions during the coming years. The 24-stone mantapa, the massive wall around the prakara were later additions. In the year 1944, the Raja gopuram and also the gopuram on the sanctum sanctorum were constructed. The Rajagopuram, Vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum of Lord and Devi, dwaja stambam, the temple kitchen, the compound wall, etc., were renovated in 1972. There are 46 stone inscriptions in the temple. Significant among them are the ones of Kulothunga Chola III (1178-1218 AD), Rajendra Chola III (1246-1271 AD), Sundara Pandiyan (1251-1271 AD) Maravarman Kulasekara Pandiyan I (1268-1311 AD), Harihara Rayar I (1509-1592 AD) Sriranga Devarayar (1582-1592 AD) etc., covering a period of more than 500 years.

Kundrathur Murugan Temple

Kundrathur as the name implies this is a small village surrounded by hills. The Murugan temple is situated at the top of a small hill and 75+ steps leads to the temple. On climbing the steps “Valansuzhi Vinayagar” sannidhi stands first and having a dharshan of vinayagar in just a few steps one can enter the murugar shrine. Another Vinayagar Sannidhi can be seen here under a villva tree. This is a small hill temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga with His two consorts built by King Klothunga Chola - II. Legend has it that Lord Muruga stayed in the hill on an auspicious day during His travel from Thirupporur to Thiruthani.

This place is also known as South Thanigai since Lord Subramaniar is sitting in the direction of north facing Thanigai and this is the only Murugan temple in Tamilnadu where the God is facing north. In the moolasthanam subramanyar stays with his consorts valli and devayani. The other specialty being that Lord Subramaniar can be seen with only one Goddess at a time though He is present with both of His consorts. The Saint Poet ‘Arunagirinathar” has visited this temple and has sung “Thiripugazh” on the Kunrathur murugan. The temple celebrate karthigai deepam in a grand manner and deepam will be lit on the hill temple. Kartikai asterism each month is considered sacred here. Skanda sashti in the month of Aippasi and “Padi Utsavam” in the month of Vaikasi are the main festivals celebrated here. In the inner praharam Shivan, Amman, and Vinayagar can be seen. In the outer praharam bhairavar, navagrahas, nagalingam under a peepal tree,dhaksinamurthy and durgai have separate sannidhis.

In addition to the above two temples there is a temple for Vishnu known as “Thiru Ooraga perumal” and a temple dedicated to the Saint “Sekkizhar”.

You will definitely like to visit next once more after having darshan at Kundrathur.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

108 Divine Names of Hanuman

Yesterday was “Hanumath Jayanthi” i.e. In Tamilnadu Maruti is believed to have born on Margazhi, Amavaysa in the “Moola” star. Brahmasri Sengalipuram Anantharama Deekshitar in his book “Jaya Mangala Stotram" has given a guideline as to how to perform the Pooja. The pooja period is for 45 days. If a person carries out this Hanumat Pooja with sincerity all his wishes will be fulfilled. This declaration is given by Sri Deekshitar. The famous artist “Vinu” had portrayed “Jaya Hanuman” (See picture below) and the same got the blessings of Kanchi Mahaperiyava Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi. So many people have benefitted after doing this pooja. I have also referred to many earlier who have given their sincere feedback that they have attained immense benefit by doing this pooja. I have heard Sri Deekshitar and other stalwarts telling that simply by reading the “Sundara Kandam” of Ramayana any hindrances in their mission/objective will be removed and will attain their wish. Also Samarta Ramadass established lots of temples for Hanuman to bring unity among people and to ward-off any ill effects. The picture is available in Giri Trading or in any leading Pooja Stores. (if u need any help do let me know). In the Hanumat pooja one has to chant 108 divine names of “Hanuman”.

The divine names with meaning is given below :

Name = Meaning (Please add 'OM' in the beginning and "Namaha" at the end)

Anjaneyaya = Son of Anjana
Mahaveeraya = Most Valiant
Hanumate = Puffy Cheeks
Marutatmajaya = Most beloved like gems
Tatva-gnana-pradaya = Granter of wisdom
Sitadevi-mudra-pradayakaya = Deliverer of the ring to Sita
Asoka-vanika-chetre = Destroyer of Ashoka Grove
Sarva-maya-vibanjanaya = Destroyer of all illusions
Sarva-bhanda-vimoktare = Liberates from all bondings
Raksho-vidhwansa-karakaya = Slayer of demons
Para-vidya-pariharaya = Destroyer of enemie's wisdom
Para-shaurya-vinashanaya = Destroyer of enemie's valour
Para-mantra-nirakartre = Acceptor of Rama's mantra only
Para-yantra-prabhedakaya = Destroyer of enemie's missions
Sarva-graha-nivashine = Killer of evil effects of planets
Bheema-sena-sahayakrute = Helper of Bheema
Sarva-dhuka-haraya = Reliever of all agonies
Sarva-loka-charine = Wanderer
Manojavaya = Speed like wind
Parijatha-taru-moolasthaya = Resides under the parijata tree
Sarva-mantra-swaroopavate = Possessor of all hymns
Sarva-tantra-swaroopine = Shape of all hymns
Sarva-yantratmakaya = Dweller in all yantras
Kapeeshwaraya = Lord of the monkeys
Mahakayaya = Gigantic
Sarva-roga-haraya= Reliever of all ailments
Prabhave = Popular Lord
Batna-siddhikaraya = Granter of strength
Sarva-vidya-sampat-pradayakaya = Granter of knowledge and wisdom
Kapi-sena-nayakaya = Chief of the monkey army
Bhavishya-chaturananaya = Aware of future happenings
Kumara-brahmacharine = Youthful bachelor
Ratna-kundala-deeptimate = Wearing gem studded ear-rings
Chanchaladwala, sanabdwa-lambamana shikhojwalaya = Glittering and long tail suspended above the head
Ghandarva-vidya-tatvagnana = Exponent in the art of celestials
Mahabala-parakramaya = Of great strength
Kara-griha-vimoktre = One who frees from imprisonment
Shrinkhala-bandha-mochakaya = Reliever from a chain of distresses
Sagarotharakaya = Leapt across the ocean
Pragnaya = Scholar
Rama-dhootaya = Ambassador of rama
Pratapavate = Known for valour
Vanaraya = Monkey god
Kesari-sutaya = Son of kesari
Sita-shoka-nivaranaya = Destroyer of sita's sorrow
Anjana-garbha-sambhootaya = Born of anjana
Balarka-sadrisha-nanaya = Like the rising sun
Vibheeshana-priyakaraya = Beloved of vibheeshana
Dashagreeva-kulantakaya = Slayer of the ten headed ravana's race
Lakshmana pranadatre = Reviver of lakshmana's life
Vajrakaya = Sturdy like metal
Mahadhyutay = Most radiant
Chiranjeevine = Eternal being
Rama-bhaktaya = Devoted to rama
Daityakarya-vidhyatakaya = Destroyer of all demonic activities
Akshahantri = Slayer of Aksha
Kalanabhaya = Controller of time
Kanchanabhaya = Golden hued body
Pancha-vaktraya = Five faced
Maha-tapase = Great meditator
Lankinee-bhanjanaya = Slayer of lankini
Shrimate = Revered
Simhikaprana-bhanjanaya = Slayer of simhika
Gandhamadhana-shailasthaya = Dweller of gandhamadhana mount
Lankapura-vidahakaya = He who burnt lanka
Sugreeva-sachivaya = Minister of Sugreeva
Dheeraya = Valiant
Shooraya = Bold
Daithya-kulantakaya = Destroyer of demons
Sura-architaya = Worshipped by Celestials
Mahatejase = Most radiant
Rama-choodamani-pradaya = Deliverer of Rama's Ring
Kamaroopine = Changing form at will
Pingalakshaya = Pink-eyed
Vardhi-mainaka-poojitaya = Worshipped by mainaka hill
Kabalikrita-martanda-mandalaya = Swallower of the Sun
Vijite-indriyaya = Controller of the senses
Rama-Sugreeva-sandhatre = Mediator between Rama and Sugreeva
Maha-ravana-mardhanaya = Slayer of the Ravana
Sphatikabhaya = Crystal Clear
Vagadheekshaya = Lord of Spokes-people
Nava-vyakriti-panditaya = Skilful Scholar
Chatur-bahave = Four armed
Deenabandhave = Protector of the downtrodden
Mahatmane = Supreme Being
Bhaktavatsalaya = Protector of devotees
Sanjeevana-nagahatre = Bearer of Sanjeevani mount
Shuchaye = Chaste
Vagmine = Spokesman
Dhrudda-vrataya = Strong willed mediator
Kalanemi-pramathanaya = Slayer of Kalanemi
Hari-markata-markataya = Lord of monkeys
Dantaya = Calm
Shantaya = Very composed
Prasanna-atmane = Cheerful
Shata-kantta-mada-pahate = Destroyer of Shatakantta's arrogance
Yogine = Saint
Ramakatha-lolaya = Loves listening to Rama's story
Sitan-veshana-panditaya = Skilful in finding Sita's whereabouts
Vajra-nakhaya = Strong nailed
Rudraveerya-samudbhavaya = Born of Shiva
Indrajit-prahitamogha-brahmastra-vinivarakaya = Destroyer of the effect of Indrajit's Brahmastra
Partha-dhwajagra-samvasine = Having foremost place on Arjuna's Flag
Shara-panjara-bhedakaya = Destroyer of the nest made of arrows
Dasha-bahave = Ten armed
Loka-poojyaya = Worshipped by the universe
Jambavatpreeti Vardhanaya = Winning Jambavan's love
Sita-sameta Ramapada-seva Dhurandharaya = Always engrossed in Rama's service

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Magic of Dabbawala

I recently attended a programme titled “The magic of the dabbawala” (thanks to my friend Deepak Menon) organized by National HRD Network (Chennai Chapter) at Hotel Savera, on 27th November 2009. The lecture was given by Mr. Manish Tripathi who is the Chairman of the Dabbawala Foundation. When he entered the meeting hall with his ‘dabba’ and said “Good Evening Chennai” he sets the tone for the programme which was full of wits and humour. Though the English came with chaste Marathi dialect we can enjoy the programme as he kept on pulling the legs of the MBA graduates when he compared the dabawala with that of an ordinary organization. The BBC has produced a documentary on dabbawalas, and Prince Charles, during his visit to India, visited them and even invited them for his marriage. Owing to the tremendous publicity, some of the dabbawalas were invited to give guest lectures in top business schools of India, which is very unusual. Most remarkably in the eyes of many Westerners, the success of the dabbawala trade has involved no advanced technology. Quiet amazing isn’t it? Want to know how the dabbawala system works please read on…

The Statistics of dabbawalas

· History : Started in 1880
· Average Literacy Rate of employees : 8th Grade Schooling
· Average Area Coverage : 60 Km per Tiffin Box
· Employee Strength : 5000
· No. of Dabbas / Tiffins Boxes : 2,00,000 Tiffin Boxes per day
· No. of transactions : 10 Million Transactions per month
· Time taken for delivery : 3 hours
· Cost of Service : Rs. 250/- to Rs. 350/- per month

The History

This service was originated in 1880. The origin of the Dabbawalas lunch delivery service dates back to the 1890s during the British raj. At that time, people from various communities migrated to Mumbai for work. As there were no canteens or fast food centers then, if working people did not bring their lunch from home, they had to go hungry and invariably, lunch would not be ready when they left home for work. Besides, different communities had different tastes and preferences which could only be satisfied by a home-cooked meal.

Recognizing the need, in 1890, Mahadeo Havaji Bachche, started a lunch delivery service with about 100 men. For his enterprise, Mahadeo recruited youth from the villages neighboring Mumbai, who were involved in agricultural work. They were willing to come as the income they got from agriculture was not enough to support their large families, and they had no education or skills to get work in the city. In 1930, he informally attempted to unionize the dabbawallas. Later a charitable trust was registered in 1956 under the name of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. The commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's Association. The present President of the association is Sopan Laxman Mare. Nowadays, the service often includes cooking of foods in addition to the delivery.

Their mission is to serve their customers -- who are mainly office goers -- by delivering their lunch boxes at their doorstep on time. They have 5,000 people on their payroll to ensure the prompt delivery of lunchboxes within Mumbai; these 'dabbawalas' travel by local trains and use bicycles or walk to reach every nook and corner of Mumbai. The lunch boxes are delivered exactly at 12.30 pm. Later, the empty boxes are collected and taken back to the homes, catering services or hotels before 5 pm. In fact, the next time you forget to strap on your watch before leaving for office, don't be surprised to find it in the lunchbox container brought by the dabbawala from your home! On an average, every tiffin box changes hands four times and travels 60-70 kilometres in its journey to reach its eventual destination. Each box is differentiated and sorted along the route on the basis of markings on the lid, which give an indication of the source as well as the destination address.

Although the service remains essentially low-tech, with the barefoot delivery men as the prime movers, the dabbawalas have started to embrace technology, and now allow booking for delivery through SMS. An on-line poll on the web site ensures that customer feedback is given pride of place. The success of the system depends on teamwork and time management. Such is the dedication and commitment of the barely literate and barefoot delivery men (there are only a few delivery women) who form links in the extensive delivery chain, that there is no system of documentation at all.

A simple colour coding system doubles as an ID system for the destination and recipient. There are no multiple elaborate layers of management either — just three layers. Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the form of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the tiffins, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi cap (topi). The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit.

The service is uninterrupted even on the days of severe weather such as Mumbai's characteristic monsoons. The local dabbawalas at the receiving and the sending ends are known to the customers personally, so that there is no question of lack of trust. Also, they are well accustomed to the local areas they cater to, which allows them to access any destination with ease. Occasionally, people communicate between home and work by putting messages inside the boxes. However, this was more common before the accessibility of instant telecommunications.
The brand ambassador of “Dabbawalas” none other than Prince Charles!

Six Sigma Rating

The efficiency of the process has earned the dabbawalas a six-sigma rating from Forbes magazine. The Six Sigma quality certification was established by the International Quality Federation in 1986, to judge the quality standards of an organisation. According to an article published in Forbes magazine in 1998, “one mistake for every eight million” deliveries constitute Six Sigma quality standards. The Six-sigma rating means that they have a 99.99 % efficiency in delivering the lunch-boxes to the right people. That put them on the list of Six Sigma rated companies, along with multinationals like Motorola and GE. Achieving this rating was no mean feat, considering that the Dabbawalas did not use any technology or paperwork, and that most of them were illiterate or semiliterate. Apart from Forbes, the Dabbawalas have aroused the interest of many other international organizations, media and academia.

The logistics of how the dabba is delivered

A collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas from homes or from the dabba makers. The dabbas have some sort of distinguishing mark on them, such as a color or symbol. The dabbawala then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort (and sometimes bundle) the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box (usually there is a designated car for the boxes). The markings include the rail station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered. At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

i) The first dabbawala picks up the tiffin from home and takes it to the nearest railway station.
ii) The second dabbawalla sorts out the dabbas at the railway station according to destination and puts them in the luggage carriage.
iii) The third one travels with the dabbas to the railway stations nearest to the destinations.
iv) The fourth one picks up dabbas from the railway station and drops them of at the offices. The process is reversed in the evenings.

Decoding the dabba

The dabbawalas adopt a colour coding system to ensure the dabbas are picked and delivered at the correct destinations. The reverse of dabba is normally painted with codes. See the following picture to know how the coding system is followed.

Dabbawala Disciplines
"Error is horror," is the operational motto. In the event of a dabbawala meeting with an accident en-route, alternative arrangements are made to deliver the lunch boxes. For example, in a group of 30 dabbawalas catering to an area, five people act as redundant members; it is these members who take on the responsibility of delivering the dabbas in case of any untoward happenings.

The dabbawalas must be extremely disciplined. Consuming alcohol while on duty attracts a fine of Rs 1,000. Unwarranted absenteeism is not tolerated and is treated with a similar fine.

Every dabbawalla gets a weekly off, usually on Sunday.

The “Gandhi cap” serves as a potent symbol of identification in the crowded railway stations. Not wearing the cap attracts a fine of Rs 25. In fact, Richard Branson, the maverick businessman who is never shy to promote himself and the Virgin brand, donned a Gandhi topi and dhoti (the dabbawalas' signature dress code), during the launch of Virgin's inaugural flights to Mumbai.

There are no specific selection criteria like age, sex or religion; however, women dabbawals are very few in number. The antecedents of the candidates are thoroughly verified and a new employee is taken into the fold for a six-month probation. After that period, the employment is regularised with a salary of Rs 5,000 a month.

Dabbawala and the Management perspective :

The dabbawalas are a prime example of management guru Michael Porter's Five Forces Theory at work.

Porter's theories, which are the basis for classical management principles, define the scope and nature of competition a company faces to attain leadership. Surprisingly, the dabbawalas are following these very principles in spite of their ignorance of the same.

i. Threat of new entrants:

According to Porter, the threat of new entrants is dangerous to any organisation as it can take away the market share the organisation enjoys. Started in 1880, the experience curve of the 125-year-old dabbawala service serves as a huge entry barrier for potential competitors. Besides, it would be difficult to replicate this supply chain network that uses Mumbai's jam-packed local trains as its backbone.

ii. Current competition:

Porter's five forces theory states that strategy is determined by a unique combination of activities that deliver a different value proposition than competitors or the same value proposition in a better way. The dabbawalas do face competition from fast food joints as well as office canteens. However, since neither of these serve home food, the dabbawalas' core offering remains unchallenged. They have also tied up with many catering services and hotels to cater to the vast number of office goers.

iii. Bargaining power of buyers:

The delivery rates of the dabbawalas are so nominal (about Rs 250 – Rs. 300 per month) that one simply wouldn't bargain any further. Also, their current monopoly negates any scope of bargaining on the part of their customers. Thus, we encounter a perfect win-win combination for the customers as well as the dabbawalas.

iv. Bargaining power of sellers:

The dabbawalas use minimum infrastructure and practically no technology, hence they are not dependent on suppliers. Since they are a service-oriented organisation, they are not dependent on sellers to buy their product. Hence, sellers do not assume any prominence as would be the case in a product-oriented company. The strategy map framework in Porter's theory allows companies to identify and link together the critical internal processes and human, information and organisation capital that deliver the value proposition differently or better. Human capital is the greatest driving force in the dabbawala community; as a result, they are not dependent on suppliers or technology, thus negating the seller's power in the equation.

v. Threat of a new substitute product or service:

As substitutes to home cooked food are not seen as a viable alternative in the Indian scenario, the threat to the dabbawala service is not an issue at least in the foreseeable future. This gives them a leeway to probably expand their already existing network into newer cities as demand increases in these places as well.
Learnings from Dabbawalas – What they say :
"As management students, there was a lot that we learnt from this lecture," says Karthik A J, a first year management student at NITIE. "The belief that technology is indispensable to solve complex problems was shattered. FMCGs and other industries can learn a lot from the simple supply chain logistics and efficient reverse logistics (transfer of empty lunch boxes to the source location)," he adds.
The concept of multi-level coding (colour coding on the lunch boxes for identification) and reverse logistics can be implemented in industries as diverse as soft drinks (where logistics becomes an important aspect, transporting the filled bottles to retailers and collecting empty bottles back to the plants), pharmaceuticals and other FMCG areas. For example, can the bar coding mechanism (a computerised format) which is prevalent and expensive, be simplified with just colour/ number coding? In small and medium scale organisations where bar coding systems would require a lot of resources, these systems can prove to be very efficient and cost effective. Moreover, the dependence on technology could be drastically reduced.

The learnings for a working executive are enormous too. Managers and executives alike spend a lot of their valuable time learning various concepts in people and time management. Newer mechanisms like Customer Relationship Management, etc, have been developed to assist executives in the same. But, in the midst of implementing technology and IT, basic principles in people management, sustainable relationship development and customer satisfaction have lost their meaning. Our friendly dabbawallas are a perfect example of an important principle of both business and management -- the thirst to serve customers in a simple yet effective fashion without falling into the technology trap. I think this is an aspect which needs to be re-learnt and implemented in any organisation today.

The most enduring lesson that we learnt was to put the customer ahead of everything else. It is said that when Prince Charles expressed a desire to meet them during his visit in 2003, the dabbawallas requested him to schedule the meeting such that it did not interfere with their mid-day delivery timings!!!.


Mumbai dabbawallas by Kiran Raveendran, ICFAI
What you can learn from a dabbawalla – Harsha Venkatesh
Dabbawala - Wikipedia,
Official website of Dabbawalas

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sri Ranganji

I recently attended a discourse on “Samartha Ramadas” by Sri. Ranganji at West Mambalam. Sri Pandurangan, fondly called Sri Rangan Anna, born in 1977, is the second son of Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal. When Sri Sri Anna completed his Sevai to Sri Pandurangan in Pandaripur on Sivaratri, he came to know of Sri Bhagavan's sankalpam about his birth and hence he named him as Pandurangan. Sri Ranganji's stunning accomplishments include composition of 7000 verses in Sanskrit at the age of 13, translation of Sankara Bhashyam of Bramhasutra at the age of 18 and publication of 6 books on philosophy before the age of 25. He has committed to memory all the eight major Upanishads and most of the slokas of Ramayana at the age of 16. He is a maser story teller of Ramayanam. Please read on to know more about Sri Ranganji.

Dr. R.Rangan is a unique man of wisdom and simplicity. He was awarded Yoga-vidya-varidhi (a doctoral degree in Yoga from SVYASA, Bangalore). He also has a master’s degree of management from SIMS, Pune. He is a master of Vedas, Vedic Sanskrit, Upanishads and epics. His main inspiration is Sri Rama, whom he calls as his friend, philosopher and guide. His other great inspirations include his father, Sri Sri Krishnapremi swamigal, Sri Ranganatha Aiyer (also called as Sri Ramayana mama), Sri Shankara, Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Ramananda, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Dr. H.R. Nagendra, Sri Satyanaranayana shastri and last but not the least Sri Samartha Ramdas. He studied intensely all these philosophers.

He learnt Advaita-Vedanta in a traditional way from Sri Shivaramakrishna Shastri. Then he learnt the texts of Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita schools by himself out of interest. He learnt Vyakarana and Sahitya from Sri Tirumalachari, Srirangam. He learnt Bhakti-shastras like Bhagavatam from Sri Sri Krishnapremi swamigal, Sri Balakrishnashastri and Sri Hariji, Srirangam. Ramayana is his very nature. He is a great poet who composed seven thousand verses in samskrit even at the age of thirteen. He also composed beautiful poems in Tamil and English. He has authored many books on the Vedas and other scriptures giving their meaning and practicality for the present age. He translated Shankara bhashya of Bramhasutras in Tamil at the age of eighteen. He wrote a commentary of Bhagavad Gita synthesizing the commentaries of Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva at the age of twenty eight. He did translation for various Vedic Mantras.

He has written a commentary of Brahmasutra in Samskrit. Uniqueness of this commentary is that it is based on Rig-Veda and Ramayana, while other commentaries are based mainly on Upanishads. He wrote thousands of research articles on Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, Vedanta and Yoga before the age of twenty seven. He has published papers related to traditional Vedic education in International journal of Yoga. His articles were published by few spiritual and cultural magazines like Yoga-sudha, Bhagavata-Dharmam, Amman-Darshanam, Tattvaloka, Svadeshi and so on. He established a big study circle of Ramayana (Rama-kudumbam), while he was an under graduate. His concentration and memory are so powerful that he could memorize all the eight major Upanishads and most of the slokas of Ramayana at the age of sixteen.
He is an expert in narrating Ramayana in a beautiful way which enthralls thousands of people. Therefore Tirukkovilur Jiyar Swamigal awarded him a title “Rama-kathamrita-varshi”. Dr. R.Rangan’s admirers include scientists, sociologists, psychologists, spiritualists and philanthropists. He could discover various concepts by observing the nature by the deep meditation. He is the one who developed Dharma model through which the concept of Dharma can be explored, understood and practiced in a systematic way. He is a consultant in various movements like SVYASA, Bangalore, Shruti Ram charitable and educational trust, Hosur, Brahmasabha, Chennai and Akhila-Bharata-Sadhusamajam, New Delhi. He is the founder president of Webolim (Web of Life Makers) which spreads the values of Vedas and usage of Vedic values in every day life. He conducts Vedic workshops in various places in India and abroad. He delivers discourses on Vedas, Vedanta and epics in many places and presented papers in various international Vedic conferences.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kovur Sundareswarar Temple

I happened to visit recently a 1300 year old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Kovur near Porur (Chennai). The temple is famous due to the visit of Saint Tyagaraja’s who had composed five songs on the temple known as “Kovur Pancharatnam”. Also the Vilva tree in this shrine is having 9/16/27 leaves in every stem instead of the usual 3 leaves. Also this temple is one of the Nava Graha Temple in Chennai meant for parikara sthalam of Bhudan. This is also the place associated with of Saint Poet Sekhizhar who had written Periyapuranam. Also this temple was sung by Thirunavukkarasar (Appar). Sounds interesting please read on to know more about Kovur.

Reaching Kovur

From Guindy Kathipara Junction one should take the Butt Road leading to Porur Junction. From there take left towards the road leading to Kundrathur and you can reach Kovur in less than 5 KMS from the Porur Junction. The entrance is picturesque with an array of houses and tall Asoka Trees on either side and greets us by 85 ft high temple tower (Raja gopuram) unique and great in art and sculpture. This temple has the unique Maha Vilvam as its Sthala Vruksham. (Sacred tree in the temple) which has bunch of 27 leaves in one single stalk!!!

The Shrine

The Stone Plates reveals that the temple was built by Sundara Chozhan during 965 BC. The Lord here is named as Sundareswarar (a) Thirumaneeswarar. The Ambal is Soundrambika (a) Soundaryanayaki. The shrine proper is in the gajaprishta style, resembling the Tiruvottriyur temple. This therefore indicates that it was built in Pallava times. Both Swami and Ambal have their sanctums within the same super structure. Lord Sundareswarar faces east and is a fairly large lingam. There are icons for Kalyana Sundareswara with consort, Somaskanda, the Goddess Saundaryanayaki, Subrahmanya with Valli and Devasena, Nataraja with Sivakami and Manikkavachakar, and the arupattu moovars. In addition, the temple also houses an utsava moorti of Vishnu with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi. This moorti, titled Karunakara Perumal, is obviously of a sound vintage though the recess in which it is housed is modern and shows that the Perumal has been brought in here in relatively recent times.


According to legend, when Goddess Kamakshi did penance in the nearby Mangadu, the entire world trembled, as the heat that emerged was unbearable for all living beings. Then Goddess Mahalakshmi took the form of the celestial cow, Kamadhenu, and pacified Kamakshi. As a result, the intensity of the heat got reduced and the entire world heaved a sigh of relief. To add to this Lord Shiva showed the real swaroopam in the Linga along with Parvathi and came to be known as ‘Thirumeneeswarar’. The temple has a seven-tier Rajagopuram on the southern entrance and the sanctum sanctorum, like in many Shiva temples, is in "Gajabrushta" (elephant's back) form. As Mahalakshmi appeared here as a cow the place came to be known as Kovoor ("Ko" in Sanskrit means cow).

The holy water source is Sivaganga Theertham. Apart from the main shrines for the Lord and His Consort, there are shrines for Vinayaka, Subramanya, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingodbhavar, Brahma, Chandikeswarar, Durgai and Mahavishnu, known as Karunakara Perumal along with His Consorts. Pooja is offered five times in the temple, famous for its "Thiruvembavai" festival and the "Arudhra" festival in the Tamil month of Margazhi. Skanda Sashti Soora Samharam and Sivarathri festivals are also celebrated in the temple, which is flocked by thousands of devotees during the Thirukkalyanam Festival held on Vaikasi Visakam day. The presiding deities as well as the Panchamurthis will be taken in procession on that day.

Appar & Sekizhar

Legend is that the Saint Poet Sekizhar who was written the “Periya Puranam” got his first line “Ulagelam” from the Lord at Kovur. This temple is also sung by Saiva Saint “Thirunavukkarasar” (Appar) and is one of the Vaipu Sthalam (meaning temple mentioned in atleast one verse of their songs)

Saint Tyagaraja’s ‘Kovur Pancharatnam’

Tyagaraja while on his Stay in Madras at the request of Dubash Sundaresa Mudaliyar visited Kovur and composed five songs on the Lord later came to be known as “Kovur Pancharatnam”.

The five songs composed by the Saint are :

Sambho Mahadeva (Pantuvarali, Roopakam) is in Sanskrit and comprises pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam. It is largely a descriptive ode of the attributes of Sundareswara.

Sundareswaruni joochi (Sankarabharanam, Adi) comprises pallavi, anupallavi and three charanams. Couched in Telugu, the song depicts a grand spectacle of the shrine and the deity.

E vasudha (Sahana, Adi) has pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam of eight lines. Perhaps the most popular among the five songs composed at Kovur, it states that even if one were to stay for half a minute in Kovur, wealth and other benefits can be obtained.

Kori sevimparaare (Kharaharapriya, Adi) comprises pallavi, anupallavi and a charanam of four lines. Like his Raju vedala (Desia Todi, Roopakam) and Chootaamu raare (Arabhi, Roopakam), composed at Srirangam, Tyagaraja speaks of leading a group of devotees and urging them to come and worship at Kovur.

Nammi vacchina (Kalyani, Roopakam) has pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam comprising four lines. The kriti beseeches the Lord to protect Tyagaraja who has come unto Him with true faith.

Temple Tower (Rajagopuram)

The temple tower (gopuram) gives pride of place to Saint Tyagaraja. The builder/designer has used his imagination and in the lowest panel shows Tyagaraja coming to Kovur in a palanquin with several disciples in his retinue. The muscular figure of Wallajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar is easily identifiable. It would appear that Tyagaraja was received with royal honours for the procession is led by drummers, standard bearers and pipers. On the other side of the lower panel, one has the same procession repeated with Rama and Lakshmana bringing up the rear. This obviously refers to the divine brothers protecting the saint from dacoits en route to Tirupati. The upper storeys of the gopuram depict several incidents from Tyagaraja's life such as his tutelage under Sonti Venkataramanayya, his darsan of Narada and his visit to Tirupati. In the last named sequence, the sculptor has depicted the doors of the Tirupati temple being closed, whereas legend has it that it was the screen (tera) that was drawn preventing Tyagaraja from having darsan.

Reference (Article by V. Sriram)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Guy called Randor

I recently attended two lectures delivered by Mr. Randor Guy (Photo Studios of Madras and Scandals and Secrets of Tamil Cinema) as part of the Madras Week celebrations in Chennai. The crowd for the later topic was huge and people were sitting on the floor to hear his story telling. People listen to him without closing their eyelids and with open mouth for hours together when he keeps telling about yester year film stories. Please read on to know more about Randor Guy.

Randor Guy is the pen name of Madabhushi Rangadorai (Born on March 13, 1945) is a well-known writer and journalist of India. He is also a noted film, social and cultural historian. His writings on a variety of subjects have appeared widely all over India in many languages like English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi in all the leading publications. After earning a BSc, BL from Madras University, Randor practiced as a lawyer for sometime and then started work as an executive in a leading broking firm, Paterson & Co., Madras for five years. He left his job in an agency in 1976 to work as full time creative professional. Guy is married to Dolores Guy.(Anglo Indian). He lives with his family in Ayanavaram, Chennai.

Guy has been writing books on history and films since 1967. However, he became popular when his article on Frank Capra was purchased by the United States Information Agency for use as a reference work. Randor Guy remains the only non-American whose work has been acquired as reference material by the Government of the United States of America. He was engaged by USIS, India to lecture on Capra and his films at Madras, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Hyderabad for the Retro in these cities, the first Indian to be so engaged.

Guy is a regular columnist for newspapers as the Mylapore Times, The Hindu and The Indian Express. He also writes for the film magazine Screen. He writes on a variety of topics though he is mainly popular as a film historian and critic. He was engaged by USIS, India to lecture on Capra and his films at Madras, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Hyderabad for the Retro in these cities, the first Indian to be so engaged.

Guy has also written the screenplay for a few short documentaries and feature films. He has also produced a few advertisement films. In 1999, he made a 100-minute feature film in English titled Perfumed Garden for a Hollywood film company. The film was also subsequently dubbed into Hindi, Tamil and Telugu as Brahmachari. He has also written a Sinhalese film called Paradise Peak based on a best-selling crime novel written by him. Currently, he is working with the screenplay for an English film called ‘Maya’. He also delivers lectures as Visiting Professor at Stella Maris College, Loyola College, New College, Tamil Nadu Film and Television Institute, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Institute of Mass Communications, Madras. Randor was a member of the selection panel for the Indian Panorama Films for the International Film Festival, Trivandrum, 1997. A proficient in English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi, he believes that work is worship, and to worship is to work!


On November 12, 2007, during a function commemorating the fifth anniversary of Samudra, a magazine dedicated to art and culture, Guy was awarded the Gnana Samudra award in recognition of his contributions to arts.

Books written by Randor

While the Breakers Roared (Fiction) Indian Ribaldry (Fiction, published in India, Japan and USA) Murder for Pleasure (True Crime) Madhuri Oru Madhiri (Fiction - Tamil) Chaya (Fiction - Telugu) Kasi (Fiction - Telugu) B. N. Reddy (Film History) A History of Tamil Cinema (Film History - Govt. of Tamil Nadu) Chitale (Biography) Starlight Starbright - Early Tamil Cinema (Best-seller) Monsoon (Novelization of a Hollywood movie shot in India)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Klein and Peyerl – Photo Studio

I recently attended a lecture delivered by Mr. Randor Guy as part of the "Madras Week celebrations" in Chennai. The venue was M. Ct. Muthiah Chettiyar High School in Pursawalkam and the topic was on the Photo Studios of Chennai. He was referring about one Photo Studio by name Klein and Peyerl. The Madras photo collection known to many as the Harry Miller Collection were NOT his pictures. He only owned the collection till he sold it to Vintage Vignettes. The pictures in Madras were one of those seredipitous discoveries. Please read on to know more…

The firm Wiele and Klein was founded by an Englishman named Wiele, probably in the late 1880s. Before long, he took as partner a Theodor Klein, who was born of German parents in Madras. The earliest record of the firm Wiele and Klein is in 1890 when there's mention of it being a prize-winner at the Madras Fine Arts Exhibition. At 11, Mount Road, the studio was on the ground floor and Klein and his wife Valeska, whom he married in England in 1909, lived on the first floor, tending the store. Wiele, it would appear, preferred to move to the Blue Mountains, where the partners set up studios in Ooty and Coonoor around 1900.

The Great War had Klein, the German, out of the frame for its duration, but once it was over, Wiele decided to return home and Klein bought him out. The first thing Klein did was to sell the Round Tana property to Venkatapathi Naidu - a descendant of the founder of the city, Beri Thimmappa, and an active figure in civic affairs - and move to smaller premises further up Mount Road, between the LIC tower block and VST Motors. There he employed a young fellow German, Michael Peyerl, to run the shop and in the 1920s took him on as a partner. It is as Klein and Peyerl that Madras, till not so long ago, knew the firm - but in a different context.

During World War II, both Klein and Peyerl were interned as German nationals and the business was run by the Custodian of Enemy Property. Klein died during internment and, after the War, Peyerl decided to sell the firm and return to Germany. The firm was bought by Vettath John who continued the studio, but gradually made Klein and Peyerl the blockmakers most sought after by the letterpress printers and advertising agencies of South India. The wane of letterpress industry and a fire in 1987 spelt the end of Klein and Peyerl - a name the Johns retained - and the shell of the building was used by John's son Basu as offices.

One of the mysteries that the German owners left for posterity was an enormous collection of large and small glass plate negatives of India that the firm had accumulated. Besides the pictures taken by Wiele and Klein with their cumbersome equipment that weighed several scores of pounds and which needed several porters to carry, there were also negatives by Peyerl and Klein's brother-in-law Erwin Drinneberg. Holidaying in India in 1929-30, with his wife Elizabeth, Drinneberg, Klein and Peyerl with their families travelled to several parts of India and took hundreds of photographs. Many of these photographs found their way to Germany and over 500 of them were gifted by Elizabeth Drinneberg, after her husband's death, to the J&E von Partheim Stiftung (Endowment) in Heidelberg. A few years ago, a few of these pictures were exhibited in Madras.

An Englishman visiting Coonoor heard of a collection of pictures which a Miss Cooper, an ageing and penurious Anglo-India spinster, did not know what to do with. When he visited her, he found four huge custom-made teak boxes crammed with glass plate negatives. He told Harry Miller, perhaps the best known news photographer in the South in those days, about the collection and Miller sought the help of his friend, Eric Stracey, the then Inspector General of Police. Stracey had the collection picked up in Coonoor and brought to Madras in a police van. When Miller examined the collection, he found there were 1515 plates in all, ranging from 3 ½ x 4 ¼ inch quarter plates to 52 large plates of size 10x12 inches. Of them, over 300 were of Madras, including 100 and more of a bit of our lost heritage, the palms of Chepauk Park.

Harry Miller nursed this collection like a baby and whenever use was made of any of the pictures, the proceeds were used to help make Miss Cooper's last years more comfortable. As Miller himself became older, he was not able to care for the collection as it ought to have been and he sold it to a five-man partnership, `Vintage Vignettes', which now tends it.

The intriguing part of the collection is that there is no provenance to it. All that Miss Cooper could offer was that she had worked for a German family and they had left the collection with her and never came back for it. Could it have been Klein or Peyerl? Stracey's attempts to trace their heirs proved fruitless. Many such plates in old collections have the names of the photographers etched in the plates. There are plates with names of contemporaries of Klein and company, like Willie Blake, A. Nicholas, Tripe, and Bourke on them - but this collection has no names, though several pictures in it have dates. They all also have numbers - which perhaps tally with a catalogue or index - but of either, no trace was ever found. And so here in Madras is a provenance-less collection of brilliant photographs of an India of the past of which the most we can say is that there is a good chance that the photography was the work of Wiele, Klein, Peyerl and Drinneberg.

And if it was their work, they were indeed brilliant photographers - explaining why Wiele and Klein and then Klein and Peyerl were such popular studios in South India from the 1890s to the 1940s.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My experiments in Dining - Sree Mithai

I recently visited Shree Mithai Food Court @ Anna Nagar along with my family. The Hotel seems to be very new and the ambience and the furnishings are damn good. The Hotel is having three Floors. On the first floor the sweet shop is there, in the Second Floor the Food Court and the Restaurant is coming up on the third Floor.

The day was Sunday with limited seats available on the Second Floor the floor is full at 7 p.m. and huge Anna Nagar Crowd especially the north Indian faces are visible in the Hall. The decibel level is very high and there is a huge rush. We waited for some ten minutes as we were about seven people and the Court Manager helped us in getting the seats.

My sister’s son already started enquiring about a mocktail somebody was having and the manager told that the item was “Midnight Beauty”. We ordered the specialty of the Hotel “Special Chole Bhature”, Delhi Chat, Veg Pulav, Pav Bhaji, Mocktail “Blue Lagoon” which is a mix of juice and ice cream and finally the Kesar Badam Milk. All the items were very tasty and delicious. Also the price seems to be moderate. Chat items like Vada Pav, Bread Pokada, Dhokla Idli, Khandvi, Paneer pakoda, Bhakkarwardi etc., are available and the list of items are huge.I strongly recommend to try this out.

Shree Mithai, #189, Shanthi Colony,4th Avenue, Anna Nagar, Chennai

About Shree Mithai

Forty years ago Shri K. N. Patel left his village in Gujarat to follow his dreams. He came to Chennai in the year 1951 with a wealth of experience in dairy farming and an indomitable desire to realise his dream of making a success of his life. Shri Patel embarked upon his journey to success with the launching of Shree Milk Supply. Right from the start providing Quality products to his customers has been the primary concern for Shri Patel. One success followed another. Finally, his dreams culminated in the foundation of Shree Mithai. Shri Patel established this shop with the help of his two sons Mr. Kiran Patel and Mr. Mukesh Patel.

Today, Shree Mithai is synonymous with Quality Indian Sweets, Savouries & Chats. Infact, it is one of the most sought after names in the confectionery industry. 'Shree Mithai' is a sweet shoppe with a difference catering to a wide clientele, that has remained faithful and grown unprecedentely over the last decade.

The 'Shoppe' which can rightly be called a 'confectionery boutique' is spread over 2,000 sq.feet and functions at No.8, Dr. T. V.Road, chetpet, Chennai-600031. Uncompromising quality, flawless taste & amiable service are the hallmarks of the shoppe

Friday, August 7, 2009

Temple Visit - Chettipunyam

I recently went to Pondicherry while returning I took the dindivanam route and on the way visited a village called “Chetti Puniyam” where there is a temple for Lord Hayagriva. The Hayagriva in the temple, it is believed, bestows upon the devotees, education, wealth and progress in all walks of life. The avataram of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to Brahma. Brahma became extremely conceited about his power as the creator. Lord Narayana discerning this, decided to rid Brahma of his pride. A couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha, who stole the Vedas from Brahma. Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma beseeched Lord Narayana for help. Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva and destroyed the Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma. Swami Desikan has very eloquently described the greatness of Bhagavan Hayagriva in the Hayagriva Stotram. Many references from the Hayagriva Upanishad are succinctly contained in Swami Desikan's tribute.

In Hinduism, Hayagriva is an avatar of Vishnu. He is worshipped as the God of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse's head, brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Hayagriva is celebrated in the Puranas for rescuing the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha and teaching them again to Brahma. Symbolically, the story of Hayagriva represents the triumph of pure knowledge, guided by the hand of God, over the demonic forces of passion and darkness. Hayagriva is a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition. His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Sravana-Paurnami) (his avatara-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as "Hayasirsa" HayaSirsa means haya=Horse, Sirsa=Head.

jnAna-Ananda-mayam devam
AdhAram sarvavidyAnAm
hayagrIvam upAsmahe!

This verse is originally from the Pancaratra Agamas but is now popularly prefixed to the Hayagriva Stotram of the 13th century poet-philosopher Vedanta Desika. It is very popular among devotees of Hayagriva.

The idol, small but bewitching, was brought to Chettipunyam from Thiruvahindrapuram in 1848, and attracts many devotees. Lakshmi Hayagriva is the presiding deity of the Parakala Math in Mysore. There are also sannidhis for Hayagriva in the Desikar temple in Mylapore and also in the Soundarraja Perumal temple in Dadikombu near Dindigul.

In Thiruvahindrapuram, Vedanta Desika recited the Garuda Mantra taught to him by his uncle, Kidambi Appular and was initiated into the worship of Hayagriva by Garuda. Desika composed the Hayagriva Stotram in 33 verses. Apart from the `phalasruti' there are 32 verses. There is a reason for Desika writing the Stotram in 32 verses. The Brahma vidyas are 32 in number. His composing the Hayagriva Stotram in 32 verses is to show that Hayagriva is the repository of all vidyas. Desika says the neighs of Hayagriva are the essence of the Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas. The 32nd verse which is the `dhyana sloka,' speaks of Hayagriva's right lower hand as `vyakhyamudra' - the elucidating pose and the left lower hand holds a book. Desika says that Saraswati, Dakshinamurthy and sages like Vyasa reflect a fraction of Lord Hayagriva's effulgence.

Singaperumal Koil, which is neither a village nor a city but a delightful mix of both, is about 45 km to the south of Chennai. The Devanathaswamy Temple is situated about 3 km West of Singaperumal Koil. Devanathaswamy resides in a village named Chettipunniyam, which boasts of four or five streets. The presiding deity, Devanathaswamy, sits facing East.

Though there is no direct bus from the city, route no. 60c plying from Tambaram to Vadakal takes one to the temple. The other way to reach the Devanathaswamy Temple, from the city is to reach Singaperumal Koil, by buses going Kalpakkam, Madurantakam, Chengalpattu, and then go by autorickshaw to the Devanathaswamy Temple. Though a Sannidhi for Varadaraja Perumal has been in this temple for the last 350 years, it was only in 1848, thanks to the efforts of Sirasdar Rao Sahib Rangachar that the idol of Devanathaswamy of Tiruvendipuram was installed in this temple. The year was 1848; the day Friday; month Vaigasi; date 22; and the star Makam. From that day, daily pooja is offered to this deity. Devanathaswamy did not come alone but along with Hayagrivar. These facts are corroborated by the Government Gazette records of the South Arcot Government, of the same year.

The idols of Thayar, Sridevi, Boodevi and Andal were installed after this. The idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman were brought to Vandalur in Chennai, in the year 1868, on Oct 5, by Mudumbai Ramaswamy Iyengar, from the Tanjore Palace. When Ramaswamy Iyengar migrated to Bangalore, he had all these Gods installed in the Devanathaswamy Temple, since Chettipunniyam, was his native village. There is a separate sanctum sanctorum for Sri Rama in this temple. It has to be mentioned here that the first Mysore Dewan Veeravalli Rangachar (1831-1883) also hailed from this village.

The villagers conduct the 'Thiruparvettai' festival in a grand manner, on a Sunday in the month of 'Thai' (Jan 15 - Feb 15), every year. The temple trust organises a number of utsavs like Sri jayanthi, Special thai velli poojas, Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi, Sri Desikan Sathumurai, Vaigasi magam and Deepa (Lights) utsavam. The devotees also conduct many utsavs - adhyayana utsav, Vijaya dasami, Adi Pooram, Panguni Uthiram, Udayavar Saathumurai and Sri Ramanavami. Another famous celebration was Sri Devanathaswamy's centenary (100 years in this temple), which was celebrated for 10 days, in grand style.

After a very long time, in 1993, the Ashtabandhana Maha Samprokshanam was performed on May 17.The devotees of the village say, as far as their knowledge goes, no Samprokshanam had been done in the last 100 years. This famous temple is under the HR & CE board. An officer has been appointed to manage the affairs of the temple. A five-member committee oversees the functioning of the temple. The temple owns about 55 acres of agricultural land and a big grove, in the village. It also owns a house thanks to Thiru Rangaswamy Iyengar, who has donated his ancestral home to the temple.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My experiments in Dining - Mylapore Mami Kadai

Recently I had been to Mylapore to buy some books and CDs from Giri Trading. After the purchase thought of having the dinner at Karpagambal Mess. However when I went there came to know that Mess is under renovation and some body near the mess told me to visit Mami Kadai in the same locality. I decided to give it a try and entered the lane near the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan.
The Mess is a small one and behind the cashier could able to see the photos of two aged couples. I have been told that this mess is there for morethan forty years. I paid the amount in advance and then went to the counter wherein the server gives what we need. I took some Kal Dosai and Sundal and Sambar and Chutni is kept separately and we can take whatever the quantity we need. Except the drawback of ambience and stand to eat, the food served is homely and delicious. The prices are economical.
The following items are available :

Breakfast (from 7 am)

Fresh idli vadai, poori, pongal and unlimited chutneys and sambar

Lunch (11 am to 3 pm)

Coconut rice, tamarind rice, lime rice, curd rice, vendakkasadam, pavakkasadam, avvaraikkasadam, kathirikkasadam and pudinasadam ( Rs 13 / plate ) and side dishes are vadam, morumillagai and pachadi.

Snacks (from 4 pm onwards )

Varieties of dosas : Onion, rawa, masala, podi, kaldosai, vadai, thavalavadai, sevai, masalavadai, bajji, parotta korma, chapatti korma, sundal, vadai curry. Kozhakkattai both sweet and sour available only on Fridays after 3.30 pm. They also have a sweet of the day which could be kesari, carrot halwa, sooyam, mysorepak or ladoo.

Sunday holiday

Wanna try?...please visit

MamiKadai, New no 7, old no 4 , Pitchupillai Street ( near Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan ) Mylapore, Chennai.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


It was a Thursday and I need to drop my son to his school in Anna Nagar (West) and on my return as usual I decided took a different route instead of the routine one. The new route took me in to the by lanes of Padi and dropped bang in front of a pretty old temple. I fortunately took the decision of visiting the temple even it was getting late to office only to find out later that this temple is one of the “Thevara padal petra sthalam” (i.e. temple visited and sung by the nayanmars or great shiva devotees). I bought some offerings to the Lord and went inside the temple.

This Shiva temple is in Padi, i.e. between Anna Nagar and Ambattur. Padi is basically an industrial area. Lucas TVS, Wheels India, Sundaram Fasteners, Sundaram Clayton, Brakes India and Britannia are some of the popular industries located at Padi. Near to the Lucas TVS, there is a temple called “Padaivettamman” opposite to this temple around 400 meter distance on the right side, this temple is situated.

The temple is called “Thiruvalithayam”. In Tamilnadu there are about 275 Shiva Temples sung by the Nayanmars. Out of this 275 about 32 are in Thondai region and this temple is the 21st of the 32 Tevara Stalams. Legends hold that Bharadwaja Muni worshipped the lord in the form of black sparrow (Valiyan) and hence the name Valithaayam. The Lord is called “Valithaya Nathar” and the mother is known as “Jagadambal”.

When you enter the temple you can see the outer prakara where lots of pigeons were flying around chirping the holy panchakshara. If you cross the “Kodi Maram” or the Flag pole you will be entering the main complex of the temple. Immediately on the northern side Goddess Jagathambal is awaiting for you to shower her grace. After having the darshan of the mother you can go near the “Thiru Valithaya Nathar” the Universal God personified in the linga form. You can feel the spirit moved by seeing the Lord. You cannot see the God with our naked eyes however you can feel his presence if you close your eyes and make a sincere prayer. Lo! The Lord who doesn’t have a beginning nor an end is right there in front of you.


This temple has been visited and sung by Thirugnana Sambandar, Arunagirinathar, Ramalinga Adigalar, and Pamban Swamigal. Thirumylai, Thiruvanmiyur, Thiruverkadu, Thiruvirkolam, Thiruilambayangottur, Thiruvooral, Thirvalangadu, Thiruvenpakkam, Thiruppasur, Vadathirumullaivoil, Thirvottriyur all these eleven temples are structured in the form of a Garland and Thrivalithayam is in the centre of this Garland. Also this temple is also referred as Gurusthalam as this is one of three temples worshipped by Lord Brahaspathy or Guru, the other two being Thittai and Thiruchendur.

On the western back side of the main prakara you can see the Lord Vishnu and on the North side you can see Lord Brhama. It was a rare sight to see the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Sivan in the same complex. In the second prakara you can see Dakshinamurthy, Bikshadanar, Annai Uritha Devar, and Rishabanthikar. “Jeyankonda Chola Vala Nattu, Puzhal Kutrathu, Ambattur Nattu Thiruvallithaya Mudayar” is the description found in the stone inscription inside the temple. We will be happy to know that the places Puzhal and Ambattur are there since last 700 years going by the inscriptions.

The temple vimana is in the form of an Gaja Prishta or Elephants Back. Though one of the oldest temple, it is well maintained. The temple houses a very good Goshala wherein divine Cows are seen which are huge and mangalakaram. Since it is a Gurusthalam many people offer yellow cloth to the Lord and also garland made of Kabul Channa (Konda Kadalai Malai).

I saw a parent who came there and telling the archaka that their son is going to School for the first time and the priest blesses the child with the flower offered to the Lord. What a blessing for that kid to start his career. Blessed indeed are those who visits this ancient temple!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three rupees journey

I recently went to the Karaneeswarar temple in Saidapet, in the inner prakara the idols of the 63 nayanmars were kept and one of the nayanmar read as "Thiruvarur Pirandhar" i was telling my friend any one who is born in Thiruvarur is considered as the nayanmar. Suddenly one person entered and told us that "any one born in Thiruvarur, any one dies in Kasi they will attain mukthi but if a person simply thinks about Thiruvannamalai he is liberated - "Thiruvannmalaiyai Ninaithale Mukthi" and told this and went past. This provoked me to visit Thiruvannamalai we charted the plan within the temple itself and myself along with two of my friends made the plan to visit the very next day.
It was a call from Ramana and Arunachaleswara, as I was planning to visit Thiruvannamalai for quite some time and it was not materialised. Ramana once told his mother while she was pursuading ramana to return home "In accordance with the prarabdha of each, the One whose function it is to ordain makes each to act. What will not happen will never happen, whatever effort one may put forth. And what will happen will not fail to happen, however much one may seek to prevent it. This is certain. The part of wisdom therefore is to stay quiet."

We started our journey the next day i.e. on 24th May 2009 at around 7 a.m. from Koyambedu Bus Stand(Chennai) and reached Thiruvannamalai by 11 a.m. We straight away went to the Ramanashram and were greeted by the peacocks lou lou and peacocks were plenty in the ashram. First we went to Sri Mathrubootheswar temple where bhagavans mother's samathi is there. Then we mediated at Bhagavan's Samadhi where we could able to experience the divine presence of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

We started trekking Thiruvannamalai where bhagavan lived major period of his life. At 12 p.m. we didnt imagine the climate to be pretty cool, may be his divine will HE has arranged to visit his place with better weather conditions?!!. The sound from the ether was pronouncing the vedic syllable "OM". The trekking way was mix of greeneries, cool breeze and awesome sight of the Temple. One can have a birds-eye view of the eight Gopurams in one shot.

At the Hill we visited two important place where Bhagavan had spent considerable portion of his life. First we went to "Skandashram Cave" where Bhagavan lived from 1916 to 1922. Bhagavan's mother attained mukthi at this place on May 19th, 1922. Bhagavan did not publicly acknowledge any living person as liberated other than his mother at death.

Then we went to "Virupaksha Cave" where Baghavan lived from 1899 to 1916. It was a cave with a small entrance and when we went inside we were feeling very hot inside. We were wondering How Bhagavan spent years to gether in such conditions? - That is Bhagavan who was meditating on the Self without even conscious of it. Such was his state of mind which was above everything on the earth. After that we climbed down to the Ramanashram and bought few books and CDs. The stall is a must visit place of the ashram and even a small beginning will take near to him.

We then went to a Restuarant and had our Brunch and then went to see the Lord who attracted Ramana. When "Venkatraman" (the original name of Ramana) entered first time inside the Arunachaleswara temple nobody, not even the priest was there. He entered the Sanctum Sanctorum he cried "I have come to Thee at Thy behest. Thy will be done" and embraced the linga in ecstasy. The burning sensation within ramana merged in Arunachaleshwara. Ramana never returned from Thiruvannamali since he first visited on September 1st, 1896. Many people witnessed a light merging with the Sacred Hill Arunachaleshwara on 14th April, 1950 at 8:47 pm.

Ramana took three rupees from his brother and started the Journey to Arunachala. If that three rupees was not there we wouldn't have got Ramana, I pray my obeisances to the three rupees which made Bagavan to reach Thiruvannamalai. We finished our darshan of Arunachaleshwara and Abhithakuchalambal and retured to Chennai by 11 pm.

It was our memorable day in our life which we like to cherish for our remining life.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The diary of a young girl

I recently read an article on Anne Frank - a child victim of Hitler's Holocaust who kept on writing her diary during the sufferings. The story of Anne is now deep in my heart. Today is her birthday and let us declare this day as the human right day to lead a dignified life on earth.

Please read on to more about Anne.......

In June 1999, Time magazine published a special edition titled "Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century". Anne Frank was selected as one of the "Heroes & Icons", and the writer, Roger Rosenblatt, described her legacy with the comment, "The passions the book ignites suggest that everyone owns Anne Frank, that she has risen above the Holocaust, Judaism, girlhood and even goodness and become a totemic figure of the modern world—the moral individual mind beset by the machinery of destruction, insisting on the right to live and question and hope for the future of human beings." He also notes that while her courage and pragmatism are admired, it is her ability to analyze herself and the quality of her writing that are the key components of her appeal. He writes, "The reason for her immortality was basically literary. She was an extraordinarily good writer, for any age, and the quality of her work seemed a direct result of a ruthlessly honest disposition."

Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank was a Jewish girl who was born in the city of Frankfurt am Main in Weimar Germany, and who lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. She gained international fame posthumously following the publication of her diary which documents her experiences hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany, and were trapped by the occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940. As persecutions against the Jewish population increased, the family went into hiding in July 1942 in hidden rooms in her father Otto Frank's office building. After two years, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Seven months after her arrest, Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, within days of the death of her sister, Margot Frank. Her father Otto, the only survivor of the group, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that her diary had been saved, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It was translated from its original Dutch and first published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl.

The diary, which was given to Anne on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life from 12 June 1942 until 1 August 1944. It has been translated into many languages, has become one of the world's most widely read books, and has been the basis for several plays and films. Anne Frank has been acknowledged for the quality of her writing, and has become one of the most renowned and most discussed victims of the Holocaust.

Early life

Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Frank (1889–1980) and Edith Frank-Holländer (1900–45). Margot Frank (1926–45) was her elder sister. The Franks were liberal Jews and lived in an assimilated community of Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, where the children grew up with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish friends. The Frank family did not observe all of the customs and traditions of Judaism. Edith Frank was the more devout parent, while Otto Frank, a decorated German officer from World War I, was interested in scholarly pursuits and had an extensive library; both parents encouraged the children to read.

On 13 March 1933, elections were held in Frankfurt for the municipal council, and Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party won. Antisemitic demonstrations occurred almost immediately, and the Franks began to fear what would happen to them if they remained in Germany. Later that year, Edith and the children went to Aachen, where they stayed with Edith's mother, Rosa Holländer. Otto Frank remained in Frankfurt, but after receiving an offer to start a company in Amsterdam, he moved there to organise the business and to arrange accommodation for his family. The Franks were among about 300,000 Jews who fled Germany between 1933 and 1939.

Otto Frank began working at the Opekta Works, a company that sold the fruit extract pectin, and found an apartment on the Merwedeplein (Merwede Square) in Amsterdam. By February 1934, Edith and the children had arrived in Amsterdam, and the two girls were enrolled in school—Margot in public school and Anne in a Montessori school. Margot demonstrated ability in arithmetic, and Anne showed aptitude for reading and writing. Her friend Hanneli Goslar later recalled that from early childhood, Anne frequently wrote, though she shielded her work with her hands and refused to discuss the content of her writing. Margot and Anne had highly distinct personalities, Margot being well-mannered, reserved, and studious while Anne was outspoken, energetic, and extraverted.

In 1938, Otto Frank started a second company Pectacon, which was a wholesaler of herbs, pickling salts and mixed spices, used in the production of sausages. Hermann van Pels was employed by Pectacon as an advisor about spices. He was a Jewish butcher, who had fled Osnabrück in Germany with his family. In 1939, Edith's mother came to live with the Franks, and remained with them until her death in January 1942. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands, and the occupation government began to persecute Jews by the implementation of restrictive and discriminatory laws; mandatory registration and segregation soon followed. Margot and Anne were excelling in their studies and had many friends, but with the introduction of a decree that Jewish children could attend only Jewish schools, they were enrolled at the Jewish Lyceum. In April 1941, Otto Frank took action to prevent Pectacon from being confiscated as a Jewish-owned business. He transferred his shares in Pectacon to Johannes Kleiman, and resigned as director. The company was liquidated and all assets transferred to Gies and Company, headed by Jan Gies. In December 1941, he followed a similar process to save Opekta. The businesses continued with little obvious change and their survival allowed Otto Frank to earn a minimal income, but sufficient to provide for his family.

For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-green plaid cloth and with a small lock on the front, Anne decided she would use it as a diary, and began writing in it almost immediately. While many of her early entries relate the mundane aspects of her life, she also discusses some of the changes that had taken place in the Netherlands since the German occupation. In her entry dated 20 June 1942, she lists many of the restrictions that had been placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population, and also notes her sorrow at the death of her grandmother earlier in the year. Anne dreamed about becoming an actress. She loved watching movies, but the Dutch Jews were forbidden access to movie theaters beginning 8 January 1941.

In July 1942, Margot Frank received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. Anne was told by her father that the family would go into hiding in rooms above and behind the company's premises on the Prinsengracht, a street along one of Amsterdam's canals, where some of Otto Frank's most trusted employees would help them. The call-up notice forced them to relocate several weeks earlier than had been anticipated. On the morning of Monday, 6 July 1942, the family moved into the hiding place. Their apartment was left in a state of disarray to create the impression that they had left suddenly, and Otto Frank left a note that hinted they were going to Switzerland. The need for secrecy forced them to leave behind Anne's cat, Moortje. As Jews were not allowed to use public transport, they walked several kilometers from their home, with each of them wearing several layers of clothing as they did not dare to be seen carrying luggage.

The Achterhuis (a Dutch word denoting the rear part of a house, translated as the "Secret Annexe" in English editions of the diary) was a three-story space entered from a landing above the Opekta offices. Two small rooms, with an adjoining bathroom and toilet, were on the first level, and above that a larger open room, with a small room beside it. From this smaller room, a ladder led to the attic. The door to the Achterhuis was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered. The main building, situated a block from the Westerkerk, was nondescript, old and typical of buildings in the western quarters of Amsterdam.

Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, and Bep Voskuijl were the only employees who knew of the people in hiding, and with Gies's husband Jan Gies and Voskuijl's father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, were their "helpers" for the duration of their confinement. These contacts provided the only connection between the outside world and the occupants of the house, and they kept the occupants informed of war news and political developments. They catered for all of their needs, ensured their safety and supplied them with food, a task that grew more difficult with the passage of time. Anne wrote of their dedication and of their efforts to boost morale within the household during the most dangerous of times. All were aware that if caught they could face the death penalty for sheltering Jews.

On 13 July, the Franks were joined by the van Pels family: Hermann, Auguste, and 16-year-old Peter, and then in November by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the family. Anne wrote of her pleasure at having new people to talk to, but tensions quickly developed within the group forced to live in such confined conditions. After sharing her room with Pfeffer, she found him to be insufferable and resented his intrusion, and she clashed with Auguste van Pels, whom she regarded as foolish. She regarded Hermann van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer as selfish, particularly in regards to the amount of food they consumed. Some time later, after first dismissing the shy and awkward Peter van Pels, she recognised a kinship with him and the two entered a romance. She received her first kiss from him, but her infatuation with him began to wane as she questioned whether her feelings for him were genuine, or resulted from their shared confinement. Anne Frank formed a close bond with each of the helpers and Otto Frank later recalled that she had anticipated their daily visits with impatient enthusiasm. He observed that Anne's closest friendship was with Bep Voskuijl, "the young typist... the two of them often stood whispering in the corner."

In her writing, Anne Frank examined her relationships with the members of her family, and the strong differences in each of their personalities. She considered herself to be closest emotionally to her father, who later commented, "I got on better with Anne than with Margot, who was more attached to her mother. The reason for that may have been that Margot rarely showed her feelings and didn't need as much support because she didn't suffer from mood swings as much as Anne did." Anne and Margot formed a closer relationship than had existed before they went into hiding, although Anne sometimes expressed jealousy towards Margot, particularly when members of the household criticised Anne for lacking Margot's gentle and placid nature. As Anne began to mature, the sisters were able to confide in each other. In her entry of 12 January 1944, Anne wrote, "Margot's much nicer... She's not nearly so catty these days and is becoming a real friend. She no longer thinks of me as a little baby who doesn't count."

Anne frequently wrote of her difficult relationship with her mother, and of her ambivalence towards her. On 7 November 1942 she described her "contempt" for her mother and her inability to "confront her with her carelessness, her sarcasm and her hard-heartedness," before concluding, "She's not a mother to me." Later, as she revised her diary, Anne felt ashamed of her harsh attitude, writing: "Anne is it really you who mentioned hate, oh Anne, how could you?" She came to understand that their differences resulted from misunderstandings that were as much her fault as her mother's, and saw that she had added unnecessarily to her mother's suffering. With this realization, Anne began to treat her mother with a degree of tolerance and respect.

Margot and Anne each hoped to return to school as soon as they were able, and continued with their studies while in hiding. Margot took a shorthand course by correspondence in Bep Voskuijl's name and received high marks; She also kept a diary, however it is believed to be lost. Most of Anne's time was spent reading and studying, and she regularly wrote and edited her diary entries. In addition to providing a narrative of events as they occurred, she wrote about her feelings, beliefs and ambitions, subjects she felt she could not discuss with anyone. As her confidence in her writing grew, and as she began to mature, she wrote of more abstract subjects such as her belief in God, and how she defined human nature.

Anne aspired to become a journalist, writing in her diary on Wednesday, 5 April 1944:

"I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write ..., but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent ... And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! ... I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? ” —Anne Frank. She continued writing regularly until her final entry of August 1, 1944.

On the morning of 4 August 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by the German Security Police (Grüne Polizei) following a tip-off from an informer who was never identified. Led by Schutzstaffel Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of the Sicherheitsdienst, the group included at least three members of the Security Police. The Franks, van Pelses and Pfeffer were taken to the Gestapo headquarters where they were interrogated and held overnight. On 5 August, they were transferred to the Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention), an overcrowded prison on the Weteringschans. Two days later they were transported to Westerbork. Ostensibly a transit camp, by this time more than 100,000 Jews had passed through it. Having been arrested in hiding, they were considered criminals and were sent to the Punishment Barracks for hard labor.
Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman were arrested and jailed at the penal camp for enemies of the regime at Amersfoort. Kleiman was released after seven weeks, but Kugler was held in various work camps until the war's end. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were questioned and threatened by the Security Police but were not detained. They returned to the Achterhuis the following day, and found Anne's papers strewn on the floor. They collected them, as well as several family photograph albums, and Gies resolved to return them to Anne after the war. On 7 August 1944, Gies attempted to facilitate the release of the prisoners by confronting Silberbauer and offering him money to intervene, but he refused.

Deportation and death

On September 3, the group was deported on what would be the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and arrived after a three-day journey. In the chaos that marked the unloading of the trains, the men were forcibly separated from the women and children, and Otto Frank was wrenched from his family. Of the 1,019 passengers, 549—including all children younger than fifteen—were sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne had turned fifteen three months earlier and was one of the youngest people to be spared from her transport. She was soon made aware that most people were gassed upon arrival, and never learned that the entire group from the Achterhuis had survived this selection. She reasoned that her father, in his mid-fifties and not particularly robust, had been killed immediately after they were separated.

With the other females not selected for immediate death, Anne was forced to strip naked to be disinfected, had her head shaved and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. By day, the women were used as slave labor and Anne was forced to haul rocks and dig rolls of sod; by night, they were crammed into overcrowded barracks. Witnesses later testified that Anne became withdrawn and tearful when she saw children being led to the gas chambers, though other witnesses reported that more often she displayed strength and courage, and that her gregarious and confident nature allowed her to obtain extra bread rations for Edith, Margot and herself. Disease was rampant and before long, Anne's skin became badly infected by scabies. She and Margot were moved into an infirmary, which was in a state of constant darkness, and infested with rats and mice. Edith Frank stopped eating, saving every morsel of food for her daughters and passing her rations to them, through a hole she made at the bottom of the infirmary wall.

On 28 October, selections began for women to be relocated to Bergen-Belsen. More than 8,000 women, including Anne and Margot Frank and Auguste van Pels, were transported, but Edith Frank was left behind and later died from starvation. Tents were erected at Bergen-Belsen to accommodate the influx of prisoners, and as the population rose, the death toll due to disease increased rapidly. Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar and Nanette Blitz, who were confined in another section of the camp. Goslar and Blitz both survived the war and later discussed the brief conversations that they had conducted with Anne through a fence. Blitz described her as bald, emaciated and shivering and Goslar noted that Auguste van Pels was with Anne and Margot Frank, and was caring for Margot, who was severely ill. Neither of them saw Margot as she was too weak to leave her bunk. Anne told both Blitz and Goslar that she believed her parents were dead, and for that reason did not wish to live any longer. Goslar later estimated that their meetings had taken place in late January or early February, 1945.

In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp and killed approximately 17,000 prisoners. Witnesses later testified that Margot fell from her bunk in her weakened state and was killed by the shock, and that a few days later Anne died. They stated that this occurred a few weeks before the camp was liberated by British troops on 15 April 1945, although the exact dates were not recorded. After liberation, the camp was burned in an effort to prevent further spread of disease, and Anne and Margot were buried in a mass grave, the exact whereabouts of which is unknown. After the war, it was estimated that of the 107,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands between 1942 and 1944, only 5,000 survived. It was also estimated that up to 30,000 Jews remained in the Netherlands, with many people aided by the Dutch underground. Approximately two-thirds of these people survived the war.

Otto Frank survived his internment in Auschwitz. After the war ended, he returned to Amsterdam where he was sheltered by Jan and Miep Gies, as he attempted to locate his family. He learned of the death of his wife, Edith, in Auschwitz, but he remained hopeful that his daughters had survived. After several weeks, he discovered that Margot and Anne also had died. He attempted to determine the fates of his daughters' friends, and learned that many had been murdered. Susanne Ledermann, often mentioned in Anne's diary, had been gassed along with her parents, though her sister, Barbara, a close friend of Margot, had survived. Several of the Frank sisters' school friends had survived, as had the extended families of both Otto and Edith Frank, as they had fled Germany during the mid 1930s, with individual family members settling in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Diary of a Young Girl
In July 1945, after the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of Anne and Margot, Miep Gies gave Otto Frank the diary, along with a bundle of loose notes that she had saved, in the hope that she could have returned them to Anne. Otto Frank later commented that he had not realised Anne had kept such an accurate and well-written record of their time in hiding. In his memoir he described the painful process of reading the diary, recognizing the events described and recalling that he had already heard some of the more amusing episodes read aloud by his daughter. He also noted that he saw for the first time the more private side of his daughter, and those sections of the diary she had not discussed with anyone, noting, "For me it was a revelation... I had no idea of the depth of her thoughts and feelings... She had kept all these feelings to herself". Moved by her repeated wish to be an author, he began to consider having it published.

Anne's diary began as a private expression of her thoughts and she wrote several times that she would never allow anyone to read it. She candidly described her life, her family and companions, and their situation, while beginning to recognise her ambition to write fiction for publication. In March 1944, she heard a radio broadcast by Gerrit Bolkestein—a member of the Dutch government in exile—who said that when the war ended, he would create a public record of the Dutch people's oppression under German occupation. He mentioned the publication of letters and diaries, and Anne decided to submit her work when the time came. She began editing her writing, removing sections and rewriting others, with the view to publication. Her original notebook was supplemented by additional notebooks and loose-leaf sheets of paper. She created pseudonyms for the members of the household and the helpers. The van Pels family became Hermann, Petronella, and Peter van Daan, and Fritz Pfeffer became Albert Düssell. In this edited version, she also addressed each entry to "Kitty," a fictional character in Cissy van Marxveldt's Joop ter Heul novels that Anne enjoyed reading. Otto Frank used her original diary, known as "version A", and her edited version, known as "version B", to produce the first version for publication. He removed certain passages, most notably those in which Anne is critical of her parents (especially her mother), and sections that discussed Anne's growing sexuality. Although he restored the true identities of his own family, he retained all of the other pseudonyms.

Otto Frank gave the diary to the historian Annie Romein-Verschoor, who tried unsuccessfully to have it published. She then gave it to her husband Jan Romein, who wrote an article about it, titled "Kinderstem" ("A Child's Voice"), published in the newspaper Het Parool on 3 April 1946. He wrote that the diary "stammered out in a child's voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence at Nuremberg put together" His article attracted attention from publishers, and the diary was published in the Netherlands as Het Achterhuis in 1947, followed by a second run in 1950.

It was first published in Germany and France in 1950, and after being rejected by several publishers, was first published in the United Kingdom in 1952. The first American edition was published in 1952 under the title Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and was positively reviewed. It was successful in France, Germany and the United States, but in the United Kingdom it failed to attract an audience and by 1953 was out of print. Its most noteworthy success was in Japan where it received critical acclaim and sold more than 100,000 copies in its first edition. In Japan, Anne Frank quickly became identified as an important cultural figure who represented the destruction of youth during the war.

A play based upon the diary, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, premiered in New York City on 5 October 1955, and later won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was followed by the 1959 movie The Diary of Anne Frank, which was a critical and commercial success. The biographer, Melissa Müller, later wrote that the dramatization had "contributed greatly to the romanticizing, sentimentalizing and universalizing of Anne's story." Over the years the popularity of the diary grew, and in many schools, particularly in the United States, it was included as part of the curriculum, introducing Anne Frank to new generations of readers. In 1986, the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation published the "Critical Edition" of the diary. It includes comparisons from all known versions, both edited and unedited. It also includes discussion asserting its authentication, as well as additional historical information relating to the family and the diary itself.

Cornelis Suijk—a former director of the Anne Frank Foundation and president of the U.S. Center for Holocaust Education Foundation—announced in 1999 that he was in the possession of five pages that had been removed by Otto Frank from the diary prior to publication; Suijk claimed that Otto Frank gave these pages to him shortly before his death in 1980. The missing diary entries contain critical remarks by Anne Frank about her parents' strained marriage, and discusses Anne's lack of affection for her mother. Some controversy ensued when Suijk claimed publishing rights over the five pages and intended to sell them to raise money for his U.S. Foundation. The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, the formal owner of the manuscript, demanded the pages to be handed over. In 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science agreed to donate US$300,000 to Suijk's Foundation, and the pages were returned in 2001. Since then, they have been included in new editions of the diary.

The diary has been praised for its literary merits. Commenting on Anne Frank's writing style, the dramatist Meyer Levin commended Frank for "sustaining the tension of a well-constructed novel", and was so impressed by the quality of her work that he collaborated with Otto Frank on a dramatisation of the diary shortly after its publication. The poet John Berryman wrote that it was a unique depiction, not merely of adolescence but of the "conversion of a child into a person as it is happening in a precise, confident, economical style stunning in its honesty".
In her introduction to the diary's first American edition, Eleanor Roosevelt described it as "one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read". John F. Kennedy discussed Anne Frank in a 1961 speech, and said, "Of all the multitudes who throughout history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, no voice is more compelling than that of Anne Frank." In the same year, the Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg wrote of her: "one voice speaks for six million—the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl."

As Anne Frank's stature as both a writer and humanist has grown, she has been discussed specifically as a symbol of the Holocaust and more broadly as a representative of persecution. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her acceptance speech for an Elie Wiesel Humanitarian Award in 1994, read from Anne Frank's diary and spoke of her "awakening us to the folly of indifference and the terrible toll it takes on our young," which Clinton related to contemporary events in Sarajevo, Somalia and Rwanda. After receiving a humanitarian award from the Anne Frank Foundation in 1994, Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd in Johannesburg, saying he had read Anne Frank's diary while in prison and "derived much encouragement from it." He likened her struggle against Nazism to his struggle against apartheid, drawing a parallel between the two philosophies with the comment "because these beliefs are patently false, and because they were, and will always be, challenged by the likes of Anne Frank, they are bound to fail." Also in 1994, Václav Havel said that "Anne Frank's legacy is very much alive and it can address us fully" in relation to the political and social changes occurring at the time in former Eastern Bloc countries.
Primo Levi suggested that Anne Frank is frequently identified as a single representative of the millions of people who suffered and died as she did because, "One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live." In her closing message in Melissa Müller's biography of Anne Frank, Miep Gies expressed a similar thought, though she attempted to dispel what she felt was a growing misconception that "Anne symbolises the six million victims of the Holocaust", writing: "Anne's life and death were her own individual fate, an individual fate that happened six million times over. Anne cannot, and should not, stand for the many individuals whom the Nazis robbed of their lives... But her fate helps us grasp the immense loss the world suffered because of the Holocaust."

Otto Frank spent the remainder of his life as custodian of his daughter's legacy, saying, "It's a strange role. In the normal family relationship, it is the child of the famous parent who has the honor and the burden of continuing the task. In my case the role is reversed." He also recalled his publisher explaining why he thought the diary has been so widely read, with the comment "he said that the diary encompasses so many areas of life that each reader can find something that moves him personally". Simon Wiesenthal later expressed a similar opinion when he said that Anne Frank's diary had raised more widespread awareness of the Holocaust than had been achieved during the Nuremberg Trials, because "people identified with this child. This was the impact of the Holocaust, this was a family like my family, like your family and so you could understand this."

Denials and legal action
After the diary became widely known in the late 1950s, various allegations against the diary were published, with the earliest published criticisms occurring in Sweden and Norway. Among the accusations was a claim that the diary had been written by Meyer Levin, and that Anne Frank had not really existed. In 1958, Simon Wiesenthal was challenged by a group of protesters at a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank in Vienna who asserted that Anne Frank had never existed, and who challenged Wiesenthal to prove her existence by finding the man who had arrested her. He began searching for Karl Silberbauer and found him in 1963. When interviewed, Silberbauer readily admitted his role, and identified Anne Frank from a photograph as one of the people arrested. He provided a full account of events and recalled emptying a briefcase full of papers onto the floor. His statement corroborated the version of events that had previously been presented by witnesses such as Otto Frank.

Opponents of the diary continued to express the view that it was not written by a child, but had been created as pro-Jewish propaganda, with Otto Frank accused of fraud. In 1959, Frank took legal action in Lübeck against Lothar Stielau, a school teacher and former Hitler Youth member who published a school paper that described the diary as a forgery. The complaint was extended to include Heinrich Buddegerg, who wrote a letter in support of Stielau, which was published in a Lübeck newspaper. The court examined the diary, and, in 1960, authenticated the handwriting as matching that in letters known to have been written by Anne Frank, and declared the diary to be genuine. Stielau recanted his earlier statement, and Otto Frank did not pursue the case any further.

In 1976, Otto Frank took action against Heinz Roth of Frankfurt, who published pamphlets stating that the diary was a forgery. The judge ruled that if he published further statements he would be subjected to a fine of 500,000 German marks and a six-month jail sentence. Roth appealed against the court's decision and died in 1978, a year before his appeal was rejected.
Otto Frank mounted a further lawsuit in 1976 against Ernst Römer who distributed a pamphlet titled "The Diary of Anne Frank, Bestseller, A Lie". When another man named Edgar Geiss distributed the same pamphlet in the courtroom, he too was prosecuted. Römer was fined 1,500 Deutschmarks and Geiss was sentenced to six months imprisonment. On appeal the sentence was reduced, but the case against him was dropped following a subsequent appeal because the statutory limitation for libel had expired.

With Otto Frank's death in 1980, the original diary, including letters and loose sheets, were willed to the Dutch Institute for War Documentation, who commissioned a forensic study of the diary through the Netherlands Ministry of Justice in 1986. They examined the handwriting against known examples and found that they matched, and determined that the paper, glue and ink were readily available during the time the diary was said to have been written. Their final determination was that the diary is authentic, and their findings were published in what has become known as the "Critical Edition" of the diary. On 23 March 1990, the Hamburg Regional Court confirmed its authenticity.

In 1991, Holocaust deniers Robert Faurisson and Siegfried Verbeke produced a booklet titled The Diary of Anne Frank: A Critical Approach. They claimed that Otto Frank wrote the diary, based on assertions that the diary contained several contradictions, that hiding in the Achterhuis would have been impossible, and that the prose style and handwriting of Anne Frank were not those of a teenager.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank Funds in Basel instigated a civil law suit in December 1993, to prohibit the further distribution of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Critical Approach in the Netherlands. On 9 December 1998, the Amsterdam District Court ruled in favour of the claimants, forbade any further denial of the authenticity of the diary and unsolicited distribution of publications to that effect, and imposed a penalty of 25,000 guilders per infringement.

On 3 May 1957, a group of citizens, including Otto Frank, established the Anne Frank Stichting in an effort to rescue the Prinsengracht building from demolition and to make it accessible to the public. The Anne Frank House opened on 3 May 1960. It consists of the Opekta warehouse and offices and the Achterhuis, all unfurnished so that visitors can walk freely through the rooms. Some personal relics of the former occupants remain, such as movie star photographs glued by Anne to a wall, a section of wallpaper on which Otto Frank marked the height of his growing daughters, and a map on the wall where he recorded the advance of the Allied Forces, all now protected behind Perspex sheets. From the small room which was once home to Peter van Pels, a walkway connects the building to its neighbours, also purchased by the Foundation. These other buildings are used to house the diary, as well as changing exhibits that chronicle different aspects of the Holocaust and more contemporary examinations of racial intolerance in various parts of the world. It has become one of Amsterdam's main tourist attractions, and in 2005 received a record 965,000 visitors. The House provides information via the internet, as well as travelling exhibitions, for those not able to visit. In 2005, exhibitions travelled to 32 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and South America.

In 1963, Otto Frank and his second wife, Elfriede Geiringer-Markovits, set up the Anne Frank Fonds as a charitable foundation, based in Basel, Switzerland. The Fonds raises money to donate to causes "as it sees fit". Upon his death, Otto willed the diary's copyright to the Fonds, on the provision that the first 80,000 Swiss francs in income each year was to be distributed to his heirs, and any income above this figure was to be retained by the Fonds to use for whatever projects its administrators considered worthy. It provides funding for the medical treatment of the Righteous among the Nations on a yearly basis. It has aimed to educate young people against racism and has loaned some of Anne Frank's papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. for an exhibition in 2003. Its annual report of the same year gave some indication of its effort to contribute on a global level, with its support of projects in Germany, Israel, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Merwedeplein apartment, in which the Frank family lived from 1933 until 1942, remained privately owned until the early 2000s, when a television documentary focused public attention upon it. In a serious state of disrepair, it was purchased by a Dutch housing corporation, and aided by photographs taken by the Frank family and descriptions of the apartment and furnishings in letters written by Anne Frank, was restored to its 1930s appearance. Teresien da Silva of the Anne Frank House, and Anne Frank's cousin Bernhard "Buddy" Elias also contributed to the restoration project. It opened in 2005 with the aim of providing a safe haven for a selected writer who is unable to write freely in his or her own country. Each selected writer is allowed one year's tenancy during which to reside and work in the apartment. The first writer selected was the Algerian novelist and poet, El-Mahdi Acherchour. In June 2007, "Buddy" Elias donated some 25,000 family documents to the Anne Frank House. Among the artifacts are Frank family photographs taken in Germany and Holland and the letter Otto Frank sent his mother in 1945 informing her that his wife and daughters had perished in Nazi concentration camps.

In November 2007, the Anne Frank tree was scheduled to be cut down to prevent it from falling down on one of the surrounding buildings, after a fungal disease had affected the trunk of this horse-chestnut tree. Dutch economist Arnold Heertje, who was also in hiding during the Second World War, said about the tree: "This is not just any tree. The Anne Frank tree is bound up with the persecution of the Jews." The Tree Foundation, a group of tree conservationists, started a civil case in order to stop the felling of the horse chestnut, which received international media attention. A Dutch court ordered the city officials and conservationists to explore alternatives and come to a solution. The parties agreed to build a steel construction that would prolong the life of the tree up to 15 years.

Over the years, several films about Anne Frank appeared and her life and writings have inspired a diverse group of artists and social commentators to make reference to her in literature, popular music, television, and other forms of media. In 1999, Time named Anne Frank among the heroes and icons of the 20th century on their list The Most Important People of the Century, stating: "With a diary kept in a secret attic, she braved the Nazis and lent a searing voice to the fight for human dignity".