Long ago, decent and well meaning citizens were appointed as Honorary Magistrates by the authorities. They used to handle their tasks in a decent manner. Lakshmi Venugopal of the yonder years was once such person. She hailed from Udumalpet and was the daughter of Bhasyakarulu and Kaveriammal. However she grew up under her aunt and people’s representative Alamelu Manga Thayar in Chennai. She studied at Queen Mary’s College and was quite good with botany and mathematics.
Lakshmi Ammal was married to advocate C.V.Venugopal who had been practicing at Big Bazaar Street. Bapuraju, who had been associated with Venugopal founded the Nanneri Kazhagam. The organization had a wonderful reputation and therefore one of the streets were named after it those days. Unfortunately C.V.Venugopal passed away at a young age and Lakshmi Venugopal took charge of the family quite early in life. She took care of her work, financial matters and the upbringing of her three daughters under her wings. C.V.Venugopal had been a promising civil and criminal lawyer.
The good lady understood the plight of the poor and downtrodden. She understood that one had to invest money, time in the company of a team in order to alleviate the misery of the downtrodden. Lakshmi Venugopal was a part of the Prisoners Aid Society, SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Guild of Service, Red Cross among a number of organizations. She was also an active member of the Ladies Recreation Club for a number of years. The weekly meetings were attended to by her regularly. She was not to be friendly, proper and jovial with all the members of the Ladies Recreation Club. Her work with the various social welfare organizations created a number of close associations. Neelaveni Ramaswamy – wife of G.Ramaswamy of the PSG family, Savithri Shanmugham – daughter of Dr.R.K.Shanmukham Chetty, T.V.M.Thillai Ammal – daughter of T.A.Ramalingam Chettiar, Chandrakanthi Govindarajulu – PSGR Krishnammal Institutions, Manoranjitham Jayaraman and Lakshmi Bai the daughter of jeweler S.P.Ramaswamy Chettiar.
Lakshmi Venugopal was on the board of Gnanambigai Mills and also on the managing committee of Mani High School for a some years. She used to manage her accounts on her own and seldom took help in this regard. The social worker did not ignore her family. She used to be up early, finish her household work, send the daughters to school before stepping out of the home in the interest of the society. The social worker was an excellent cook too. She would make tasty rava laddoos, coconut burfis, murukkus and thatta murukkus for the members of her family. The burfis were made out of the coconuts which were from the trees found in her residence. She could stitch well and a number of the family requirements were fulfilled because of her sewing skills.
Reading was a good past time for the educated women those days and Lakshmi Venugopal was no exception. She used to read The Week, The Indian Express, Nava India, Thuqluq, Ramakrishna Vijayam quite regularly. She began to read Dina Thanthi later on. Her knowledge of music made her to appreciate a number of programs in All India Radio and on television. On the lighter side, good comedy interested her. She wanted to donate her eyes to the Sankara Eye Society and the same was done after her time. Lakshmi Venugopal used to visit all the temples but she was greatly attached to a spiritual Guru Sri Kusuma Haranath for all her life. The book and the details of her spiritual mentor came into her house all of a sudden and no one knew her. People felt that it was kind of a miracle.
Long ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had spread Krishna Bhakti in India at a time when the country was going through a difficult phase. He was known as Gauranga and was considered to be divine. The reincarnation of Gauranga, the sixteenth century Saint who was renowned throughout India as an embodiment of Krishna was prophesized by Sage Manohardas Goswami of Bengal. This reincarnation took place in the nineteenth century (according the followers). It took place at Sonamukhi. The objective of the reincarnation was to spread ‘Krishna Prem’. Saint Kusuma Haranath (1865 – 1927) is said to be the reincarnation and he was born in Bengal as the son of Jayaramabandhopadhyaya and Bhagavathi Sundaridevi. He married Kusuma kumari. The Saint was a great healer and he took all the burdens of the devotees on himself. Saint Haranath is recognized by many Indians as an avatar, a divine personality whose mission was to initiate a spiritual rebirth among Indians. He was clairvoyant, had remarkable powers of healing and was said to travel on the astral plane. He was crazy with the love for God. It was said that if Narada gave salvation through his harp, Lord Krishna through his flute, the pen of Saint Kusuma Haranath was sufficient for providing salvation. He wrote a number of letters and the books which contain the letters are considered to be important by his followers and they are read regularly by them. He was a unique advent which made the relationship between God and man as very personal. During his sojourn he saved many lives, revived the dead but the greatest miracle was his capacity to attract people treading the path of sin and put them on the path of love. He stated that ‘Hate Sin and not the Sinner’, The great one did not establish any cult and the letters written by him to his followers are the source of inspiration to his aspirants. Kusuma also stated that – God is everywhere and all mercy. Please love him and fear him not. He is an object of love and not fear. The other statement of gold-Life in the world is like rest in a travelers inn. If for flimsy reasons, it is spent on controversies, the traveler will find lack of energy to resume the journey the next day. His consort Kusumakumari (1870 – 1956) carried on his message of love well into the middle of the twentieth century. The followers of Saint Haranath believe that he is a reincarnation of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This is corroborated by them from the many events that took place in the life of Haranath and also from the messages released during celebrations of his birth dates. Lakshmi Venugopal and her family believed in this Saint and her house was therefore named as ‘Kusuma Vilas’.
Lakshmi Venugopal was a lady with a refined taste and she used to purchase jewellery for her family from the store belonging to P.A.Raju Chettiar. It was on the direction of P.A.Raju Chettiar that the famous designer smith M.R.Meenakshisundaram Achari (friend of super star M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar) used to make ornaments for her family. She had strong minded and disciplined personality all her life. The pink and cream residence of Lakshmi Venugopal continues to add to the personality of the city. Lakshmi Venugopal spent time with her family, friends, social work and truly believed that all of it was possible due to the grace of Lord Haranath Sri Kusuma Haranath Prabhu – The incarnation of Gauranga.