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Born Bhashyam Iyengar
10 November 1910
Thirukovilur, Tamil nadu, India
Died September 11, 1987(1987-09-11) (aged 76)
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality Indian
Education College  – St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli
Period 1930–
Genres Tamil Historic Fiction, Tamil Social Fiction
Notable works Kadal Pura, Yavana Rani, Mannan Magal
Spouse Ranganayaki
Children Sadagopan
Relatives Sean Roldan (grandson)

Sandilyan or Chandilyan (Tamil: சாண்டில்யன்) is the Pen name of Bhashyam Iyengar, a noted Tamil writer of historical fiction. He is known for his historical romance and adventure novels, often set in the times of the Chola and Pandya empires.

Early life[edit]

Sandilyan was born in Thirukovilur, Tamil Nadu on 10 November 1910[1] to Ramanujam Iyengar and Poongovilvalli. His family was from Thiruindalur village near Mayiladuthurai. He did his schooling in Chennai Pachaiyappa's School and Saidapet Model School. His college education came from Tiruchirappalli St. Joseph's College. While in college, he was influenced by the visit of C. Rajagopalachari and joined the Indian independence movement. He became a member of the Indian National Congress. He married Ranganayaki in 1929.

Early career[edit]

After finishing college he moved to T. Nagar in the 1930s. He became friends with his neighbours V.Swaminatha Sharma who was working in Thiru. Vi. Ka's weekly magazine Navasakthi and the noted Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy. With their encouragement he wrote his first short story titled Shantha Seelan. Impressed with his work, Kalki published his short stories like Kannammavin Kadhal, Adhirshtam in Ananda Vikatan. Encouraged by this success Sandilyan started learning the Tamil language formally from a Tamil Pandit named Thirukannapuram Srinivachariar. He started writing Tamil short stories in the Tamil Weekly Sudesamithran and also worked as a reporter in Sudesamithran from 1935 to 1942. Later he became a sub-editor at the English daily newspaper Hindustan Times.

Work in films[edit]

During his time at the Hindustan Times he became friends with B N Reddy of Vijaya Studios and Chittor V. Nagaiah.[2] This bought him into the world of films. He co-wrote the screenplays of films like Swarga Seema (1945) and En Veedu (1953). He later wrote about his film world experiences in his book Cinema Valarndha Kadhai (1985). Later he also produced a documentary titled "Birth of a Newspaper".


After his stint at the Hindustan Times he returned to work at Sudesamithran and started writing full-length novels. One of his first works was a self-published political novel called Balathkaaram. He also started publishing in other magazines like Amudhasurabi. Paalaivanathu pushpam and Sandha deepam were his earliest historical novels. Sandilyan's most famous novels were serialised in Kumudam, a weekly Tamil magazine and was instrumental in increasing the circulation to a greater extent. He was one of the very few Tamil writers to get a monthly salary from Kumudam for his novels. After leaving Kumudam, he unsuccessfully ran a weekly magazine called Kamalam. His historical novels were published in book form by Vanadhi Padhippagam and became best sellers. As of 2009, many of them still remain in print, four decades after being first published. Kamil Zvelebil once called him as the "fourth most popular Tamil Writer".[1]

Nationalization Controversy[edit]

In 2009, The Tamil Nadu Government announced its intention to nationalise Sandilyan's works (along with those of 28 other authors) and provide compensation to his legal heirs.[3] This caused criticism from the legal heirs of Sundara Ramasami and Kannadasan.[4] The Government soon retracted its position saying that the offer was optional and that it would force those who did not want to lose royalty.[5] Sandilyan's legal heirs declined the Government's offer to nationalise and provide solatium.[6]

Partial bibliography[edit]


  • Porattangal – போராட்டங்கள் (1978)


  • Sri Ramanujar – ஸ்ரீ ராமானுஜர்

Short Story Collection[edit]

  • Raniyin kanavu – ராணியின் கனவு (1963)

Non Fiction[edit]

  • Cinema Valarndha Kadhai – சினிமா வளர்ந்த கதை (1987)
  • Kamban Kanda Pengal – கம்பன் கண்ட பெண்கள் (1979)

Non-Historical Fiction[edit]

  • Balathkaaram (Puratchi Pen) (1958)
  • Shenbaga Thottam
  • Manamoham
  • Nangooram
  • Madhumalar

Historical Fiction[edit]

Chozha Commander Karunagara Pallavan (later became King Thondaiman) heads the invasion of Vijaya (modern-day Malaysia and Singapore) and Kalinga (Modern Orissa). 11th century Chozha Empire.
Eastern Chozhan army commander's love story set in the back drop of assassination of Ilanchetchenni and his son Karikala Chozhan's struggle to get back his kingdom. 1st century Early Chozha Empire.
Kannimadam is set in the later part of the 12th century during the reign of Second Rajathi Raja Cholan. It revolves around the family feud in the Pandya dynasty, Sinhala army's entry into Pandya Nadu at the request of one side, the alleged atrocities of the Sinhala army and the war between Sinhala and Chola armies ending with the defeat of the former.



  • Sandilyan (1978), Porattangal, Chennai: Vanadhi Padhippagam

External links[edit]