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Born 1895
Manmalai Medu village near Virudhunagar (now in Tamil Nadu, India)
Died (1956-10-13)13 October 1956
Organization Indian National Congress

Sankaralinganar was a Tamil Indian independence activist and Gandhian from India who fasted to death in an effort to change the name of Madras State to Tamil Nadu.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sankaralinganar was born in Manmalai Medu village near Virudhunagar to Karuppasamy Nadar and Valliammai in 1895. He completed his schooling at Enadhinatha Nayanar Vidyalaya in Virudhunagar. He started a Khadi business in Paramakudi.[2] In 1917, he joined Indian National Congress and participated in the Indian independence movement. Upon C. Rajagopalachari's request, he left his business and joined Gandhi Ashram in Tiruchengode.[3] In 1930, Sankaralinganar participated in the Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi from Ahmedabad to Dandi. For his involvement in the independence movement, he was imprisoned for six months in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli). He accompanied Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Virudhunagarin 1933. In 1952, Sankaralinganar donated his two houses for a girls school and deposited money to provide food to the students.[2][3]

Hunger strike[edit]

After independence of India in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State. Madras State had multilingual speakers which included Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu speakers. In 1952, Potti Sreeramulu demanded a separate state for Telugu speaking people with Madras as its capital. He went on hunger strike with his demand, and later died during his fasts. The Government of India formed a separate state and reorganised states in 1956 based on linguistic lines.[4] After reorganisation, Tamil speaking people became the majority in Madras State. Tamil activists demanded a change in the state's name. During this period, Sankaralinganar started a hunger strike on 27 July 1956 in Virudhunagar, with twelve demands which included Madras State to be renamed Tamil Nadu (Tamizhagam, Tamil country), the achievement of electoral reforms and alcohol prohibition in India.[5] Leaders like C. N. Annadurai, M. P. Sivagnanam and Jeevanandham requested him to stop his hunger strike but he continued. His health deteriorated and he was admitted to a hospital in Madurai. After 76 days of fasting, he died on 13 October 1956.[6] By his will, his body was given to the Communist Party of India which buried it in Madurai.[3]


In May 1957, the opposition political party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) proposed a resolution in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly to change the state's name, but the then ruling Indian National Congress Party defeated the resolution. DMK became the ruling party in 1968 and passed the resolution.[6] The name officially changed to Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969 by an amendment in the Parliament of India.[6] The Tamil Nadu Government built a memorial dedicated to Sanakralinganar in Virudhunagar in 2015.[7]


  1. ^ "A tradition of political martyrdom". The Hindu. 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "காட்சிப் பொருளாக தியாகி சங்கரலிங்கனார் மணி மண்டபம்". Dinamani (in Tamil). 6 February 2017. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "தியாகி சங்கரலிங்கனார் மணி மண்டபம் விரைவில் திறப்பு: தமிழ்நாடு என்ற பெயரைப் பெற்றுத் தந்தவர்". The Hindu (Tamil). 4 September 2014. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  4. ^ "The martyr of Telugu statehood". The Hindu. 11 November 2002. Archived from the original on 28 October 2003. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  5. ^ "தமிழ்நாட்டுக்காக உயிர்நீத்த சங்கரலிங்கனார் உண்ணாவிரதம் துவங்கிய நாள் இன்று !". Vikatan. 27 July 2017. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Golden jubilee of renaming Madras state as TN is cherishing moment". Deccan Chronicle. 14 January 2018. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Jaya unveils memorials of TN fighters". Times of India. 20 June 2015. Archived from the original on 24 July 2016.