Our Founder

Our Founder - Sister Subbalakshmi

In the annals of South Indian social history, one of the names that are emblazoned is that of Sister Subbalakshmi, who worked all her life for a number of causes which enhanced the position of women, especially widows who were sometimes little more than infants when they were left without their husbands, a situation worse than death, a living death, that they had to go through for the rest of their days. Living in the shadows, always taking the backseat, often treated as the maids and cooks by their own families, widows were the very dregs of the social order. Sister Subbalakshmi was herself a victim of the barbaric custom of child marriage.

Born on the 18th of August, 1886, into an orthodox Brahmin family in the remote Thanjavur village of Rishiyur, there was nothing very much in her life that heralded the changes she was to bring about by the end of her life on the 20th of December, 1969. The very fabric of the lives of innumerable women and, because of them, many more thousands in their families, their children and grandchildren, creating a domino effect, would undergo a revolution. Encouraged and supported by her parents and an aunt to study she got a postgraduate degree in education and founded many of Chennai’s leading educational institutions, one of which was the Sarada Vidyalayas. Established to give girls, particularly, the impetus they required to lead independent and purposeful lives, Sister Subbalakshmi handed the school over to the Ramakrishna Math on 3rd May, 1938. As this happened to be the holy Akshaya Trithiya, this day has become to be known as Founder’s Day.

Sister Subbalakshmi was first and foremost a champion of women and all the Sarada Vidyalayas are dedicated to the cause of espousing girls to realising their full potential as active members of society. Education in our schools is dedicated to the holistic development of women, especially since this coincides with Swami Vivekananda’s own desire for the upliftment of Indian women.