P.T. Lee. Chengalvaraya Naicker, the illustrious founder of this institution,was born in the year 1829. His father, Perumal Naicker, on whom the Government had conferred the title "Sirdar Bahadur", was a subedar-Major in the Madras Army
His mother Theivayanaiammal, towards whom her son showed a rare respect and devotion, was very pious, orthodox and conservative. Even as a child, Chengalvaraya Naicker was noted for his sweet nature, devotion to God and his parents, and kindness to all around him. As he grew up he developed a keen interest in business which led him to adopt trade and commerce as his profession.
At his father's death, Chengalvaraya Naicker, who was thirty years of age, set up a business of his own and soon found himself a leader of the Indian trading community in Madras. He became a Dubash of Messrs. Shand and Co. and soon amassed a great fortune.
He was very capable and hence successful in business. His heart melted at the sight of the poor and the needy. During the great famine of 1857, his house became a regular relief camp where the necessities of life were distributed to all those who were in need of them, irrespective of their caste and creed. His favourite resort was the great temple in Triplicane. Under his patronage a Sabah was founded with the object of editing and publishing the sacred books of the Vaishnavas.Read More
A scheme for ensuring the perpetual continuance of his benevolent charities had been engaging his attention for a number of years and finally resulted in a will dated 1870 (slightly modified by a codicil in 1878) bequeathing the whole of his estate to religious and charitable purposes. The estate was to be administered by a body of Trustees. A few modest allowances were made to members of his own family and to poor students of his community. Certain specific religious offerings were to continue to be made in his name in temples mentioned in the will. His choultry at Oovery was to be permanently maintained and Sadavarthi distributed to Bhairagi pilgrims at Kanchipuram. The whole of the balance, amounting to several lakhs of rupees, was to be extended at the Trustees' discretion in the establishment of an Orphanage and in the promotion of technical education.
One of the most notable things in his will is his wish to include initials "P.T.Lee" before his name. He wanted both his father Perumal Naicker and his mother Theivayanaiammal, people to whom he owed his birth and existence, to be remembered in his name as P.T", besides his pet name "Lee". This was, indeed a highly exemplary and revolutionary act demonstrating his apathy for, and disagreement with, the universally prevalent male chauvinism, reflected in the exclusion of a mother's name in one's initials. We can confidently say that P.T. Lee Chengalvaraya Naicker lived and thought centuries ahead of his times. The great soul passed away in 1874, at the early age of 45