A TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER: HAPPY 65th BIRTHDAY, THANNAMBIKAI BALASUBRAMANIAM by Bairavee Balasubramaniam
Today, August 18, 2016, my father turns 65. Known as ‘ Thannambikai Balasubramaniam ‘, or ‘Thannambikkai Bala’ to the Malaysian-Tamil public, my father is known as the Pioneer of Tamil-Language Motivational Seminars in Malaysia. It was he who coined the well-known phrase ‘Thanmunaippu Payirtchi’ (Self-Confidence Seminar) in the Tamil language – a term that so many now use without a second thought.
He has literally spoken to hundreds of thousands of people in Malaysia and abroad, through live audiences, through TV, Radio and other platforms in over 25 countries and global cities across Europe, Asia and Africa. He has dedicated years of his life to the service and upliftment of the Malaysian-Tamil community and of preserving the cultural integrity and artistic heritage of the Tamil culture.
An entirely self-made man, my father rose from very humble beginnings. He was born in a rubber estate, his mother was a rubber tapper and his father was a cook for the British overseer running the place. As he got older, he ventured into different kinds of businesses, and was fueled by idealism, passion and strong sense of destiny. Eventually he entered the insurance industry, and later built his own platform as a motivational pioneer and speaker.
Some of the high points of his career took place in the 1990s, with the foundation of Thannambikkai Maiyam (Center) that pioneered a new format for the motivational seminar (in the Tamil language), that introduced the concept of motivation for students (academic motivation), that broke so much ground in the attempt to raise consciousness and awareness of the power of the Self through the Sub-Conscious Mind. Thousands of Malaysian-Tamils have kept my father’s ‘Vetri Nitchayam’ poster in their homes – Some of them still do. During this time he also released the ‘Vetri Nitchayam’ tape cassette – a recording of his speeches – Many a Tamil has been moved to transform his/her life by listening to that one tape alone. I’ve seen so many people come up to him over the years – never having met him in person – but thanked him for the change he made in their lives – just through that one tape
In this period he also edited the Thannambikkai Magazine, the first Tamil-language publication devoid of politics, cinema, religion, gossip or current affairs. He facilitated the publication and sale of the ‘Thangga Thirukural’, a Gold-Dusted Tome housing the intellectual heritage of ancient Tamil philosophy as written by Sage Thiruvallular. He even founded INTAMM – the International Tamils Motivational Movement.
There’s so much more I could say about my father, in terms of achievements, his evolution, his legacy and contribution to the global Tamil diaspora – but I think I’ll stop there as there is so much more he is yet to accomplish – as he enters a new phase in his life: of the spiritual seeker.
For me, watching my father on stage as I was growing up was like watching a volcano dance. He roared, he raged, his passion and convictions lit up the aspirations of an entire generation. He summoned the sleeping warriors within so many and awakened them to the possibility of their own greatness. Many, including myself, saw him as a Lion. Some of us still do.
But that’s just one side of him. The social reformer, the visionary, the humanitarian, the motivational speaker – these are just selected aspects of a truly complex human being.
For me, my father’s greatest strength and gift to society, to the world – isn’t his voice or his passion – but his heart. He inspired people – he inspired me (and continues to inspire me) through the sheer greatness, the size, the breadth and depth of capacity to Unconditionally Love another human being.
I call him a ‘Champion Hugger’ – if there was an Olympic contest for hugging – he bags the gold every time. He is a deeply loyal, caring and nurturing man and many call him ‘Appa’ or ‘Uncle’ out of the love that his heart spontaneously evokes in others. I know one young man who searched for him for 10 years just so he could have a hug from my father once more. It’s a different kind of magic – us Tamils would know it as ‘Anbu’ (Compassion).
It is difficult for some to even find the space to love one person in their heart (beyond their own family), but somehow – my father managed to fit in an entire society.
He has so much Love to give, and when he stands by you it is as though no force on earth can shake you or move you. For when my father believes in someone, they feel invincible. They grow their wings, and learn to fly. Eventually, they Soar.
Perhaps that is the greatest secret to his success as a motivator, to his unquestionable legacy of awakening that he has created within Tamils across the globe, within all those who have been touched by his words or his heart – and within myself.
To honor my father on his 65th birthday, I thought that the best I could do was to tell a small part of his story – the Man behind the Motivation. There’s so much more that one can say, but I’ll end it here saying:
I consider it one my life’s greatest blessings to have the honor and privilege of being your daughter.
Here’s to many more decades of Inspiration, Love, and Awakening. I know that the best, for you, is yet to come.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, APPA
Best Wishes from Your Daughter,