A lone ranger, committed to the society he belonged and an artist with multiple views , “Kalaignani” lived a secluded life fit to his highest title “ Mamanithar” (Great Man).He was an artist, Photographer, Drama artist, Archaeological researcher- Collector, and a magazine editor put into one. He published a magazine called “Kalaignani’ which published articles on Arts, history, literature and Archaeology and served as its Editor.
He always insisted on Tamil people living with self-respect and prestige. He always raised his voice against wanton destruction of cultural relics. Among much difficulties and distress he safeguarded the civilization treasures which indicate the existence of Eelam Tamils.
Simple appearance, white knotted hair, always wearing white “ Verti and Shawl” depicting his innocent mind, Prophetic eyes, these are the Characteristics of Kalaignani alias A.Selvaratnam. His main occupation was collecting value less old newspapers, statues, coins, and ancient pottery pieces. He protected them inside Glass boxes which earned him the nick name of ‘glass man’.
A native of Kurumbasiddy, he was displaced several times in the war situation, lost several of his precious collections on the way and finally settled at Parameswara Junction in Thirunelvely. Educated at Kurumbasiddy Paramananthar Vidyalayam, and Thellipalai Union College , he was known as Thiyagan in his village. He led a bachelor life sacrificing his life for the Tamil culture, which make his pet name more fitting to him (Thiyagan means sacrifice in Tamil). He was committed to his ideal for 54 long years toiling alone.
In his young age he was punished by his art teacher for not drawing correctly. Marks of the canning were all over his back. Wrapping a towel to hide the marks, he was digging under a tree when he came across three old coins and a conch shell. He exhibited his coins stamps etcetera, in an exhibition organized for the visit of the then Governor, to the school. After the Governor inspected the exhibition Kalaignani was awarded two silver medals for his exhibits. From that day he was more committed in collecting antique articles.
Later his one-man exhibitions were held during the 4th Tamil Research conference held in Jaffna, and for 12 days at the Jaffna University Library hall, and at Jaffna College in 1998. Exhibited at these exhibitions were Archaeological remains, and other articles connected to Arts, Culture, Literature, Religion, Ayurvedic medicine, Astrology, and Politics.
His services to the Tamil Nation came to an end with his death on 28th December 2001.
He was bestowed with the highest Civilian Title of “ MAMANITHAR” by the Leader of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Prabaharan, in honour of his immeasurable services.