This Facebook post sums up the phenomenon and not just a leader J Jayalalithaa was

Jayalalitha's life was not a bed of roses and she fought hard to become a phenomenon that she was.

By: Trends Desk | Updated: December 6, 2016 5:32 pm
J Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 (Source: Facebook/ Charanya Kannan) J Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 (Source: Facebook/ Charanya Kannan)

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 after being hospitalised for over two months. Apollo Hospitals in Chennai announced her demise at 11.30pm on Monday, and since then the social media space has been full of condolence messages by not only politicians and AIADMK party members, but people across India and industry. Some members have also said how with her now gone, they feel ‘orphaned’.

WATCH | Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s Life Journey

Many politicians have even flown to Chennai to pay their respects, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Millions of people are mourning the demise of Amma, but what inspired such devotion? It was, over the years, her transformation from Jayalalithaa to ‘Amma’. As novelist-journalist Vaasanthi, who has extensively written about the leader, said, “The wailing has not stopped. They had called her rosaappoo amma — the lady beautiful as a rose. They loved her; revered her and worshiped her. They saw her benign smile from everywhere — on everything they had at home that she so benevolently offered.”

Jayalalitha’s life was not a bed of roses and she fought hard to become a phenomenon that she was. This post shared on Facebook by Charanya Kannan, which has gone viral on social media, sums up just why Jayalalithaa held such a special place in the hearts of not only her followers, but those who knew her as well.

WATCH | Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa Passes Away After Suffering Cardiac Arrest

Read the post here.

She was only 16 years old when she starred opposite M.G.R in Ayirathil Oruvan. The entire cast & crew would stand up every time the veteran actor walked in, but the Church Park educated, English speaking Jayalalitha sat there with her legs crossed, reading her book. It was this audacity that went on to define the rest of her political career. Obviously, she was a charming, multi-faceted actor who was trained in various dance forms. But not so obviously, she was well read and witty, she was intelligent and she knew it. It was not merely her affair with MGR that drew her to politics, it was her prolific ability to speak in English & Hindi with an intellect that could match an economist. When MGR died, she sat conspicuously at his head for an entire two days, relegating his wife Janaki to a sidelined spot. Janaki’s aids tried to push her away, in fact pinched her, stepped on her feet, but she refused to budge. When she got on to the carriage for the final procession, she was visibly pushed off it in front of all television cameras. This effrontery was what would help her survive all those years of politics that would follow. The entire party split into two after MGR’s death, but four years later united under her leadership to form one formidable opposition.
She won against all odds. She was a white skinned Brahmin in a party that thrived due to its Dravidian anti-class rhetoric. She was a glamorous actor who cannot, by definition, be taken seriously. Above all, she was a woman trying to ascend to power in 1980s in Tamilnadu. An unmarried, childless woman. To put it in context, she was not only walking a path of thorns, she did it in an oxygen less chamber while her arms and legs were tied. It’s a feat that she survived at all, not to mention that she actually thrived. In 1989, when she opposed Karunanidhi’s presentation of the budget, she was almost disrobed in the assembly. This was in addition to being the recipient of lewd comments and hair pulling. This is probably the highest documented insult that a woman has ever faced in a state Assembly. Yet she persisted. She came out of that incident more guarded than ever before. She wrapped herself in layers of clothing and stopped wearing any jewelry at all. She succeeded at ‘desexualizing’ herself and branded herself as ‘amma’ (mother), the only known way to gain respect in that highly testosterone filled environment.
Everyone knows her as the person who silences opposition and who creates sycophants who fall at her feet and worship her. This was the only possible way she could command, consolidate and hold on to the otherwise elusive power. If she was any more cordial than this, she might have as well been an airhostess.
She played popular politics. When the DMK promised laptops, she provided table fans, mixers and grinders instead all branded with her cherubic photograph on it. She accumulated disproportionate assets in 1996, and has faced her share of atonement. However, no one else, not even men, could have been a formidable opposition to the DMK that has systematized corruption and nepotism in ways that she couldn’t. Forget her followers who baselessly immolate themselves or cut off their fingers in a spree of blind devotion towards her. I have spoken to several civil servants of the state who claim they function with lesser interference under her leadership than under the other party.
And with four and a half years of her term left, there is no single leader that can fill her void. It will be several years, even decades, before another woman can even remotely achieve what she did in a state like Tamilnadu. Now her statues will come up all over the state, and for once I’m glad. In a few generations, all that will matter is that there is a woman’s statue as well, and that statue is not a mere kannagi who was venerated because she was a perfect wife, but of a woman who was a true and powerful leader of her own merit and her own making.

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  1. N
    Nafeesa
    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:25 am
    All Indian politicians are god..lol...
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    1. C
      C P
      Dec 6, 2016 at 11:14 am
      Does the writer who is Kannagi ? Then, she should fear in her conscience before comparing Jayalalitha or any lady with Kannagi.
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      1. H
        Hary gunishetty
        Dec 6, 2016 at 12:02 pm
        Gr8t soul. I pray for the indomitable spirit. OM TAT SAT.
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        1. J
          Jay Shen
          Dec 6, 2016 at 11:51 am
          Check out the irony - she was light-skinned, brahmin and from karnataka, definitely the 3 things Tamils hate, and she ruled them for 5 terms, hats of to this lady, she is the iron lady of Tamilnadu.
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          1. J
            john
            Dec 6, 2016 at 10:22 am
            Feel sad for such a wonderful person gone...Our country require more living examples of her!
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            1. P
              Prakash
              Dec 6, 2016 at 10:16 am
              Awesome
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              1. P
                Prakash Bebington
                Dec 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm
                Born into a Tamil Brahmin family in Mysuru, excelled in academics, pushed into cine industry by mother at 15, excelled in movies, pushed into politics by mentor, excelled in politics, the Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu---whose own life was never in her control---controlled the lives of 7 crore humans of an ancient, conservative civilization. To this civilization that believes Knowledge (Saraswathi), Wealth (Lakshmi) and Courage (Parvathi) can never reside together, she proved otherwise. To this patriarchy that believes that only Kings can rule their proud civilization, she proved otherwise. To this society that surrepiously smirks at cine artistes as "koothaadi", she became "Amma" (Mother). lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;After a disastrous first term as an inexperienced Chief Minister and hounded to near extinction by legal disputes thereafter, this quick learner realized that ONLY the love of the mes can protect her in this life and beyond. Strenuously moulding herself in the image of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen (who in turn, moulded her image from Virgin Mary), she ushered in an era of never-seen-before good governance, women empowerment, industrial development and poverty alleviation. She doted on the poor through unprecedented "Amma Canteens" (low-cost eateries), "Amma Water", "Amma Pharmacy"... and the planned "Amma Homes".lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Deeply wary of her ociates indulging in corruption and spoiling her image with the mes, she kept everyone at a distance and bounced them around, while the mes watched in glee. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Just as Queen Elizabeth had separated Church and State, she reined in the temple priestly cl, incurring their curses. And like Elizabeth, she was showered with abundant blessings from the poor.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;An ancient Tamil proverb avers that "The best place to store one's wealth is in the stomachs of the poor". Having gathered much good karma in the final decades of her life, Ms. Jayalalithaa Jayaram has left us for a better place where I pray that she finally finds the peace she never had in her life here.
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                1. R
                  Ramanan
                  Dec 6, 2016 at 11:40 am
                  Whoa! Whoa! Don't get carried away so much. She succeeded in a dirty, humiliating environment of TN politics where worms like Karuna and the shani's around him ruled r the roost talking about Travida's while looting them and making them dependent. She broke the back of such evil people to become one herself.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Trying to humanize her through emotional and false hagiographies is a reckless act of insensitivity to the poor of this country, who have their lives and livelihoods snatched away, only to reclaim part of it as charity by a revolutionary leader - of the DK, DMK or the ADMK kind over time. This is the REAL tragedy of India - the loss of the self that the poor, the ignorant and the dumb mes of India have experienced first under the Brits and now in more intense fashion, under the Indian rulers. Why else should someone weep inconsolably, more than perhaps they do when even their parents p away??
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                  1. A
                    Aarvi
                    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:48 am
                    where is her actual family?
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