OKSR Kumaraswamy Mudaliar was born on 04 October 1904 in a middle-class family in Chennimalai, now Erode in Tamil Nadu. His family was into handloom weaving, and they could not afford his schooling. So, in order to augment the family income and learn the trade, he had to drop out of school in class 5. He was married off when he was only 19 years old as per his family's wishes. He continued to work as an assistant at the spinning mill during this time.
In the meantime, the young Kumaran was getting influenced by the independence movement that was fast gaining momentum across the country. Inspired by Gandhiji’s values and objectives, he began participating in demonstrations and activities as per Gandhiji’s directives. Seeing his growing interest in the freedom struggle activities, his family became concerned. They would pay him numerous visits and warn him to steer clear of the movement as they felt he was endangering all their lives. They would even go to his place of business and tell his co-workers to dissuade him from being a part of such activities.
Kumaran, on the other hand, paid no attention to their advice. Instead, he became so involved in the Indian independence movement that he soon founded the Desa Bandhu Youth Association. The members of this group were primarily the youth from Tamil Nadu and other surrounding areas who were eager to fight for India's independence. Together, they organized numerous anti-British protest marches all across Tamil Nadu. Kumaran was fondly referred to as Tirupur Kumaran as he was the motivational factor in the youth joining the freedom movement.
In 1932, when the British authorities imprisoned Gandhiji for leading a demonstration in Bombay, riots and protests broke out all over the country. On 11 January in the same year, in Tirupur, a patriotic march led by Thiyagi P S Sundaram was held in honour of the movement and to also show their defiance towards the British authorities. The protestors carried the Indian National Flag, even though doing so was banned at the time. Tirupur Kumaran was one of the protestors holding the flag. The British forces clamped down very heavily on the protestors and started lathi charging them. The spirited Kumaran refused to leave the premises. He got caught in the mayhem that ensued, and he was later discovered dead on the street still clutching the National Flag. His family’s worst fears had come true. Though only 27 years old, the sacrifice of Kodi Katha Kumaran (The Kumaran who saved the Flag) will always be an integral part of the freedom struggle archives.
To pay homage to this young freedom fighter, the Tirupur Kumaran Memorial was erected in Kumaran Salai opposite the Tirupur Railway Station. In 2004, a commemorative stamp was issued in Chennimalai, Erode District (Tamil Nadu). On the occasion of his 118th birth anniversary, on 4th October 2021, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu renamed Sampath Nagar Main Road in Erode city to Thiyagi Kumaran Road.