I consider it privilege to associate myself with those who in these days are paying their tribute to the memory of a man who lived and worked for the Tamil-speaking people of Sri Lanka. This lecture on ‘Research in Tamil Studies – Retrospect and Prospect’ is not incongruous with his memory because he advocated the Tamil University Movement and emphasised that Tamil Studies should obtain priority in the future University for the Tamil-speaking people.
I am also happy that Mr. K. Nesiah, the doyen of educationists in Sri Lanka who in spite of his seventy eight years is in the forefront of the movement for Tamil rights, is taking the Chair at this lecture. As colleagues in the University of Ceylon we have had occasion to collaborate in movements advancing the cause of the Tamil – speaking people and we continue to do so also in our retirement.
Mr. M. Sivasithamparam, M.P. is to propose the vote of thanks’. As a time honoured and distinguished parliamentarian, I have followed his pronouncements on a variety of subjects with interest and enthusiasm and I am grateful to him for associating himself with this lecture. I cannot help mentioning that his deep sonorous voice has always attracted me. I am grateful to Mr. V. Yogeswaran M.P. for Jaffna and those who helped him to provide such magnificent lighting arrangements My thanks are due to Mrs. Amirthalingam for her beautiful rendering of the Tamil anthems, and to Mrs. Kathiravelpillai for providing me with tile means to carry on speaking without difficulty..
The History of Tamil Research
It would be wrong to imagine that Tamil Research commenced with the coming to India and Sri Lanka of the Europeans or with the founding of the University of Madras. Our two thousand year old literature could not have been so flourishing and varied without elaborate and minute research.
Our first book extant, the Tolkappiyam supposes a codification and systemisation done after a minute study of the language and a study of the grammars and literary works existing at the time. The poetry of the Cankam period minute study of human psychology and of Nature. The Cilappatikaram supposes a close study of previous literary tradition and an exhaustive examination of the culture the religion and the people of the three kingdoms.
The Tirukural has been compiled after the meticulous study of the ethics of the Cankam period. The commentators who appear in the mediaeval period had- to study and explain works which had been composed centuries before them and some works which did not belong to their own religious traditions. A commentator like Adiyarkunallar explains the music, the dance, the trade, the religious rites embodied in an epic which was the synthesis of the culture of a period far removed from his own period. Any study of the above mentioned works will show that there was a living and continued tradition of Tamil teaching and research which is even evident in the editions of Swaminatha Aiyar.
The modern period of Tamil Research commences with the coming of the Europeans, specifically of European missionaries from the 17th century and after. One of the earliest to recognise the remarkable qualities of Tamil literature and even of local religious cults was Bartholomeas Ziegenbalg, the German Lutheran Missionary who lived in Tranquebar in the early 18th century. His companion J. E. Gruendler was the first to state that in his considered opinion Tamil was worthy to be taught at German Universities.
The Tranquebar missionaries with Ziegebalg at the head collected numerous manuscripts compiled translations and grammars in order to make Europeans familiar with the wisdom of the Tamils The next famous name that comes to mind is of course that of Father Joseph Constantine Beschi who in the same century became a literary phenomenon for all the world to admire. Apart from his literary works in Tamil which command the admiration of native Tamil scholars themselves, his grammars, dictionaries and the Latin translation of the first two parts of the Tirukural are evidence of the most painstaking research into already existing works as well as research in the field.
The missionaries at this time discuss Tamil especially in the Latin medium, and give an importance to the colloquial dialect which until then had not received adequate attention. One might not concede that translations belong to the category of research, but the translations were the means by which Tamil thought came to be presented to those who did not know the language, and often very useful studies were made of Tamil thought from the translations that were available. Sometimes attempts are made to minimise the value of the contributions made by missionaries by saying that their studies were made in order to propagate Christianity and not through a dove of Tamil But, anyone familiar with the academic work of Beschi, of Caldwell, of G. U. Pope would know what ardent scholars they were because of the attractions that the intrinsic merits of Tamil had for them.
In the 19th century, the epoch making book of *Robert Caldwell, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, (1856) caused a great revolution in the world of Indology which until then had believed that Sanskrit was solely and exclusively sufficient evidence of Indian thought and culture. The translations and articles of G. U. Pope who wanted as his epitaph the words, “A humble student of Tamil” shows the passionate devotion of these scholars to Tamil Research.
Though the missionaries were among the pioneers of Tamil Research they were followed very soon by lay scholars from the West who wished to delve deeper into all aspects of Indology. The British Civil Servants and the French savants who were employed in the Tamil country found as Caldwell did that Tamil could be independent of Sanskrit and rise to pure heights of its own. Among the British Civil Servants the name of Francis Whyte Ellis stands foremost not only because of the studies he made but also because of the collections of manuscripts he made. It is said that after his premature death his cook was able to use his collections of manuscripts for a long period to keep aflame his kitchen fires’
A new impetus to Tamil Research was given by the foundation of the University of Madras. Scholars like Gilbert Slater, Sesha Aiyangar, P. T. Srinivasa Aiyangar, Sivaraja Pillai, C. Y. Thamotherampillai, V. Kanagasabaipillai were able to make contributions to elucidate Dravidian history and culture. Thus we come to the period of the Universities of Madras, of Annamalai, of Ceylon and finally of our own University of Jaffna.
After this introduction, I propose to consider some of the heads under which Tamil research has developed during the test two centuries or so. I intend dealing only with tile more important works. These interested in a complete account may refer to Tamil Studies Abroad A Symposium, and to A Reference Guide to Tamil Studies, Books, both of which contain information up to the year 1966. For the last decade, however, there is no comprehensive work. I am indebted for information on this recent period to the Acting Librarian Mr. R. S. Thambiah and his assistant of the University of Jaffna, both of whom spared no efforts to provide me with all information that the University Library could supply.
Many of the translations by eminent scholars paved the way for studies on the ethics, the religions and the philosophy of the Tamils. The Tirukural, the Naladiyar, hymns of the Saivaite Nayanmars and Alwars, and the Saiva Siddhanta works came as a. revelation to the West. Among these scholars, the names of G. U. Pope and V. V. S. Aiyer who translated into English, of Karl Graul, Schomerus and Arno Lehmann who translated into German, of Yusi Glazov who translated into Russian, deserve especial mention The Psalms of a Saiva Saint by Dr. Isaac Thambyah with its brilliant introduction created great interest for several years. These scholars made possible the new attitude that emerged among Indologists towards Tamil thought.
Ancient Tamil poetry has not been translated to the extent it deserves. J. V. Chelliah’s Pattu Paattu with its introduction and notes was a unique contribution at the time it was published. Since then Kamil Zvelebil’s Czech version of selections from Cankam poetry and *A. K. Ramanujam’s Interior Landscape are isolated but very laudable attempts. Books and studies on Tamil literary history also contain a fair number of translations. The Cilappatikaram, the Tamil epic par excellence has been translated into English, French, Czech and Russian and has received the attention of Unesco. Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s works also deserve special mention.
Research into Tamil linguistics would itself need a separate paper. The United States and Russia, I believe, stand first in this field among foreign countries, while in India itself the Annamalai University and the Kerala University have a long period of productive work. Professor V. I. Subramaniam of the Kerala University has organised his Department and founded the Association of Dravidian Linguistics and a biannual Journal which takes pride of place in Dravidian India, engaged as it is in all aspects of Tamil and Dravidian Linguistics. Research scholars are sent out to various provinces of India and abroad and a large choice of Visiting Professors and Research fellows arc engaged by the Association.
The activities of the Department and of the Association are a tribute to the scholarship and organising capacity of Professor V. I. Subramaniam . No account of linguistic research would be complete without the mention of Professor Kamil.V. Zvelebil who works in all fields of Linguistics, but whose work in historical linguistic, and dialectology adds a new dimension to these fields so popular with foreign scholars. One must mention here the untimely death of the Leningrad scholar, S. Rudin, who was snatched away in the prime of life and who would have contributed enormously to Tamil Linguistics.
Lexicography and Comparative Dravidian
Numerous dictionaries were published during the European period and served largely the study of the language by foreigners. But some of them were outstanding works which furthered linguistic research and comparative Dravidian studies. The contribution from Pondicherry is worthy of great recognition. I. Mousset and L. Dupuis published among other works a French Tamil dictionary which is a magnum opus and which was used in the compilation of the Tamil Lexicon of the Madras University. The Dictionary of Miron Winslow has, been considered so important that Prof. Janert of the University of Cologne has had it reprinted. It is in the preface to this dictionary that Miron Winslow made the following observation:
“It is not perhaps extravagant to say that in its poetic form the Tamil is more polished and exact than the Greek, and in both dialects with its borrowed treasures more copious than Latin. In its fullness and power, it more resembles English and German than any other language”.
The Index to Purananuru by V. I. Subramaniam and the Index of words in Cankam literature published by the French Institute of Pondy have opened new avenues of research into Tamil semantics. Among Tamil dictionaries the most outstanding are of course the Tamil Lexicon of the Madras University, the dictionary of the Madurai Tamil Cankam and the popular Tranquebar Dictionary originating from Faboizius. The Saturaharaty of Father Beschi has been recently reprinted and serves a purpose of its our
In the field of Comparative Dravidian studies, the movement originated by the University of Kerala and earlier by the efforts of Prof. Thomas Burrow of Oxford and Prof. Murray B. Emeneau of Berkeley, California have led to a great number of published studies which reveal the extent to which Dravidian speech was prevalent over several parts of India.
Since the work of Robert Caldwell, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, was published in 1856, there has been a revolutionary change in the study of Indian philology. Caldwell’s studies were further amplified by the French scholar, Jules Bloch (1880-1953) who extended investigations to the minor Dravidian languages which had no written literature and even to Brahvi in Baluchistan.
Burrow and Emeneau published their Dravidian Etymological Dictionary in 1961. Professor Emeneau has published on the language of the Kotas of the Nilgris besides several other studies pertaining to the field of Comparative Dravidian. Prof. Thomas Burrow revived the theory of the relation between Dravidian and the Ultra-Altaic languages and also established like some other Sanskritists that a number of words in Sanskrit were of Dravidian origin.
Dr. Karl Merges, formerly of Columbia University has been writing for years regarding the affinities between Dravidian and the Ural-Altaic and Turkish Languages. In this connection scholars have also discussed the original home of the Dravidians. Some have traced it to Crete and others to Asia Minor, and a few connected Dravidian civilisation with the pre-Dorian Civilization of Greece and the Mediterranean. . The works of Fr. S. Gnanaprakasar deserve greater attention by the entire world of scholarship. Fr. H. S. David’s publications contain much useful material for etymological research.
This field of research is vast and would require a separate lecture all to itself, perhaps several lectures. The various universities which sponsor Tamil Research have encouraged their candidates for postgraduate degrees to investigate various periods and works of Tamil literature. A complete list of dissertations approved for the Master’s degree or Doctoral in Universities is not available. The Universities of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia have published some of the dissertations, but a great many remain unknown even to the world of scholars.
Let me now confine myself to some of the outstanding works which have been printed during the last decade or two and which perhaps have not reached the public because of the difficulties experienced in obtaining them.
K. Kailasapathy in his Tamil Heroic Poetry (1968) followed earlier suggestions by scholars like G. U. Pope and studied the param Cankam poems as reflecting the Tamil heroic age like the Homeric poems. This was a new line of development which equated Tamil poetry with similar European classical poetry.
The indefatigable Kamil Zvelebil so whom the world of Tamil scholars must he ever grateful covered a wide field of Emil literature from the ancient to the modern in his studies of various works and periods in his, The Smile of Murugan (1973. The same author has also written two books on the History of Tamil Literature (1973, 1975) which are again books meant to serve world readers who yet have not ‘discovered’ a magnificent portion of the heritage of the world.
It was left, however, to George L. Hart III in his “The Poems of Ancient Tamil? Their milieu and their Sanskrit Counterparts” (1975), to carry the story even further and to show for the first time the possible influence of Tamil poetry on Sanskrit poetry. George L.Hart has expressed what many of us have sensed for a long. lime, and briefly indicated also by literature scholars like G.U. Pope and Kamil Zvelebil:
“Almost 2000 years ago, there took place an extraordinary flowering of literature in Tamilnad, the southernmost part of India. Strangely this literature which includes what I believe is among the finest poetry ever written has been neglected in the West and even in India, where it arose.” (Preface)
In Tamil itself several works have appeared which are of invaluable aid to the scholar. The Introductions and notes in U. A. Swaminatha Aiyar’s editions, the writings of Pandithamani Rathinesan Chettiar, of Arumuga Navalar, of Vaiyapuripillai, are some of those which deserve mention. A number of books on the “History of Tamil Literature” have appeared in English and Tamil by different Tamil speaking authors.
Tamil History, Biography, Archaeology
The history of the Tamils becomes very intelligible when it is connected with the civilisation of the Indus Valley. The principal remains of that civilisation now lie in Pakistan and we are not aware to what extent those remains will continue to be preserved. Because of this culture, Mortimer Wheeler published a book with the facetious title ‘Five thousand years of Pakistan’.
However, the Indus Valley culture seems to have been extant all over India and Ceylon. We have had several scholars deal with this manifestation of Dravidian culture and civilisation. In recent times, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Father Heras Asko Parpola, and I. Mahadevan have written on aspects of this great civilisation. After the Indus Valley, the antiquity of Dravidian culture is illustrated by the excavations at Adicheynallur in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
A great number of books have appeared on the political and social history of various periods of Tamil Nadu. It is a matter of pride for us that a Sri Lankan Tamil, V. Ka.nagasabaipillai led these attempts. His ‘The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago’ was an eye-opener even to Western scholars, and persons like E. Warmington have largely, drawn from it to illustrate Tamil trade.
On the subject of Tamil trade Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s Rome beyond the Imperial Frontiers contain a lucid exposition of what an important centre the Tamil country was for international trade. I cannot praise enough the works of two Tamil scholars who were pioneers in the writing of early Tamil history. P. T. Srinivasa Aiyengar and K. N. Sivaraja Pillai. More recently, T. N. Subramaniam’s Sangam Polity (l969) has come as a well documented source of ancient cultural history, like Prof. Vithiyananthan’s, Tamilar Salpu (1954)
K A. Nilakanta Sastri is undoubtedly the great Tamil historian of this century. However, not all his works are of equal merit. His Colas is a lasting monument to his work with original materials and his capacity to present his material in an attractive and readable style. Where he depends on secondary sources (French and Dutch writing) his writing shows diffidence and inexactitude. He had a blind spot and that was his inordinate bias in favour of Sanskrit and Aryan influence in South Indian culture and literature. There is hardly any justification for statements like the following:
“None can miss the significance of the fact that early Tamil literature, the earliest to which we have access, is fully charged with words, conceptions, and institutions of Sanskritic and Northern origin”.
“All these literatures (Dravidian) owed a great deal to Sanskrit, the magic wand whose touch atone raised each of the Dravidian languages from the level of a patois to that of a literary idiom”.
Of similar fancy, is his statement that the Tirukural draws heavily from the Kama Sutra
Nilakanta Sastri has also written of South Indian cultural influences in the Far East, mainly drawn from French and Dutch authors. But the writer whose examination of Tamil cultural influences in South East Asia and of ancient Tamil trade with the West is Professor Jean Filliozat. He is ever finding new facts to substantiate the thesis that Indian influences in South East Asia were mainly Tamil. Dr. John Marr of the University of London and Mrs. S.Singaravelu of the University of Malaya have been working on Tamil contacts with the countries of South East Asia, a field in which the Association of Dravidian Linguistics (Kerala) is also vitally interested. Professor Arasaratnam of the University of New England is a historian whose works on Ceylon, South India and Tamils overseas continues to stimulate further research. Dr. S. Pathmanathan’s ‘The Kingdom of Jaffna’ (1978) is a valuable treatise for our times.
A great deal of the history of the Tamils of the mediaeval period as had epigraphy as its source. Since the time of E. Hultsch various scholars have been engaged in its study. In Sri Lanka the late Professor K. Kanapathipillai. Prof. K. Indrapala and Dr. A. Velupillai have specialised in this field. Ceylon’s contribution to Tamil studies has been notably outstanding. The Department of Tamil in the Sri Lanka Universities have eminent scholars whose names and works are too many to mention. I must refer once again to the symposium on Tamil Studies Abroad which contains a detailed study by Prof. S.Vithiyananthan and Pandit K. P. Ratnam on the contribution of Ceylonese scholars to Tamil Studies. R. Nagasamy of Madras is the most prominent epigraphist now working in Tamil Nadu. Sathasiva Pandarathar made valuable contributions earlier as a research worker in the Annamalai University.
Archaeology, a handmaid of history, has been a long neglected field and deserves much greater attention both in South India and Ceylon. Except for sporadic attempts no concerted effort has been made to excavate in the Tamil districts. G. Jouveau-Dubreuil (1885-1945) of Pondicherry was a pioneer in the study of Archaeology and Inconography and his works have become classical. His onetime pupil P. Z. Pattabiraman’s premature death was a great loss to Tamil Archaeology and Iconography. Another French scholar whose premature death I cannot mourn enough is Pierre Meile. His study on Tamil literature published in the Encyclopaedia des Pleiades and his study of the Yavanas in the Tamil country show the insight and thoroughness he brought to his writings. The work of Casal and Sir Mortimer Wheeler at Arikamedu show the extent to which excavations could illustrate Tamil history and the Tamil classics. In Sri Lanka archaeology in the Tamil districts obtains a step motherly treatment.
The French Institute of Indology in Pondicherry as well as some American Universities have engaged in anthropological studies among Tamil speaking groups. The names of George Oliver, Louis Dumont, Brenda Beck come to mind.
Religion and Philosophy
These fields have always attracted local and foreign scholars. Tamil Hinduism and the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, as well as the mysticism of Saivaite and Vaishnavaite hymnologists and poets would require separate studies for the manner in which they have been welcomed by the world. The contribution of Arumuga Navalar, Nallaswamypiliai, Pandithamani Kanapathipillai, Bishop Kulandran and the German Scholars like Shomerns are too well known to need repetition.
Mostly Sri Lankan Scholars and American and British Scholars have been interested in the Tamil problem in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The advent of independence and the end of colonial rule brought about a wrong concept of majority rule among the majority communities. The politics of the D.M.K. and the Federal party, and measures of discrimination against minorities, particularly with regard to the definition of Tamil language rights formed the subject of a number of studies, the earliest of which were Selig S. Harrison, India, the Most Dangerous Decade (1960), and Howard W. Wriggins, Ceylon – the Dilemmas of a New Nation (1960). Among other studies, I should like to mention S.Irschick, Politics and Social Conflict in South India: The non Brahmin Movement and Tamil separatism 1916-1928 (1969) and R. N. Kearney’s Communalism and Language in the politics of Ceylon (1967). Prof. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson in his articles and books has been a very obiectivc observer on the subject of the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka as also B.H.Farmer of Cambridge University
Studies on the subject of the Fine Arts of the Tamils are not too many. A. K. Ananda Coomaraswamy and Swami Vipulanda have been two Ceylonese whose contributions have been universally acclaimed. With regard to Sculpture and Architecture as well as Bronzes I should think that Percy Brown and Heinirich Zimmer still hold the field. Zimmer’s penetrating studies of Tamil Art in Tamil Nadu as well in South East Asia are able to connect distant periods and trace a coherent development from the Indus Valley to modern times.
At the conclusion of the first part of this survey I confess I have had to omit so many important names like Ganesha Aiyar, Mylai Venkatasamy, Vanamamalai, so many authorities of Tamil Nadu and even foreign scholars and aardent colloborators like Brenda Beck, Ron Asher and many others. My only excuse is that their works obtain a place in two books ‘Tamil Studies Abroad’ and ‘A Reference Guide to Tamil Studies’ and in the Proceedings of the Conference Seminars of the International Association of Tamil Research.
The publications of the various universities in India, Ceylon and abroad, both in Tamil and English and other languages form a rich library of Tamil lore.
Let us consider the future of Research in Tamil Studies in foreign countries as well as in the homelands of the Tamil-speaking people.
In Foreign Countries
I have heard from scholars from different countries that financial grants for Indological Studies and therefore for Tamil Studies as well are not so liberal now as they used to be. There is greater interest among those grants distributing bodies for Sinology than for Indology. This I suppose, is partly due to the increasing political influence, of China and its possible future in international affiars. During the colonial period, the countries which were connected with their colonies had a vital interest in the study of the language, the culture, and the history of the colonies. Thus the great pioneers of Indian history and Ceylonese history as well as of archaeology and similar fields were foreigners. The British in India, the French in Pondicherry, Cambodia and Vietnam, the Dutch in Indonesia, and the Germans built the science of Indology. Gradually they came to realise to a small extent that Sanskrit culture was being given an over emphasis, and even scholars like Max Muller and Vincent Smith lamented the neglect Dravidian history, culture end languages.
Today, with political independence and self-consciousneis, there is a tendency among countries which were at one time subject to intimate contacts with India to minimise or completely neglect those aspects of history and culture which reveal Indian influence.
The foreign missionaries too whose contributions we have seen to a little extent are no more in the Tamil-speaking areas and their disinterested studies enrich no more the volume of research literature that is now being produced.
Tamil will continue to be studied in foreign Universities to a limited extent, especially to illustrate the Dravidian contribution to Indian and Ceylonese culture. A few scholars like Kamil Zvele, Ron Asher, Andronov and Klaus Janert will always daorn forein Universities, but I do not expect any large body of Tamilologists to be produced by foreign UNiversities unless there are very powerful sources of Tamillogical scholarship in Tamil Nadu and Ceylon.
There are however, one or two exceptions to this general decline in study by foreigners. The French Institute of Indology in Pondicherry and the Ecole francaise d’extreme Orient and the College of France continue a. tradition of Tamil Research which originated with such eminent names as Mariadas Pillai, Eugene Bournouf, Edward Ariel, Julien Vinson (1843-1926), Jules Bloch (1880-1953) and Pierre Meile (d. 1964), is carried on under the leadership of Professor Jo Filliozat whose researches into Tamilology and Tamil influences abroad are most inspiring to Tamils themselves. The programme of the French Institute in Pondicherry is most comprehensive and classical Tamil literature, Tamil lexicography, history, archaeology, iconography, anthropology, religion, popular cults and philosophy. Prof. Klaus Janert in Cologne is gathering around him a band of Tamil scholars who work in different fields of Tamilology including Muslim Tamil literature. (I have not been able to obtain recent information about the Institute of Tamil Studies in Madras or about the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies.)
The quarterly journal Tamil Culture (now defunct) was able create a great amount of interest in Tamil Research and make known the studies of different scholars in various countries of the world. Fortunately, the Conference-Seminars of the International Association of Tamil Research came as a substitue forum for research papers and discussion. The Proceedings are a repository of recent research in Tamilology. The organisers of the Association as well as of the Conference emphasised Tamil Research. The Conferences became also an occasion of Tamil cultural and literary celebrations for the public. However the aim of promoting research should hold the primary place in organisation, and the sponsors and those who provide the funds should endeavour to obtain as wide an international participation as possible providing travel grants to scholars who labour in different fields. Both the past numbers of Tamil Culture and the Conference Proceedings have provided the best evidence of the enormous interest the recent movement in Tamilology has created in Universities and Research Institutes abroad.
Research at Home
It should be obvious that unless there are influential centres of Tamil research in the Tamil speaking countries, there can hardly be noteworthy Tamil research abroad.
The increasing practice now is for foreign Universities to engage young scholars from Tamil Nadu to teach as well as engage in research. Countries which have a poltical interest in the Tamil speaking countries engage also young Tamils for their radio programmes as well as for translation work. Russia, China and England are examples.
The Universities of Tamil nadu and Sri Lanka have a laudable record of reseaerch publications and and have always had scholars of outstanding merit. The publications of the University of Madras and of the Annamalai University comprise a rich library of publications in English and Tamil. The University of Kerala, as I have mentioned efore, has launched out into a programme of field research and of publications which is unrivalled by older universities. One should like to see also the Tamil Departments of the University of Sri Lanka embark on similar programmes of publication and field work.
Tamil Research should have a two-fold end in view, one to vitalise the studies at home, another to create interest and further research abroad. The Tamil Research Department of the Annamalai University, the e Tamil Isai Research sponsored by the Rajahs of Chettinad, the Tamil Development Departmcnt of the Government of Madras and similar bodies provide for the enrichment of research in the Tamil language. But for the creation of interest abroad we require research publications and teaching at least in English, if not in other European languages.
One would wish that every Department of Tamil in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka had scholars also very competent in English so to be able to publish as well as lecture abroad in English. The cult of English is fast diminishing in Tamil Nallu; the situation at present is slightly better in SriLanka. These scholars should be able to visit foreign universities and give courses in Tamilology and publish their researches in international journals. Bharati himself saw thefutilityof narrating our past glories only among ourselves.
For such an international movement, Sri Lanka. Tamil scholars are in an enviable position. Every Department of Tamil and History here has continent scholars whose names are too well known for me to mention. Above all, it is hut natural that we look up to the University of Jaffna with its galaxy of scholars headed by the Vice Chancelllor himself; scholars not only in the Tamil Department but also in other Departments who have the capacitoy to lead in the international programme of Tamil Studies.. How much one would wish that the University of Jaffna sponsors a quarterly or a biannual similar to the journa; Tamil Culture to promote Tamil studies all through the world.
Such a journal would receive the support of scholars not only in Ceylon and India but also all round the world. One has only to peruse past numbers of Tamil Culture to realise the vast potential that exist for international collaboration in Tamil Research.
A few desirable programmes
The study of foreign languages including English, is being neglected by our university undergraduates. While in Colombo and Karndy there are several Embassy Organisations which have large number of students, in Jaffna the demand is not encouraging. And yet a university man should be familiar with at least English and another foreign language. In Western centres of learning it is customary for a university teacher to use for his research at least two or three languages other than his own. That accomplishment should also mark our Tamil scholars whether in India or Ceylon. English, French and German have a great deal to offer to the Tamil scholar. The time also came long ago for us to include Russian and Mandarin within the range of our interest. The standard of Engish even in our universities is much on the decline that one dreads to imagine what the future will be for our contribution to international scholarship.
We do have a number of fields of study in which development is necessary. Among these is Tamil History arid Tamil Archaeology, Tamil Art and the history of Tamil Trade. In Archaeology and Art and Trade most of the contributions in the past have come from foreign scholars. In our programmes of integrated Tamil Studies, Tamil History and Tamil Art should be included so that the undergraduate willl have a complete understanding of Tamilology.
We need an Etymological Dictionary of Tamil similar to the one planned by Swami Gnana Prakasar, which will give us the usage in different periods with appropriate quotations to illustrate that uage.This could be done only with the colloboration of foreign scholars but unless our own scholars are equipped for Comparative Philology the project can hardly be launched.
Not having in any country, a sovereign and independent Tamil State, we can hardly look to the present Governments of India or Sri Lanka or any other state where Tamils live to embark on a promotion of Tamil studies. The Government of Madras, within the limits of its own possibilities has helped to some extent in such a programme. It is therefore, left to the Tamil people themselves especially in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to promote Tamil studies and Tamil Research as far as it lies in their power. For such a programme, we the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka are better prepared than Tamil populations in any other country.
But for research as well as for the conservation and development of culture, we need leisure, peace of mind and a happy existence. Unfortunately our energies have to be spent in a daily battle for our rights and even our existence and identity as a partner nation in a bilingual state. However, our national contribution to Tamilology, our organisation of the Fourth Conference – Seminar of Tamil Studies in spite of an adverse and hostile Government, and our Jaffna University with its rich promise and burgeoning scholars, offer us encouragement, hope and trust. Under God, may the future be even more glorious than the past. Thank you.