Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The economics of Tamils

Prof.M.Naganathan writes about the First World Classical Tamil Conference

  • Roberto De Nobili, an Italian Jesuit missionary arrived in Madurai, the southern part of Tamil Nadu, in 1605. He studied Sanskrit and Tamil literature and made considerable contribution towards promoting Tamil prose. While expounding Christianity in Tamil soil, he brought several Tamil words to Christian Tamil literature. The words ‘Kovil’ (Temple), ‘Arul’ (Grace), ‘Poosai’ (Mass or Worship) were coined by him. Therefore, he was considered to be a pioneer in Tamil prose writing.
  • Ziegenbalg, a German Lutheran and first protestant missionary to India had arrived at ‘Thrangampadi’ (Tranqueber) in Tamil Nadu in 1709. He had first opened up Tamil language to the printing technology. The Tamil translation of New Testament done by Ziegenbalg was published in 1715. It is claimed that he only had brought the first book in English in Asia in 1716. He had also composed a Tamil Dictionary and Grammar book.
  • Zieganbalg, Rev.Fr.Beschi also from Italy came to Madurai in 1711. He had studied deeply Tamil and wrote a literary piece and Tamil Grammar. Further he had composed quadruple lexicon popularly known as ‘Chaturakarati’. This eminent work attracted the attention of many western and eastern scholars towards classical Tamil. His everlasting contribution to Tamil can be found in his extraordinary epic poem called ‘Thembavani’ having 3615 stanzas on the life of Saint Joseph.
  • Francis Whyte Ellis a civil servant of East India Company settled in erstwhile Madras in 1810 and remained there till his death in 1819. He pursued research in Dravidian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada besides Sanskrit. He was considered the first scholar in the field of Comparative Dravidian Linguistics.
  • Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814–1891) had served in Tirunelveli as a Christian missionary. After studying and analyzing all Dravidian languages, he wrote his magnum opus ‘Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages’. This work provoked a lot of intellectual debates and ignited the minds of scholars to go deep into the origin of Tamil, Dravidian and Indian languages.
  • Rev.Fr.George Uglow Pope (1820–1908) popularly known as G.U. Pope, was a Christian monk who came to South India to propagate his religion and became a savant of Tamil and interpreter of Thirukkural. Attracted by the erudite scholarship of Valluvar, Pope had said that “Kural owes much of its popularity to its exquisite poetic form. A kural is a couplet containing a complete and striking idea expressed in a refined and intricate metre. He tried to convey the universal message of Valluvar in his own way in the English language for the first time. He brought fame and name for Valluvar’s immortal contribution to world literature.
  • Among the several European Tamil scholars, Professor Gilbert Slater was the first Economist from England who was given the position of Professor and Head of the Department of Economics, University of Madras in 1915. He had first introduced field studies in Economics and taken students to Iruveli Pattinam village in the then South Arcot district and Selaiyur village in the then Chengulput district of Tamil Nadu. As a multi-lingual scholar, he wrote the famous research book on “The Dravidian Elements in India’s Culture”. He was the first scholar to state categorically that the antiquity of Tamil language and civilization belong to more than 3500 years. His interpretation to the word ‘Dravidian’ itself is noble and novel. Dr.Gilbert Slater had given modern interpretation to the economics of Tamils.

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