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Re: [WMASTERS] Tamil Renaissance


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At 06:19 PM 9/27/97 -0700, George Hart wrote:

>Mani writes,
>>The Thani Thamizh
>>Iyakkam sparked a real renaissance and has at times called itself "Thamizh
>>marumalarchi Iyakkam."
>Mani, I really hope this is true.  All I know is that the Tamil classics
>are not generally available in Tamilnad (unlike the English and American
>classics in most English-speaking areas, including Tamilnadu).  Tamilians
>as a whole are more likely to know about Shakespeare than Kampan.  I would
>like to believe that a true Tamil renaissance is under way -- but isn't a
>requirement for a renaissance a genuine interest in and exploration of the

First of all we wish you a very very happy birthday Prof. Hart.

As for your remarks, even though I left India almost 20 years ago, I think
you are exaggerating for emphasis.  Shakespeare was long gone from Tamil
school system when I studied.  I would be very surprised if they brought
him back!  Even after the polemic "Kamba rasam" by C.N.A., Kamban enjoyed
enormous popularity in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu where I lived.  The
genuine interest in and exploration of the classics that you mention were
unfortunately limited to ThirukkuraL, some puRa naanooRu,
Chilappathikaaram, thEvaram, thiruvasakam, aazhvaar paasuram, most bakthi
literature including periya puranam and thiruvarutpaa.  More importantly
(to me) there was an explosion of secular poetry and prose in chenthamizh
from all walks of life during the marumalarchi period that I remember
(admittedly this is my recollection and your mileage may vary).  Until then
the celebrated and publicized Tamil poetry was the exclusive domain of
upper caste (pillais, mudaliars, chettiars and brahmins) pulavars.  I heard
long suppressed voices expressed eloquently and beautifully during that
time.  Complex political ideas (or diatribes depending on your
perspective), social dramas, political satire, news, and even cinema
dialogues took on a delightful chenthamizh hue.  

To this day, I am mesmerised when I listen to Sivaji Ganesan's Parasakthi,
Kattabomman or Kappalottiya thamizhan dialogues.  They were unusual for
that time period when manipravala nadai was the language of the elite.  And
it was electrifying to those of us fortunate enough to grow up during that
transition period.  The seeds for a new renaissance were sown during that
period.  There was sense of pride in the language, its culture, its history
on its own terms not merely the sub-language of the deva basha.  We
searched for and studied the ancient literature on our own. Did we achieve
the immense heights of ancient Tamil literature?  Unfortunately not yet.
But it is only fifty years since the revolution; the flame is not
extinguished yet.

>One other comment: the use of Yiddish, Spanish, and Polish words is quite
>common in modern American writing.  They give the language a flavor and
>power it could not otherwise have.  G. Hart

And yet, the 'foreign' words are mostly in italics in newspapers or
completed edited away because they don't play in Peoria (largely
incomprehensible to middle Americans).

I am thankful that you picked the topic close to my heart (Tamil
Renaissance).  While the Sadaiyappa Vallals mostly gone from Tamil country,
enough well to do Tamils are spred all over the globe.  Where is that
Kamban?  And do tell us about your thoughts on Tamil renaissance.

 . ׯ

Mani M. Manivannan
Fremont, CA, USA.

    ݍ -   Only a sculptor knows a sculpture's flaws


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