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[WMASTERS] Grantha and Kampan


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Anu (et al.)

I am not ipso facto attached to grantha.  My only contention is that none
of us has the right to change the conventions for writing Tamil.  If
grantha letters are unnecessary, let them wither away as unused appendages.
That way, no one will miss them and they can be safely omitted from the
standard at some future date.  But if we unilaterally exclude grantha (or
make other unilateral changes), the only result will be that people will
not use our standard.

I find it very sad that anyone would want to burn Kamban's Ramayana.
Kamban was, simply, the greatest poet India has produced and one greatest
poets of the world. He is demonstrably greater than Kalidasa.
Unfortunately, for a short period it became fashionable to read his epic in
cultural terms -- Aryan vs. Dravidian.  This, in my view, is a misreading
of the fundamental premise of the epic: the opposition between two views of
life, one epitomized by Rama, the other by Ravana.  What makes Kamban so
great is that he presents both views in extremely convincing and beautiful
terms -- Ravana is the greatest of all kings and symbolizes this world,
Rama symbolizes another dimension.  And don't forget, Ravana is a Brahmin.
But even if you do want to take an Aryan/Dravidian view of Kamban, you have
to agree that no one has ever presented the Dravidian world-view and ethos
more powerfully than Kamban.

All right -- I know this can stir up a hornets' nest of debate, so let's
leave it.  But I have not found one Tamil scholar -- even the most purist
-- who does not show the greatest respect to Kamban.  And let's not forget
the Sanskrit (unfortunately) proverb: anankusaah kavayah: you can't goad

One final thought: no one -- certainly not I -- would wish to denigrate the
emotional attachment to Tamil and the accomplishments of such figures as
Annadurai.  But let's not forget, many people of all sorts of backgrounds
are attached to Tamil.  Tamil was introduced to the present generation of
Americans (and other Westerners) by A. K. Ramanujan, who came from an
Aiyengar family in Mysore (he married a Syrian Christian woman).  I have
seen him, in a half an hour, make students who never considered learning
Tamil desperate to learn the language.  People would listen to him
spellbound and go away with a totally changed view of India, Indian
culture, and the importance of Tamil.  Such attachment, whether shown by
Annadurai or Ramanujan, I honor. GH


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