Travel Diary

To: "Min Nuul" From: "Kannan" Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 12:13:37 +0530 Subject: [e-suvadi] Travel diary 24.02.02 & 25.02.02 Reply-to: [email protected]
Friends: Dr.Raju was proceeding for a two day conference organized by Tavathiru Santhalinga Adigal College of Arts and Science, Perur when I visited him. Perur madam is well known to me and I spent several days there last year. The two days seminar was attended by prominent scholars in the field such as Poongunran, Kalaikkovan, Ce.Iraasu, Natarajan and others. TT Santhalinga Ramasamy Adigal provided an ideal ambiance for exchange of information in a real cordial way. I met Kalaikovan son of the well known tamil scholar Rasamanickanar in Singapore. He is an optholomist with a keen interest in temple architecture. He runs a half yearly journal called 'varalaaRu' (history). He chaired the first day session and inspired the students a lot. It was a very pleasant surprise to see that students showed much interest in Tamil history and asked several questions on ancient mode of documentation. I don't see such response even in professional conferences-at times! Mr.Natarajan the ex-director of Dept. of Archeology, Tamilnadu told me that I could organize my next trip consulting him in Chennai. I was about to leave Perur when some faculty members asked me about my 'digital harvest' in Tamilnadu. When I showed them my scans of copper plates and terracotta they told me that they could provide me with piles of terracotta writings of early Christian era. Naturally, that made me to postpone my trip to Chennai by a day. On Feb. 25, I met Mr. PoongunRan of Dept. of Archeology, Govt. of India. It is hard to see such nice people with scholarship and humility. He shared with me several photos of gold rings excavated from Karur region belonging to Sangam period. Very, very beautiful work of art and craftsmanship. I was given more than 50 pieces of terracotta writings, the type Dr.Raju showed me the previous day. I scanned as much as I could and photographed several small terracotta figurines. Among the 7 or 8 pieces, three were Thirumal and two sakti. There were 'periya thiruvadi' (garuda) as well. The terracotta statues were pieces of art not immature attempts of curiosity. THF is enriched with these treasures now and is going to be a place of great discovery and discussion in the near future. anbudan Kannan
To: [email protected] From: "Narayan Swaminathan" Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 10:10:44 -0800 Subject: Re: [e-suvadi] Travel diary 24.02.02 & 25.02.02 Reply-to: [email protected]
Dear Kannan: Your travel diary makes interesting reading and is worthy of publishing as a separate book. I was wondering that if it would be more productive if you announced your visit in a Tamil newspaper or weekly (like our travelling doctors like Dr. Kalimuthu) ahead of time. There may be many more people out there with valuable manuscripts in their attics. This way you will be able to meet many more people in a short time. Your trip across Tamil nadu reminds us of the legendary attempts of U.Ve.Sa. to locate ancient manuscripts. Since you are continuing the tradition of 'Tamil Thattha' , the readers of this forum will agree with me in naming you as "Tamil Peran". (:-)
To: [email protected] From: "mani_m_manivannan" | Block Address | Add to Address Book Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 21:10:46 -0000 Subject: Re: [e-suvadi] Travel diary 24.02.02 & 25.02.02 Reply-to: [email protected] Dear Dr. Swaminathan, I agree with you that Dr. Kannan's travel diary may be worthy of worthy of publishing. However, I hope your facetious comparison of Dr. Kannan to Dr. u. vE. cA. is only to cheer up Dr. Kannan whenever he encounters indifferent bureaucracy. Dr. u. vE. cA. belonged to the great pantheon of scholarly publishers such as yAzppANam ARumuga nAvalar and tAmOdaram piLLai. Running around collecting the palm leaves and sometimes rescuing them is only part of their service to Tamil. The meticulous comparison of the collected materials, scholarly analysis of pAta pEtams as well as source material, raising funds for publishing them and following through with publishing the collections all required years of scholarship, building a reputation and track records and establishing contacts with the great patrons and the heads of mutts. Even with all that Dr. u. vE. cA. had to deal with allegations and besmirching of his character when he was alive. One needs to remember that Dr. u. vE. cA. never studied in any of the educational systems set up by the British Indian government. Even that doctorate is an honorary award in recognition of his accomplishment. While Dr. u. vE. cA., always credited his great teacher, mahavidhwan mInakshisundaram piLLai, the world tends to forget the rigorous learning experience provided by the mahavidhwan. It is quite obvious that the traditional schooling that Dr. u. vE. cA., went through is no less than any that the "modern" system implemented by British India. I'd even venture to say that the modern system cannot match the Tamil scholarship provided by the traditional schools. > Since you are continuing the tradition of 'Tamil Thattha' , > the readers of this forum will agree with me in naming > you as "Tamil Peran". (:-) :-). With no offense to Dr. Kannan, I think that even this facetious comparison diminishes the respect that the great publishers u. vE. cA., yAzppANam ARumuga nAvalar, tAmOdaram piLLai and others deserve. Certainly the Roja Muthiah collections were made at great personal cost and we are greatful for that unsung hero. The Koeln collections, Dr. Kalyanasundram's digitization efforts and Project Madurai all may draw inspiration from the early pioneers. It is sad that more than a century after the great publishers brought out the wonderful collections, we still need to depend on inspired amateurs to preserve our heritage. While at least some of the established institutions (funded by the Central government to preserve indic language source material), the institutions founded by the Tamil Nadu government seem to lack the funding, technical know-how or vision. In the long run, if the Tamils of Tamil Nadu (both the government and NGOs) don't live up to the standards set by the great pioneers, the meager efforts of the inspired NRIs and foreign universities will only end up capturing an one-dimensional snapshot of a forgotten heritage. I am reminded of the plight of Dr. u. vE. ca. trying to eke out a few hundred rupees to publish maNimEkalai, while one of his patrons spent over 100,000 rupees for some long forgotten thiruvizha. When I read about the travails of A. Singaravelu Mudaliar trying to publish the invaluable "Abithana Chinthamani - The Encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature", I am stunned. I despair that pAvANar did not get the backing that he needed to publish his etymological dictionary when he was alive. When we celebrate Dr. Kannan's little victories, it is good to remember the humbling failures of the modern Tamil institutions. Ultimately if Tamil heritage were to be preserved, it needs to happen in the hearts and minds of the Tamil heartland. Regards, Mani M. Manivannan Newark, CA, USA.
To: [email protected] From: "K. Kalyanasundaram" Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 08:41:36 +0100 Subject: Re: [e-suvadi] Travel diary 24.02.02 & 25.02.02 Reply-to: [email protected]
Dear Mani and Dr. Swaminathan: > I agree with you that Dr. Kannan's travel diary may be worthy of worthy of > publishing. However, I hope your facetious comparison of Dr. Kannan to Dr. > u. vE. cA. is only to cheer up Dr. Kannan whenever he encounters > indifferent bureaucracy. I could not resist jumping in here and give my 2 cents thoughts. In complex ventures such as THF, success will depend as much on various human elements as financial and technical resources made available. Kannan is putting up a heroic effort (at great personal sacrifice, currently giving secondary importance to his profession at prime time of his career) trying to reach out to people who have the resources (Tamil manuscripts and financial). At this point of time, I am not even sure attempting to publish travalogues of Kannan will have positive effects within Tamilnadu, where he badly needs active support and cooperation. His success so far to gain access to these precious materials has been mixed, more positive with individuals who hold personal collections and lukeworm at best from governmental institutions (libraries). We all need "role models" such as U Ve Ca to look up, particularly at times when current difficulties appear gigantic and you cannot clearly see any light along the long dark tunnel. Of course, handling very old palm leaves which are already falling apart requires special training/expertise, so also deciphering of the text written in them. U Ve Ca clearly is an exception with expertise in these, though he must have learnt much of these during those four decades of pursuit after Tamil literary treasures. I do not know how much of the technical skills Mani uses every day at his work he acquired during the educational training days in IIT of Chennai. But most of what I use in my academic research in photochemistry I learnt all along my professional career. We all learn every day. I am sure that the percentage of successful people who have perfect training of the required skills before they engaged in the effort must be very very small ;-) Did UVeCa had the all the skills and training he needed when he first embarked on his mission? A quick reading of his 'cuya caritai' does not indicate this to be the case. THF is very much is in exploratory stage. Kannan is expecting Dato Seri Samy Vellu to officially inagurate THF website in coming weeks! In all fairness, evaluation of projects or individuals or writing history must wait elapse of sufficient period of time (at least one or two decades). As someone who has been in constant dialogue with Kannan, even if his current efforts totally fail, I will not put blame on him for lack of genuine committment to the cause or lack of adequate efforts put in and rush to banalize his attempts as adventures of an amateur, ill-trained NRI. Kannan sees himself more as an evangelist for the cause. Let us stay focussed on our mission and try to muster as much support and cooperation we can rope in from key quarters. anbudan Kalyan