Myth of Christian contribution to Tamil – 5
by Thamizhchelvan on 25 Jul 2010 38 Comments

According to the website, “It was Father Xavier Stanislaus Thaninayagam who founded the International Association of Tamil Research and called the first International Conference of Tamil Studies in 1965. That event ultimately led to this year’s highly prestigious conference”.



While one can agree that Father Thaninayagam founded the IATR, one can only say that the claim of his IATR leading to the just-concluded First World Classical Tamil Conference is dubious. In fact, the Christian website should have had the courage to say IATR refused to conduct the World Tamil Conference this year despite a request from Karunanidhi.


Yet it attempts to take credit for the event even though Karunanidhi ignored IATR and went ahead with the First World Classical Tamil Conference, wherein he announced the setting up of “World Tolkappiyar Classical Tamil Sangam” (WTCTS) to the utter shock of IATR.


Depending on the political climate, both may merge tomorrow, for the Church is capable of going any lengths to establish its ‘love’ for Tamil. The IATR has conducted 8 conferences in the last 45 years, of which one was a DMK conference (Madras, 1968, when Annadurai was CM), two were AIADMK conferences (Madurai, 1981, by MGR and Thanjavur, 1995, by Jayalalithaa); the remaining five (Kuala Lumpur1966, Paris 1970, Jaffna 1974, Kuala Lumpur 1987, Mauritius 1989) were relatively lacklustre.


And what did the Tamil language, literature, archaeology or culture receive from these eight conferences - NOTHING! Undeniably, the just concluded Classical Tamil Conference was also a DMK jamboree. Television channels clearly confirmed this through their live telecasts. And Christian domination was also quite visible in this conference, which again underlined the Christian-Dravidian nexus.


Rev. Thamil Nesan, in his article on Rev. Thaninayagam in the Christian website says, “At this memorable occasion (Tamil Meet at Coimbatore), it is very much appropriate to remember gratefully Rev. Prof. Thaninayagam (1913–1980) who toiled hard and dedicated his entire life to make Tamil Language, Tamil Literature and Tamil Culture better known and appreciated in the world… The name, having served so well this Catholic ambassador of Tamil culture, now stands immortalised in the history of the Tamil people and Tamil Studies… Since he was well versed in many European Languages and their literatures, he was able to blaze a trail in the comparative study of Tamil Literature with the literature of European Languages”.



A question arises, what is Tamil culture or rather, what do these Christians define as Tamil culture? Is there such a thing as Hindi culture, Telugu culture, Marathi culture, Gujarati culture, Bengali culture, when all the Bharatiya language communities are united by a single civilisational inheritance, that is, the Hindu in inspiration? That is the culture of this Hindu Bhumi! There may be minor differences in customs and rituals, but the culture and tradition are one and the same. Though the spoken languages are diverse, the Gods and Goddesses, festivals and way of living are all the same for ages. In the Hindu way, Unity is not at odds with Diversity; indeed, Diversity flows from Unity.


In the above mentioned article Father Thamil Nesan says, “Tamil festivals are celebrated in many parts. All this was possible, thanks to the strenuous efforts by one individual: Xavier S. Thaninayagam, a Catholic Priest from Jaffna.” He does not list the so-called Tamil Festivals. If we ask the Dravidian racists who changed the traditional ‘Tamil New Year’ to list out the Tamil festivals, they would come out with only one – Pongal, also claimed as Thamizhar Thirunaal. Yet this is none other than the Makara Sankranti celebrated throughout India. But what about other festivals celebrated by Tamils? The Dravidian racists have not included them as they are Hindu festivals.


So why did Father Thamil Nesan use the word “Tamil Festivals”? Here is the answer! In course of his article Thamil Nesan says, “Fr. Thaninayagam has made a tremendous contribution towards internationalising Tamil Studies. He was a Catholic priest who championed Tamil Culture”. As Tamils world over celebrate each and every festival with great fanfare, would it not have added respect and pride to Father Thaninayagam had the Christians addressed him as a “Champion of Hindu culture”? They wouldn’t have, because they wanted to remove the Hindu identity of the Tamils! They have not said “Indian culture” either. Destroying “Hindu” identity and establishing “Tamil” identity would be possible only by hijacking the language, literature and culture. That is why all Christian missionaries have been projected as champions of Tamil, Tamil literature and Tamil culture.


Thamil Nesan literally confesses:

“….Fr. Thaninayagam, an ardent advocate and zealous Apostle of Tamil language of the 20th century… From his younger days, he was quite conscious of the linguistic and literary talents that God had given him and he cultivated them well in order to use them in the service of God and men. As a priest he made a deep study of the Tamil language and literature in order to equip himself better for his ministry among the Tamil speaking people of South India and Sri Lanka… Fr. Thaninayagam has made a tremendous contribution towards internationalising Tamil Studies. He was a Catholic priest who championed Tamil Culture. Catholic Christianity is an international religion and it seemed to have helped him a great deal in his lifetime task of internationalising Tamil Studies… In the midst of all his international activities for the acknowledgement of the antiquity, richness and beauty of the Tamil language and literature, he remained always a devoted priest of God.”


Thamil Nesan quotes Prof. C.R. Boxer, University of London, UK, as saying, “He (Thaninayagam) was in the best sense a ‘Citizen of the World’ widely travelled in four continents and on seven seas, he was always alert and receptive to new ideas, people and places; but he was never deflected by them from his vocation as a Roman Catholic Priest.”


A section of Tamil scholars, unconvinced about Thaninayagam’s ‘contribution’, ask, “what precise contribution did Thaninayagam make to the Tamil language in terms of publications in reputed journals of history, in the study of Tamil linguistics as peer reviewed by accredited academics or the study of Tamil history? Did he add to the store on knowledge?” They aver, “no doubt, his organizational skills were excellent in spearheading the IATR. But let’s not forget that the IATR was a joint endeavour with several others participating in it to make it a success. One cannot confine the credit to just one individual”.


Compare that to U.V. Swaminatha Iyer who did yeoman service in first publishing the Sangam era Tamil classics for posterity. His contribution to the preservation of Tamil classics was phenomenal. Or to the role of Hindu savant Arumuka Naavalar in Sri Lanka who was the first to use the modern printing press to publish early Tamil classics.


As for Vaiyapuri Pillai, noted Tamil lexicographer, he remains the only scholar who critically evaluated the dates of Tamil literature by addressing issues of syntax, vocabulary and literary cross references. He was the only academic schooled in the science of textual criticism. His dating of Tamil literary works would demolish the subsequent exaggerated claims by Dravidian parties in general and DMK in particular on Tamil literature, an exaggeration aided and abetted by the Christian missionary effort. 




All Christian missionaries from Robert-De-Nobili to Robert Caldwell, all Christian priests like Thaninayagam and evangelists like Deivanayagam, worked and are working for the same agenda of hijacking Tamil language, erasing its Hindu identity, destroying the native culture, converting the natives and ultimately forming a Tamil Christian Nation comprising Tamil Nadu and North and East of Sri Lanka.


Dravidian racists, lacking in pride, passion and patriotism, have joined hands with the Church and Christian establishments to alienate the Tamil region from the national mainstream. The situation is ominous, and we need to defeat the nefarious designs of vested interests at any cost. The present political climate in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka is not encouraging and the political establishments are of no help in both regions. The onus lies on Tamils living in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. They must re-Hinduise their identity and reiterate themselves with pride, passion and perseverance. They must understand that their language, music, art and architecture are all part and parcel of the Great Hindu culture inherited from the Vedic civilisation, which evolved along the sacred rivers Sindhu and Saraswati.      


Tamil identity is linked to the broader Hindu identity. We witness this in Carnatic music, the Bharatanatyam dance form, temple architecture, sculpture, classical literature, politics and overseas trade. The Sangam era literature may not have been explicitly religious in theme, but whenever the early poems referred to religious practice, one discerns Hindu observance as in the worship of Mayon or Vishnu, Seyon or Murugan, Kotravai or Durga, Venthan or Indra, and Varuna.


Immediate post-Sangam works like Tirukkural, Silapadhikaram and Manimekalai resonate even more with the broader Indic philosophic currents. The subsequent era of the Thevaram and Naalaayira Dhivya Prabandham or Hindu devotional classics sponsored the growth of Tamil imperial power and the political consolidation of the land which in turn facilitated overseas trade and prosperity. Agriculture and irrigation grew in no small measure. The origins of the Tamil language and its development were linked throughout history with the broader Indic world. Let’s never forget that!


This explains why the Thiruvaachakam is sung at the coronation of the Thai king, why the traditional ‘Tamil New Year’ in April is the ‘New Year’ observed in Cambodia and Burma, and the Tamil influence in the Hindu religious iconography of Indonesia. The Hindu identity is connected even to New Zealand. The bronze temple bell presumably gifted by the Maoris (tribals of what later became New Zealand) to Protestant missionary William Colenso (around 1836) contained Tamil inscriptions!



Tamil is Hindu; Tamil culture is Hindu culture; Tamil tradition is Hindu tradition; Tamil heritage is a continuity with the Vedic civilisation which evolved on the banks of Sindhu-Saraswati and flows down to Kanyakumari.



The writer is a freelancer 

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