Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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From the Translation of the Author's Preface to the Original Work...
[see also the Translator's Preface]

The hundred and fifty years that passed by between the time of Kattabomman and that of Mahatma Gandhi can be called "The - Era of India's Fight for Freedom". This long period in the history of our motherland is marked by a renaissance in various fields like language, religion, art, political economy and society. However, no r work seems to have so far come out giving the public a clear and .. continuous account of this development. Only a few English books have been published giving us some idea of what happened at intervals here and there. Even those sundry details have not been found in the form of any regular publication in Tamil. There is, however, no doubt that our Tamilnadu had its share in India's fight for freedom. But its contribution has not been properly or adequately recognised in these English books.

As a result, even today, the situation continues in which we are not able to know even something regarding the revolutions brought about and sacrifices made by the Tamils during the period of the Indian Freedom Fight. Many great men among the Tamils have worked hard to see a renaissance in the Tamil language and allied arts taking place during this fight for independence. But, so far, the people of Tamilnadu have had no opportunity to learn about those things through any book.

It is to make up this want that I have brought out this work, Viduthalai Poril Tamil Valarndha Varalaru (The History of the Growth of Tamil during the War of Independence) giving a historical account of how Tamil grew during this period of freedom fight. I got a few bits of information here and there from the writings of the great poet, Bharathiar to give a beginning to this book. From "Thiru. Vi. Ka. Valkkai Kurippukal" (the Biographical Notes of Thiru. Vi. Ka".) also I obtained a few points. V. V. S. Iyer ran a monthly called 'Bala Barathi'. From it too I gathered a few bits of information. A work called `Madurai District Thiagigal Malar' was published soon after India got her independence. From it also I came to know something about that district.

In this way it was possible for me to get a few details from one or two more books. The rest I took from my own experience. I knew personally about many events connected with India's fight for freedom since I had myself taken part in it for nearly twenty years. As I happen to live in the capital of Tamilnadu I have the opportunity to know a lot about the war of independence. I have written this book by using this experience mainly.

I am yet to be satisfied that I have given a perfect rendering of the history of the growth of Tamil during the period of the freedom struggle. It may be that many events and the names of many great persons and their rare achievements have failed to find a place in it. One of the reasons for such a failure may be the failure of my memory here and there. It may also be that the events described here are not given in adequate details. Besides, some of the points found in this book may be even wrong because they have been gathered from others. If my readers write to me pointing out those mistakes and defects, I may be able to make necessary corrections in my next edition.

Everybody knows that the later part of the freedom struggle, covering about sixty five years, went on under the leadership of the great organisation called the Congress. What is now known by the simple name of 'Congress' was in the days of the war, "All India National Congress Mahasabha". In fact, the Congress of those days acted as the national representative of all the people by fighting against the imperialism of the foreigner. The Congress of those days revealed this noble national spirit clearly through its thought, word and deed. Till the 15th of August, 1947, when our freedom fight met with a successful end, the Congress enjoyed the status of the only great national organisation of the Indians as a whole. After the independence, however, this status disappeared naturally and the Congress carne to be regarded as one of the political parties which appeared before and after the attainment of our freedom. Such a change was only a natural consequence of the democratic political set-up that followed our independence.

If the All India National Congress Mahasabha had been dissolved soon after India's freedom struggle came to an end, the sixty five year old history of that famous organisation would not have met with any party division and a situation would have come into existence in which it would have continued to enjoy the unstinted praise of all the Indians.

Mahatma Gandhi also wished only such a state of affairs. He even expressed this desire explicitly in the paper called `Harijan'. However, he died just when he had got ready a resolution for its dissolution. As a result, All India Congress, Mahasabha, which ought to have been dissolved after our independence continues to have a low political existence as a party, carrying on a mean rivalry and fight with other political parties. We are facing, as a consequence, a situation in which the past noble history of the Indian National Congress Mahasabha before independence is darkened by later party politics. Even those heroes, who had a share in the sacrificial life of the National Congress, did not have the inclination to proclaim enthusiastically to others the heroic life led by the organisation.

It is under these circumstances that I have brought out for my readers this book on "The History of the Growth of Tamil during the War of Independence."

I am not a member of the Congress party today. I am not also sure whether I have even the good will of those who are now its leaders. Whatever it may be, I still have love and affection for the Congress of the pre-independence era. I have therefore, given in this book a coherent account of the great services done by those who belonged to this noble organisation to the growth of the Tamil language during the freedom struggle. I can assure you that I have written this book with the impartiality which should be found in a historian. I have used my pen without yielding even a little to any party spirit.

It is my opinion that if, because of the rivalry and competition shown today by the Congress party towards other political parties, the past noble history of this party is hidden or forgotten, it will be a great loss to India and to the Tamil people themselves. I have already published such books as `Kappalottia Tamilan', `Swadandra Poril Tamilakam' (Tamilnadu during the Freedom struggle) and 'Tamilar Kanda Gandhi' (The Gandhi seen by the Tamils) only because I did not want such a loss to be sustained by us. This book comes out only as a continuation of these three books. My idea is to publish many more works of this kind.

I want, in this connection, to assert without any hesitation, that among the various political parties of today, no one party can claim an exclusive share in the noble task of promoting the growth of the Tamil language. I say this having in mind also the Tamil Arasu Kazhagam which acts under my guidance and which exists only for the development of the Tamil language. The work of promoting the Tamil language has been going on since the time it came into existence. It is the belief of the great old Tamil scholars that even God has a share in this work.

Pandya kings helped the growth of Tamil by organising an association or Sangam for it. We do not know anything about the period preceding Tholkappiyar. However, after the time of Tholkappiyar till the day of the great poet Subramania Bharathiar, there have been many noble souls who have promoted Tamil by many ways like, (1) writing such great works in Tamil as Thirukkural and Silappathikaram, (2) producing such works as Villi Bharatham and Kamba Ramayanam in imitation of original writings of such forms in other languages, (3) writing commentaries for original works, (4) gathering together in the form of two anthologies called 'Ettuthokai' and'Patthupattu', scattered pieces of great literature and (5) editing in the modern form after the discovery of printing, what was found written on old palm leaves after mending and arranging them.

Among these great souls there have been princes and paupers, scholars and patrons. There have been women also who have done great service in this line. Not only those Tamil scholars, whose spoken and national language was Tamil, have contributed to the growth of Tamil, but also such great scholars as Annamalai Reddiar, whose mother tongue was a foreign language, have taken a fair share in this work.

Even such scholars as Beschi (Veerama Munivar), G.U. Pope and Caldwell, who were strangers not only to our language but to our own law also, have done the same great service. They did not belong to any of the parties of the present day. In fact, they belong to all the parties of the present day India and to the whole population of the country. If we examine the history of the growth of Tamil with this modesty and a love of truth, we will realise how the services rendered by us in this direction will not be enough even to serve as a cover to what has been rendered by our fore fathers. I have in this book dealt with all those noble men who have taken part in the freedom struggle without showing either love or hatred for them, irrespective of the party to which they belong now.

In chapters entitled `Mannarkal Sakaptam' (The Era of Kings) and `Deseeya Ezhuchi' (National Awakening) I have tried to show that selfless work of promoting Tamil has been going on even before the advent of the National Congress. I have also pointed out the service done for the growth of Tamil outside the Congress after its advent and even the service done by other groups that were not friendly to the Congress.

I have, besides, given in this book, in a connected form, the service rendered for the growth of the Tamil language by the Labour movements and the Communist party which were sympathetic supporters of the war of Independence.

Even after the end of the freedom struggle many nationalists have continued to work for the progress of Tamil. They continue even now to carry on that work. I have not referred to them or their work in this book elaborately. If I get the opportunity, I am thinking of writing another book entitled "The History of the Growth of Tamil after Independence."

The members of the "Tamil Arusa Kashakam," to which I belong, have a special place among those who have in succession contributed to the growth of Tamil after India's independence. The Tamil Arasu Kazhagam was born even before the Sun of freedom had arisen. Therefore, conscious of my duty as a historian, I had to speak, at least briefly, about that Kazhagam in the last chapter of this book. Only to that extent I have devoted a little space to the Kazhagam in the closing chapter.

It is a historian's duty, while examining things with an open and impartial mind, not to hide any defects whether in individuals or in political parties. I like to remind my readers, therefore, and to warn them before they begin to read my book that, in obedience to that sense of duty, I have here and there attempted a severe examination of things and persons.

I have only got together a series of articles written by me on the same subject in my journal entitled `Sengole' in the course of a year or so. Therefore there I might have erred in the way of re peating myself here and there. If such repetitions are pointed out to me, they shall be removed in the next edition.

I feel very happy that Thiru Soma Swaminathan's Inba Nilayam, which has been usually publishlng my writings, has offered to bring out this book also in print.

I have hinted here and there at the growth of the languages of different regions around Thiruvengadam during the period of the freedom fight. My friend, Thiru P.S. Mani, helped me in collecting those details from English books. My thanks are due to him.

 In general, I thank God for enabling me to involve myself in the holy service of writing a book by collecting details about these patriots who have helped the growth of Tamil in our state. Long Live Tamil!

16-6-1970 - M.P. Sivagnanam, Madras.

The Translator's Preface

The history of a nation's literature is the history of the soul of its people. Dr. M. P. Sivagnanam's "The History of the Growth of Tamil during the Indian War of Independence" is part of the story of a nation reborn through the purifying flames of freedom fight. Freedom is not a commodity to be bought or sold in the market. It is a quality of mind and a way of life in which the soul of a people becomes conscious of its own infinity of freedom. That is why any struggle for freedom becomes more an aspiration and expansion than a struggle for expulsion, more an inner awakening than vanquishing an outer foe.

The birth pangs of the New Indian soul also glow with a sacred passion which resulted in the spontaneous overflow of great creative writing in all the languages of India. It is all the more true of Tamil because the Tamil culture is language-centred and Tamil is a symbol of all the values of this culture. The War of Independence made Tamil acquire a richer human content and a wider national identity. In the days preceding the War of Independence Tamil had lost its moorings in the realities of life, and only with the War of Independence we find a simultaneous awakening of the Atman of the people and the blossoming of literature; great literature can come only from the Atman of a people. It is interesting to note that when the War of Independence became a mass movement, Tamil Literature also became once again a literature of the people.

Dr. M. P. Sivagnanam who himself is a symbol of this great confluence of nationalism and Tamil renaissance has made a significant contribution to both these causes through this scholarly study, to translate which into English has been my privilege and pleasure. Dr. M. P. Sivagnanam is one of those rare phenomena which only a culture like ours can produce and I thought it was our duty to make his contribution available to the rest of the world. There is a danger -of a translation in English becoming the possession of an elite. But my aim is to make the nation realise that a regional story is also a national story, and also to make this story of Tamil literature merge with the mainstream of World Literature.

I am immensely grateful to Dr. M. P. Sivagnanam for having given me this opportunity to associate myself with a work dealing with a holy war and a great renaissance. By this we are paying our homage to Tamil and the New India. There may be an irony in the fact that we have to use English as the medium for this purpose, but the fact still remains that English was also a catalyst in the search for new identity and therefore there is some poetic justice in rendering this `story' into English. I am aware of the limitations of my translation but I have tried my best to avoid any deviation from the original. But if unwittingly the freshness of the original had been lost anywhere, I would try to do my best to make amends in future editions....

Dr. K. Chellappan



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