Seminar of Tamil Studies
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- April 1966
The first International Conference of Tamil Studies,
sponsored by the International Association of Tamil Research, the National
Education (Indian Schools) Development Council of Malaya, and the University of
Malaya, was held at the Third Residential College premises. University of
Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 16th April and 23rd April 1966.
hundred and thirty two delegates and forty observers attended the
Conference/Seminar. Among those who participated as delegates, there were one
from Burma, thirty-one from Ceylon, one from
Denmark, five from
France, two from
Germany, one from
Holland, one from Hong Kong, forty-two from India, two from Japan, fourteen
four from Mauritius,
one from the Philippines, one from Portugal, six from
Singapore, one from South Korea, one from
Sweden, one from
Switzerland, one from Thailand, five from the
United Kingdom, eight from the
United States of America and three from Vietnam.
The Conference Seminar was declared open by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of
Malaysia, Yang Teramat Mulia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj. at 10 30 a m. on
Saturday 16th April 1966 in the Dewan Tunku Abdul Kahman, Ampang Road, Kuala
The proceedings of the Conference extended over five full days between Monday
18th April and Friday 22nd April 1966. A total number of twelve Plenary Sessions
and six Group Sessions were held during this period, and on Saturday, 23rd April
1966, the Final Open' Session was held.
The Plenary Sessions were conducted on the following subjects: (a) History
and Culture in South-east Asia with particular reference to Tamil cultural
contacts, (b) Tamil Literary Criticism, (c) Tamil Society in the Cankam period.
(d) Westerners and Tamil Studies, (e) Literature and Society, (f) Modern Tamil
Literature. (g) South-east Asia after 1500. (h) Music and Dance, (i) Art and
Antiquity, (j) Dravidian Comparative Linguistics, and (k} Tamil Society in the
modern period. One Plenary Session was devoted to the discussion of papers
presented in Tamil.
The subjects of the Group Sessions were: The Tamil Society of the period of
the Three Empires, Trade and External Relations, Teaching of Tamil, Diachronic
Tamil Linguistics Synchronic Tamil Linguistics. and Translation.
A total number of 150 research papers were presented at the Conference
sessions; delegates who were able to present their papers in person were each
given ten minutes to present their findings in a summary form. There were a
Chairman and a Discussion Leader for each session.
The proceedings of the Conference were adequately documented. Copies of
papers, most of them written in English and a few in Tamil. were made available
to the delegates before each session.
The business of the Conference sessions were conducted principally in
English. Tamil was also used by a number of delegates.
moving spirit behind the conference was
Rev.Father Xavier S.Thani Nayagam, originally
from Tamil Eelam and who in 1966, was serving at the
University of Malaya. His introductory remarks as Conference
Chairman reached out both to the hearts and the minds of his
"Mr. President of the International Association of Tamil Research,
Distinguished Guests and Colleagues.
'கலையணிச் செல்வன் கமலச் சேவடி
தலை அணி புனைந்து சாற்றதும் தமிழே'
'என்னை நன்றாக இறைவன் படைத்தனன்
தன்னை நன்றாகத் தமிழ்செய்யு மாறே'
It is a historic privilege to welcome everyone of you to
this Conference Hall where for the first time so many
representatives of so many different nations are assembled to
discuss various aspects of Tamil Studies.
May I welcome those of you who were not present at the opening of our
Conference on Saturday morning. A special welcome to our new Vice-President from
across the Pacific, Professor Emeneau.
Not only does our membership cut across national boundaries, but also does
transcend frontiers, if any, of religion, of mother tongue, of fields of
specialisation. This Conference-Seminar, like other academic Conferences, has
been planned and is being held solely to extend the frontiers of learning and
the pursuit of disinterested knowledge. It is our privilege to have the Hon'ble
Chief Minister of Madras. as the leader of the largest cultural delegation which
ever left the shores of India for a foreign country, and to have him share a
participant's chair like the rest of us. We are indeed grateful to the
Government of India for this gesture, because the status, the age, the wisdom of
this statesman. and the composition of the Indian delegation, have served to
emphasise the importance of this Conference-Seminar.
May I also be permitted a word of welcome to the other official delegation,
namely the delegation from Ceylon, led by the Hon'ble H. W. Tambiah, Judge of
the Supreme Court of Ceylon.
Our welcome is equally warm to all delegates and participants from the other
countries and from institutions of higher learning.
I have also the pleasant duty to greet the University of Madurai and its
first Vice-Chancellor Prof. T. P. Meenakshisundaram. We are proud that one of
our founder members and a Vice-President, and a former teacher of several Heads
of Departments and others here present, has been appointed Vice-Chancellor in
such a celebrated city with Tamil associations.
This endeavour of ours organised at this University, we would like to be
recorded solely as an attempt, howsoever feeble, to serve Tamil Studies...."