Seminar of Tamil Studies
Madras - Tamil Nadu, January 1968
Brief Report from Proceedings, Published by the
International Association of Tamil Research, Madras
On the occasion of the
First International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, held in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, in April 1966, Sri. M. Bhaktavatsalam, at that time Chief Minister
of Tamil Nadu, invited delegates and observers participating in the Conference
to attend the Second Conference in Madras. This invitation was enthusiastically
accepted and the Second International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies,
sponsored jointly by the International Association of Tamil Research and the
Government of Madras, was held at the University of Madras between 3rd January
and 10th January 1968.
Among the total number of almost five hundred delegates there were two from
Argentina, two from
Australia, three from
Canada, forty-nine from
Ceylon, three from Czechoslovakia, two from
Fiji, two from
Finland, seven from
France, five from
Germany, one from Hungary, 280 from India (of whom 203 were from
Tamil Nadu), three from Indonesia, two from Israel, four from
Italy, three from Japan, one from Korea, thirty-seven from
Malaysia, two from
Mauritius, one from Mexico, two from the
Netherlands, one from the Philippines, two from Rumania, thirteen from
Singapore, one from Spain, three from
Sweden, two from
Switzerland, one from Thailand, six from the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, nine from the
United Kingdom and forty-two from the
United States of America.
World Tamil Conference
To run concurrently with the Second International Conference Seminar, a
World Tamil Conference, aimed at a wider audience and planned with a view to
making an appeal of a more popular nature, was arranged by the Government of
Tamil Nadu, by this time under the leadership of the late
Thiru C. N. Annadurai.
A leading part in the organisation of this World Tamil
Conference was played by Thiru M. Karunanidhi, the present Chief Minister of
Tamil Nadu. As apreludetoit a number of newly erected statues were unveiled in
Madras. On 1st January Dr. Sir A. Ramaswami Mudaliar performed the unveiling
ceremony of the statue of Thiru C. N. Annadurai at the Round Tana, Mount Road.
On the afternoon of 3rd January a cultural pageant, consisting of a number of
tableaux depicting scenes from Tamil
literature and art,
interspersed with contingents of participants from educational institutions and
volunteers of the Prosperity Brigade, moved in procession over a mile-long
route, starting and finishing at the Island Grounds (the venue of the World
Tamil Conference), and taking in Mount Road, Cathedral Road. Edward Elliot's
Road, Marina and Band Practice Road.
Although the Government of Madras World Tamil Conference and the International
Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies were organised as separate and independent
(albeit simultaneous) functions, many people in Madras at the time showed an
interest in both, and a small number of scholars took part in each of them.
The main formal link was the opening ceremony, held before a
large and eager crowd on the broad expanse of the Madras beach on the evening of
3rd January. The late Dr. Zakir Husain, President of the Indian Union, gave the
inaugural address under the chairmanship of the late Thiru C. N. Annadurai,
whose speech was followed by a concluding vote of thanks by Thiru M. R. Perumal
The proceedings had opened with an invocation by Thiru M. M.
Dhandapani Desikar and a civic address to the President by the Mayor of Madras,
Dr. Habibullah Baig.
Welcome addresses were given by Thiru V. R. Nedunchezhiyan,
State Minister for Education and Industries, Thirumathi Sathiavani Muthu,
Minister for Harijan Welfare, Thiru M. G. Ramachandran, Chairman, Souvenir
Production Committee, and Professor Jean Filliozat, President of the
International Association of Tamil Research, and congratulatory messages from
distinguished figures unable to be present were read by Thiru A. Subbiah,
Convener of the Second International Conference-Seminar.
Proposals for Thirukkural research, in connection with offers of
endowment, at Annamalai University, Madurai University and Madras University
were made by three ministers in the state government, namely Thiru K. A.
Mathialagan, Thiru M. Muthuswamy and Thiru M. Karunanidhi respectively. Dr. M.
Audiseshiah, Acting Director-General, Unesco, and Thiru M. Tiru. chelvam,
Minister for Local Government, Ceylon, offered their felicitations. A Conference
Souvenir volume was released by Sardar Ujjal Singh, Governor of Tamil Nadu.
The proceedings of the International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies
extended over six full days between Thursday, 4th January, and Wednesday, 10th
January. The varied sessions included nine plenary sessions and a total of
thirty-six group meetings. At each of five of the plenary sessions two major
papers by distinguished international scholars in the field of Tamil and
Indological studies were presented and discussed. The other four were "
structured panels ", at which topics of more or less specialised interest were
discussed by panels of from ten to thirteen scholars. Group meetings were run
simultaneously in Linguistics (two separate sections), Literature, Art and
Archaeology, History and Social Studies, Science and Technology, and Papers in
One plenary session, too, was devoted to papers in Tamil by Dr.
M. Varadarajan, Professor of Tamil at the University of Madras, and Thiru L. P.
Kr. Ramanathan Chettiar, Head of the Department of Tamil (Oriental) at Annamalai
University. Comments and questions at other sessions were in both Tamil and
Social & Cultural Functions
Each evening throughout the period of the Conference, delegates were given
opportunities to savour aspects of Tamil culture. Special performances of Tamil
dramas and films, dance tecitals and concerts of instrumental and vocal music
were presented. In addition arrangements were made for those interested to be
present at concerts forming part of the annual Madras festival of music and
dance. Opportunities were also offered to visit museums so that delegates should
see something of South Indian art.
On Sunday 7th January visits were arranged to places of interest in and around
the city of Madras, including the temples in
Mahabalipuram. When the Conference was over, a special train carried a good
number of registrants on a tour of Tamil Nad. In the week starting 11th January
and ending 18th January, those who joined the train were able to see the
temple of Nataraja at Chidambaram, with the nearby Annamalai University,
the great Chola temples, the
Art Gallery and the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur, the
Rock Fort and the temples of Tiruchirapalli, the
Meenakshi Temple and the new University at Madurai, the industrial centre of
Coimbatore and, finally, Cape Comorin, taking in Suchindran temple on the way.
After the Conference a number of scholars who had been brought by it to Madras
took part in a Seminar on Comparative Dravidian, held at the Annamalai
University, Annamalainagar, from 11th to 14th January 1968. Papers presented at
this seminar have since been published by Annamalai University Press in a volume
edited by Professor S. Agesthialingom and Thiru N. Kumaraswami Raja under the
title Dravidian Linguistics.