C.N.Annadurai - காஞ்சீபுரம் நடராஜன்
Annamalai University Convocation Address
Tamilnadu Chief Minister C.N.Annadurai
18 November 1967
N.Nandhivarman, General Secretary, Dravida
Chancellor, Mr. Pro-Chancellor Mr. Vice- Chancellor, Graduates of the Year and
Thankful as I am for the unique
honor conferred on me by this institution, it is not without hesitation as a
good deal of trepidation that I stand before this august assembly to-day to
deliver the Convocation address, for though it is a pleasure to be present on
the happy occasion of greeting the graduates of the year and wishing them all a
bright and prosperous future, it is not an easy task to place before them
appropriate guidelines-conscious as I am of my own limitations and aware of the
eminence of those who stood at this rostrum in the past and gave weighty and
worthy advice to the graduates.
Stalwarts in various walks of life,
scholars of erudition and experience, administrators of rare abilities, have all
been here to deliver instructive discourses, and I do not for a moment imagine
that I have the capacity to add any thing substantial to what has been already
said by those who preceded me. I am convinced therefore that to be called upon
to deliver this address is not so much an invitation as a command to me
bestow the most careful and considered thought on the role of Universities in
general and of the Annamalai University in particular.
The fact that I am conscious of my
own limitations gives me a sense of relief, for attempt I shall not to offer
original ideas or theories with a special stamp, but only reiterate some of the
cardinal principles enunciated by those who offered their a advice in past
years, perhaps with annotations here and there, bringing to bear the lay-man's
point of view to the findings of experts in various fields connected with
This is the age of the common man -
whatever the regrets some might have –and it's his point of view that matters
most and I do claim to represent him in all his ruggedness.
Systems and schools of thought,
whether it is in philosophy or politics, ethics or economics, are certainly
meant for him. Of course, the interpretation should come from scholars and
experts and the art of translating them into every day activity is to be
undertaken by the administrators. Universities, as the repositories of knowledge
and the nursing ground for the emissaries of thought wisdom and service, have
got a prominent role to play-and the prominence is growing every day, as
more and more individuals get themselves equipped for the task of bettering
society in all its age when we have eschewed monarchy and autocracy and have
inaugurated the era of democracy.
During the monarchical or feudal
days, Universities had to train scholars and poets to adorn the chambers of
Royalty or the gilded mansions of Lord and nobles and their wisdom was meant for
the mansion, not for the market place. Those were days when numbers did not
count, nor were eminent scholars asked to face the problems confronting the
masses. They were content to work in secluded spheres, far from the din and
noise of the common man and weave the costly fabric of philosophy of poetry
which on turn was to be converted into dazzling garments for the select and the
The role of the University to-day
is not cloistered and confined as in the past. Its function has been
enlarged-not in its fundamentals but in its domain. It has to take into account
the commonness, but to trim and train, guide and lead him, for asked to do his
duty as the citizen of a democracy-a task which kindles sweet hopes but which
demands, patience and perseverance, faith and confidence, faith in himself and
in others and confidence in his inherent ability to shoulder the
responsibilities. The common man has become the birth place of a potential ruler
and the duty today, the responsibility today of the universities is to fashion
out of him as an individual fitted and equipped for the task of making democracy
fruitful and effective.
I said that the duties and
responsibilities of Universities have grown in dimension and scope, but pointed
out that the fundamentals remain unaltered and these fundamentals are of
permanent value and of perennial interest. The supreme task before the
University is to give those who seek a vision of knowledge in its true
proportions and perspectives, to maintain the sovereignty of ideas and ideals in
the world. A balanced mind, the ability to discriminate between what is merely
trivial and what is important, the capacity to look at a problem from all its
angles without fear or favour, to be tolerant of the other man's point of view.
These are fundamentals which are unalterable and it's only the universities that
can provide society with a continuous stream of men and women endowed with these
While addressing the University of
Brussels, Dr.s.Radhakrishnan, our former president, made the following
"For its proper functioning
democracy requires more qualities than other forms of government. It is in the
universities that we can develop the true spirit of democracy, appreciation of
other points of view and adjustment of differences through discussions. It can
be kept healthy and strong by the exercise of individual responsibility and
judgement in universities we have to re-call the struggles of the past and
realize the perils and possibilities, the challenges and opportunities, of the
Democracy is not a form of
government alone –it is an invitation to a new life-an experiment in the art of
sharing responsibilities and benefits-an attempt to generate the common task.
Hence we cannot afford to waste a single talent, improverish a single man or
woman or allow a single individual to be stunted in growth or held under tyranny
and the universities should through the graduates it sends forth year after
year, annihilate the forces that attempt at aggrandizement and tyranny, fight
against caste and hypocrisy and enthrone human dignity.
Graduates of the year, I wish you
all a prosperous future-for, after all, the immediate concern of every
individual, graduate or no graduate, is to acquire the means for a decent
living. That is the first motivation for all human activity and no one can
ignore it, but that ought not to be the sole objective. Something higher and
nobler than mere individual material advancement is expected of you – for
remember that this University education is a privilege that you enjoy, for which
you are deeply indebted to the community of which you are a member.
Most of the money needed for
maintaining institutions of higher education come from the revenues collected
from the community through the State, and a good proportion of that revenue
comes from the tillers and the toilers, men who did not enjoy this privilege,
men who willingly submit themselves to discomfort, so that they can enable the
next generation to lead a better life.
Graduates of the Annamalai
University, may I ask you, how you are going to repay – what is to be your
contribution to the social chest on which you have drawn so largely. Unless you
replenish it richly, coming generations will find only an empty coffer. Your
superior education increases your responsibility to society and therefore, apart
from or along with your own individual advancement, society has got a right to
expect an adequate return from you – not so much in terms of money as in terms
of service – in toning up society, in bringing light into the dark alleys,
sunshine into dingy places, solace into the afflicted, hope unto the despondent
and a new life unto every one.
That this is a welcome and worthy
ideal none would dispute, but not every one will come forward to translate that
ideal into action – and yet our ancient as well as modern thinkers have all
stated in unmistakable terms that wisdom is manifested in action.
Unless service is the outcome, the
sermons become sweet nothings. As Jefferson stated,
"We must dream of an aristocracy of
achievements arising out of a democracy of opportunities"
And when I seek your help and
co-operation in the supreme task of serving society, please do not wink and
smile and say, it is all so easy to say. I am not unaware of the difficulties in
the way, nor am I going to brush aside the influence of the environment on you.
May be, the world in which you are to begin the journey is one which will dim
your hope, disturb your determination. You may come face to face with the
unpleasant sight of practices widely differing from the principles inculcated in
you. You may find self-seekers enthroned and the patient worker decried. Tyranny
of all sorts may stare at you and every step you take will be a struggle. I
admit that the environment is such that even people with robust optimism will be
discouraged and forced to take to the part of ease and comfort.
But, we should also realize that a
continuous stream of men and women endowed with the spirit of service has been
carrying on the crusade successfully and have conferred rich benefit on
We, the Tamilians have been holding
aloft this ideal for more than two thousand years and hence we find in
இவ்வுலகம் . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
தமக்கென முயலா நோன்றாள்
பிறர்க்கென முயலுநர் உண்மை யானே!"
As inheritors of that rich legacy,
you are best fitted to overcome even the environment and serve society to the
best of your abilities,
Anyone, who proposes to do good
must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot
calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. A strength which becomes clearer
and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that
can conquer them – says Albert Schweitzer.
Though the problems in various
countries are of a similar nature, the peculiarity attached to the problems of
our country is of a pronounced nature.
Ours is not case of starting from
scratch - had that been the case the only thing needed would have been the
intensity of effort to be put forth. Ours is a case of erosion of the mind – we
are not in search of fields, but have to engage in the task of fertilizing it,
irrigating it, we are not in search of ideals, but are engaged in the more
intricate task of classifying, codifying and verifying layers of ideals. We are
not wanting in culture-but have to cleanse it from the cob-web of time and
de-adulterate it. In short, we have to re-discover ourselves, and re-construct
our entire thought. Once task to-day is to allow fresh air and sunshine and
regain the original shape and stature – that which made us well
Known is distant lands and
climes.Our literature, art and architecture are fine specimens of human
intelligence – but they bear the ravages of time and also the effect of currents
and cross currents so that to-day we have to listen to the foreign historian or
scholar in order to realize the "glory and grandeur" of our own country.
Age commands veneration –but unless
it is recuperated, decay sets in. our culture and civilization are hoary, but we
have allowed scars and wrinkles to disfigure them. It is our duty therefore to
re-discover and re-construct what is ours and enrich it by drawing liberally
upon the achievements of other countries.
Our problem is not want of a system
–in any branch of knowledge. We have fine specimens in all spheres. We claim
also –and that rightly –immortality for our systems, but we have not succeeded
in keeping them fresh and young, effective and energetic, for we have allowed
them to decay.
If a system has to endure, says,
Dr.Radhakrishnan, it must be perpetually young and ready to change. In other
words, it must be capable of accepting new ideas, have the resilience of mind
which the young have, have the openness, flexibility and spirit of adventure by
which they accept what is given to them and transform it out of recognition.
Eos, a goddess falling in love with
a mortal, prayed to god to grant immortality to the lover-'yes', said god, and
the mortal gained immortality. But he grew old, infirm, senile, decayed –and
what was a feast once to the eyes of Eos became a sight to shun and grieve over
–and he who gained immortality longed for death – for what is life if it becomes
a prey to decay? Then Eos sighed and said, "I prayed for immortality for my
lover, forgetting to pray for perpetual youth."
We in this country are facing some
such situation – and we are in charge of the task of rejuvenating our culture
and civilization – our entire thought, instead of attempting that, we have been,
for too long a period, doting upon the decayed forms attempting to defend them
from critics and currents of new thought. And while other parts of the world,
after persistent and patient search after truth, have arrived at new conclusions
and are scaling new heights, we are content to sit near the shattered rampart
and narrate past glory.
Our religion has degenerated into
rituals, our society which was once classless and casteless has degenerated into
water –tight compartments of caste and creed and all the while, we have kept
either silent or have been supplying defense to superstition and orthodoxy by
offering liberal allowing this state of affairs to exist, despite condemnation
and protest, and, more than that, whenever a doughty warrior comes forth to
fight against the evils prevalent, we decry and denounce him as an annihilator
of noble values and hoary systems. Periyar Ramasami represents and symbolizes
the fury and frustration in a sizable section of society at this state of
affairs. To allow systems to degenerate and at the same time denounce those who
champion the cause of rationalism is but to perpetuate superstition and
orthodoxy and allow this society of ours to get decomposed.
Universities offer the proper forum
for a free and full discussion of these intricate problems and graduates trained
here are to go forth as emissaries of that social reconstruction which is long
over due. The country looks to centers of learning like this
Universities to enable the people
to pursue the path of progress, braving difficulties and if need be, courting
Graduates of the Annamalai
University, let me call upon you to carry on the crusade against caste which
cannot co-exist with democracy, against superstition which cannot co-exist with
science and against tyranny of various dimensions which cannot co-exist with
liberty, equality and fraternity.
Pursuing vocations for your and
your families' well being, you have to perform your duty towards society. You
are to become torch – bearers of rationalism – and rationalism does not mean
repudiation of basic and fundamental truths and maxims, but the annihilation of
dubious modes of thought and action. You have to work hard and with daring and
dash, for we have to clear cob-webs which are centuries old and let reason reign
Another peculiar feature of our
times is the fact that we are a nation in the making, and if in their anxiety to
forge integration, some confuse unity with uniformity, it is the duty of men
trained here to clearly enunciate the principle and see to it that, in the name
of unity, no part of the country is made to become the vassal of another
part-knowingly or unknowingly. We cannot be a party to foul play, however worthy
Just on the eve of independence
Rajaji stated with an acumen all his own, "our political experiment is really
like melting iron and metals and pouring them in to a crucible and making an
alloy, an alloy which can stand wear and tear . It is not like the chinaware
that other people have turned out in their countries. Their democracies were
easy to make – like plastics. But we are dealing with metals." National
integration is a goal, worthy and much – sought after, but neither in the field
of language nor in the economic sphere, could we tolerate injustice and
domination. That is exactly why this government was brought into existence – it
represents the determination of the people to be coerced into accepting Hindi as
the official language.
When we plead for the continuance
of English as the link language, some people do misrepresent us and misinterpret
our motive. They trot out untenable arguments and disputable statistics, bring
in the bogey of disintegration and want to silence people by threats and troops.
Problems were never solved by autocratic methods – and this problem of language
is intimately connected with our way of life, not for the present alone but for
the future as well.
The government of Tamilnadu has
stated in unmistakable terms that Tamil and English can serve all our purposes,
the former as the official language of this state and the latter as the link
language. If it is accepted and the most emphatic of Hindi protagonists do
accept that - if it is accepted that English can serve admirably as a link
between our state and the outside world, why plead for Hindi to be the link
language here? What serves to link us with the outside world is certainly
capable of rendering the same service inside India as well. To plead for two
link languages is like boring a smaller hole in a wall for the kitten while
there is a bigger one for the cat. What suits the cat will suit the kitten as
English is foreign, some argue, as
if we were out to destroy or give up everything foreign. We bring foreign wear
in foreign ships. We seek foreign aid not only in the shape of money bur also in
the from of technical know-how and not a week passes without one or other leader
undertaking a journey to the west or east to secure whatever aid is possible to
secure. And on top of all these things, we have given up so many systems
peculiarly our own.
We are not content with rural
economy, we want Trombays and Ennores. And we are not conscious of their being
foreign; only in the matter of language we pose as being ultra –nationalists and
dub the English language as foreign.
Shelly and Byron, Keats and
Coleridge, Emerson and Bacon - they are not foreign to us in the strict sense of
the term. Is
Tiruvalluvar a mere Tamilian? They are all world citizens – world teachers.
And the language enshrining their thoughts is not to be discarded just because
it comes from another country. That we are not going to accord a higher status
to English is borne out by the fact that we have accepted and are implementing
with due caution the principle of making Tamil the medium of instruction in
University education is an epitome
of all that is best in thought cultivated in various countries, and from you
should radiate universal thought and cosmopolitan ideas.
And if we are to get all these and
more from out of the graduates of the University we have to re-examine the
methods in vogue in universities, in teaching and in administration, and so
perfect them that every student feels that he is a co-sharer of the pleasure and
privilege of knowledge along with his professors. I shall not dabble in methods
of teaching or administration-experts in that field are the natural
custodians-my plea is only as regards the necessity for a re-examination.
While the functions assigned to
universities are mostly of the same type, the Annamalai University, by its
structure and spirit, has got a special function of its own. The great founder's
nobility and generosity has made this institution gain the esteem of eminent men
here and elsewhere; but if we analyze the thought and motive force of Rajah Sir
Annamalai Chettiar, we will find that he wanted this place to be not only a seat
of learning and research of Tamil Culture and Tamil polity. He had the foresight
to realize that Tamilians were going to cultivate their special talents and that
was exactly why he started and made a success of the Tamil Isai Movement. Rajah
Sir was never a man of tall talk-he believed in solid work and he knew the time
was bound to come for us to delve deep into our annals and literature, culture
and civilization and succeed in getting due and adequate recognition in the
Truly great has been our
achievement in the field of literature. To be able to announce to the world that
we the Tamilians do possess..
"நற்றினை நல்ல குறுந்தொனை ஐங்குறுநூ
றொத்த பதிற்றுப்பத் தோங்கு பரிபாடல்
கற்றறிந்தோர் ஏத்தும் கலியோ டகம்புறமென்
றித்திறத்த எட்டுத் தொகை"
And to present to the world the
great Tirukkural which is a Code of Conduct for the entire humanity are
something about which we can have pardonable pride and pleasure.
And yet, are we devoting enough
attention to these Tamil Classics? Addressing the Convocation here in 1943, the
late lamented Sir R.K. Shanmukham Chetty had the following to say:-
"I graduated with a complete
ignorance of Tamil Culture and History: in fact with a great deal of contempt
for these. I attained a fair degree of proficiency in English literature and the
history of European culture. I acquired some knowledge of even Anglo- Saxon and
Gothic. I read the translation of the Bible in the Gothic language , but I had
not read the Kural of Valluvar. I could understand Chaucer, but the name of
Ilango was nothing but a name. Even after leaving College, I kept alive my
interest in these studies and built up a Library in which there was not a single
In my early youth when I lived in a
world of my own with no sense of responsibility, all this made no difference to
me and I was proud of my learning. Soon when manhood came with its cares and
problems, I found myself a stranger in my own home…….Gradually I began to
realize the incongruity of my scheme of life and for some time now I have been
endeavoring to rectify the balance. It was only a few years ago that I seriously
attempted to study some of the Tamil Classics. I find that they are fit to rank
among the immortal works of the world. I now bitterly regret my neglect of the
treasures of my own land."
It was not an apologia, but the
expression of a new determination and Sir R.K.Shanmukaham lived to establish the
truth that he had mastered not only the Tamil language but Tamil literature as
well. Had he lived for some more years, he would traveled many a land carrying
the message of the Tamil Classics, which spoke at such a hoary past about
"ஒன்றே குலமும் ஒருவனே தேவனும்"
"யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்"
"வினையே ஆடவர்க்கு உயிரே"
"நல்லது செய்தல் ஆற்றீ ராயினும்
அல்லது செய்தல் ஓம்புமின்"
"எவ்வழி நல்லவர் ஆடவர்
அவ்வழி அல்ல வாழிய நிலனே"
"செல்வத்துப் பயனே ஈதல்"
"தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா"
"பகுத்துண்டு பல்லுயிர் ஓம்புதல் நூலோர்
தொகுத்தவற்றுள் எல்லாம் தலை"
Thoughts now placed before the
world as blossoms of the modern age.
You, graduates of the Annamalai
University, have got undertake the special task of carrying the message that our
classics contain to the entire world and declare that what was the most ancient
here is what is being introduced to-day as the most modern.
South India is the home of the most
ancient culture Though for a fairly long period there was the mist of ignorance,
thick and widespread, it has now been acknowledge by all that Dravidian
Civilization of a highly developed character can be traced back to the second
and third millennia before Christ. Many a Foreign scholar has borne testimony to
the perfection with which Tamil language has been developed into an instrument
of precise and subtle thought and to the beauty and richness of the literature –
which is contained in it. Dravidian literature, philosophy, art and architecture
offer therefore a rich and fruitful field for exploration and critical
Not for more glorification but for
a just appreciation of all that is of real value and beauty in our past
heritage. We need this research and investigation.
I do not propose to talk about your
responsibility in the political arena. Suffice it to say that you should make
democracy safe and sound, salubrious and fruitful.
Carry the message that this
Universities has given to you wherever you go, whatever the station you find
yourselves in and elevate the common man- the average man-
"He seems incredible but
represents two –thirds of mankind. He lives in hut. He cannot read or write.
His energy is sapped by disease. He labours up to 15hours a day. He works on
land he does not own. He and his family are family are usually hungry. He
will die young. But he still has hopes for his children; that they will be
strong and healthy; will be able to read and write, will know individual
freedom in a peaceful world. This is the world's average Man."
And the world over, this average
Man has become conscious of the injustice done to him and as a consequence we
find agitations and marches, struggles and clashes. In many a country, measures
to raise his level have been undertaken. Take a pledge, here and now, that we
will not lag behind and leave our average man in the lurch. For if the base is
weak, the dome is doomed. Inheritors as you are of a noble heritage, you are
eminently fitted for this noble task, and on its success depends the future of
this nation as of others.
Let us remember what Woodrow Wilson
"Nations are renewed from the
bottom not from the top . . . real wisdom of human life is compounded out of
the experiences of ordinary men. The utility, the vitality, the fruitage of
life comes like the natural growth of a great tree, from the soil, up
through the trunk into the branches to the foliage and the fruit. The great
struggling unknown masses of the men who are not the base of everything are
the dynamic force that is lifting the level of society. A nation is as great
and only as great as her rank and file."
May I submit my plea to you, youths
blossoming forth from this institution, be firm but not obstinate, let here be a
blending of ideas, but never cheap imitation and injurious adulteration, beware
of mistaking obsessions for principles and fads for facts, strike at a synthesis
and avoid subservience, view as the final on to protest against injustice but
project not your own view as the final one, forget not the ancient saying
மண்ணளவு கல்லா துலகளவு"
And father not when you practice
what you profess.
University education gives you the
basic needs for this stupendous task, but that is not enough. Say along
I read, I study
I examine, I listen
I reflect, and out of
All this, I try to form
An idea in which I can put as
Much of commonsense
As I can.
And remember the longest journey is
the journey inward, and since graduation is but the starting point of that
journey, I wish you success-reach the goal yourselves-teach others to march
towards the goal and let that goal be,
A world without the beggar's
out-stretched palm, the miser's heartless, stony stare, the piteous wail of
want, the pallid face of crime, the livid lips of lies, the cruel eyes
A race without disease of
flesh or brain, shapely and fair, the married harmony of form and
use-where life lengthens, fear dies, joy deepens, love intensifies, and Man
regains his Dignity.
And to get these things realized,
let us one and all strive towards the ideal enunciated by Thiruvalluvar,
"உறுபசியும் ஓவாப் பிணியும் செறுபகையும்
சேரா தியல்வது நாடு"
I am confident that you are being
sent into the wide world by the Annamalai University with this objective-you are
bound to win, for you are adequately equipped with the spirit supplied by this
great institution. May your life be a bright one, and may its luster brighten
the entire land! Accept my congratulations and march onwards, towards the land