" Rev.Father S.Gnanapiragasar, was born
on 30th August 1875, in Manipay, Jaffna. His father
Rajasingham Swaminathan, a Hindu, was the fifth
descendant of Puvirajasingam of Manipay and was Manager
of the Velakkai Pillaiyar Temple. His mother
Thangamuthu was the eldest daughter of Gardiner
Sittampalam, son of Vairamuthu Vldanayar.
Known as Vaithilingam in his early days, he lost his
father when he was young; his mother then married
Thambimuttu Pillai, a Roman Catholic from Achchuvely.
In the changes that ensued, Vaithilingam adopted the
Roman Catholic faith and the name of
Gnanapiragasar, the youth, studied Book keeping and
joined the Railway Telegraph Service. Whilst there, he
met Rev. Father Charles, who impressed him so much that
he resigned the Railway Service in 1895 and dedicated
himself to the service of the Church. He was ordained a
Priest on 1st December 1901. and commenced a new
chapter in his life.
He went to Nallur in 1904, where he embarked on his new
missionary activity with zeal and enthusiasm. Many
persons, estimated at about three thousand, were
reported to have been converted. In the course of his
activity he fell out with the stalwarts of other faiths
and long controversies ensued. There were several
publications from both sides.
He was a great scholar. His knowledge of Sanskrit and
Hindu philosophy were his assets. The study of Jaffna
History was one of his special subjects.
The valuable work he did was research regarding the
antiquity of the Tamil language. He held the view that
Tamil was the earliest human speech and that all other
languages were derived from the Tamil language.
Philology and Linguistics were his forte. Through these
he argued that Indo-European languages were offspring
of the Dravidian family, the parent of which is Tamil.
Unfortunately, the "Etymological and Comparative
Lexicon of the Tamil language", over which he was
labouring hard, was never completed.
He collected valuable manuscripts and old coins from
many sources and became an authority on these. He
contributed several articles on his favourite subjects
History and Ethnology, to learned Societies and select
He produced several publications, some of which are of
great historical value. Among his writings, some of
them in Tamil, are: Sources of the Yalpana Vaipava
Malai., 1935, Forgotten Coinage of the Jaffna Kings,
The Kings of Jaffna during the Portuguese period,
Yalpana Vaipava Vimosanam (Tamil), Tamils and Ceylon,
History of the Catholic Church in Ceylon, Sources for
the study of the History of Jaffna, Tamil Culture.
He passed away in 1947."from S.Arumugam's Dictionary of Biography
of the Tamils of Ceylon - published here with