A short sketch of Tamil Literature
unavoidably errors creep in, the readers are requested to remember that the blame rests moreon the difficulty of the work undertaken.
Antiquity of Tamil Literature.
Either in point of antiquity, or in point of grammatical subtlety, or in the extension of literature, the Tamil Language is second to none of the languages on the globe. There werethree ancient academies conducted for very long periods and the last of them came to an end as early as 100 A. D. If the account given by Nakkirar in his valuable commentaries onIraiyanar Agapporul be accepted the first academy should have begun its sittings at about 9890B.C. This date does not mark the beginning of the Tamil Literature, as the professors who presided over the academy were simply engaged in the investigation of Tamil Literature. Thusthe Tamil tongue should reached a very high degree of culture even long before 10,000 years preceding the Christian era. There is irresistible evidence corroborated on all hands to the factthat there was a deluge which submerged a great part of South India which lay south of themodern Cape Comorin which was a river before the deluge. The present sanctity of the placeis indeed due to its having been one of the seven sacred rivers of India. Some scholars are of opinion that the deluge referred to in the Tamil ancient classics was identical with the delugein Noah’s time mentioned in the Bible. Tolkappyam, the most ancient Tamil grammar inexistence, is considered to have been composed before this flood. The author of this grammar gives the forms of the Tamil letters and thus the Tamil Language was reduced to writing long before Noah’s time. The occurrence of the work
(a corrupted form of the Tamil
)meaning a peacock in the Hebrew Language also speaks in favor of the antiquity of the Tamiltongue. Further Tamil was decidedly the Language of Southern India during the time of Ramaand Arjuna.
The word ‘Tamil.’
Tamil is the name of the language spoken by an ancient race of people called Tamilar.All sorts of fanciful etymologies were devised to explain the origin of this word. TheSanskritists, who would not allow any originality in other languages and claim all that is good and great for Sanskrit, suggest that the word ‘Tamil’ has come from the Sans.
. Dravidawas the name by which the Aryans designated the Land of the Tamils. Dravida literally inSanskrit means
to run and bend
and it fitly describes the Tamil land as it runs far south beforeit bends at Cape Comorin. They conceive that
. If such be the procedure of philology then any word can be derived from any other word by stupid ingenuity and philology may well receive the last word of farewell from us.The absurdity of deriving the word Tamil from
will be easily manifest. Aforeigner, it is usual, gives his own name to a neighbor tribe which may not be known to thetribe itself. If we ask a Tamil man about his nationality he would unhesitatingly say that he isa
and not a
which perhaps may be unintelligible to many Tamil ears. ATelugu man calls Tamil as
. And this fact is very little known to the majority of theTamils. The Tamils designate Telugu as
and the Telugus as
. This is not well