தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home  > Library > History > Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism - Nambi Arooran  > The Tamil Heritage - History & Geography

TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: History & Geography

From the conclusion:

"In the foregoing pages an attempt has been made to trace the relationship between the Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism during the first four decades of the 20th century. It was Robert Caldwell who introduced the term 'Dravidian' into modern usage when he used it on philological grounds to denote a group of languages to denote a group of languages mainly spoken in South India. Soon the philological term 'Dravidian' was given a racial connotation to denote South Indians in general and Tamils in particular.

The rediscovery of the Cankam works and the revival of Tamil language and literature revealed the richness and antiquity of Tamil culture which was proclaimed to be distinct from and superior to northern Sanskrit-Aryan culture.

Along with this cultural awakening came a new sense of Dravidian self-consciousness and cultural pride. During the first two decades of the 20th century much concern was shown for the recognition of Tamil on a par with other subjects in Collegiate education. At the same time the Non Brahmin Movement was started with the object of securing communal representation in the Legislature and in public service.

While in power the Justice Party was able to utilise the Dravidian sentiment prevailing inside and outside the Legislature to enact legislation to protect the interests of non-Brahmins. Also, the passage of the Annamalai University Act by the Ministry led by P., Subbaroyan evinced special consideration for the revival and spread of the Tamil language and literature..
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E.V.R. started the Self-Respect Movement purely as a non-Brahmin social reform movement and subsequently merged it with the Justice Party. E.V.R. assumed the leadership of the party in the wake of the Anti-Hindi Agitation. The opposition to Hindi was partly political and partly sentimental arising out of the comparatively better qualities of Tamil when compared with Hindi. The opposition in turn gave rise to the demand for a separate Dravidanad: this claim was again partly based on linguistic grounds. The plea for the inclusion of Tamil songs in classical music concerts was an illustration of the impact of the Tamil Renaissance in the realm of fine arts.

However the Tamil Renaissance cannot be considered as solely the work of non-Brahmin scholars. Brahmins also played all equally important role and the contribution of U. V. Swaminatha Aiyar and C. Subramania Bharati cannot be underestimated. Similarly in the reconstruction of the Tamil past Brahmin historians such as S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar, P. T. Srinvasa Ayyangar and C. S. Srinivasachari brought out authoritative works on the ancient and medieval periods of South Indian history, on the basis of which non-Brahmins were able to look back with pride upon the excellence of Tamil culture. But some of the non-Brahmins looked at the contribution of Brahmin scholars with suspicion because of the pro-Aryan and pro-Sanskrit views expressed sometimes in their writings.

It can hardly be maintained that the Non-Brahmin Movement, the Self-Respect Movement, the rise of Dravidian consciousness, and the Tamil Renaissance centred around a small section of society based in Madras City.

A detailed analysis of the origin and growth of the various movements indicates that there was a lively response from the public in the districts. This is clearly evident from the large number of references in the preceding pages to various organisations and meetings reported in the districts.

It may not be right to simplify the entire gamut of the Dravidian Movement as a mere scramble for loaves and fishes in the Government service. A careful study of the related events has shown that the demand for government posts was only one aspect of a wider cultural conflict which began at the turn of the century. The Tamil Renaissance required the non-Brahmin, who was supposed to be the descendant of the Dravidian race, to become the custodian of his own culture. The Non-Brahmin Movement not only provided the catalyst to a new cultural awakening among the Tamils but also brought a new sense of Dravidian consciousness and cultural pride which led to the. rise of linguistic sub-nationalism in Tamilnad."

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