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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Tamil National Forum
TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM - 1999
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From: Kattabommu, USA December 1999

A quote from Chomsky: "In fact, if you look across the world fairly generally, I think an accurate description would be that - the more that a state had the capability to use violence at will, the greater was its contempt for sovereignty, that is, for the sovereignty of others. The United States overwhelmingly had far more capability to use violence than any other competitor, and here the exuberance was maximal. And it declines as you move down in power, until you get to the traditional victims..." - Noam Chomsky

From: Gopi, Singapore 23 December 1999

Re election of Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge as President of Sri Lanka and the future of Tamil people - 

Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge has been re elected in Sri Lanka by vote rigging and several electoral malpractices by her PA goons. It is clear that the Tamil people as a whole have lost trust and confidence in Chandrika. Even after her lackeys EPDP, PLOTE and EPRLF (Varatharaja Perumal faction) rigged the elections in North and East she could not garner much votes from the Tamil areas. If we look at the AP wire report it gives the reader an idea how Chandrika conducted the election and won by 51%.

“The independent Centre for Monitoring Election Violence said the poll was marred by serious election violations, systematic impersonations and ballot stuffing. The result of this election has been irredeemably compromised," said the organisation's director, Paikiyasothy Saravanamuttu. In some areas, political activists snatched the election registration cards from voters and used them to cast ballots. Elsewhere, roads were blocked by tree trunks or burning tires to turn away would-be voters, said Dev Anand, a member of the monitoring centre. Because of irregularities, the monitors said the election should be nullified in the entire north-east region and polling should be held again. The north-east is the Tamil-dominated area, where the rebels want to carve out an independent Tamil state."

Now that Chandrika has taken oaths as the President for the next six years, we will leave the debate on her re election validity to the Sinhalese opposition parties to thrash out among themselves.

What can the Tamil people expect from Chandrika in her new term as the president.?

From her inaugural speech we can say that Tamil people will under go the same suffering and hardship, which they went through during her last five-year term.

If we look at her speech, which Tamil Net reported, it says that Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, after being sworn in as Sri Lanka's fifth Executive President this afternoon at her official residence Temple Trees before the Chief Justice, vowed to "rid this land of death and destruction." Political commentators said it indicated her speech heralded a stronger effort to defeat the Liberation Tigers militarily.

"There is no other political leader in this country who sees so clearly as I do the enemy that walks so freely about in our land," she said. "That enemy is hatred" she said, in what political commentators said was an oblique reference to the LTTE and its leader, V. Pirapakaran.

"I, and my family, and this nation, have felt his touch one too many times," President Chandrika continued. "From this day forward I shall not rest until I have rid this land of hatred and its curse of death and destruction, she said.

From this we can see that Chandrika is committed to a military solution. She was doing the same thing under the guise of “War for Peace” but now after the assassination attempt on her life, she will carry on the war openly saying the war is against hatred. We must give a medal to Chandrika for her clever way of continuing the military oppression of the Tamil people and then giving nice names...

She also called on the leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) to join her in bringing about peace, "without compromising in any way with those who attempt to sow terror."  Here what she means is she wants the opposition parties also to join her campaign to kill the Tamil people by using the military.

But practically, the opposition parties may not support the government’s military adventure, as they will be looking to get Parliamentary seats in the coming general elections, which will have to be held before next August. Also the votes, which Mr.Wickremesinghe got in Tamil areas, may make him to think twice before supporting a  military solution for the current Tamil conflict. He has clearly stated that he is against a military solution for the current Tamil conflict.

Chandrika further in her speech shed some crocodile tears and appealed to the Tamil people,

"In particular, I stretch out my hand to all our Tamil brothers and sisters who believed, mistakenly, in the benevolence of Mr.Pirabaharan, to reject for once and for all the LTTE and all the violence and hatred they stand for. You must see the light of peace. I urge you to use every ounce of influence at your disposal to bring Mr.Pirabaharan to the negotiating table without any further delay. I urge you to persuade with every conceivable argument anyone who is a member or a supporter of the LTTE to renounce violence and join us in establishing peace."

.... After all the atrocities she unleashed on the Tamil people she wants them to believe that she is for peace and the Tigers are against it. I think she very well knows that the Tamil people as a whole, support the Tigers and they also know the true enemy of peace is the Sri Lanka government led by her.

She first must understand that Tamil people in Sri Lanka truly believe that if LTTE is not there to protect them, the Tamil people would have been made slaves by now by the Sinhala government. She must be thinking that all Tamil people are back boneless like Douglas Devananda, Dharmalingam and the Varatharaja Perumals. I am sorry to tell her that most of the Tamil people want to be like LTTE leader Mr. V.Pirabaharan.

Now let us see how she will continue the war.

First she will try to organise her army and will try to capture some lost territory before the next general election to boost the chances of the PA. At this point of time the Sri Lanka armed forces morale is at rock bottom.

Also to have a realist chance for the government to capture territory and to hold on to it, the Army will have to recruit many thousands of Sinhala youths into the armed forces. There may be some sympathy for Chandrika after the assassination but  unlike in 1995 when she started the military operation against the Tigers, this time Sinhala youths are not going to line in front of recruitment centres to join the Sri Lanka armed forces.

In contrast, the Tamil Tigers are confident of liberating the Tamil homeland from the Sinhala army. After the Vanni mainland was liberated many Tamil youths have joined the ranks of Tigers to liberate their homeland from Sri Lankan army.

While writing this article, Tigers have captured Paranthan and are very close to Elephant Pass cause way and attacking the central camp there. If Elephant Pass falls to the Tigers then there is no stopping them from liberating the Jaffna peninsula from the Sinhala army.

In the Maha Veerar’s day speech, Tamil National leader Mr. Pirabaharan declared

"Though the LTTE stands today as a formidable force. With the military capability to liberate our homeland, we have not abandoned the path of peace. We want to resolve the Tamil conflict through peaceful means; through civilised methods without recourse to bloodbath and destruction of life".

After Chandrika’s re election the option of peace talks with third party mediation is out and Chandrika is seeking a military solution to the Tamil national question. As Mr.Pirabaharan said, the Tamil Nation’s liberation army, that is the LTTE, is very strong now and it will liberate the Tamil homeland.

In conclusion what Chandrika will achieve in her new term as President of Sri Lanka will be seeing to the birth of Tamil Eelam under the leadership of the LTTE and its leader Mr. V. Pirabaharan .


From: Gnanam, Anna University, Chennai, November 1999

I happened to go through Tamilnation(TN). It is a good to raise Tamil consciousness which is almost destroyed by 'Indianness'. India never has been a single country. Now also it only seems to be so. But, in reality it is not existing. That is why  Tamils cannot get water in Kavery and if a little effort was taken to raise the height of the Periyar dam, then it will show the real colour of the so called 'unity in diversity'.

In an interview, Ananda Vikadan Suba Veerapandian stated that 20th century was the period of the liberation of colonies, but the 21st century is going to be the century which will liberate the various ethnic nations. So, to liberate the true nations from the Indian myth, a federation of all freedom loving movements of Indian subcontinent has to be formed. Only a collective liberation movement of all ethnic groups will  result in freedom from this subcontinent. Will Tamil Nation take a step to form a common platform to organise this idea of crystalising a federation of various liberation movements?

Response from tamilnation: Though India, as we know it today,  was never a single state before British rule, the peoples of the sub continent do have much in common, in the same way as the peoples of Europe (Germans, French or Italians) share a 'European' togetherness. After two world wars, the nations of Europe are moving towards a European Union where they may associate with each other in equality and in freedom. In the Indian subcontinent, the challenge may be to telescope two processes.

On the one hand, after the departure of the colonial ruler in 1948, we have seen the emergence of the separate national identities of the Indian sub continent, seeking recognition and demanding equality, in the fullest sense of that term - not dissimilar to the emergence of the nations of Europe in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and the 19th centuries.

On the other hand, we live in the 20th century, at a time when the increasing interdependence of states has led to the growth of regional economic and political communities. The same states who warred with each other in Europe to assert their separate interests, have felt the need to pool their sovereignty within the framework of a larger European Community, with a free movement of goods, services and persons.

The question is whether India will be able to structure a polity where the different peoples of the sub continent (including, perhaps,  those in the island of Sri Lanka) may freely associate with each other in equality and in freedom - where no one people may impose their rule on another. Here, it may be helpful to recall the words of the late Julius Nyerere:

"Kwame Nkrumah and I were committed to the idea of unity... I did not believe in these small little nations. Still today I do not believe in them. I tell our people to look at the European Union, at these people who ruled us who are now uniting.... Later African historians will have to study our correspondence on this issue of uniting Africa."   (Julius Nyerere, ex President of Tanzania and one of Africa's most respected elder statesperson, in an interview reported in the New Internationalist, January/February 1999)


From: Yarzhan R. Shanmugalingam, USA  29   November 1999

"...I was gleaning for literary as well as for current Tamil events in the November 1999 issue of 'Tamilpani, the Tamil monthly. An article by I. Shanmuganathan, (Nathan) former Editor of 'Thinathanthi' deserves wider publicity. ... let me attempt to tell what Nathan said in Tamil, with my feeble command of the English language....

A Tamil Student's Headstone in a Cemetery -  I. Shanmuganathan (Nathan) Former Editor Thinathanthi)

"G. U. Pope's life has captivated me most among the several blessed Tamil savants I read about. Born an Englishman, this great personality breathed Tamil and felt like a Tamil. G. U. Pope was born on 24-4-1820 in a hamlet in Edwards Island in the Canadian neighborhood. He came to Tamil Nadu as a Christian missionary in 1839, and lived in the service of Tamil and very early, he was highly influenced by the excellence of the Tamil language. He published such great works as Tholkapiyam. Nannool, and made classical Tamil easier to English students, while Tamil students could afford means for a more comprehensive and fruitful study of the classics. He translated into
English, Thirukkural, Naladiyar, Thiruvasagam, etc.

Thirukkural  was translated into other languages before Pope. English translators did only partial translations. Rev. Pope deserves the credit for researching and producing a noteworthy full translation of Thirukkural . He spent a greater part of his fortune to publish rare Tamil books.

In his Preface to the English Publication of Thirukkural, G. U. Pope wrote on the excellence of Tamil:

"Tamil is a sophisticated unique language, with a rich vocabulary. It is the mother of all South Indian languages, Tamil literature was designed to create high moral standards, ethical codes and Thirukkural  is a great example of that. It is in a land of people with very high ethical codes and who nurture human discipline that such moral books are created and could be created. Thirukkural  is as clear as an unpolluted spring. Yes! Thirukkural, the unique book, has come to remove the impurities of this world. 'Within a short time of my learning Tamil, I commenced translating Thirukkural , for the benefit of Europeans. It took several years to complete the translation and I offer my gratitude to God for the final result."

Pope's love for Tamil and Thirukkural  is abundantly clear from such expressions. Pope returned to England in 1882, having lived in Tamil Nadu for   approximately 42 years. He accepted a Professorship at Oxford University, to teach Tamil and Telugu.

He received the coveted Gold Medal given once in three years for meritorious service and to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1906.  He wrote to the editor J. M. Nalla Samy Pillai of "Siddhantha Deepika" on   October 20, 1900, requesting that after his death, the inscription on his headstone should be "A Tamil Student" - and at least a portion of the cost to erect such a headstone should come with donations from wealthy and  influential Tamils."

Pope died on February 11, 1908. Professor Selvakesavaraya Mudaliyar, of   the Tamil Department of Chennai Pachchayappan College, collected funds according to Pope's last wish and dispatched to London towards the headstone.

What is happening to the Tombstone? Many of us cherish the idea of visiting this tombstone if we got a chance to go to London. M. P. Somasuntharam (Somu) " the well known writer, All India Radio fame for  many years, and the successor to editor KALKI at "KALKI," was able to locate where Pope was buried in 1961 and paid his respects.

M. P. Somu wrote in his book 'akkaryc cImy" as follows:

"My several inquiries regarding the exact location of Pope's tombstone in Oxford from several of my friends in London came out blank. During my search in a book on Englishmen of great achievements, I learnt that Pope was buried in the Saint Sepulcher Cemetery on an old street called Walton in Oxford. I chose the holiday a Sunday to visit the site. Young M. Gopalakrishnan accompanied me. We reached Oxford around 12.00 noon. Finally we reached the Saint Sepulcher Cemetery, from direction given on our request, only to find the two gates were locked. It was a great disappointment. We approached a cigarette vendor across the street for information. An old lady was taking care of business. She sensed our sadness from our demeanor, told us with  great affection, "Friends! I sympathize with you. They have closed the cemetery now. There are 4000 tombstones here and interment of 12,000 bodies. They have closed this place for lack of any more burial grounds."

Just imagine my disappointment at such news. "Friends", the gentle lady advised. I can understand from your sadness, one of your forefathers is buried here. Do one thing; the Cemetery caretaker lives at the entrance to the cemetery. Tell him that you have come to pay respects to one of your forefathers and see what happens."

We got permission from the caretaker to enter the cemetery, having spoken thus, "The one sleeping under is not only my forefather; but also forefather to every Tamil and every South Indian."

It was  not an easy matter to identify Pope's tomb from among 4000 of them. Since the cemetery was not in use, there was neither a Register nor a list of   the tombs. M. Gopalakrishnan and I went in two directions looking for Pope's name. The caretaker joined us in the search.The learned Pope's soul must have taken sympathy with our quandary.

Because, from a bush in some remote corner of the cemetery the caretaker shouted "Pope." We ran to the spot in the front entrance to the right, below   a yew tree, covered with dense vegetation was a large brush. Under which a marble slab, once the bush was cleared, showed very faint inscription. We dipped our handkerchief in the water Gopalakrishnan fetched in a vessel, and started rubbing the slab. The following inscription showed very  clearly:

"George Uglow Pope D.D. of South India sometime lecturer in Tamil and Telugu in the University and chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford, born 24th April 1820. Died 11th February 1908. This stone has been placed here by his family and by his Tamil friends in South India in loving admiration of his life long labours in the cause of oriental literature and philosophy"

I was excited reading these words! It was not Pope's family alone that   erected this tombstone. I read that written portion that said his friends   from South India over and over again. The mere mention that he was a South Indian and Tamil donations were also involved in erecting the tombstones are words that should be engraved gems in Tamil history, don't you agree? It is on those very words; jungle bush is spreading now!His wife is buried next to him.

Goplakrishnan and I, on behalf of Tamils, paid our homage to both while circling the tombs in our typical Tamil fashion. The caretaker watching us developed a renewed devotion. He also paid his respects in the Christian tradition.

"My friend! Please do not let the bush spread on this tomb. This is the tomb of one of our forefathers. There are thousands of us, his progenies, living in South India. Future visitors to this site should not go through the same ordeal we have gone through. From time to time smear with oil and keep these letters shining. You will be blessed for your good deed. My fellow countrymen will be grateful." With these words, we also showed him our appreciation." These are Somu's words."


What are the lessons from this?
1. Pope's tomb is covered in brush for lack of proper care. If it was like that 40 years ago, what is the situation now?
2. The headstone does not reflect Pope's last wish. It should have the inscription "Tamil Student."

A request to London Tamils.

G. U. Pope was English by birth. But he was Tamil, Out and out pure Tamil. He was one of our Mother Tamil's blessed sons. "A few shining stars, the gift of God to foster virgin Tamil, and G. U. Pope was one of the few." So praised 'Tamil gentle breeze' Thiru V.Ka, G. U. Pope with his "word garland of renown." We are indebted to such a praiseworthy one and deserve our gratitude.Pope's tomb needs checking now. We have to make it presentable. A memorial marble headstone with the appropriate inscription both in English and Tamil describing his several good deeds to Tamil with

TAMIL STUDENT
Dr. G. U. Pope is sleeping here.
Born Died
24 - 4 - 1820 11 - 2- 1908
(Inscribed in both Tamil and English)

Pope deserves a mausoleum at the site of his tomb for his services to Tamil. Since, it is in a different country that may not be practical. But there should be no difficulty in erecting a memorial headstone.Any government action involves another country that will be time consuming as exchange of files take years. London Tamils, if they decide, can accomplish this within a month. Is donation required? Indications are Tamil nobilty within Tamil Nadu and elsewhere are ready to donate generously. Tamils of London! If you desire, - if you undertake, a mausoleum for Pope with no equal will be a reality in no time.Do this; do it in haste; then and then only Pope will rest in Peace.


From: V.Natarajan, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Let us congratulate the East Timorese people. Let us hope Tamil Eelam will follow a similar path to freedom.


From: Chev.Daniel-Kingsley Lear 30 Oct 1999

Our study group is in a bit of a quandary. One member says that it is an offense against the UN Charter for one member state to enforce the laws of its own state upon another. Which section can such wording be found?

Another topic, has to do with what are the qualifications for being a member state of the United Nations? Canada, for example, is a member; yet, until 1982, Canada had still not "cut the umbilical cord" from the United Kingdom.Therefore, the group is at an impasse to ascertain the meaning of sovereignty as defined by the United Nations.

Response from tamilnation:

Article 2.4 of the UN Charter provides:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Having said that, as the Asian Human Rights Commission pointed out recently, sovereignty does not give the right to a state abuse human rights:

"... The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar in his speech to the United Nations failed to touch on the main issue of the debate, which is the gross abuse of human rights by the State. Does sovereignty give the right to a State to engage in gross abuse of human rights? Can those States, which have failed to redress gross abuse of human rights, say "we are sovereign, we do not need to redress to gross abuse of human rights." Can a state protect those who have committed crimes against humanity? Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet tried to use the same defence but failed. Sri Lankan record of gross abuse of human rights is much worse than that of the Chile during the rule of Pinochet....."

Again, Article 1.2 of the UN Charter declares that one of the purposes of the United Nations Organisation is

"To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."

On the question of admission to the UN, the views of  James Crawford, currently Whewell Professor of International Law in the University of Cambridge  in 1979 continue to be relevant:

"Traditionally, the criteria for statehood have been regarded as resting solely on considerations of effectiveness. Entities with a reasonably defined territory, a permanent population, a more or less stable government and a substantial degree of independence of other States have been treated as States. Other factors, such as permanence, willingness to obey international law, and recognition, have usually been regarded as of rather peripheral importance." (James Crawford - The Creation of States in International Law - Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1979)

To the extent that admission to the United Nations is a matter of recognition it is often a function of political expediency. For instance, though Ukraine was a constituent member of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin was able to persuade President Roosvelt to agree to Ukraine being admitted to the UN.  The deal was struck at the Yalta conference in 1944 and the argument that was advanced by Stalin was that the constitutent republics of the Soviet Union had the right to secede. The political reality was that the US needed Soviet support for the inauguration of the UN. On the other hand, Mao's China (though in effective control of territory, with a stable government, since 1949) was not admitted to the UN for more than a decade - and that too, not until after the ping pong diplomacy of Kissinger and Nixon. Again, though Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known) gained independence from the British in 1948, it was not admitted as a member of the UN until 1956.


From: Jon Crawley 11 October 1999

The Tamil Diaspora is quite an interesting topic for me. I have enjoyed reading the information here concerning the many and various large communities throughout the world. I am particularly interested in Southeast Asia and its peoples and history. I understand that large numbers of Tamils went to the Indonesian island of Sumatra as plantation workers in the late 1800s. There was a large community in Medan in very recent times and a well known Sri Mariamman temple there. I see no mention of Indonesia as I scan your list of countries with major commuities. Is the Medan community still a viable community? Have these Tamils emigrated away in great numbers? How large is this Indonesian community? Is the community limited to Medan or are there other centers in the old plantation country of North Sumatra --like PematangSiantar or TebingTinggi? I would greatly appreciate and enjoy any information you might give. Thank you.

Response from tamilnation:

It is good to hear of your interest - and this is an area which merits further research. The Agathiyar list is a place where you may be able to get further information. An earlier visitor to the tamilnation website evinced a similar interest about Indonesia and you will find the message and response here.   To subscribe to the Agathiyar list please visit Agathiyar List for Discussing Tamil/Indian Literature, Hindu Religion, Arts, Literature, History


From: Eric Miller, USA 10 October 1999

I am Eric Miller,Ph.D. student in Folklore, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA), e-mail: emiller@sas.upenn.edu website: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~emiller , telephone: (USA) 215-417-4576

My projected dissertation will compare face-to-face and tele-video conferenced communication. As my test case, I would with your permission compare how forms of Tamil verbal arts occur face-to-face and via teleconference, as the Tamil people have kept alive a very brilliant tradition, many traditions actually, of verbal arts.

I lived in Tamil Nadu in 1988-89 and 90 (in the course of my MA). Presently, I am searching for a tutor in modernized-Villupattu or in some similar verbal artform. Conceivably, I could take storytelling lessons by Internet teleconference (CU-SeeMe or other software) especially if I fail to find an appropriate person in the Philadelphia area. The long-distance tutor would simply have to go someplace where similar Internet facilities are available-- this should not be difficult in Chennai, for example: the University of Chennai certainly has such facilities.

8 years ago in Chennai I met Subu Arumugam and videotaped him in performance. The video is of the 3rd night of a 6 night telling of the Ramayana. The event was held at the Periyapalaya Thamman Kovil in Adyar. There is a 90-second video-audio clip of this video on my website (realplayer software is necessary to view it). I also gave a copy of the videotape to Subu Arumugam.

Over the years, I have sent letters to Subu Arumugam a couple of times, but there has been no reply. The contact information I have for him is

Subu Arumugam 50/3, MIG Block
Ashok Nagar
Chennai 600 083
telephone___42339 ???
telephone___423391 ???

It has occurred to me that I might also contact the office of the DMK in my search for a tutor. Again, what I am looking for is a working professional in the field of public speaking (storytelling / religious discourse / ethical-civic discourse). I am more interested in the talking than in the singing.

Subu Arumugam was in 1991 one leading modernizer of Villupattu-- it seems that modernized-Villupattu might be an appropriate verbal artform for me to study because it is not too orthodox. Harikatha / Katha Kaalak Chebam are more orthodox, and thus probably inappropriate for me as a foreigner to study from the inside. (For me, in order to study and artform, I also need to learn how to do it a little bit.)

A great artist must of course be above politics, as Subu Arumugam is (although in 1991 he seemed to have some friends in the Congress-I Party). Great statesmen/women must also be above politics-- and I believe that M. Karunanidhi and Murusoli Maran, despite being leaders of the DMK, are to a good extent above politics, in that they are scholars and promoters of Tamil culture. The library in the DMK headquarters in Chennai (which I visited in '91) is quite extensive and impressive. The DMK is a cultural organization, as well as a political party. So...might you know of anyone in the Chief Minister's government who might be willing to help me to find a tutor? Perhaps in an office related to the Arts (music-theatre-dance), Education, Folk Culture, Broadcasting...? If anyone comes to mind, please forward my e-mail and website address to said individual, or tell me whom I might e-mail.


From: V.Natarajan, Koyambuthur, Tamilnadu 8 October 1999

Tamil Eelam & East Timor - It is a great historic event that UN has conducted a Plebiscite in a sovereign country to determine the will of a region to seccede (East Timor from Indonesia) and thus UN for the first time has fulfilled its Charter. This is the time for Tamils all over the world to demand from the UN the same treatment for the ailing Tamil Nation .... Let us put this specific demand to the UN on 24th October, which is the UN Day.


From: V. Thangavelu, Canada 14 September 1999

Regarding the controversy surrounding G.G.Ponnambalam and the Citizenship Act, it is correct that G.G.Ponnambalam did vote against Citizenship Act No.18 of 1948 which deprived a million Tamils of Indian origin their citizenship. However, he also did not speak against the Bill. According to V.Navaratnam ( "The Fall and Rise of The Tamil Nation-1995 edition - pages 48 and 49)

" (The All Ceylon Tamil Congress) leader G.G.Ponnambalam did not speak against the Ceylon Citizenship Bill, but contend himself with merely voting against it. S.J.V. Chelvanayagam told me many years later that that was the time when Ponnambalam was believed to have been negotiating with D.S. Senanayake to join the Cabinet." (emphasis mine).

This must be true or else how do you account for the fact that the leader of the party (ACTC) chose not to speak on a vital subject that affected the political future of the 2 million Tamils?

It is during this debate that S.J.V. Chelvanayagam carried away by anger uttered his prophetic warning "You are now hitting at the weakest section of the Tamils, you are hitting at the innocent and the meek ..... We will know where we stand when our turn comes next, we will know when the next piece of legislation in this series comes, the one dealing with our language..." or words to that effect.

Ponnambalam who was seated next to Chelvanayagam , kept on tugging at Chelvanayagam's coat tails whispering "Chelva, don't burn your boats, Chelva don't burn your boats ."

Chelvanayagam did not understand the full import of these words until Ponnambalam joined D.S. Senanayake's cabinet. It should be noted here that later Ponnambalam voted in favour of Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Amendment Act No.48 of 1949 which deprived the Tamils of Indian origin their vote. The 1949 Act, Section 4(1) simply stated "No person shall be qualified to have his name entered or retained in any register of elections in any year if such a person is not a citizen of Ceylon."

Alluding to this piece of history Satchi Ponnambalam in his book "Sri Lanka, The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle" in rather uncomplimentary terms states as follows: "With Ponnambalam, the most articulate and vociferous domesticated in his cabinet, D.S.Senanayake went in for the kill.".

I am merely stating all these to put the record straight....


From: Phillip G. Pragasam Australia 8 September 1999

As I watch events unfold in East Timor, I am constantly reminded of  Sathyam commentary on the anguished but ultimately fruitless pleadings of Amnesty International.  There is saturation coverage of the carnage in all the newpapers and other media- all of which point to the active involvement of the Indonesian security forces in the slaughter. There is extensive commentary expressing outrage, anger,sadness and general condemnation of Indonesia. The Autralian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, representing a 'significant regional power', appear on television  to wring their hands and express 'deep concern' and appeal to Indonesia to protect the East Timorese. We are told that an international peace keeping force can only be despatched with the permission if not at the request of Indonesia. Meanwhile the slaughter continues unabated. It is in this context that Sathyam commentary on the emerging reality of the Fourth World is so relevant. It is time that international law recognises the need for action which is more imaginative than pleading with the fox to protect the chicken.



From: Phillip G. Pragasam Australia 27 August 1999

...It is important for Tamils to understand why events turn out the way they do. What lessons can be learnt? "What does reason tell us?"- the rhetorical question that is posed by Sathyam should exercise the minds of all Tamils. Reasoned and robust debate is critical for the future of our Nation. Thank you, for your significant contribution towards my edification. One other thing: the sooner the TULF is disbanded the better. It would be difficult, I suppose, to give up the official cars, the chauffeurs, the body guards (to protect them against the Tamils they claim to 'represent'?) and the patronage afforded by the Sri Lankan Government.


From: Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham USA 25 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam - I have read almost all of your writing and commentaries published in tamilnation, including the last one on the death of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam. It is the best reflection of the thoughts of all Tamils I know, including myself. Thank you for so eloquently, logically, thoughtfully, precisely and sensitively expressing yours and our thoughts and feelings. Vanakkam


From: A Tamil Observer from Colombo 22 August 1999

E.A.O. Naganathan in his "Advice to Tamil Parliamentarians sent to the Sri Lanka press and published at the website of the Ilankai Tamil Sangam says and I quote:

"Betrayal of the Tamils at every turn has been the order of the day with all Sinhala governing groups, beginning with the experience of G.G.,  whose “responsive co-operation” led at a national level to the infamous Citizenship Act of 1948..."

But did not G.G.Ponnambalam vote against the Ceylon Citizenship Act?

Response from tamilnation:

Yes, G.G.Ponnambalam did vote against the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 and it is only fair to set the record straight.

Later in 1949, the  Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Bill was introduced to enable plantation Tamils (who had lost their rights to citizenship by descent under the Ceylon Citizenship Act), to obtain citizenship by registration. On this occasion, G.G.Ponnambalam voted for the Bill, though at that time the party representing the Plantation Tamils (the Ceylon Indian Congress) as well as the Federal Party led by S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, opposed the Bill, on the ground that the conditions imposed for registration and the administrative machinery set up for implementation were discriminatory and partial.

However, after a few years, the Ceylon Indian Congress ( which later changed its name to Ceylon Workers Congress) did work within the framework of the Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Act and it did use the provisions of the Act to make applications for citizenship by registration. Some of the background will appear from the excerpts from the Abdul Aziz Felicitation Volume, 1986.


From: M.Thanabalasingham, Australia 8 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam - the way that the Sinhala Nation behaved on his death made even the 'moderate' Tamils very angry. The powerful Neelan did not use his power to promote the just struggle of his udanpirrapukal while he was alive. But his death has raised many issues that were taking place in the corridors of power...


From: V. Thangavelu,  Canada 8 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam - (the article) has placed the killing of Tiruchelvam in the correct historical perspective. Dr.Tiruchelvam was a good man, but such people are only good for god. His vast legal knowledge and experience gave legitimacy to Sinhala rule over the Tamils in the form the "Devolution Proposals". Because he co-authored the proposals he developed a vested interest in selling it to the Tamils...


From: Professor V. Elagupillai, Canada 7 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam...  your review is intellectually credible and factually defensible. You have given an opportunity to many of us to make an impartial judgement of Neelan Thiruchelvams deeds...


From: Dr.S.Mahendran, United Kingdom 7 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam, thank you for the excellent analysis. No single individual can be bigger than the magnitude of the freedom struggle of a people. Neelan, though a nice person, a good man as an individual was far too naive and in fact surprisingly so, in spite of all his intelligence. More so when one wonders how he did not see the treachery that was around him even after five years of it. It was extremely sad to lose such worthy individuals from among our depleted nation. Only if such persons would understand the depth of feeling that runs in our veins seeking for that freshness of liberty....


From: Anton Phillip, Canada 7 August 1999

Re Tamil Eelam and Neelan Thiruchelvam. .... I was discussing with my friends on the same lines...This also makes us realise that we are so weak in our contribution towards the struggle. The  international community gives no consideration to that which we have gone through to ask for our freedom and independence...


From: Rob Holden, USA 21 July 1999

When did Ceylon cease to exist as a "nation" and become Sri Lanka "a nation defined by the UN?"

Response from tamilnation:

Ceylon became independent on 4 February 1948. It was admitted to the United Nations in 1956 - as Ceylon. It changed its name to 'Sri Lanka' in 1972. The change was effected through a Sinhala dominated constitutent assembly and the declaration of the new 1972 republican Constitution.


From Manoharan Ratnam  8 July 1999

Vannakam. In your list of countries where the Tamil diaspora reside, there is no mention of Indonesian Tamils. From what I know, there is a sizeable Tamil community, living in Medan in the island of Sumatra (Indonesia). These Tamils have been neglected and they are slowly losing their identity. Few years back, there were a   few cultural missions from Singapore and  I hope this will be continued by others to maintain the cultural link.

Response from tamilnation:

Many thanks for pointing this out. It will be useful to get some material from Indonesian sources.  Professor Jean Filliozat in his Presidential Address at the First Tamil International Conference Seminar in 1966 in Kuala Lumpur commented:

"In Bali, Indonesia the religion of Hindu origin which is still practised is called Agamatirtha. The word 'tirtha' is also used to designate holy water received from the temple. Such a use is not general in India, but it exists in Tamil. There are other evidences in South-East Asia and Indonesia of the coming of Sanskrit through Tamilians with the specialisations or changes of meaning they have undergone."


From An Expatriate Tamil Doctor, London 19 June 1999

I lost sight of the shores a long time ago
I sailed the stormy waters
I rest safe in a harbour now
I am not staying for long
I am only waiting for my time to leave
But, I do not know where to go...


From V.Thangavelu, Canada 19 June 1999

While I very much appreciate your efforts in having one of the best (Tamil related) websites, I will like you to include all international conferences since 1988 and all papers read in such conferences for purposes of record. As a race we failed to preserve the best books in Tamil having sacrificed them to the elements through sheer apathy and neglect. This should not be repeated in future. ... I browsed the 1991 International Conference held in California and only one paper is available.

Response from tamilnation:

Yes, this is a task which should be addressed - and, hopefully, more material will become available and will be  posted in the coming months.


From Rob Feinberg  14 June 1999

An article on your web site by Nadesan Satyendra mentions evidence of a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka. I would like to ask the author of that article where I can get more information about this land bridge,
such as the satellite photo mentioned and any more detailed geological or archaeological evidence. Thank you.

Response from tamilnation:

The reference to the land bridge was mainly from the writings of Dr.Jayabarathi and in particular from a paper that he had submitted to an International Tamil Conference held in Kuala Lumpur in 1986.

Dr.Jayabarathi had studied the Andean legends, Egyptian, the Platonic version and several others and the topic of his paper was the Legend of Kumari. He concluded:

"Both Tamilagam and the island of Eelam are placed on a common continental shelf. This continental shelf is less than 600 feet in depth. More than 80 percent of its area is under about 200 feet of water. Therefore a large area skirting the present coast-line is under less than 100 feet of water.

During the last Ice Age, because a large volume of water was frozen into the immense ice caps and the innumerable glaciers, there was less water in the sea. Hence the level of the sea was much lower. During much of the Ice Age, it was 400 feet lower than what is now.

Even after the Ice age passed by, there were many mini-ice ages in between. The Continental shelf extends continually from the Tanjore Promontary and continues onto the Jaffna Peninsula. Likewise, its southern edge is from Rameswaram Peninsula stretching to Mannaar on the island side. When the sea dries up, there will be a continuous piece of land where Tanjore, Ramnad, Jaffna, Mannar, the Palk Straits and part of Mannar Gulf are at present.

If the level of the sea were to be around 200 feet lower than now, then the Palk Strait would have been an inland lagoon with the outlet to sea, placed between Kodikarai of Tanjore and Jaffna Peninsula. All this has submerged in stages.

The last piece of land to submerge was the Adam's Bridge which connects Rameswaram island to Mannar. This was intact even a few thousand years ago. Most parts of the bridge was intact with many islets jutting out of the sea in the ancient times. The Adam's Bridge can be seen in Satellite photos. It was a famous landmark. It was because of this Bridge that Pandiya Nadu was called as the "Land of the Bridge", or simply "the Bridge", by the Arabs. It was called Malabar."

Dr.Jayabarathi  maintains a website and a very useful mailing list, 'Agathiyar'. You will find the links to the website as well the mailing list here


From Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham, U.S.A. 31 March 1999

I am, like many other Tamils, grateful to those who have created the Web page TamilNation. It, with other web pages, is creating a virtual Tamil Nation. Your work towards putting together the electronic library is a source of
information for researchers.


From Chinna A.Kannapiran, Australian National University, Naru, 26 March 1999

Anbarntha Tamil nanbarkalae,

When my Tamil Teacher taught me that Tamil language is almost the first language .."Kalthontri (after rock formation) manthontra (before soil formation) Kalathae ( in that period) munthotri (developed) moothakudi (first people)" , I was imagining that he was exaggerating the message because of his love for Tamil (or fanatic or Uyarvu Navirchi Ani - in Tamil Grammar).

After reading the web page: http://saturn.sron.ruu.nl/~jheise/akkadian/mesopotamia.html, I was surprised to see some possibility of truth in my teachers' perception. I reproduce below some of the relevant materials of interest taken from the web page referred above and with a mixture of my imagination:

1.Tamil people are compared with the Sumerians:

" The people responsible for the first monumental temples and palaces, for the founding of the first city states and most likely for the invention of writing (all in the period of 3100-3000 BCE) are the Sumerians. The first written signs are pictographic, so they can be read in any language and one can't infer a particular language. .....The Sumerians called their country ken.gi(r) 'civilised land', their language eme.gir and themselves sag.gi6.ga 'the black-headed ones 'Sumerian' has no known relation to any other language. There seems to be a remote relationship with Dravidian languages (like spoken by the Tamils, now in the south of India). There is evidence that the Dravidian languages were spoken in the north of India, being displaced by the arrival of the Indo-European invaders around 1500 BCE. Because of the term 'the black-headed ones', it is possible (but far from proven) that the Sumerians are an early branch of one of the people now living in southern India."

In my view, if Tamil linguistic experts are involved in  research to decode the Sumerian languages, there must be some interesting finding. The western historians, in my view, are handicapped because of   their limited knowledge of literary Tamil. Of course, we the Tamils may not be able to understand even the Sangam Tamil... the biggest generation gap in our language!

2. Some of the Sumerian towns had names that resembles Tamil names ..Ur, Nippur and more so the name "Elam (Tamil Elangai) and the Elamites (people of Elam):

The ruins of many famous ancient cities, like Eridu, Ur, Nippur and Kish are now far from the river, but were in the past situated at the river banks.Modern Iran is roughly equivalent to Persia and including in its south-western part ancient Elam. The Elamites are the people of Elam.

3. There is a spurious belief in India that Sanskrit is the oldest language and most languages are derivatives. The word 'Sans' and 'Script' means 'without' 'script'. Historians indicated that when Aryans brought their oral language, the Dravidians had a well developed language (Tamil) with script and that's why they called the Aryan language as "Sanscript".

4. There is another research undertaken by Mr Arunachalam of Tirunelveli District (Winner of the Chief Ministers Award and right now a teacher in Government School), on the question whether the languages spoken by Aborigines in Australia have some relationship with Tamil language. (Interested persons may refer to his book on that subject published by St Xaviers College, Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli Dt, India). He even suggested that the "boomerang' used by Aborigines was equivalent to "kalari erithal' in old Tamil literature which most of us thought as a highest imagination but seems to be reality.

I am not a historian but I love the history and more so the History of Tamils. Nantri, Vanakkam and Meendum Santhippom.


From M.Thanapal, Sydney, Australia 24 March 1999

" (Re the Sathyam Commentary on the  National Lottery?)...The comment on luck, bad luck, cynical enterprises and the quotation from Golda Meir's speech added weight to the commentary.

History does not move by itself. Intervention by individuals is required to change the course of human affairs. This is why when we talk of great revolutions, of freedom struggles, of social change we often talk about  great individuals who by their sheer personality (AALUMAI), capability (AARTAL), and unique qualities (THANITHTHUVAM) have been at the forefront of change.

The Tamil national struggle is not a historic accident. Hence it is insulting to suggest that the end result of a national liberation struggle lies in some luck - as in a lottery. At the same time (as pointed out by Sathyam ) the Tamil national struggle is not unique. As long as a group of people want to dominate and rule another group of people without their consent, the struggle becomes a historic necessity. But the success or failure of the struggle is not determined by luck -   it is I think determined by the internal and external conditions of the people and the leadership that manifests the internal will of the people into external action. Internal purity, courage, determination and a willingness to sacrifice are necessary. But these alone are not enough. These should be manifested in action.

The advent of Velupillai Pirabaharan is not a historic accident nor is he an Avatar. He is the  manifestation of the collective will of a people who have suffered immensely and who continue to suffer under alien rule - and, a people who have sacrificed much.

"Where there is a Philosopher there is a Philosophy. Where there is no Philosopher there is no Philosophy "

"Thathuvan enkundu thathuvam ankundu, Thathuvan enkillai thathuvam ankillai " (Thirumoolar)

A true philosopher is a man of action, a Karma Yogi. I think in Velupillai Pirabaharan, we have a leader who will succeed not only in securing the dignity, freedom and improved material conditions of our udanpirappukal but also in creating a base for the linguistic, cultural and spiritual upliftment of all Tamils, where ever they may live.

In the end, the outcome will not be determined by a lottery but will be determined by  two peoples sitting in equality and creating structures to become free and indeed, freely associate for the greater benefit of both peoples. Vaalka Sathyam.


From Singapore: 16,18,20 March 1999

"Some questions which may help in a theses I am writing:

(1) Can anyone please tell me how many DMK political parties exist in Tamil Nadu right now ? Which of these are pro-LTTE and which of these are anti-LTTE ?....

Response from tamilnation:

It seems that at present there are four Tamil political parties which declare their 'links' with the Dravida movement initiated by E.V.R. One is the Dravida Kalagam, another is the Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK) led currently by Kalaignar, another is the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (AIADMK) led earlier by MGR and currently by Jayalalitha, and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (MDMK) led by Gopalaswamy.

Ten MPs of MDMK & Samata Party submitted a statement in March 1998 to the UN Commission on Human Rights, expressing their solidarity with Eelam Tamils. You will find their statement here.

This was followed by a letter dated 11 June 1998 where the MDMK together with the Pattali Makkal Katchi pointed out to the Indian Prime Minister that '"The plainly genocidal nature of this war has gone unreported despite the magnitude of the atrocities and the high civilian death toll..." You will find the text of this letter here.

The Indian ban on the LTTE was *not* on the ground that it was a terrorist organisation. The Indian ban was imposed because India was of the view that LTTE's objective for a homeland for all Tamils disrupted the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. Again, though the ban was imposed a few months after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the ban itself did not explicitly or implicitly state that the Rajiv Gandhi assassination had anything to do with the ban. You will find the text of the ban here.

(2) Any idea where I can get the Jain Commission report and the secret documents of RAW ?

Response from tamilnation:

You will find extracts from the Jain Commission report here

(3) I am looking for maps of Sri Lanka , especially a detailed map of Tamil Eelam, the whole island and a map showing the close connection between India (Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka. Can you please help?

Response from tamilnation:

You will find some maps of Tamil Eelam, Sri Lanka & Tamil Nadu here and also at http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/tn

(4) On what basis do the Tamils claim the Tamilian nature of the Eastern province ? The Sinhalese claim and as the statistics show, the ethnic groups are more evenly proportioned in the east. How then are they claiming the eastern province as Tamilian homeland ?

Response from tamilnation:

In 1881, Tamils, Sinhalese and (Tamil speaking) Muslims constituted 64.8%, 4.2% and 25.9%, respectively, of the population of Trincomalee District. By 1981, the ethnic composition of the district had changed to 33.7% Tamils, 33.6% Sinhalese, and 28.9% Muslims. You will find a presentation by Professor Chelvadurai Manogaran at the South Asia Conference on Development, Social Justice & Peace, Catholic University of America, Brookland, Washington DC, in 1996 of some interest.  Please see also Sinhala Colonisation of the Tamil Homeland.

(5) Also, I am aware of the fluidity in notions of Sinhala majority etc. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan as early back as 1931, protested the clause found in the Donoughmore Constitution regarding the change in the groupings of Sinhalese. Both types, ie. Kandyan and Low Country were combined to form a clearly over-powering majority. But despite this fact, how is it logical for the Tamils to claim equal representation politically prior to the resort to secession, given their clearly minority status ? Would this not be disproportional to their size ? And if this is the case, would this not be injustice to the Sinhalese ?

Response from tamilnation:

The claim for fifty/fifty representation within the confines of a unitary state was put forward by the Tamil Congress in 1945 to the Soulbury Commission appointed by the British government to examine and discuss proposals for the constitutional reform of Ceylon. At that time Ceylon was a British colony. The claim was made on the basis of   fifty percent for all minorities (including the Tamils in northeast, the plantation Tamils, Muslims and Malays) and 50 percent for the Sinhalese. At that time, the plantation Tamils resident in Central Ceylon amounted to more than 12% of the island's population. Nevertheless, the demand for fifty/fifty representation was clearly disproportionate to the population mix. It was a demand that was intended to prevent permanent rule by the Sinhala majority within the confines of an unitary state. Though the demand by the Tamil Congress may be understandable, many Tamils today will agree that the demand was ill conceived and that the Tamil Congress should have demanded a Federal State.

Be that as it may, the political reality was (and is) that the Sinhala majority was not willing to agree to a federal state. Later events, proved this. Within two years of independence (and in the aftermath of  the disenfranchisement of the plantation Tamils), the Federal Party (Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi) was formed in 1949 (by those who resigned from the Tamil Congress), with the demand for a federal constitution.

It was more than 20 years after the formation of the Federal Party in 1949, and after a series of broken pacts  and pogroms culminating in the rejection in 1971 of the proposal put forward for a federal constitution, that the Tamils raised the demand for an independent Tamil state. Dr.Colvin R.De Silva, Minister of Constitutional Affairs in Mrs.Srimavo Bandaranaike's government in 1970, in rejecting the proposal for a federal constitution, categorised it as 'division' and urged the Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka Constituent Assembly on 15 March 1971:

"Mr. Chairman, there is a Unitary Constitution in Sri Lanka. This has been there for a very long time... If we were to divide the country and unite once again we will face many problems as evidenced by our history.. .. I submit this proposal for a Unitary Constitution for approval by all sections of this Assembly."

The Tamil leader S.J.V.Chevanayagam, thereupon, resigned his Parliamentary seat and won a mandate for the establishment of the independent state of Tamil Eelam in 1975  at a much delayed bye election in his constituency.

Later, the Political Resolution unanimously adopted at the First National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front held at Pannakam (Vaddukoddai Constituency) on 14 May 1976 presided over by Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C, M.P. spelt out the rationale for the demand - and pointed out, inter alia, that " throughout the centuries from the dawn of history the Sinhalese and Tamil nations have divided between them the possession of Ceylon, the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts from the river Walawe to that of Chilaw and the Tamils possessing the Northern and Eastern districts.."

The people of  Tamil Eelam do not regard themselves as a minority but as a nation, albeit, a fourth world nation. Here the words of Bernard Q. Nietschmann are relevant: "....the combatant and civilian base in an embattled Fourth World nation do not identify as citizens or minorities of the state, or as rebels or insurgents against it. They identify as a people with their own nation that has its own territory and sovereignty..."


From Tamil Nadu, India: 15 March 1999

You've a good site on Tamilians. Please visit Maps of Tamilnadu at http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/tn

Response from tamilnation:

Mikka Nanri. I have established a link to your site both at the Tamilnation Tamil Nadu page and at the Tamilnation History & Geography page.


From California, U.S.A. 9 March 1999

"On Tamil Language & Literature you said  'Tamil is, perhaps, the oldest living language of India.' But the book of 'Cultures of the World' says that 'Tamil was and still is the language of the South. In fact it is the oldest living language in the world today'. It is on page 20. The book was first published in 1994. Instead of saying it is the oldest living language of India, you can say 'In fact it is the oldest living language in the world today.' I think this is better."

Response from tamilnation:

Tamil is undoubtedly a language of great antiquity. However, historians have found it difficult to determine with certainty its date of origin. This is, ofcourse, a difficulty which Tamil shares with many other languages. The appearance of a language is a gradual process, from sounds to alphabets, grammar and literature - and often reliable historical records are not available. Professor S.Vaiyapuri Pillai comments, in his well regarded 'History of Tamil Language and Literature - Beginning to 1000 A.D':

"The earliest inscription in Tamil belongs to about the fifth century A.D. and is a memorial tablet of a Jain monk who gave up his life after fasting for 57 days. The Brahmi inscriptions found in Tamil areas (Madurai and Tirunelveli) and assigned to the third century B.C. have not generally been taken into account in discussions on the antiquity of Tamil literature... We might naturally expect that the Tamils had an ancient literature of which they might be legitimately proud. Their civilisation is of great antiquity and their ruling dynasties played an important part in the third century B.C.... we may note that the date of the Brahmi inscriptions gives us a limit beyond which it may not be possible to go. Literature can thrive only when the art of writing has come into general practise among the learned. When the alphabet itself is in its formative stages, it is hardly possible for literature even to germinate. So we have to conclude that there was no Tamil literature in the accepted sense of the term, in the third century B.C., if we accept the date generally assigned to the Brahmi inscriptions.

But the traditional view is that there existed three Tamil Sangams or Academies in which Tamil literary were 'heard' and assessed, the first academy lasting for 4440 years, the second for 3700 years and the third for 1850 years. Altogether these three Sangams lasted for 9990 years. Since scholars hold that the last phase of the third Sangam was coeval with the beginning of the Christian era, the first Sangam, according to this tradition must have come into existence about B.C.10,000! This tradition is recorded in Iraiyanar Ahaporul, a work perhaps of the 13th century... We may leave such fables alone and seek for historical truth elsewhere....

Some scholars have persuaded themselves that the inscribed seals from the Indus Valley support the high antiquity of Tamil. But as Patrick Carlton ( Buried Empires, published by Edwin Arnold & Co, 1944, p.141)  has observed, 'neither Prof Langdon nor any other responsible authority has ventured to decide in what language the inscriptions are written, still less to offer a translation'..."

It may be helpful to examine the material on which the book 'Cultures of the World' draws its conclusions. It would seem that further research into the origins of Tamil  may be necessary before the view that 'it is the oldest living language in the world', finds general acceptance. However the fact that Tamil is a language of great antiquity is beyond doubt - and the Tamil contribution to world civilisation is also beyond doubt. And, many may agree with the conclusion of Muthulilan Nedumaran (the author of the widely used Tamil software, Murasu Anjal):

nedumaran.gif (2588 bytes)

The future of Tamil may lie not so much in its antiquity but on its continuity. The cultural identity (and the language) of a people and their political freedom go hand in hand. Tamil nationalism is rooted in the past, but it is not a function of the past alone. It is, today, given direction and purpose by the aspiration of a people to live in equality and freedom.  Here, the words of Subhas Chandra Bose's biographer will serve as a caution:

"... it is a measure of the failure of Indian nationalism that what in most countries would be dismissed as delicious nonsense is still taken seriously. Today P.N. Oak, ADC to Major-General Bhonsle of the I.N.A., can claim respectable reviews in Indian papers by writing books asserting that 5,000 years ago India had an empire which included Britain. If the world has not appreciated this, it is, argues Oak, because the relevant chapters of world history have been 'lost'. Bose was aware of India's ills, but he often came close to endorsing the delicious nonsense of pre-British bliss, if only for rhetorical purposes...." (Mihir Bose in The Lost Hero : a biography of Subhas Bose, published by Quartet Press, 1982)


From U.S.A. Ravi Sankar 22 February 1999

You have a really neat web site. I am collecting information on the Tamil population in the world. I saw the number 70 million on your site. Can you give me the source of the information. I was also looking for a break up of the population - mainly outside India and Sri Lanka. Thank you for your help.

Response from tamilnation:

The study that you have undertaken is both necessary and timely. The figure of 70 million is largely dependent on the Ethnologue (Languages of the World), 13th Edition, 1996 estimate of the number of first language Tamil speakers in the world as between 62 and 69 million. However, as I have pointed in the Language/Literature page at the tamilnation website 'the number of first language Tamil speakers in the world is difficult to estimate and this remains an useful (and important) area for further study.'

Dr. R.E. Asher in 'Descriptive Grammars' (published by Croom Helm) concluded in 1981(18 years ago):

"No accurate figures for the number of Tamil speakers at the time of writing are available. The provisional figure for the whole of India produced by the 1971 census is 37,592,794. A reasonable calculation, based on a projection of population trends, would give between forty-five and forty-six million for India as a whole in 1981, with some forty-three million living in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu, which has Madras as its capital and Tamil as its official language. If one assumes four million or so in Sri Lanka (mainly in the north and northeast and classified as Ceylon Tamils, Indian Tamils, Ceylon Moors and Indian Moors), something approaching one million in Malaysia and Singapore, and much smaller minorities in many countries of the-world, including Mauritius, Fiji, Burma, South Africa, some Caribbean states and Great Britain, the total number of Tamil speakers in the world at the present time might well be in the region of fifty million."

You will find some estimates of Tamils living in many lands in the Tamil Diaspora pages of the tamilnation website...Additionally, you may find the response in the Tamil National Forum to a question raised from Cambridge, Ontario in Canada some months ago, of some use.


From Canada 30 January 1999

Holding hands together for our liberation. Thank you for the wonderful tamilnation website -  which is the Thamil Eelam University .... Your Web has everything ready made for us...

Response from tamilnation:

Many thanks for your continued encouragement. Mikka Nanri. The efforts with tamilnation dot org are but a small drop in a mighty ocean. It is true that the internet and the world wide web are helping to bring a sense of community and togetherness to thousands of Tamils, living today in many lands and across distant seas. At the same time, for many millions of Tamils living not only in Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam but also elsewhere, the 'virtual reality' of the  internet and the web may be far removed from the existential reality of their everyday lives - and it may be useful to remind ourselves of this, from time to time. To the extent that sites such as tamilnation dot org  help to build bridges, reach to the ground and (hopefully) build a vibrant sense of togetherness, they may truly serve - and here, each one of us, has something to contribute, however small that contribution may be. 

There may also be a need for us  to communicate more in Tamil. The pioneering work of Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram with his Tamil Electronic Library is an important contribution to Tamil togetherness. So too is the work of Naa Govindasamy in the Singapore Tamil Web.

The recent TSCII standard Tamil fonts take the Tamil  digital renaissance a step further. To communicate in Tamil, all that needs to be done is to download any one of the freely avaliable TSCII conformat Tamil fonts, install it in Windows, and change the screen font in your e-mail programme to the particular TSCII conformant Tamil font that you have installed. You can then read e-mail sent to you by anyone using a TSCII conformant Tamil font as well as in English - the sender does not have to use the particular font that you are using, so long as the sender uses *any* TSCII conformant Tamil font. For *sending* email in Tamil one can use either Suvadi or Murasu Anjal. There are clearly, limitations to the extent to which Tamil togetherness may be nurtured in English.



From Sydney, Australia: 02 January 1999

M.Thanapalasingham writes...

Vannakam, Puthu Varusa Vallthukal. Sathyam Commentary on An Exploration in respect of Tamil national struggle was indeed written at the right time - with an open mind . I intend to revisit a couple of times in order to understand the whole concept. The framework and the sub-sections are very useful to all activists and academics alike. The framework seek to address all the relevant issues with an open and caring attitude. Ever since mankind entered into the foyer of civilisation, the two sides of the same coin also entered into the mind...

1.Wanting to be freed from all shackles and be a universal man (Every Country is My Country .....)
2.Longing to belong ...My people, My Country ....

Some tend to say we have to reconcile. My heart says you start from your self so that you can belong to something that helps you to expand and truly belong and become free.

The republication of Ram! O Ram! ...nalla suthiyaka irruku.


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