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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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

Tamil Writers of Eelam

1993  [see also Eelam Tamil Literature]

"One of my aims in presenting this list and annotations is to highlight the necessity to prepare an authoritative reference work on the published literature of Eelam Tamil writers of this century..."


In the  Preface to the Tamil Writers Directory, published by the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Madras in 1981,  the editors S. V. Subramaniam and N. Ghadigachalam say that the directory "lists fiction and non-fiction writers, poets and playwrights etc. who have been recognised as published authors". The Directory provided information on "14l7 living writers in Tamil from Africa, Australia, Burma, England, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Sri Lanka and West Germany." The selection was based on the criterion that the included writer had published at least one book and/or 15 items (essays, short stories, poems, dramas etc) on aspects related to Tamil.

From this listing of 1417 names, I located nearly 125 names of Eelam Tamil writers. One of the names is well known to me, because it belongs to me. I am also familiar with some other names, while quite a number are not known to me. I have no doubt that readers will be able to recognise names (which are not familiar to me) because they may belong to their teachers, students, brothers, sister, friends, relatives and neighbours. In alphabetical order I list the surnames (as well as pen names, in parentheses) and the years of birth. Honorifics such as professor, doctor, reverend and pundit have been omitted.

  • Abdul Khader Labbai (Adhan) 1942
  • Abdul Khaiyum N S (Sarana Khaiyum), 1939
  • Abdul Latheef S L (Salvanan), 1940
  • Abdus Samath A S {Anbu Iraidasan), 1929
  • AboobackerAM (Dr.Aker), 1945
  • Adaikkalamuthu S (Amuthu), 1919
  • Agestiyar S (Karumuni), 1926
  • Ahmed V, 1945
  • Amarasingham K (Araiyur Amaran), 1926
  • Ambigaipagan S. 1908
  • Ambihapathy P. 1942
  • Amirdhanathar S. 1938
  • Amuthalinkam V (Arnuthan), 1938
  • Anandan K S (Kannan), 1940
  • Anandanathan K, 1950
  • Anavarathavinayagarnoorthy (Inuvai Moorthy), 1923
  • Anthony Jeeva (Kavitha), 1947
  • Anuradha Packiyarajan (Kalaimathi}, 1950
  • Ariyarathnam (Vaigaraivanan), 1941
  • Arunasalam A S (Matale Arunesar), 1905
  • Asogambikai E (Mandur Asoka), 1949
  • Balaiya A (Sakthi), 1925
  • Balamanoharan A, 1942
  • Careem A U M A, 1938
  • Careem M (Fareedha Manalan), 1945
  • Elangeeran (Subair)
  • Elayathamby M, 1909
  • GnanasekaramT, 1941
  • Gnanasoonyan K (Arivukkathir), 1929
  • Gopalan K (Go), 1947
  • Gunaratnam S. 1942
  • Hamid M S S (Marudha Maindhan), 1936
  • Indra Kumar K, 1945
  • Ismail V M,1935
  • Jamaldeen M (Kalaik Kamai) 1959
  • Javaharsha, 1950
  • Jeevakaruniam K, 1948
  • Jaganathan S (Kavalooran), 1955
  • Julius Rajaiah J. 1922
  • Kailasapathi K (Kanag-Sivan), 1933
  • Kaleel M M M (K), 1943
  • Kamaldeen M (Kavin Kamal), 1949
  • Kamaldeen S M, 1922
  • Kurumbasitty Kanagarathinam R. 1934
  • Kanagarathinam T. 1927
  • Kanagarathinam D.J. 1927
  • Kandasami K (Pudumailolan), 1929
  • Kandasamy K (Karavai Kizhar}, 1931
  • Kandhaiya P.
  • Kareem A U M A (Sangaidasan}, 1938
  • Kathir Sivalingam S (Nayanan), 1957
  • Kohiladevy Maendirarajah, 1950
  • Krishnan S P (S P K}, 1932
  • Krishnapillai S (Thimilai Thumilan), 1933
  • Kumaraswami K (Vannythasan), 1937
  • Lingam P M (Navalan-Mathy) 1937
  • Mahadeva K G (Mahan), 1940
  • Mahesan K S. 1934
  • Majeed A M A, 1940
  • Manickavasagar K, 1935
  • Manjula Kumarappapillai (Jebam Pavadharini), 1959
  • Mansoor M M (Thamizh Vannan), 1950
  • Mathiaparanam K E, 1906
  • Murugaiyyan Ramupillai (Chevvakan), 1935
  • Muttukumaraswamy V, 1908
  • Nadarajah N. 1945
  • Nadarajah F.X. C, 1911
  • Nagalingarn R (Anbumani), 1935
  • Nagalingam S (Tholpurakkizhar), 1920
  • Natesan K (Kapilar), 1935
  • Navasothy K (Thamizh Thumbi), 1941
  • Packianathan e (Mandur Erajan), 1946
  • Perambalam K (Nellai Ka Peran), 1946
  • Perumal P S (Varnam), 1933
  • Poologasingham P (Azhaladi), 1939
  • Rajagopal A (Chembain Selvan), 1943
  • Rajaratnam V A (Eelanagan}, 1925
  • Rajasingham S (Sutharaj), 1950
  • Ramakrishan V, 1933
  • Rarnanathapillai T. 1903
  • Ramasamy V M (Arivazhagan), 1954
  • Sabaratnam M (Mathiyamuthan), 1939
  • Sachchithananthan Iya (Sachchi), 1951
  • Saleem A R M (Eakanthi}, 1927
  • Sanmugadas A, 1940
  • Sanmugasuntharam T. 1925
  • Santhan A (Thangathevan), 1947
  • Saratha Shanmuganathan, 1949
  • Sargunam, 1941
  • Sathananthan S M, 1942
  • Selvarajagopal David (Eezhathu Pnrandana). 1928
  • Shahul Harreed M M (Mummesa), 1931
  • Shanmuganathan P. 1939
  • Shanmuganathan S (nuralai Shanmuganathan), 1947
  • Sivanandhan Ramupullai, 1941
  • Sitralega Maunaguru (Mau Wayedevi), 1947
  • Sivachandran Ra, 1943
  • Sivalingam S T R (Udhayanan), 1935
  • Sivapathasundararn S. 1912
  • Sivaprakasam V K (Vaikasi), 1933
  • Sivaraja S (Saisi), 1935
  • Sivasamboo S (Senkathiron}, 1938
  • Sivasamy T (Thillai Chivam), 1928
  • Sivathamby K, 1932
  • Sooriyan M K (Bhanu), 1922
  • Sowmini Sambasiva Sarma (Chitra), 1951
  • Sri Kantha S (Sintha), 1953
  • Subramaniarn N (Dileepan), 1942
  • Subramaniam V (Mullai Mani), 1933
  • Subramania Sarrna (Kalaivani), 1939
  • Suthanthirarajah S. 1943
  • Thambi Aiyah Thevathas, 1951
  • Thangarasa A (Tharmarai Selvi), 1941
  • Thangaratnam N K (Nagulan), 1935
  • Thanigasalam K, 1928
  • Tharrnalingam K (Kavitha), 1952
  • Thiyagaraja Sarma K (Mani), 1943
  • Thirunavokkarasu T (Navendan), 1932
  • Vallinayaki Ranmnalingam (Kuramagal), 1933
  • Varatharajan K, 1957
  • Velauthar S K (Vethar), 1924
  • Velupillai A, 1936
  • Velupillai C V, 1914
  • Velupillai S (Su Ve), 1921
  • Vinayagamoorthy V (Veera), 1924

The oldest writer listed was T Ramanathapillai born in 1903; and the youngest was Manjula Kumarappapillai (Jebam Pavadharini), born in 1959. Quite a few names like those belonging to professors in Tamil, such as K Kailasapathy, P Poologasingham, A Sanmugadas, K Sivathamby and A Velupillai, are easily recognisable to many readers. Also of some distinction are the names of C. V. Velupillai (trade unionist, member of parliament and poet), F.X. C. Nadarajah (folklorist), S Ambigaipagan (educator) ,Ramupillai Murugaiyan (poet) and Sakthi Balaiya (poet). I am also familiar with the names of short story writers Agesthiar, K S Anandan, Mandoor Asoka, A Balamanoharan, S.Gunaratnam, Javaharsha, Thimalai Thumilan, Jebam Pavadharini, Nellai Ka Peran, Chembian Selvan, A. Santhan and Udhayanan.

I am in possession of another book related to Sri Lankan literature, which was published in 1981, the same year in which Tamil Writers Directory appeared. It was entitled, An Anthology of Modern Writing from Sri Lanka (edited by Ranjini Obeyesekere and Chitra Fernando, University of Arizona Press, 307 pp). It did not contain a single piece of Tamil writing, from any of the above listed Tamil authors. And the editors of this anthology did explain the glaring anomaly in their preface. They wrote:

"Any anthology of the literature of Sri Lanka is incomplete without it (Tamil writing). Hardly any modern Tamil works have been translated into English, however, and almost none into Sinhala. Today Tamil literature in Sri Lanka is terra incognita for the Sinhala or English reader in the island. This is partly the result of short sighted political and educational policies. It also reflects the present realities in Sri Lanka where the two communities exist in ever-growing isolation".

One need not state anything further than what has been written candidly by Ranjini Obeyesekere and Chitra Fernando. I thank them for their revealing and sincere comments.

I wish to add that the list of Tamil writers I have presented above, do not contain some  well known "names". In my view, there are at least 20 recognised Eelam Tamil writers who should be added to the list:

  1. Dominic Jeeva - journalist and editor of Mallikai monthly

  2. Eelaventhan M K - versatile writer of political, literary and religious tracts.

  3. Gunasingham S - historian and a scholar in epigraphy

  4. Indrapala K - historian

  5. Kanapathipiilai, Thenpuloliyur, M - folk historian and traditional Tamil scholar ,

  6. Katharnutha Sivanandan (Kasi Anandan) - poet

  7. Manonmani Sanmugadas-- author and specialist in JapaneseTamil relationships

  8. Nadarajah K S (Navatkullyoor Nadarasan) - poet

  9. Pathmanathan S - historian

  10. Padmavathi Sabaratnam - populariser of science in Tamil

  11. Pavani Rajasingham (nee Alvapillai) - short story writer,

  12. Ponnudurai S (Es.Po),- one of the best Tarnil fiction.writers of this century

  13. Rajadurai C - journalist and politician

  14. Rajeswari Balasubramaniam - short story writer

  15. Ratnam K P - educator, traditional Tamil scholar and politician

  16. Rathinathurai Puthavai - poet

  17. Rutnam J T - Historian and archeologist

  18. Sanmugathasan N - Marxist and trade union activist

  19. Sathasivam A - Tamil scholar

  20. Selvarasan Sillalyoor (Thanthonri Kavirayar) - poet

  21. Shanmugaratnam N - critic

  22. Sivakamaran K S - critic and translator

  23. Sivanayagam S - journalist and Eelam pamphleteer

  24. Thangamma Appakuddy - traditional Tamil scholar

  25. Vithiananthan S - folklorist and Tamil scholar

Some essential points about this assembled list need mention.

1) This list refers to the ‘contemporary’ Tamil writers who were living around 1980 and not those who had left the scene. Some among this listing had died during the past 13 years. These include, S Vithiananthan, A Sathasivam, J T Rutnam and N Sanmugathasan.

2) I had compiled this list based solely on one criterion, namely, publications on topics related to Eelam Tamil culture, either in Tamil or English. I have disregarded the political affiliations of the individuals. C Rajadurai and K P Ratnam were MPs belonging to the Federal Party and later TULF. Rajadurai ultimately joined the UNP. Kasi Anandan and Eelaventhan were originally FP activists and later identified with the TULF, only to be expelled (or involuntarily left) later by the TULF. While Sanmugathasan was a loyal CP (Peking) sympathiser for a long time, Dominic Jeeva popularised the CP (Moscow) views.

3) Any list produced by an individual is an incomplete one, and this fact has to be accepted. Having mentioned this, I add that my choice of 25 unforgettable names relate to the literary contributions which were published mostly since 1950. It is my privilege that I had the opportunity to be acquainted (even for a short period) with quite a number of writers mentioned in this list.

4) While I have included some historians arbitrarily in this list, I have excluded the names of internationally recognised academics of Eelam origin (for instance, Sinappah Arasaratnam, Jeyaratnam Wilson, K Kularatnam, H W Tambiah and S J Tambiah) since their works are specialised in the areas of history, political science, geography, law and anthropology.

5) One of my aims in presenting this list and annotations is to highlight the necessity to prepare an authoritative reference work on the published literature of Eelam Tamil writers of this century. And someone should do this work by the year 2000, before memories fade.

Now to my annotation on some of the traits I recognised in ten writers of my list in alphabetical order.

1. Dominic Jeeva: In my young days, I did not like the ideological flag waving exhibited by Dominic Jeeva in his Mallikai magazine. However, I was captivated by the charm of his writing and the tenacity, with which he struggled to publish a Tamil literary magazine from Jaffna.

2.M K Eelaventhan: One of the under-rated Tamil talents of Eelam. In the mid 1970s I had the luck to see in close-up how Eelaventhan functioned actively even under harassment. His command in Tamil and English was impeccable and if only he could have sat down in a room with a pen, rather than being a road writer, Eelaventhan could have produced a voluminous output.

3 Gunasingham: I was fortunate to be a room-mate of his at the University of Peradeniya during 1979-80. His penchant for using the library for long hours became a legend in those years. If not for such studious habit, he couldn't have produced those little epigraphical monographs on Trincornalee.

4. K Indrapala: One can sumrnarise his contributions with the phrase What a waste of talent!

5. Kasi Anandan. I met Kasi Anandan only once that too at the Suthantiran office in Colombo. What transpired between us at that meeting had faded from my memory, except one observation. Kasi told me that one should view any situation from the angle of the bat, the flying mammal. By this, he referred to the upside-down view. If only, Kasi Anandan could have spent more time in penning poetry rather than dabbling in electoral politics of 1977, Tamil literature would have been much richer.

6. Padmavathi Sabaratnam: One of my high school teachers, whose popular writings on science in the Sunday Thinakaran was an inspiration to many young minds.

7. S Ponnudurai (Es.Po): One of the few writers of Eelam who could easily be ranked as belonging to the Nobel prize calibre. It is a misfortune that his short stories and novels have not been translated into English or other languages. The biting humour of Es.Po is a class in itself.

8. C Rajadurai: After the death of S J V Chelvanayakam in early 1977, Rajadurai's political fortune as a Tamil leader took a bad turn. He misjudged the mood of the young Tamils. Now in hindsight (after the passing of the Amirthalingam wave), I feel that Rajadurai's contributions to Tamil nationalism and literature in the East Eelam of 1950s and early 1960s need re-evaluation. Whatever may be his misdemeanours in the 1980s, Rajadurai did earn the trust of Chelvanayakam as well as the friendship of MGR and Kannadasan in Tamil Nadu, way back in the1950s. One couldn't have been such a bad guy to be misjudged by three beloved Tamil leaders.

9. J T Rutnam: He wore many hats with distinction - an agitator, labour leader, (electorally unsuccessful) politician, journalist, genealogist, social critic and last but not the least, one of the foremost collector of books. James Rutnam's penetrative.analyses on the Tamil blood of the Bandaranaikes and Jayewardenes originally published in the Colombo Tribune in mid-1950s as ‘The House of Nila Perumal ‘ and 'The Legacy of Tamby Mudaliyar' have become classics in the genealogical research of the landed aristocracy among the Sinhalese. Rutnam also traced the true ancestry of King Parakrama Bahu to the chagrin of the followers of Mahavamsa Chronicle.

10. S Vithiananthan: Vithy's pioneering effort in collecting and editing the folk songs of Tamils and Muslims of Eelam has not been matched yet. Next to the classic research studies of Swami Vipu!ananda on the ancient Tamil music (Yaal Nool, first published in 1942), I would consider Vithy's compilations of the Tamil folk songs as a significant contribution to the sphere of isai Thamil in Eelam.

 
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