One Hundred Tamils
of the 20th Century
Sachi Sri Kantha, Japan]
" K.Kailasapathy was born on 5th April 1933, in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. In his early days he came under the guiding influence of his maternal uncle N.Manicka
Idaikkadar, a Tamil scholar and administrator. Kailas developed a firm affection for his
mother tongue in this environment.
Early in 1953, he showed his flair for Tamil language, in his contributions to the quarterly journal "Tamil Osai". Later as an undergraduate at Peradeniya University, he became proficient as a Tamil scholar under the able guidance of Professors K.Kanapathipillai and V.Chelvanayagam. Professor Vlthiananthan, then a young lecturer, guided Kailas in Tamil research.
After graduating, Kailas took to Tamil Journalism and joined Lake House. There he eventually became the Editor-in -Chief of the Tamil Newspaper "Thinakaran" . He was a voracious reader and wrote freely on contemporary subjects. He was there till 1961.
He then commenced his eventful academic career as first President of the Jaffna Campus of the University of Ceylon.. He obtained
a Doctorate from Birmingham University for his research thesis "Tamil
Heroic Poetry" (this was later published by the Oxford Clarendon Press in 1968).
He had a very successful tenure as Professor of Tamil at the Jaffna University. He made many contributions to select journals, bringing Tamil prose writing very much to the forefront
He edited the Navalar Centenary Volume of 1979...
His early death on 6.12.1982, at the age of 49, deprived the Tamil community of a scholar and champion of the
Father X.S. Thani Nayagam , the eminent Tamil Scholar, wrote
"K.Kailasapathy in his
Tamil Heroic Poetry followed earlier suggestions by scholars like G.U.Pope and studied the Puram Cankam poems as reflecting the
Tamil heroic age, like the Homeric Poems".
Among his research contributions to various Journals were:- The Tamil Purist
Movement - A Re - Evaluation, 1979., Arumuga Navalar - the Central Years 1834-1848, 1979., The Impact of the
Visit of Swami Vivekananda on Hinduism in Sri Lanka, 1980, Arnold Sathasivam Pillai and
Tamil Renaissance 1981.
He delivered the Punithavathy Tiruchelvam Memorial Lecture, before the Tamil Women's Union at the
Kalalaya, on 'The Cultural and Linguistic Consciousness of the Tamil Community in Sri
Lanka', in 1982. It has been reprinted as a booklet and is a masterpiece which should be read by every Tamil. Events and processes that have shaped the present cultural trends of the
Tamils are ably analysed. (from S.Arumugam's
Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon - published here