Historic facts about Mahabharata & Ramayana

Educated Indians, even the best of their kind, might not be able to tell correctly the historic facts about our great classics, our Vedas, Epics, Brahmanas, Sutras etc. Our education is at fault greatly. But more to the point, our traditional gurukula education was based on caste and as such the vast masses of non-Brahmin castes were left in total darkness about the classics.
One more contributing factor has been our tradition of popularisation of the epics, and their morals for the masses.

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Tamil Literature’s modern pioneers of short story
Remembering TMC Raghunathan, heir to Pudumaipithan

The Thirties, when the Freedom Movement was at its height there arose a new Tamil literary movement, commonly called, the “Manikodi” group of writers. This group, as we can see now, is heir to the nationalist poet, Subramanya Bharati’s soul stirring nationalist poetry. When Freedom came, there again so many literary movements and also high quality literary magazines. Among the quality literary magazines came one short-lived venture, the magazine “Shanti” founded by TMC Raghunathan, a close friend, biographer and heir to the greatest short story writer, the pioneering master of the short story genre. He left his imprint on the subsequent generations. TMC, as he was called, the late Raghunathan was a literary guru to me and later a much valued life-long friend. As I read through his biography and a collection of reminiscences, I am amazed at the fact that I had written my own most major poem in this literary journal and as I now find that most of the famous names, the living and the dead, have found this magazine as their starting ground. So, among the literary milestones in the history of modern Tamil literature, here was a pioneer whose impact is being felt even today whenever the question of quality literature crops up.

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How literature shapes nations and peoples?

The immediate provocation for writing this piece, however, came my way unexpectedly. First, the latest issue of The Economist magazine carried a page in the “Books and Arts” section a brief writeup on The Abbey Theatre, Dublin. For those who may not know anything about this historic institution , noots the readers of my journal unlikely to know, it is Ireland’s national theatre which is in existence now, which on December 27 celebrated its centenary. For me it was more than jst news. Wasn’t it founded by W.B.Yeats, the great Irish-born English poet? Yes it was.Abbey Theatre symbolised the revival of Irish nationalism and Irish culture and Yeats lived and made his reputation by not just writing poetry and plays but playing a crucial role in giving Ireland a nationalst identity and also playing a great role in awakening the nationalist spirit in giving the Irish people their cultural identity which was their own. There are so many small details about how Yeats came to write it raised some curiosities about Yeats’ own life and his works.
A country’s or a peoples’ strengths are derived more from their culture than from their politics or economics. Cultures are a very distinctive character of a people. For Indians,our cultural strengths, specially in modern India, are given by our great writers and poets. Max Weber:” a nation is a community of language and literature”. Tagore’s poetry and songs give modern Indian literature and culture a distintive uniqueness and strength.

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Va.Ra (Va.Ramasamay Iyengar)
The inventor of modern Tamil prose style

Va.Ra (a biography) by Chitty (pages 336)
An Ordinary Man, life of Chitty by Narasiah (pages 224)

My interest in Tamil literature lately has been triggered off by a series of unexpected developments. Just not long ago I received ,unexpectedly, a long, some 15 page review of my poetry book by Chitty, the 96- year old older generation writer. He was contemporary of many of the giants of literary world in the mid-Thirties. These writers were centered around a short-lived little but driven by high-brow literary magazine, called, ”Manikodi”. This magazine discovered modern Tamil story and all the big names, Pudumaipithan, B.R.Ramiah and others were discovered by this magazine. The discoverer is the subject of the biography here. Chitty himself was an original member of this group and the editor was popularly know name, Va.Ra, (Va.Ramasamy Iyengar. Va Ra became a rebel and he shunned the Tamil Brahmin orthodoxy and it was he who invented the modern renaissance Tamil prose as we all know today.

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Salem in Tamil Nadu seems to be emerging as a centre for Tamil literary centre. May be Salem citizens might even claim they are already in this position!

Salem in Tamil Nadu seems to be emerging as a centre for Tamil literary activities. May be Salem citizens might even claim they are already in this position! There was a time long ago when Tirunelveli in the deep South of the state was considered to be the very centre of Tamil scholarship and much of the creative writing of the first half of the 20th century. From there came to great poet Bharati, master of the short story writing, Pudumaipithan and his immediate circles, the list is really long and distinguished. The great nationalist leader V.O.Chindambaram Pillai was also a great Tamil scholar and a close friend of Bharati.
But after Independence the centre of literary activities shifted to Chennai, the state capital and I imagined that Chennai retains this position to this day. After I myself organised some literary meets in Chennai, I found out the city is also deeply flawed in intellectual pursuits. The major reason is politics and cinema! Politicians in TN are becoming a peculiar breed! I had just now gone through a column by H.Y.Sharada Prasad, a Kannada personality and he says the more sardonic or sarcastic remark when he writes of Yes, Chennai seems more noisy and fear-inducing political backwater! Nobody outside the state might care for the peculiar breed of Tamil politicians but in Chennai they seem to control not only the public spaces, the city is dotted with large cutouts, the walls are filled with much hated politicians names Tamil Intellectuals.

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