What British colonial histories said of India was not true!

Ethnology and travel in Renaissance Europe visitors to South India 1250 – 1625

This is a very important  publication for all  Indians who are interested to know the India as it evolved in the last 700 years. The development of knowledge in Europe as arose in the European (Italian) Renaissance  to  the  18th century European Enlightenment. How the European travellers to South India,Tamil Nadu, as missionaries encountered the Hindu religion, how the Christian belief system encountered the Hindu customs like sati,caste hierarchies, how the Indian languages. Sanskrit contained new wisdom,  how  the  missionaries Renaissance experiences led them to learn the local languages,write treatises on Christian faith and in the process wrote first the  Indian  languages grammar, then develop the prose writing. They printed Tamil books in Tamil character as early as 1576.

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Much of the modern Tamil poetry is written by middle class professions, mostly Tamil pundits or other lowly job holders. You don’t have a Tagore today. Or there are poets as revolutionaries either!  It is a laid-back, confused society! Our revolution talk seems to be mere bravado!  Either out of inferiority complex, or mere helplessness!

I have done a brief survey of the current poetry writers.  There are some energetic lines here and there.  On the whole, I feel a let down.  There is no serious poetry being written, lyrical or metaphysical.  This is a great disappointment for me, coming late into the field and fired with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectations.  In one or two literary meets I arranged in recent times, what I find is much superficiality.  The seriousness I seek is missing.  For me, writing is a serious pursuit and the climate in Tamil Nadu seems just nor right now!

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Tamil writers and scholars would be driven to silence if you ask them why no major literary prizes are coming to their literature!  I have been asking these questions lately in many forums.  I am surprised such thoughts haven’t come to the Tamil minds.  They are all so self-absorbed, operating in many narrow factions and nursing their own petty egos.   The very political environment helps the average writer or poet to settle down comfortably into this narrow groove.

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W. B. Yeats

We live in a world where English had become a much powerful force and in the globalised world, translations of our literature into English assume critical importance.  How to expose the modern Tamil literature and poetry in particular to the international audience. We have to promote translation projects, run translation courses in our language departments, comparative literature and languages have to take the place of traditional English departments.

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Today, there are many complex issues that impact on modern man Prof.Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner for economics, a friend from my Santiniketan days had explored the theme of human freedom in many of his books.  Sen, in my opinion, had taken our knowledge of human freedoms to new heights.  There are also the positive and negative freedoms as expounded by the late Isiah Berlin.  These are critical issues for our life today, for our democratic society.

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