'Centre to release classical Tamil texts next year'
Chennai, Aug. 18 (PTI): A set of critical edition of the classical Tamil texts were being given final shape by the union government and would be produced before the end of the current year, Union Minister for Human Resources Arjun Singh said today.
Inaugurating the Central Institute of Classical Tamil here, he requested Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to release them 'perhaps' on January 14, 2008.
"Tamil is a special language in many ways but its greatest strength is that is a living classical language. There is no doubt that it occupies a very special position in the history of Indian cultural traditions", he said.
Tamil predated the earliest literature of most other modern Indian languages by more than a thousand years and it was perhaps the only literary tradition indigenous to India that was not derived from Sanskrit, he said.
Besides, the quality of classical Tamil literature puts it on par with great classical literature produced in Greek, Latin, Chinese, Arabic and Persian, he said.
The Centre had agreed to Karunanidhi's suggestion and raised the award amount of `Tholkappiar award' from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and the international awards `Kural Peetam' awards from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh each, he said.
Similarly, it had been decided to select five young scholars for an award of Rs 1 lakh each, he said.
The government had already allotted 29 acres for the institute. It had been suggested that the institution, apart from undertaking research, also undertake teaching "so that there is availability of students doing research on classical Tamil," he said.
The minister said a Centre of Excellence for Classical Tamil has been established within the Central Institute of Indian languages, Mysore after declaration of Tamil as a classical language. he also suggested introduction of a paper in classical Tamil in Post graduate and UnderGraduate courses.
"It is important that we study the linguistic, literary and cultural traditions of both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan groups to understand our composite culture," he said adding that India's philosophic, literary and spiritual heritage today had resulted from the confluence of two major streams represented by the two ancient languages, Sanskrit and Tamil.
During the last two centuries, the contribution of Sanskrit had been exhaustively studied, he said adding that Tamil, an equal partner in the making of the composite culture and fountainhead of the twenty-odd Dravidian lanauges deserved a similar attention, he said.
Karunanidhi said the Centre had fulfilled the dreams of the Tamil people for many centuries. Thanking UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Arjun Singh, he said the Centre had acted swiftly to his request for a Central Institute of Classical Tamil at Chennai.
"We know Arjun's arrows are swift and accurate. Likewise, Arjun Singh swiftly replied to my request. Though, the arrows of Mahabaratha's Arjun would injure others, the quick action of Arjun Singh had caused love and affection", he quipped.
He said the government did not invite anyone for the function, adding those who love Tamil had attended it. Though, he was ill, he did not disclose it publicly for fear of Arjun Singh postponing the programme, Karunanidhi added.
The DMK MP Kanimozhi, DPI MLA Ravikumar, Tamil scholars and State Ministers were present.