Saturday, May 15, 2004

Why Tamil shall be Declared a Classical Language...

Source : தெரியலை !!!

Tamil is one of the great classical literatures and traditions of the world.The reasons for this are many; let me consider them one by one.

First, Tamil is of considerable antiquity. It predates the literatures of other modern Indian languages by more than a thousand years. Its oldest work, the Tolkappiyam,, contains parts that, judging from the earliest Tamil inscriptions, date back to about 200 BCE. The greatest works of ancient Tamil, the Sangam anthologies and the Pattuppattu, date to the first two centuries of the current era. They are the first great secular body of poetry written in India, predating Kalidasa's works by two hundred years.

Second, Tamil constitutes the only literary tradition indigenous to India that is not derived from Sanskrit. Indeed, its literature arose before the influence of Sanskrit in the South became strong and so is qualitatively different from anything we have in Sanskrit or other Indian languages. It has its own poetic theory, its own grammatical tradition, its own esthetics, and, above all, a large body of literature that is quite unique. It shows a sort of Indian sensibility that is quite different from anything in Sanskrit or other Indian languages, and it contains its own extremely rich and vast intellectual tradition.

Third, the quality of classical Tamil literature is such that it is fit to stand beside the great literatures of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Chinese, Persian and Arabic. The subtlety and profundity of its works, their varied scope (Tamil is the only premodern Indian literature to treat the subaltern extensively), and their universality qualify Tamil to stand as one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world. Everyone knows the Tirukkural, one of the world's greatest works on ethics; but this is merely one of a myriad of major and extremely varied works that comprise the Tamil classical tradition. There is not a facet of human existence that is not explored and illuminated by this great literature.

Finally, Tamil is one of the primary independent sources of modern Indian culture and tradition. I have written extensively on the influence of a Southern tradition on the Sanskrit poetic tradition. But equally important, the great sacred works of Tamil Hinduism, beginning with the Sangam Anthologies, have undergirded the development of modern Hinduism. Their ideas were taken into the Bhagavata Purana and other texts (in Telugu and Kannada as well as Sanskrit), whence they spread all over India. Tamil has its own works that are considered to be as sacred as the Vedas and that are recited alongside Vedic mantras in the great Vaisnava temples of South India (such as Tirupati). And just as Sanskrit is the source of the modern Indo-Aryan languages, classical Tamil is the source language of modern Tamil and Malayalam. As Sanskrit is the most conservative and least changed of the Indo-Aryan languages, Tamil is the most conservative of the Dravidian languages, the touchstone that linguists must consult to understand the nature and development of Dravidian.

In trying to discern why Tamil has not been recognized as a classical language, I can see only a political reason: there is a fear that if Tamil is selected as a classical language, other Indian languages may claim similar status. This is an unnecessary worry. I am well aware of the richness of the modern Indian languages -- I know that they are among the most fecund and productive languages on earth, each having begotten a modern (and often medieval) literature that can stand with any of the major literatures of the world. Yet none of them is a classical language. Like English and the other modern languages of Europe (with the exception of Greek), they rose on preexisting traditions rather late and developed in the second millennium. The fact that Greek is universally recognized as a classical language in Europe does not lead the French or the English to claim classical status for their languages.

To qualify as a classical tradition, a language must fit several criteria: it should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature. Unlike the other modern languages of India, Tamil meets each of these requirements. It is extremely old (as old as Latin and older than Arabic); it arose as an entirely independent tradition, with almost no influence from Sanskrit or other languages; and its ancient literature is indescribably vast and rich.

It seems strange to me that I should have to write an essay such as this claiming that Tamil is a classical literature -- it is akin to claiming that India is a great country or Hinduism is one of the world's great religions. The status of Tamil as one of the great classical languages of the world is something that is patently obvious to anyone who knows the subject. To deny that Tamil is a classical language is to deny a vital and central part of the greatness and richness of Indian culture.

Friday, May 14, 2004

From the Book "The Nehru Dynasty"

Font Used : Verdana

At the very beginning of his book, "The Nehru Dynasty", astrologer K. N. Rao mentions the names of Jawahar Lal's father and grandfather. Jawahar Lal'sfather was believed to be Moti Lal and Moti Lal's father was one GangadharNehru. And we all know that Jawahar Lal's only daughter was IndiraPriyadarshini Nehru; Kamala Nehru was her mother, who died in Switzerland Of tuberculosis. She was totally against Indira's proposed marriage withFeroze. Why? No one tells us that now, who is this Feroze? We are told bymany that he was the son of the family grocer. The grocer supplied wines,etc. to Anand Bhavan, previously known as Ishrat Manzil, which once belonged to a Muslim lawyer named Mobarak Ali. Moti Lal was earlier an employee of Mobarak Ali.

What was the family grocer's name?

One frequently hears that Rajiv Gandhi's grandfather! was Pandit Nehru. Butthen we all know that everyone has two grandfathers, the paternal and thematernal grandfathers. In fact, the paternal grandfather is deemed to be the more important grandfather in most societies. Why is it then no where wefind Rajiv Gandhi's paternal grandfather's name? It appears that the reasonis simply this.

Rajiv Gandhi's paternal grandfather was a Muslim gentleman from the Junagadh area of Gujarat. This Muslim grocer by the name of Nawab Khan, had married a Parsi woman after converting her to Islam. This is the source where from the myth of Rajiv being a Parsi was derived. Rajiv's father Feroze was Feroze Khan before he married Indira, against Kamala Nehru's wishes. Feroze'mother's family name was Ghandy, often associated with Parsis and this waschanged to Gandhi, sometime before his wedding with Indira, by an affidavit.

The fact of the matter is that (and this fact can be found in many writings) Indira was very lonely. Chased out of the Shantiniketan University by Guru Dev Rabindranath himself for misdemeanor, the lonely girl was all byherself, while father Jawahar was busy with politics, pretty women andillicit sex; the mother was in hospital. Feroze Khan, the grocer's son wasthen in England and he was quite sympathetic to Indira and soon enough shechanged her religion, became a Muslim woman and married Feroze Khan in aLondon mosque. Nehru was not happy; Kamala was dead already or dying.The news of this marriage eventually reached Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.Gandhi urgently called Nehru and practically ordered him to ask the youngman to change his name from Khan to Gandhi. It had nothing to do with change of religion, from Islam to Hinduism for instance. It was just a case of a change of name by an affidavit. And so Feroze Khan became Feroze Gandhi. The surprising thing is that the apostle of truth, the old man soon to bedeclared India's Mahatma and the 'Father of the Nation' didn't mention thisgame of his in the famous book, 'My Experiments with Truth'. Why? When theyreturned to India, a mock 'Vedic marriage' was instituted for publicconsumption.

On this subject, writes M.O. Mathai (a longtime private secretary of Nehru)in his renowned (but now suppressed by the GOI) 'Reminiscences of the NehruAge' on page 94, second paragraph: "For some inexplicable reason, Nehruallowed the marriage to be performed according to Vedic rites in 1942. Aninter-religious and inter-caste marriage under Vedic rites at that time wasnot valid in law. To be legal, it had to be a civil marriage. It's a knownfact that after Rajiv's birth Indira and Feroze lived separately, but theywere not divorced. Feroze used to har ass Nehru frequently for money andalso interfere in Nehru's political activities. Nehru got fed up and leftinstructions not to allow him into the Prime Minister's residence TrimurthiBhavan.

Mathai writes that the death of Feroze came as a relief to Nehru and Indira. The death of Feroze in 1960 before he could consolidate his own politicalforces, is itself a mystery. Feroze had even planned to remarry. Those whotry to keep tabs on our leaders in spite of all the suppressions anddeliberate misinformation, are aware of the fact that the second son ofIndira (or Mrs. Feroze Khan) known as Sanjay Gandhi was not the son ofFeroze. He was the son of another Moslem gentleman, Mohammad Yunus. Here, in passing, we might mention that the second son was originally named Sanjiv.It rhymed with Rajiv, the elder brother's name. It was changed to Sanjaywhen he was arrested by the British police in England and his passportimpounded, for having stolen a car. Krishna Menon was then India's HighCommissioner in London. He offered to issue another passport to the fellowwho changed his name to Sanjay. Incidentally, Sanjay's marriage with theSikh girl Menaka (now they call her Maneka for Indira Gandhi found the nameof Lord Indra's court dancer rather offensive!) took place quitesurprisingly in Mohammad Yunus' house in New Delhi. And the marriage withMenaka who was a model (She had modeled for Bombay Dyeing wearing just atowel) was not so ordinary either. Sanjay was notorious in getting unwedyoung women pregnant. Menaka too was rendered pregnant by Sanjay. It wasthen that her father, Colonel Anand, threatened Sanjay with direconsequences if he did not marry her daughter. And that did! the trick.Sanjay married Menaka. It was widely reported in Delhi at the time thatMohammad Yunus was unhappy at the marriage of Sanjay with Menaka;

Apparently he had wanted to get him married with a Muslim girl of his choice. It was Mohammad Yunus who cried the most when Sanjay died in the plane accident. In Yunus' book, 'Persons, Passions & Politics' one discovers that baby Sanjayhad been circumcised following Islamic custom, although the reason statedwas phimosis. It was always believed that Sanjay used to blackmail IndiraGandhi and due to this she used to turn a blind eye when Sanjay Gandhistarted to run the country as though it were his personal fiefdom. He Was black mailing her with the secret of who his real father was? When the newsof Sanjay's death reached Indira Gandhi, the first thing she wanted to knowwas about the bunch of keys which Sanjay had with him.

Nehru was no less a player in producing bastards. At least one case is verygraphically described by M. O. Mathai in his "Reminiscences of the NehruAge", page 206. Mathai writes: "In the autumn of 1948 (India became free in1947 and a great deal of work needed to be done) a young woman from Benaresarrived in New Delhi as a sanyasin named Shraddha Mata (an assumed and not a real name). She was a Sanskrit scholar well versed in the ancient Indianscriptures and mythology. People, including MPs, thronged to her to hear her discourses. One day S. D. Upadhyaya, Nehru's old employee, brought a letterin Hindi from Shraddha Mata. Nehru gave her an interview in the PM's house.As she departed, I noticed (Mathai is speaking here) that she was young,shapely and beautiful. Meetings with her became rather frequent, mostlyafter Nehru finished his work at night. During one of! Nehru's visits toLucknow, Shraddha Mata turned up there, and Upadhyaya brought a letter fromher as usual. Nehru sent her the reply; and she visited Nehru at midnight...

Suddenly Shraddha Mata disappeared. In November 1949 a convent in Bangaloresent a decent looking person to Delhi with a bundle of letters. He said that a young woman from northern India arrived at the convent a few months agoand gave birth to a baby boy. She refused to divulge her name or give anyparticulars about herself. She left the convent as soon as she was wellenough to move out but left the child behind. She however forgot to takewith her a small cloth bundle in which, among other things, several lettersin Hindi were found. The Mother Superior, who was a foreigner, had theletters examined and was told they were from the Prime Minister. The personwho brought the letters surrendered them... "I (Mathai) made discreetinquiries repeatedly about the boy but failed to get a clue about hiswhereabouts. Convents in such matters are extremely tightlipped andsecretive. Had I succeeded in locating the boy, I would have adopted him. He must have grown up as a Catholic Christian blissfully ignorant of who hisfather was." Coming back to Rajiv Gandhi, we all know now that he changedhis so called Parsi religion to become a Catholic to marry Sania Maino ofTurin, Italy. Rajiv became Roberto. His daughter's name is Bianca and son'sname is Raul. Quite cleverly the same names are presented to the people ofIndia as Priyanka and Rahul.

What is amazing is the extent of our people's ignorance in such matters. The press conference that Rajiv Gandhi gave in London after taking over as Prime minister of India was very informative. In this press conference, Rajivboasted that he was NOT a Hindu but a Parsi. Mind you, speaking of theParsi religion, he had no Parsi ancestor at all. His grandmother (father'smother) had turned Muslim after having abandoned the Parsi religion to marry Nawab Khan. It is the western press that waged a blitz of misinformation on behalf of Rajiv. From the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times and theWashington Post, the big guns raised Rajiv to heaven. The children'sencyclopedias recorded that Rajiv was a qualified Mechanical Engineer fromthe revered University of Cambridge. No doubt US kids are among the mostmisinformed in the world today!

The reality is that in all three years of his tenure at that University, Rajiv had not passed a single examination. He had therefore to leaveCambridge without a certificate. Sonia too had the same benevolenttreatment. She was stated to be student in Cambridge. Such a description iscalculated to mislead Indians. She was a student in Cambridge all rightbut not of the University of Cambridge but of one of those fly by nightlanguage schools where foreign students come to learn English. Sonia wasworking as an 'au pair' girl in Cambridge and trying to learn English at the same time. And surprise of surprises, Rajiv was even cremated as per vedicrites in full view of India's public. This is the Nehru dynasty that Indiaworships and now an Italian leads a prestigious national party because ofjust one qualification - being married into the Nehru family. Maneka Gandhiherself is being accepted by the non-Congress parties not because she was aformer model or an animal lover, but for her links to the Nehru family.Saying that an Italian should not lead India will amount to narrowmindedness, but if Sania Maino (Sonia) had served India like say MotherTeresa or Annie Besant, i.e. in anyway on her own rights, then all Indiansshould be proud of her just as how proud we are of Mother Teresa.