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Sculpting excellence through Tamil

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  • K. Loganathan
    Sculpting excellence through TamilV MayilvagananV Mayilvaganan, TNN | May 31, 2011, 02.09am IST What the Big Temple in Thanjavur is for devotees and tourists,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2011
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      Sculpting excellence through Tamil

      V Mayilvaganan, TNN | May 31, 2011, 02.09am IST

      What the Big Temple in Thanjavur is for devotees and tourists, Tamil University is for language scholars and Tamil enthusiasts across the world.

      As one enters Thanjavur, the grand edifice in pale ivory colour with its magnificient towers surrounded by native trees greets everyone. Ever since the university was established in 1981 on an 800-acre campus on the outskirts of Thanjavur, the erstwhile capital of the Cholas, the institution has retained its status as a unique centre for excellence in advanced Tamil studies.

      "The output of the students and alumni of this university is unimaginable. So far 374 scholars have obtained doctorates and 1,294 scholars have got MPhil in various disciplines and contributed to Tamil,'' says department of sculpture head T Chandrakumar who holds the charge of the vice-chancellor.

      The university has 25 departments in linguistics, arts, sciences and manuscriptology. "We have published four volumes of 2,000 pages each of Greater Lexicon, over 420 books on history, literature and Siddha medicine, besides encyclopaedias on science, drama and ancient roots of present day arts and drama,'' says Chandrakumar.

      "Though the university was started with the objective of promoting Tamil, it evolved into a multi-disciplinary institute with its roots in Tamil. For instance, the department of earth sciences has recorded the knowledge of earth science of ancient Tamils. Now we are pursuing contemporary research on minerals,'' says department head R Baskaran.

      Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Technology Cell, an autonomous body supported by the Union ministry of earth sciences, functions under the department.

      "Many students and scholars of our university are from the field of sculpture, drama, folk arts and music. Many from popular drama schools like Koothupattarai pursue studies in the university to gather theoretical insights into the art forms of ancient Tamils. They come here for academic excellence,'' says Chandrakumar.

      One such person who completed his PhD from here is O Muthiah, now associate professor, faculty of Tamil, Indian Languages and Rural Arts at Gandhigram Rural Institute, Dindigul.

      "I did my PhD in thevarattam' and sevayattam' betwen 1992 and 1998 in Tamil University. The study is not confined to the folk art formsthere is a musical element involved. The department of music at the university offered me the scope to understand the musical aspect,'' says Muthiah.

      Drama festivals organised in the university are a huge attraction. "Celebrated theatre personalities from across Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala visit and stage plays,'' recalls Muthiah.

      The institute has rare manuscripts in its library and a collection of ancient weapons, musical instruments and rural objects. "I was astonished at the collection in the university library. Each and every book in the library could be categorised as a rare one,'' says M Thiruviamurugan, who completed his MPhil at the university.

      The university was high on the patronage list of the state government, irrespective of the party in power, ensuring an unhindered fund flow. "The university is highly relevant today. In fact its contribution to Tamil as well as arts and science would increase manifold in the years to come,'' says Chandra Kumar.

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