Introductory Speech by Rev.Father Xavier Thaninayagam!

Introductory Speech by Rev.Father Xavier Thaninayagam!

Conference Programme:

The first International Conference of Tamil Studies, sponsored by the International Association of Tamil Research, the National Education (Indian Schools) Development Council of Malaya, and the University of Malaya, was held at the Third Residential College premises. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 16th April and 23rd April 1966.

One hundred and thirty two delegates and forty observers attended the Conference/Seminar. Among those who participated as delegates, there were one from Burma, thirty-one from Ceylon, one from Denmark, five from France, two from Germany, one from Holland, one from Hong Kong, forty-two from India, two from Japan, fourteen from Malaysia, four from Mauritius, one from the Philippines, one from Portugal, six from Singapore, one from South Korea, one from Sweden, one from Switzerland, one from Thailand, five from the United Kingdom, eight from the United States of America and three from Vietnam.

The Conference Seminar was declared open by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia, Yang Teramat Mulia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj. at 10 30 a m. on Saturday 16th April 1966 in the Dewan Tunku Abdul Kahman, Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The proceedings of the Conference extended over five full days between Monday 18th April and Friday 22nd April 1966. A total number of twelve Plenary Sessions and six Group Sessions were held during this period, and on Saturday, 23rd April 1966, the Final Open’ Session was held.

The Plenary Sessions were conducted on the following subjects: (a) History and Culture in South-east Asia with particular reference to Tamil cultural contacts, (b) Tamil Literary Criticism, (c) Tamil Society in the Cankam period. (d) Westerners and Tamil Studies, (e) Literature and Society, (f) Modern Tamil Literature. (g) South-east Asia after 1500. (h) Music and Dance, (i) Art and Antiquity, (j) Dravidian Comparative Linguistics, and (k} Tamil Society in the modern period. One Plenary Session was devoted to the discussion of papers presented in Tamil.

The subjects of the Group Sessions were: The Tamil Society of the period of the Three Empires, Trade and External Relations, Teaching of Tamil, Diachronic Tamil Linguistics Synchronic Tamil Linguistics. and Translation.

A total number of 150 research papers were presented at the Conference sessions; delegates who were able to present their papers in person were each given ten minutes to present their findings in a summary form. There were a Chairman and a Discussion Leader for each session.

The proceedings of the Conference were adequately documented. Copies of papers, most of them written in English and a few in Tamil. were made available to the delegates before each session.

The business of the Conference sessions were conducted principally in English. Tamil was also used by a number of delegates.

Introductory Speech by Rev.Father Xavier Thaninayagam

Rev. Father Xavier ThaninayagamThe moving spirit behind the conference was Rev.Father Xavier S.Thani Nayagam, originally from Tamil Eelam and who in 1966, was serving at the University of Malaya. His introductory remarks as Conference Chairman reached out both to the hearts and the minds of his audience:

“Mr. President of the International Association of Tamil Research, Distinguished Guests and Colleagues.

‘கலையணிச் செல்வன் கமலச் சேவடி
தலை அணி புனைந்து சாற்றதும் தமிழே’

‘என்னை நன்றாக இறைவன் படைத்தனன்
தன்னை நன்றாகத் தமிழ்செய்யு மாறே’
– Thirumoolar

It is a historic privilege to welcome everyone of you to this Conference Hall where for the first time so many representatives of so many different nations are assembled to discuss various aspects of Tamil Studies.

May I welcome those of you who were not present at the opening of our Conference on Saturday morning. A special welcome to our new Vice-President from across the Pacific, Professor Emeneau.

Not only does our membership cut across national boundaries, but also does transcend frontiers, if any, of religion, of mother tongue, of fields of specialisation. This Conference-Seminar, like other academic Conferences, has been planned and is being held solely to extend the frontiers of learning and the pursuit of disinterested knowledge. It is our privilege to have the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Madras. as the leader of the largest cultural delegation which ever left the shores of India for a foreign country, and to have him share a participant’s chair like the rest of us. We are indeed grateful to the Government of India for this gesture, because the status, the age, the wisdom of this statesman. and the composition of the Indian delegation, have served to emphasise the importance of this Conference-Seminar.

May I also be permitted a word of welcome to the other official delegation, namely the delegation from Ceylon, led by the Hon’ble H. W. Tambiah, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ceylon.

Our welcome is equally warm to all delegates and participants from the other countries and from institutions of higher learning.

I have also the pleasant duty to greet the University of Madurai and its first Vice-Chancellor Prof. T. P. Meenakshisundaram. We are proud that one of our founder members and a Vice-President, and a former teacher of several Heads of Departments and others here present, has been appointed Vice-Chancellor in such a celebrated city with Tamil associations.

This endeavour of ours organised at this University, we would like to be recorded solely as an attempt, howsoever feeble, to serve Tamil Studies….”

முதல் மாநாடு :

தனிநாயக அடிகளார் அப்பொழுது (1961-1970) மலேசியப் பல்கலைக்கழகத்திலே இந்தியக் கல்வியாய்வுகள் துறையிலே தலைமை வகுத்துக் கொண்டிருந்தார். அவர் ஏற்கனவே தனது ‘தமிழ் கல்ச்சர்’ எனும் இதழ் மூலம் உலகம் முழுவதிலுமுள்ள தமிழ், திராவிட ஆர்வலரை ஒன்றுசேர்க்க முற்பட்டு ஓரளவு வெற்றியும் கண்டவர். அவர் மலேசிய அரசு தமிழ்ச் சமூகத்திற்கு அளித்த ஆதரவின் துணையோடு பிரம்மாண்டமான முறையிலே முதல் மாநாடு கோலாலம்பூரிலே 1966 ஏப்ரல் 16-23 தேதிகளில் நடாத்தப்பட்டது. இந்த மாநாட்டில் அன்று தமிழியல் ஆய்வில் பங்கெடுத்த பல்லின ஆய்வாளர்களும் ஆர்வலர்களும் கலந்து சிறப்பித்தனர்.


  •  Tamilnation

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