Category Archives: Literary Research

Tamil Studies in Germany – Proposed Closure

Tamil Studies in Germany
Proposed Closure –
An entire discipline to be abolished in Germany

Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies University of Cologne Germany
Press Release, Cologne, 17 November 2004

Please assist us in the cause of Tamil and express your solidarity and concern. Letters of protest should be sent directly to the Vice- Chancellor (Rector) of the University of Cologne at the address given below. The Rector, University of Cologne,   Albertus-Magnus-Platz ,  D-50923 Cologne, Germany –  Email:, Fax: 0049-221-470-4893. Please  also send a copy of your letter(s) to our institute. Please forward this email to everyone interested in the future of Tamil.

[See also ‘Bulletin 1992-2004’ – at:
and Dr.Thomas Malten on Tamil Studies in Germany]

The current situation

On Wednesday, 10 November 2004, the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cologne decided that the Cologne Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies will be closed down when the current director, Prof.Dr. D.B. Kapp, retires in February 2006. The director was informed not earlier than the night before by the dean and vice- dean about the imminent closure. Neither members of the institute nor students had been given the opportunity to present their position prior to the decision. In other words, all people concerned have been totally overrun.

The decision was reached against the background of cuts announced by the Ministry of Science and Research of North Rhine Westphalia, according to which the University of Cologne will have to reduce its number of faculty by 24 until the year 2008. 6 of these positions will have to be taken from the Faculty of Philosophy. By closing down the chair of Indology and  Tamil Studies in Cologne one single position would be reduced. The consequences, however, would be the closure of an entire institution and the demise of the discipline `Tamil Studies’ in Germany. If only from an economic point of view, it seems entirely unjustified to close down a public institution which functions with a minimum of costs, but which has a major impact on contemporary German society:

Why NOT to close down the Cologne Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies (IITS)

– IITS Cologne offers unique opportunities for academic studies in Germany: With its clear focus on South India in both teaching and research, the IITS in Cologne occupies a unique position among the centres of South Asian Studies in Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Literary Research



Tamil Studies in Germany

Prof.Thomas Malten
Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies,
Cologne University and Department of Lexicography,
Institute of Asian Studies, Chemmanchery, Chennai

Lecture at Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, 17 March 1998
[see also Proposed Closure of Tamil Studies in Germany, 14 November 2004]

In the preceding lectures we have heard about contributions made by German missionaries to Tamil studies particularly in the field of Tamil lexicography and grammar. The study of Tamil language and literature in Germany today – the topic of my lecture — is pursued mainly at two universities, the University of Heidelberg and the University of Cologne. [This is meant in the sense that people are specifically employed for this particular field of teaching and research in Indology – there are of course many more German universities where Tamil has been taught at some time or other in the recent past].

Academic Tamil studies in Germany are based on the efforts of the missionaries, their establishment at universities, however, is of quite recent origin – about 30 to 35 years back, in the 1960s, when the first two World Tamil Conferences were held at Paris and Chennai, which may have helped in creating an awareness and interest in the subject.

The reason for the establishment of Tamil Studies at the university level in Germany can be found in the recognition of the fact that Tamil is the only classical literary language of India besides Sanskrit and that Tamil language and literature have developed tremendously in many branches, particularly during the last 100-150 years.

The works of Arumuga Navalar, the rediscovery and publication of the ancient classics begun by U.V. Swaminatha Aiyar, the appearance of the poet Cupramaniya Parati, the development of a thriving modern narrative prose literature, beginning with the publication of the first Tamil novel, Vªtan¤yakam Pi¥¥ai’s “Pirat¤pa mutaliy¤r carittiram ” in 1879 followed by R¤jamaiyyar’s “Kamal¤mp¤¥ carittiram” a few years later and a host of prose works in this century have all served to make the study of Tamil a very worthwhile and rewarding academic subject in many countries of the world today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Literary Research



The Transmission of Scientific Knowledge from Tamilnadu to Europe (15th to 20th centuries)

The Transmission of Scientific Knowledge from Tamizhagam to Europe

(15th to 20th centuries)

K. V. Ramakrishna Rao

(In this page the author mentioned often the word “bramin” readers pls read that word as “Tamils”. Because the knowledge of Thamizhagam is not only belongs to a purticular caste. I think the author thaught so. This is a good article but having such mistakes. Anyway I thank the author for such a work )


About the transmission of mathematical and astronomical Science from South India, particularly from Kerala, studies have been already conducted and published by C. K. Raju, George Ghevergheese Joseph, Denis F. Almeida, and the Aryabhata Group of University of Exeter1. Though, Prof. D. S. V. Subba Reddy2 has pointed out the European interest and their books on Indian medicine, he stopped short with appreciating interest shown by them. However, about the transmission of scientific knowledge and/or manuscripts from Tamizhagam, it appears no study has been so far. The study of Jesuit writings reveal interesting details that such transmission had taken place during 1600 to 1850 period and even beyond. The study of events at Tranquebar, Pondicherry and Madurai provides wealth of such information.

Many times, the masquerade of the Jesuits has to be removed to find out their scientific pursuits (piercing the corporate veil to understand a company). The author has already presented and published some papers about Saltpetre3, the scientific pursuits of Robert de Nobili4 and Le de Gentil5, the interest of European Scientists in India6, etc. That even the British adopted such methods under the guise of scientific survey is interesting to study their motive7. The cross-reference of Tamil Siddha books correlates corroborate and gives ample evidence for such transmission taking place. The Tamil Siddha works – a compilation popularly known as “Periya Gnanak Kovai” and as well as individual works have been consulted8 for this purpose.

South India up to 18th Century:

From 10th century onwards (with due respect to the Pallavas), South India excelled in scientific and technological activities. Indian shipping, astronomy, chemical, textiles and food processing, architecture and other fields attained status. They in turn encouraged other industries and businesses. The Indian traders and businessmen had been common in many countries. The Cholas were reigning supreme during 10th to 14th centuries. During Vijayanagara period (14th to 16th centuries), everything was at peak followed by the Nayaks. The visiting Europeans (including Jesuits)9 were stunned at multi-storied buildings, gardens, dams and water reservoirs, the shipping activities, metal technology and above all, the time bound activities of the people. They could not understand the time reckoning methods of Indians, as the Europeans were struggling with corresponding activities involving calendar, longitude problem, compass and time reckoning. Here come the Jesuits and missionaries, their colleagues and contemporaries.

Europe during the material period:

During the same period, the European countries were faced with all problems, frequent wars, famines, diseases and above all religious fanaticism interfering with every walk of life. The imports from India and East Indies were as follows:

Year     Percentage

1588        14%

1621        48%

1669        70%

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Literary Research


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Ancient Sanskrit manuscript goes digital


Ancient Sanskrit manuscript goes digital

By Harsh Kabra
In Pune

Indian manuscripts being restored
Scientists acquiring images of the original palm leaves

Scientists from the US are using modern imaging techniques to digitally restore a rare 700-year-old Indian palm leaf manuscript on Hinduism.

Restorers from New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are working on Sarvamoola Grantha which expounds on the essence of Hindu philosophy, the meaning of life and the role of God.

This priceless collection of 36 erudite commentaries was written in Sanskrit by Sri Madvacharya (1238-1317 AD), one of India’s greatest theologians.

In addition to commentaries based on sacred Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Puranas, Brahma-sutras, Mahabharata and others, the collection also includes independent philosophical tracts, a commentary on daily rites, and several hymns in praise of God.

Dr PR Mukund, a professor of electrical engineering at RIT, is leading the project along with his colleague Roger Easton.

“Among the various scholars and spiritual leaders in India during the last millennium, Sri Madvacharya had a profound impact on the society,” explains Dr Mukund.

“He analysed all aspects of Hindu holy texts and showed the structure of the spiritual world that serves as a backbone of the world’s diversities. As a result, preservation of this collection for future generations is essential,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 7, 2008 in Literary Research



Indigenous Methods of Preserving Manuscripts

Indigenous Methods of Preserving Manuscripts


Jan 11, ORISSA, INDIA (SUN) — The holdings of libraries, museums, archives, and other documentation centers are the priceless heritage of mankind. Not only in the context ancient lore but also in the context of medieval and modern age manuscripts are considered as the most important source of authenticity. The manuscripts constitute our most precious national and cultural heritage. Thus Preservation of manuscripts is a serious issue for the custodians, Librarians, Information scientists, Archivist, Curators, and Scholars.

In spite of the advent of suitable chemicals for preservation and their availability, traditional methods for preservation are in practice. In this paper an attempt has been made to summarize the effectiveness of the Indigenous Methods of preservation.

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Posted by on August 7, 2008 in Literary Research