What ails Tamil literature?
December 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
It is a serious question why there doesn’t seem to be a due recognition of Tamil creating writing at the pan-Indian level not only in regard to its past heritage,which, in fact, is comparable with Sanskrit and also in respect of its present reckoning, which is, in no way inferior to the literary achievements obtained in other major modern Indian languages.
The Devanagiri group of languages, spoken in the North, East and West of India, which have been referred to as Prakrit in the past, which means, dialects of Sanskrit, spoken by the common man, have always enjoyed an affinity with each other because of their common script. In Natya Sastra, it is prescribed that the gods, kings, saints and brahmins should be assigned dialogues in Sanskrit and the rest of them including women should speak only in the regional tongues,which, as a group, were classified as Prakrit. And there is a rider that Damilii(Tamil) and Andhra (Telugu,perhaps) should never be spoken on the stage, maybe, the reason being that they would be unintelligible to the viewers. This clearly distinguishes the Dravidian languages-speaking people from those who spoke the Devanagiri group of languages.
But among the Dravidian languages, except Tamil, the rest of them have, in course of time, have embraced the Sanskritic sounds and vocabulary, that it may be easier for one speaking the North Indian dialect to have a vague understanding of these languages, the newly adopted Prakrit cousins, than Tamil, which still keeps its distinctive Dravidian identity from time immemorial. There were attempts to Sanskritize Tamil in the early medieval periods, by introducing a ‘Manipravala style of writing’, mixing Sanskrit and Tamil but they did not succeed.
And, as of now, Tamil stands in splendid isolation in a Federal set-up. It is a pity that our serious literature is conveniently ignored because of a total lack of perceptive even among us in regard to this. It is easier to translate one from the other in the Devanagiri group of languages and also to some extent, from the other Dravidian languages except Tamil. It is difficult for those, who have no knowledge of Tamil and its linguistic culture to really know what is good and what is mediocre in Tamil literary heritage. And especially, in regard to contemporary Tamil literature.
As in politics, in literature also, the loudest survives.