Second International Conference
Seminar of Tamil Studies
Madras - Tamil Nadu, January 1968
from Proceedings, Published by the
International Association of Tamil Research, Madras
On the occasion of the First
International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in
April 1966, Sri. M. Bhaktavatsalam, at that time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, invited
delegates and observers participating in the Conference to attend the Second Conference in
Madras. This invitation was enthusiastically accepted and the Second International
Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, sponsored jointly by the International Association of
Tamil Research and the Government of Madras, was held at the University of Madras between
3rd January and 10th January 1968.
Among the total number of almost five hundred delegates there were two from Argentina, two
from Australia, three from Canada, forty-nine from Ceylon,
three from Czechoslovakia, two from Fiji, two from Finland, seven from France,
five from Germany, one from Hungary, 280 from India
(of whom 203 were from Tamil Nadu), three from
Indonesia, two from Israel, four from Italy, three
from Japan, one from Korea, thirty-seven from Malaysia,
two from Mauritius, one from Mexico, two from the Netherlands, one from the Philippines, two from
Rumania, thirteen from Singapore, one from Spain,
three from Sweden, two from Switzerland, one from Thailand, six from the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics, nine from the United
Kingdom and forty-two from the United States of America.
World Tamil Conference
To run concurrently with the Second International Conference Seminar, a World Tamil
Conference, aimed at a wider audience and planned with a view to making an appeal of a
more popular nature, was arranged by the Government of Tamil Nadu, by this time under the
leadership of the late Thiru C. N. Annadurai.
A leading part in the organisation of this World Tamil Conference was
played by Thiru M. Karunanidhi, the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. As apreludetoit
a number of newly erected statues were unveiled in Madras. On 1st January Dr. Sir A.
Ramaswami Mudaliar performed the unveiling ceremony of the statue of Thiru C. N. Annadurai
at the Round Tana, Mount Road.
On the afternoon of 3rd January a cultural pageant, consisting of a number of tableaux
depicting scenes from Tamil history, tradition, literature and art, interspersed
with contingents of participants from educational institutions and volunteers of the
Prosperity Brigade, moved in procession over a mile-long route, starting and finishing at
the Island Grounds (the venue of the World Tamil Conference), and taking in Mount Road,
Cathedral Road. Edward Elliot's Road, Marina and Band Practice Road.
Although the Government of Madras World Tamil Conference and the International Conference
Seminar of Tamil Studies were organised as separate and independent (albeit simultaneous)
functions, many people in Madras at the time showed an interest in both, and a small
number of scholars took part in each of them.
The main formal link was the opening ceremony, held before a large and
eager crowd on the broad expanse of the Madras beach on the evening of 3rd January. The
late Dr. Zakir Husain, President of the Indian Union, gave the inaugural address under the
chairmanship of the late Thiru C. N. Annadurai, whose speech was followed by a concluding
vote of thanks by Thiru M. R. Perumal Mudaliar.
The proceedings had opened with an invocation by Thiru M. M. Dhandapani
Desikar and a civic address to the President by the Mayor of Madras, Dr. Habibullah Baig.
Welcome addresses were given by Thiru V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, State Minister
for Education and Industries, Thirumathi Sathiavani Muthu, Minister for Harijan Welfare,
Thiru M. G. Ramachandran, Chairman, Souvenir Production Committee, and Professor Jean
Filliozat, President of the International Association of Tamil Research, and
congratulatory messages from distinguished figures unable to be present were read by Thiru
A. Subbiah, Convener of the Second International Conference-Seminar.
Proposals for Thirukkural research, in connection with offers of
endowment, at Annamalai University, Madurai University and Madras University were made by
three ministers in the state government, namely Thiru K. A. Mathialagan, Thiru M.
Muthuswamy and Thiru M. Karunanidhi respectively. Dr. M. Audiseshiah, Acting
Director-General, Unesco, and Thiru M. Tiru. chelvam, Minister for Local Government,
Ceylon, offered their felicitations. A Conference Souvenir volume was released by Sardar
Ujjal Singh, Governor of Tamil Nadu.
The proceedings of the International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies extended over six
full days between Thursday, 4th January, and Wednesday, 10th January. The varied sessions
included nine plenary sessions and a total of thirty-six group meetings. At each of five
of the plenary sessions two major papers by distinguished international scholars in the
field of Tamil and Indological studies were presented and discussed. The other four were
" structured panels ", at which topics of more or less specialised interest were
discussed by panels of from ten to thirteen scholars. Group meetings were run
simultaneously in Linguistics (two separate sections), Literature, Art and Archaeology,
History and Social Studies, Science and Technology, and Papers in Tamil.
One plenary session, too, was devoted to papers in Tamil by Dr. M.
Varadarajan, Professor of Tamil at the University of Madras, and Thiru L. P. Kr.
Ramanathan Chettiar, Head of the Department of Tamil (Oriental) at Annamalai University.
Comments and questions at other sessions were in both Tamil and English....
Social & Cultural Functions
Each evening throughout the period of the Conference, delegates were given opportunities
to savour aspects of Tamil culture. Special performances of Tamil dramas and films, dance
tecitals and concerts of instrumental and vocal music were presented. In addition
arrangements were made for those interested to be present at concerts forming part of the
annual Madras festival of music and dance. Opportunities were also offered to visit
museums so that delegates should see something of South Indian art.
On Sunday 7th January visits were arranged to places of interest in and around the city of
Madras, including the temples in Conjeevaram
and Mahabalipuram. When the
Conference was over, a special train carried a good number of registrants on a tour of
Tamil Nad. In the week starting 11th January and ending 18th January, those who joined the
train were able to see the temple of Nataraja at
Chidambaram, with the nearby Annamalai University, the great Chola temples, the Art Gallery and the Saraswathi Mahal Library in
Thanjavur, the Rock Fort and the temples of
Meenakshi Temple and the
new University at Madurai, the industrial centre of Coimbatore and, finally, Cape Comorin,
taking in Suchindran temple on the way.
After the Conference a number of scholars who had been brought by it to Madras took part
in a Seminar on Comparative Dravidian, held at the Annamalai University, Annamalainagar,
from 11th to 14th January 1968. Papers presented at this seminar have since been published
by Annamalai University Press in a volume edited by Professor S. Agesthialingom and Thiru
N. Kumaraswami Raja under the title Dravidian Linguistics.