Monday, 19 September 2016

THE MAN BEHIND INVOCATION TO GODDESS IN TAMIL 

Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai. PICTURE: Google

For many days, the name Pa. Meenatchi Sundaram Pillai puzzled me. He was the man who penned the invocation to Goddess Tamil which would be played before inaugural of any government programme in Tamil Nadu. Today I got to read a small book on Meenatchi Sundaram Pillai published by Sahitya Akademi authored by Na.Velusamy.

He was one of the key persons in the 19th century who brought out several publications including research articles in Tamil. Ramalinga Vallalar, Thandapani Swamigal, Mayuram Vedhaynayagam Pillai lived during the same period. 

Meenatchi Sundram Pillai was born and raised in Kollam, which was earlier Madras presidency and now in the state of Kerala. He had interests in an array of subjects from Tamil literature, history, archaeology, epigraphy and so on. 

Meenatchi Sundaram Pillai took efforts to read manuscripts in various temples to compile the history of Travancore. He went to the extent of creating a separate department for archaeology with the help of the then Royal family and headed the department. The department was started on 10th April 1896. The Travancore Royal family announced donation to him for his work on history of Travancore. Well-known historian Dr.K K Pillai has referred Meenatchi Sundram Pillai as ‘pioneer epigraphist of Travancore’.


One of his research works ‘Age of Tamil savant Tirugnansambandar’ was published through Madras Christian College journal.  He was known for his drama ‘Manonmaniyam’.  An university in Tirunelveli was named after him as Manonmaniam Sundranar University'. In his deathbed, he said, his throat was reserved for archaeology.