அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் ஆங்கிலப் பேச்சு

Annamalai Convocation Address
Arignar Anna

(Part 3)

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English is foreign, some argue, as if we were out to destroy or give up everything foreign. We bring foreign wear in foreign ships. We seek foreign aid not only in the shape of money but also in the from of technical know-how and not a week passes without one or other leader undertaking a journey to the west or east to secure whatever aid is possible to secure. And on top of all these things, we have given up so many systems peculiarly our own.

We are not content with rural economy, we want trombays and ennores.(?) And we are not conscious of their being foreign; only in the matter of language we pose as being ultra –nationalists and dub the English language as foreign.

Shelly and Byron, Keats and Coleridge, Emerson and Bacon-they are not foreign to us in the strict sense of the term. Is Tiruvalluvar a mere Tamilian? They are all world citizens – world teachers. And the language enshrining their thoughts is not to be discarded just because it comes from another country. That we are not going to accord a higher status to English is borne out by the fact that we have accepted and are implementing with due caution the principle of making Tamil the medium of instruction in colleges –progressively.

University education is an epitome of all that is best in thought cultivated in various countries, and from you should radiate universal thought and cosmopolitan ideas.

And if we are to get all these and more from out of the graduates of the University we have to re-examine the methods in vogue in universities, in teaching and in administration, and so perfect them that every student feels that he is a co-sharer of the pleasure and privilege of knowledge along with his professors. I shall not dabble in methods of teaching or administration-experts in that field are the natural custodians-my plea is only as regards the necessity for a re-examination.

While the functions assigned to universities are mostly of the same type, the Annamalai University, by its structure and spirit , has got a special function of its own. The great founder’s nobility and generosity has made this institution gain the esteem of eminent men here and elsewhere; but if we analyse the thought and motive force of Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar, we will find that he wanted this place to be not only a seat of learning and research of Tamil Culture and Tamil polity, but he had the foresight to realize that Tamilians were going to cultivate their special talents and that was exactly why he started and made a success of the Tamil Isai Movement . Rajah Sir was never a man of tall talk-he believed in solid work and he knew the time was bound to come for us to delve deep into our annals and literature, culture and civilization and succeed in getting due and adequate recognition in the world forum.

Truly great has been our achievement in the field of literature. To be able to announce to the world that we the Tamilians do process.

நற்றினை நல்ல குறுந்தொனை ஐங்குறுநூ
றொத்த பதிற்றுப்பத் தோங்கு பரிபாடல்
கற்றறிந்தோர் ஏத்தும் கலியோ டகம்புறமென்
றித்திறத்த எட்டுத் தொகை

And to present to the world the great Tirukkural which is a Code of Conduct for the entire humanity are something about which we can have pardonable pride and pleasure.

And yet, are we devoting enough attention to these Tamil Classics? Addressing the Convocation here in 1943, the late lamented Sir R.K. Shanmukham Chetty had the following to say :-

“I graduated with a complete ignorance of Tamil Culture and History: in fact with a great deal of contempt for these. I attained a fair degree of proficiency in English literature and the history of European culture. I acquired some knowledge of even Anglo- Saxon and Gothic. I read the translation of the Bible in the Gothic language by Bishop Ulfials , but I had not read the Kural of Valluvar. I could understand Chaucer, but the name of Ilango was nothing but a name. Even after leaving College, I kept alive My interest in these studies and built up a Library in which there was not a single Tamil book.

In my early youth when I lived in a world of my own with no sense of responsibility, all this made no difference to me and I was proud of my learning. Soon when manhood came with its cares and problems, I found myself a stranger in my own home…….Gradually I began to realise the incongruity of my scheme of life and for some time now I have been endeavouring to rectify the balance. It was only a few years ago that I seriously attempted to study some of the Tamil Classics. I find that they are fit to rank among the immortal works of the world. I now bitterly regret my neglect of the treasures of my own land.”

It was not an apologia, but the expression of a new determination and sir R.K.Shanmukaham lived to establish the truth that he had mastered not only the Tamil language but Tamil literature as well. Had he lived for some more years, he would have travelled many a land carrying the message of the Tamil Classics, which spoke at such a hoary past about

ஒன்றே குலமும் ஒருவனே தேவனும்

யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்

வினையே ஆடவர்க்கு உயிரே

நல்லது செய்தல் ஆற்றீ ராயினும்
அல்லது செய்தல் ஓம்புமின்

எவ்வழி நல்லவர் ஆடவர்
அவ்வழி அல்ல வாழிய நிலனே

செல்வத்துப் பயனே ஈதல்

தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா

பகுத்துண்டு பல்லுயிர் ஓம்புதல் நூலோர்
தொகுத்தவற்றுள் எல்லாம் தலை

Thoughts now placed before the world as blossoms of the modern age.

You, graduates of the Annamalai University, have got to undertake the special task of carrying the message that our classics contain to the entire world and declare that what was the most ancient here is what is being introduced to-day as the most modern.

South India is the home of the most ancient culture Though for a fairly long period there was the mist of ignorance, thick and widespread, it has now been acknowledge by all that Dravidian Civilisation of a highly developed character can be traced back to the second and third millennia before Christ. Many a foreign scholar has borne testimony to the perfection with which Tamil language has been developed into an instrument of precise and subtle thought and to the beauty and richness of the literature – which is contained in it. Dravidian literature, philosophy, art and architecture offer therefore a rich and fruitful field for exploration and critical investigation.

Not for more glorification but for a just appreciation of all that is of real value and beauty in our past heritage. We need this research and investigation.

I do not propose to talk about your responsibility in the political arena. Suffice it to say that you should make democracy safe and sound, salubrious and fruitful.

Carry the message that this Universities has given to you wherever you go, whatever the station you find yourselves in and elevate the common man- the average man-
“he seems incredible but represents two –thirds of mankind. He lives in a hut. He cannot read or write. His energy is sapped by disease. He labours upto 15hours a day. He works on land he does not own. He and his family are family are usually hungry. He will die young. But he still has hopes for his children; that they will be strong and healthy; will be able to read and write. will know individual freedom in a peaceful world. This is the world’s average Man.”

And the world over, this average Man has become conscious of the injustice done to him and as a consequence we find agitations and marches, struggles and clashes. In many a country, Measures to raise his level have been undertaken. Take a pledge, here and now, that we will not lag behind and leave our Average man in the Lunch. For if the base is weak, the dome is doomed. Inheritors as you are of a noble heritage, you are eminently fitted for this noble task, and on its success depends the future of this nation as of others.

Let us remember what Woodrow Wilson said,

“Nations are renewed from the bottom not from the top. . .real wisdom of human life is compounded out of the experiences of ordinary men. The utility, the vitality, the fruitage of life comes like the natural growth of a great tree, from the soil, up through the trunk into the branches to the foliage and the fruit. The great struggling unknown masses of the men who are not the base of everything are the dynamic force that is lifting the level of society. A nation is as great and only as great as her rank and file.”


Continued . . .
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

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