Tamil Conference, UC, Berkeley

GANESANS at cl.uh.edu GANESANS at cl.uh.edu
Tue Apr 8 16:21:15 UTC 1997


  Tamil Conference, UC, Berkeley

On Apr. 4 & 5, there was a conference on Tamil organized by
Prof. George Hart, Dept. of South & Southeast Asian studies.

On the first day, there were several issues discussed regarding
computerization of Tamil, putting digitized Tamil texts in the web,
having mirror sites in California, Germany & Singapore, Unicode for
Tamil characters, copyright issues, on-line dictionaries and
bibliographies, putting the pictures of people who have contributed
to furthering of Dravidian studies and making available pictures 
of Tamil art like temples, Chola bronzes in the web , etc ... were discussed. 

The second day was more of a cultural event open to students and
others. In the morning, there were many Tamil students from
schools like Stanford talking about their Tamil heritage.
Vijaya Nagarajan who has written on Kolam - the floor decorations
using rice flour - said that it takes years to resolve the question
one invariably goes thru: "Who am I?" If South Asian children start
out to explore, let us say, on North American Indians, their languages
it will invariably lead at some point in time to know more
about their own languages, literatures etc., I learnt a lot
from observations by Vidya, Preetika, Jeyanthy Siva etal.,Hemant Parasuram
wants to organize a National Youth conference. Dr. Jeyamohan
chaired this panel and he gave insights into teaching tamil
in US environment. It was great to see Mathurai Manickam (Brian Linebaugh) 
speak flawless Tamil, Carlos from Nicaragua, Keerthana Thangavelu
and others interested in things tamil.

In the afternoon, Professors spoke how they came to study Tamil.
Prof. H. Schiffman on the importance of spoken language, materials
available to learn tamil like videos, multimedia etc.,
He told "Don't just build millions-of-dollars temples only. Seeing to
that Indian languages are taught in US campuses also will help
your children".Dr. Norman Cutler, Univ. of Chicago told of his 
interests in Bhakthi poetry and KuRaL and gave an interesting recital
of students and their research interests. Dr. Jim Ryan about his 
work on Ciivaka CintaamaNi and how deeply he is inspired by Indic cultures.
I must mention meeting Dr. V. S. Rajam and Dr. Vasu Ranganathan.
Of course, Mr. Thomas Malten from Koeln, Germany. 

Hope at least one more Professorship of Tamil studies is established
in a Eastern university like UPenn or UMichigan. Also, for Telugu
(Wisconsin?), Kannada & Malayalam.

In the audience I saw many South Asia Professors like Drs. Murray B. Emeneau,
Robert Goldman, Steven Poulos, Peter Claus etal., good friends like 
Kumar Kumarappan, Kaushalya Hart, Balakrishnan, What is interesting 
is I saw many people from computer industry and medical professions 
whose forefathers were great Tamil scholars eg., Sriganesh whose 
grandfather edited Tiruppugazh of Arunagirinathar with much effort, 
Senthil whose great grandfather J. M. Nallasavami
Pillai wrote Studies in Saiva Siddhanta in early 1900s...

Truly, I felt at home. Valluvar says in an immortal kuRaL

uvappath thalaikkuuDi, uLLap pirithal -
anaiththE pulavar thozhil.

Is it not learned people's nature -
 to rejoice while in company, and
 to wonder "when shall we meet again?",
 in parting.

N. Ganesan

Each time we learn a new language, we acquire a new
personality, told by A. K. Ramanujan.

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