F. W. Ellis

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 19 15:04:52 UTC 1999

Lately, I am getting interested in knowing more about Francis Whyte
Ellis. He seems to be much more enlightened than his contemporaries
and he wrote separate essays on Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil. How many
of these survive? I hear that his papers are in the British library,
it will be great to publish them. Usually, the Anthology of Solitary
verses (tan2ippATaRRiraTTu) end with the poems by Ellis. Iravatham
Mahadevan has published the die block in Madras mint Ellis made for
the East India company coin which has Tiruvalluvar on it. Possibly
the first portrayal of Tiruvalluvar available?? I have discovered
two akaval poems, 1) by Ellis who wrote this after a terrible drought,
he dug up several wells in Madras and 2) on his cemetery in Dindugal.

 >De Nobili put out the fiction that he was a "Roman Brahmin" --
 >Romaca Brahmana was the title he gave out. Francis Ellis, in his
 >contribution to the 1822 Transactions of the Asiatic Society,
 >explained, "Nobili, who was looked upon by the Jesuits as the chief
 >apostle of the Indians after Francois Xavier, took incredible pains
 >to acquire a knowledge of the religion, customs, and language of
 >Madura, sufficient for the purposes of his ministry. But this was
 >not all: for to stop the mouths of his opposers and particularly of
 >those who treated his character of Brachman as an imposture, he
 >produced an old, dirty parchment in which he had forged, in the
 >ancient Indian characters, a deed, showing that the Brachmans of
 >Rome were of much older date than those of India and that the
 >Jesuits of Rome descended, in a direct line from the god Brama.
 >Nay, Father Jouvence, a learned Jesuit, tells us, in the history of
 >his order, something yet more remarkable; even that Robert De
 >Nobili, when the authenticity of his smoky parchment was called in
 >question by some Indian unbelievers, declared, upon oath, before the
 >assembly of the Brachmans of Madura, that he (Nobili) derived really
 >and truly his origin from the god Brama. Is it not astonishing that
 >this Reverend Father should acknowledge, is it not monstrous that he
 >should applaud as a piece of pious ingenuity this detestable
 >instance of perjury and fraud?"

What is the exact citaion for the 1822 Ellis article in Tras.AS?
This old parchment episode is well known in tamil lit. Saiva
saint Cuntarar's wedding and a TolkAppiyam commentary quote of
an ancient poem describing the quarrels between potters and
accountants. May be De Nobili & Ellis heard this from tamil vidhvans?

N. Ganesan

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