Jaffna International Tamil Research Conference of 1974

by Sachi Sri Kantha, October 23, 2014

Saalai Ilanthiraian

Saalai Ilanthiraian

Introductory Note

The 40th anniversary of the 4th International Tamil Research Conference held in Jaffna (January 3-9) had passed by silently. The sad event of January 10th, 1974 in which nine Tamils lost their lives was one of the trend setting episodes which generated the Eelam Campaign of late 1970s among Tamil militant youth. As majority of the principals who organized this Conference had exited the scene now, and a few remaining ones have become octogenarians and are experiencing the ‘sunset’ of their lives, the onus of keeping the existing records for posterity had fallen on the shoulders of Tamil chroniclers like me.

I have a printed document in Tamil [a 63-page booklet, titled, Thamil MaaNaadu (Tamil Conference) authored by Dr. Saalai Ilanthiraian, then President of Intrnational Movement for Tamil Culture, New Delhi], published one month after conclusion of the Conference, from Chennai. The booklet contains three chapters. Chapter 1 was Ilanthiraian’s essay on the events from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9th. Chapter 2 contains a Tamil abstract of his research paper, entitled, ‘Simple rhythmic poetry and Eelathu Mahakavi’. Chapter 3 contains a Tamil abstract of Mrs. Saalini Ilanthiraian’s research paper, entitled, ‘Literary evaluation of Tamil autobiographies’. Both these research papers were presented on January 8th 1974. I provide nearby the scan of their foreword, to this booklet.

Dr. Ilanthiraian was a professor at the University of New Delhi. He was born in September 6, 1930 with the name V.R. Mahalingam, and he died in October 4, 1998. He was also a good Tamil poet. Ilanthiraian was also one of the 60 participants from 15 countries of the inaugural meeting of International Association of Tamil Research held on January 7, 1964. Half a century had elapsed since then. Ilanthiraian’s wife Salini Ilanthiraian (born 1933) was also a Tamil scholar. Her birth name was Kanagasoundari. Dr. Ilanthiraian and his wife were two of the Indian delegates who participated in the 1974 Jaffna Conference.

Following this 1974 conference, I began corresponding with Dr. Ilanthiraian because Kovai Mahesan (the then editor of Sutantiran weekly) regularly published his views on Tamil politics. We did exchange letters occasionally. For record, I provide a scan of one of his letters to me, typed in Tamil, dated January 6, 1978. I did personally meet Ilanthiraian and his wife at Madurai during the 5th International Tamil Conference in January 1981.

In this letter of January 1978, Ilanthiraian had forthrightly commented about the ‘family politics’ practiced by the DMK leader Karunanidhi, in his second paragraph. I provide a translation below:

Salini Ilanthiraian

Salini Ilanthiraian

“Dear Thamby [Mr. S. Sri Kantha, Colombo 4/ handwritten],

Greetings. Keeping fine. Your letter of Dec.30, 1977 reached us and enjoyed reading. Here and there, I had read your forceful writings in the ‘Suthantiran’ and enjoyed them too.

Tamil Nadu was blessed with Periyar [E.V. Ramasamy Naicker], Anna[durai] and Kamarajar in the past. Following them, now we see a big drought. Empty politicians like Karunanidhi had made our Tamil culture as an exchange item. The Tamil passion had shrunk into party level, caste level and family level. Because of this, majority of Tamilians feel shameful. (You, observing the scene from far, may not recognize this accident; here, a big darkness is spreading now.)…”

I don’t have a copy of what I wrote to Ilanthiraian in my Dec 1977 letter. I guess, probably I might have mentioned something positive about Karunanidhi for his services to the Tamil literature, though he had lost the chief minister position to MGR in the 1977 Tamil Nadu state council elections. At that time, Karunanidhi had completed his first two terms as the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. Even then, Karunanidhi’s “adopted style of politics” had become nauseating to many Tamils like Ilanthiraian.


Details of the Research Papers presented in English and Tamil at the 1974 Conference

From my handwritten notes, based on the 1977 publication, ‘Fourth International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, Jaffna, Sri Lanka/ January 1974’ edited by Dr. Kopalapillai Mahadeva (IATR Sri Lanka National Unit, Colombo, vol.1, 370 pp), I compiled the following list and got it posted in the Tamil Nation website (now defunct) in October 2006. Eight years later, I reproduce below, what I wrote then and provide additional comments as well.

“The Fourth International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies was held in Jaffna, between January 3rd and 9th in 1974. The then ruling SLFP coalition government headed by Sirimavo Bandaranaike and its multi-pronged machinery placed politically motivated innumerable blocks to the (a) intended participants from overseas, and (b) organizers of the Conference. Issuance of visas were delayed in some cases for foreign participants. The then Government’s token Tamil minister Chelliah Kumarasuriar and his coterie (among whom a few ranking Tamil scholars were also included) issued boycott calls and also expressed their resentment via subtle intimidatory signals. Their beef was that Colombo, rather than Jaffna, was the proper venue for such an international conference. Despite such obstacles, quite a number of foreign delegates made their way to Jaffna and gallantly participated in the Conference.”

Tamil Conference 1974 booklet cover

Tamil Conference 1974 booklet cover

I would like to add here that the prime architects of the success of this 4th International Tamil Research Conference include Prof. S. Vithiananthan (1924-1989), Rev. Xavier Thaninayagam (1913-1980) and architect V.S. Thurairajah (1927-2011). They overcame the stumbling blocks placed before them by the sycophants of the then ruling government. These sycophants included, Prof. K. Kailasapathy (1933-1982), Prof. K. Sivathamby (1932-2011) and politicians C. Kumarasuriyar and Alfred Duraiappah (1926-1975). Another vital addition that deserves inclusion is that on January 10, 1974, the sad events occurred while the assembled audience were enjoying the alliterative, hair-raising Tamil speech of Professor C. Nainar Mohamed (1929?-2014) of Jamal Mohamed College, Tiruchi. Sadly, this Muslim Tamil scholar passed away few months ago, at the age of 85. It was talked about that, up until that time, Tamils in Jaffna had never listened to such a splendid oration by a Muslim scholar.

A total of 71 research papers in English and 40 research papers in Tamil were presented at this Conference. Registered scholars were from the following countries.

Australia: R. Eliezer, H.F. Owen

Canada: B. Beck

Hungary: I. Major

India: G. Aroul, M.P. Balasubramanian, V.R. Balasubrahmanyam, K. Chellappan, J.H.R. De Sa, E. Ganesan, Mrs. K. Mahalingam, V.R. Mahalingam, C.Nainar Mohamed, Murugesa Mudaliyar, D. Natarajan, R. Panneerselvam, V. Perumal, Rev. S. Rajamanickam, S. Rasu, R.K. Seth, M. Shanmugampillai, K. Shanmugam, A. Somasundaran, N. Subbu Reddiar, M. Vasuki

Italy: T.J.A. Wicki

Japan: N. Karashima

Sri Lanka: M. Arulnandhy, R. Ashok Kumar, E. Balasundaram, P. Balasundarampillai, B.E.Bastiampillai, L.S.Dewaraja, C.S.Elias, W.S.M. Fernando, V.K. Ganesalingam, V. Govindapillai, S. Kalaparameswaran, T. Kanagaratnam, M.K. Kanagendran, S.K. Maheswaran, K. A. Mathiaparanam, V. Muththukkumaru, N.S. Nadarasan, C. Nagalingam, D.D. Nanayakkara, K. Navasothy, S. Pathmanathan, D.N.P. Perera, P. Poologasingham, K. Ramaswamy, K.P. Ratnam, J.T. Rutnam, V. Samaraweera, V. Sambunathan, S. Sandrasegaram, A. Sanmugadas, M. Satkunam, K. Selvachandran, S. Selvanayagam, K.N. Seyon, J.R. Sinnathamby, K. Sittampalam, A. Sivanesaselvan, N. Sivapathasundaranar, V.K. Sivaprakasam, V. Sivasamy, N. Subramaniam, T.S. Sundareswaran, S. Suseendirarajah, S. Thananjayarajasingham, S. Thillainathan, S. Thommanupillai, M.M. Uwise, K. Veerakathy, A. Velupillai, K. Venthanar

Sweden: C.G. Diehl, A. F. Yngve

Switzerland: C.A. Keller

U.K.: K. Karunakaran, J.R. Marr, V. MuttuCumaraswamy, V.K. Thillainayagam

U.S.A.: D.W. McAlpine, A.K. Ramanujan, H.F. Schiffman,

West Germany: K.L. Janert, L.S. Leshnik


It should be recorded that due to chicanery of government officials, many of the visa requests for scholars from other countries were not accommodated in time.

Preface to the 1974 booklet

Preface to the 1974 booklet



Titles of Research Papers presented in English (arranged in alphabetical order of the researcher’s name)

  1. Ambikaipakan : Some landmarks in the history of Tamil literature of Ceylon.
  2. Aroul: Acrobatics of the word – Studies in multidimensional poetry of Pulavar Gaffoor Sahib vis-à-vis the Calligrams of Guillaume Appellinaire.
  3. Mangaladevi Arulnandhy: A contrastive study of the phonemic system of English with that of Tamil, analyzing the difficulties encountered by the Tamil child in the learning of English pronunciation.
  4. Ponnuthurai Balasundarampillai: The markets and fairs of Northern Ceylon.
  5. V.R. Balasubrahmanyam: Teaching of Tamil to Hindi-speaking adults – some special aspects.
  6. Bertram Emil Bastiampillai: The Indian Tamils of the plantation areas – some explanations for their survival as a distinct entity in Ceylon society.
  7. Brenda Beck: The nature/culture opposition – Does it exist in Tamil folklore?
  8. Kasiviswanathan Chellappan: The Greek element in Cilappathikaram.
  9. J.H. Renato De Sa: The college of St. Paul of Goa and the counter reformation in the island of Ceylon.
  10. Lorna Srimathi Dewaraja: Matrimonial alliances between Tamilnad and the Sinhalese royal family in the Eighteenth century and the establishment of a Madurai dynasty in Kandy.
  11. Carl Gustav Diehl: Can historical references explain the significance of the Aiyappan cult?
  12. Ranee Eliezer: The mango – emissary of Tamil culture.
  13. W.S. Marcus Fernando: A unique statuette of the boy Krishna.
  14. Klaus Ludwig Janert: Syntactical problems in modern Tamil.
  15. Noboru Karashima: Nayaks as the lease-holders of the temple land.
  16. K. Karunakaran: Social stratification and standardization of Tamil dialects.
  17. Carl A. Keller: Mysticism and society in Periyapuraanam.
  18. Bruce W. Kieler: Functional changes in agraharams within the zone of urban influence of Nagarkoil, South India.
  19. Laurence Saadia Leshnik: Pastoral nomadism in the history of South India.
  20. David Wayne McAlpine: Elamite and Dravidian – the morphological evidence.
  21. Sinnathamby Kandiah Maheswaran: Is there a nucleus for a system of classical music in Sri Lanka?
  22. Istvan Major: Tamil elements in the orthography of a South Indian Sanskrit manuscript.
  23. John Ralston Marr: The SOAS/VSO language laboratory course, Tamil.
  24. K.E. Mathiaparanam: What Thiruvaacakam means to a Christian?
  25. Rao Sahib Murugesa Mudaliyar: A critic of nhatchinntanhai of Yokar Cuvamikal (Thought and style of a modern Tamil saint)
  26. Vythialingam MuttuCumaraswamy: Glimpses of the social history of Jaffna under the British rule.
  27. Navaliyur Somasundaram Nadarasa: The Saiva Siddhanta – a textual analysis of the 12 sutras of Meykandar.
  28. Chelliah Nagalingam: Budumuttava Tamil inscriptions, No. 11.
  29. Deva Natarajan: Endowments in Tamil Nadu.
  30. Hugh Francis Owen: The Tamil and Telugu regions, and Gandhi, 1918-1922.
  31. R. Panneerselvam: Stratification of the family system as gleaned from the song story of Cinnannan Cinnaccaami.
  32. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: The kingdom of Jaffna – administrative organization.
  33. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: Cola rule in Ceylon.
  34. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: Coins of the kings of Jaffna
  35. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: A note on the Sanskrit inscriptions from Padaviya.
  36. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: The Vanniyar in medieval South India.
  37. D. N. Punyasiri Perera: The vegetation and soils of the Northern province of Sri Lanka and their agricultural possibilities.
  38. V. Perumal: Some aspects of ancient Tamil society.
  39. P. Poologasingham: Contribution of Ceylonese to the development of Tamil in the Nineteenth century.
  40. Rev. S. Rajamanickam: Robert de Nobili on certain Indian customs.
  41. A.K. Ramanujan: Indian Oedipus – with special reference to Dravidian myth and folktales.
  42. James Thevathasan Rutnam: The Polonnaruwa Colossus.
  43. Vijaya Kumara Samaraweera: Indian Tamil immigrant labour in Ceylon and the land problem – The case of the land development ordinance of 1935.
  44. Arunasalam Sanmugadas: Aspects of the Tamil spoken in Sri Lanka.
  45. Harold F. Schiffman: Comples negation in Tamil – semantic and syntactic aspects.
  46. Somasundaram Selvanayagam: Land use in the ancient Tamil country – a case study of the marutham landscape.
  47. Ravinder Kumar Seth: Doctrine of Karma – Thiruvalluvar’s ‘uuzh’.
  48. Kartigesu Nagalingapillai Velautha Seyon: Coins of the kings of Jaffna.
  49. M. Shanmugampillai: Pronominal usage in kurunthokai.
  50. John Rasalingham Sinnathamby: The Pandyas.
  51. John Rasalingham Sinnathamby: Place names in international atlases – an etymological study.
  52. Vaitiyalingampillai Kartigesapillai Sivaprakasam: Viira Saivites and Tamil literary development in the post-Basava period.
  53. Vinayakamoorthy Sivasamy: Some aspects of the historical traditions of India with special reference to Tamil Nadu.
  54. Vinayakamoorthy Sivasamy: A note on the conquista spiritual de Orienta and the History of Jaffna.
  55. N. Subbu Reddiar: ‘God Soul relationship within’ Nalayiram.
  56. N. Subbu Reddiar: Thiruvalluvar’s philosophy of education.
  57. Swaminathan Suseendirarajah: Sri Lankan Tamil and Indian Tamil – noun systems contrasted.
  58. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: Tamil plakkat relating to inheritance and gift tax under the Dutch rule in Ceylon.
  59. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: The Telugu gypsies of Sri Lanka – a socio-cultural study.
  60. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: Tap and trill articulations in Ceylon Tamil.
  61. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: An experimental study of free variation.
  62. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: The duration of intervocalic stops in Ceylon Tamil – an experimental study.
  63. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: A palatographic study of lengthening.
  64. Sabaratnasingham Thananjarajasingham: The plosives after nasals in Jaffna Tamil, a kymographic study.
  65. Sinnatamby Thillainathan: Recent trends in Ceylon Tamil literature.
  66. Velauthar Kopalapillai Thillainayagam: Tamil typewriter.
  67. Soosaipillai Thomanupillai: Mathoottam and Kattukkaraikkulam (Giant’s Tank).
  68. Mohamed Mahmood Uwise: The spoken Tamil – as a source for the history of Tamil language.
  69. Alvapillai Veluppillai: Inscriptional Tamil – as a source for the history of Tamil language.
  70. Theol Joseph Anton Wicki: The treatise on Hinduism of Fr. Goncale Fernandes S.J. Madurai, 1616.
  71. Fryholm Yngve: Kannappa Nayanar – a rough diamond among saints of Tamil Nadu.


Titles of Research Papers presented in Tamil (arranged in alphabetical order of the researcher’s name)

I provide a tentative English translation of the Tamil title within parenthesis, for the benefit of those who cannot comprehend the Romanized-Tamil script presented here.


  1. M.V. Rajappan Ashok Kumar: Arignar Mu. Varadarasanin naavalkaLLai parriyathoru thiranaivu. (A critical view of the novels of scholar M. Varadarasan)
  1. P. Balasubramanian: Bharathiyar kavithaikalil Thiruvalluvarin selvaaku. (Influence of Thiruvalluvar in the poetry of ‘Subramanya’ Bharathi)
  1. Eliyathamby Balasundaram: Pandaiya kuravai koothum Maddakalappu kulavai poduthalum. (Ancient Kuravai koothu drama form and Batticaloa’s kulavai poduthal)
  1. Elias Cahterine Soosaipillai (Eraipugalvaali): Thamil ennamuthaiyil thalaiyaaya thiruppam. (Prominent twist in Tamil thoughts)
  1. Viswalingam Kanapathipillai Ganesalingam: Poochikalai kaddupaduthuvathu Thamilar panpaadukku murannpaadaanathaa? (Is insect control not agreeable to Tamil culture?)
  1. Era Ganesan: Thamil sorrthodariyal muraiyil kanakkiyar kuriyeedukal. (Mathematical symbols in Tamil prose format)
  1. Vairamuthu Govindapillai: Thamil thattezhutthiyanthiramum Thamil nedunkanakkil ezhuthu seeramaippum. (Tamil typewriter and letter reform in Tamil mathematics)
  1. Kalaparameswaran: Thamilarin ilakkiyath thiranaaivu murai – sila arimuka kurippu. (Some introductory notes on Tamil literary criticism standards)
  1. Thambu Kanagaratnam: Sinhala-Pali mozhikalil Thamil neethi ilakkiyam. (Tamil law literature in Sinhalese and Pali languages)
  1. Maniccavasagar Kanagasabapathy Kanagendran (Eelaventhan): Thiruvempaavaiyum Thiruppaavaiyum). (Thiruvempaavai and Thiruppavai)
  1. K. Mahalingam (Saalini Ilanthiraian): Thamilth than varalaarukalin ilakkiya thakuthippadu.( Literary evaluation of Tamil autobiographies)
  1. R. Mahalingam (Saalai Ilanthiraian): Thamil kavithiyil Maha Kaviyin saathanai. (A record of Mahakavi in Tamil literature)
  1. Nainar Mohamed: Arabuth Thamil. (Arabic Tamil)
  1. Vijayalaxumy Muththukkumaru: Seevaka Sinthamaniyin Kaalam – Thamil, Samaskrutha, Kannada, Prakrutha noolkaludan oor oppeeddu nokku. (The period of Seevaka Sinthamani – a comparative view based on Sanskrit, Kannada and Prakrit books)
  1. D. Nanayakkara: Sinhala-Thamil orrumai (Sinhala-Tamil unity)
  1. Kanapathipillai Navasothy: Thotta tholilalar varalaaru koorum malaiyakath thani paadalkal (Solitary songs that reveal the history of plantation Tamils)
  1. Kanapathipillai Navasothy: Ilankai Inthiya kalai sollaaka muraikalum adippadai verupaadukalum. (The styles of technical terms composition in Ceylon and India, and fundamental differences)
  1. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: Velaikkaara padaikal. (Servant armies)
  1. Sivasubramaniyam Pathmanathan: Eelathuk kaasukal – Pandiyarin nanayankal. (Coins of Eelam – Currencies of Pandiyars)
  1. Ramasamy: Ulagamum udampum uiyum vazhiyum. (The world, body and routes for rejuvenation)
  1. Pulavar S. Rasu: Nadukal vazhipaadu. (Prayers for tombstones)
  1. Karthigesu Ponnambalam Ratnam: Thirukkural mozhipeyarppukal. (Translations of Tirukural)
  1. Sambunathan: Sittha maruthuva sirappu (Merits of Siddha Medicine)
  1. Somasundaram Sandrasegaram: Ilankaiyil pothanaa mozhi maaramathan pinnani parriya aaivu. (Research on the background for change of teaching language in Ceylon)
  1. Mailvaganam Satkunam: Idappeyar varalaaru – Mattakalappu maavaddam. (History of Place names – Batticaloa province)
  1. Kumarasamy Selvachandran: Thamilil sadda mozhipeyarppilulla sikkalkalkal (Complexities in the translation of law material in Tamil)
  1. Kumarasamy Selvachandran: Mozhipeyarppum thani Thamil sorkkalum (Translation and single Tamil words)
  1. Karthigesu Nagalingapillai Velauta Seyon: Eelathu kaasukal – Pandiyarin nanayankal ((Coins of Eelam – Currencies of Pandiyars)
  1. Kodumudi Shanmugam: Iru mozhi thattachchu (Bilingual typewriting)
  1. Sittampalam: Makkalum vishamum (People and toxins)
  1. Sivanesaselvan: Ilankai Thamil pathirikaikalin thorramum valarchiyum – sila kurippukal (Some notes on the origin and growth of Ilankai Tamil newspapers)
  1. Pulavar Nagalingam Sivapathasundaranar: Aha thinaiyil nila muthar porul (Land as a primary item in Ahathinai)
  1. Vinayakamoorthy Sivasamy: Yaalpanaththu kaasukal (Coins from Jaffna)
  1. Aru Somasundaran: Irupathaam nooraandil Thamil kavithai (Poetry in the twentieth century)
  1. Nagaraja Iyer Subramaniam: Eelathu Thamil naavalkal (Tamil novels in Eelam)
  1. S. Sundareswaran (Ezhil Erai): Bharathi Dasan Ulagam (The world of Bharathidasan)
  1. Sinnathamby Thillainathan: Thamil aaka ilakkiya valarchiyil Ilankaiyin panku. (Contribution of Ceylon in Tamil creative writing)
  1. Vasuki: Vallalaar kollkaiyin adippadai samayamaa? Samuthaayamaa? (Is religion or society the fundamental items in ‘Ramalinga’ Vallalaar?)
  1. Pandit Kanthar Veerakathy: Aaitham oru muthalezhuthu maahum (Ah! can be a fundamental alphabet)
  1. Kalaiyarasi Venthanar: Eelathu Pallu pirapanthankal (PaLLu pirapantham literature of Eelam)
Saalai Ilanthiraian 1978 letter to Sachi

Saalai Ilanthiraian 1978 letter to Sachi

Posted .

Filed under Other.

Comments are disabled on this page.