Dakshinamurthy Ayyaswami (b. 1938), an eminent Tamil scholar, also proficient in English is a renowned Professor of Tamil, with over three decades of collegiate teaching service. He is an established writer, orator, researcher and a celebrated English translator of Tamil Literature who bagged the prestigious ‘Tolkappiar Viruthu‘ (2015)—the Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement in Classical Tamil for Translation.
Besides being an acknowledged authority on the Classical Tamil corpus, especially the Sangam literature, he is also a pioneer in the sphere of complete translations of the same. Driven by his passion to propagate the glory of ancient Tamil literature to the world at large, Dakshinamurthy, since 1980s has devoted his life to the cause of Tamil through translation. Due to his sustained efforts, by 2012, he accomplished for the very first time the complete, accurate and faithful English translations of 19 Classical Tamil Books—13 Sangam anthologies and 6 Patinenkilkanakku works. The credit of offering the first complete translation of the Akananuru (1999) goes to him; it is his magnum opus. He is the first scholar to offer a faithful English translation of Natrinai in 2001. He is also the first scholar to translate all the six Akam books of the Patinenkilkanakku division into English in 2010.
In addition to translating the Classical Tamil works, he focuses on the translation of medieval and modern Tamil literature. He is one of the early pioneers who propagated the works of the revolutionary Tamil poet Bharathidasan through translation; he offered the first English translations of the poet’s seven earliest Tamil works.
His first publication, the acclaimed history book in Tamil, “Thamizhar Nagarikamum Panpadum (The history and culture of the Tamils, 1973)” has remained popular among the Tamils for over 44 years and has seen 11 reprints and a second edition. His scholarly commentary to the Sangam classic, Ainkurunuru bears testimony to his erudition in the classical texts. Several of his research papers, both in Tamil and English are original contributions with ground breaking findings, throwing a new light on aspects of history, culture, language, grammar and literature of the Tamils.
As an accomplished writer and translator of Tamil literature, he has to his credit 4 scholarly books in Tamil, and the English translations of 31 Tamil works—19 classical, 3 medieval and 9 modern. At the age of 80, he ceaseless works on the translation and research of Classical Tamil Literature; he currently has 15 Tamil works, both ancient and medieval, awaiting publication.
The Government of Tamilnadu honored him twice—in 1991, with the “Bharathidasan Certificate of Merit” for the book ‘The Poems of Bharathidasan – A Translation” and in 2003, with the prestigious Bharathidasan Award. The Government of India honored him with the Indian President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Classical Tamil, the Tolkappiar Viruthu(2015). He bagged the Thisai-Ettum Translation Award for Kurutokai in 2012, BAPASI’s Kalaignar Porkili Award in 2013, S.R.M University’s G. U. Pope Translation Award for Pattuppaattu in 2017 and several other lifetime achievement awards and titles from institutions, both governmental and private.