Ayyaswami Dakshinamurthy

Prof.A.DakshinamurthyDr. A. Dakshinamurthy is a Tamil scholar, researcher, writer and a translator of Sangam, medieval and modern Tamil literature into English. He had his initiation and growth in Tamil studies under Tamil luminaries like Dr. T. P. Meenakshisundaran and Mahavidwan S. Dhandapani Desikar. Having served as a teacher for 33 years in various institutions in Tamil Nadu, he retired in 1996 as the Principal of Senthamil Arts College, Madurai Tamil Sangam, Madurai.

The professor is a profound Tamil scholar with rich knowledge of classical Tamil and clear understanding of ancient Tamil culture and its civilization. As one who is also proficient in the English language, he has successfully transferred his long experience spanning over 30 years in studying, teaching and research of Ancient Tamil literature to the field of translation. By his sustained labor since 1987, he has accomplished complete, dependable, accurate and faithful English translation of 19 ancient Tamil classics. Among them 13 are Sangam works belonging to the Patinenmelkanakku division and 6 are works belonging to the Patinenkilkanakku division.

Apart from his contributions towards popularization of Classical Tamil through translation, he also has to his credit Tamil books,  commentaries to Sangam classics and several research papers elaborately dealing with Classical Tamil literature and ancient Tamils. His contribution to the translation of medieval Bhakthi literature and modern Tamil literature are equally significant. He is also a pioneer in propagating Bharathidasan’s works through translation. He has published the translation of seven narrative poems of Bharathidasan’s earliest works.

Dr. Dakshinamurthy’s unique accomplishments:

  • He has the credit of translating the maximum number of ancient Tamil literature belonging to the Classical corpus.
  • He is the first to achieve the rare feat of translating 13 Sangam Classics in their entirety between the years 1999 and 2012
  • “Akananuru – The Akam Four Hundred”, his magnum opus, published in the year 1999 is the first complete translation of the Sangam anthology, Akananuru.
  • As per the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, his “Narrinai Four Hundred” is the first faithful translation of Natrinai.
  • “Kuruntokai – An Anthology of Classical Poetry”, which bagged him the Nalli-Thisai ettum award in 2012, is the second complete translation of Kuruntokai after a span of 31 years since the first translation appeared in 1976. His work is considered the first error-free translation of the classic.
  • He is the second scholar to translate all of the ten books of Pathuppaattu in the year 2012, after a wide gap of 66 years, since the first work appeared in 1946.
  • He edited the translated texts of Pathuppaattu in favor of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, after perusing 36 texts available both in verse and prose.
  • The six books included in “Patinenkilkkannakku -Works on Akam theme” are the first complete translations of the classics:
    1. Karnarpatu
    2. Ainthinai Aimpathu
    3. Aintinai Elupathu
    4. Tinaimoli Aimpathu
    5. Tinaimalai Nurraimpatu
    6. Kainnilai

    A special feature of this work is he has with illustration, demonstrated the great influence the Sangam classics had on the six books in the collection.

  • Until 2012, the published works of Dakshinamurthy contain 5175 metrical lines of Classical poetry.
  • Major portion of his works are included in the publication series of Central Institute of Classical Tamil.
  • He is the author of two scholarly books of commentaries to Sangam classics, Ainkurunuru and Paripadal.
  • He is the first to translate Bharathidasan’s seven narrative poems namely Sancheevi Paruvatthin Saral, Puratchikavi, Kathala Kadamaya, Kadal Mel Kumizhikal, Thamizhachiyin Katthi, Irunda Veedu and Nalla Theerppu.
  • His book on the history and culture of Tamilnadu, “Thamizhar Nagarikamum Panpaadum”, published in 1973, reprinted several times due to its immense popularity, elaborately deals with almost all the aspects of ancient Tamils from the Sangam age upto the modern era. It is a work of cultural anthropology which is followed as either a text book/ reference book in many universities of Tamilnadu. It is a much sought after book by candidates appearing for IAS and IPS exams.
  • ‘Sanga Ilakkiyangal Unarthum Manitha Uravugal’ published in the year 2001, his Ph.D. thesis (1988) deals elaborately with all the kinships dealt with in the Sangam classics based on cultural anthropology.
  • He has translated A. S. Gnansampandam’s Sahitya Akademi award-winning book, ‘Kamban Oru Pudhiya Parvai’ into English. Sahitya Akademi published it under the title, ‘Kamban – A New Perspective’ in 2013

Translations of Purananuru, Pathitruppathu, Naladiyar, Thirikadukam, Inna Narpathu, Iniyavai Narpathu, Kalavazhi Narpathu, Naanmanik Kadigai, Thirukkural, Muthollayiram, Vaakundaam Nal Vazhi and Thiruvampaavai, Thiruppavai are all ready for publication. His goal is to accomplish the translation of the entire collection of Tamil classical literature into English.

Professor Dakshinamurthy has won several awards for his contribution to the cause of Tamil. The Government of Tamilnadu has honored him twice. He is the winner of  the prestigious Bharathidasan Award(2003), Nalli-Thisai Ettum Translation award(2012), Kalaignar Porkili Award(2013) and lifetime-achievement awards from several Tamil Sangams and institutions.

To learn more about him and his works, please go through the various sections of the blog.

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