Dakshinamurthy Ayyaswami (b. 1938) is an eminent professor of Tamil, also proficient in English, with over three decades of collegiate teaching service. He is a renowned Tamil scholar, writer, researcher, orator and a celebrated English translator of classical, medieval and modern Tamil literature. He has to his credit, 4 scholarly books in Tamil, and the English translations of 31 Tamil books—19 classical, 3 medieval, 9 modern. He is the recipient of the Indian President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Classical Tamil, the Tolkappiar Viruthu(2015).
His first publication, the acclaimed history book in Tamil, “Thamizhar Nagarikamum Panpadum (The history and culture of the Tamils, 1973, second revised edition, 2018)” has remained popular worldwide among the Tamils for over 44 years. His scholarly commentary to the Sangam classic, Ainkurunuru stands testimony to this erudition in the classical texts. 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 the Classical Tamil literature to the world through translation, he has devoted his life to the cause since the 1980s. By his sustained efforts, he for the first time, accomplished the complete and faithful English translations of 19 classical Tamil works—13 Sangam anthologies and 6 Patinenkilkanakku books. The credit of offering the first complete translation of the Akananuru (1999) goes to him; it is his magnum opus. He is also the first scholar to translate into English, the six Akam books of the Patinenkilkanakku division (2010). He gave the first faithful English translation of Natrinai in 2001. In addition to translating the Classical Tamil works, he also focuses on the 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. He has rendered three medieval books into English—Abirami Anthathi, Neethi Venba and Perumal Tirumozhi.
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. At the age of 80, he ceaselessly works on the translation and research of Classical Tamil Literature; he currently has 15 Tamil works, both ancient and medieval, awaiting publication.
He is the recipient of the Indian President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Classical Tamil, the Tolkappiar Viruthu(2015). The Government of Tamilnadu honored him with the prestigious Bharathidasan Award in 2003. He received the “Bharathidasan Certificate of Merit” from the Government of Tamilnadu in 1991 for the book, ‘The Poems of Bharathidasan – A Translation”. He bagged the Thisai-Ettum Translation Award for Kurutokai (2012), BAPASI’s Kalaignar Porkili Award (2013), SRM University’s G. U. Pope Translation Award for Pattuppaattu (2017) and several other lifetime achievement awards and titles from institutions both governmental and private.