German contributions to Tamil language literature and culture during the period 17061945

The West met the East. That is, the Germans from the cold Europe came to Tamil Nadu and interacted with the Tamil people. When two entirely different races, i.e. the visiting Germans and the hosting Tamils met each other what were the resultant features in the mixed heterogeneous society? Which of the indigenous society was adjudged the best by those impartial Germans, are some aspects investigated in this book. This is my doctoral dissertation, published in 1993 by the Saiva Siddhantha Publishers, Chennai through the grants from Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi.

Its contents are: Verse in praise of Tamil. This is the Tamil verse composed by Sundaram Pillai and translated by me in the English and German languages.

Chapter I: Introduction The first Indian to visit Germany was a Tamil scholar 1715 "German Tamilology", a new research area.

Chapter II: "Challenges to and responses from the German missionaries" Lack of coordination between the Danish Crown, Clergy and the Company.

Chapter III : "Tamil learning, grammar and lexicon". In this chapter, various methods adopted by every German missionary had been investigated. Also, the gradational improvement in the way of their Tamil learning and authoring Tamil-German lexicon and grammar are also brought out.

Chapter IV : "Ancient medical heritage of the Tamil people, as observed and reported by the German missionaries". The Germans from the cold polar Europe knew not of hot tropical diseases and corresponding medicines. When they came to Tamil Nadu and suffered from certain tropical diseases for the first time, they were cured by Tamil doctors. Surprise stricken, the Germans wrote down in thousands of their diaries much about Tamil medical system. The Tamils knew of as many as 4448 diseases and medicines. And many more ere-unknown medical secrets were made known to those Germans. The Germans collected many Tamil medical palmleaf bundles and other old manuscripts, translated them into German and sent all those original source materials in remarkable haste by the next available ship to Germany.

Chapter V : "Tamilo-German interactions in certain other areas of natural sciences". The Germans interacted with the Tamils in other areas of natural science such as Botany, Mountaineering, Maths, Geography etc. There had been a conspicuous negligence of their mission of spreading the Gospel as the Germans showed more and more interest for Medicine, Botany and other natural science thus causing "spiritual paralysis".

Chapter VI : "Civilization and lifestyle of the Tamil people, three hundred years ago, as observed and reported by the German missionaries". From tiny ants, to the huge elephants, from the rich riding the palanquins to the poor walking bare-foot, from the new born babies to the age old centenarians, not a single observation had escaped the watchful eyes of those Germans. The rites and rituals, the customs and manners, legends and fables, feasts and festivals, the rich and the poor and many more indigenous aspects drew the attention of the Germans and these overpowered and outshone their very mission, the conversion. Position of women, gender injustice and an eye-witness report of a bride-burying Sati ceremony had been portrayed. This book consists of many German quotations with their English versions. My book had been reviewed in "THE HINDU" newspaper dated 4th June, 1996, p. 28 and in the "International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics" (I.J.D.L.), Vol. XXVII, Nr. 1, January 1998, Trivandrum, pp. 133 138 and also in I.J.D.L., Vol. XXVIII, Nr. 1, 1999, pp. 125 - 128