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Sanskrit and Tamil

From: Vijay Triplicane (
Date: Thu Feb 05 1998 - 10:10:24 PST

I am submitting this on behalf of Smt. Nagu Satyan.

> Before I address the topic Sanskrit AND Tamil, I would like to present
> the context and the background how this question arose during the
> conference. It took place in our home and I was present during most of
> the discussions. 
> I do not think anyone in that group questioned the fact that for Sri
> Vaishnavas both Vedas (Sanskrit) and Divya Prabhandam (Tamil) are of
> equal importance.  Most Sri Vaishnavas recognize that it is our
> tradition to recite  relevant portions of Vedas and Divya Prabhandam.
> The question arose when it was stated that Tamil is better or easier
> than Sanskrit. The disagreement was not about our Ubhaya Vedantham
> traditions.  We love to hear the Divya Prabhandham recitations comingled
> with Sanskrit Vedas.  We would not have it any other way.  This may be
> because we were exposed to that sampradAyam very early in life and has
> become first nature to us.  It could also be because of the fact that we
> as Sri Vaishnavas are emotional about the issues (I am one of them) or
> may be a few understand a little bit the meanings behind the
> recitations.  For us the mangala arathi without Sarrumurai  (In Tamil)
> would be difficult to comprehend.  
> If we look at the topic purely from the language perspective and from
> our ancient history, Sanskrit has been identified as language of the
> Gods.  This does not imply that other languages are not recognized,
> important or spoken by the Gods.
> Yes, Tamil is one of the oldest  Indian languages.  It is also my mAthru
> bhAshyam. We converse in Tamil with the children and adults and
> relatives from Tamil Nadu, and converse in Kannada with our
> sisters/brothers etc. With my upbringing in Karnataka and having been
> exposed to Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi, I still think that Tamil
> is more difficult to learn compared to other languages.
> This does not mean Tamil is not a beautiful language.  Nor does it mean
> that our Archanas should be only in Sanskrit or only in Tamil.  The
> reaction so far has been to defend Tamil from our Sri Vaishnava
> SampradAyam.  I do not think that is the issue. Even though the article
> reposted recently here might be based on a political platform, I think
> we need to look at it with a broader perspective of all Hindus.
> The question that could be asked is why Tamil did not become popular and
> become the spoken language in the adjoining regions.  Where was the need
> for Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam? (I have read the  story that at the end
> of Rama's avatharam on the earth, He is supposed to have punished Sage
> Agasthyar for rushing in to the chambers.  The curse was that Tamil as a
> language would be dormant for a long time till the advent of the
> Azhwars.)  
> Why did Saint Thyagaraja prefer to compose music in Telugu even though
> he was raised in Tamilnadu near Tanjore?   Could it be that Telugu as a
> language is softer and easier to sing with emphasis on vowels, similar
> to Western Classical Music composers who have used Italian in most of
> the major operas? Why did Mutthuswamy  Dikshithar choose Sanskrit for
> his great compositions?  Sri Purandara Dasa family origin is from Poona
> (I think Marati language).  He composed in Kannada.  Granted that
> Kannada and Telugu have lot of Sanskrit words, with some Tamil.  Of
> course we have great Carnatic Music Compositions in Tamil also.  I am
> glad that more and more Musicians are rendering at the concerts Tamil
> Compositions of, including Azhwars' pasurams, Papanasam Sivan, Ambujam
> Krishnan, Oothikaadu etc. 
> My assessment still is that Tamil is relatively more difficult to learn
> compared to Sanskrit.  This does not mean that I am against Tamil nor am
> I a Sanskrit fanatic!  As individuals we do have the option not to
> accept another person's assessment.  What is difficult for one may be
> easy for another! 
> Nagu Satyan