Terms such as Aryanisation and Sanskritisation have to be avoided in the discussion of Tamil history as they cannot do justice to the Tamil spirit of independence, observed M.G.S. Narayanan, former chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research.
Tamils were never Aryanised completely and never lost their identity in language and culture. Tamils are the only people in India, other than the tribal Adivasis, to have retained their original language and national personality in spite of a good deal of Aryan influence, he said, inaugurating the 16th annual session of Tamil Nadu History Congress at the National College in the City on Friday.
“Aryan groups from the North had not gained ascendancy, the Aryan ‘chaturvarnya’ (four caste system) system had not taken roots in Tamil society and Aryan institutions like the Brahmanical temple had not developed as a central institution in Tamil villages during the Sangam Age. All these happened to a large extent in parts of Tamizhagam by the 7th century when the Aryanised Pallavas acquired hegemony over the Tamil country. There was Aryan domination in polity and society, but not Aryanisation which signifies complete replacement with Tamil culture with Aryan culture. We have to distinguish between Aryan domination and Aryanisation,” he said.
“We have to accept the historical fact of the Aryan Brahmin domination in Tamil society for many centuries. Sill the Tamil culture was not completely suppressed or wiped out,” he said. In this context, Aryanisation is a misnomer and the coinage of the term to denote the dawn of history in South India is misleading, Mr. Narayanan said.
S. Muthukumaran, former member secretary, Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education, said history should not be viewed as a separate discipline of its own and emphasised the need for using the knowledge of other scientific disciplines to understand the pre-historic period of the country.
T.R. Ramachandran, former principal, Pachaiyappa’s College, who was installed as the president of the congress on the occasion, delivered a lecture on the diplomacy and the policy which the Tamil states pursued towards their neighbours in the past and their impact on Tamil polity and society.
Eminent epigraphist, Iravatham Mahadevan, was honoured on the occasion and conferred with the title, ‘Distinguished and Eminent Epigraphist of Tami Nadu Par Excellence.’ The citation presented to him by Mr. Ramachandran said the title was conferred on him in recognition of original research contributions to Indian and Tamil epigraphy. His contributions to Indus script and Tamil epigraphy had earned him an international reputation, it said.
T. Ramasamy, Registrar, Bharathidasan University, N. Rajendran, Head, Department of History, Bharathidasan University, K. Raghunathan, Secretary, National College, K. Anbarasu, principal, National College, S. Kailasam, Head, Department of History, National College, and, K. Pandiyan, Local Secretary, TN History Congress, spoke.