Epigraphs play an important role in doing research on our cultural history said R. Chanbakalakshmi, Retired Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, here on Monday.

Delivering the convocation address at the Tamil University, Prof. Chanbakalakshmi said that epighraps available in our temples should be looked beyond religion. Temples should be considered as part of the cosmos and subjected to research. In fact, information available in the epigraphs of temples vary in subjects. They contain information about social, economic and technological changes. They also throw light on agriculture, urbanisation etc. From epigraphs one can understand how towns like Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Kanchipuram emerged as cultural centres.

Epigraphs show the temples as not only religion oriented but also as social and political institutions.

Chanbakalakshmi paid rich tributes to Iravatham Mahadevan, epigraphist who established that epigraphs available in Tamil Nadu are in Tamil language only. He also established that literacy was high in those days.

Iravatham Mahadevan also established that Tamil-Brami epigraphs available in caves belonged to dravidian language. Only a few words were taken from Brahmi script.

Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Tamil Nadu, who is the Chancellor of the University, presided over the convocation. He conferred D.Litt (Honoris Causa) degrees on Tamil writer Jayakanthan, Epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan and Musicologist P. Ramathilagam at the convocation.

K. Ponmudi, State Minister for Higher Education, appealed to those who got Ph.Ds in the convocation to continue their research. While getting employment is important, it is also important that they should continue their research. Tamil University has grown from strength to strength and has carried forward its research activity. It is heartening to note that there are 1,39,781 books and 334 Journals in Tamil University library.

He said that the University should try to create the Tamil feeling in the minds of people. "Reading Tamil and reading in Tamil is one thing but having a Tamil feeling is different. Even Tamil teachers and scholars want their children to read in English and call them Mummy and daddy. This should be changed by Tamil University", the Minister said.

He reiterated that Tamil will be the medium of instruction and English the link language in Tamil Nadu.

M. Rajendran, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil University said that Tamil University has released 410 research books in the past 28 years. A centre for performing arts is being created in the University. Kanimozhi MP has given Rs. 1 crore for the centre from her Local Area Development fund. The University along with South Zone Cultural Centre is involved in producing 25 Thamizhisai CDs. Out of them thirteen have already been released.

A total of 176 candidates got Ph.Ds, 914 candidates received M.Phil degrees, 528 post-graduate degrees and 101 received degrees at the convocation.