Deciphering palm-leaf manuscripts, Ma. Ve Pasupathi has published 40 literary works. He recently received the prestigious U Ve Sa award for this singular work. T. S. Atul Swaminathan in conversation with the scholar

A few minutes into a conversation with Ma. Ve. Pasupathi, it is clear this Tamil scholar follows closely in the footsteps of the grand-father of Tamil literature, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer.

And it is fitting that he has received U Ve Sa award by the Tamil Nadu Government for his contribution to Tamil literature, especially compiling palm leaf manuscripts and handwritten manuscripts. The award was conferred on him by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on April 15 at the Secretariat.

Ma. Ve. Pasupathi has published 40 Tamil literary works from palm-leaf manuscripts, written more than 70 research articles, and plain-texted eight literary works, including 1,832 songs in Thirupudai Marudur Puranam. He is a former honorary curator of Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer library, Besant Nagar.

‘More than 16,000 people in 30 districts across the State are in possession of 5, 84, 134 Tamil palm leaf manuscripts. But till date, it has been difficult to find what has been written. The need of the hour is experts, who can read and translate these manuscripts,” says Pasupathi. Restoring palm-leaf manuscripts will bring many classical Tamil literature works to light, he adds.

Dr. Uttamadhanapuram Venkatasubbaiyer Swaminatha Iyer played an instrumental role in publishing long-forgotten works of classical Tamil literature that lay encrypted in palm leaves, he points out.

He adds, “The writings on palm-leaf manuscripts can be in Tamil, Sanskrit or Grand alibi dating back to 18 or 19 century.

The ability to understand where a poem or prose ends and begins has to be mastered.”

Ma. Ve. Pasupathi can be contacted at  9444881281.

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