P. Saravanan may be a post-graduate Tamil teacher at a Chennai Corporation School, but his better known avatar as a scholar and publisher recently won him an award instituted in the name of late writer Sundara Ramasamy.
“As a school teacher I am left with little time for research and enjoy none of the advantages of college teachers, when it comes to government funded projects,” said Saravanan, who has written and published 19 books so far.
In the past, the award was given to creative writers, but Neithal, the organisation that set up the award, decided to honour 40-year-old Saravanan this time, taking into consideration his contribution.
Though he caught the attention of the Tamil literary and research world with the publication of six volumes of the unpublished works of Mailyai Seeni Venkatasami, an authority on the Kalapirar period in Tamil history, Saravanan’s deep knowledge of the late Vallalar manifested in the voluminous work Arutpa-Marutpa, a compilation of discourses on the greatness of Tiruvaruta and the writing of those who questioned it.
Yazhpanam Arumuga Navalar and his student Kathiraiver Pillai spearheaded the campaign against Vallalar and it gave birth to a new kind of satire imbued with savage personal attacks.
While his devotion for Vallalar led to him bringing out a classic edition of his Manumurai Kanda Vasagam, he published Naladiayar with notes, as he was fascinated by the Tamil literary works of Jain scholars.
“Not much attention was paid to Pathinenkeezh Kanakku works in Tamil. Even Tamil Thatha U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer has not paid attention to these works. My Naladiayar can be understood even by a 10th standard student,” Saravanan said.
Saravanan’s other contribution is the publication of Kalingathu Parani, a 15th century literary work, with notes.
“It is my mission to bring out all Pathinenkeezh Kanakku works with notes that will be accessible even to the layman,” said Saravanan, who has proved his knowledge of modern literature by publishing Rajam Iyer’s Kamalambal Charithiram.
“Over a period of time things, which were not written by me were included in the work, while other things found to be not in good taste were removed. I have ensured that what Rajam Iyer has written has seen the light of the day without distortion,” he said.