Akademi award for TN writers who revived Sourashtra literature

The literary honour is conferred on authors writing in the language since 2007

The Sahitya Akademi’s ‘Bhasha Samman’ award for Sourashtra language has gone to two writers from Tamil Nadu — T.R. Damodaran and Saroja Sundararajan.

Even though actively spoken, the Sourashtra script went into decline two hundred years ago. With consistent efforts by scholars, it has witnessed a revival.

The Sahitya Akademi award is given to authors writing in the language since 2007.

A former Sanskrit Professor of Sourashtra College in Madurai, Mr. Damodaran won the award for his book Jiva Sabda Kosam, a compilation of 1,333 Sourashtra words with English and Tamil meanings.

“I have included usages in Tamil, English and Sourashtra so that a reader can easily understand the meanings. I have also transliterated them into International Phonetic Alphabet, Sourashtra, Tamil and Devanagari,” said Mr. Damodaran, who was a curator of the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur.

He has a book on the life of Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavathar, a direct disciple of Saint Thyagaraja, to his credit.

The book was the outcome of a workshop held at the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysuru and he had selected 1,333 of the 3,000 words, common to all Sourashtra dialects.

“Only people settled in Tamil Nadu retained their mother tongue, because of the magnanimity of the Tamil people, while the community in many other States adopted the local language,” Mr. Damodaran said, explaining the revival of the script.

Ayyampettai Venkatasoori, a disciple of Venkataramana Bhagavathar, produced a Ramayana in the Sourashtra language in 1800 and later T.N.Ram Roy, a British-era government employee, modified the old script to suit modern times.

Ms. Saroja, a housewife, was chosen for Yogendran Monnum Singaru Latun (in Tamil, ‘Yogendra Thalaivarkalin Manathiley Ezhuntha Azhagiya Alaigal’), a rendition of works of Adi Sankara’s Soundaryalahiri, Kanagadhara and Mahishasuramarthini stotra, Natana Gopala Nayagi Swami’s ‘Mooschi Deshad,’ ‘Subramanian Mahatmiyam’ and songs of Sai Baba. “I have also set them to music and rendered them,” said the 77-year old writer from Madurai, who gave up her school education due to early marriage. Yet, encouraged by her husband, she pursued her education privately, and mastered both Tamil and Sourashtra.

Prayer to Muruga

“I have listened to the hymns of ‘Thirumurugattrupadai’ and poetry of Natana Gopala Nayagi swami, who lived in the Pallava cage in Tiruparankundram. Through the songs, the members of the Sourashtra community make an appeal to Lord Muruga to make an appearance and eat the tasty puliothara prepared by us,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 9:54:02 AM |

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