LIFE

Scholarly pursuits

N. Chandrasekhara Nair is known as `Kerala Tulasidas' for translating the `Ramacharitmanas' into Malayalam. In a chat with <145,4>Shyama Rajagopal, he explains his passion for Hindi language and literature.

A YOUNG teacher in 1952 walked into the Intermediate class - all-nervous and with a big handkerchief safely tucked in the pocket. His was to

deliver a lecture on Premchand. At the end of sixty minutes, the students stood up and applauded. The principal of M.G. College, Thiruvananthapuram, at that time, Narayana Pillai, congratulated him.

That was a dream come true. N. Chandrasekhara Nair has since then and even before made many a dream a reality by sheer hard work. So disciplined and dedicated is Dr. Nair that today's generation would perhaps shun such perseverance.

A Gandhian to the core, Dr. Nair feels that these values are perhaps not understood in the right spirit by today's generation.

"I used to have a lot of Malayalam students too attending my class. The class strength used to be about 100-150'', says Dr. Nair reminiscing his first college lectures. "Implementation of Hindi is not being done with a focus'', observes Dr. Nair regarding the teaching of Hindi in the schools here.

A Hindi litterateur from Kerala, Dr. Nair is well known in the North for his contribution to Hindi literature. His first major publication in Hindi was by the Agra University in 1956, which had invited contributions on Historical Novels in Malayalam Literature (`Malayalam Sahitya mein Ithihasik Upanyas'), which was included in a book called Indian literature.

He was the first to translate Tulasidas' `Ramacharitmanas' into Malayalam, which was published by the newspaper `Malayali' continuously as a column for two years from 1953. Earlier, he had written some short stories, poems and essays in `Malayala Rajyam' in 1949-50.

His writings on `Ramacharitmanas' earned him the title of `Kerala Tulasidas' given to him by the critic and writer, Guptan Nair. He has also received a number of awards and certificates for his wide-ranging contribution to Hindi, including the Professor Emeritus title from the University Grants Commission.

His father, N. Neelakanta Pillai, died when he finished his Class VII VSLC (Vernacular School Leaving Certificate) and his mother could not send him to school. It was during this time that Mahatma Gandhi gave a call to learn Hindi. Many followers of Gandhi took up the task of spreading Hindi and Chandrasekharan came across a Hindi teacher from Kottarakara. Among the group of 8-10 students, only he continued with his Hindi studies.

The year was 1935 and Dr. Nair was about 15 years old. Step by step he cleared the various examinations, the first being the Rastra Bhasha Visharatha.

He was one of the three students who cleared the Madras Matriculation preparing 8-9 subjects on his own. When the Travancore University introduced the Viduan exam, he appeared for it.

A Viduan could sit for the BA examinations, said Dr. Nair, explaining his next step. Later on he went on to take his MA from the Banaras Hindu University in 1957. He was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy in 1977 from the Bihar University on his thesis on `Hindi Aur Malayalam ke do Symbolik Kavi' (comparative study on two poets in Hindi and Malayalam). `Dwiveni' was his first published play in 1962. `Kath ka Kafan' was published by `Sarika' magazine. He has authored many works in Hindi. But that is not all, he has also written in Malayalam -- `Seethamma' and Chaturangam published in 1974 are just two of his works.

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