Opinion Article

Navalar documents: Tamils should work for own revival of culture links

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 June 2014, 03:22 GMT]
Tamil Nadu government should come out with an independent cultural initiative in reviving the identity and involvement of Eezham Tamils in their charities at Chithamparam. Eezham Tamils living in the island, in Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora should be able to participate and be benefitted by the cultural initiative in which education, publication, heritage museum and heritage tourism should get priority. While documentation on the Mutts of Eezham Tamils at Chithamparam from the times of the Kings of Jaffna appeared earlier in TamilNet, the documents currently released on Arumuga Navalar charities at Chithamparam speak for themselves on what the Eezham Tamils should do. There is no substitute to self-initiation in the cultural pursuance of a people.

“It is desirable that the residents of Jaffna should be given an opportunity to interest themselves in the Trust particularly as it owes its inception to a Tamil scholar of Jaffna descent,” says a 1951 Madras High Court judgement on the administration of the charities of Arumuga Navalar at Chithamparam.

Earlier, a 1937 Madras High Court judgement of the British times, appointed the trustee of the Arumuga Navalar School in Jaffna, to look after the school and charities in Chithamparam too. The School in Jaffna deteriorated under Colombo government take-over. The Madras High Court in 1951 identified Jaffna Saiva Paripaalana Sabha and Hindu Board of Education to represent the people of Jaffna in running the Chithamparam charities.

Navalar had declared that the education and other cultural charities established by him at Jaffna and Chithamparam in Tamil Nadu should continue through the academic lineage of his students.

After the demise of Navalar in 1879, the lineage of his students, K. Sathasivappillai, S. Ponnampalapillai and S. Visvanathapillai continued the management. Later, as there was a succession issue, The Madras High Court in 1937, appointed the trustee of Navalar School in Jaffna (T. Kailasapillai) to look after the Chithamparam charities too, according to a clause in the will of Sathasivappillai.

What the Colombo government did with the Navalar School in Jaffna, handed over to it, is well known. The pioneer native educational institution started in the 1840s to challenge colonial education, became a middle school, while Buddhist institutions started after it became universities in the south.

One of the Jaffna organisations, The Hindu Board of Education, identified by the Madras High Court in 1951 to represent the people of Jaffna for the Chithamparam charity, has also become almost defunct, when the organisation handed over more than 250 schools to the Colombo government in 1960.

* * *


The will documents from the time of Arumuga Navalar to Visvanathapillai and the Madras High Court judgements of 1937 and 1951 appear in this column.

Those who could read Tamil should carefully go through the Will Documents to get the feeling and the spirit with which the charities were made and administered.

The court judgements understood the spirit and that’s why they were insisting on the participation of the people of Jaffna.

The feeling and the spirit are what that needed today among the Tamils in Eezham, Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora.

[Maravan Pulavu K. Sachithananthan, who was earlier a member of the Trust Board, representing Jaffna Saiva Paripalana Sabha, kindly provided the copies of the documents in the 1980s. Some information was obtained in 1973, from the late Advocate T. Somasundaram, who was then president of Jaffna Saiva Paripalana Sabha.]


Chronology:


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