Lesson - 2 : A04142
HISTORY OF TAMIL LITERATURE
IN THE 17th CENTURY
This lesson tells you about the growth of Saivaite and Vaishnavaite literature, the grammatical works which appeared at this time, and the service rendered by the Christians to Tamil during the 17th century.
Two great poets patronised by the mutts during this period were Sivapprakaasar and Kumaragurubarar. People preferred works on moral philosophy, and hence many such works were produced. Translations of puraanas, grammatical works, and commentaries were written. Christian missionaries who came to India to preach, learnt Tamil well enough to write books in that language.
Under the patronage of the Naicker kings, the Christians set up missionaries to propagate Christianity. The Saivaites too, promoted Saivism through their mutts. Ellappa Naavalar who was educated in the Dharmapuri Aadheenam, composed செவ்வந்திப் புராணம், தீர்த்தகிரிப் புராணம், செங்காட்டங்குடி புராணம், திருவிரிஞ்சைப் புராணம் and திருவெண்காட்டுப் புராணம். He also wrote a commentary on the famous Sanskrit work, Soundarya Lahiri.
The contribution of the Christian missionaries to Tamil literature during this century, is noteworthy. Robert de Nobili, born in Italy, came to India in 1606, learnt Tamil and wrote 17 books, many of which have been lost to us. He has the distinction of having written the first prose work in Tamil. Father Henrick, a Portuguese by birth, came to South India, and was the first to print the Bible in Tamil. He is therefore called the father of Tamil printing. His “Documenta Indica”, a collection of verses, serves as a treasure house of historical details.
During this century, ziegenbalg, a German preacher came to India to propagate Protestantism. He settled in Tarangambadi and set up a paper factory and a printing press there. He also wrote a comparative grammar of Tamil and Latin, and a Tamil - Latin dictionary. Another European missionary, Abbe Dubois, wrote the book இந்துக்களின் பழக்க வழக்கங்களும் சடங்குகளும்.
Thus, the 17th century saw the advent of the Christian missionaries from Europe, and the introduction of a new religion and printing. At the same time, Saivism and Vaishnavism also contributed their share to Tamil literature.