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- 46 days ago via site
Constanzo Beschialso (Tamil: வீரமாமுனிவர்)
Constanzo Beschi, also known under his Tamil name of Vīramāmunivar (Tamil: வீரமாமுனிவர்) or Constantine Joseph Beschi (in English) (8 November 1680 – 4 February 1747) was an Italian Jesuit priest, Missionary in South India, and renowned poet in the Tamil language.
Early years and formation
Born in Castiglione delle Stiviere, Mantova, Italy, a place very close to the family castle of Aloysius Gonzaga, Beschi got his secondary education in the Jesuit High School of Mantova. After becoming a Jesuit in 1698 he was trained in Ravenna and Bologna from where he requested, and obtained, from Superior General Michelangelo Tamburini the permission to be sent to the Madurai mission in South India. Sailing from Lisbon he reached Goa in October 1710, from where he proceeded immediately to South India. He arrived in Madurai in May 1711.
In Tamil Nadu (Madurai Mission)
Beschi at Madurai Mission
During the first six years, he worked as missionary in Elakurichy (ஏலாக்குறிச்சி), a town near Tiruchirapalli. Then he served as parish priest in Kamanayakkanpatti one of the oldest mission centers in Tamil Nadu. Also he visited several important centers such as Tirunelveli, Ramanathaparam, Thanjavur and of course Madurai, in order to learn the Tamil language. He met with persecution in 1714-15, and escaped a death sentence thanks to the influence of a Hindu friend. The hostility of local kings prevented him from visiting Christian communities. This gave him more time to master the Tamil language in which he soon showed an astonishing proficiency. Thus he discovered that he would be a missionary of the pen.
Inspired by what was done in China Beschi adopted an Indian life style and introduced a touch of Hindu esthetics even in the Christian statuary. Similarly the churches he built (Poondi Matha Basilica at Poondi near Trichy, Periyanayagi maadha shrine at Konankuppam, and Adaikala maadha shrine at Elakurichi) in their architectonic lines, are inspired by Hindu temples. These churches are now Catholic pilgrim centers. There are two teak wooden cars built by him is still there in Kamanayakkanpatti which is another example for his Hindu inspiration. He made himself a sannyasi (Indian ascetic) and adopted their saffron coloured dress. His facility in making friendship, along with his cultural competence and obvious religious commitment gave him much influence which he used in order to protect Christians against exploitation and persecution. He is said to have baptized 12,000 people. He worked in the Thanjavur area till 1738 and settled in 1740 on the Coromandel coast where he remained till the end of his life. He died at Ambazhakad, Kerala, India.
Master of Tamil literature
Even though he was primarily a missionary, he is also known, in a broader circle, as one of the classical writers of Tamil literature. Besides composing a literary Tamil grammar, he also wrote a grammar for the common use of Tamil – the first to do so – which earned him the title of Father of Tamil prose. He compiled several Tamil dictionaries: including the Chaturakarati (சதுரகராதி), the quadruple lexicon containing words, synonyms, categories of words, and rhymes; a Tamil-Latin and Latin-Tamil-Portuguese dictionary.
His greatest poetical work is the Thembavani (தேம்பாவணி) (the Unfading Garland), an extraordinary epic poem – 3615 stanzas long – on Salvation history and the life of Saint Joseph. It is considered a classic of Tamil literature. He also wrote a prabandham (one of the minor literature) called Kavalur Kalambagam (காவலூர் கலம்பகம்), a grammatical treatise called Thonnool (தொன்னூல்), a guide book for catechists with the title Vedhiyar Ozukkam (வேதியர் ஒழுக்கம்), and Paramarthaguruvin kathai (பரமார்த்த குருவின் கதை), a satirical piece on a naive religious teacher and his equally obtuse disciples. In prose he left us polemical writings against the Lutheran missionaries and didactic religious books for the instruction of Catholics. He prepared a vademecum for newly arrived missionaries.
A man of dialogue
Local traditions abound of stories of Beschi challenging Hindu ascetics and winning debates over them. Yet his Thembavani meaning “ornament of poems as sweet as honey” is proof that he had a positive approach to Hinduism, as he often uses phrases, ideas and myths characteristic of Hinduism. The same spirit of dialogue and admiration for the Tamil culture led him to translate and explain in Latin the famous Thirukkural epic poem of Thiruvalluvar (1730). This Latin work was an eye opener for European intellectuals, discovering truth and beauty in a Tamil literature. They also found it to contain many thoughts similar to Christianity.
Beschi was no doubt one of the best known Jesuits of the 18th century in Tamil Nadu. In 1968 the State of Tamil Nadu erected a statue for Beschi on the Marina beach in the City of Madras (Chennai), as a recognition for his contribution to the Tamil language and literature.
- 59 days ago via site
In Tamil national mysticism
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamil nationalists came to identify Kumari Kandam with Lemuria, a hypothetical “lost continent” posited in the 19th century to account for discontinuities in biogeography. In these accounts, Kumari Kandam became the “cradle of civilization”, the origin of human languages in general and the Tamil language in particular. These ideas gained notability in Tamil academic literature over the first decades of the 20th century, and were popularized by the Tanittamil Iyakkam, notably by self-taught DravidologistDevaneya Pavanar, who held that all languages on earth were merely corrupted Tamil dialects.
R. Mathivanan, then Chief Editor of the Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project of the Government of Tamil Nadu, in 1991 claimed to have deciphered the still undeciphered Indus script as Tamil, following the methodology recommended by his teacher Devaneya Pavanar, presenting the following timeline (cited after Mahadevan 2002):
ca. 200,000 to 50,000 BC: evolution of “the Tamilian or Homo Dravida“,
ca. 200,000 to 100,000 BC: beginnings of the Tamil language
50,000 BC: Kumari Kandam civilisation
20,000 BC: A lost Tamil culture of the Easter Island which had an advanced civilisation
16,000 BC: Lemuria submerged
6087 BC: Second Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
3031 BC: A Chera prince in his wanderings in the Solomon Island saw wild sugarcane and started cultivation in Kumari Kandam.
1780 BC: The Third Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
7th century BC: Tolkappiyam (the earliest known extant Tamil grammar)
Mathivanan uses “Aryan Invasion” rhetoric to account for the fall of this civilization:
“After imbibing the mania of the Aryan culture of destroying the enemy and their habitats, the Dravidians developed a new avenging and destructive war approach. This induced them to ruin the forts and cities of their own brethren out of enmity”.
Mathivanan claims his interpretation of history is validated by the discovery of the “Jaffna seal”, a seal bearing a Tamil-Brahmi inscription assigned by its excavators to the 3rd century BC (but claimed by Mathivanan to date to 1600 BC).
Mathivanan’s theories are not considered mainstream by the contemporary university academy internationally.
Kumari Kandam appeared in the The Secret Saturdays episodes “The King of Kumari Kandam” and “The Atlas Pin.” This version is a city on the back of a giant sea serpent with its inhabitants all fish people.
Loss and imagination
Sumathi Ramaswamy’s book, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories (2004) is a theoretically sophisticated study of the Lemuria legends that widens the discussion beyond previous treatments, looking at Lemuria narratives from nineteenth-century Victorian-era science to Euro-American occultism, colonial, and post colonial India. Ramaswamy discusses particularly how cultures process the experience of loss.
Professor Karsten M. Storetvedt, the chair in geomagnetism at the University of Bergen, Norway, and an author of the Global Wrench Theory (GWT), says that the equator regions have always been most prone to natural catastrophes like earthquakes and volcano eruptions. A part of explanation is that planet rotation and especially the difference in rotation speed between poles and equator force earth mantel to strain and to break more easily where the strain is strongest, that is at the equator regions. These tectonic processes played important role in the disappearance of the ancient continent known as Lemuria to western scholars. Sri Lanka together with India, Indonesia and Malaysia were a part of this continent. Many islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans are remnants of this continent that in ancient time covered the whole area of today’s ocean. Storetvedt, who seems to reject the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics, says that descriptions of cataclysms in early literature when land suddenly went underwater are logical. But they should be proven to be scientific facts. This can be done with the help of sea-floor analysis that is possible to carry out. Modern theories find supportive evidences both in ancient literature and language history.
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- 60 days ago via site