• Archaeologist Dr. Nagaswamy has effortlessly blended Sanskritic and Tamil traditions
  • The book ‘Tamil Nadu – The Land of the Vedas’ is composed of 20 groups
  • Wars in ancient Tamil country were fought following Dharma Sastra

A book recently launched in Chennai in a special event celebrated the rich history of Tamil Nadu-the people, their ideologies, and the land. Archaeologist, Dr. Ramachandran Nagaswamy’s new book ‘Tamil Nadu – The Land of the Vedas’ helps us take a look back into history.

Dr. Nagaswamy shows attention towards the idea of Vedas as the fountain of Indian and South East Asian civilizations. He also challenges the myth of Tamil Nadu that claims it developed on its own; not a part of India.

The book starts with Sangam kings’ approach that blended Sanskritic with Tamil traditions harmoniously. ‘Both language texts venerated Nature and saw divine manifestation in it and in all animals. Vedic hymns had more references to natural phenomenon. In the first Purananuru song, Chera king Udiyan Cheral is praised as having the essential qualities of the five elements (pancha bhootas),’ reported the Hindu.

The book is composed of 20 groups. The first part covers quite a bit, taking readers through the Vedic tenets, the Sangam age, Tamil epics and bhakti poetry. It begins showing the Sangham king’s approach to blending Sanskritic and Tamil traditions. Blending them was based on the facts that both language texts respect nature; seeing divine manifestation in it as well as animals. It was also noted that wars in ancient Tamil country were fought following Dharma Sastra. The book mentions that the battles were only fought as a last resort; only if individual battles failed.

Tamil Nadu-The Land of Vedas, a book by Dr. Ramachandran Nagaswamy. Image source: www.tamilartsacademy.com
Tamil Nadu-The Land of Vedas, a book by Dr. Ramachandran Nagaswamy. Image source: www.tamilartsacademy.com

The second part shows us how the Vedic knowledge and Tamil traditions coexisted in the medieval period. While, the last part looks at the status of Brahmins today.

Today there is a very British approach to the law, military, and judicial system; it has not always been that way. Until the colonial period, more strongly during the Chola and Pandya rule, native wisdom was held on a higher pedestal.

Ramachandran Nagaswamy in Chennai for the book launch event. Image source: The Hindu
Ramachandran Nagaswamy in Chennai for the book launch event. Image source: The Hindu

The Hindu mentions, one chapter specifically looks at educational institutions. The colleges were located in Ennayiram, Anur, Puttur, Tribhuvanai, Tiruvindalur and Tirumukudal. The typical teacher to student ratio was 1:30; each college only schooling roughly 100-300 students. In all of these colleges students learned Vedas, philosophy and Itihasa. This taught students, that unlike today, in order to run for office to be elected, one must receive an education in law.

Elections were far more elaborate than they are today, ensuring each candidate was qualified. In the 11th century an elected judge could only serve for five years, and could not be reelected for a consecutive five years. Also, when they left office, relatives could not fill their positions for at least two years.

These important historic facts can help today’s generation of learners see how the harmony between Sanskrit and Tamil (thought in ancient) and medieval Tamil Nadu actually helped civilization. The author does a wonderful job of breaking the facts down to his readers, reported the Hindu.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.