THE FOURTH THAMILZ SANGAM
OF MADURAI




BY

KADAARA THAMILZ PERARIGNYAR
DR.S.JAYABARATHI
JayBee

       Pandithurai Thevar (1867-1911 AD) was a great and versatile scholar and poet belonging to the royal house of the Sethupathis of Ramanathapuram. He was the Zamindar of Palavanatham. He was also a patron of arts, literary works, scholasticism, and poesy. He was invited to many places to give talks.
        A detailed biography can be seen at Panduthurai Thevar page. 
   
        One day, he was invited to Madurai.
        For his speech, he needed references from ThirukkuRaL and KambaRamayanam books.
        He sent people to get them for him.
        But the books were not available anywhere. No shops sold them.
        When the Thevar came to know this he was overcome with limitless grief.
        Madurai was the Home of Tamil Sangam.
        Tamil was nurtured there.
        In that very place, these two books which were the sheet anchor for the field of Tamil Literature, were not not available.
        Thus was the fate of Mother Tamil!

        He resolved then and there, that he would form a new Tamil Sangam and bring up Mother Tamil to Her former glory.
         In 1901, a big meeting was held in Madurai. It was the State of Madras political general meeting. Pandithurai Thevar himself took an important role in convening it and Thevar was the main person doing the organising work.
      
        Many important people from various parts of Madras were present for that meeting.
        The Thevar made use of this opportunity and announced the necessity of forming the Fourth Tamil Sangam in Madurai. He extended invitation to all the Tamil scholars. He told them about his resolution and that the Sangam would be established very soon. In that meeting which lasted for three days, the Thevar canvassed for the Sangam and received a lot of support.
        On the fourth day of the meeting, the Fourth Tamil Sangam was inaugurated in the Madurai Sethupathi High School.  

        The Fourth Tamil Sangam was formed on the 14th of September, 1901.

        UVSaminatha Aiyar, R.Raghava Aiyangar, V.M. Sadagopa Ramanujacharyar, V.K.Suryanarayana Sastriyar alias ParidhiMaaRKalaignyar, Solzavandhan Shanmugam Pillai, Thirumayilai Shanmugam Pillai, Pinnathur NarayanaSamy Aiyar, MaRaiMalai AdigaL, ThirumaNam SelvaKesava Mudhaliyar, M.S.Purnalingam Pillai were great Tamil scholars of the day who attended. All of them spoke in praise of the Thevar and his endeavours.
        Baskara Sethupathi was the guest of honour.  
        They said that the original Founder of the Third Tamil Sangam - the Pandya King UkraPeruvalzudhi himself was born as Pandithurai Thevar and formed the fourth Sangam in the same city.
        Sethupathi Senthamizlz Kalaasaalai, Pandiyan Puththaga Saalai and Nuul Aaraaychisaalai were also founded on the same day.
        The inauguration of the Sangam was held for three days.

        Pandithurai Thevar got eminent Tamil scholars to obtain manuscripts and publish them as printed books through the Tamil Sangam.
        He gave a lot of money to UVSaminatha Aiyar and made him publish 'PuRapporuL VeNbaaMaalai', 'MaNimEgalai' and several other books. He caused the publication of the Saiva ThirumuRais by Madurai Ramasamy Mudaliyar. He used his own finances through the Tamil Sangam to get scholars ro publish manuscripts.
        He himself published many books under his own supervision. 'Pannuul Thirattu', 'Saiva Manjari' and 'AgapporuL' by NaaRkaviraasa Nambi were overseen,  corrected, and published by him. He himself has written meanings and commentaries for these works.
        He wrote a series of articles based on available history. The caption for these articles was, 'Thamilz Palzam Charitham' - Tamil Ancient History. These were published in the Senthamilz magazine.

        There were three classes in the Sethupathi Senthamilz Kalaasaalai - PiravEsa Panditham, Paala Panditham, and Panditham. Free food and lodging were given to the students who came to study in these classes. Many Tamil Pulavars of those days graduated from Madurai Tamil Sangam. In those days, there were no courses nor examinations organised by universities for Tamil Vidvans. So those who obtained the Pandithar Diploma form Tamil Sangam were considered as Pulavars.

        The library which was known as 'Pandiyan Puththaga Saalai' was provided with thousands of books by Sethupathi and Pandithurai Thevar. They also collected old palm leaf manuscripts and old books. This was one of the best libraries of the times. Most of the manuscripts were collected by Thevar himself.
        There was also a Tamil Research Centre in the Sangam. Many poets and scholars were involved in researching Tamil literary works and publishing them throgh the Tamil Sangam.
        In order to facilitate the publishing work, a printing press was bought.
        After that they started a magazine called 'Senthamilz'. This was a monthly magazine.
        Thevar had a big mansion in the North VeLi Street of Madurai.
        To provide space for the Sangam with all its components, Thevar donated it to the Sangam. In the year 1901, it was worth well over two hundred thousand rupees. That would amount to a few million rupees now. The Sangam was functioning in that building for a long time.
        He instituted prizes for the best outgoing student who passed the Sangam examinations with top marks.
        The great savant among Tamil scholars - Venkatasamy Naattaar was one of them. Another noteworthy figure was Thaaraamangalam Kandasamy Pillai.
        Every year, the Annual General Meeting would be held.
        As long Thevar lived, it was jeld as a Tamil festival. Many eminent scholars were invited to give learned talks. During those days, Thevar provided sumptuous feats in his house.
        Many research articles were published in Senthamilz magazine.
        Great scholars like Navalar Somasundara Barathiyar, Arasan Shanmuganaar, Narayana Aiyangar, etc., wrote very valuable articles.
        Many important works were published. One of the valuable great books to receive help was the Abhidhana ChintamaNi - a mini-encyclopaedia.

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