Dr.S.Ilakkuvanar-A Tribute

-Dr.K.Venkatasubramanian

Former Vice-Chancellor,

Central University, Puducherry.

(Dr.K.Venkatasubramanian, an illustrious educationist, during his lifetime and who adorned many prestigious posts such as Director of School Education, Vice-Chancellor, Planning Commission member for the Government of India, was one of the students of Prof .S.Ilakkuvanar.

This article was written on the occasion of the 25th death anniversary of Ilakkuvanar (1998) but had not been published. )

Whenever I think of my master Dr.S.Ilakkuvanar, what comes foremost to my mind was his great devotion and unparalleled dedication to the noble task of teaching. He was a deep scholar who had drunk deep from the Tamil fountains of scholarship.

Dr.S.Ilakkuvanar’s love for his mother tongue was legendary. Starting his service as a humble Tamil teacher in the board High School at Thiruvarur, he rose to the heights as a noted Professor and Head of the department of a First grade college, by sheer dint of merit and outstanding and unmatched professional talents of the highest order. In his long career as a Teacher of Tamil, his stint at the premier institution, the Presidency College at Madras was a watershed. His fame and name spread throughout the country and the Osmania University at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh sought his services to head their Tamil department.

What marked Dr.Ilakkuvanar’s illustrious career was his leadership of the anti-Hindi movement. When the entire Madras state (as Tamilnadu was known then) revolted, as one man, against the unjust imposition of Hindi, Dr.Ilakkuvanar was the fountainhead of this purely voluntary upsurge.

When quite a few people who professed their love for Tamil loudly, secretly went into hiding in the face of stiff actions by the government, it was Dr.Ilakkuvanar who led the students in his well known fearless way. To tell a truth, in the dictionary of Dr.Ilakkuvanar the word ‘Fear’ was missing He was charged. With 14 crimes including a conspiracy to murder and he was arrested on the first of February in the year of the Lord 1965.His printing press and residence were searched and ransacked. Later he was on bail with the condition that he should be confined to his house.

Again on the 1st of May 1965, Dr.Ilakkuvanar was arrested under the then Draconian Defence of India Regulations (D.I.R.) and was whisked to the distant dreaded Central Jail; VelloreHe was detained there for three and a half months without enquiry. This cost him his job in the college. But Dr.Ilakkuvanar was undaunted and with his unbreakable Will continued his Non-violent battle for Tamil, sometimes single-handed.

He suffered al these indignities and humiliation because of the fact that he loved his mother tongue Tamil and fought to prevent humiliation to his Mother Tamil.

His entire life was a saga of sacrifice to get the Mother Tongue its rightful dues and to put Tamil on the throne. He served in several university bodies and he was the Secretary of the Academy of Tamil Scholars. He founded the Academy for Protection of Tamil and edited a weekly in Tamil”KURAL NERI”

He wrote profusely. But his magnum opus in English “Tholkappiyam”was the greatest monument for this Scholar of Scholars whose passion for Tamil was historic. In short, in the Tamil horizon though several shining stars had appeared, Dr.Ilakkuvanar was the brightest.

As a close old student of this Great Master, I always have a nagging feeling that though he gave his life for Tamil, whether the Tamil nation remembers him and his sacrifices adequately?

Perhaps this is the fate of sincere Savants throughout world history, from the Great Galileo to Dr.Ilakkuvanar.

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