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"Tamizh" An overview of one of the oldest languages of the world

Tamizh, is one of the Dravidian languages, also ranked as one of the Classical languages of the world. Tamil literature spans 2500 years and it was the first to develop a distinct prose form of writing among the classical languages of the world.
If there is any Indian language which is equal to Sanskrit it is Tamizh (Tamil) only and not any other Indian language. Sanskrit is a match for Tamizh. Conversely, Tamizh is a match for Sanskrit in grandeur and greatness.

Geography has had a major role to play in Tamizh having preserved much of its linguistic traditions. Northern India has been subject to numerous invasions from the time of Alexander the Great, but the predominant Tamizh speaking regions of the South was by and large left unscathed thanks to its relative positional and political isolation. This largely had an effect on the literary work on the History of Tamizh literature in that it was clouded with the prejudice and bias of scholars and zeal of anxious puritans to maintain the antiquity of their language.

It is considerably difficult to pin point the time of origin of Tamizh, but a general consensus is an age of 25000 years. The first extant classic from the Tamizh stables is Tolkappiam, said to be around 5000 years old. There are numerous references in Tamizh literature to works dating before Tolkappiam, but these have been lost with the courtesy of posterity. On a broad spectrum Silappadigaram, Chintamani, Manimekalai, Valayapathi and Gundalakesi are generally considered as five great classics of Tamizh literature.

Kaviya Tamizh
The onus of the greatest classic in Tamizh literature undoubtedly goes to Kambar's Ramayana, the epic poem written in Twelve thousand verses. The grandiose style and descriptive eloquent writing has to be read to be believed. The number of Tamizh literary works is legion and each work has its own distinct flavor. Villibharatam for example is written in excellent diction and resonant rhyme whereas Kalingathu Bharani glorifies heroism on the battlefield. Piety has been the hallmark of Tamils since ancient times, and this can be illustrated with the number of devotional works like Devaram, Tiruvachagam, Thiruppavai, Tiruvembavai, Nalayirathu Divya Prabandam, Thiru Arutpa and Thiruppugazh, to name a very small number.

One of the greatest works in Tamizh, which is widely preached even to this day, is Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural. It is a collection of nuggets on wisdom and the ideal way of life for man. There are several commentaries on it, but that by Parimalazhagar is regarded as the best by erudite scholars

The history to Tamizh literature can be broadly generalized into two periods: before and after the advent of the British onto Indian shores. Compared to the growth in literature after the establishment of the British Raj, earlier Tamizh literature saw a lopsided haphazard growth.

The renaissance of Tamil language and literature took place only during the British regime. Forms of writing that were never heard of before like skit, modern prose, article, essay, drama, one-act play, short story, novel, satire etc. opened new vistas for the Tamizh scholar. Thus, English contributed to the variegated and multifarious growth of Tamil literature in no small measure. Advocates of Tamizh mono-linguism must not forget that the blossoming of Tamizh literature, to the reach of the common man, was largely due to the exposure to English and its literature.

The twentieth century was a golden age of Tamizh Literature. Hundreds of writers tasted success in various forms of writing. Tamil periodicals like Ananda Vikatan, Kalki, Kumudam, Amuda Surabi and Kalaimagal gave a big boost to the prolific growth of Tamil literature notably novels, which were later serialized and published as short stories and essays. Tamizh prose and poetry grew in leaps and bounds, fore runners for each being T.V.Kalyanasundara Mudaliar and Subramania Bharathi respectively.

The British regime also enabled foreign scholars to learn Tamil language and its literature, owing to which the greatness and glory of Tamil literature spread across the globe.

Tamizh - Conclusion
Thus it can be understood that for the prolific and variegated growth of Tamil literature, a good command of English is absolutely essential. One cannot argue that the majority of the world's literati use English as the medium. Why, this very piece could have been written in Tamizh. This medium hence must be used to ensure that the immense literary output and the depth and eloquence of Tamizh reach a wider reading spectrum. Encouragement should reach those wanting to learn this multi-faceted language. Tamizh is time and again stressed upon as an age old language of historical importance, and it is still riding strong into the wind.
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