Devaneya Pavanar

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Devaneya Pavanar
Pavanar on a 2006 stamp of India
Pavanar on a 2006 stamp of India
Born(1902-02-07)7 February 1902
Gomathimuthupuram, Tamil Nadu
Died15 January 1981(1981-01-15) (aged 78)
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
OccupationAuthor, Tamil Activist, Etymologist

Devaneya Pavanar (Tamil: ஞா. தேவநேயப் பாவாணர்; Ñānamuttaṉ Tēvanēya Pāvāṇar; also known as G. Devaneyan, Ñanamuttan Tevaneyan; 7 February 1902 – 15 January 1981) was a prominent Indian Tamil author who wrote over 35 books. Additionally, he was a staunch proponent of the "Pure Tamil movement" and initiated the Etymological Dictionary Project primarily to bring out the roots of Tamil words and their connections and ramifications.

In his 1966 Primary Classical language of the World, he argues that the Tamil language is the "most natural" (iyal-moḻi) and also a proto-world language, being the oldest (tol-moḻi) language of the world, from which all other major languages of the world are derived. He believed that its literature, later called Sangam literature and usually considered to have been written from 200 BCE and 300 CE, spanned a huge period from 10,000 to 5,500 BCE.[1] These ideas are fringe ones and mainstream linguists, geologists and historians do not acknowledge them to be true.

Devaneya Pavanar composed many musical pieces (Isaik kalambakam) and many noteworthy poems, including the collection of Venpa. The title Senthamiḻ Selvar was conferred on him by the Tamil Nadu State Government in 1979, and he was also addressed as Dravida Mozhi nool NayiruMoḻi Ñayiru (திராவிட மொழி நூல் ஞாயிறு) "Sun of language".[2]


Gnanamuthu Devaneyan Pavanar was born on 7 February 1902 in Gomathimuthupuram, Sankarankovil Taluk, Tamil Nadu, to his parents Thiru Gnanamuthu Devendrar and Paripuranam Ammaiyar. He attended and graduated from C.M.J. High School, Palayamkottai, S.S.L.C. and trained as a teacher in Madras University. He married in 1930 and had four sons and one daughter, the daughter being the fourth child.

He worked as a Tamil teacher in several high schools from 1922 to 1944. During this time, he pursued autodidactic studies of Dravidian philology and comparative linguistics.

He was a Tamil professor at Municipal College, Salem, from 1944 to 1956. From 1956 to 1961, he was the head of Dravidian department at Annamalai University.[3] He was a member of the Tamil Development and Research Council, set up by the Nehru government in 1959, entrusted with producing Tamil school and college textbooks. From 1974, he was director of the Tamil Etymological Project, and he acted as president of the International Tamil League, Tamil Nadu. (U. Tha. Ka.)

Devaneya Pavanar studied his elementary education in Murumbu and worked as a First Teacher also in Murumbu under the control of Young Durai. Devaneya Pavanar's life size statue, research library, centunary arch, reading room is located in Murumbu, near Sankarankovil, Tamil Nadu.

The Chennai District Central Library is named after Devanaya Pavanar and is located at Anna Salai, Chennai.

Views on Tamil versus Sanskrit[edit]

"Lemuria" according to Pavanar, connecting Madagascar, South India and Australia (covering most of the Indian Ocean). Mount Meru stretches southwards from Sri Lanka.

Pavanar's Vadamoli Varalaru argues that hundreds of Sanskrit words can be traced to a Tamil origin, and at the same time he insisted that pure Tamil equivalents existed for Sanskrit loan words. He claimed that Tamil is a "superior and more divine" language than Sanskrit. In his view the Tamil language originated in "Lemuria" (இலெமூரியா Ilemūriyā), the cradle of civilisation and place of origin of language. He believed that evidence of Tamil's antiquity was being suppressed by Sanskritists.

Pavanar's timeline for the evolution of mankind and Tamil is as follows:

  • ca. 500,000 BC: origin of the human race,
  • ca. 200,000 to 50,000 BC: evolution of "the Tamilian or Homo Dravida[4] ",
  • c. 200,000 to 100,000 BC, beginnings of Tamil
  • c. 100,000 to 50,000 BC, growth and development of Tamil,
  • 50,000 BC: Kumari Kandam civilisation
  • 20,000 BC: A lost Tamil culture on 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 wandering in the Solomon Islands saw wild sugarcane and started cultivation in Tamil Nadu.
  • 1780 BC: The Third Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
  • 7th century BC: Tolkappiyam, the earliest extant Tamil grammar

In the preface to his 1966 book The Primary Classical Language of the World he wrote:

There is no other language in the whole world as Tamil, that has suffered so much damage by natural and human agencies, and has been done so much injustice by malignant foreigners and native dupes.

The general belief that all arts and sciences are progressively advancing with the passage of time, is falsified in the case of philology, owing to the fundamental blunder of locating the original home of the Tamilians in the Mediterranean region, and taking Sanskrit, a post-Vedic semi-artificial composite literary dialect, the Indian Esperanto, so to speak, for the prototype of the Indo-European Form of Speech.

Westerners do not know as yet, that Tamil is a highly developed classical language of Lemurian origin, and has been, and is being still, suppressed by a systematic and co-ordinated effort by the Sanskritists both in the public and private sectors, ever since the Vedic mendicants migrated to the South, and taking utmost advantage of their superior complexion and the primitive credulity of the ancient Tamil kings, posed themselves as earthly gods (Bhu-suras) and deluded the Tamilians into the belief, that their ancestral language or literary dialect was divine or celestial in origin.

In a chapter entitled Tamil more divine than Sanskrit, Pavanar gives the reasons why he judges Tamil to be "more divine" than Sanskrit, arguing for "Primary Classicality of Tamil", he enumerates:

Tamil Language Sanskrit Language
Primitive and original. Derivative.
Spoken and living language. Semi-artificial literary dialect.
Scriptural studies exoteric. Scriptural studies esoteric.
Inculcation of cosmopolitanism. Division of society into numerous castes on the basis of birth and parentage.
Admission of all to asceticism.
Holding higher education common to all.
Encouragement of gifts to all the poor and needy. Enjoinment on the donors to give only to the Sanskritists.
Love of truth. Love of imposture and plagiarism.
Laying of emphasis on love, as means of attaining eternal bliss. Laying of emphasis on knowledge, as means of attaining union with the universal soul.
Having monotheistic Saivism and Vaisnavism as religions. Having a system of sacrifices to minor deities as religion.
Literary description natural. Literary description imaginary.


Although his theories hold no currency in the international linguistics community, Pavanar was considered by his followers to be a groundbreaking scholar in Dravidology with political leanings towards Dravidian nationalism. He does figure in works on language activism and national mysticism (Ramaswamy 1997, 2004) and of Indian nationalism (Kaiwar et al. 2003).

The Cultural Heritage of India; vol. V: Languages and literature, p. 641 (ed. Chatterji, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture, 1978) states that "but for his (Pavanar's) efforts the purity and antiquity of Tamil might have been a myth."

Publishing history[edit]

The Central Plan Scheme for Classical Tamil of the Centre of Excellence for Classical Tamil[5] recommends

"To publish the translated but not yet published Sattambi Swamigal's Adhibhasa which seeks to establish that Tamil is the most ancient language. When published, it will provide an impetus to Pavanar's findings"

The literary works and books of Pavanar have been "nationalised" by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the course of the "Golden Jubilee year of National Independence" (2006). This means that the copyright for Pavanar's work is now owned by the state of Tamil Nadu, his legal heirs having been compensated financially.[6][7]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • A Silver plate presented to him by the Tamil Peravai, Salem in 1955 in appreciation of his service to Tamil.[8]
  • A Copper Plate presented to his by the Governor of Tamil Nadu 1960 in appreciation of his contribution to the collection of administrative terms in Tamil.[8]
  • A Silver Plate presented to his by the South Indian Saiva Sinddhanta Works Publishing Society, Thirunelveli Ltd., in 1970 in appreciations of his research work in Tamil philology and etymology.[8]
  • Official centenary celebrations of Pavanar were held at Sankarankoil (5 February 2002) and Gomathimuthupuram (6 February) of Tirunelveli district and at Chennai (8. February), attended by the Minister for Education and the Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.[7]
  • In February 2006, a commemorative stamp of Devaneya Pavanar was released by the Postal Department in Chennai.[9]
  • In October 2007, a memorial was installed at Madurai by the Government of Tamil Nadu in honour of Devaneya Pavanar.[2]
  • Kaṭṭurai varaiviyal., Tirucci : Śrī Nilaiyam Accukkūṭam, 1940.
  • Cuṭṭu viḷakkam, allatu, Aṭippaṭai vērccol aintu., Tirucci : Impīriyal Piras, 1943.
  • Tirāviṭattāy = The mother of the Dravidian languages, Cen̲n̲ai : Purōkireciv Accumaṇi Patippakam, [1969]
  • Vērccor̲ kaṭṭuraikaḷ ("etymological essays"), Cen̲n̲ai :Saiva Siddantha Kazhagam Publisher, 1973.
  • Maṇṇil viṇ : allatu, Vaḷḷuvar kūṭṭūtamai, Kāṭṭuppāṭi Virivu, Va. Ā. Māvaṭṭam : Nēcamaṇi Patippakam, 1978.


  • Nāṅkaḷ kāṇum Pāvāṇar : Mol̲iñāyir̲u Pāvāṇar avarkaḷin̲ mutalām nin̲aivu nāḷ veḷiyīṭu., Neyvēli, Tamil̲nāṭu : Pāvāṇar Tamil̲k Kuṭumpam, 1982.
  • Pāvāṇar kaṭitaṅkaḷ, Cen̲n̲ai : Tirunelvēli Ten̲n̲intiya Caivacittānta Nūr̲patippuk Kal̲akam, 1985.
  • Centamil̲c cor̲pir̲appiyal pērakaramutali, Cen̲n̲ai : Centamil̲c Cor̲pir̲appiyal Akara Mutalit Tiṭṭa Iyakkaka Veḷīyīṭu, 1985–2005
  • Pal̲antamil̲āṭci, Cen̲n̲ai : Tirunelvēli Saiva Siddantha Kazhagam Publisher, 1991.
  • Pal̲antamil̲ar araciyal koṭpāṭukaḷ, Cen̲n̲ai : Maṇivācakar Patippakam, 1999.
  • Pāvāṇar mukavuraikaḷ, Tañcāvūr : Tamil̲mati Patippakam, 2001.
  • Tamil̲maṇ Patippakam centenary edition:
    • Uyartarak kaṭṭurai ilakkaṇam, 2000.
    • Tamil̲ar matam, 2000.
    • Tamil̲nāṭṭu viḷaiyāṭṭukaḷ, 2000.
    • Centamil̲k kāñci, 2000.
    • Mutar̲r̲āy mol̲i, 2000.
    • Tamil̲ar tirumaṇam, 2000.
    • Iyar̲r̲amil̲ ilakkaṇam, 2000.
    • Tamil̲ilakkiya varalār̲u, 2000.
    • Oppiyan̲ mol̲inūl, Cen̲n̲ai ("comparative linguistics"), 2000–<2001 >
    • Mol̲iyārāyccik kaṭṭuraikaḷ, 2001.
    • Kaṭṭuraik kacaṭar̲ai, en̲n̲um, Viyāca viḷakkam, 2001.
    • Mar̲uppurai māṇpu, 2001.
    • Ilakkaṇak kaṭṭuraikaḷ, 200101.
    • Mar̲uppurai māṇpu, 2001.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ca. Vē Cuppiramaṇiyan̲ and Ka. Ta Tirunāvukkaracu (1983). Historical Heritage of the Tamils. International Institute of Tamil Studies. p. 178.
  2. ^ a b Tamil Nadu Government press release[dead link]
  3. ^ PRudrayya Chandrayya Hiremath, Jayavant S. Kulli, "Proceedings of the Third All India Conference of Dravidian Linguists", 1973
  4. ^ a term of Edgar Thurston's: see Ajay Skaria, Shades of Wildness Tribe, Caste, and Gender in Western India, The Journal of Asian Studies (1997), p. 730.
  5. ^ a body of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Department of Higher Education, Language Bureau, Ministry of Human Resource Development (under Arjun Singh, Government of India; First National Consultative Meeting (November 18 & 19, 2005)
  6. ^ CM presented consideration amounts for the Nationalised books at Secretariat, Tamil Nadu, India. (8 July 2006). Retrieved on 13 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b BUDGET ESTIMATE FOR 2002 – 2003. Directorate of Tamil Development, Government of Tamil Nadu
  8. ^ a b c Dr.Mozhignayiru Devaneyap Pavanar.
  9. ^ The Hindu, 19 February 2006, Indiapost

Further reading[edit]

  • Iravatham Mahadevan, Aryan or Dravidian or Neither? A Study of Recent Attempts to Decipher the Indus Script (1995–2000) EJVS (ISSN 1084-7561) vol. 8 (2002) issue 1 (8 March).[1]
  • Vasant Kaiwar, Sucheta Mazumdar, Robin Nelson, Antinomies of Modernity: Essays on Race, Orient, Nation (2003), p. 141.
  • P. Ramanathan (trans.), Nostratics – The Light From Tamil According to Devaneyan (1977–80 studies of G. Devaneyan on the spread in different Language families of the world of derivatives from 22 basic Tamil words), Chennai: The Tirunelveli South India Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society Ltd., 2004.
  • Sumathi Ramaswamy, Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891–1970, Studies on the History of Society and Culture, No 29, University of California Press (1997), ISBN 978-0-520-20805-6.
  • Sumathi Ramaswamy, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories University of California Press (2004), ISBN 978-0-520-24440-5.
  • Mu Tamilkkutimakan, Pavanarum tanittamilum, Moli ñayiru Tevaneyap Pavanar Arakkattalaic Corpolivu (On linguistics and historical philosophy of Ñā. Tēvanēyaṉ), International Institute of Tamil Studies, Ulakat Tamilaraycci Niruvanam (1985).
  • Sahitya Akademi, Tevaneyap Pavanar, Cakittiya Akkatemi, 2002, ISBN 978-81-260-1499-6.

External links[edit]