Samuel Vedanayagam Pillai
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Samuel Vedanayagam Pillai (1826–1889), also known as Mayavaram Vedanayagam Pillai, was an Indian civil servant . Tamil poet, novelist and social worker who is remembered for the authorship of Prathapa Mudaliar Charithram, recognized as the "first modern Tamil novel". The novel reflects Vedanayagam's own ideals of women's liberation and education.
Vedanayagam Pillai was born in Thanjavur on October 11, 1826 to Savarimuthu Pillai and Arockia Mariammal. His father was his first tutor and later he learned Tamil and English under a tutor named Thayagaraja Pillai. On completing his education, Vedanayagam joined the judicial court of Trichinopoly as record keeper and soon was elevated as a translator.He learnt Sanskrit, French and Latin during his tenure and then cleared his law exams.
He became the District Muncif of Mayuram (presently Mayiladuthurai) and served there for 13 years. Vedanayagam showed a passion for writing from early age. He translated law books to Tamil and his ethical book called Neethi Nool was well accepted. In total he wrote 16 books of which Prathapa Mudaliar Charithram is regarded as the first Tamil Novel. The novel reflects Vedanaygam's own ideals of women's liberation and education.
Vedanayagam's contribution to carnatic music is immense. His songs are still a popular choice among singers in concerts.One can find a profusion of Sanskrit words in his Tamil compositions. On the lines of Tyagaraja's "Nidhichala sukhama" he wrote "Manam Peridha, Varumanam Peridha?" Some of the popular songs of Pillai are ``Naale Nalla Nall," ``Nee Malaikkade Nenje," ``Tharunam, tharunam... He was a secular person and his songs never addressed to any particular religious deity.He suitably titled his collection of songs as ' Sarva Samaya Samarasa Kirtanaigal'. People like Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai and Ramalinga Swamigal were admirers of his works.
One of his composition Nayagar Pakshamadi, (a ragamaliga - Saama / Shanmugapriya / kedara gowla) was included for a dance scene in the 1955 Tamil film Doctor Savithri.
- Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The Smile of Murugan on Tamil Literature of South India. BRILL. p. 279. ISBN 90-04-03591-5.