S. Vaiyapuri Pillai

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Rao Sahib S. Vaiyapuri Pillai (1891–1956) was a renowned scholar and Professor of Tamil. An advocate by profession, he edited and published several Tamil classics from original manuscripts. He is best remembered as the editor of the Tamil lexicon published by the Madras University in the 1920s. He was a voracious reader and had in his own private collection thousands of books in Tamil, English, Sanskrit and Malayalam. His collection also included hundreds of palm-leaf manuscripts. This collection was later donated to the National Library of India in Kolkata.


In June 1940, the government of Madras State appointed a committee headed by V. S. Srinivasa Sastri to frame general principles for coining words for scientific and technical terms in Tamil. The constitution of the committee was opposed by Tamil purists who felt that Sastri was strongly anti-Tamil. Sastri precipitated matters further by recommending the inclusion of Vaiyapuri Pillai, who was also perceived to be anti-Tamil. The committee eventually recommended the retention of words of English and Sanskrit origin. Vaiyapuri justified the decision as a necessity for promoting national integration and cited the poetry of Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai. The decisions of the committee were opposed tooth and nail by activists of the Madras Presidency Tamil Sangam and were eventually reversed after Sastri's demise in 1946.

Literary works Nationalised[edit]

In Feb 2009, the Tamil Nadu state government announced that the works of 28 scholars would be nationalised and the literary critic, Vaiyapuri Pillai's works were among them. In his budget address, finance minister K. Anbazhagan said compensation would be paid to the legal heirs of the authors having regard to the number of books written by them, their social impact and literary value. With a view to ensuring that the views and thoughts of great Tamil savants who dedicated their lives to the language benefitted the present and future generations, the government implemented the nationalization scheme.[1]


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