Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVII No. 6, July 1-15, 2017

Tamil across the oceans

The palm leaf ms on names of plants

The Tamil Heritage Foundation is a global initiative started by heritage and language enthusiasts living abroad to preserve Tamil Heritage in digital media. Most of THF’s ground activity happens in Germany, India, UK and South Korea. It is registered under the Society Act in Chennai but has a worldwide membership. Dr. K. Subashini Kanagasundaram, a Malaysian born Tamil, living in Leonberg, Germany, an IT architect in a leading international IT Company, is President and co-founder of THF with Dr. N. Kannan from Malaysia (earlier Korea and Germany).

Paris figure

Vischenu Coorma Outharam

In order to e-preserve Tamil Heritage material in England, THF London has photocopied several Tamil books in the India Office Library and digitised them for public study. Researchers make considerable use of all these works. The digital version is fully downloadable as PDF files at the THF site.

Subashini in search of more materials available outside India in Tamil, recently visited the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the National Library of France, in Paris. This library’s extraordinary collection includes 578 Tamil manuscripts both in palm leaf and paper form and images from Tamil Nadu. Some of them are already digitised and available on the Net; the rest are stored in palm leaf and paper manuscript form, others in microfilm form. Like the British Museum Library, this library too has collections of manuscripts and books from India, especially Tamil Nadu, mostly accumulated by Christian missionaries.

In Paris, Subashini has successfully digitised selected rare manuscripts like Thiruvalluvar Kural, Tanmandiri udar kuru, Samuttirigapalapalan, Mariyamman Paadalkal, Sittirakadaegal and C.J. Beschi’s Grammatica Latino-Tamulica. Beschi (1680-1742), an Italian Jesuit priest like his predecessor de Nobili, learned Tamil, composed a lexicon, Chaturaharathi, and wrote several books. His grammar book was written c. 1738. He is known in Tamil Nadu as Veeramamunivar and is the author of the well-known Paramartha Guruvin Kathaigal.


தாமரை புட்பத்தில் உட்கார்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கும் அவரது பெண்சாதியான லட்சுமி அவளுக்கு நாலு கை.. ரெண்டில் தாமரை புஷ்பமுள்ளது.?

The Jesuit missionaries started learning Tamil once they arrived in Tamil Nadu in the 16th Century so that they could propagate the religion. Language was necessary for proselytisation and some of them, like Father Henriques, mastered the language and produced books of Tamil grammar. All these works are now preserved in libraries abroad.

Among other books Subashini found in Paris was Castes et professionsde l’Inde, a book with hundreds of illustrations depicting the professions of people in Tamilzhagam in the early 19th Century. The hand-drawn illustrations show the occupation of a man and his wife based on their caste. This book, by Philippe Etienne Ducler (1778-1840), Administrateur at Karaikal in 1830, is something like that classic, Castes and Tribes of Southern India by Madras-based Edgar Thurston, assisted by Rangachari.

Another important work is Divinités et souverains de l’Inde, a book with illustrations of Hindu deities, sculptures and some temples. Handwritten notes both in Tamil and French describe each deity. Another book that attracts the attention is Coloriées de Divinités Hindoues containing 142 figures of various Hindu deities, with names written in Roman letters and descriptions provided in French. The illustrations are brilliant.

Subashini says that there are, in the Paris library, a rich treasure of manuscripts awaiting researchers.


  1. rajam says:

    One of the major undertakings by Dr. Subashini! It requires tons of hours of dedication to do such work! Both the Government and other Tamil enthusiasts MUST support her in whatever ways they can. God bless her with a long life of health and prosperity!

    • s.santhaseelan says:


  2. b.s.aadhavan says:

    Her Dedication in unimaginable.., The Tamil Literary Society has to admire., and appreciate her works.., Sometimes without caring her health., she is continuing her works.., ie., the worrying factor..

  3. b.s.aadhavan says:

    சகோதரியின் பணிகளைப் பாரட்ட வார்த்தைகள் கிட்டுவது அரிதே.., அரும்பணி ஆற்றும் அன்புச் சகோதரி., உடல் நலத்திலும் கவனம் செலுத்த வேண்டும் என்பதே எங்கள் அவா. இயற்கை அருளால், சகோதரி அவர்கள் நீண்ட ஆயுளோடும், நிறைந்த நலத்தோடும் நெடு நாள் வாழ வேண்டும். சிரந்தாழ்ந்த நன்றி..!! வளர்க தமிழ்.

  4. Arni narendran says:

    The Tamil Heritage Foundation has becone a global archive thanks to Dr.Subhasini and Dr.Kannan and the team for their indefatagible efforts in digitalising Tamil archival records.


    God Bless you madam
    Recently I listened to the interview given by you to tamil junior vikatan channel regarding Raja Raja Cholan . You have logically and correctly answered all the questions posed by the anchor without any emotions. Your speech is pregnant with wisdom and high level of knowledge gained by you in your assiduous practice in Tamil Literature. I am astonished to see that an youngster like you had mastered so many subjects and able to handle the topics in a sober and cool manner. To put the entire matter in one word I can say you are ashtavadhini.

  6. Rajan Padiachi says:

    absolutely wonderful work to keep up the Tamil culture and literacy.
    may you be blessed in all you do
    Rajan Padiachi
    South Africa

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