Dravidian studies (also Dravidology) is the academic field devoted to the Dravidian languages, literature and culture. It is a superset of Tamil studies and a subset of South Asian studies.

Early missionaries

The 16th to 18th century missionaries who wrote Tamil grammars or lexica include Henrique Henriques, Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg and Constantino Giuseppe Beschi.

Dravidologist Photo Period Work
Henrique Henriques 1520–1600 Portuguese Jesuit priest and missionary. After his initial days in Goa he moved to Tuticorin. As a missionary he strongly believed that books of religious doctrines should be in local languages. He is considered to be the first European Tamil scholar. He set up the first Tamil press and got books printed in Tamil script. The first book printed in Tamil script was "Thambiran Vanakkam" (தம்பிரான் வணக்கம்) (1578), a 16-page translation of the Portuguese "Doctrina Christam". Thereby, Tamil became the first non-European language to be printed on a printing press.[citation needed]
Constantine Beschi also called Vīramāmunivar (Tamil: வீரமாமுனிவர்)
Beschi Tamil literature.jpg
1680 –1742 Italian Jesuit priest and renowned poet in Tamil language. Authored several Tamil dictionaries: including the "Chaturakarati" (சதுரகராதி), a Tamil-Latin and Latin-Tamil-Portuguese dictionary. He translated the famous Thirukkural epic poem of Thiruvalluvar (1730) in Latin. His greatest poetical work is the "Thembavani" (தேம்பாவணி) (the Unfading Garland), a poem on the life of Saint Joseph.
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg
1682–1719 Lutheran clergy member and the first Pietist missionary to India. He was among the first Protestant missionaries to arrive in India at the Danish colony of Tranquebar in 1706. He translated the Old and the New Testament into Tamil. In 1708 he compiled "Bibliothece Malabarke", listing the 161 Tamil books he had read and described their content.

Dravidian language hypothesis

The recognition that the Dravidian languages were a phylogenetic unit separate from Indo-European dates to 1816, and was presented by F. W. Ellis, Collector of Madras, at the College of Fort St. George.

Nineteenth-century experts

The 19th century contributors to the field of Dravidology were:

Dravidologist Photo Period Work
Francis Whyte Ellis 1777-1819 Civil servant. First to propose a Dravidian family of languages
Charles Phillip Brown 1798–1884 Collected 2,106 hand written books in South Indian Languages (now with Chennai Library). He provided three services for the Telugu language: he produced his own works in Telugu; he recovered and discovered old Telugu works; and he printed books in Telugu. He authored numerous translations of Telugu works into English.
Robert Caldwell
Robert Caldwell.jpg
1814-1891 Research into the languages and the history of the Dravidian region.
Hermann Gundert
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1814 – 1893 Authored Malayalam grammar book, "Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam" (1859) and a Malayalam-English dictionary (1872). Published thirteen Malayalam books including Bible translations.
Ferdinand Kittel
Kittel, Ferdinand (1832-1903).jpg
1832–1903 Kannada language and the first Kannada-English dictionary of about 70,000 words in 1894.
Benjamin Lewis Rice 1837-1927 Renowned for his work Epigraphia Carnatica which contains his study of about 9000 inscriptions found in the Old Mysore area. He published twelve volumes over ten years between 1894 and 1905. He authored "The History of Mysore and Coorg" from inscriptions included in the Epigraphia Carnatica.
U. V. Swaminatha Iyer 1855–1942 91 books related to classical Tamil literature. Collected 3,067 paper and palm-leaf manuscripts.
T. R. Sesha Iyengar 1887-1939 Dravidologist renowned for his book "Dravidian India".
K. A. Nilakanta Sastri
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1892–1975 Renowned Dravidologist and prolific historian. Authored 25 historical works mostly on the history of South India.
P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar 1863–1931 Noted Dravidologist of the 20th century. Authored numerous works on Tamil and Indian history.
Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar 1871–1946 Noted for his work in turning around and running the "Journal of Indian History" in the 1920s. He authored many historical works on South Indian and Indian history.
V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar 1896–1953 Known for authoring numerous works on Tamil and Indian history.

Twentieth-century experts

The noted Dravidologists from the twentieth century are:

Dravidologist Photo Period Work
Murray Barnson Emeneau 1904-2005 Renowned for his work the "Dravidian Etymological Dictionary" (1961), written with Thomas Burrow. Emeneau studies lesser known languages of the Dravidian family - Toda, Badaga, Kolami and Kota. Emeneau is also credited with the study of areal phenomena in linguistics, with his seminal article, "India as a Linguistic Area".
T. Burrow 1909-1986 Renowned for his work the "Dravidian Etymological Dictionary" (1961), written with Murray Barnson Emeneau. Also known for his work in Sanskrit.
Kamil Zvelebil 1927–2009 Czech scholar in Indian literature and Dravidian linguistics. Author of numerous books on Dravidian linguistics and Tamil literature.
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti
Bhadriraju krishnamurti.jpg
1928–2012 Eminent Dravidianist and one of the most respected Indian linguists of his generation. His work "The Dravidian Languages" is considered a landmark volume in the study of Dravidian linguistics. His work "Telugu Verbal Bases" (1961) is the first comprehensive account of comparative Dravidian phonology. He is also author of numerous works in Telugu and English on the subject.

Contemporary programs

The Dravidian University at Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh has created Chairs in the names of Western and Dravidian scholars to encourage research in individual Dravidian languages as well as comparative Dravidian studies:[1]

See also


  1. ^ Dravidian University fellowships, The Hindu, Saturday, Aug 26, 2006


External links