These are some of the 500-odd topics on South India’s heritage discussed in this book. It provides snapshots of the collective cultural experience of the people of south India, their heroes, their rivers, lakes and hills and forests, their temples, their music, dance and folklore.
The book has a general section on south India’s heritage, common to the four southern states. It is followed by three sections - political, socioeconomic and cultural. The book covers south Indias heritage till the end of the 19th century.
The book is targeted specifically at Indian students from south India who go abroad for college education. It is meant to give them an idea of our heritage - kindle their interest in the subject, enable them to answer questions, serve as their Heritage companion and guide.
A product of commitment to the cause, the book reflects an earnest attempt to shed light on a complex, amorphous, many-faceted subject, and give it form, shape and substance.
Dr. Prema Kasturi, Reader in History, is a former Professor and Head of the Department of History, Women’s Christian College, Chennai. She has made a mark as a teacher (won the Best Teachers ’Award in 1998), she is a scholar in many disciplines such as history, education, women’s studies, art and architecture of India, and American studies. She obtained her Ph.D in women’s studies from the University of Madras. She has presented more than a hundred research papers in various academic forums and has published many in national and international $ journals. She has been associate editor of the women’s studies section of an encyclopedia on Hinduism, soon to be published. A social activist and feminist, she helps to strengthen and empower women through the Joint Action Council for Women and other organizations. She has guided 120 students in history research projects. An active INTACH (the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) member, she encourages student participation in programs throughout Tamil Nadu to conserve the heritage. She has edited books on Heritage and Women’s studies. She is publishing books on Cultural, History of South India, shorty, She is at present co-convenor of INTACH, Chennai. She loves music and the performing arts.
Dr. G. Sundaram has served the country as one of its distinguished civil servants. During his illustrious career, he has served in various capacities. He was one of the persons who promoted relations between India and EEC (now EU). After obtaining a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Madras in 1958, G. Sundaram taught Economics in the well-known Madras Christian College in 1 959-60. He was selected to the premier civil service of India viz., the Indian Administrative Service in 1962. He held civil service positions connected with development and industry from 1963-69. He obtained an M.PhiI (Licence Special) in Economics of Integration from the University of Brussels. On return to India, he joined the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and specialized in export promotion, inter-Government relations in relation to Trade Agreements and also negotiated some of them 1971 -‘76). After this, he obtained a Ph.D., from the Delhi School of Economics in 1997 for his thesis, ‘Commercial Policy of the EEC and the Association Agreements which was published. He published another book, India and the EU”in 1997. Besides, he has published many articles of general and professional interest in newspapers and journals, some relating to temples, archaeology and heritage. He was posted Counsellor in the Embassy of India and Mission to the EEC, Brussels, and accredited to the EEC, Belgium and Luxembourg for nearly three years (1979-’81). On his return, his several positions included, Secretary to the Government of India. (for details, please see www.drgsundaram.com)
It has been astonishing, and agreeably so. In February 2002, my family trust, Ramu Endowments, launched a monthly series of lectures on the heritage of South India at the Tag Centre in Chennai. I assumed that the lecture series wonld sustain interest for a few months. Quite the contrary. It’s more than five years since the series started. The 61st lecture was delivered in March 2007*, and for all I know there may be 60 more lectures, The response and the commitment of the audience have been overwhelming.
The success of the South India Heritage Programme dramatizes the appeal of this amorphous thing called “Heritage”. What exactly does “Heritage” mean? Heritage stands for the collective cultural experience of people. It reflects their character and identity. It helps ns relate to the past, it helps the past and the present. a is our inheritance, a continuing story. It is the story of our heroes, our temples, our architecture, our eaves and monuments, our textiles, our cuisine. It is the story’ of our rivers, lakes, hills, sea front, our forests. It is about our music, dance and folklore. Heritage tells us “ho we are, what we have and how we do things. Whatever man creates in response to his life in society is heritage.
This book is an introduction to the heritage of South India — which is vast, rich, all-encom2assing, and defies definition, why is it being published?
There is a specific reason. Every year, hundreds of bright young men and women leave India’s shores and go abroad usually for higher education sometimes even for basic college education. At one time, this flow was mainly toward the U.S. Now, as other countries aggressively promote the supposed merits and rewards of their educational system, our youth are more and more visible in the educational landscape of UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore as well. And this list is growing. It is quite possible that some of these youngsters \Vi II continue to live abroad after their education there.
What do these youngsters know about our heritage With some exceptions, precious little. Perhaps the)’ took the heritage for granted, perhaps the)’ were preoccupied with do—well- in-life professional courses, perhaps the vastness, complexity and ambiguity of our heritage make it difficult to understand. There’s little likelihood of these youngsters learning about our heritage when they are abroad. They may gradually shed their Indianness. Their children of course would be total strangers to India.
The sponsors of this hook intend to gift it to our students going abroad. It will serve as their heritage companion and guide. It is factual rather than analytical; its essays on 500-odd topics provide glimpses, snapshots if you will into many facets of South India’s heritage. The subject range is kaleidoscopic: history, religion, philosophy, architecture, anthropology, literature, music, dance, culture, the arts, cuisine, nature and tourism, sociology. The hook may clear some doubts or answer some questions about our heritage that these youngsters had. It may enable them to answer questions about India put to them abroad.
A few words about the structure of the book it deals with South India’s heritage till the end of the 19th century it begins with a general” section on South India’s heritage, common to all the southern states education, caste, textiles, the Bhakti movement. There are three more heritage sections political, socio-economic and cultural.
The political heritage section focuses on the histories of the four southern states — the many kings and kingdoms and dynasties, great rulers such as Rajaraja and Krishnadeva Raya.
The socio-economic heritage section, the largest, deals with scholars and composers, poets and poetesses, philosophers and saints, literature and literary works, tribes and festivals, coins and cuisine.
The cultural heritage section describes temples and temple towns, palaces, mosques and museums, paintings and sculptures, arts and crafts, music and dance forms, folk traditions.
A random sampling of topics from all sections: Democracy in ancient Tamil Nadu, South Indian hospitality, Kerala cuisine, Andhra Pradesh cuisine, the Zamorins of Calicut, Ramana Maharishi, costumes of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, dance festivals of South India, the art of puppetry, marriage traditions in south India, textiles of South India, royal patronage of Carnatic music, the Vindhya mountains, Ayurveda, weapons of war in ancient South India, medical science in ancient South India, temple tanks of South India, therukoothu, yakshagana, the Chennai heritage, famous village goddesses, silk weaving centres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Harikatha, the Devadasi dance heritage.
How was the book put together? The writing-compiling-editing effort was collective and voluntary. An initial exploratory meeting in December 2005 brought together experts on several heritage disciplines as well as potential contributors to the hook. Two committed lady specialists — Dr. Prema Kasturi, a professor of History, and Dr. Chithra Madhavan, an archaeologist, took primary responsibility for the book. They wrote several essays themselves, and mobilized many more from other writers.
K S Padmanahhan of East-West Publishers, L V S Vasu of Sri Venkatesa Printing House and J. Menon of Grantha Graphics converted plans to action. My thanks to them all.
The book makes no claims to depth or profundity. It reflects both the strengths and weaknesses of voluntary effort. The hook is loosely structured. It suffers effort some imbalances: Tamil Nadu subjects perhaps occupy more space than that from other states; the essays vary in length from three page to three pages. There is no uniformity in style either.
On the other hand, the hook can claim many pluses. It is well-informed, and the product of painstaking research. It reflects an earnest attempt to shed light on a complex, amorphous, many-faceted subject, and give it form, shape and substance. It is comprehensive: few aspects of heritage have been left untouched. The multiplicity of topics, writers and styles has affected uniformity, but is perhaps appropriate for a subject like the heritage of South India.
The book sponsors propose to hold a workshop on South Indian Heritage in Chennai in July 2007 for students going abroad. Lectures will be organized on different aspects of the heritage. Every seminar participant will receive a copy of the book as a gift. It’s our fond hope that the seminar and the hook will kindle a lifelong interest in our heritage, wherever the students go. Perhaps some of them will dig deeper into the subject — and maybe strengthen and promote our heritage in their own.
A separate pt-iced edition of the hook will he made available for heritage-love is in India. Let me emphasize that the book is little more than an introduction to the heritage of South India for a lay audience. It is my hope that feedback and time will lead to improved editions later.
South India has been populated since Paleolithic times and represents one of the oldest and continuing civilizations in the history of the world. By about 200 B.C., food production had led to the development of urban centres, temples and settled cultures. Having a fairly peaceful and unbroken civilization meant that societies and kingdoms were able to develop at leisure and produce some of the greatest works of literature and art.
Geography has also been kind to South India. A triangle flanked by two seas and an ocean, with mountains on three sides, it was not an easy land to conquer. The southwest monsoon which lashed the west coast gave rise to lush forests that were a source of spices, gems and other natural resources which were in great demand by traders from the west. Several rivers rise from the Western and Eastern Ghats, where a remarkable university has been preserved over the ages.
A major event in the history of South India was the journey of Rama to Lanka in search of his wife and Agastya’s migration to the South. These two major events brought a confluence of various cultures, especially those of the north and south and the several tribes who lived in the region, making today’s Indian culture a composite heritage.
The first volume of South India Heritage introduced an ancient civilization spanning over 2000 years. This edition contains several added sub- divisions: natural resources, political events, socio-economic and cultural developments, with further sub-divisions. The political events start from the beginnings of history down to the period preceding India’s independence and covers majors events in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
The socio-economic development covers important people, places and events. The sources are many: coins of the different states, the economy, education, inscriptions, libraries and literature, poets and writers, professionals, religious leaders, newspapers and news makers, people and personalities.
The comparative tranquility of the south produced religious movements, leaders and scholars, who have played a great role in the intellectual awakening. Bhakti was born here and spread all over India as a great unifying and awakening movement. Simultaneously, there was a great intellectual approach to religion, born from great saints and savants.
The greatest achievements of South India have been in the field of art and archaeology, sculpture and painting, urbanization in the form of cities and ports, and the performing arts. The great temples stand testimony to the artistic heritage of the various dynasties which had a common root, yet each had its distinct style and preferences. The plastic arts were supplemented by great developments in the performing arts. While Carnatic music was the common base, each state developed its own unique styles, which are a continuing tradition in the twenty first century.
A variety of art forms from the classical to the folk, including dying arts such as puppetry and craft such as weaving traditions have been described in great detail. The dance forms cover not only the well—known classical styles, hut also rare forms such as the Arayarsevai, Poorakkali and so On.
Mr. R.T. Chari and his family trust Ramu Endowments should be congratulated for their sincere and continuing efforts to spread awareness of South Indian culture, both in the form of lectures held regularly at the Tag Centre in Chennai and the publication of South India Heritage.
India has a great past and an enviable heritage which continues into the twenty first century. Few countries in the world can boast of such an ancient and continuous civilization. It is an inheritance we must be proud of and cherish.
A galaxy of historians and writers, led by Dr. Prema Kasturi who has nurtured the first and this second edition, introduce the reader to every aspect of South India Heritage. It is a ready reckoner for nearly every aspect of South India’s history and cultural development. A bibliography has been added for further reading.
It is an honour and pleasure to write the Foreword to the Second Edition of South India Heritage which has been mammoth task. Dr. Prema Kasturi should be congratulated for her dedicated hard work, ably supported by Dr. G. Sundaram. The publishers, editors and writers should he congratulated for their painstaking efforts to record the great events and achievements of the people of South India.
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