1. Gnani (K. Palanisamy, b. ) was born in a simple family in a village in Coimbatore district in Tamilnadu. He had his school education in Coimbatore and studied Tamil literature in Annamalai University. He worked as a Tamil teacher for 30 years in a distinguished school in Coimbatore. Though he neither served in a college nor got a Doctorate in Tamil literature, his contacts with renowned Tamil scholars and his self-learning which has continued for more than 50 years, have endowed him with a deeper knowledge of Tamil literature, both ancient and modern. His involvement in Marxism and Tamil has shaped him into a critic of Tamil Literature and contemporary Tamil society. Though he has written more than 25 books in a Marxist perspective, he has always remained aloof from the Party Communists. He is always concerned with Tamil Vitue (Aram) and the Tamil way of thinking. In his view, Tamil Virtue implies equality and socialism. We can easily call Gnani a Tamil Marxist.
2. Though he had a formal education in Tamil, he was always concerned with the Little Magazine movement in Tamilnadu. He regards highly the service of doyens like C.S. Chellappa, Ka. Naa.Su and N. Pichamoorthy in the rejuvenation of Tamil. Though he has sometimes agreed and often differed with the views of Venkat Swaminathan, Pramil and Sundara Ramaswamy, he has always appreciated them for their service. Gnani has been editing little magazines for more than 40 years. First he edited Puthia Thalaimurai and Vaanampadi. Then with a few friends’ help, he ran Marxia Ayvithazh, Parimanam and Nigazh. Lastly, he edited Thamizh Neyam. His work with the Tamil Little Magazines has made his knowledge in modern literary movements extensive.
3. Gnani has great reverence for old scholars like Maraimalai Adigal, T.P. Meenakshi sundaram and V.Sp. Manickam. Likewise he appreciates the works of Ka. Naa.Su, N. Picha moorthy, Pramil, Jeyakanthan, Sundara Ramaswamy and lately Jayamohan. Like the ancient literature in Tamil, modern literature also has contributed to the growth of Tamil language. Gnani has proved that modern Tamil Literature is not less in richness or resources than the ancient.
4. The views acquired from the Little Magazines have provided the acumen to Gnani to understand the potential of ancient Tamil literature. Tholkappiyar’s Thinai Theory can be used for analysing the whole of Tamil literature. Along with Marxism, modern movements like Periyarism, Dalitism, Feminism, Postmodernism can contribute to the growth of Tamil literature.
5. Mere scholarship in Tamil or worshipping Tamil shall not make Tamil rich. Indian Government’s recognition of Tamil as a Classical language is a good opportunity for Tamil’s advancement. It could also be taken as the last chance for the rescue of the Tamil race. It is the Tamil scholars’ responsibility to ascertain the larger contribution of the Tamil civilization in shaping the Indian civilization. Exploration in various fields like Tamil Music, Tamil Medicine, Tamil architecture and sculpture, technology, agriculture, mathmatics, science and philosopy is the timely need to do this. Also, we can regain the expertise we had in these fields which were lost during the Medieval period. Continuation of the Indus valley excavation and the study of its hieroglyphics might help a lot to understand the Tamil contribution to Indian culture.
6. True Tamil scholarship will not prostrate before power, money or fame. During the Sangam period, poets and scholars had the power to advise the kings on the political happenings of their times. Today also poets’ service in this direction is needed. The perfidy of the political party leaders to Tamil shall be always despised by the Tamil scholars. Tamil Eelam’s liberation was ruined by them. What kind of future we can expect from them, for the freedom of the Tamils living in Tamilnadu?
7. Tamil research should not be confined to literature and grammar alone. It should be deeply concerned with the day to day problems of the Tamil people. Love for Tamil cannot be limited to language alone. Tamil way of living, Tamil Aram, the landscape, the water and land resources of Tamilnadu, its industrial growth – everything should be keenly attended to. Everybody involved in such matters should keep in mind the fact that we are the heirs of Valluvar, Ilango, Bharati and Bharatidasan. Verily we have to live by Bharatidasan’s dictum, Tamil is our soul.
8. One third of Tamil Literature is concerned with Bhakti. Raw rationalist approaches cannot help the study of Bhakti literature. Knowledge of many fields is a necessity.
Gnani expressess these views in all his writings which extend to more than 5000 pages in print. His life is in accordance to his views.
9. Gnani has never sought fame or greatness. He is always concerned with the tribulations of Tamil. In his writings he speaks about how the hard times came over to Tamil and the Tamil race. For example, the Indian government has accepted globalization, and through that, acknowledged the dominance of the world powers. Tamil Language and the Tamil people face destruction because of this move. We cannot agree with the Tamil politicians who cooperate with the Indian government. We have no future without socialism. In the above criticism, we hear the voices of the noble poets of Sangam in Gnani.
10. We can reread Tamil literature with the aim of developing a Tamil philosophy and enhancing our lives. We are still in need of Valluvar, Ilango and Seethalai Sathanar. Mere literary appreciation shall not help solve our problems. We have to find our stength and energy from our literature. Literary studies should go beyond language through society and history to philosophy. We can accept existentialist views which delve into the meaning of life. If we can follow Valluvar’s moral principles, Ilango’s revolutionary views, Kamban’s sensitivity, the Tamil race shall become everlasting and never fade, as Bharati said.
11. Because of his great reverence for the Scholars of Tamil Gnani says that he is only a student of Tamil. He works in congruence with the movements on Natural farming, Green movement, People’s rights movements and movements on Tamil Nationalism. In this also, he claims to be a student of Tamil.
12. Just by glancing over his 25 books, the Little magazines he has authored, and the collections of articles and short stories edited by him, and the collection of his writings published by Kavya we know about Gnani’s lifelong achievements. We understand that he is deeply concerned with the improvement of the Tamils, their lives and their history. Though his eyesight has been impaired for more than 20 years, we cannot but appreciate the tasks performed by him in this direction, without rest, only with the help of few assistants and friends.
13. Gnani joined hands with institutions like Ilakkiya Ayvarangu, Tamil kalam, Tamil Ariviyakkam, and lastly Tamil peravai. He has spawned a number of creative writers and Tamil scholars around Coimbatore. Though he himself is not a Doctor of philosophy, he has helped a few people in achieving that honour. He has participated and given monographs, beginning speeches and concluding remarks in many seminars and conferences held by almost all the Universities in Tamilnadu. Though he never went seeking awards, the awards (like Vilakku award) came to him voluntarily. The last award to him was the one given by Tamil Thottam, a forum run by the Eelam Tamilians of Canada in 2009.
NOTES ON GNANI’S WORKS
1. Indian Life and Marxism – foreword for a discussion (1976)
Gnani examines the relationship between Indian life and Marxism in this book. Without an internal compulsion, one shoul not accept the Marxism. Indians believe in a Supreme being. It extends beyond formal variations, rituals or myths. Gnani quotes here the words of Tagore that If we delve into the concept of the Supreme God, we only find ourselves seeking the principles of the universe, history and humanity. Gnani’s writing presents his faith in Unity in Diversity. If everything is Brahmam as put forward by the Vedanta philosophy, Indian religions and culture cannot stand in favour of class, caste or other differences. What religions say about Moksha or Mukthi or Parinirvana could be only paths leading to human liberation. Indian life can be understood through Marxism only. Ignoring the external manifestations of the religions, we should go to the basics and then only we can see God within us. Hence Indian life can be cherished only through Marxism. We should go deepex
2. A beautiful house on a sand dune (1979)
This is a critique on J. Krishnamoorthy’s concepts in his own style. Gnani interprets and criticises JK with deep reverence. He takes 30 important sayings from JK’s writings for examination and presents his own ideas thereon. JK’s ideas are like a beautiful house built on a sand dune. JK’s views cannot help us build our life. But his insights might help us. Gnani accepts JK’s ideas of Consciousness and awareness. Man should live in the present moment. He should not get frozen in old ideas. Gnani adds that even in a class struggle, man should possess perfect consciousness. Man is nothing without an awareness of the known. From his awareness, It is possible to renew himself. JK has no religion. But there is religiosity within him. With JK, there is the possibility of a remote God. His God is expressed through the words – Timeless, Which can not be known by us and Inner awareness. Marxism need not consider JK as an antagonist.
3. Kalligai (1984, 1986)
This is a long poem in the form of a free verse, inspired by the Vanampadi Movement which sprang up from Coimbatore. The story of Akaligai (Ahalya) in Ramayana has been recreated and rewritten by many writers, like Pudumaippittan, in modern times. Gnani has recreated the story with a Marxist outlook. This work is a simple evidence of the poetic talent which resides within Gnani.
Man is torn inside, when private property and the institution of state come into existence. On oneside private property and the state rule over him; on another side, religion ensnares him. Man is torn between these two. When society is divided into classes, this is the fate of man, as we can see from history. Until private property and state die away, this situation will continue.
Gnani sees man’s binded-ness in Ahalya. Torn between Indra and Gauthama, she chooses to become a stone and waits for the time when Rama will appear as a simple man, shorn of his crown and weath. The poem depicts her pitiable condition.
Rama, losing his wealth and right to the throne, takes the poor and the tribal people as his kith and kin. He destroys Ravana, who is in the zenith of his power. But when he returns to Ayodhya, he becomes an emblem of power, and sends Sita in exile. This is Gnani’s interpretation of Ramayana in the light of Marxism.
In this book, there is another poem by name Enakkul oru Vaanam (A sky inside me). Gnani’s friend Devaraj, who had faith in Marxist thought, became alienated within himself as a result of a family problem and committed suicide. Gnani tells his story with a few changes. This poem presents an elaborate view of the alienation theory. A Marxist party which has no faith in alienation can not help its members or the people. In this poem, Gnani deals with the stories of Yudhistra and Nala also, in this light.
4. Marxism and Tamil literature (1988)
This book is about 400 pages long. It contains about 30 articles written from 1970 to date. We have to emphasize that Gnani’s views are different from those of Party Communists, chiefly in that, according to Gnani, Marx’s theory of alienation helps not only to understand religion, but also art and literature.
Here Gnani analyzes a few literary pieces, taken from Sangam anthologies to Modern writings. The seven donors of the Sangam period were those that outlasted from an earlier socialist society. Private property and the state machinery came into existence gradually in the Sangam period. The Virtuous poets of the period did not approve of this change. They spoke against private property and the state. When the family system was established in favour of private property, Sangam period got terminated. After that, the bards and poets could not find any patronage. Having concubines became the way of life for the rich. The Party Marxists criticize that Valluvar, Ilango and Kambar were with the ruling class. Gnani emphasises that the great poets stood on behalf of the common man. Kambar spoke against the Ravanas found everywhere in the Chola period.
A socialist conception of society can be seen largely among the old Tamil poets. The
thoughts of Kaniyan Poongunranar through Valluvar and other great poets, to Siddhars reveal this. This point of view continues through Pudumaippittan and Jeyakanthan in modern times. Gnani does not approve of the Ezhuthu poets who lack a socialist stance. Man can revitalize himself only through close contact with Nature and Society. When he goes deep within himself, he understands the collective unconscious that binds him with society and nature, as Jung said. This collective unconscious becomes the fountain of poesy. Poesy is the name of the creative talent in Man. In this way Marxism and Literature join hands together. The poets of Vaanampadi had relationship with Marxism in this way. Party communists lack this insight. Gnani sees that Bharati was also a Siddhar within himself. Gnani’s views on Bharati’s Kannan pattu are commendable.
Gnani criticizes the views of Party Communists on Art and Literature. Reflection, according to Lenin’s view, is not passive, it is actively inspiring. There place for man’s reciprocity. Though it is a truism that environment changes man, Gnani emphasizes that man also changes his environment, according to Marx. Gnani does not approve of the theory of socialist realism put forward by the Communist party. It also controls man with its power. But artists always oppose domination in any form. Gnani speaks elaborately on the history and metaphysics that are inter woven and function in literature.
5. From a distance (Tholaivilirunthu-1988)
This book contains many of the short poems of Gnani. These poetic pieces express his experience of the changes in the family life due to his involvement in Vaanampadi movement. He distances himself to narrate how he came to be influenced by the Marxist Party which affected his family life. A few poems propose that he has come from a distance. He even does not want to trod on grass as it will be a show of his dominance over other beings. People are imprisoned by the party ideology. The pattern of socialism followed in the Soviet Union has caused a lot of pain to its people. His poems in this collections are completely devoid of any kind of rhetorical element. They are colourless. They might not be accepted as poetical compositions, but they are expressions of his deep insights. These poems show that spirituality is possible within Marxist thought also.
6. Tamil literature from a creative point of view (1994)
Glass is a miraculous thing in the sense that it is completely different from the sand and the limestone which went inside it. In high temperatures, they have combined to form a new object. This is the result of a leap, says Gnani. This is in accordance with the dialectic method. Literature is also born in this way.
Gnani extends the concepts of Muthal porul, Karupporul and Uripporul, and the theories of Akam and Puram (found in Sangam literature) to the literatue of modern times. He also applies the new concepts of Modernism and Postmodernism to Tamil literature in a creative way. Realism can not be destroyed. It can absorb Modernism and survive. Tamil literature has imbibed casteism and male domination. Our creative talent shall flourish only by getting rid of these evils. Postmodernism which speaks against domination cannot be an opponent of Marxism. Marxists can embrace the leftist views found in postmodernism.
7. Culturall crises in Tamilnadu(2004)
People think that Marxism has no future because of the end of socialism in Soviet Union. In reality, Soviet Socialism, which had taken in capitalist tendencies, only has been obliterated. Gnani opines that this is the time to show the real power residing within Marxism. This is also the view of Gnani’s Marxist Guru S.N. Nagarajan. Gnani analyzes the cultural problems of Tamilnadu in this light.
In late eighties, Dalit, Periyarist, Feminist views have taken root in some regions of Tamilnadu. The ideologues of these movements think that Marxism is a grand narrative and say that grand narratives have no future. Micropolitics and microideology only shall survive. But Gnani asserts that Marxism does not accept dominance in any form and discusses the above views.
For example, though Periyar first preached socialism, Periyarism opposes casteism, religion and brahminism severely, but it does not criticize private property or state power. Capitalism is contained within Periyarism. If we include socialistic thoughts in Periyarism, it can help us. The capitalistic forces and the market economy, along with the intervention of multinational companies in India have increased conusmerist tendencies to the maximum, which has caused the destruction of nature to the utmost level.
In the name of market economy, exploitation and dominance by the state have grown enormously. Dominance over Dalits and women have grown many times in this situation. Tamil language and Tamil Nationalism are subjected to danger. Though these are seen as cultural crises, these are really philosophical issues, as Gnani points out in the foreword. By only embracing the Marxist view which emphasizes socialism, we can purge away the capitalist tendencies found within Periyarist, Dalit, Feminist and Tamil Nationalist approaches.
This book is one of the finest works of Gnani.
8. Tamil Novels in Eighties (1994)
In this book Gnani discusses sixty five novels written by thirty Tamil writers during Nineteen Eighties. New approaches to the study of novel entered the Tamil field from the beginning of Eighties: A novel need not not have a plot with a centre; a story that connects all the aspects of a novel is not a necessity; in fact, no story at all is needed; especially stories in which the hero is in the centre, and other characters run around him, are condemned. The novel with a centre constructs dominance. All characters in a novel should have equal importance. The novel need not have a beginning, growth or end in the customary sense. It need not aspire towards social change.
Such novels have been written by Asokamitran, S. Kandasamy and Shankara Narayanan in the eighties. But Indra Parthasarathy, Rajam Krishnan and S. Samudram have written with a view that realism is still needed. Rajam Krishnan’s novels have recorded the Tamil society in many fields. Hence her place is in the first row of the Tamil Novelists. Though Samudram’s novels have flaws in construction, his novels emphasize social justice.
Gnani also takes into account new novelists like Rajeswari Balasubramaniam. This type of ‘novel’ studies are very much needed in Tamil.
9. Why God does not die (1996)
The essays in this book have been written with the idea that upto the time when mysteries about the Universe, history and the individual life are unravelled, the concept of god gets resurrected again and again. In these studies, Gnani has used the deconstructive method gainfully.
The Periyarists and the party marxists lack any insight into how the concept of god evolved and grew. Hence they could not find success in changing the common man’s belief in god, religion and mythology. Gnani provokes a discussion about the views of Periyar and party marxists.
He takes into account his own experience of advaita in his youth. Advaita is a peak experience. When it is brought to the mundane level, it becomes socialistic in nature. Vivekananda and Bharati did thus. Christianity has found a socialistic perspective in liberation theology. Hinduism is devoid of such ideas.
10. Modernism and Postmodernism in Tamil (1997)
The first article of this book is on modernism in Tamil. Other articles are on Marxism and Tamil traditon. The party Marxists oppose both modernism and postmodernism.
Gnani says that the ideas put forward by postmodernism – text, construction, deconstruction and so on – are in no way averse to Marxism. Instead they shall enhance the Marxist study of literature. He exemplifies this by analyzing three novels – Vaadamalli by S.Samudram, Kaathugal by M.V. Venkatram and Sarithirathil padintha nizhalgal by Thamizhavan. Gnani does not approve right wing postmodernism.
The article on Tamil tradition is an elaborate study on Dravidian movement. Periyar’s movement was only one of the branches of it. Another branch was promoted by Prof. Sundaram Pillai, who emphasized Saivism. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is another branch which had roots in politics. Another important branch is the Tamil National movement which grows today.
11. Puthia Darisanangal-Literary merits and Politics (1997)
When the novel Puthia Darisanangal came out, Gnani identified it as the fittest one to receive Sahitya Akademi award and wrote this to Ponneelan, the writer of the novel. Gnani also takes into account the letters that came to the Novelist and the reviews published in the magazines. Some articles were written anew. These form the content of this book.
Puthia Darisanangal is a huge novel having about 1900 pages. Such a big novel – dealing with the days of emergency (declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975) – can not be written in any other language in India. The novel is about the communal clashes which took place in the southern part of Tamilnadu in the days of emergency. The developed Nadar community and the oppressed Mallar community fought with each other violently. Political parties intervened. With more than fifty characters, the story broadens like Akanda Kaviri. The members of the Communist party of India, who were with Indira Gandhi, met with defeat. Criticisms on the right wing communists, Dalit movement and Feminism abound in the novel. It is considered one of the greatest among Tamil novels. The articles of the book establish this fact.
12.Discourses on Tamil Nationalism (1997)
India has no federal system of government. Socialism has also been dropped from its agenda. The five year plans only helped the growth of capitalists. There is no coordinated growth among the various states.The Eastern states were neglected. Democracy was weak. With the growth of the military, the Central Government’s actions meted out only exploitation and oppression on the people. The Central Governement snatched the powers of the state governments. The needs of the states regarding their language, culture and economy were not attended to. Because of reasons like these, uprisings erupted in Kashmir, Punjab and other states. The Tamil people also are in need of a rebellion for their liberation.
This book was published in association with Tamizhiam. It contains speeches by comrades P.R. Kuppusamy, K.S. Anandan, Anaimuthu, Maniarasan, Tamilnadan and S.N. Nagarajan. It puts forward the history, philosophy, culture and literature for the liberation of the Tamil race. This book is an important document in clarifying the ideas on Tamil Nationalism.
13. Tamilanban’s creativity and his views (1998)
After the little magazines Ezhuthu and Ka-cha-ta-tha-pa-ra, among those who wrote with social content and beautiful imagery, Tamilanban is an important poet. He brought out more than ten collections of poems under the influence of Vaanampadi movement. Periyarism and Marxism found expression in him. Even in poetical forums, his poetic energy did not recede. He has written beautifully on Periyar, Bharati, Bharatidasan and Mao. He has written poems on contemporary problems, which are remarkable for their Dalitist, Feminist and Environmental awareness. In his recent poetry a metaphysical outlook overrules other thoughts. He went to America, but he has only criticized its dominance over other countries. He is not a great poet, but a few elements pointing to such a kind of poetic power are found in his poems. This book expresses Gnani’s views on poetry as well as Tamilanban’s admirable qualities as a poet. Gnani enumerates the superior poems from Tamilanban’s collections. Gnani’s book makes us feel for the scarcity of such criticisms on modern Tamil poetry.
14. Marxism shall not fade (2001)
Is Marxism just a political ideology or an economic theory? If it is politics, what kind of politics is it? If it is on economics, what kind of economic views are presented in it? Is dominating over others acceptable to Marxism? Why socialism had been thrown out of Soviet union? What was the necessity for the atrocities committed in the Stalin period? Mao told that one cultural revolution is not enough, thousands are necessary. Is it true that all of us can survive only through destroying nature? Thinking on Marxism, many such questions arise in our minds. What is Marxism basically? Dominance always destroys the people who are under it as well as who dominate them. Exploitation and oppression destroy human life. We have no need for dominance in any form. We have no need for war. We have no need for competition and envy. Working and sharing are the best principles to live with. Life finds its meaning only through these principles. Man cannot afford to lose such principles. Hence Marxism shall not fade out of history. These are the main points discussed in this book.
15. Rereading Tamil literature (2001)
Old Tamil literature comprising Sangam poems, Tirukkural, Silappathikaaram, Manimegalai, Perunkathai and Kambar’s monumental epic-these all have been praised with great fervour until now. What is the reason behind this? These literatures have some life within. To bring out this living impulse, we have to employ rereading. We all have creative and critical faculty within us. Contemporary history and social relationships reside within ourselves. With these faculties, we interpret and reinterpret ancient literatures according to our views and times. We cannot read Valluvar’s or Ilango’s writings according to their times or their experiences. Parimelazhagar and others interpreted Valluvar according to their own times and experiences. We can interpret great authors like Valluvar according to our intentions. Great literatures come near us in this way. Gnani emphasizes reading according to our times in this book. This is considered an important work of Gnani.
16. From opposite angles (Philosophy, Religion and Humanity-2002)
Many questions arise when we study philosophy, religion and humanity. They intervene and oppose each other. Religion tries to interpret the meaning of life. But we have no one particular meaning. Many and many are there. Philosophy analyzes human nature. There is no single philosophy. There are many many. Religions are also many. What is the meaning of life? There are many answers to the question. But every answer contains truth in some way, partially. There is no movement without oppositions. Research also functions like this. It has no end.
There are many types of articles in this book. Gandhism or Marxism? Religion or Humanism? There is an article on J. Krishnamoorthy. An article on Bernard Shaw is also there. Gnanai says that Shaw was a scientist. The article on Shaw says that the western concept of Existentialism is also needed for us. Shall brahminism come to an end? Could we get rid of it? How can we remove the brahminism which is in our minds? Till religions are there, religous clashes shall arise. Could we get rid of religions? Is it necessary? Capitalists exploit people. But even in the socialist period exploitation might continue. When shall it come to an end? Thinking from opposite angles is a necessity for us.
17. From poetry to metaphysics (2002)
Gnani has written a lot on Tamil poetry and Tamil poets. But evaluating a particular poet is not his method. He searches for the poesy residing within the poet. There is nobody without poetic faculty. A poet finds the poesy within his mind. He surrenders himself to it. Then he could not but write poetry. Poetry springs from the unconscious. This unconscious is not a particular individual’s. As Jung says, this is the collective unconscious of the society. When a man gets into this collectivity, he loses himself. He dissolves in the society and history. Then there is only the humanity which is the oldest and original. The poet becomes a Siddha or Buddha. Sky and Earth serve him. He is the original poet. He is a philosopher. Poetry begins as poetry, but dissolves into philosophy.
18. Tamil, Tamilians and the Tamil movement (2003)
We live with great hardships like globalization. The Tamils have 5000 to 10000 years of history and tradition. How are we going to survive and save ourselves from the contemporary difficulties? How to face this question? Our Sangam literature is great poetry. How great is Tamil Grammar! Tamil music and Tamil system of medicines are really very subtle. Can any equivalence to Tamil sculptures be found? Tamil civilization is no less equal to the world’s great civilzations like the Greek and Chinese. Can we afford to lose it in today’s critical position? Tamil is not the medium of education in our schools today. Tamil is not the official language today. Even in Temples Tamil is not found. English dominates everywhere. Tamil poets like Valluvar and Ilango are not respected. There is no Tamil education. How did we end up in this pathetic situation? Shall any state power rescue us? Shall any of the Tamil movements save us? Gnani is accosted with hundreds of such questions in this book.
19. Searchings and findings from Tamil Novels (2004)
This book contains criticisms on more than forty Tamil novelists’ works. It has criticisms on writers like Ka. Naa.Su, Nakulan, Sundara Ramaswamy, Ashokamitran, Jeyakanthan, La. Sa. Ra. and M.V. Venkatram who belong to the previous generation. Gnani also analyzes the next generation writers like Jayamohan, M.G.Suresh, Shankara Narayanan, Balakumaran, Chinnappa Bharati and Ponneelan. Some Novelists are taken as a whole; while only one particular work of a few novelists is taken for analysis sometimes. When Gnani enters into a novel, he first views the characters’ experiences-how they are connected with history and contemporary society. Then he goes on to study the novelists’ point of view of history and social ideas within their ideological stances. Sometimes he goes even beyond their historical viewpoints. He questions the limited ideological standpoints of the novelists and comments that if they had augmented their ideas they would have created better novels and better characters. These articles are examples of Gnani’s minute critical faculty.
20. Tamil way of life – its path and direction (2005)
Tamil Siddhars’ Literature is the centre of whole Tamil literature. This is the main idea behind many of the articles in this book. Siddhars have no caste, no religion, no rituals. They are theists, but their gods have no form, no worship. No confusions. When we go deep into the thoughts of Valluvar, Ilango and Sathanar, we find their ideas are almost similar to Siddhars’. Kaniyan Poongunranar is also a Siddhar. Sangam poets did not give importance to private property and state power. In Bhakti literature we see that God is in the form of love, God is love, and He is bound by love. Kambar’s depiction of God is also similar to this. Tamil Aram or virtue is the only Tamil way of life. Periyar, Jeyakanthan and Pudumaippittan can also be seen only in the light of Thayumanavar and Vallalar. What is the path and direction of Tamil life, according to Gnani? Tamil way is the way of Siddhars. It is the Way of equality, Way of socialism. We don’t need discrimination of any sort. We don’t need any domination. Working and sharing are the highest virtues.
21. God, I and forty years (2006)
While studying in Annamalai University, Gnani was attracted by the thoughts of Vivekananda and Aurobindo. He studied them deeply. He felt in his meditation (Dhyanam) that he was also Brahmam. What he learnt from childhood, the ideas and images of grown up people and religionists, expressed themselves in the experience of Gnani inside and outside. This is according to the explanation given by William James. The image of the Brahmam he felt inside was a deep, dense Superior feeling. How to understand it? Even if we use scientific methods to study the Universe, history, nature and human life, the concept of God evades us as a mystery. God lives in riddles. For forty years, Gnani has the experience of searching God within and without. God is a great puzzle, it evades our search.
22. Valluvar’s ethics and aesthetics (2007)
We read Thirukkural even now, in the beginning of the twentyfirst century. The concepts of Valluvar look very contemporary. Had Valluvar faith in God? In the first Kural he worships Adhi Bhagavan. He is not a god. Then he reveres Rain. Then he praises those who have renounced their worldly desires. Then he reveres Virtue(Aram). In the two paths of virtue, the familial gets the first place. Renunciation comes only next. He loves children, venerates motherhood. He scolds false renouncers. Man can overcome his destiny. Even if you are refused a heavenly place, help others. The use of wealth is in giving away to others. If a village pond is full, it is used by all the people. Similarly, if wealth accumulates in one place, it should be used by all. Renouncing is nothing but enduring one’s sufferings. Valluvar reveres peasants. He talks about natural medicine. The king who gathers tax by torturing people is a thief. Army shall not give a king victory. For the virtuous, poverty is a beauty. One who is not affected by any kind of calamity is a virtuous man. Valluvar venerates the wise. Venerates love. Study of Tirukkural is an urgency for us all.
23. Tamil philosophy, then and now (2008)
Philoshophy is taken to be religion by many rationalists. Marxists believe that dialectics is the philosophy of Marxism. We fail to see the philosophy of life put forward by Tamil literature. Philosophy searches for a meaning for life. It is not limited to religious definitions. Rationalists and Marxists cannot find satisfaction without searching for the philosophical truth. Sekkizhar reduced Meypporul Nayanar as a Saivist. He could not see the truth inside him. Enmity does not give meaning to life. One who goes beyond enmity is a philosopher. Meypporul Nayanar behaved like one.
In this collection, two articels are important. One is on the philosophy found in Sangam literature. The next one is on Valluvar’s philosophy. The man who has renounced all his desires becomes a part of nature, like a plant, like a flower. Valluvar calls this Unchangeable Nature. Philosophy gives satisfaction to life. Kopperun Chozhan thus only conquered death. How many poets died with him and how?
24. Nigazh anthology of articles (2009)
The magazine Nigazh was started in 1983 with the help of friends. But Gnani himself brought it out individually from 1988 to 1986. Totally 32 issues. After the expulsion of Socialism from Soviet Union, Marxism lost its respect worldwide. In this situation, Tamil thinkers began talking about Periyarism, Feminism, Dalitism and Postmodernism. Gnani published articles in Nigazh which clarified that what was lost in Soviet Union was not true socialism, it was socialism which contained capitalism within it. If we expel the capitalist aspects found within contemporary Marxist thought, it shall flourish. Marxist thought which gives importance to politics and economy shall not win. It should gather ideas from movements like Periyarism. Nigazh brought out many articles through friends which support this point of view. They wrote on politics, economy, spirituality, Natural agriculture, liberation theology and so on. Literary creations, critical articles, poems, stories, research articles and reviews were published in Nigazh. Nigazh’s achievement is great in the history of Tamil little magazines. Excluding articles on literature, Gnani arranged ninety five essays on other subjects, around 1000 pages, to be published as a book by Kavya publication. Good translations were also published. Articles by thinkers around the world, which came close to Marxist thinking were also published. Gnani is happy that this collection of articles is worthy to be published in any language of the world.
25. Sangam literature, a classical view (2010)
The Indian government accepted Tamil as a classical language. This is a good opportunity to spread the greatness of Tamil, Tamil history and Tamil culture. Gnani published this book with a view of analyzing Sangam literature with a classical point of view. He presents evidences from Sangam literature, Tirukkural and Silappathikaram which expound the Tamil Virtue. Tamil Virtue only can save the Tamil race. Tamil virtue is nothing but socialism and equality, which are greatly needed now.
When the tribal Tamil society was transformed into a feuda socieity which favoured private property and state power, the equality found in the tribal community was taken as the principal value by the Tamil poets of virtue in the Sangam age. This Tamil Aram or virtuous principles has been present continuously in the minds of the Tamil poets all through the twenty centuries. This is the humanist essence found in Tamil literature. Gnani proves these, in every article found in this book. This is one of the important works of Gnani.
26. Tamil Literature-present and future (2010)
Man is the centre of any literary writing. When a protagonist is portrayed as a lover, a hero who carries out the orders of the king, a saint, or a merchant, the human essence in the centre is forgotten. The protagonist in religious literature is a Saivaite or Vaishnavaite. In the epics he is a great hero. A king who conquers many countries. All along the times, literature has depicted man like this, reducing or expanding him. But Sangam literature is an exception. In our times, man has been portrayed with his essential self. He has freed himself from religious dominance, from commerciality, from lust and other evils. He is by nature a poet himself. He loves nature. He shares himself with others. He is the worker, giver of meaning to the world, one who has dissolved himself in the universe. We have to find him in Tamil literature.
27. Vaanampadi movement, its history and learnings (2011)
In the New poetry movement of the 20th century, Vaanampadi movement founded in Coimbatore in the seventies became a turning point. In its beginning fervour, it made hundreds of youths write poetry. It grew analysing social crises in the Marxist point of view. Poets like Puviyarasu, Sirppi, Mehta, Agniputhiran, Tamilnadan actively participated in this movement. Gnani, Jana.Sundaram and Jeeva Oli joined hands with them. Formerly, in the New poetry movement started by N. Picha murthi, Ka. Naa. Su and C.S. Chellappa, a social dimension was missing, and it was added by Vaanampadi movement. It became a turning point thus. But difference of opinion split the movement. Though Vaanampadi brought out only twenty two issues, the movement is an achievement in the long history of Tamil poetry. Gnani had participated in the movement as a poet and critic. He has written about the history and teachings of the movement. This book is an evidence of Gnani’s terse critical writing.
28. Marxism and the liberation of humanity (2012)
An important article in this collection is by name, ‘What is our future-Socialism or annihilation?’ The Multinational companies bring everything in the world under their control. They destroy nature and call it industrial growth. Water, earth and air are denatured and polluted. Consumerism makes people dacoits and destroyers. These should be stopped at any cost. Natural resources are open to all humanity. They are free for every human being. Since they began to be sold, crores of people suffer for a good life. All kinds of dominance should be curbed. This is the essence of Marxism. Socialism is the only aim of Marxism. Only if we accept Marxism, we have future. Marxism is the only way for human liberation. Buddha, Jesus, Valluvar and Vallalar inspire this Aram within us.
29. Why God is not dead yet? ( )
Periayarists and Marxists have no faith in the existence of God. In Tamilnadu, though the rationalists and Marxists have tried to root out God, people have not lost faith. Gnani probes for an answer for this situation. Gnani writes about his college day experience of feeling wonderfully, ‘I am the Brahmam’ and why he left the belief in god afterwards. The mysteries found in human life and nature are the reasons behind the faith in God. Gnani examines the views of renowned religious leaders and scholars. He raises questions about the experiences of these so- called scholars. When hardships tend to increase in a society, new religious leaders and new gods are produced.
30. Why we need Tamil nationalism ( )
Tamilnadu has an ancient history and culture. But Tamil people are losing their dignity in Tamilnadu. Tamil is not the medium of instruction. Tamil is not the medium in temple worships and courts. Tamil is not the official language. In the central governance, Tamil has no place at all. Tamilians could not fight for their own race, the Tamils of the Eelam. The Tamilnadu government cannot safeguard Tamil language, Tamil people and their rights and the Natural resources of Tamilnadu. The constitution of India does not accept the sovereignity of its national races. The English who governed formerly, for their commercial needs, constructed India as an artificial state with military strength.Even now, India remains a subcontinent rather than a nation. The regional states quarrel among them. A state which has developed, exploits other states which are undeveloped. The Indian government oppressed the fight of the Kashmiris for their freedom. All powers reside only in the centre. Only by acknowledging the centre, the states can survive. Hence it is the necessity of the regional states have to fight for their liberation. Tamil people should fight for their liberation.
31. Parimaanam-collection of articles (2012)
Many changes occurred worldwide in Marxist theory during 1978 to 1985. Gnani, with a mind to discuss about these changes, with the help of a few friends, published the magazine Parimaanam. Fourteen issues came out. The last three issues were published from Chennai with S.V. Rajadurai as editor. Exhaustive articles on Soviet and Chinese varieties of Marxism, and articles written by Scholars on Indian history have been published. Critiques on Periyarism, Kamba Ramayanam and Tamil philosophy are also found. Every issue contained an editorial by name Nam Parvai (Our view). Articles on alienation theory were written by S.N. Nagarajan and S.V. Rajadurai and their interviews were also brought out. Parimanam is an individual achievment which the Party marxists could not do in India.
32. Tamil Neyam-Inside and Outside (1998-2005)
In the Tamil Neyam magazine, run by Gnani from 1998 to 2005, a feature called Akamum Puramum (Inside and Outside) took place in each issue. It talked about the social problems of the Tamils. Topics varied from Koodankulam, Sethu strait Project, Mansanto seeds, the struggles of the Eelam Tamils etc. to the achievements of some Tamil scholars. Opinions in this article were straight forward and terse. Tamil readers used to read this feature with deep interest. Gnani has recorded his inner feelings in this feature. He wrote about American power mongering, the cooperation of Indian government with that and the antagonistic behaviour of the Tamil politicians. Puthuppunal published this collection (about 250 pages) in 2013.
33. Puthupunal-Akamum Puramum (2011-2013)
After Tamil Neyam, Gnani continued the inside and outside feature in Puthuppunal magazine during 2011 and 2012. These were collected and published as a book by Puthuppunal publications.