Tamil and Tamilar Studies

Initiative to Establish an Institute for Tamil and Tamilar Diaspora Studies at Florida International University

Tamil, a language spoken by about 85 million people in India and other places, including Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, and Europe, is one of the oldest surviving classical languages in the world dating back more than 2000 years. Its history, literature, and culture are inexhaustibly rich. The Tamil language has played a significant part in the development of Indian religions, including Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Christianity. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Hinduism of today would be utterly different if it had not been for the great poet-saints of Tamil, who developed the traditions of Hindu devotion that characterize Hinduism wherever it is practiced. In addition to the richness of its older heritage, Tamil has an immense and growing modern literature and a vast entertainment industry that includes, among other things, film, television, dance, and music. Tamil is a language of great importance for the world, both in its classical manifestations and in its dynamic life of today.

This initiative is to create a robust, self-sufficient institute that focuses not only on language and history but also on the arts, customs, and traditions of Tamil. We hope to create an institute of Tamil learning that will enable scholarly research into and teaching of the many aspects of Tamil and its culture. The institute will serve not only the enormous Tamil diaspora in this country and around the world but also Tamilars in India and Sri Lanka, who will be invited to participate. There is a need for a project such as this. Tamilars, both in India and around the world, are increasingly becoming aware of how precious their language and culture are. As a result, more and more are getting involved in efforts to understand and perpetuate the richness of their traditions and history. Now is the ideal time to establish an institute for the study of Tamil and its culture.

To develop the institute that is envisioned, the support of all Tamilars will be needed. While individual Tamil chairs have been established at other universities, there is a great need for an institute that includes more than one professor and brings together all aspects of Tamil studies and culture. The ultimate goal of the institute is to become the beacon for the Tamilar diaspora and to all those fascinated by the language and culture. Within this larger initiative, we envision several entities that will be developed in parallel, as listed below.

We hope that you will contribute to this initiative, which is of such importance for Tamil and Tamilars diaspora. Your contribution will help to establish a vibrant and comprehensive institute in the US so that the study of the language and its culture can flourish for our children and grandchildren.

We hope that you will leave your or your family’s legacy by adopting/endowing the various proposed projects. The minimum commitment to endow any of the projects is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully-funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to support one of the projects below, contact Dr. Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

தமிழ் மற்றும் தமிழர் புலம்பெயர் ஆய்வுகளுக்கான நிறுவனத்தை நிலைநாட்ட முயற்சி

@ புளோரிடா சர்வதேச பல்கலைக்கழகம்

தமிழ் இந்தியாவிலும் இலங்கை, சிங்கப்பூர், மலேசியா, கனடா மற்றும் ஐரோப்பா உள்ளிட்ட பிற இடங்களிலும் சுமார் 85 மில்லியன் மக்கள் பேசும் மொழி. இம்மொழியின் வரலாறு 2000 ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் மேல். ஆகவே உலகின் மிகப் பழமையான பாரம்பரிய மொழிகளில் இதுவும் ஒன்றாகும். தமிழ் வரலாறு, இலக்கியம் மற்றும் கலாச்சாரம் விவரிக்க முடியாத அளவிற்கு செறிவூட்டிய மொழி. பௌதிகம், சமணம், இஸ்லாம் மற்றும் கிறித்துவம் உள்ளிட்ட இந்திய மதங்களின் வளர்ச்சியில் இது ஒரு குறிப்பிடத்தக்க பங்கைக் கொண்டுள்ளது. அதே சமயம் தமிழின் சிறந்த கவிப்பாடும் துறவிகள் இல்லாதிருந்தால் இன்றைய இந்து மதம் முற்றிலும் மாறுபட்டதாக இருக்கும் என்று கூறுவது மிகையாகாது. இத்துறவிகள் இந்து மத பக்தி மரபுகளை வளர்த்தவர்கள் மற்றும் இந்து மதத்தை நடைமுறைக்கு வகைப்படுத்த்தினர். அதன் பழைய பாரம்பரியத்தின் செழுமையைத் தவிர தற்போது தமிழில் அளவற்ற வளர்ந்து வரும் நவீன இலக்கியங்கள், நடனம் இசை மற்றும் பொழுதுபோக்குத் துறை (திரைப்படம், தொலைக்காட்சி) பல உள்ளன. பாரம்பரிய சரித்திரமும் மற்றும் தற்போதைய வளர்ச்சியும் தமிழ் மொழியை உலகிற்கு மிகவும் முக்கியத்துவம் வாய்ந்த ஒரு மொழி என்று என்று கூறலாம்.

இந்த முயற்சி, மொழி வரலாறு கலை, கலாச்சசாரம், பழக்கவழக்கங்கள் மற்றும் மரபுகள் ஆகியவற்றிலும் கவனம் செலுத்தும் ஒரு வலுவான, தன்னிறைவு தமிழ் கற்றல் நிறுவனத்தை உருவாக்குவதே. இது தமிழ் மற்றும் அதன் கலாச்சாரத்தின் பல அம்சங்களைப் பற்றிய அறிவார்ந்த ஆராய்ச்சியையும் கற்பிக்கவதற்கும் உதவும். இந்த மையம் இந்த நாட்டிலும் உலகெங்கிலும் உள்ள மகத்தான அமெரிக்காவில் குடியிருக்கும் தமிழ் புலம்பெயர்ந்தோருக்கு மட்டுமல்லாமல், இந்தியாவிலும், இலங்கையிலும் மலேசியாவில், சிங்கப்பூரில் உள்ள தமிழர்களுக்கும் சேவை செய்யும். இது போன்ற ஒரு திட்டத்தின் தேவை தெளிவாக உள்ளது. உலகெங்கிலும் உள்ள தமிழ் மக்கள், தங்கள் மொழியும் கலாச்சாரமும் தங்கள் மரபுகள் மற்றும் வரலாற்றின் செழுமையைப் புரிந்துகொள்வதற்கும் நிலைத்திருப்பதற்கும் ஒரு நிறுவனத்தை நிர்மாணிக்க இது சரியான தகுணம்.

இந்நிறுவனத்தை அபிவிருத்தி செய்ய, அனைத்து தமிழர்களின் ஆதரவும் தேவைப்படுகிறது. பெர்க்லி, மற்றும் ஹார்வர்ட் நிதியுதவியுடன்ஒரு தமிழ் பீடம் ஆரம்பித்து உள்ளனர். ஆனால் ஒன்றுக்கு மேற்பட்ட பேராசிரியர்களை உள்ளடக்கியமற்றும் தமிழ் ஆய்வின் அனைத்து அம்சங்களையும் ஒன்றிணைக்கும் ஒரு நடுவத்திற்குப் பெரும்தேவை உள்ளது. இந்த முயற்சிக்கு நீங்கள் பங்களிப்பீர்கள் என்று நம்புகிறோம். இது தமிழ் மற்றும் தமிழர்களுக்கு மிகவும் முக்கியத்துவம் வாய்ந்தது, மேலும் அமெரிக்காவில் தமிழ் ஆய்வுகளின் ஒரு துடிப்பான விரிவான நடுவத்தை நிறுவ உதவுவீர்கள். இதனால் மொழி மற்றும் கலை கலாச்சாரம் பற்றிய ஆய்வு செழித்துவளர வருங்கால சந்ததியினருக்கு தமிழைப்பாதுகாக்க உங்களுடைய அன்பும் ஆதரவும் அவசியம் தேவை.

முன்முயற்சியை பெயரிடுவதன் மூலம் உங்கள் பாரம்பரியத்தை உருவாக்க ஒரு வாய்ப்பை நாங்கள் வழங்குகிறோம். உங்களுடன் விரிவாகப் பேசுவதற்கும் நீங்கள் செய்ய விரும்பும் வேறு ஏதாவது இருந்தாலும் தயவுசெய்து எங்களைத் தொடர்பு கொள்ளவும் (Kalai.Mathee@fiu.edu).

To support the general Tamilar Studies Initiative, please go to the donation area below. Funds received via this website will support the immediate needs of the overall initiative.

Tamil and Tamilar Diaspora Studies Operation

The funds raised will be used for the operation of the center. The Institute will be directed by a scholar chair who has a holistic appreciation of the Institute's goals and with a sterling reputation for outstanding research related to Tamil and Tamilar issues. To support the operating budget, you can donate at: https://give.fiu.edu/areas-of-giving/campaigns/tamilarstudiesinitiative/index.html

A legacy endowment as been established by

  • Professors Kalai Mathee - Giri Narasimhan Endowment of Operation

If you would like to start an initiative in the name of your loved ones, the minimum commitment to endow is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to support one of the projects below, contact Dr. Kalai Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu, who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

Tamil Chair

Senior professor level position. The individual who assumes the position will have the responsibility of leading the institute and overseeing the development of certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. The funding will assist the chair by providing a postdoctoral fellow salary, and travel monies.

Vallalar Studies

The non-secular teachings of Valluvar are matched by Vallalar, 20th Century Poet-Saint, who promoted unity and spirituality. Vallalar authored one of the longest Tamil poems. To date, no Western institutions have focused on the teachings of Vallalar. The funding will be used to develop certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs on Vallalar studies. A named endowment can also support a mid-level to junior professor who will oversee all the activities associated with Vallalar studies.

The minimum commitment to endow any project is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to endow, please contact Dr. Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu, who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

Tamilar Kalai (Tamilar Arts)

Tamil is just more than a language. Tamil has rich literature (Ilakkiam), music (Tamilisai), performing arts (Poetry, dance (Nadanan), drama (Nadagam), visual arts (Sculpture, wall paintings, jewelry, etc), architecture ( Sirpakalai referred to as Dravidian Architecture), and martial arts (Silambam, Kutthu varisai, and Varma kalai) heritage. These and more are encompassed in one single word, "kalai" in Tamil. Funds will be used to host an individual in FIU on a short visit (one term) who can teach, perform, and promote the arts.

To learn more about the one initiative underway

  • Kamala Arunatchalam Tamil Isai Endowment [Site in the development process]

Please help us to add more Tamilar Kalai Initiatives. The minimum commitment to endow any project is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to support one of the projects below, contact Dr. Kalai Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu, who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

Padma Shri Professor George L. Hart Lecture Series

Professor Hart is no stranger to the Tamilar across the globe. During his tenure as a professor of Tamil language at the University of California, Berkely established Tamil as a classical language along with Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, and Latin after translating many Sangam (ancient South Indian literature) works of literature.

Professor Hart went to Harvard and majored in chemistry and physics but became interested in language and studied Latin, Russian, German, and Sanskrit and switched his major to Sanskrit in Indian studies. He then learned Tamil under A.K. Ramunajam (A Padma Shri awardee and MacArthur 'genius' fellow) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he met his love of life and wife, Kausalya, from Madurai. Together they have contributed to the preservation of the language and the literature. His devotion and commitment to Tamil led to his recognition by the Government of India as Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award that recognizes citizens of India. Prof. Hart joined the rank of Padma Shree, where a handful non-Indian citizens have been recognized since the institution of the award in 1954.

To donate to this initiative (link to the donation site) [Link pending]

If you would like to start an initiative in the name of your loved ones, the minimum commitment to endow is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to support one of the projects below, contact Dr. Kalai Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu, who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

Biennial Symposium Series

To support a 3-day symposium that can be hosted anywhere in the world to bring the scholars for a discourse. Funds will be used to cover all expenses associated with the symposium. Within this, there could be named keynote speakers, and special awards. Tamilar Kalai (Tamilar Arts)

Tamil is just more than a language. Tamil has rich literature (Ilakkiam), music (Tamilisai), performing arts (Poetry, dance (Nadanan), drama (Nadagam), visual arts (Sculpture, wall paintings, jewelry, etc), architecture ( Sirpakalai referred to as Dravidian Architecture), and martial arts (Silambam, Kutthu varisai, and Varma kalai) heritage. These and more are encompassed in one single word, "kalai" in Tamil. Funds will be used to host an individual in FIU on a short visit (one term) who can teach, perform, and promote the arts.

To learn more about the one initiative underway • Kamala Arunatchalam Tamil Isai Endowment [Site in the development process]

Please help us to add more Tamilar Kalai Initiatives. The minimum commitment to endow any project is $25,000. Commitments may be fulfilled within a 5-year time frame. The projects, once fully funded, will carry the name of your choice. Namings and Institutes are subject to approvals per FIU Policies. If you wish to support one of the projects below, contact Dr. Kalai Mathee at matheek@fiu.edu and David Skipp at dskipp@fiu.edu, who can assist with a formal gift agreement.

Aval Award

The award will recognize a female for her contributions to Tamil and Tamilar Diaspora in any field.

Postdoctoral Fellows Travel Awards

The award will enable postdoctoral fellows to travel for research, and/or attend conferences. There could be many named awards.

Student Scholarships

Within this, there could be many named awards. The monies will be used to support graduates and undergraduates to travel for research and attend the conference. It will provide stipends for graduate students.

Giving to the Tamil Initiative community: Donate today