Thanks to Poet Vennila, An Unnoticed Gem Historian P.Sivanadi and His Works Becomes Visible

History often repeats itself. In this case, it literally has. The 15-volume Indhiya Sarithira Kalanjiyam — a monumental document of world and Indian history from 1700 to 1840 A.D. by historian P. Sivanadi — has been reprinted in concise eight volumes thanks to the efforts of poet A. Vennila.

Vennila, a well-known name in Tamil literary circles, stumbled upon one of the volumes while working on her book Vandavasi Por – 250. “I immediately realised what an immeasurably important work it is. I also realised it was out of print and began collecting all the volumes with the help of my friends,” she says.

The book is unbelievably extensive. For example, under a chapter dealing with 1701 A.D., one gets a load of information on various events of the time. Politics, science and literature, the births and deaths of important people, the invasions, and plenty more are documented in it. Sivanadi starts with Tamil Nadu and branches to the rest of the world in each chapter.

After spending over a year in collecting the books for reprint, she also decided to make them concise. “But we never edited any texts of Sivanadi. He had dedicated one volume for a decade. We decided to combine two decades into one volume. The first and second volumes remain the same.”

The eight-volume reprinted work by Vennila is expected to fill the vacuum that had always existed in Tamil literature.

“Sivanadi has not just stopped with documenting the history. He has related every important event in world history to contemporary events in India and Tamil Nadu and has made it more interesting and informative. This work assumes significance, considering that Tamil has no great historical texts.”

Vennila says that Sivanadi planned to cover a decade in each volume. “But he could only cover events that took place till 1840 A.D. He passed away before he could finish it,” she says. Sivanadi single-handedly carried out the research for his books. “Imagine, he was 60 years old when he started it,” says Vennila. “He had his work well-planned. He maintained files for each year and started writing only after he had material ready for 30 books.”

It is ironical that Sivanadi remained largely invisible during his period, except for an interview that has been included in the reprint. Vennila’s efforts to find out more about the man have been futile.

“He started working on this when he was 60. Even during his period, he did not get the attention he deserved. Despite our efforts to glean information about him, we could not even source a photograph,” rues the writer.

The collection is priced at Rs5,000 and is available with all leading bookstores.

Posted on March 2, 2012, in Editors Corner, Heritage of Chennai and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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