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Malayalam classical status undeserved

03 Dec 2011 Kerala Commentary

Kerala demanding classical status for Malayalam corruption and undeserving.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. 

Classic Status Languages are those ancient ones which are preserved, whose dialect and script have endured adversity and time and are still in use. Since Malayalam changed script recently, it is not eligible for Classic Languages Status like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. If only the old script is reinstated and officially used, can Malayalam considered for Classic Language Status. The present outcry of academicians and politicians in Kerala for Classic Language Status for Malayalam is for the pleasure of spending 300 Crore. The real ancient Malayalam script before the recent change was perfectly rounded, reflecting the polished behaviour of Malayaalees. Recent changes in the old Classic Malayalam Script replaced this rounded polishness with an abrupt and uncouth squarishness, reflecting the mental state in which the people who ordered this change live. The change benefited neither printers, typesetters, type makers, nor foundry owners. It was the greatest folly in the Malayalam language and literature field ever. The script changers in Malayalam thought they were saving a Classic Language from ruin, but it was their literature and the language of expression of that literature that had actually been ruined through years. Since 1970, no good poem, play, novel or short story has been created in Malayalam Language. Literature no more reflects Malayali Mind. What literature appeared in Kerala since 1970 was those ballooned up and boosted by newspapers and magazines depending upon birth and caste. If you wore a skirt, editors printed your poem and made you a writer.  Continuous dwindling of genius from Classic Malayalam Language and Literature in Kerala made students loath and abandon it in their studies. Now Kerala authorities are trying to make studying Malayalam compulsory, testifying to how abandoned it has become in schools and colleges. Abandoning Malayalam studies and the language ceasing to grow long past are mutual-causative, brought out by the stillness in their literature. No scholarships were given for studying Malayalam in Kerala, though every Paisa went to the officials, academicians and organizations. Learning the 56- Alphabet Malayalam Script helped Malayaalees learn any language in this world and settle anywhere on this globe. It is true more and more books are printed in Malayalam Language in Kerala, but it is also true that fewer and fewer books are being read. They adorn walls in homes. 

Kerala Language. Real Old Malayalam. Wall Writing in Sivananda Ashram. 
By Paul Munhoven.

23 March 2012 Kerala Commentary

If government accords classical language status to Malayalam, it is corruption, favouritism and violation of the norms accepted the world over for consideration of a language for the classical language status. If Malayalam is accorded classical status, then any language among the hundreds of languages currently used in India would qualify for this status. Conferring this sacred status on a language without considering the foolish destruction of its 'classical script' by the government of that land, acquiesced by both the so-called scholars and writers of that land is just a breach of ethics and confidence by the Union Government. If government and the responsible academic bodies consider classic status of a language something to be conferred only on the basis of merit and qualification, they shall not yield to the political pressure from the Kerala politicians. During the past many years, the writers who now shout for this special status to Malayalam have not created a single piece of good literature. People actually loathe their works and as a result turn their faces away from Malayalam. Because of the same political considerations mentioned above, many of their works are included as lessons in text books which the students, teachers, parents and the Malayalam-loving public could not help. Political considerations are such predominant and powerful in Kerala. So, because people inwardly hate them and their rotten works, they desperately want to take their revenge on people by creating a new authority for controlling the language. With the money which is sure to accompany this classical language status, they can buy out other inferior writers through grants, university chairs, committee memberships and chairmanships of new institutes and academic bodies. Suppose there had been no money involved in this package. Then there would have been no crowd like this. Hawks and other scavengers close in where there is dead meet. Had there been at least one single line of immortal literature created in Malayalam by them, this move could have been at least justified. The millions of Malayalees who write, speak and love the language do not consent to this present fury or greed over the supposed classical status to Malayalam. First let them show the ancient script to the world and convince the world that this ancient script is being used continuously without break. Everyone adept in Malayalam language knows that the more one traces the language backward into the ancient times, the more it becomes nothing but Tamil. First confess and admit this, and then request funds for legitimate encouragement of the language in a more decent way.
Kerala. Old Malayalam Text Book. 
Std III Padtavali of 1960. Page 44-45.
By Naveen Sankar.

When Kerala authorities decided to change the script of Malayalam, there was not much objection from any Malayalam activists because then they did not know that crores of rupees could be made by getting Malayalam declared as a classical language. All classic languages retain a script which has been continuing to be used through centuries. The short-brained fools who now officiate as the guardians and saviours of Malayalam language manipulated the script of this language so that the officially used and academically taught script of Malayalam is not more than three decades old. Nobody asked them to change their script; it was a unilateral decision of pure unwisdom and haughtiness. No classical language has a script which is only 30 years old. So leave the question of the script alone. If it is the matter of script, Malayalam never qualifies as a classical language. Regarding the worthiness of Malayalam literature produced by those who now are seen shouting for classical status, personally I do not mind their inferior creations. Certainly those who have never written a word in Malayalam also can argue for classical status, provided they at least have read Akam Kavithakal and Puram Nanooru translated by N.V.Krishna Warrier, Thamizh Sahitya Charitram by K.M.George and Malayala Kavitha Sahitya Charitram by M.Leelavathi. Before jumping to conclusions, please go through our roots and read carefully how our language developed through ages from Tamil. Those who are actually interested can also read the old communist genius and poet’s famous poem ‘Varikente Ponnanujatthee, Tharavaattiloronam Kaanaan’. It was written by the abandoned communist poet of Kerala, K.P.G.Nampoothiri Master. I can quote dozens of impartial Malayalam literary geniuses of the past who never cared for money but who did care for how Malayalam developed from her roots. Incidentally, I never know about a Tamil connection in my family which is a typical Trivandrum family. I love Malayalam, love its original and unconvoluted script, and have written and published in it. Do not anyone think all Malayalees will agree to and share the greed of a few in authority and positions to get a language recognized as classical after sabotaging its script.
Kerala. Old Malayalam Text Book. Std III Padtavali of 1960. Page 46-47.
By Naveen Sankar.

What the respected and the famous said on this subject:

Many distinguished scholars and writers of Kerala consider their language Malayalam not older than 500 years and are strongly against granting such honours to languages. Famous Kerala poet and film songs writer Yusef Ali Kecheri said at Trichur while addressing a meeting organized by Samskara Sahithy on Friday to felicitate Padma awardees, that Malayalam language is not eligible for classical status considering its present condition. It was reported by The Hindu Daily in news on 19 February 2011. ‘Union government's decision to confer such honours will only incite linguistic chauvinism and cause further divisions among the people’, said noted human rights protector and former Supreme Court Justice Mr. V.R.Krishna Iyer. ‘It is foolish to stake claim for the classic status. For it is an honour granted by fools to fools. Only literature and not languages can be classified classical or non-classical. There is no concept of a classic language in linguistics. Indian languages are decided as families like Indo-Aryan, Dravidian—all the four south Indian languages belong to this—Mongoloid, etc, and there are no classic or non-classic divisions among within each family.’ This was what one among the most famous and writers in Malayalam and former chairman of the National Book Trust, Prof. Sukumar Azheekkodu said on this issue.

Kerala 8th century rock cut cave in Vizhinjam. No Malayalam inscription.
Photo By Prasad 0224.

After Sabotaging an ages-old script, why shout for classical status?

Disregarding the observations made by real experts, government went on with constituting a committee which unanimously held the notion that classical status for their language is a ‘coveted honour, something to be enjoyed’. Their arguments varied from allowing classical status to Tamil, Kannada and Telugu and denying it to 30 million people-speaking Malayalam is injustice, it has centuries of written and oral literature and grammatical and epigraphical systems, it meets all norms, parameters  and criteria fixed by government for classical status, it is 2300 years old as against the required 2000 years, to, Malayalam having been sighted in Emperor Ashoka’s edicts, Chanakya’s political classic Arttha Saasthra been translated into Malayalam in AD 10th century and Bhagavat Geeta translated in AD 14th century. Their report submitted to Government of India was a lorry-load of computer-generated pages, perhaps the largest ever compiled in Kerala, of course  in English. It was prepared by the most interested persons in the field, interested most in ‘enjoying the covetous' position of classical language status and the enormous funds accompanying it. This 'experts’ committee' was headed by Jnanpidt award winner and the celebrated teacher-poet-film songs writer, O.N.V.Kurupu, with writer Puthusserry Ramachandran, poetess Sugatha Kumari and critic Naduvattom Gopalakrishnan as members. 

Kerala Marayoor Dolmen, the oldest near Munnar in Idukki District. No Malayalam inscriptions found. Photo By Sanand Karunakaran.

A comment dated 19 January 2011 extracted from Mr. B.R.P.Bhaskar’s Kerala Letter, article: A celebration of poetry.

Telugu, Tamil and Kannada did not irreverently change their scripts but Malayalam did. The classic script was beaten out of schools just like a drunken son does to a loving old mother. Keralites sinned in this matter and so they are not morally eligible for classic status for their language. Classicism is what endures adversity and the test of time and classic Malayalam script did not endure and now does not even exist. Even their casts and moulds have been melted down in foundries in Shornur. To publish the last book in classic Malayalam script, ‘Kaalam Jaalaka Vaathilil’, this commenter had to photo-block each hand-written page and print it in off set. It was also perhaps the first Malayalam book published in the author’s own handwriting, published earlier than Mr. Raman Nampoothiri’s ‘Radha Vega’. The classic Malayalam script reflected and truly represented the rounded polishness of Malayali behaviour. The abrupt new one reflects only unspeakable things. Please excuse, I love my language.

Dear Reader,

So, everything is here, except the most ‘covetous’ opinions on this whole issue of classical status for Malayalam- what Prof. Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, Kuttikkrishna Marar, Prof. Joseph Muntasserri, M.P.Paul and Prof. Dr. M.Leelavathy might have said on the subject.

Chief Editor
Kerala Commentary