Onam is an annual Hindu holiday and festival with origins in the state of Kerala in India. It falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is a major annual event for Malayali people outside Kerala, it is a harvest festival, one of three major annual Hindu celebrations along with Vishu and Thiruvathira, it is observed with numerous festivities. Onam celebrations include Vallam Kali, Pookkalam, Onam Kali, Tug of War, Thumbi Thullal, Onathallu, Kazhchakkula, Onapottan and other celebrations. Onam is the official state festival of Kerala with public holidays that start four days from Uthradom.. Major festivities take places across 30 venues in capital of Kerala, it is celebrated by Malayali diaspora around the world. Though a Hindu festival, non-Hindu communities of Kerala participate in Onam celebrations considering it as a cultural festival.
However, some non-Hindus in Kerala denounce its celebration as a cultural event because they consider it as a religious festival. Onam is an ancient Hindu festival of Kerala; the significance of the festival is in Hindu legends. According to the Hindu mythology, Mahabali was the great great grandson of a Brahmin sage named Kashyapa, the great grandson of demonic dictator Hiranyakashipu, the grandson of Vishnu devotee Prahlada; this links the festival to the Puranic mythology of Prahlada of Holika fame in Hinduism, the son of demon dictator Hiranyakashyap. Prahlada, despite being born to a demonic Asura father who hated Vishnu, rebelled against his father's persecution of people and worshipped Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap tries to kill his son Prahlada, but is slain by Vishnu in his Narasimha avatar, Prahlada is saved. Prahlada's grandson Mahabali came to power by taking over the three worlds. According to Vaishnavism mythology, the defeated Devas approached Vishnu for help in their battle with Mahabali.
Vishnu refused to join the gods in violence against Mahabali, because Mahabali was a good ruler and his own devotee. He, decided to test Mahabali's devotion at an opportune moment. Mahabali, after his victory over the gods, declared that he will perform Yajna and grant anyone any request during the Yajna. Vishnu took the avatar of a dwarf boy approached Mahabali; the king offered anything to the boy – gold, elephants, food, whatever he wished. The boy said that one must not seek more than one needs, all he needs is the property right over a piece of land that measures "three paces". Mahabali agreed. Vamana covered everything Mahabali ruled over in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered himself, an act which Vishnu accepted as evidence of Mahabali's devotion. Vishnu granted him a boon, by which Mahabali could visit again, once every year, the lands and people he ruled; this revisit marks the festival of Onam, as a reminder of the virtuous rule and his humility in keeping his promise before Vishnu.
The last day of Mahabali's stay is remembered with a nine-course vegetarian Onasadya feast. According to Nanditha Krishna, a simpler form of this legend, one without Mahabali, is found in the Rigveda and the Vedic text Shatapatha Brahmana where a solar deity is described with powers of Vishnu; this story grew over time, is in part allegorical, where Bali is a metaphor for thanksgiving offering after a bounty of rice harvest during monsoon, Vishnu is the metaphor of the Kerala sun and summer that precedes the Onam. According to Roshen Dalal, the story of Mahabali is important to Onam in Kerala, but similar Mahabali legends are significant in the region of Balia and Bawan in Uttar Pradesh, Bharuch in Gujarat, Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra; the story is significant not because Mahabali's rule ended, but it emphasizes the Hindu belief in cyclical nature of events, that no individual, no ruler and nothing lasts forever, except the virtues and self-understanding that overcomes all sorrow. An alternate legend behind Onam relates to Parashurama, an incarnation of Vishnu, credited in Hindu mythology to have founded the Western Ghats from the southern tip of Kerala, Goa and up to Maharashtra.
According to this legend, Vishnu got upset with the kings and the warrior caste who were at war and were arrogant over others. Vishnu took the avatar of Parashurama, or "Rama with an axe" and known as Rama Jamadagyna, in the era of King Kaartavirya; this king oppressed the people, the sages and the gods. One day, the king came to the hermitage of Parashurama and his mother Renuka, where while Parashurama was away, the king without permission took away the calf of their cow; when Parashurama returned, he felt the injustice of the king, called him to war, killed the king and all his oppressive warriors. At the end, he threw the axe, wherever it fell, the sea retreated, creating the land of Kerala and other coastal western parts of Indian subcontinent. Another version states that Parashurama brought Namboodri Brahmins to southwestern parts of India, by creating a mini-Himalaya like mountain range with his axe; the Onam festival, according to this legend, celebrates Parashurama's creation of Kerala by marking those days as the new year.
The legend and worship of Parashurama is attested in texts and epigraphs dated to about the 2nd century CE. The festival
The Pandya dynasty was an ancient Tamil dynasty of South India, one of the three Tamil dynasties, the other two being the Chola and the Chera. The kings of the three dynasties were referred to as the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam; the Early Pandyas ruled parts of Southern India from at least 4th century BCE. Pandya rule ended in the first half of the 16th century CE, they ruled their country Pandya Nadu from Korkai, a seaport on the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, in times moved to Madurai. Pandyas had diplomatic relations as far as Rome; the country of the Pandyas was described as Pandyas by Megasthenes, Pandi Mandala in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and described as Pandya Mediterranea and Modura Regia Pandionis by Ptolemy. The Pandya empire was home to temples including Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Nellaiappar Temple in Tirunelveli. Jainism and Vaishnavism flourished during the reign of the early Pandya kings, but after the revival of the Pandya power by Kadungon, the Shaivite Nayanars and the Vaishnavite Alvars rose to prominence and the non-Hindu sects declined.
Strabo states that an Indian king called Pandion sent Augustus Caesar "presents and gifts of honour". Traditionally, the legendary Sangams were held in Madurai under their patronage, some of the Pandya Kings were poets themselves; the early Pandya Dynasty of the Sangam Literature faded into obscurity upon the invasion of the Kalabhras. The dynasty revived under Kadungon in the early 6th century, pushed the Kalabhras out of the Tamil country and ruled from Madurai, they again went into decline with the rise of the Cholas in the 9th century and were in constant conflict with them. The Pandyas allied themselves with the Sinhalese and the Cheras in harassing the Chola empire until they found an opportunity for reviving their fortunes during the late 13th century; the Later Pandyas entered their golden age under Maravarman Sundara Pandyan and Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan, who expanded the empire into Telugu country, conquered Kalinga and invaded and conquered Sri Lanka. They had extensive trade links with the Southeast Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors.
The Pandyas excelled in both literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast between Sri Lanka and India which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world. During their history, the Pandyas were in conflict with the Pallavas, Cholas and the Muslim invaders from the Delhi Sultanate; the Islamic invasion led to the end of Pandya supremacy in South India and in 1323, the Jaffna Kingdom of Sri Lanka declared its independence from the crumbling Pandya Empire. The Pandyas lost their capital city Madurai to Madurai Sultanate in 1335. However, they shifted their capital to Tenkasi and continued to rule the Tirulnelveli, Ramanad, Sivagangai regions. Meanwhile, Madurai sultanate was replaced by Nayaka governors of Vijayanagara in 1378. In 1529 Nayaka governors declared established Madurai Nayak dynasty; the word Pandya is thought to be derived from the Tamil word "Pandu" meaning "old". Robert Caldwell derives the word Pandya from Pāṇḍu, the father of the Pandavas from Mahabharata, whose descendants Pandyas claim.
Another theory suggests that in Sangam Tamil lexicon the word Pandya means old country in contrast with Chola meaning new country, Chera meaning hill country and Pallava meaning branch in Sanskrit. The Chera and Pandya are the traditional Dravidian siblings and together with the Pallavas are the major Kings that ruled ancient Tamilakam. Historians have used several sources to identify the origins of the early Pandya dynasty with the pre-Christian Era and to piece together the names of the Pandya kings; the Pandyas were one of the longest ruling dynasty of Indian history. Historian Gustav Solomon Oppert derives the Pandi word from the Tamil word "Pallandi " meaning "king of Pallas"; the name "Pandi' is a contraction of Pallandi, a composite of two Tamil words "palla" and "andi". In Sangam Period, the word "andi" means " king" or "ruler ". According to Tamil legends, the three brothers Cheran and Pandyan ruled in common at Korkai. While Pandya remained at home, his two brothers Cheran and Cholan after a separation founded their own kingdoms in north and west.
According to the Epic Mahabharatha the legendary Malayadhwaja Pandya, who sided with the Pandavas and took part in the Kurukshetra War of the Mahabharata, is described as follows in Karna Parva:"Although knowing that the shafts of the high souled son of Drona employed in shooting were inexhaustible, yet Pandya, that bull among men, cut them all into pieces". Malayadhwaja Pandya and his queen Kanchanamala had one daughter Thataathagai alias Meenakshi who succeeded her father and reigned the kingdom successfully; the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple was built after her. The city of Madurai was built around this temple. Local folklore attributes Alli Raani as one of the Sangam age queens of the Pandya kingdom, she is attributed as a amazonian queen whose servants were males and administrative officials and army were women. She is thought of ruling the whole western and northern coast of Sri Lanka from her capital Kudiramalai, where remains of what is thought of as her fort are found, she is sometimes seen as an incarnation of the Pandya associated deities and Kannagi.
Pandya kings find mention in a number of poems in the Sangam Literature. Among them Nedunjeliyan II,'the victor of Talaiyalanganam', Mudukudimi Peruvaludi'of several sacrifices' deserve special mention. Beside several short poems found in the Akananuru and the Purananuru collections, there are two major works – Mathuraikkanci and the Netunalvatai (in the collection of Pattupattu
Kollam Tharisappalli copper plates known as Kollam/Quilon Syrian copper plates, or Kottayam inscription of Sthanu Ravi, is a copper-plate grant issued by the chieftain of Kollam, Ayyan Adikal, to Syrian Christian merchant Mar Sapir Iso in the 5th regnal year of the Chera ruler Sthanu Ravi "Kulasekhara". The royal charter is engraved in Old Malayalam in Grantha scripts; the Tharisappalli copper plates are one of the important historical inscriptions of Kerala, the date of, determined. It is certain that the plates are part of a three charter series, of which two alone have survived, issued by the chieftain of Kollam; the earliest survived charter, dated to 849 AD, contains a reference to a previous charter and some of rights granted. The second survived charter, three plates writing on both sides, is dated to c. 883 AD. One part of the copper plates is kept at the Devalokam Aramana of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church while the other is at Poolatheen Aramana of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church.
Summarised prescription of the plates Mar Sapir Iso founded a trading corporation at Kollam, recruited two merchant guilds as the tenants of the nagara. Iso built the "Church of Tharisa" at Kollam and received three charters from the chieftain of Kollam The charters granted Iso several titles and aristocratic privileges, plots of land and serfs to the church and the nagara; the charters gifted Iso service personnel like agricultural labourers, toddy tappers and other skilled workers - some arrangements were made regarding their protection and maintenance. The Six Hundred Nairs of Venad were jointly entrusted with the judicial and revenue administration of the city The grants were made in the presence of important officers of the state and the representatives of merchant guilds Anjuvannam and Manigramam, it throws light on the system of taxation that prevailed in early Venad, as several taxes such as a profession tax, sales tax and vehicle tax are mentioned. Kesavan Veluthat, The Early Medieval in South India.
Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2009. M. G. S. Narayanan, Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur: CosmoBooks, 2013. State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, T. R. Venugopalan. Thrissur, CosmoBooks, 2012. K. N. Ganesh. "Historical Geography of Natu in South India with Special Reference to Kerala". Indian Historical Review. 36: 3–21
The Chola dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in history. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire; as one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE. The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a larger area at the height of their power from the half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century; the whole country south of the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of three centuries and more between 907-1215 AD. Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I the dynasty became a military and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia; the power of the new empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by the expedition to the Ganges which Rajendra Chola I undertook and by the naval raids on cities of the maritime empire of Srivijaya, as well as by the repeated embassies to China.
The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power. During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of, now Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala, he successfully invaded cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Chola dynasty went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyan dynasty, which caused their downfall; the Cholas left a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture; the Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but as centres of economic activity.
They established a disciplined bureaucracy. The Chola school of art spread to Southeast Asia and influenced the architecture and art of Southeast Asia; the Cholas are known as the Choda. There is little information available in regarding their origin, its antiquity is evident in inscriptions. Medieval Cholas claimed a long and ancient lineage. Mentions in the early Sangam literature indicate that the earliest kings of the dynasty antedated 100 CE. Cholas were mentioned in Ashokan Edicts of 3rd Century BCE as one of the neighboring countries existing in the South. A held view is that Chola is, like Chera and Pandya, the name of the ruling family or clan of immemorial antiquity; the annotator Parimelazhagar said: "The charity of people with ancient lineage are forever generous in spite of their reduced means". Other names in common use for the Cholas are Killi and Sembiyan. Killi comes from the Tamil kil meaning dig or cleave and conveys the idea of a digger or a worker of the land; this word forms an integral part of early Chola names like Nedunkilli, Nalankilli and so on, but drops out of use in times.
Valavan is most connected with "valam" – fertility and means owner or ruler of a fertile country. Sembiyan is taken to mean a descendant of Shibi – a legendary hero whose self-sacrifice in saving a dove from the pursuit of a falcon figures among the early Chola legends and forms the subject matter of the Sibi Jataka among the Jataka stories of Buddhism. In Tamil lexicon Chola means Soazhi or Saei denoting a newly formed kingdom, in the lines of Pandya or the old country. There is little written evidence available of the Cholas prior to the 7th century. Historic records exist thereafter, including inscriptions on temples. During the past 150 years, historians have gleaned significant knowledge on the subject from a variety of sources such as ancient Tamil Sangam literature, oral traditions, religious texts and copperplate inscriptions; the main source for the available information of the early Cholas is the early Tamil literature of the Sangam Period. There are brief notices on the Chola country and its towns and commerce furnished by the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, in the later work of the geographer Ptolemy.
Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text written down during the 5th century CE, recounts a number of conflicts between the inhabitants of Ceylon and Cholas in the 1st century BCE. Cholas are mentioned in the Pillars of Ashoka inscriptions, where they are mentioned among the kingdoms which, though not subject to Ashoka, were on friendly terms with him; the history of the Cholas falls into four periods: the Early Cholas of the Sangam literature, the interregnum between the fall of the Sangam Cholas and the rise of the Imperial medieval Cholas under Vijayalaya, the dynasty of Vijayalaya, the Later Chola dynasty of Kulothunga Chola I from the third quarter of the 11th century. The earliest Chola kings for whom there is tangible evidence are mentioned in the Sangam literature. Scholars agree that this literature belongs to the second or first few centuries of the common era; the internal chronology of this literature is still far from settled, at present a connected account of the history of the period cannot be derived.
It records the names of the kings and the princ
Kerala, locally known as Keralam, is a state on the southwestern, Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions. Spread over 38,863 km2, Kerala is the twenty-second largest Indian state by area, it is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, the Lakshadweep Sea and Arabian Sea to the west. With 33,387,677 inhabitants as per the 2011 Census, Kerala is the thirteenth-largest Indian state by population, it is divided into 14 districts with the capital being Thiruvananthapuram. Malayalam is the most spoken language and is the official language of the state; the Chera Dynasty was the first prominent kingdom based in Kerala. The Ay kingdom in the deep south and the Ezhimala kingdom in the north formed the other kingdoms in the early years of the Common Era; the region had been a prominent spice exporter since 3000 BCE. The region's prominence in trade was noted in the works of Pliny as well as the Periplus around 100 CE.
In the 15th century, the spice trade attracted Portuguese traders to Kerala, paved the way for European colonisation of India. At the time of Indian independence movement in the early 20th century, there were two major princely states in Kerala-Travancore State and the Kingdom of Cochin, they united to form the state of Thiru-Kochi in 1949. The Malabar region, in the northern part of Kerala had been a part of the Madras province of British India, which became a part of the Madras State post-independence. After the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, the modern-day state of Kerala was formed by merging the Malabar district of Madras State, the state of Thiru-Kochi, the taluk of Kasaragod in South Canara, a part of Madras State; the economy of Kerala is the 12th-largest state economy in India with ₹7.73 lakh crore in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of ₹163,000. Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, 3.44%. The state has witnessed significant emigration to Arab states of the Persian Gulf during the Gulf Boom of the 1970s and early 1980s, its economy depends on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community.
Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population, followed by Christianity. The culture is a synthesis of Aryan, Dravidian and European cultures, developed over millennia, under influences from other parts of India and abroad; the production of pepper and natural rubber contributes to the total national output. In the agricultural sector, tea, coffee and spices are important; the state's coastline extends for 595 kilometres, around 1.1 million people in the state are dependent on the fishery industry which contributes 3% to the state's income. The state has the highest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine languages English and Malayalam. Kerala is one of the prominent tourist destinations of India, with backwaters, hill stations, Ayurvedic tourism and tropical greenery as its major attractions; the name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. One popular theory derives Kerala from alam; the word Kerala is first recorded as Keralaputra in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka, one of his edicts pertaining to welfare.
The inscription refers to the local ruler as Keralaputra. This contradicts the theory that Kera is from "coconut tree". At that time, one of three states in the region was called Cheralam in Classical Tamil: Chera and Kera are variants of the same word; the word Cheral refers to the oldest known dynasty of Kerala kings and is derived from the Proto-Tamil-Malayalam word for "lake". The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala is the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rigveda. Kerala is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two Hindu epics; the Skanda Purana mentions the ecclesiastical office of the Thachudaya Kaimal, referred to as Manikkam Keralar, synonymous with the deity of the Koodalmanikyam temple. Keralam may stem from the Classical Tamil chera alam; the Greco-Roman trade map. According to Tamil classic Purananuru, Chera king Senkuttuvan conquered the lands between Kanyakumari and the Himalayas. Lacking worthy enemies, he besieged the sea by throwing his spear into it. According to the 17th century Malayalam work Keralolpathi, the lands of Kerala were recovered from the sea by the axe-wielding warrior sage Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu.
Parasurama threw his axe across the sea, the water receded as far as it reached. According to legend, this new area of land extended from Gokarna to Kanyakumari; the land which rose from sea was filled with unsuitable for habitation. Out of respect and all snakes were appo
A. Sreedhara Menon
Alappat Sreedhara Menon, known as A. Sreedhara Menon, was a south Indian historian from Kerala, he is best known as the State Editor of Kerala District Gazetteers. He served as registrar of the Kerala University from 1968-1977, before retiring in 1980. Menon was educated in Maharaja's College and Madras University. In 1953, he was granted a Smith Mundt Scholarship and a Fulbright Travel Grant for higher studies at Harvard University where he obtained his degree in Political Science. On his return to India, he was appointed by the Government of Kerala as the State Editor of Kerala Gazetteers in 1958. Menon received Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour, for Literature and Education in 2009. Menon died on 23 July 2010, aged 84, after some years of suffering ill-health, he was survived by his wife, Sarojini Menon, two children. Alappat Sreedhara Menon was born on 18 December 1925 in the Kingdom of Cochin, his parents were Alappat Narayani Amma. Menon passed the Secondary School Leaving Certificate in 1941 with First Class and proceeded to the University of Madras where he passed the Intermediate Examination in 1942 with Distinction in Hindi, Indian History, Modem History.
In 1944, supported by the a scholarship from the king of Cochin, he completed his Bachelor of Arts from the Maharaja's College, winning the Karimpat Rama Menon Gold Medal and the Rama Varma Shashtiabdapurthi Memorial Prize for English. He continued his Master of Arts at Madras University completing it in 1948 with a First Rank in History. From 1944–49, he worked in St. Thomas College and subsequently joined the University College, Trivandrum in 1949 in the Department of History and Politics. In 1953, Sreedhara Menon was granted the Smith Mundt Scholarship and the Fulbright Travel Grant by the US Educational Foundation in India for higher studies at Harvard University where he obtained his Master's Degree in Political Science, specialising in International Relations. On his return to India, he was appointed by the Government of Kerala as the first State Editor of Kerala District Gazetteers in 1958. During the next ten years, Menon compiled eight volumes of District Gazetteers – Trivandrum, Calicut, Ernakulam, Alleppey and Kottayam.
The speed with which the work was done and the quality of the contents of the gazetteers won praise from all quarters including the Central Gazetteers Unit, Government of India.. From 1968–1977, Menon functioned as the Registrar of Kerala University, he worked as a visiting professor in the Department of History, University of Calicut under the UGC scheme from 1977–78. From 1979–81 he was a professor in the Institute of Public Administration under the Government of Kerala. Menon was a member of the editorial board of journals including the Journal of Indian History and Journal of Kerala Studies, both published by the Department of History, University of Kerala. In 2000 Menon was elected the President of Visakhapatnam South Indian History Congress. Menon was a member of several academic bodies like the Senate, Academic Council, Board of Studies, Board of Examiners in universities in south India. A. Sreedhara Menon was known for his anti-Communist Party of India Marxist stance, it is known that Menon refused to write a history of Indian anti-Colonial movement in Kerala for the Congress Party because he "did not want to be known as a historian of the Congress."
The Communist Party of India Marxist-led coalition government in Kerala requested Menon in 1997 to write on Indian anti-Colonial movement in Kerala "in consultation with E. M. S. Namboodiripad"; the book was never published by the Government of Menon pulled out of the job. He remarked. A true historian is a judge and not a lawyer... politicians can act only as lawyers." Scholarship from the Maharaja of Cochin Smith Mundt Scholarship and the Fulbright Travel Grant 1990: INDIS award from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Thiruvananthapuram 1999: Senior Fellowship ICHR 2000: National Fellowship ICHR 2009: Padma Bhushan for Literature and Education Sreedhara Menon published nearly 25 books in English and Malayalam. EnglishKerala District Gazetteers Trivandrum Trichur Calicut Quilon Ernakulam Alleppey Cannanore Kottayam. A Survey of Kerala History. Sahitya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society. 1967. OCLC 555508146. Cultural Heritage of Kerala: An Introduction. East-West Publications. 1978. OCLC 475358916.
Social and cultural history of Kerala. Sterling. 1979. OCLC 6629548; the Legacy of Kerala A Political History of Modern Kerala Kerala History and its Makers A Concise History of Modern Kerala Modern India — A History Since 1707 Triumph and Tragedy in Travancore: Annals of Sir CPs Sixteen Years MalayalamKerala Charithram and Samskaram Kerala Charithra Shilpikal M. G. S. Narayanan K. N. Panikkar
Rev. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a German missionary and linguist, as well as the grandfather of German novelist and Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse. Gundert compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam, in which he developed and constricted the grammar spoken by the Keralites, nowadays, he worked at Thalassery on the Malabar coast, in Kerala, India. Gundert contributed to the fields of history and astronomy. At the age of five he entered Latin school in Stuttgart, joined the "Lower Seminary" at Maulbronn in 1827 and entered the "higher seminary" – the Protestant Stift – at the University of Tübingen. In 1835 he obtained a doctoral degree in philology from Tübingen and completed his theological studies. Having been engaged as private tutor in Calcutta, India, he prepared for this job in England. In April 1836 he left Bristol with the party of his employer. While traveling on the ship he concentrated on learning Bengali and Telugu and taught these languages to his fellow passengers. Instead of Calcutta the party settled there.
Gundert started learning Tamil. Soon he was giving a duty in Tirunelveli, after some time in Chittoor. There he married Julie Dubois in July 1838, she had come to India in the same party. After marriage, the two left for Tirunelveli, on the way they were invited to join the Basel Mission in Mangalore, they accepted, en route Gundert left Tamil drawing ups with a printer in Nagercoil. In Trivandrum Hermann Gundert had an audience with His Highness Sree Swathi Thirunal Maharaja, the ruler of Travancore. Most it was here he heard Malayalam for the first time. In November 1838 Gundert and his wife reached Mangalore. From there he visited Kannur and the cinnamon plantation near Anjarakandy. After a bungalow on Illikkunnu near Thalassery had been offered to the Basel Mission on condition to establish a mission station there, the Gunderts moved there and took up work in April 1839. In August 1839 Gundert stated that he had studied Malayalam intensively and that he had established the first Malayalam school in the veranda of the bungalow in May.
At the same time his wife started the first girls' institute with boarding. In the following months Gundert opened Malayalam schools in Kadirur, Thalassery Fort and Dharmadam, he visited all these schools and invited the teachers to Illikkunnu for further education. At times Gundert had five Pandits in his house, discussing old Indian history and religion and studying the classical Indian literature. At his numerous visits to the villages around Thalassery Gundert got in close contact with the people, collected as many words and proverbs as possible and spread the Gospel. During this period he published around thirteen books in Malayalam. Many of the material – old Malayalam documents and scriptures from Thalassery and other places in Malabar – which Gundert had collected he gave to Tuebingen University, Germany. In the beginning of 1857, the government appointed Gundert as the first Inspector of Schools in Malabar and Canara – from Kozhikode in the South till Hubli in the North, from Thalassery to Manantavadi.
He appointed teachers, wrote textbooks for schools and the newly established Madras University and compiled examination papers. In Kerala Gundert is venerated for his deep interest in the local culture as well as the development of Malayalam language, for compiling grammatical books for school starters as well as for University level; these grammars were the prominent non-Sanskrit-based approaches to real Indian grammar. Gundert is held in high regard to this day among linguistic experts in Kerala for the high scholastic aptitude exhibited in his work. During his stay in Illikunnu near Thalassery, he published around thirteen books in Malayalam including a translation of the Bible, Old Testament from Hebrew and New Testament from Greek; the archives of information he collected from Tellicherry are kept in the Tübingen University and were collected and compiled by the scholar Dr. Scaria Zacharia as Thalassery Rekhakal. In Kerala, he took a deep interest in the local culture and the Malayalam language, attempting a systematic grammar of the language.
This was one of the prominent non-Sanskrit-based approaches to Indic grammar. Gundert considered Malayalam to have diverged from Proto-Tamil–Malayalam, or Proto-Dravidian. Apart from the early inscriptions found on copper and stone, Gundert traced Malayalam to the Rāma Charitam, a poem predating the Sanskrit alphabet. Gundert is regarded among linguistic experts and his dictionary has been described as "monumental" in a review of the work on Dravidian languages, he was the one who introduced the punctuation marks – full stop, semicolon and question mark – into the Malayalam language. Malayalam-English Dictionary, he returned to Germany in 1859. There he took ten more years to complete the dictionary. A number of words in this dictionary are not in use these days, but this is a priceless treasure for those. Due to poor health Gundert had to leave India in 1859. In Calw, the Black Forest, he joined the Calw Publishing House and became its director in 1862, he published many articles as well as several magazines, including a children's magazine.
Julie Gundert died in Calw on 18 September 1885, Hermann Gundert on 25 April 1893. Both were buried on the Calw cemetery. Though