The flurry of activities behind the staging of World Classical Tamil Conference at Coimbatore has also drowned the sad voice of anguish of the family of a 72-year-old daughter-in-law of the Tamil scholar, Devaneya Paavanar, who according to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, had said that ‘Tamil was the primary classical language of the world.'

Known as ‘Mozhi Gnayuru,' Paavanar (1902-1981), one of a few who strove for classical status for Tamil along with Maraimalai Adigal, had worked as a lecturer in Salem Municipal College for 12 years between 1944 and 1956 when he did extensive research on Tamil language and its classical status before becoming the Reader at Dravidian Language Research department of Annamalai University.

He had written nearly 27 books on Tamil language and a few in English too and under whom the compilation of ‘Agara Mudali' Tamil lexicon was undertaken in the seventies.

Aranga Chelladurai of Pavanar Perunchitranar Trust says though his works had been nationalized and distributed among his children, it was a meagre sum for a larger family that always lived on the edge of poverty. (He had six children including a daughter of whom two sons had died).

Poverty still haunts a few of Paavanar's direct descendants and one among them is Jane Selvarayan, a retired secondary grade teacher and wife of his second son late Siluvaivendra Selvarayan and her family, living in a tiny tiled house for a monthly rent of Rs. 300 at Adaikkala Nagar at Salem, which has neither electricity nor water.

“My son Caleb Jayaraj, Ayya's (Paavanar) grandson, is a construction worker and I have to support his family. Each day passes towards an uncertain future since the entire family depend on my pension. Once I die, who will take care of them?” Jane wonders.

Her family, she claims, has lost connection with the families of other sons of Paavanar. Her eldest son, family friends claim, had died of poverty.

An America-based Tamil scholar has adopted Paavanar's great grand daughter studying second standard in CSI Hobart Girls High School while the three-year-old great grandson is ready for school this year.

“Both my son and daughter-in-law and my daughter are depending on my pension, which is inadequate to meet even one square meal per day for us,” says Jane who appeals to the Chief Minister to “provide her daughter-in-law, a job at least.”

A few are extending some help to the family. “It is not adequate,” says J. Barnabas, General Secretary, Salem Historical Society, who demands that the Salem Government Arts College where Paavanar once worked be renamed after this renowned Tamil scholar.


He has written nearly 27 books on Tamil language and a few in English tooThough his works were nationalised, they brought only a meagre sum to his family