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Chennai 2000 Plus Trust inaugurated

Updated by admin on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 03:42 PM IST

Chennai: It is not as if the history of Chennai began 500 or 300 years ago: burial urns of pre-historic era have been unearthed along the Adyar banks, said Dr R Nagaswamy, former Director of Archaeology, government of Tamil Nadu, while inaugurating the Chennai 2000+ Trust here on September 27, 2015.

There is enough archaeological, historical and literary evidence to prove that Chennai and its surrounding areas were extremely ancient, and that the region boasted of one of the oldest civilizations of the world, said Dr Nagaswamy,

Tracing the roots of the city to very ancient times, as it is believed that Tiruvalluvar lived here and it was also ruled by Pallava and Chola kings, Nagaswamy said India was the only country in the world that sends up a prayer (Gayathri Mantra) to the Sun to ‘stimulate (one’s) critical intellect’ that has been recited for almost 4,000-5,000 years without a break.

Dr Nagaswamy pointed out that burial urns of pre-historic era were found along the banks of the Adyar river, showing that it had an ancient civilization. He referred to findings of structures in Pallavaram and Uthiramerur which proved that the region had a flourishing civilization including trade, fine arts and excellent systems of governance. The ancient Tiruvotriyur temple also had sculptural evidence besides inscriptions to prove the antiquity of Chennai, besides throwing light on the culture, practices and traditions during Chola and Vijayanagara rule.

He regretted that the condition of many temples in the city and the state was poor, and some temple structures were dilapidated, needing urgent renovation, and funds for proper maintenance and upkeep.

Stressing the need to drive home to the youth that Chennai was a truly ancient city with a glorious past, he said the way history was taught in schools should be re-worked. Lauding the objectives of the Chennai 2000 Plus Trust in launching programmes to create awareness about ancient Chennai, he said the students should first be taught local history, and then that of the State, before going on to the history of the world. Nagaswamy also said Indian history books were skewed. ‘Would you find a chapter on the unparalleled golden age of the Chola empire in any of the country’s history books?’ he asked. Suggesting a way out, he said students should first be taught local history, then the history of the state, after which should come the history of the country. Only after all this should we learn the history of the world, he opined, and quoted a beautiful Subramanya Bharathi poem with feeling to support his view.

As the trust aims to explore the antiquity of Chennai with the guidance of resource persons, he said, it should take the idea to students. ‘It is important that pride in our history is inculcated in the younger generation. Only if you instil it in them at a young age will it bear fruit,’ he advised.

Pottramarai Kalai Ilakiya Arangam president L Ganesan, who gave a stimulating speech, said there was an urgent need to bring out the salient features of our past. He pledged his unstinting support for the activities of the trust.

Ganesan, in his presidential address, said the Trust objectives of highlighting the history of every corner of Chennai, and backing it up with discourses, music sessions and talk  by experts, would go a long way in creating local pride and a sense of ownership about the rich culture. He said the Trust concept was unique, yet simple, workable and participatory.

Trust president R Rangaraj spoke about what the trust hopes to achieve. He mentioned that the history of Chennai and its environs go back several centuries and that there was a need to look long and back instead of confining ourselves to a few hundred years. The trust plans to conduct programmes in different parts of the city, highlighting the antiquity of that particular place regarding its religious, spiritual or literary and other merits. ‘Anybody can organise an event in their area. We will bring our resource persons to conduct the programme,’ he said.

Rangaraj said programmes about the wealth of Chennai in cultural, literary and archaeological fields would be held in over 50 places during the Chennai Month programmes. He said educational institutions could conduct such programmes by inviting the Trust resource persons to address the students. The institutions could contact rangaraj2019@gmail.com or  9841010821 for the same.

Pudhugai Thendral magazine editor M Dharmarajan and Amudasurabi editor Tirupur Krishnan, who offered felicitations, said the trust was on the right trajectory.  They referred to the literary treasures in the form of poems and hymns by Tamil saints and writers which they sang at temples and maths thousands of years ago in Chennai, and which had been passed on from one generation to another.

On behalf of the Trust, R. Chitra welcomed the gathering.

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