West indian literature

A treasure trove of VOC literature now available to everyone – The New Indian Express

Express news service

CHENNAI: People know VO Chidambaram Pillai (VOC) (1872-1936) as a freedom fighter, but he was a multi-faceted personality and his contributions to Tamil literature are invaluable. The state government publishes his works in four volumes, and Chief Minister MP Stalin recently published two of them to commemorate the 150th anniversary of VOC’s birth.

The first volume contains his autobiography, works on spirituality, his speech at the Congress party conference in 1927, a collection of poetry, his essays on various subjects, including self-improvement. The second volume is devoted to his commentary on Thirukkural, which compares Manakkudavar’s commentary with that of Parimezh Azhagar.

One of his major works on self-improvement is Manam Pola Vaazhvu, the translation of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. The work aims to help young people cultivate their minds for a better life. He also translated a few other works by James Allen.

On spiritual thoughts, Pillai recorded his rational views on many places. Copies of these books will be available at the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation office within a week. The first volume of this book (1085 pages) is priced at Rs 355 while the second volume (728 pages) is priced at Rs 245. Tamil professor V Arasu, who has published 13 VOC books and now edits the entirety of VOC’s work on behalf of the state government, said the third volume will cover VOC’s commentary on Tholkappiyam (Ilampooranar Urai). The fourth volume will be a documentary on the life of VOC in all its perspective.

“VOC sacrificed so much for the struggle for Indian independence, but, at one point, VOC’s views did not match those of the Tamil Nadu unity of Congress. He disagreed with Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement for several reasons, ”Arasu said, adding that VOC had even been called anti-national by a well-known congressional leader of Tamil Nadu.

Although Chidambaram Pillai accepted Bal Gangadhar Tilak as his political mentor, he even differed from him on some issues. Pillai also vehemently supported the municipal representation advocated by Periyar EV Ramasamy. In the latter part of his hectic life, Chidambaram Pillai suffered financially and had to survive on income from a small store, a grocery store, a gas bunk, etc.

Professor Arasu said that one of Pillai’s biggest contributions was his commentary on Thirukkural. “VOC differed from the commentary by Parimel Azhagar, a thirteenth century scholar. He reduced Parimel Azhagar to 74 places in his commentary. He agrees, however, with the commentary of Manakkudavar, an 11th-century scholar who held revolutionary views on Thirukkural. “VOC took great care to publish this commentary from Manakkudavar. Most of his important work was completed during his days of imprisonment, ”he added.


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