Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why C.W.Thamotharapilai changed his name ?

Madras Miscellany column of The Hindu dated 01/Feb/2010 begins with a note about Madras University's plans to start degree classes in the camps for the internally displaced people in Sri Lank's north. Further, in the same article, brief sketch of the first two graduates of University of Madras from Jaffna is provided. Detailing about the two graduates, Mr.S.Muthiah outlined as to why C.W.Thamotharapillai [CWT] changed his name, "so that he would have no problems in accessing the original palm-leaf manuscripts in the various maths".

It's wondering to note what kind of problems CWT could have faced had he not changed his name ? This led me to search for answers which some of you might be already aware of but will share with you as is (without any comments or observations):

1. This reference (partial text extract is given below) is from a Google mailing list :

"Why did C. W. Thamotharam give a Hindu name in Madras?

Prof. R. Hoole gives a reason

"I recall how my ancestor Charles Winslow Kingsbury with the “home name” Thamotharam, despite his accomplishments as one of Madras University’s first 2 graduates in 1857 (and of getting the higher mark of the two [8]) renamed himself Chirupitty Wairawanathar Thamotharampillai when he went to Madras Presidency.

This ensured that

a) he had access to the Sangam-era Ola manuscripts in the mutts that he is credited with restoring,

b) he kept his original initials and

c) he removed obstacles to his becoming Rao Bahadur and, as chief justice, Regent in Puthukkottai. To maintain this farce he only had to whisper to his Jaffna friends on arrival in Madras not to let on that he was a Christian in Jaffna. (See S.R. H. Hoole, 1997; ibid.).

Such was the disadvantage of a Christian in India in learned circles."

R. Hoole's book on CWT:

2. I believe the extracted text is part of another article written by Ranjan Hoole, one of C.W.Thamotharapillai's kinsmen. His article is very elaborate and the main subject of his article is quite different. Here is the URL to the seven page article,

Extracted text reproduced in the first point is taken from Ranjan Hoole's article (URL given above) -- last para in the first page of this article.

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