13th Classical Tamil Summer Seminar 2015

Organised by Eva Wilden at the centre of the École Française d'Extrême-Orient in Pondicherry, 10th to 28th of August 2015

In 2015 the CTSS will coincide with the third workshop on the Archeology of Bhakti, and in order to minimise overlap we will start only in the second week of August and continue for three weeks until the end of the month. The day will be split into two morning reading sessions for the principal text and a choice of afternoon reading sessions devoted to selected texts from different genres of Tamil literature. Classes will be presided over by experts (young and old, Indian and Western) who provide the material and present their work and view of the chosen text, but emphasis will be laid on the discussion in the forum. The goal will not be to arrive at a single "correct" translation, but rather to explore the different possibilities of understanding, based on commentary or argument. In accordance with the general philological outlook of the EFEO, work will not only proceed from the current editions but will included manuscript material photographed by our lab, or in the case of inscriptions photographs and estampages.

The first and second week will be devoted to a literary text from the oldest part of surviving Tamil poetry, from the Caṅkam corpus, namely the Kuṟiñcippāṭṭu (261 lines), one more among the ten long songs of the Pattuppāṭṭu and currently being critically re-edited by T. Rajeswari, who will take over the guidance of the reading sessions and acquaint us with her current identifications for the famous ninety-nine plants mentioned in the poem. The third week we shall turn our attention to one of the fundamental texts in the Śaiva devotional corpus, namely the Tiruvācakam, of Māṇikkavācakar (9th c.), reputed to make the heart melt of everyone who has a heart.


The working day for advanced students will be divided into three reading sessions, two in the morning and one in the afternoon, the first two interrelated in that one of them is devoted to a text while the second takes up its commentary. The first session will last from 9.30-11.00 a.m., the second from 11.30 a.m.-1 p.m. (with a coffee break in between), the third session from 3-4.30 p.m., followed by a tea break. Each text will be read and discussed line by line, in detail, and contributions and suggestions for alternative translations will be welcome. It will be up to each participant to decide whether he/she wants to take part actively in all three sessions or whether they prefer to skip one or the other in order to have the time to prepare for the texts that interest them most.

Evening Lectures and Concerts

Twice a week in the early evenings there will again be the customary evening lectures, an occasion to invite outside experts, but also time for participants to present their current work to the group. We hope also to be able to maintain our concert tradition on Friday evenings...

Who can participate?

As usual, we look forward to welcoming back former participants. Anybody with at least a basic knowledge of the Classical language will be most welcome. We would also like strongly to encourage Indian students to participate in our classes (and for them there will be specially reduced fees).

For further inquiries contact Eva Wilden: wilden.eva@gmail.com


Practical organisation rests, as ever, in the hands of the secretary of the EFEO centre in Pondicherry, Mrs Prerana PATEL (preranapatel@efeo-pondicherry.org). Please contact her for any practical question. A fee will be levied (200/150 Euros for international scholars/students (negotiable in case of need), or of 1000 rs. for Indian students). As the EFEO is currently having to adjust to a tight budget, we would appreciate being able to calculate more precisely the number of people likely to be expected. We have therefore drawn up an application form which has to be filled up and sent to the address above as soon as possible, at the latest, however, by the end of June 2015.


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Drawing: Lucie Labbé

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