Foreign Scholar who studied Tamil Language for 63 years! (Post No.3397)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 28 November 2016


Time uploaded in London: 18-32


Post No.3397


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.




I have the translation of TIRUVACAGAM published by Rev.G.U.Pope. Tiruvacagam is the sacred utterances of the Tamil poet, saint and Sage Manikkavacagar. It has fifty one poems. Dr G U Pope of Oxford wrote a lengthy introduction to Caiva Siddhantam and the life history of Manikkavacagar.


Max Muller started studying Sanskrit with a different motive but was absorbed by Indian culture later. in the same way DR GU Pope started studying Tamil with a different motive but was absorbed by the Hindu culture.

His preface to the book is very interesting; I give below the second part of his preface:

“I date this on my eightieth birth day. I find, by reference, that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. this end, I suppose a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. it is not without deep emotion that I thus bring to a close my life’s literary work.


Some years ago, when this publication was hardly projected, one evening, after prayers, the writer was walking with the late Master of Ballilol College in the quadrangle. The conversation turned upon Tamil legends, poetry and philosophy.   At length, during a pause in the conversation, the Master said in a quick way to peculiar to him, ‘You must print it”. to this natural answer was, “Master! I have no patent to immortality, and the work would take very long’. I can see him now, as he turned around – while the moonlight fell upon his white hair and kindly face, — and laid his hand upon my shoulder, saying, ‘To have a great work in progress is the way to live long. You will live till you finish it. I certainly did not think so then, though the words have often come to my mind as a prophesy, encouraging me when weary; and they have been fulfilled, while he has passed out of sight.

to the memory of Benjamin Jowett, one of the kindest and best, and most forbearing of friends, — to whom I owe, among much else, the opportunity of accomplishing this and other undertakings, – I venture to inscribe this volume with all gratitude and reverence.


may the blessing of his Master and mine crown the very imperfect work!

Ballilol College                                 G.U.Pope

April 24, 1900





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