National seminar on Interdisciplinary approach to tolkāppiyam

tolkāppiyam is a unique Indian Traditional grammar classified into three chapters viz. eḻuttatikāram (phonetics) collatikāram (morphology) and poruḷatikāram (poetics). In the first chapter eḻuttatikāram tolkāppiyar describes about the production of speech sounds, so on tolkāppiyar has attempted to create a universal morphological basis. The second chapter collatikāram explains about the word formation, Tamil case system, and classification of parts of speech like nouns, verbs, particles and uriccol. tolkāppiyar’s classification of part of speech is applicable to all languages spoken across the world. The third chapter poruḷatikāram deals with the Literature area. In this chapter tolkāppiyar explains the form and theme of the old Tamil literary genres. And this chapter also describes literary principles and literary criticism.

tolkāppiyar has highlighted the connections between human beings and their places of living and thereby initiated an ecological perspective of human life, this is an unique element in tolkāppiyam. And it is also the valuable contribution of tolkāppiyar to the world of literary criticism. Tolkāppiyar has also dwelt on the aesthetic elements. His description of suggestive qualities in literature can well be compared to the Sanskrit dhvani Concepts. He has described human natures and attitudes on the basis of human beings‘manifested emotions in the meyppāṭṭiyal section. The meyppāṭṭiyal aspects draw a parallel to the Sanskrit rasa theory and they share a common Indian tradition. tolkāppiyar’s description of the Figures of Speech can be compared to the Sanskrit Vakroti aspects. Some of his concepts like vaṇṇam and nōkku echo the salient features of Sanskrit Ausitya. tolkāppiyar describes the physical features of plants and animals and explains how their natures, attitudes and vocations have a close link with those emotional features.


1. As tolkāppiyar speaks of ecology, a discussion on this aspect can provide a platform for further explorations and help understand the inevitable connection between humans and nature.

2. tolkāppiyar talks about not only human love but also animal love and points out the importance of interdependence between humans and other living beings in the world. A discussion on this aspect can help the participants have a rethinking on humanism and its relevance with this materialistic world.

3. tolkāppiyar’s concepts and theories of morphology, phrase-structures and syntactic structures are certainly comparable to the western linguistic theories and all these can go to create linguistic universals. A discussion on such transgressive aspects can provide more insightful sparks and innovative ideas.


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  • Department of Tamil, Tagore Arts College, Pondicherry.
  • Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry.


  • Kannan, M. (, Researcher, Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry.


Tagore Arts College, Pondicherry


Click on the image for the two proceedings and Index of national seminar conducted by Tagore Arts College and French Institute of Pondicherry.