It is a great loss to the field of Tamil and Dravidian studies. Dr.Kamil Zvelebil has passed away yesterday on January 17, 2009.
He was born in Prague (Czechoslovakia) on 17-11-1927. He has PhD in Sanskrit, English and Philosophy and second PhD. in Dravidian philology. His works cover the fields of descriptive and historical Tamil linguistics and dialectology, Tamil literature, Tamil Prosody, Dravidian comparative linguistics, Tribal languages and cultures of the Nilgiries (South India: in particularly Irula – described for the first time by Zvelebil), South Indian cultural and religious history, Hinduism, Sanskrit ritual texts, comparative Sanskrit and Tamil literature, Tamil Folklore TamilSiddha movement.
People who follow this blog would surely Dr. Zvelebil. In way I consider him my Guru who made me rediscover Tamil. His book ‘Smile of Murugan’ made understand the greatness of Tamil and I felt really bad for neglecting my mother tongue. Then I started to read lot about Tamil literature. There is no western work on Tamil after 1975 which doesn’t refer ‘Smile of Murugan’ and ‘Tamil Literature’ of Kamil Zvelebil.
His works ‘ The poets of Power’ and ‘ The Shidda quest of Immortality’ were about Tamil Shidda cult. These two books are treasure since they have so many translations of often over looked Shidda poems.
His interest in Murugan studies can be seen through his books , ‘ Tamil Traditions of Subrahmanya Murugan’,’Thiru Murugan’, ‘Tamil Kandhapuranam’.
He also wrote in Detail about Irulas of Niligiri mountains.
His works like Smile of Murugan , Tamil Literature, Companion Studies to Tamil History of Tamil literature, Lexicon of Tamil Literature are extremely valuable to people who want to know the History of Tamil Literature.
His work ‘ Literary conventions in Akam poetry’ gives great insight into Tamil Akam poetry. I am totally dependent on this book for undertsanding Tamil sangam Akam poetry.
His work ‘Two Tamil Folktales: The Story of King Matanakama, the Story of Peacock Ravana’ has great insight on Tamil folk lore in the introduction and also he translates two famous Tamil folk story. The Matanakamarajan Kathai and Mayil ravanan Kathai. Matanakamarajan Kathai has 12 sub stories in them. One of the stories Rambayin Kadhali was made into film recently as Indiralogathil Alagappan.
He has a brilliant writing style. You will never keep his book down it would be so engaging. Personally I feel really bad since I have read proabably only 30-40 books in my life and out of that 10 books would be of Dr.Zvelebil.
I just cant forget this Chezch national who came to Tamil Nadu and wrote about Tamil and made so many people like me to rediscover Tamil.
He always liked this Tamil word ‘Saandror’ and he usually preferred addressing Sangam poems as ‘ Saandror Kavithaigal’. I would go on to say he was a Saandron.
To read his full biography please visit
His Bibiliography an be downloaded form this link – thanks to CTamil grp