Special Lecture at Tamil Nadu Foundation Convention, 2012
Hilton Houston North on Saturday, May 26, 2012
Kuravanji Dance Dramas: Perspectives on Landscapes and Social Life in 18th and 19th century Tamil Nadu
Indira Viswanathan Peterson is David B. Truman Professor of Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Bombay University, and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University. She has held a number of research fellowships, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Indira Peterson specializes in Indian literature in Sanskrit and Tamil, Hinduism, and South Indian cultural history and performing arts. She is also a performer of Carnatic vocal music. Peterson is the author of Poems to Shiva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton, 1989; first major translation and study of the Tevaram hymns), and Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi (Albany, 2003), the study of a classical Sanskrit poem. Her other books are: George Michell and Indira Peterson, The Great Temple at Thanjavur: A Thousand Years. 1010 – 2010 (Mumbai: Marg, 2010), on the Brihadisvara temple; Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in modern South India, co-edited with Davesh Soneji (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008), on Carnatic music and Bharata Natyam dance; and Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India, co-edited with Martha Selby (Albany, 2007). Indira Peterson is editor of Indian literature (500 B.C. to the present) in the Norton Anthology of World Literature (2001). She has just completed Scholar-king of Tanjore: Serfoji II and the Shaping of Indian Modernity, a biography of the Raja Serfoji of Thanjavur. She is writing a book on the Kuravanji dramas of Tamilnadu, and has translated the Kuraalak kuravanji and other kuravanji plays. She has also translated portions of Kalaimani’s Tamil novel Thillana Mohanambal, and plans a complete translation of the work.
TNF Convention, Hilton Houston North, Sunday - May 27, 2012
Abstract: The Indus valley Bronze Age saw the flourishing of the largest agriculture based civilization in the ancient world, and reached its classical era about 4200 years ago. The seals unearthed throughout the 20th century CE cover a wide geographical area of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and the glyptic art featured in the IVC seals show the importance of land and aquatic fauna in the cultural life. The characteristic fish sign pointing to the Dravidian language spoken by the elite Harappans has long been explored from the days of Fr. H. Heras, SJ. However, the importance of crocodiles in IVC culture is just coming to light. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy was the first scholar to show that makara in the earliest stages referred to the Indian crocodile. This illustrated slide show and lecture explores the importance of the crocodile as an equivalent of Proto-Varuṇa portrait in the IVC religion, and its relationship with the tiger-goddess, Proto-Durgā by analyzing the linked imagery in IVC art. A Dravidian etymology for the Sanskrit word, makara from (i) the names of the marsh crocodile in all the Dravidian languages, and (ii) the names of the crocodile in Sindh and Gujarat regions is offered. In particular, it is shown that the names in South Munda languages prevalent in Orissa are loan words from Dravidian, and they do not form part of the Austroasiatic heritage. Sangam Tamil literature references on the three species of Indian crocodiles are discussed.
Dr. Naga Ganesan, PhD is a specialist in Structural Dynamics of Large Space Structures. He has worked
in the Space industry for 25 years in Houston. Dr. N. Ganesan hails from Pollachi, Tamil Nadu and he stood first in Tamil and Mathematics in many State level competitions during his school and collegiate years. His first degree is B.E. (Hons) in Mechanical Engineeing from College of Engineering, Guindy in 1981. He has worked as a technical expert for many Space Shuttle Missions since the 90s until the last Space Shuttle mission. He has contributed to the Unicode encoding of several Indian scripts for use in the Web including Tamil and Grantha scripts. One of his main interests is Tamil prabandhams and their print history. His latest paper on Indus religion has been published in Prof. V. I. Subramonium Memorial Souvenir, 2011,
International School of Dravidian Linguistics, Govt. of Kerala, Tiruvananthapuram. His paper with illustrations on Indus religion involving crocodile cult can be downloaded as a PDF from:
See you all at the Tamil Nadu Foundation Annual Convention, 2012 at Hilton, Houston North!