Devaneya Pavanar (ஞா. தேவநேயப் பாவாணர்; ; also known as G. Devaneyan, Ñanamuttan Tevaneyan; lived 1902–1981), was a prominent Tamil author. He wrote over 35 books,
In his 1966 Primary Classical language of the World he makes some extraordinary claims - for example he argued that the Tamil language is the "most natural" and also a proto-world language, being the oldest language of the world, from which all other major languages of the world are derived. He believed that its literature, later called Sangam literature and usually considered to have been written from 200 BCE and 300 CE, spanned a huge period from 10,000 to 5,500 BC. He was also a staunch proponent of the "Pure Tamil movement" and initiated the Etymological Dictionary Project primarily to bring out the roots of Tamil words and their connections and ramifications.
Devaneya Pavanar composed many musical pieces (Isaik kalambakam) and many noteworthy poems, including the collection of Venpa. The title was conferred on him by the Tamil Nadu State Government in 1979, and he was also addressed as (மொழி ஞாயிறு) "Sun of language".
He worked as a Tamil teacher in several High Schools, 1922-1944. During this time, he pursued autodidactic studies of Dravidian philology and comparative linguistics.
He was Tamil professor at Municipal College, Salem, 1944-1956. From 1956-1961, he was Reader in Dravidian Philology at Annamalai University. He was a member of the Tamil Development and Research Council, set up by the Nehru government in 1959, entrusted with producing Tamil school and college textbooks. From 1974, he was director of the Tamil Etymological Project, and he acted as president of the International Tamil League, Tamilnadu. (U.Tha. Ka.)
Pavanar's Vadamoli Varalaru argues that hundreds of Sanskrit words can be traced to a Tamil origin, and at the same time he insisted that pure Tamil equivalents existed for Sanskrit loan words. He claimed that Tamil is a "superior and more divine" language than Sanskrit. In his view the Tamil language originated in "Lemuria" (இலெமூரியா ), the cradle of civilization and place of origin of language. He believed that evidence of Tamil's antiquity was being suppressed by Sanskritists.
Pavanar's timeline for the evolution of mankind and Tamil is as follows:
In the preface to his 1966 book The Primary Classical Language of the World he wrote:
There is no other language in the whole world as Tamil, that has suffered so much damage by natural and human agencies, and has been done so much injustice by malignant foreigners and native dupes.
The general belief that all arts and sciences are progressively advancing with the passage of time, is falsified in the case of philology, owing to the fundamental blunder of locating the original home of the Tamilians in the Mediterranean region, and taking Sanskrit, a post-Vedic semi-artificial composite literary dialect, the Indian Esperanto, so to speak, for the prototype of the Indo-European Form of Speech.
Westerners do not know as yet, that Tamil is a highly developed classical language of Lemurian origin, and has been, and is being still, suppressed by a systematic and co-ordinated effort by the Sanskritists both in the public and private sectors, ever since the Vedic mendicants migrated to the South, and taking utmost advantage of their superior complexion and the primitive credulity of the ancient Tamil kings, posed themselves as earthly gods (Bhu-suras) and deluded the Tamilians into the belief, that their ancestral language or literary dialect was divine or celestial in origin.
In a chapter entitled Tamil more divine than Sanskrit, Pavanar gives the reasons why he judges Tamil to be "more divine" than Sanskrit, arguing for "Primary Classicality of Tamil".
And much more stating the acientness and superiority of Tamil Language is mentioned.
The Cultural Heritage of India; vol. V: Languages and literature, p. 641 (ed. Chatterji, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture, 1978) states that "but for his (Pavanar's) efforts the purity and antiquity of Tamil might have been a myth."
The Central Plan Scheme for Classical Tamil of the Centre of Excellence for Classical Tamil recommends
The literary works and books of Pavanar have been "nationalised" by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the course of the "Golden Jubilee year of National Independence" (2006). This means that the copyright for Pavanar's work is now owned by the state of Tamil Nadu, his legal heirs having been compensated financially.
G. Elavazhagan of Tamilman Patippakam has brought out all the works of Pavanar for his centenary celebrations, 2000-2001.
M. Tamil Kudimagan, Ex-Minister for Tamil Development, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Madurai, in the preface to the 2001 reprint of Primary Classical Language of the World writes that "We are the followers of Pavanar and we are implementing the ideals of Pavanar in all walks of life".
In the foreword to the same volume, Pavanar's assistant and disciple R. Madhivanan claims that
Prof. Hakola (Finland), Prof. Levitt, M.B. Emeneau (U.S.A.,) and T. Burrow (UK,) approved Pavaner as an etymologists of great repute. The great Tamil scholar Maraimalai Adigal glorified 'In the study of words Pavanar's work is unique and he is unrivalled unmatched'.and continues into a eulogy to the effect that
It was a matter of surprise when the scientists came forward to split the atom. Now it has become still a matter of much more surprise when Pavanar came forward to split the root of words till the origin of human speech. [...] His Primary Classical Language of the World is an eyeopener for the linguists regarding the mother tongue of man.
No reviews of Pavanar's linguistic works in mainstream academia are known. He does however figure in works on language activism and national mysticism (Ramaswamy 1997, 2004) and of Indian nationalism (Kaiwar et al. 2003).