For the love of Tamizh: How this expert pieces together puzzle of Keezhadi

During the final year of his MA Tamil course in 2005, he brought out his second book Udaipadum Manase.

Published: 24th April 2022 05:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2022 05:47 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

SIVAGANGA: Karuppasamy, the guardian god or kaval deivam, sporting a thick moustache and wielding a machete, is popular in villages of Tamil Nadu. His spirit is believed to be conferring a protective veil over the rural folk. In Allupillaithangi too, people offered worship to a stone idol of Karuppasamy, literally known as the dark god. However, there was something strange in Allupillaithangi. The fierce-looking deity carved on the stone carried a bow and arrow, instead of the customary machete.

K Kaliraja, an inscription expert, for one was baffled by this oddity. He visited the village, examined the idol and realised that it was actually a hero stone. This was the time when archaeological residues first began to be spotted in the region. Over a decade has flown by, and Keezhadi is now seven excavation phases old. With artifacts, burial urns, ring wells and whatnot, the Sangam Era settlement site provided us with insight into the rich Tamil history. Behind the information unearthed are historians and archaeology experts. 

Before 2010, nobody had the faintest idea that Keezhadi would open a portal to the State’s past, just like no one in Kollangudi village thought that their own Kaliraja would become an inscription expert and would shed the light on various artifacts. “Reading of ancient inscriptions is similar to deciphering puzzles. As not all artifacts are unearthed intact, it is vital for experts to have holistic knowledge in the field. I have so far discovered and decoded over 20 inscriptions across Sivaganga,” he says.

The first graduate from his village, K Kaliraja went on to author books and become one of the State’s foremost inscription expert | Express

A meeting with archeologist B Asaithambi was the turning point in Kaliraja’s life. Pleasantly surprised by the latter’s interest in Tamil, Asaithambi urged him to enrol for the inscription reading course offered by the State Archaeology Department. Kaliraja was the first graduate from Kollangudi village.

While studying Pulavar Title course in 2002, he authored a book of poems, Solathan Ninaikuren, under the pseudonym Ka Ka. During the final year of his MA Tamil course in 2005, he brought out his second book Udaipadum Manase. While Solathan Ninaikuren can be found in libraries across the State, chapters from Udaipadum Manase have found place in college textbooks.

“I was lured into the verse form after reading poems of S Abdul Rahman, Vairamuthu and Muhamed Metha. Once, a girl named C Krishnaveni told me that she loved my writings. Today, she is the mother of my children. My daughters were also named in pure Tamil: Navvi Ilangodi and Nani Ilamkathir,” he adds.

Recalling his findings from the Muthupatti village, Kaliraja narrates a unique practice in an ancient kingdom, wherein a subject would hack his body nine times and sacrifice his life for the sake of his king’s victory. “I found this information from a 400 kg sculpture named Nava Kanda Sirpam. This artifact was handed over to the museum. People have taken great effort to etch their escapades into eternity. By studying the past, we understand ourselves,” he says.

Kaliraja is also a sought-after block research teacher educator (BRTE) in the district, and a functionary of the TN Science Forum, Kalaiyarkoil Tamil Mandram, and the Sivaganga Tamil Sangam. Many years ago, Kaliraja’s friends roared with laughter when he signed his class 10 marksheet in Tamil owing to his love for the language. Today, he deciphers insignia of kings and queens who have disappeared into the sands of time.


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