Friday, 4 February 2011

Henrique Henriques, SJ (1520-1600)

  • Thambiran vanakkam. (Adoration to God.) 1578. [16 pp. translation of the Portuguese Doctrina Christam. First book printed in Tamil script.] [HAR]
  • Girisithiyar vanakkam. (Adoration to the Lord of the Mount.) 112 pp. [Bibli. National]
  • Kirisithiyaani vanakkam. 1578.
  • [Grammar and dictionary for the Malabar (Tamil) language.] [Doyle (2006) 82, note 1.]
  • Punitar varalaru - Flos Sanctorum. 1586. [See the Oriental Collection (Orientalske Afdeling) of the Royal Library, Copenhagen (OA 1531) for an original copy. See also VAT (Baago 3).]



  1. The Portuguese actually printed their first books in Lingua Malabar Tamul around 1560s using Portuguese writing system. Alternating lines of Lingua Malabar Tamul (Malayalam-Tamil or Malayanma) with the original Portuguese literature was found in Cadilha printed at Lisbon in the 1560s.In the same era the main art form of Keralas Christians was Chavittu Natakam in Tamil composed by Chinnathambi Annavi. Chinnathambi Annavi was a Tamil migrated from the southern parts of Kerala who resided at Mattanchery fort and worshipped the Koonan Kurisu there. He wrote poems to praise Sesu Muthappan and Muthi (Mary). Even today the word Muthi (eg Koratti Muthi) is used to denote Mary in Kerala.Chavittu Natakam or tromping dance in which the dancers gyrated tromping the floor. Chavittu Natakam was a modification of Therukoothu a Tamil art form. Even today many Chavittu Natakams written in 1500s written in Tamil mixed with Malayalam survive. Karalman (Charlemagne) and Gee Varghese story are famous among them. In the 16th century the intermixture of Tamils with Portuguese had created a mixed tribe called Mestizos. Mestizos had three sub groups called Castizo(mostly European), Mestizo (Mixed equally) and Topazi (mostly Indian). The alternate lines of Portuguese and Tamil in early Lingua Malabar Tamul might have benefitted the Mestizos and Tamils of Kerala in that era. Only after the Dutch came the Tamils started adopting the Tulu-Nepalese language and culture of their rulers.
    Flos Sanctorum written and translated into Lingua Malabar Tamul or Malayalam-Tamil in 1578. The language and structure of the language is closer to Malayalam than modern Tamil. Portuguese printed Catholic books in Kerala at their printing presses situated at Ambalakkadu and Melur near Angamaly, Kollam and Thalassery. At Tamilnadu they had the printing press at Punnakkayal. In the 16th century Tamil Nadu had hardly few thousand Christians while Sri Lanka had few thousand more.At Tuticorin Paravas had been converted to Christianity by Joao Da Cruz a converted Nair from Calicuts Samuthiri Kingdom at 1532 AD.Francis Xavier arrived Kottar and Tuticorin around 1548 AD.It is highly unlikely that in the 16th century the Tamilnadus Christians were literate enough to read all these liturgical books written in Malabar language ie Malayalam-Tamil.The Christiani Vanakkam, and Thambiran Vanakkam all are written in Malayanma or Malayalam Tamil the native language of Kerala, a Dialect of Tamil. In Kerala these Malayanma books were printed in the places where the the Malayali Christians were thickly populated ie Angamaly Quilon and Thalassery which were Portuguese strongholds in that Era. Portuguese era ended in 1660s. The Dutch continued to print books in Malayalam-Tamil from Ambazhakkad near Puthenvelikkara near Angamaly as late as 1760s.The Malayalam-Tamil remained as the language of worship till 1820s for the Malayali Christians. Copenhagen museum still houses a copy of Tamil Flos Sanctoram printed at Angamaly.
    Though Portuguese established a printing press at Vypeen fort to print Syriac books it is highly unlikely anybody except some priests ever read it.
    There were two languages in that era in Kerala. The General population used the Malayanma or Malayalam-Tamil but the ruling classes of Nambudiris and Nairs used a different form of languages which because of their Northern origins at Ahichatra at the Uttranchal-Nepal had a mixture of Sanskrit of Aryans, and Prakrit of Nagas.This Tulu Grantha-Bhasa of the Nambudiris intrigued the Dutch-German Missionaris such as Arnos Padiri in 1699 who resided at Melur. The German and Dutch Missionaries who arrived in the after 1700s discovered that the German language had closely resembled Sanskrit. This made the German-Dutch missionaries more interested in Nambudiri language, Grantha Bhasa.

  2. Arnos Padiri wrote books in that language then called Grantha Bhasa (Modern Malayalam).He wrote a book called Grantha Bhasayude Vyagaranam (Arnos Padiri did not call it Malayalam because in that era the word Malayalam meant Malayalam-Tamil written with Tamil Script). When the Dutch and British started promoting the Grantha Bhasa or Grantha Malayalam (Sanskritised Malayalam written with Tulu Script) as a means of suppressing and erasing their earlier history.
    Malayanma was forcibly removed from history by the British in the 1810 when they forced Tulu writing system as the writing system of Malayalam and promoted the Grantha (Sanskritised) Malayalam used by Nambudiris which was written with Tulu script. Tulu script had been brought to Kerala by Nambudiris and Nairs who established a Matriarchal kingdom in Kerala in the fourteenth century from Tulunadu. Benjamin Bailey a Missionary made the first Tulu-Malayalam script types when he was staying at Basil Mission at Mangalore 1819.The British established Kottayam Seminary to teach the Grantha Malayalam which was made the official language of Kerala. Herman Gundert a German Missionary made the Grantha Malayalam popular in Kerala who started the first Grantha Malayalam news paper called Rajya Samacharam.The British promotion of Grantha Malayalam written with Tulu script led to the decline of Malayanma which used to be written with Tamil Script or Malayanma Script (Vattezuthu or Kolezhuthu). The Malabar(Malayalam)-Tamil dictionary composed by Grahamshaw in 1796 was nothing but English-Tamil dictionary. British suppression of Malayanma led to the disappearance of all the Tamil-Malayanma books of Kerala written prior to 1800s. Only books written by Nambudiris in the 17th century with Sanskrit 80 percent with 20 percent Dravidian Malayalam survive.In otherwords British supported the language of Nagas and Aryans who had migrated from Ahichatram in Uttarkhand/Nepal through Tulunadu while destroying all indigenous Dravidian Tamil-Malayalam books.
    Thus Flos Sanctorum and Kiristiyaani Vanakkam were written for the Tamils of Kerala in Malayanma.The word Kiristayani itself a Malayalam word. Thamburan or Thambiran signifies Gods and Kings in Malayalam even today.Many thousand books were printed in the 16th century. Tamilnadu did not have that many Christians in that era who were literate to read these books but Kerala had.