The advent of an advanced technology and an urban civilization, the laying of railway lines and the introduction of western type of education together with paper and printing press brought a sea-change in the mode of transmission of knowledge. The attempt of printing Tamil texts from palm-leaf manuscript did not succeed in gaining a good momentum owing to many failures. For example, the western education and the cultural imperialism advocated by Lord Macaulay left an indelible impression in the minds of the people that the native cultural traditions are far inferior to those of Europe. Since the English education provided opportunities to seek employment in Government service, the habit of studying the traditional texts written on Palm-Leaf manuscripts started deteriorating and these manuscripts came to be considered as objects futile for an attractive wordly life. Consequently scholars had to confront with discouragement and financial strain in printing such rare texts. The slow and steady decline in the art of writing in and deciphering of the Palm-Leaf Manuscripts only intensified the decay of the manuscript.
A deplorable tendency is gaining ground in this scientific and technological age with its accent on mechanical material orientation that views these rare manuscripts of the past as irrelevant to the modern sensibility and assigns them an exhibition value. Such an attitude would result in depriving posterity of a significant component of the cultural and literary heritage of our people.
About 75% of the palm-leaf manuscripts stored in various places have not yet seen the light of print and they have not been subjected to serious study. In view of the possibility that the publication of these palm-leaf materials may modify or prove wrong the conclusions of our research arrived on the basis of the printed texts, the importance of their preservation cannot be exaggerated.
The Institute of Asian Studies has already taken active steps to preserve the palm-leaf manuscripts from further decay and disintegration caused by human negligence and natural calamities.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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