(Inaugurated May 2017, updated August 2021)
1990 – 2000
GOBALAKICHENANE, M. (ed), Viranaicker II, Irandam Viranaicker Natkurippu [Irandaam Veeraanaiker Naatkurippu 1778-1792, The Diary of Viranaicker the Second], Chennai: Nattramizh Pathippagam, 1992, 333 pp.
In eighteenth-century Pondicherry under French rule, the ‘Conseil Supérieur’ dealt only with the justice affairs of white French people. The local Tamil people came under a different system and three generations of one family held the post of deputy Chief of police in that parallel system: Perumalnaicker, his son Viranaicker the First and his grandson, Rajagopalnaiker held the post from 1700, the latter holding it for an exceptionally long period from 1755 to 1793, covering several governors’ tenures and two British occupations between 1761 and 1765, and between 1778 and 1785. The diarist Viranaicker the Second, Rajagopalnaiker’s son, did not occupy a similar post, but he kept a record of what he saw, heard and read. His diary covers the period from 1778 to 1792, coming 18 years after the demise in 1761 of the celebrated Tamil-language diarist Anandarangappillai. M.Gobalakichenane has shown elsewhere that Anandarangappillai’s famous diary goes only up to 1760, in spite of the title of the English version of 12 volumes (1736-1761). From 1760 onwards and up to 1791, the diary was continued by his nephew Thiruvengadappillai the Third, alias Appavu, also known as Vijaya Thiruvengadappillai, and from 1791 to 1799 by the latter’s son Thiruvengadappillai the Fourth, alias Muthu Vijaya Thiruvengadappillai. The diary of The Diary of Viranaicker the Second is therefore a valuable complementary voice to the writing of Anandarangappillai, Thiruvengadappillai the Third and Thiruvengadappillai the Fourth.
2000 – 2010
GOBALAKICHENANE, M. (ed), Anandarangappillai Vi-Natkurippu, Prajorpathi Andu (1751-1752),
[The Extended Diary of Anandarangappillai (1751-1752], Chennai: Meiyyappan Pathippagam, 2004, 430 pp.
Since the establishment of the French in Pondicherry in 1674, about thirty-five years after the British in Madras, the French governors-general: Martin, Le Noir and Dumas gave significant impetus to the new town named புதுச்சேரி/ ‘Puthuccery’ in Tamil, ‘Pondichéry’ in French and ‘Pondicherry’ in English (it was called ‘Pondicheri’ in the earlier English documents).
Taking advantage of the decline in the Mughal Empire, the Subahs became practically independent, a situation that led to several wars for dominance in South India and in the old historical ‘Chozhamandalam’, named ‘Coromandel’, first by the Portuguese and later by other Europeans.
These ‘revolutions’ – as they were named in the French documents – paved the way for a change in the relation between “Indians” and the Europeans, from commercial one to political occupation. Dupleix, Governor general of Pondicherry and of all French Establishments in the Indian Ocean region in the years from 1742 to1754, was the first who initiated the interference in local politics, after the death of then Nizam of Hyderabad in 1748. The French were allied to Chanda Sahib and the British to Mohammed Aly, both strategically reversing their alliances with other potentates of Deccan. Their superiority in maritime power, cannon, ammunitions and discipline unknown to the South Indian chiefs until that point and demonstrated with great effect during Bussy’s victory at Senji Fort in 1750. The greatest extent of territory held by the French occurred when they succeeded in establishing a protectorate over two-thirds of the Deccan behind the Eastern coast. Their glory culminating in 1751, the ‘Prajorpathi’ year (mid-April 1751 – mid-April 1752). Thus, the Extended Diary relates in detail the rise in power of the French East India Company under Dupleix. The impetus for this volume came during the early 1980’s when M. Gobalakichenane was working on the Tamil manuscript (part of Mss.Ind.143 in the Oriental Manuscripts Department of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) named ‘Veeranaiker dinasaridae’. Piqued to know more about the author’s family and background, M. Gobalakichenane came across the Tamil manuscripts Mss. Ind. 144 to 154 bis by Ananda Rangappillai (ARP). Having read earlier the English translation in 12 volumes published by F. Price (the first three) and by H. Dodwell (the others up to 12) and the Tamil edition in 8 volumes extant until then, it was noticed that several passages of these Tamil manuscripts reproduced by E. Ariel had not been translated into English, nor were they found in Tamil. During the years from 1985 to 1992 M. Gobalakichenane worked on those unpublished passages and on Mss. Ind 155 to 158 (authored by two other members of ARP’s descendants). In 2004, it was decided to publish a selection of ‘Extended’ volumes, chosen for their historical importance, showing the unpublished parts in italics and providing a Bibliography and Index. This methodology is used to present three years that are critical years for South Indian history, i.e. from mid-April 1751 to mid-April 1754, although this edition prefers to use the Tamil calendar years (Prajorpathi, Angirasa, Srimuga) as separators. The ‘V’ in the title ‘Ananda Rangappillai V-Natkurippu Prajorpathi andu (1751-1752)’, stands for ‘Virintha’ meaning ‘Extended’ in Tamil.