(Inaugurated May 2017, updated January 2022)
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 to 1754, 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.
GOBALAKICHENANE, M. (ed), Anandarangappillai Vi-Natkurippu, Angirasa Andu (1752-1753), [The Extended Diary of Anandarangappillai (1752-1753], Chennai: Nattramij Pathippagam, 2005, 600 pp.
In addition to the texts that are already known in the English edition, Prajorpati, the first volume of my series, contains unpublished passages found in the French National Library’s manuscript (BnF, Bibliothèque nationale de France). It relates the events of the last glorious year of Dupleix’s governorship in the Carnatic.
Likewise, Angirasa, the volume that follows it, also contains unpublished passages from manuscripts in the BnF’s Indian Collections (the end of Mss. 149 and the start of Mss. 150). The volume is important because it recounts the reversal in political fortunes in the region and introduces the start of the British ascendancy that was to follow. Thus, after the defeat of the French at Srîrangam, the murder by betrayal of Chanda Sahib at Tanjore, negated the arguments in favour of helping this nawab that had been put forward until then by Dupleix to the Directors of the French East India Company. As the British were advancing northwards and nearing Pondicherry, Dupleix attempted to leverage the increasing resentment of Nandiraja, the Prince of Mysore, towards Mohammed Ali, and began negotiating with the former, his onetime adversary. He also wished to form an alliance with the Maratha Morarirao at the same time. These changes in tactics in 1751 were misunderstood by the local population (both Tamil and French), some of whom complained about them to the French East India Company in Paris, which then issued the French governor general with the formal order to cease trying to extend the territory and to limit himself to trade.
In another aspect, it was in September 1752 that Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar over the Julian one (something that Roman Catholic France did back in 1582) and applied the requisite changes that resulted from this application: the day after Wednesday 2 September would be Thursday 14 September. British as well as French historians would do well to take account of this hiatus in the calendar when considering documents and manuscripts with dates prior to 2 September 1752.
GOBALAKICHENANE, M. (ed), Anandarangappillai Vi-Natkurippu, Srimuga Andu (1753-1754), [The Extended Diary of Anandarangappillai (1753-1754], Chennai: Palaniappa Brothers, 2008, xlv and 370 pp.
Following the publication relating to the Prajorpati and Angirasa years, the one corresponding to the Tamil year Srimuga comprises a complete text, also containing hitherto unpublished passage based on the end of Mss 150 and the whole of Indian Mss. 158 in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Let us remind readers that these manuscripts are copies that were made, revised and corrected by Edouard Ariel, one of the first from the West interested in Tamil. Ariel arrived in Pondicherry at the age of 26 and died there in 1854 at the age of 36. The manuscripts were brought to France after his death.
Among the events recounted by Anandarangappillai, several are surreal in character. Dupleix at the apogee of his power, believing he is about to become overlord of the entire Carnatic, had ordered luxury items and commissioned interior designers for his new palace that was under construction. Every sumptuous item he ordered was delivered in this year of reversals. Notwithstanding that, he organized violin concerts in October 1753. In the following month he organized sumptuous marriage ceremonies for his family members and friend (his nephew Kerjean, Councillor Denis and Finot, to name but three). He was completely unaware of how soon his disgrace was to befall him.
As the coffers were empty, Dupleix was obliged to borrow money from prominent locals such as Anandarangappillai. Early in 1754 Dupleix resolved to sue for peace with the British at Sadras (Sathurangappattanam). The negotiations had not reached their conclusion when news reached Pondicherry of the arrival of Godeheu, his replacement as Governor General, carrying the letter confirming his dismissal as well as strict instructions from the King of France to reach a peace treaty on the Coromandel Coast. Rapidly replaced in his functions, Dupleix was obliged to set sail for France, leaving both his creditors and rare supporters entirely in the dark.
It should be noted here that Anandarangappillai was of Telegu ancestry (one of the families who migrated during and following the collapse of the Vijayanagar Empire in the sixteenth century); there are several points at which he writes in Telegu, particularly for calculations and when noting offers of presents. Though we do not know Telegu, we have nonetheless indicated where these passages occur (there are sixteen pages of them in total), so as to allow researchers in the future to be able to complete the Journal.
In addition to numerous pieces of hitherto unpublished information, for instance references to the now lost Guruvapillai and Mutiyapillai journals, this third volume has an index as the volumes Prajorpathi and Angirasa, and additionally several illustrations to assist the reader to better understand the historical context.