A BRIEF HISTORY
The Madurai Tamil Sangam is a non-profit, educational, social, cultural and a research establishment founded by a Philanthropist-scholar Thiru.Pon.Pandithurai Thevar, a noble man of Royal Lineage. Thiru.Pon.Pandithurai Thevar, the zamindar of Paalavanatham, donated rupees one lakh to the patriot V.O.Chidambaranar, one of the great freedom-fighters from Tamilnadu. When he launched an Indian Merchantship against the British rule. This is in continuation of the philanthropic traits of the Sethupathi Dynasty. Thiru.Pon.Pandithurai Thevar was the son of Ponnusamy Thevar, the uncle of Baskara Sethupathi. Baskara Sethupathi had been the sponsor for the visit of Swami Vivekanantha to America to take part in the International Religious Conference at Chicago. He was one of the nephews of the Sethupathis of Ramnad who were the rulers of Ramanathapuram.
The Madurai Tamil Sangam found its birth on the 14th day of September in the year 1901. The objective of this institution is to impart knowledge and strive for the awakening of interest in Tamil Language and Literature and about those aspects of which have the most immediate and enduring interest for the people of Tamil Nadu.
Till the year 2001, the Sangam functioned in the buildings donated by Thiru.Pon.Pandithurai Thevar. Under the patronage of the Sethupathis, the institution has grown into a centre for Tamil studies. In the early stage of its establishment, the Sangam provided free boarding and lodging to the students of Tamil language and literature. To disseminate widely the research findings of the Tamil Scholars, a Tamil Research Monthly Journal “Senthamil” has been published ever since its inception on 7th of December 1902. The erudite scholars like U.V.Saminathaiyer, Mu. Raghava Iyengar, Ra.Ragava Iyengar - the court poet of Sethu Dynasty, Sholavandan Arasan Shanmuganar, Vai. Mu. Sadagopachariar, Pinnaththoor Narayanasamy Iyer, Vi.Ko.Suriya Narayana Shastry, Thirumayilai Shanmugam Pillai, Thiru Narayana Iyengar, etc.contributed their scholarly treatises to this journal. Lovers of Tamil Language and Culture take pride in enrolling themselves as to become the subscribers of this journal.
To inculcate the duty of loyalty to Tamil Language and Culture the young students of High schools and higher secondary schools, Tamil Sangam has been conducting special model examinations named as Tamil Sangath Thervu in Tamil, which certainly help them to do better in all public examinations. The meritorious students receive prizes and the successful ones are given certificates from Tamil Sangam.
To widen the horizon of knowledge in Tamil, the Madurai Tamil Sangam opened Senthamil College in their twin objectives of promoting education and provides relief to the poor and needy parents who cannot afford to provide higher education to their children.
SENTHAMIL COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY AFFILIATION
After the golden Jubilee celebrations were over the Managing Committee of Tamil Sangam met on 05.06.1956. They passed a resolution to start a college for special Tamil Studies and wished to be affiliated to the University of Madras. Thiru Aaa.Lakshmana Mudaliar, Vice Chancellor of University of Madras was invited to the premises of Tamil Sangam. He examined the buildings and found the oldest and rarest books in the safe custody of the Library and well preserved. He also perused the ancient Palm-leaves that contained the literary works of the ancient poets and philosophers of Tamil Nadu. After a careful reading of the history of Tamil Sangam the Vice Chancellor was very much impressed by the services rendered by Madurai Tamil Sangam in disseminating Tamil Language and Literature. On the third of July, 1957 the inaugural function of Senthamil College was held under the presidentship of Tamil-doyen Navalar Somasundara Bharathiyar. The college was affiliated to the University of Madras on 10th of July, 1957. When Madurai University began to function in Madurai, the college was attached and affiliated by the new University.
Thiru.R.V.Narayanan served Senthamil College as its first principal. At the initial stage of the college two courses of study were offered. ‘Senior Vidwan’ course of two years duration and ‘Final stage Vidwan’ course of two years duration were introduced in the college. As per the rules and directives of Madurai University, Senthamil College introduced Pre-University Course in the College in the academic year 1968-69. The introduction of Plus Two in high school level, the pre-university course found its closure in the academic year 1972-73. B.A., a three year U.G. course was introduced in July 1969. The college started offering B.Litt., a three year degree course without common language papers under Part I and II in July 1976. Instead of the language papers the students of B.Litt. have to study special papers in advanced Tamil. The Universities divided the academic year into two periods called semesters. Semester System at the degree level was introduced from the academic year 1976-1977.
The College started rising high in the academic arena by offering Post Graduate courses: M.A., (Tamil) also from the academic year 1979-80. M.Phil, (Full Time) course was introduced in the academic year 1986-87. The history, traditions and qualities of this eminent institution deserved to be called a Research Centre and the college was made into a Research centre for higher studies in Tamil in the academic year 2003-04. Tamil Pandit Training course was introduced in the academic year 2007-08. This Senthamil College is the first Citadel of learning for Tamil Studies in this ancient Madurai, the Sangam City. Since the college is offering B.Lit., the oriental degree course along with traditional B.A. Degree this college is also called Oriental College. Senthamil Arts College and Oriental college are merged into one single college called Senthamil College.
The college had the following Secretaries who had dedicated themselves for the progress of this institution.
The following Principals identified themselves with the institution and strived for the realization of the ideals of the founder. They rose up to the expectations of the changing trends of the period in which they served.