Malayalam Printed Book Collection
Samkshepavedartham has been considered as the first printed book in Malayalam, contributed by an Italian Fr Clement Piyasius. It was printed in a multi-linguistic printing press in Rome in 1772, and it is significant because it traces the genesis and growth of the Malayalam script and language, and especially the history of the printing press in Kerala as well. The book consists of 276 pages and was completed under the supervision of Fr Clement. The noteworthy feature of this literary work is the fact that it is systematically organized and is structured in a scientific manner. The content of this book is primarily focused
on Christian doctrines for human life. It has discussions on the idea of creation of the world by God, prayers and praying methods for a better spiritual life and so forth. Fr Clement Piyasius reached Kerala and worked as a professor of Varapuzha seminary. He was primarily concerned with the Malayalam script and language. He contributed voluntarily for creating a dictionary that would help in the effortless learning and acquisition of the Malayalam language. Thus, Samkshepavedartham elevates the position of Mannanam Archives as a valuable historical resource centre.
Herman Gundert was a German Missionary, scholar, and linguist who reached India as part of his evangelical desires. To be precise,, he reached Kerala in 1839. He was a philologist, who learned a number of languages, including Indian vernacular languages. He compiled a Malayalam Grammar book, Malayalabhasha Vyakaranam in 1859, in which he developed and constricted the grammar spoken by the Keralites, a Malayalam–English dictionary, and contributed to work on Bible translations to Malayalam. Malayalam and English Dictionary created by him was the culmination of his thirty years of effort. He structured the dictionary in a scientific manner. For example, if we go through the words in the dictionary, it will be in the order of its pronunciation, genuineness and so forth, and would indicate the similar words found in other languages as well. The dictionary is the result of a thorough research in Malayalam and English languages and his scientific vision also. He gave more importance to the ordinary speech and language rather than focusing on canonical versions of the same. It is a significantly large text which has 1116 pages. He contributed towards 24 important collections of work and has influenced the growth of Malayalam language and literature immensely. Now, it is the pride of St Kuriakose Elias Chavara Archives and Research Centre, Mannanam, that the first launched issue is preserved here with much priority.
Varthamanapusthakam has been considered as the first travelogue in Indian literature, written by Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanarand Joseph Kariyatti. They wrote about their European voyage. The speciality of this work is that it opened an alternative path of analysis and understanding in prose literature. Actually, it was produced in the 18th century, but was largely forgotten. It was rediscovered in 1935, and printed in Malayalam in 1936 by Luka Mathai Plathottam at Athirapuzha St Mary’s Press in 1936.
Jnanapiyusham and Jnanaprajagaram
Jnanapiyusham and Jnanaprajagaram are the two works translated from Tamil to Malayalam. Jnanapiyusham was the first printed work published from Mannanam printing press. These two books included the Christian prayers such as invocations, recited prayers at the time of adoration of the blessed Sacrament and so forth. Fr Bespi, popularly known as Veeramuni, has been considered as the author of the Jnanaprajagaram. However there is no mention about the author of Jnanapiyusham anywhere in the book. These two are precious collections of the Mannanam Archives.
Malayalim and English –
Rev. Benjamin Bailey
The Church Mission Society (CMS) was established in Kottayam in 1846. They started a number of educational centres for the development of that region, of which CMS college was the most important. Rev. Benjamin Bailey was the first Principal of the college. He has been considered as the Father of Malayalam printing and publishing initiatives in Kerala. Another contribution of Rev. Bailey was his preparation of the Malayalam–English Dictionary and is considered to be a milestone for the evolution of the vernacular languages. The speciality of this dictionary was in the fact that Bailey himself made the prints for this specific publication. When the government started a printing press, Bailey contributed for them as well. St Joseph’s press was the third one in this series, established by St Kuriakose Elias Chavara for the publication of the Catholic religious principles.
Malayalam Grammar Book –
Rev. George Mathan
A Malayalam Grammar book entitled ‘Malayazhmayude Vyakaranam’ written by Rev. George Mathan, was published in 1863. This is the first grammar book in Malayalam written by a vernacul language expert. It has 214 pages and is divided into 475 chapters. Even Keralapanini A. R. Rajaraja Varma accepted this book as a model for his manuscripts. The Grammar Book shows the capability of George Mathen’s expertise in Malayalam grammar and language.
History of Malayalam Language and
Literature – P Govinda Pillai
Malayalabhasha Charithram (History of Malayalam Language and Literature) written by P Govinda Pillai is hailed as the first historical work of such kind in Malayalam. It vividly describes the genesis and growth of Malayalam language and literature by mentioning the great authors and their contributions in a chronological sense. The major newspapers at that time reported this work as an asset to Malayalam literature.
Richard Collin’s Dictionary After Benjamin Bailey’s contribution for the dictionary, another dictionary which was created by Richard Collins, for the use of vernacular students and schools was also published. Collins added a list of words and their Sanskrit roots of words. This dictionary connoted Malayalam meaning to Malayalam words. It seemed that the main objective behind this was to provide knowledge about the Manipravalam style to the commons. However, it does not imitate the scientific approach of Herman Gundert.
A Catechism of Malayalam Grammar
– Herman Gundert
This text is a manual that provided instructions in the vernacular language in a dialogic form. This book is divided into three parts – Orthagraphy, Etymology, and Syntax. This book was translated by L. Garth White in 1881.
Panineeyapradyodham – I C Chacko
I C Chacko was a well known writer in English, Malayalam, and Sanskrit. He was the second recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Academy, which he was conferred in 1956 for his work Panineeyapradyodham.The distinguishing feature of this book is in the fact that it is the interpretation of the famous work Panineeyam. It reveals his versatility in language studies. Some other Relevant Books, Preserved in Mannanam Archives Elements of English Grammar by a Carmelite Missionary was purposefully created for the students to provide them an easy process/manual to learn English.
Grammatica Macabarico is another collection that was created to help people learn Latin. The Government Reports of Travancore, which was printed in Keralavilasam printing press is preserved in the archives as a worthy one.
Marthoma Christians written by a priest, trace the story of Christians in Kerala and signifies a holy life on earth as well. This Archive has some of the precious works related to medicines of different kinds and for major diseases too. Mannanam Archives acted as a reservoir of various printed materials, (some of them, indeed, are the products of Mannanam Press itself), describing special, extraordinary, valuable matters, which will provide helpful resources to the present generation for the recreation of our past and for the goodness of our future