Tamil is one of the six ancient classical languages in the world, which is still in public and academic use. Tolkāppiyam (5th century BCE) is known as the oldest grammar of Tamil. Starting from Sangam literature to date it has 3000 years of unbroken literary tradition which continues as Didactic, Kavya, Bhakthi, Prabandha, and Modern literature genres. The development of these genres is not unrelated to each other; it is in such a way that even the youngsters of this generation can understand. Based on the carbon dating results of the materials found during the recent excavations in Kīḻaṭi and Porunthal sites, scholars determined that they are from the 6th – 5th century BCE respectively. Pulimāṉ kōmpai menhir is considered to be of the 4th century BCE. Studying such a great literary, grammatical, cultural, and art history of Tamil and finding their values can pave the way to uplift the future society.
Accordingly, an attempt was made to start a Tamil Chair in the year 2000 at the Centre for Indian Languages, SLL&CS, JNU, New Delhi. Officially it began in 2007; gradually it was developed as a Tamil Stream providing Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) courses in 2008.
The Tamil Stream which has been performing excellently for 15 years has further developed into a Special Centre for Tamil Studies (SCTS) in 21st March 2023. Concerning the multi-lingual milieu of the University campus, SCTS primarily aims to do a comparative study of Tamil with various classical languages. These studies can help find the commonalities and their reason among Tamil and various other languages. The current faculty strength is two and further expansion is in progress.
SCTS will start the MA program in upcoming academic year(2024 – 2025).
Learning the languages and keenly studying Literature, Grammar, Culture, History, Art, etc. traditions of classical Tamil, comparing them with Indian/global traditions, and transferring the ideas for the integrated Social Upliftment towards the younger generation.