This book would not have been possible without the assistance of several individuals and institutions. Funding for its research and writing was provided by a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship; a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation; a Rockefeller Residency Fellowship at the Institute on Culture and Consciousness in South Asia, the University of Chicago; and a Research Foundation grant by the University of Pennsylvania. I am grateful to all these institutions, as well as to the Departments of History and South Asia Regional Studies, University of Pennsylvania, for their financial and intellectual support over the past few years.
I owe an immense debt of gratitude to numerous individuals across Tamilnadu who have been gracious with their time and advice since the beginning of this project in 1990: Professors A. A. Manavalan, P. Kothandaraman, I. Maraimalai, and R. Ilavarasu; K. Sivathamby and A. Alagappan; Dr. M. S. S. Pandian; Ganapathy Stapathi; Gurusami Stapathi; Mr. T. N. Ramachandran; Mr. R. Muthukumaraswamy, managing director, the South India Shaiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society; and Mr. S. Ramakrishnan, director, Cre-A Publications. I am also indebted to Dr. Cilampoli Chellappan, Mr. P. S. Mani, Mr. P. K. Kothandapani, and Mr. L. K. Ramanujam for lending me books from their personal collections; and to Kaviaracu Mudiyarasan for so graciously sharing his unpublished memoirs. Finally, I owe special thanks to Dr. A. R. Venkatachalapathy, fellow historian, for his valuable insights on Tamil literature and politics; and to B. Krishnamoorthy and Dora, for their hospitality, for sharing their wonderful collection of Tamil books and journals, and for reminding me so much about the pleasures of doing research in Tamil.
This study would not have been possible but for the painstaking assistance of librarians in three different countries: the staff of the Tamilnadu Archives, Madras, and in particular Mr. Sivakumar and Mr. Loganathan; Ms. Geeta Jayanthi at the Maraimalai Adigal Library; Ms. Shyamala at the Periyar Library; Mr. Sundararajan at Anna Arivalayam; Mr. T. Padmanabhan at the Tamil University Library; Ms. Sengamalam at the Bharatiar Memorial Library; Mr. Kanakaraj of the Bharatidasan Memorial Library; Mr. Sankaralingam at the Roja Muthiah Research Library; and the staff of the U. V. Swaminatha Aiyar Library, the International Institute of Tamil Studies Library, the Theosophical Society Library, the Madurai Tamil Sangam Library, and the Karanthai Tamil College Library; Meera Dawson at the India Office Library, London; James Nye at Regenstein Library, University of Chicago; and David Nelson at Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania.
This book is based on my doctoral dissertation in history from the University of California, supervised by Eugene Irschick, Thomas Metcalf, and Robert Goldman, to all three of whom I owe enormous gratitude for their encouragement, thoughtful advice, and suggestions. George Hart and Kausalya Hart cheerfully put up with all my translation needs, as did Sam Suddhananda and Vasu Renganathan: I am immensely grateful to them. Numerous others generously offered advice on various aspects of this work: Benedict Anderson, Arjun Appadurai, Carol Breckenridge, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Valentine Daniel, Nicholas Dirks, David Gilmartin, Ruqayya Khan, Alan Kors, C. S. Lakshmi, David Ludden, Michelle Maskiell, Pamela Price, Mytheli Sreenivas, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg and Romila Thapar. I owe special thanks to Franklin Presler for sharing his field notes and experiences with me and to Paula Richman who, way back in the spring of 1991, encouraged me to pursue this study and has since then shared many insights and sources. To Sandy Freitag, I owe more than mere gratitude for being a great mentor, wonderful critic, and supportive friend. Last but not least, I would like to thank Valentine Daniel, two anonymous reviewers, and Lynn Hunt, for their valuable advice on a penultimate draft of this book; and Lynne Withey, Sheila Levine, Dore Brown, and the production staff at the University of California Press for all their assistance.
My greatest personal debts are to my family: my parents, who over the years have cheerfully encouraged my preoccupation with history and Tamil literature and have always provided a loving and intellectually stimulating home for me to return to; my siblings, whose own academic achievements have set the standards for mine; my mother-in-law, who has been a source of immense joy and comfort; and, above all, my husband, whose critical advice on my scholarship has contributed in innumerable ways in shaping my vision, and whose love and friendship have given me the strength to pursue that vision.