February 23, 2021

Inspiration for the day

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Njattiyela Sreedharan, Thalassery, Kannur
Mob: 9895410120

His formal schooling was only up to 4th standard.  But now, 85-year-old Njattiyela Sreedharan has to his credit the creation of a 900-page four-language dictionary covering the four major South Indian languages.

It may be an irony of fate that Hermann Gundert, who wrote the first dictionary in Malayalam, did his work at Thalassery, from where the new collector of words hails.

After dropping out of school, Sreedharan worked for a while in beedi factory.  Later he passed 8th standard equivalent exam and got a job in PWD.  Even while he was working in the Department, he had begun work on his dream in 1984.  However, it was after retirement from government service in 1994 that he dedicated his life to stringing the garland of words in four languages.

Apart from Malayalam, he picked up Tamil, Telugu and Kannada all alone.  Wherever he travelled in South Indian states, people were always eager to help him with his compilation work.

He mentions how he would find the meaning of a word in two languages and would have to labour for years to get the words in other two languages.  In certain eureka moments, a word he was searching earnestly would come to him in a dream.  At such times he would literally jump out of bed and write it down.

While a task of this magnitude would be a worthy endeavour for a university or research organization, Sreedharan embarked on the adventure all by himself.  He dedicated 25 years to compile the words for the dictionary. 

Once the work was over, he knocked at the doors of countless publishers without much success.  At last, the dictionary was published with the support of the Senior Citizens Forum of Kerala.  Priced at Rs.1500, the 900-page dictionary can be ordered from him.




Vidya Raja (text), thebetterindia, December 31, 2020


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