U. V. Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942)
Swaminatha Iyer took it upon himself to try and recover the hidden treasures of Tamil literature by searching for missing palm leaf manuscripts. Alongside his teaching, Swaminatha Iyer conducted long and arduous journeys across Tamil Nadu and beyond, visiting every hamlet and knocking on every door. It was a formidable search that lasted until his death – but it was extremely fruitful. Swaminatha Iyer collected 3,067 original ancient manuscripts, published almost 100 books on Tamil literature, and unearthed a rich and beautiful tradition of poetry, devotional works and Puranas (Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious texts detailing history, philosophy, genealogy and cosmology).