Tribute to a great soul and scholar

Published Jul 13, 2011


GEORGE UGLOW POPE (1820–1908) popularly known as Rev GU Pope was a Christian missionary who spent many years in Tamil Nadu, India, and translated many Tamil texts into English. His popular translations include Thirukural and Thiruvasagam.

He was born in April 1820 in Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia. His family migrated to England when he was an infant. He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyapuram. While in India, he turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. He completed his translation of Thirukkural in September, 1886. His immense work, the translation of Thiruvachakam (a Tamil and Saivite Sacred Book) appeared in 1900.

Of this he said, “I date this on my eightieth birthday. I find by reference that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. This ends, as I suppose a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. It is not without deep emotion that I thus bring to a close my life's literary work.”

His last sermon preached in Balliol College Chapel on May 26, 1907 reads, “My dear friend, In the heart of this my last sermon, lie truths that harmonise with all that is best in Thiruvachagam and Siva-Nyanam. I am very old, may the father bless you and yours.”

Rev. G U Pope was initially sent to India to convert the Tamilian to Christianity but in the end embraced its people, language and religion.

Through this media, I pay tribute to this great soul, a Tamil veteran who hailed from a different language and culture yet learnt the ancient Dravidian language. May his vast contribution to the Thamizh (Tamil) language and Saivism be a spark of interest and influence not just to the Tamil community.

Thiru Navaler


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