A Brief History of our first Principal:

Professor P. Sundaram Pillai was a renowned personality who gave a new identity to Tamil Language in the second half of the nineteenth century. He is the predecessor of the new thought of the blending of old Tamil philosophy with European philosophical tradition. This competent professor who has manifold personality like scholar of philosophical history and the great literary creator was the first Principal of the M.D.T. Hindu College in the year 1878-79.

Mr. Perumal Pillai and Ms. Madathi Ammal gave birth to this born genius, their only son on 28th Panguni (a Tamil month) in 1885 at Alaphzhai in Travancore Rajyam. During his childhood days, he learned Tamil Literature like ‘Thevaram’ and Thiruvasagam from his father. After completing his school education in Alapuzhai city, he went to Trivandram for higher studies. In Travancore Rajyam, he was the only student who got B.A. degree with the highest marks in 1876. He was appointed as Lecturer of Philosophical History in the same college where he studied by the Principal, Professor. Ross. He worked there for some time.

In 1877, he married Sivagami Ammaiyar and came to Tirunelveli. There recommended by Professor. Ross, he was appointed as the Principal of Anglo-Vernacular School by Dr. Duncan, the Director of Educational Department of Madras. As soon as he came to the post, he started F.A. Classes there and uplifted the institution to Secondary Grade College. In the course of time, the name of the college was changed as Madurai Diraviyam Thayumanavar Hindu College. He served the institution as the Principal upto 1879.

The death of his mother in 1878 and also the tour of his beloved Prof. Harvey, Professor of Philosophy, to England in 1879, he had to migrate from Tirunelveli to Trivandrum. O n the recommended of Professor. Harvey, he became the Head of the Department of Philosophy in 1879. Then he got his M.A. degree in 1880. In between this, Mr. Visagam Thirunal, the King of Travancore, appointed him as the Commissioner of Separate Revenue and he served there upto 1885.

In 1885, after his return from England, Professor Harvey became the Principal and so Professor. Sundaram Pillai held the post of the Head of the Department of Philosophy permanently. He established ‘Saiva Prakasa Sabha’ in Trivandram in 1885. It is remarkable that this Professor of individuality and great scholar of Saiva Sidhandham made Swami Vivekananda to realize the Truths of Saiva Sidhantham. In 1885, he published ‘Chathira Saugiragam’, commonly known as ‘Nootrogai Villakkam. He then wrote and published his masterpiece, the famous play ‘Manonmaniam’ in 1891. A prayer song comes in this play is recognized and approved as the ‘Praising song of Maiden Tamil’, by the Tamil Nadu Government. In the same year, he became a member of Fellow of Madras University (FMU). In 1897, ‘Some Early Sovereigns of Travancore’ was published and it made him a Member of Royal Asiatic Society (MRAS).

He published ‘Some Mile-stones in the History of Tamil Literature’ or ‘The Age of Tirujnana-Sambandha’ in 1895. This book attracted Sir Grand Dutt, the Governor of Madras. And as per his suggestion, Sundaram Pillai became a Member of Fellow of Royal Historical Society (FRHS). To honour his service of the South Indian Historical Research field, the Madras Government gave him the title of ‘Rao Bhagadur’ in 1896. For his accomplishments, he was also honoured by a German University, which came forward to give him a honorary doctorate award. Such a great scholar who paved way to new research fields and achieved so many great things even in early days in a short span of time passed away affected by diabetics on 02.04.1897 when he was just 42 years old, and it is an irrecoverable loss to the whole Tamil World.