Educational Father of Sawyerpuram
"G. U. Pope's life has captivated me most among the several blessed Tamil savants I read about. Born an Englishman, this great personality breathed Tamil and felt like a Tamil. G. U. Pope was born on 24-4-1820 in a hamlet in Edwards Island in the Canadian neighborhood. He came to Tamil Nadu as a Christian missionary in 1839, and lived in the service of Tamil and very early, he was highly influenced by the excellence of the Tamil language.
George Uglow Pope family migrated to England when he was an infant. He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin. Pope turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. He set up several schools and taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics and Philosophy.The village was formed in 1814 as a Christian settlement on land provided by Mr. Sawyer, an Anglo-Indian layman in the employ of the East India Company. Dr. G U Pope established ?Sawyerpuram Seminary? in 1844 which trained Indian clergymen, teachers and catechists.
The seminary grew to a college, and was affiliated with the University of Madras in 1880. Rev. Sharrock was its first Principal. (Sharrock was very famous among the people, he was identified by local people, he was loved by the people, so in his name few street names are called Sharrock Strret, it contains three street, I, II, III).Bishop Caldwell moved the college and high school to Tuticorin in 1883. The middle school remaining expanded and at present it is a Higher secondary school. Sawyerpuram has several educational institutions, which include the Pope Memorial Higher Secondary School, Popes College of Arts and Science, Dr. G.U Pope College of Engineering, Dr. G.U. Pope College of Education, Martin Nursery and Primary School & St. Mary's Girls' Higher Secondary School.
Dravidian scholar Caldwell, ?wherever money is to be made, wherever an apathetic people is willing to be pushed aside, there they swarm, these Tamils, the Greeks or Scotch of the East.?
He published such great works as Tholkapiyam. Nannool, and made classical Tamil easier to English students, while Tamil students could afford means for a more comprehensive and fruitful study of the classics. He translated into English, Thirukkural, Naladiyar, Thiruvasagam, etc.Thirukkural was translated into other languages before Pope. English translators did only partial translations. Rev. Pope deserves the credit for researching and producing a noteworthy full translation of Thirukkural . He spent a greater part of his fortune to publish rare Tamil books.
In his Preface to the English Publication of Thirukkural, G. U. Pope wrote on the excellence of Tamil:"Tamil is a sophisticated unique language, with a rich vocabulary. It is the mother of all South Indian languages, Tamil literature was designed to create high moral standards, ethical codes and Thirukkural is a great example of that.
It is in a land of people with very high ethical codes and who nurture human discipline that such moral books are created and could be created. Thirukkural is as clear as an unpolluted spring. Yes! Thirukkural, the unique book, has come to remove the impurities of this world. 'Within a short time of my learning Tamil, I commenced translating Thirukkural, for the benefit of Europeans.
It took several years to complete the translation and I offer my gratitude to God for the final result." Pope's love for Tamil and Thirukkural is abundantly clear from such expressions. Pope returned to England in 1882, having lived in Tamil Nadu for approximately 42 years. He accepted a Professorship at Oxford University, to teach Tamil and Telugu.
He received the coveted Gold Medal given once in three years for meritorious service and to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1906."George Uglow Pope D.D. of South India sometime lecturer in Tamil and Telugu in the University and chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford, born 24th April 1820. Died 11th February 1908. This stone has been placed here by his family and by his Tamil friends in South India in loving admiration of his lifelong labours in the cause of oriental literature and philosophy"