Arnos Pathiri

Arnos Pathiri’s Sidha Roopam was the first grammar book written by a foreigner in Sanskrit.  He also wrote the Malayalam – Portuguese Dictionary as well as other devotional books. Marana Parvam, Vidhi Parvam, Moksha Parvam, Naraka Parvam, Umma Parvam, Misiha Charitham, Puthen Pana Vyakula Prabandham and Jehova Parvam are also the works of Arnos Pathiri. He was the one who made significant contributions for the growth and development of Malayalam.

A book using Malayalam alphabets was published from Ambazhakadu in the second part of the 17th century. But Samkshepa Vedartham published from Rome in 1772 was the first book that was distributed in Kerala. Carmelite missionary, Clement Piranesi who reached Kerala in 1762, wrote a book on dictionary as well as the alphabets in Malayalam and Sanskrit. He also wrote the Malayalam book Nasranikal Ellam Avasyam Ariyenda Samkshepa Vedartham. As many as 1128 square alphabets had to be made for printing the book.

The first Malayalam grammar book was written by Anjalose Francis, a priest of Varappuzha Apostolate, in 1710. The Malayalam dictionary was written by the Italian priest Stephen during 1700-1769, A Book of Grammar and Christia Namam are some of the works belonging to the initial stages. The Carmelite missionary Poulionos, who reached Kerala in 1776, wrote a number of books in Malayalam and Sanskrit. This Sanskrit scholar wrote 30 books, including ones on the history of the church and on the locality, biographies and travelogues.  His books on Sanskrit-Latin-Malayalam grammar, a Latin-Malayalam dictionary, and such others were printed and published in Rome. Dr. Mersalinus, who was a scholar and linguist, wrote 20 books in Malayalam and Sanskrit.

Two Malayalam newspapers, Satya Natha Kahalam and Nazrani Deepika were launched because of his efforts. The book Satya Veda Charitram, published by Dr. Mersalinus in 1572 on the history of the church in Kerala is perhaps the first complete work in Malayalam.  His biography of Mother Teresa, published in 1868, was the first book in Malayalam in this genre.

Herman Gundert wrote his book on Malayalam grammar in 1851. This was the first scientific work on grammar.  Another work of Gundert is the Malayalam-English dictionary. The book, Kerala Pazhama, published in 1868, integrates geography and the history of Malabar. Gundert wrote about 20 books.