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S.M.Natesa Sastri hails from Punjai Sangendhi Village, Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu, India.


He was born to Mahalinga Iyer and Akhilandeswari in August, 1859. He lost his mother when He was very young and was brought up by his grandmother and step mother which he acknowledges in preface to his third volume of Folklore in Southern India (1884-1893) that contains tales recounted by them.
He studied his B.A. Degree from Kumbakonam College. He worked in Department of Arts and Sculpture Archaeology, Mysore Government for about two years. In 1888 he served as Supervisor of Udagamandalam Prisons. In the year 1900 he was transferred to Department of Documents and Registration in Arcot. Later he was posted as a Manager in the office of Inspector of Documents Registration, Madras where he served till his premature death in 1906.


Pandit S.M.Natesa Sastri was a polyglot. He was scholar in eighteen languages and authored many books in Tamil, Sanskrit and English. His scholarliness over Tamil and Sanskrit languages won him the title `Pandit'.


Pandit Natesa Sastri wrote all the `kandams'(volumes) of Indian Edhikasam (Epic) Ramayanam in Tamil prose form. He was one of the early novel writers in Tamil, between 1900 and 1903 he wrote six Tamil Novels. His first novel is "Deenadayalu published in 1900.

Kamil Vaclav Zvelebil, a distinguished Czech Scholar in Indian Literature, Linguistics notably in Dravidian Linguistics, Literature and Philosophy commented that "Pandit Natesa Sastri was the most prolific amongst early Tamil Novelist,and his output was indeed remarkably varied. The purpose of this energetic writer who always thirsted after new experiments was, however, not so much to reform and educate as to entertain. He has to his credit over a score of books in English and over a score in Tamil: among them, there are tales from Shakespeare, South- Indian Folk Tales in Tamil and English and Six original novels published between 1900 and 1903"

Deenadayalu is the first Tamil Novel to be published under pseudonym. It also carries the credit of being the first Autobiographic novel in Tamil Ronald E Asher[6][7], Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britan and Ireland concurs on this in his research papers. R. E. Asher widely acknowledged the contributions of Pandit Natesa Sastri to Tamil Novel Literature in the Second World Tamil Conference held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1968.

In 1902 Natesa Sastri published two novels Viz., `Komalam Kumariaanatu' (First Romantic Novel in Tamil) and `Thikkatra Iru Kulanthikal'. In 1903 three novels were published namely `Mathiketta Manivi', `Srimami Koluvirukkail' and `Talaiyani Mantropatesam'.

Col.Ch.A.Porteous, Inspector General of Police requested Natesa Sastri to write some detective stories in Tamil. Within six weeks he produced five stories all based in South India but conceived on the model of English and French stories of genere. "Dick Donovan" the Glasgow detective character of Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock took the form of "Tanavan' in Pandit Natesa Sastri's Tamil detective stories.[8] Pandit Natesa Sastri is said to be father of thriller novels in Tamil.

The other books published by Pandit S.M.Natesa Sastri Include:

  • Twelfth Night, 1892, Measure for Measure (1893) - both Shakespeare dramas translated into Tamil
  • Folklore in Southern India (four volumes published between 1884 and 1893)[9][10]
  • Dravida Purvankkala Kataikal (1896), Dravida Mattiyakalakkataikal (1896) in Tamil
  • The Dravidan Nights Entertainments (1896), this is an English Translation of Madanakamarajan Kathigal
  • The King and his four Ministers (1889) an old Hindu Romance translated into English from Tamil
  • Tales of Tennalirama in 1900 (the comedy cum brainy acts of the famous court jester in Vijayanagara Kingdom)
  • Hindu Feasts, Fasts and Ceremonies - a brief explanation in English about Hindu festivals and cerenonies
  • Indian Floktales in English
  • 184 Indian Tales of Fun, Folly and Folklore

He[11] has also translated several Sanskrit Classic to prose form in Tamil including Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam, Raghuvamsa, Sudraka's Mrcchakatika, Visakhadatta's Mudrarralsasa. From an Urdu translation he rendered into a set of Persian Tales. He also translated some South Indian inscriptions and published a Tamil Handbook of Sanitary Science in 1905 titled `Sudha Sagasra Pedigai'.

Membership to Folklore Society, London[12][13][edit]

[14] Pandit Natesa Sastri was the first Indian and Hindu Member to be admitted to Folklore Society founded in London in 1878. The Folklore Society outpost was functioning in Madras with R.C.Temple and William Crook both British Civil Servants and Pandit Natesa Sastri. The trio were regularly publishing in Folklore in Key journals Indian Antiquary, North Indian Notes and Queries. These were reproduced in London journal under the heading collections from India. His contributions to Indian Folklore is acknowledged by Dr.Leela Prasad, Professor, Duke University, USA.

Pandit Natesa Sastri demonstrated what could be done in English could equally well done in Tamil and this he largely succeeded. He was good story teller, with straightforward and unpedantic style and a dialect close to colloquial South Indian speech. It is important to note that he dedicated to literature only his hours of leisure. Although, he was successfully able to immensely enrich the Indian Literature.


Pandit Natesa Sastri was married to Nagaamma. The couple had six sons and three daughters.


While returning from Temple in a lane in Triplicane, Madras a horse got violent due to sound of fire cracker and hit him with its hoof. He died due to serious head injury on April 12, 1906.


  1. "Pandit S M Natesa Sastry". Wikipedia.org. Tamil Article in Wikipedia.
  2. "The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 4 1886". Folk Lore Journal. p. 275 – via Wikisource.
  3. S. MUTHIAH (15 October 2001). "Madras miscellany".
  4. Its Birth and Development, by T.W. Clark (1970). The Novel in India. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 197–201. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. SURAT BLACK BURN; VASUDHA DALMIA (2004). INDIA'S LITERARY HISTORY:ESSAYS ON THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. Delhi: PERMANENT Black. pp. 140–144. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. http://tamilnation.co/conferences/cnfTN68/delegates.htm
  8. Pudinam (Tamil word for Novel). "Tamil University lesson of History and Development of Tamil Novels". Tamil University lesson: 3.1.1.
  9. Asher R E. "Pandit S.M.Natesa Sasti(1859-1906) Pioneer Tamil Novelist, Proceedings of the 2nd International Tamil Conference, Seminar of Tamil Studies, Vol 2". Association of Tamil Reserarch. 2: Association of Tamil Research, Madras.
  10. Ke. Ve. Jagannathan (1966). Tamil Novelin Thotramum Valarchiyum. Triplicane, Madras: Tamil Writers cooperative Society. p. 23. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. http://www.yabaluri.org/CD%20&%20WEB/trendsintamilliteraturejan56.htm
  12. Kim Narayan (1991). Storytellers,Saints and Scoundrels: Folk Narrative in Hindu religious teaching. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publication Pvt Ltd. p. 27.27. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  13. BAIJAYANTA KEOT (July 2009). "Thesis submitted for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Cultural Studies, Tezpur University" (PDF). Phd Thesis. S. FLOKLORE AND NATIONALISM WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO ASSAM
  14. BLACK BURN, STUART H (2003). Print, Folklore and Nationalism in Colonial South India. DELHI: PERMANENT BLACK. pp. 179, 184. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png

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