It will be a nostalgic visit to Chennai for Dr. Lockwood, of Massachusetts, U.S. On February 15, he will be honoured by the Madras Christian College, where he served for three decades.
Dr.Michael Lockwood is in town visiting Chennai from Milton, Massachusetts, U.S., where he has settled with his wife, after three decades (1966-1996) of distinguished service in the Madras Christian College, Tambaram. On February 15, Dr.Lockwood is being honoured by the college, with the institution of "The Dr.Michael C. Lockwood Endowment Fund''. On February 16, Prakriti Foundation presents a talk by Dr.Lockwood on "Pallava Art'' at 7 p.m. at Sundar Mahal, Padmavathy Road (off Gopalapuram), followed by a visit to the Kailasanatha Temple, Kanchipuram with those interested. ``I am first and foremost an Indian,'' says Dr.Lockwood, ''Secondly, an American''. The distinguished Philosophy professor and author of "Traditional Logic'', "Mamallapuram Studies'' (with Dr.Gift Siromoney and Dr.P.Dayanandan), "Bhagavad Ajjuka'' and "Mattavilasa'' (translations with Dr.Vishnu Bhat), "Pierce's Pragamatism'', "Mamallapuram and The Pallavas'', "Mamallapuram: A Guide to the Monuments'', "Metatheatre and Sanskrit Drama'' (with Dr.Vishnu Bhat), "Basic Tamil Dictionary'', ``Basic Tamil Verb Tables''.
Dr. Lockwood was born in Madurai in 1933. "Yes, in a hospital near the East Gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple,'' says Dr.Lockwood. His father was a Mathematics professor at the American College in Madurai and came to India in 1927 on a six- year contract to teach. The family had gone back to America during the World War and on January 31, 1948, a day after Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, landed by ship in Bombay. Michael and his brother were admitted to a school in Kodaikanal and the parents left for Jaffna in Ceylon to teach there. School days were spent between Kodaikanal and Jaffna till Michael went to Jaffna College to study. But then it was in the U.S. that Michael finished graduation and served in the American Peace-time Army. After his M.A.in philosophy, Michael joined the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Christian College in 1966 and completed his PhD in Philosophy under the supervision of Dr.C.T.Krishnamachari.
``It was Dr.Gift Siromoney who introduced me to the magic of the Mamallapuram monuments,'' says Dr.Lockwood. In the late Sixties, the place was quiet and there was hardly any traffic on the GST Road. I developed a great interest in the Pallavas and began the Mamallapuram Studies.'' He visited the other Pallava sites like the cave temple in Tiruchi and then became interested in the plays that the Pallava King Mahendra Verma had written Mattavilasa and Bhagavad Ajjuka. " I was very keen on reading the plays in English but there were none available. Dr.Vishnu Bhat, the Sanskrit scholar, read it to me and we worked on the translation of it. We thought we were the first to translate the plays,'' says Dr.Lockwood with modesty but a young American scholar said there was one in a journal. After the book had been printed and the cover designed we changed our claim of translation but that we were the first ones to edit it.'' Two months after the translation by Dr.Lockwood and Dr.Bhat was published, Dr.Nagaswamy published a translation under the South Indian Studies by Dr.C.Meenakshi who had translated the play before her death in the Forties. But then she had only narrated it and not edited it. Then Lockwood / Bhat duo went into the translation of Mattavilasa. This lead to the book "Metatheatre and Sanskrit Drama'' with essays on the structure of Sanskrit drama. Interest in Tamil language prompted Dr.Lockwood to create his own fonts for the Tamil letters. He made his own keyboard for Tamil. "I think it was just intuitive work,'' says Dr.Lockwood who designed and completely put together each page of his works "Basic Tamil Dictionary'' and "Basic Tamil Verb Tables''.
He is now working on his next book "Pallava Art'' which is being printed in Chennai. His talk for the Prakriti Foundation on February 16 is on "Pallava Art''.
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