Stolen in 2005 from Thanjavur, the world’s first-ever Tamil Bible was found in King’s College in London. The Bible went missing for the last 17 years and the Tamil Nadu police traced its exact location. As per reports, the texts were 300-year-old. The original translation of the New Testament into the Tamil language was done in 1715. It was done by Danish Christian Missionary Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg at Tharagambadi of Tamil Nadu.
The earliest printing press in Tamil was built by Ziegenbalg, one of the first Protestant missionaries who visited India. It was printed by him. As per reports, the then Thanjavur ruler, Tulaji Rajah Serfoji, transferred the Bible to another missionary called Shwartz. The Bible also has the signature of the Thanjavur ruler.
The Bible was placed at the Saraswathi Mahal Museum in Thanjavur, under the Tamil Nadu government.
In 2005, a complaint about the missing Bible was filed in the Thanjavur West station. However, the investigation did not reveal anything. In 2017, a fresh investigation was started by the Idol Wing CID. During that period, the team traced the registration of all foreign tourists who had visited on the day when the Tamil Bible was stolen – October 7, 2015.
In the investigation, the police found out the Danish missionary – Ziegenbalg – was held and hence, visitors had come to the city. In a statement, as per reports, the police said,” When the suspicion pointed to foreign visitors, the idol wing searched the websites of various museums in the world, collector's websites and organisations connected with Ziegenbalg.”
Further investigation led to the website of Kings college where they saw the personal collection of King George III. There, they also spotted the original Tamil Bible.
The Idol Wing is trying different measures to bring Bible back to Sarswathi Mahal Museum via the UNESCO Treaty.