TIRUVALLUVAR , the greatest poet of classical Tamil literature lived between the first century BC and the second century A.D. Saint Tiruvalluvar, was born about 30 years before Jesus Christ in Mylapore the present Chennai.
“ THIRU ” plus “ KURAL ”. The word “ THIRU ” denotes Kural ’s sanctity (sacredness) and “ Kural ” means the short verses (couplets). TIRUKKURAL, meaning sacred couplets, is considered equivalent to the Vedas of the Hindu Scriptures and called as “ Bible of the Tamil Land ”.
Tirukkural, the precious gem among the classics enshrines in it 1330 couplets under 133 chapters, and each chapter comprising ten couplets. The chapter fall under three major parts : ‘ Virtue ’, ‘ Wealth ’, ’ Love ’. Tirukkural is regarded as a renowned work, eulogized as a code of conduct and ethics to humanity. The revered poet not only deals with the general administration, but also codified clear–cut directions to the mankind on how they should behave and in a social, political, religious and family circles.
A few excerpts from the book “ Tirukkural ” Dr. Mahalingam
TIRUVALLUVAR was a man in the first century B.C in Tamil Nadu, in a place named Poompuhar on the banks of the river Cauvery. He earned a living by weaving cloth and selling it.
Saint TIRUVALLUVAR was born about 30 years before Jesus Christ in Mylapore, the village of peacocks ( ‘myl’ in Tamil means ‘peacock’ ), the present day Chennai.
Tamilians take cognizance of the birth of Tiruvalluvar as a basis of Tamil Calendar according to which we are now in the year 2032 of Tiruvalluvar Aandu (year ).
“ TIRUKKURAL ” is regarded as renowned work eulogized as a directory of code of conduct and ethics to humanity.
TIRUVALLUVAR was a weaver and the numerous poems he composed were TIRUKKURAL.
“ THIRU ” plus “ KURAL ”. The word “ THIRU ” denotes Kural ’s sanctity (sacredness) and “ Kural ” means the short verses (couplets).
TIRUKKURAL, meaning sacred couplets, is considered equivalent to the Vedas of the Hindu Scriptures and called as “ Bible of the Tamil Land ”.
TIRUVALLUVAR used to keep by his side, when he sat for meals, a needle and a small cup filled with water. Once, his host asked him as to why he insisted on having these two placed by the side of the plate. He said :
Food should not be wasted, even a grain is precious. Sometimes, stray grains of cooked rice or stray pieces of cooked vegetables fall of the plate or away from it. While I eat, Ilift them of the floor, with the help of this needle and stir them in the water to clean them and eat them. ”
Mahakavi Subramani Bharatiar … a wellknown Tamil Poet of the freedom movement, has acknowledged the greatness of TIRUVALLUVAR in the following words:
“ Tamil Nadu gave unto the world Valluvar and won thereby great renown. ”
Kural’s immortality and universality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all religions, all countries and at all times.
Mahatma Gandhi said:
“ TIRUVALLUVAR gave us famous TIRUKKURAL holy maxims described by Tamilians as the Tamil Veda. ”
M. Ariel said:
“ TIRUKKURAL is one of the highest and purest expressions of human thought, ”
Erudite Tamil Poets as well as the kings of the Tamil Kingdoms – Chera, Chola and Pandya – acknowledged the literary greatness of TIRUKKURAL. It is said that at the time of its first presentation to the king’s court, the Pandyan king wanted its greatness to be known to his whole kingdom.
People in Tamil Nadu worship TIRUVALLUVAR as a GURU. They have erected a beautiful shrine to him and to his wife in the midst of a garden in Mylapore. Every year in the month of April, people celebrate a grand festival at the shrine.
Recently, Tamil Nadu government has erected a magnificient 133 - foot height statue of the saint denoting the 133 chapters in TIRUKKURAL for tourist in the midst of sea in Kanyakumari, at the confluence of the three seas. The statue dedicated at the dawn of the new millennium on 1-1-2000, stands out as a beacon light to guide human life forever.
“ being grateful ”
Ennanri konrarkkum uyvntam uyvilli
Ceynnanri kora makarku
There may be salvation for those who have killed all other virtues, but not for the one who has killed gratitude.
“ Kindness to all creatures compassion ”
Porulninkip poccantar enpar aruininki
Allaval ceytoluku var
Men of no compassion, who indulge in unkindness to all creatures will so forget themselves as to lose the means of reaching heaven.
“ Vegetarianism ”
Tannun perukkarkut tanpirtu ununpan
Ennanam alum arul
It is inconsistent with the way of living compassion, to fatten oneself on the flesh of a fellow - creature.
Pataikontar nencampol nanrukkatu onran
Utalcuvai untar manam
The butcher with knife in hand, cannot have compassion in his heart, It is just the same with those who relish taste of flesh.
Unnamai ullatu uyirnilal ununna
Annattal ceyyatu alaru
Avoidance of meat-eating is a vital virtue; on the other hand meat-eating leads to sin that cannot be eradicated.
Avicorin tayiram vettalin onran
Uyircekut tunnamal nanru
More meritorious than a thousand burnt offerings is to give up the practice of killing a living creature, and eating its carcass.
Kollan pulalai maruttanaik kaikuppi
Ella uyirum tolum
Those who refain from killing animals, and abstain from eating its flesh, will receive worship with folded hands from all creatures of the world.
" Non-killing "
Aravinai yatenil kollamai koral
Piravinai ellan tarum
Non-killing in itself is the highest virtue ; whereas the taking af life will bring in its wake, all evil.
Onraka nallatu kollamai marruatan
Pincarap poyyamai nanru
Non-killing by itself is an outstanding virtue, while non-lying as a virtue, comes only next in precedence.
Uyirutampin nikkiyar enpa ceyirutampin
Cellatti valkkai yavar
Those, who live by killing animals, will surely go down to a life of poverty, ill-health and disgrace.
" Impermanence "
Naccerru vikkulmel varamun nalvinai
Mercenru ceyyap patum
Long before the tongue fails and the last hiccup comes up it is wise to go for good deeds, without delay.
Nerunal ulanoruvan inrillai ennum
Perumal utaittuiv vulaku
The one, who was here yesterday, is no more today and that is a matter for great wonderment, in this world.
“ death “
Uranku vatupolum cakkatu uranki
Vilippatu polum pirappu
Death is like sleep, and birth is the awakening from it.
“ renounce ego “
Yanenatu ennum cerrukkuaruppan vanorkku
Uyarnta ulakam pukum
He who overcomes the pride of ego and Possessions will directly attain godliness.
Porulalla varraip porulenru unarum
Marulanam manap pirappu
The miseries of birth and life on earth arise out of the delusion of mistaking the worthless things, as of true value.
Aiyunarvu eytiyak kannum payaminre
Meyyunarvu illa tavarkku
All the knowledge, acquired out of the five senses, will be of no avail if it is not accompanied by true understanding.
Orttullam ullatu unarin orutalaiyap
Perttulla venta pirappu
A mind that perceives the underlying truth of all matter, and directs itself, to the fountain of all Truth, need not worry about rebirth.
Pirappennum petaimai ninkac cirappennum
Cemporul kanpatu arivu
Only those who realize the perfection, that is god, will conquer the delusion of births.
Kamam vekuli mayakkam ivaimunran
Namam ketakketum noy
Once the triple evils of lust, anger and delusion are eliminated, all sorrow will come to an end.
“ desire “
Avaenpa ella uyirkkumen nanrum
Tavaap pirappinum vittu
Desire is for all beings, the seed out of which, is born the endless cycle of birth and death.
Ventunkal ventum piravamai marratu
Ventamal venta varum
There is nothing worthier to be desired than release from births. And, this comes only out of the absence of all desire.
Ara iyarkai avanippin annilaiye
Pera iyarkal tarum
If desire, which is by nature a bottomless pit, be eliminated, it will, in turn, naturally bring about lasting happiness.
“ ignorance “
Nunman nulaipulam illan elilnalam
Manman punaipavai yarru
Where the human intellect is not developed by incisive learning such a man would be only a colourfully-painted clay doll.
“ wisdom “
Celvattul celvam ceviccelvam accelvam
Celvattul ellam talai
The greatest is earned by listening to discourses of the learned, which is the sublimest of all wealth.
Cenra itattal celavitatee torii
narinpal uypa tarivu
It is the hall-mark of wisdom to concentrate on the wise and the good instead of letting the mind wander aimlessly everywhere.
Enporulavkac celac collittan pirarvay
The wise express even profound thoughts in simple terms but would grasp the subtleties of all what others say.
Arivutaiyar avatarival arivilar
Ahtari kalla tavar
Men of wisdom know and are prepared for what is coming the ignorant do not know what is ahead of them.
Etirakak kakkum arivinark killai
Atira varuvator noy
Wise men who can read the signs and foresee developments, will not be shocked by emerging distressful situations.
“ satjana sangatya “
Manattuymai ceyvinait tuymai irantum
Inanttuymal tuva varum
Purity of mind and purity of actions spring from purity of associations.
Orumac ceyalarrum pedai elumaiyum
Tanbukku aluntum alaru
By his foolish action in one birth, a man could make himself liable for a slimy hell in all seven births.
Arivinmai inmaiyul inmai piridinmai
Inmaiya vaiyadu ulagu
The greatest poverty is ignorance … being needy in other respects the world will not really consider as poverty.
Arumarai corum arivilan ceyyum
Perumirai tane tanakku
The person, who cannot absorb and internalize the great truths of the vedas and of reputed scholars, will bring down on himself all calamities and miseries.
pagalkarudi parra ceyinum igalkarudi
innacey yamal talai
Even if some person causes injury to you by his offending isolation, the right response, is not to promote hatred by harming him in return.
Ningan veguli niraiyilan ennanrum
Yanganum yarkkum elidu
The ill-tempered man, who cannot contain his mind and his raging tongue to everyone, at all times and places, is an easy prey.
Kanac cinattan kaliperun kamattan
Penamai penap padum
A person with blinding anger and unbounded lust, it is best if he is not one’s friend.
Llaidaga mulmaran kolga kalaiyunar
Kaikollum kata idattu
A throny shrub is best removed when it is tender, in trying to remove it when it is study, one’s hands will surely get hurt.
Utpagai angittar kakka ulaividattu
Matpagaiyin manat terum
It is wise to guard yourself vigilantly against the hidden internal foe lest his potter’s saw comes down at a weak moment.
“ food and health “
Arral alavarindu unga akdudambu
Perran nedituykkum aru
After digesting what has been eaten earlier, have food again in right measure. Moderation in eating is the secret of longevity.
Arradu arindu kadaippidittu maralla
Tuykka tuvarap pacittu
After making sure that the previous meal has been digested, when one is really hungry have only such food as will agree with the system.
Marupadu illada undi maruttunnin
Urupadu illai uyirkku
If one has only the food that agrees with his system and limits the intake, his healthy life will not suffer any harm.
Tiyala vanrit teriyyan peridunnin
Noyala vinrip padum
The man who eats beyond the limit of his digestive powers will be subject to all kinds of ailments.
Nilattil kidandamal kalkattum kattum
Kulattil pirandarvayc col
The nature of the soil is known by the seeding that grows in it, a man’s ancestry is known by his speech.
Innacey darkkum iniyave ceyyakkal
Enna payattado calbu
Where is the superiority of the worthy man, if he does not choose to make a good turn even to those who do him wrong.
Nagalvallar allarkku mayiru nalam
Pagalumpar pattanru irul
To those, who cannot smile in the face of misfortune, the wide world will be full of darkness even during day.
Source : “ Tirukkural ” by Dr. N. Mahalingam published by Ramanandha Adigalar Foundation.