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#1414 - November 04, 2010 10:53 AM Kural
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This is an analysis and commentary on selection from the Tirukural by Acharya Dr. V. V. Raman.

[b]1.2 katRadan‚l ‚ya payanenkol - vylaRivan natRAL tozhA-ar enin?

What use can come from learning, how!
To Truth-Knower's feet if one does not bow?

Core idea. No matter how great, mere learning is useless if one does not recognize the finiteness of human knowledge in the presence of infinity. As the Tamil poetess Auvvai said, what we have learned is but a handful, the unknown is vast as the universe. Only the Supreme Principle knows the Absolute Truth. [In classical Tamil, the word vAl meant both truth and purity. vAlaRivan meant One Who knows Pure Truth: The Divine.] Worshiping the feet of the Omniscient Principle, i.e. the All Knower, is a poetic way of expressing one's humility in
the face of boundless knowledge.

V. V. Raman
August 19, 2010

1.3 malarmichai EginAn mANaDi chErndAr nilamisai nIDu vAzhvAr.

Who've merged with His flower-touched feet so great
Shall live for long in the earthly state.

Core idea. God is often represented as associated with tender flowers. Be it the Buddha or Brahma, flowers go with the imagery of deities. In traditional modes of worship, one offers flowers to the feet of god. Merging with those flower-bedecked feet is symbolic of communion with the Divine. This will not only bring spiritual peace to the aspirant, but ensure longevity, says this KuraL.

1.4 vEnDudal vENDAmai illAn aDi chErndArkku yANDum iDumbai ila

Who've joined the feet of Who's sans Like or Dislike:
Them will distress at no time strike.

Core idea. Here the Divine Principle is referred to as that which has neither craving and aversion. The dualities of love and hate, up and down, good and bad, and the like are relevant only in the context of the finite. Since the Cosmic Principle is infinite, it is described as having transcended these. Again, joining the feet of God is a poetic way of saying: merging with the Divine in all humility. Spiritual enlightenment involves transcending desires and aversions by severing all attachment, hence these attributes are associated with the Divine also. The poet says that those who surrender themselves to the Divine will experience no mental suffering in the world.

1.5 iruLcEr iruvinaiyum cErA; iRaivan poruLcEr pugazhpurindAr mAttu

The darkness that dual actions raise
Won't approach who God's glories praise.

Core idea: All dualities arise from ignorance. At the highest levels of spiritual evolution these dualities disappear. Those who sing God's praises could be taken to mean those who are cognizant of the grandeur of the infinite state. Such people (while they are in that God's-glory-singing-mode) are beyond the petty contradictions of everyday life. Indeed, it is common experience that when one is in the prayer mode (during which one utters the many attributes of the Divine) one is protected from committing mean and sinful acts.

1.6 poRivAyil aindavittAn poitIr ozhukka neRinindRAr nIDu vAzhvAr.

Who stand at the false-less door of Him
Who has squelched the senses five:
They will with truthful conduct
Be for long alive.

Core idea: A characteristic of the spiritually evolved is complete control over the senses which are instruments of human enjoyment and suffering. Here God is referred to as one who has conquered the five senses. Spiritual evolution implies non-subservience to the cravings of the senses. Following such a path is equivalent to following the Divine. Will-power over the senses keeps one from falling victim to temptations. This can only confer good health and longevity.

V. V. Raman
August 21, 2010

1.9 kOL-il poRiyil guNamilavE; enguNattAn tALai vaNangAt talai.

Numb as the senses whose nerve ends are cut
Is the head that to God's eight glories is shut.

Core idea: In this ninth couplet the poet refers to God's eight qualities (which are listed in the previous eight ones: primacy, Knower of Truth, etc.). Those who do not recognize the glories of God are spiritually un-awakened. They may be compared to a creature that has not developed a nervous system, i.e. to a person who has become blind and deaf, whose tongue cannot taste, and nose cannot smell, and who cannot feel any touch. One whose nerve ends are cut is such a person. One who does not recognize (feel) the glories of the divine principle lives in a dismal world, like one without the senses.

1.10 piRavip perunkaDal nInduvar; nIndAr iRaivanai aDocErA dAr

Great sea of life they'll swim complete;
But not who haven't joined great God's feet.

Core idea: The completion of life's voyage refers to a productive and fulfilled life. This means a life which has served others, and which has had some meaning and purpose. When life's activities are performed in the context of a spiritual framework, life takes on greater meaning and purpose. It may be mentioned in passing that only in this last couplet of the chapter does the poet use the Tamil word iRaivan (the Supreme One) for God. Though the chapter heading carries the other Tamil word for God, namely kadavuL, this word does not appear anywhere else in the chapter. Some have suggested that this word may be cognate with the English/German words God/Gott.

V. V. Raman

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II. Van chiRappu: Greatness of the Sky (Rain)

2.1 vAn nidRu ulagam vazhangi varudalAl
tAn amizhdam endRu uNaR pAtRu

Since the cloud (with rain) the world sustains
It's ambrosia: one maintains.

Core idea: Sunlight feeds the world with the energy needed to sustain life.
However, unless freshwater falls as rain from the clouds, the soil will not
produce any greenery. That is why, though there is plenty of sunlight, deserts
are barren. Ambrosia (amizhdam in chaste Tamil) refers to the immortalizing
elixir. The implication is that, it is thanks to the regular downpour of rain
that life has flourished for many eons on earth. Many poets have described
drizzle and downpour, but here is an instance of a poet reminding us of basic

2.2 tppArkkut tuppAya tuppAkkit tuppArkku
tuppAya tUum mazhai

Fine foods for gourmets rain makes first,
It also serves to quench their thirst.

Core idea. Rainwater not only serves to produce food, but is also part of a
wholesome meal since one normally drinks some fresh water with food. The poet
does not simply say the eaters of food, but the enjoyers of food, reflecting a
joie de vivre which characterizes the culture of the Tamil people. Again, the
poet recognizes the importance of water in the sustenance of the body.
Anyone who reads the Tamil original must be struck by the tongue-twisting terms
in this exceptionally alliterating couplet. This is one of several couplets in
which the poet shows his love of words and his genius for playing with them.

2.3 viN indRu poippin virinIr viyan ulagattu
uLnidRu uDatRum pasi

If rain-clouds deceive, on high just stand,
Hunger would torment the sea-locked land.

Core idea. Sometimes there are clouds in the sky, but they are not rain bearing.
When people see clouds they may expect rain, but when the clouds just move away,
it is as if they deceived us. If this persists, there would be drought and
famine, and people would die of hunger. We are reminded that the forces of
nature could sometimes fail us. Praying for rain is an expression of our
ultimate dependence on the propitious balance of nature, a fact which we
recognize only when the normally expected occurrences donít come to pass.

2.4 Erin uzhAvar uzhavar; puyal ennum
vAri vaLam kundRik kAl

Plowmen's plowshares to work don't come
When the rainstorm's waters much less become.

Core idea: The farmer may be willing to do his work: plough the land, till the
soil, sow the seed. But all this would be futile if rains donít fall. Modifying
Emerson, we might say,
For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if rainfall fail?
More generally, no matter how hard we labor, we cannot be successful in
reaching our goals unless the forces of nature cooperate.

2.5 keDuppadUum keTTArkkuch chArvAimat RAngE
eDuppadUum ellAm mazhai

It ruins, and rescues the ruined too:
All this and more rain can do.

Core idea: Rains are known to ruin the lives of people by incessant pouring and
floods. But those same victims of floods are also nourished by the rains. Thus
rain both destroys and resuscitates. Indeed, this is the characteristic of other
natural forces such as fire and wind, which sustain life., but can also, in
immoderate amounts, destroy life. As the Tamil poetess Auvaiyar said about food:
Beyond a measure, even ambrosia can be a venom.

2.6 visumbin tuLivIzhin allAl maTRAngE
Pasumbil talaikANbu aridu

If rain drops fall no more to ground,
Green grass-heads will not be found.

Core idea: The most basic life-form emerging from the ground as a result of rain
in any part of the world is grass. Grass is at the bottom of the food chain
also. The reference to grass thus implies two things: Even the most basic
life-form needs rain for its sustenance; and through it, all life forms require

2.7 teDungkaDalum tan nIrmai kundRum; taDindezhili
tAn nalkA dAgi viDin

Even vast seas will their treasures lack,
If meager clouds their gifts hold back.

Core idea: Life forms like fish, shrimp and oysters which live in estuaries are
treasures for the people who live on these. Rainwater and the associated river
flows are essential for such ecosystems. The salt-content and chemical balance
of the waters are maintained by the cycle of rainfall. If it does not rain for a
long time, it would have drastic effects on these. We see how aside from basic
biology the poet also refers to the economic and ecological aspects of drought.

2.8 chiRappoDu pUchanai chellAdu; vAnam
vaRakkumEl vAnOrkkum INDu

No pompous worship if the skies go dry
From here below to gods on high.

Core idea: Aside from daily prayers, there are special days of worship when
celebrations are held joyfully in the temples. These would be sorely affected if
there is drought in the land, for when famine and hunger rage, there will be
neither the energy nor the enthusiasm for festivities. Even the gods would be
ignored. The poet reminds us that the most basic sine qua non for culture,
civilization, and even religion, is food and water which would be impossible
without rain.

2.9 dAnam tavam iraNDum tangA viyan ulagam;
vAnam vazhngAdu enin

Alms and penance in wide world no more,
If rains from heaven do not pour.

Core idea: In the classical Hindu worldview, the moral and spiritual well-being
of society is assured by the sages and ascetics who devote their lives to
penitential pursuits (tavam). And they are maintained (i.e. their basic need for
food is furnished) by the generous giving of the lay people. This is what
alms-giving (dAnam) signifies. Thus, ultimately, it is rain that makes both the
physical and the spiritual well-being of society possible.

2.10 nIr indri amaiyAdu ulagenin yAryArkkum
vAn indri amaiyAdu ozhukku

As without water, the world won't be normal,
So, without rain, one won't be moral.

Core idea: If there is no water, then the whole aspect of nature would be quite
different. For one thing, there would be no life. Indeed, as far as we know, our
planet is the only one where water (and therefore life) is definitely known to
exist, though such a possibility is there in other planetary systems also. But
what is not always recognized is that if rains fail and famine ensues, then all
our moral behavior will be sorely affected. Kindness and sharing, hospitality
and generosity, all will disappear, and human beings will become like brutes
fighting with each other for a morsel of food.

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3.1 ozhukkattu nIttAr perumai vizhippattu
vENDum punaval tuNivu

Who renounce desires after virtue's due
Are truly great: this is scriptures' view.

Core idea: It is important to lead a life of righteousness. But there comes a
time when the true nature of worldly life must be recognized. Those who, after
understanding that, give up their worldly desires and renounce everything, are
the truly great ones. This is the considered opinion of many sacred writings.

3.2 tuRandAr perumai tuNaikkUTRin vaiyattu
iRandArai eNNIkkond DatRu

Measuring the greatness of ascetics' worth
Is like counting the departed ones from earth.

Core idea: In the Indic tradition, the way to spiritual liberation is through
control of the senses. This means the sacrifice of one's own pleasures and
physical needs. That is why ascetics are regarded as highly evolved spiritual
people. Counting the number of people who have died is practically impossible,
but in principle, it will yield a very large figure. The poet therefore
compares the greatness of ascetics to this immense amount: a rather unusual
simile for a very large amount.

3.3 இருமை வகைதெரிந்து
ஈண்டுஅறம் பூண்டார்
பெருமை பிறங்கிற்று உலகு.

irumai vagai-terindu InDaRam pUnDAr
perumai piRangitRu ulagu.

Knowing both, who here aRam embrace:
Their glory shinesin the worldís in every place.

Core idea: In this context aRam refers to renunciation. The both could refer to
the two states of desire and aversion which lead to attachments. It could also
mean the two possibilities of our actions in the world: re-birth or liberation
from the cycle of births. What is implied is that renunciation (non-attachment
to material things) can arise or result from an understanding of the
consequences of attachments. Those who choose to renounce everything after such
recognition are universally revered.

Literal meanings:
இருமை the two
வகை kinds
தெரிந்து knowing
ஈண்டு in this world
அறம் righteousness
பூண்டார் (those) who have taken on
பெருமை greatness
பிறங்கிற்று shines
உலகு. the (whole) world

3.4 உரனென்னும் தோட்டியான்
ஓரைந்தும் காப்பான்
வைப்பிற்கோர் வித்தது.

uran ennum tOTTiyAn Oraindum kAppAn
varan ennum vaippiRkOr vittu

Who firmly guards the five, like an elephant-hook indeed,
For the glorious world above, he becomes a seed.

Core idea: Here, the five refers to the five senses. In the classical
framework, the five senses are often compared to five elephants, powerful and
capable of moving alone along any direction. Control of the senses is therefore
compared to the elephant-tamer's use of the hook to keep the beast under
control. One who thus does not allow the senses to take over (i.e. who is
self-disciplined) is like a seed for a loftier world, i.e. is destined to reach
higher levels of fulfillment.

Literal meanings
உரன் strength
என்னும் what is called
தோட்டியான் wielder of the elephant-hook
ஓரைந்தும் all the five
காப்பான் who guards
வரன் the glorious one
என்னும் who is called (known as)
வைப்பிற்கு for the world
ஓர் a
வித்தது. seed

3.5 aindavittAn AtRal agal visumbuLar kOmAn
indiranE chAlung kari

Of him who has squelched the senses five, the might,
The celestials' King Indra is an example bright.

Core idea: The point again is to stress the power to be obtained by curbing
the five senses. In Hindu lore, Indra is the Lord of the Heavens in the Vedas.
He wields immense power. In the mythologies there are references to this power
as well as to the fall of Indra when he misused it. As soon as any mortal
attains or even attempts to attain spiritual power of any significance, Indra
becomes aware of it, and tries to put hurdles in the path. Here the poet merely
refers to the immense power of the great Indra, and says that one who has
supreme self-discipline can be as powerful as Indra himself.

3.6 cheyaRkariya cheivAr periyar; chiRiyar
cheyarkariya chekalAdAr

Great ones do what's hard indeed
The feeble canít do, any difficult deed.

Core idea: In this context, the poet asserts that the spiritual ascetics do
things what ordinary mortals can never hope to do. But we may also take this as
a definition of greatness. True greatness consists in doing what is hard to do.
A person who has no motivation for undertaking difficult tasks will always
remain little. As the American expression goes, this is separating the men from
the boys.

3.7 chuvai oLi URu Ochai nAtRamena aindil
vagai terivAn kaTTE ukagu

Who knows the nature of taste, sight, touch, sound, smell,
Has the whole world under his spell.

Core idea: In the Hindu worldview, the five sensory perceptions are associated
with the five (ancient scientific) elements: earth, water, air, fire, and ether.
Taste is associated with water, sight with fire, touch with air, sound with
ether, and smell with earth. With these are associated the five sensory organs:
tongue, eye, limbs, ear, and nose. There are metaphysical theories as to how
these generate life's experiences and attachments. This Kural says that the
ascetic gains full understanding of these connections. That understanding endows
him with great power by which he can have control over the whole world, that is
to say, have what he may wish to have. In other words, self-control endows one
with enormous power.

3.8 niRaimozhi mAndar perumai nilattu
maRaimozhi kATTi viDum

The potent words of men of stature
Are shown in the occult words of scripture.

Core idea: People who have attained great spiritual powers have been the
originators of religious systems. Words are powerful instruments for conveying
thought. In the religious framework, they can also affect the course of events.
The words spoken by spiritually evolved souls are therefore potent. These are
the mantras, occult sacred uttering. They are found in the scriptures of the
world. In this Kura; we are told that the sacred writings of religions come not
just from eminent thinkers, but from spiritually awakened souls.

3.9 குணமென்னும் குன்றேறி
நின்றார் வெகுளி
கணமேயும் காத்தல் அரிது.

Word meanings
குணம் character
என்னும் what is called
குன்று hill
றேறி (after) climbing
நின்றார் who stand
வெகுளி (their) anger
(கணம் an instant)
கணமேயும் not even for an instant
காத்தல் guard against, withstand
அரிது. Hard, difficult

Who are firm, having scaled the character-hill,
One can't stand for a moment their ill-will.

Core idea: To achieve complete self-control is an uphill task. If one
accomplishes this and stands firm on that hill, i.e. is unperturbed by
temptations, then indeed one does have great spiritual power. Such spiritually
evolved ones are known as rishis In the Hindu framework. The anger of such men
can be devastating. Many puranic tales make references to the anger of rishis..
The poet alludes to these in this couplet.

3.10 andaNar enbOr aRavOrmatRevvuyirkkum
chentaNmai pUNDoazhukalAn

AndaNaris the righteous one with gracious nature,
Who acts with kindness to every creature.

Core idea: Ultimately it is compassion to life forms that count, says this
couplet. The word andaNan originally meant Supreme Being. Gradually it came to
refer to Brahmins who were (in principle) the guardians of spirituality. Rather
than define in caste terms, VaLLuvar gives an enlightened description of an
andaNan as one who shows compassion to all living creatures. This is one of the
many instances in the KuraL where the Jaina influence is apparent.

V. V. Raman
September 4, 2010

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4.1 . chiRappInum chelvamum Inum adarkin Ungu
Akkam enavO uyirkku

More than the glory and wealth that a¬am gives
What riches are needed for whoever lives?

Core idea: Two enriching elements in life are: good reputation (i.e. regarded
well by fellow humans) and material prosperity. Both these may be achieved by
following aRam: conduct that is righteous and caring of the world around. In
other words, it is suggested that ne cannot think of anything else that is of
greater value or is more significant in life than the fulfillment to be obtained
by leading a life governed by aRam. Therefore it behooves us all to follow
aRam's path. In this context we recall that one of the first lessons children
used to get in the Tamil world was, not simply to do aAam, but to cultivate a
desire to do it: aRam cheiyya virumbu.

4.2 aRattinUngu Akkamum illai adanai
maRattalin Ungillai kEDu

Greater wealth than aRam there is naught;
Nor greater ruin if it is forgot.

Core idea: This couplet reiterates the notion that a¬am is such a precious thing
in life that it is to be regarded as wealth, as a source of prosperity. And it
says something more. Forgetting aRam can be dangerous. It is certain to lead to
one's ruin. The idea is that vicious and evil actions - which by definition are
contrary to aRam - can only lead us to degradation. The lives of many people,
especially famous ones occupying high positions, have been ruined as a result of
their involvement with illegal (contrary-to-aRam) activities. As another Tamil
saying puts it, one who is to be runined entertains evil thoughts: keDuvAn kEDu

4.3 ollum vakaiyAn aRavinai OvAdE
cellumvAi ellAm ceyal.

Cease not from a¬am, of every mode,
In all you do, on whatever road.

Core idea: This is one of the Kurals where the poet gives a moral injunction.
He asks us to be totally committed to aRam, in whatever we may do. In other
words, we should internalize aRam-behavior, it should become part of our second
nature. In other words, at the highest level, virtuous behavior must not be the
result of conscious or deliberate decision, but must arise naturally. Indeed,
this should be the goal of ethical training. When it is said that aRam of every
possible kind must be done, we may interpret this to mean one or both of two
things: (a) follow aRam in all the ways that you possibly can; (b) follow aRam
at least within the limits of your capacities.

4.4 manattukkaN mAsilan Adal anaittaRan
Agula nIra piRa.

What's in a spotless mind, does aRam make.
All else the nature of clamor take.

Core idea: Ethics is of two kinds: theoretical and practical. Practical ethics
involves the doing of moral things. This cannot happen unless there is a genuine
heart-felt moral conviction, unless the mind is pure. Indeed it is the erasing
of evil and unclean thoughts from the mind that creates aRam, says this Kural.
When this is not so, one may talk lofty things about right and wrong, preach,
and extol morality, but such words, if they donít emanate from a heart that is
not sincere and a mind that is not pure, is no more than empty noise.

4.5 azhukkARu avA veguKi innAchchol nAngum
izhukkA iyandRadu aRam

Envy, lust, ire, utterance sore:
ARam evolves without these four.

Core idea: Much of aRam involves thoughts and attitudes, because it is from
these that our conscious actions spring. Since actions generally have an impact
on others, our thoughts and attitudes towards others is important for aRam.
Thus, we should not feel unhappy about what others possess, not covet what they
have. We should not feel angry towards others. We should not utter unpleasant
and hurting words to others. Many of our wrong actions also spring from illicit
desires and craving. In this couplet we are told that aRam consists in behavior
that is free from these.

4.6 andRaRivAm ennAdu aRaŮcheyyaga matRadu
pondRungkAl pondRAt tuNai

Not saying "I'll learn later," a¬am do.
At death-time, undying, it'll be with you.

Core idea: If an alternative action is more appealing, there is always the
temptation to want to do the right things at a later time. Even Saint Augustine
is said to have prayed, Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo: Give
me chastity and continence, but not yet. This Kural says that we better not
postpone the aRam-mode of behavior for a later stage in life. Let us do it today
and right now. The fruits of such a life will be with us when we die, meaning we
will reap the consequences even in our after-life. For aRam, says this Kural, if
we may use the words of the poet Robert Burns, "now 's the day, and now's the

4.9 aRattAn varuvadE inbam matRellAm
puRatta pugazhum ila

What comes from a¬am alone is bliss.
All else and fame are outside of this.

Core idea: Bliss is unadulterated joy, pure happiness. And, says this Kural, it
can only come from the exercise of aRam. One may get passing pleasures and
satisfactions by many other means. But these are well beyond the deeper
happiness resulting from righteous actions. Even if one gains name and fame, if
these result from improper deeds, by actions contrary to aRam, then it will not
be true glory, and the exhilaration one may derive from such matters will always
be tainted, like ill-earned wealth.

4.10 cheyaRpAla. tOrum aRanE oruvaRku
uyaRpAla tOrum pazhi

ARam is what must be done;
Sin is what one ought to shun.

Core idea: Having listed various attributes of aRam in the previous Kurals, the
poet states in this last couplet very simply that the things that one ought to
do, i.e. what constitute our moral imperatives, may be defined as aRam, while
whatever must, on moral grounds, be avoided, are evil or vicious acts. In
traditional (Sanskritic) Hindu thought, one distinguishes between karma: what
one does, and dharma:: what one must do. There are several words for sin: p‚pam
(blemish), duritam, etc. The Tamil word pazhli, like p‚pam and dosham, also
means guilt.

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V. IlvAzhkai: Home Life

5.1 Il vAahvAn enbAn iyalbuDaiya mUvarkkum
nannATRin niDRa tuNai

The householder aids the canonical three
On their proper paths to be.

Core idea: The canonical three refers to people in the three other shastrically
(sacred traditionally) recommended stages: brahmachArya (student stage),
vAnaprashthas (hermit stage), and sannyAsA (ascetic stage). It was the
householders' responsibility to support people in these three stages of life.
This was like the social security system in some Western countries where current
workers serve to pay for retirees. The present householder would be in turn
supported by other householders. "Helps them be on the righteous path" means,
helps them discharge their respective responsibilities in the various stages of

5.2 tuRattArkkum tuvvAdavarkkum iRattArkkum
ivvAzhvAn enbAn tuNai

To ascetics, have-nots, and the departed too
The ones called householder much help can do.

Core idea: Again, the responsibility of the householder to the rest of society
is emphasized here. Aside from ascetics, there are also the needy in the world.
The poet describes them as those who do not enjoy (good food and comfort). Then,
in the Hindu religious framework, the (souls of the) departed ones need to be
periodically propitiated. Indeed, this is a sacred responsibility of sons: which
is one of the reasons why sons were (and still are) valued in the Hindu world.
It is the householder's responsibility to attend to this also, by performing the
periodic rites of shraddha.

V. V. Raman
September 13, 2010

5.3 tenpulattAr deivam virundokkal tAnendRAngu
aimpulattARu Ombal talai

Manes, gods, guests, kin, self: to serve these five
Is most important for one to strive.

Core idea: Service to self at the end of the list. The reference to God and
manes means that in whatever we do we must remember the divine principle; and
that we must remember our ancestors without whom we would not be here. We also
have a responsibility towards our kith and kin, and those who come to our homes.
This ku¬a¨ may also taken as reference to an ancient tradition by which one is
expected share one's food, actually or symbolically, with God first, then with
manes, then with guests and relatives, which is a beautiful tradition.

5.4. pazyaŮchip pAttUN uDattAyin vAzhkkai
Vazhiyenjal eŮ√nDRum il

Fearing guilt, who food does share:
His family-line will never be bare.

Core idea: Self-centeredness is indifference to the rest of the world, an
unawareness that we are parts of a larger whole. Such ignorant behavior is sin,
and is therefore wrought with bad consequences. This Kural suggests that if,
understanding this, one shares with others whatever one has, one may rest
assured that one's family will always be blessed, and that the tradition of
sharing will continue for many generations to come.

V. V. Raman
September 14, 2010

5.5 anbum aRanum uDaittAyin ilvAzhkai
paNbum payanum adu

If love and aRam in a home are there,
These are merits and rewards in the domestic air.

Core idea: The most essential things in a household are love and a sense of
rectitude. As long as the members of a family act towards one another with
mutual love, and towards the world with a sense of responsibility (the
aRam-mode), there is nothing more of significance that the family needs. Such a
family is truly blessed with the most valuable attributes, and it will reap the
fruits of such conduct.

5.6 aRattAtRin ilvAzhkkai ATRin pRaatATRil
pO-oip peRuva evan.

If one lives by aRam in the householder mode,
Who gains by going to an outside road?

Core idea: As long as one conducts one's life in accordance with the basic
principles of right and wrong, there is no need to explore other ways of
deriving fulfillment in life. The puRattARu or outside road refers here to the
path of one who renounces life. This Kural makes a statement on the debate as to
the relative importance of renunciation and domestic life: It suggests, as the
Gita says also, that discharging one's worldly responsibilities is no less
important than becoming an ascetic, this alone ensures the continuity of society
and civilization.

V. V. Raman
September 15, 2010

5.7 iyalbinAn ilvAzhkkai vAzhbavan enbAn
muyalvAruL ellAm talai

Who lives in home as rules do call,
Of those who strive, he is best of all.

Core idea: If one lives properly as a householder, i.e. performing the required
duties of a householder as per the traditional ethical injunctions, then one is
also striving towards self-fulfillment and spiritual attainments. Of the many
who make efforts to achieve these, the simple, normal, daily-duty performing
householder is the foremost. In other words, of all the people who live and work
in society with different goals, the simple, honest, responsible citizen is the
most valuable. We are reminded of the Miller of the Dee:
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can.
And looks the whole world into the face,
For he owes not any man.

5.8 ATRin ozhukki aRanizhukkA ilvAzhkkai
nORpArin nOnmai uDait

Righteous life, no slip on aRam's road
Is good as any pain in penitent's mode.

Core idea: When one performs of one's duties, i.e. when one lives in accordance
with the principles of aRam, one also assists and inspires others in following
their respective responsibilities. One teaches by example. This Kural says that
such a life is as great as that of the ascetic who undergoes all sorts of pain
in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. This is one of the many contexts
in which classical Hindu thinkers have expressed overtly or obliquely the idea
that normal ethical worldly life is no less (not to say, more) meaningful and
important than self-imposed pains in a framework of religiosity

V. V. Raman
September 16, 2010

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VI. vAzhkkai tuNainalam: Good Qualities of a

6.1 manaikattaka mANbuDaiyuL AgittaR koNDAn
vaLattakkAL vAzhkkait tuNai.

She is his aid, worthy of the house,
Who adjusts to the wages of her spouse.

Core idea: This Kural reveals aspects of a wife in Lalluvar's times. She is
described as worthy of the home, and the husband as one who has made her his own
(tankoNDAn). The wife manages the finances. When she manages his income wisely,
says this Kural, she also becomes his helpmate. Some Tamil words for wife are
manaivi, illAL, AttukkAri, all mean she of the house. German is another
language where a wife is described as Hausfrau (woman of the house).

6.2 manaimATchi illALkaN illAyin vAzhkkai
enaimATchit tAyinin il.

If domestic glory a wife has not,
Other glories in life aren't worth a jot

Core idea: Here again, we see that the wife is described as illAL woman of the
home, somewhat like the German Hausfrau. A wife must have qualities that make
the home a truly great place. Such qualities are what constitute her glory. If
these are absent, then no matter what other wonderful things a man may have,
they are not worth much. In other words, no amount of other enrichments will
fulfill a man as a good and loyal wife. We are reminded of A. H. Bethune's lines
to his wife:
Without thee I am all unblessed.
And wholly blessed in thee alone.

6.3 Illaden illavaL mANpAnAl uLLaden
illavaL mAnAk kaDai.

Whatís he without, if wife has qualities great?
What has he, if they arenít in his mate?

Core idea: True happiness depends on the nature of the companion one has in
life. If one's spouse is blessed with good nature and commendable qualities,
then one has everything in life. If, however, these are lacking in a wife, then
no matter what else one may have, one is essentially without anything. We are
reminded of what the Greek philosopher Euripides is reported to have said: "A
man's best possession is a caring wife."

6.4 peNNin perundakka yAvuLa kaRpennum
tiNmai uNDAgap peRin.

What more greatness to a woman pertains:
If power of chastity she obtains?

Core idea: In this, as in some other Kurals, the importance of conjugal fidelity
is stressed. One may wonder as to whether such Kurals reflect perhaps a state of
society wherein this virtue was not very common; or else, why should such
emphasis be put on this? Irrespective of what prompted the poet to compose these
lines, this couplet simply says that chastity is the greatest blessing for a
woman. The Kural has also been interpreted to mean that the greatest blessing
for a man is to have a chaste wife. As it says in the Old Testament: "A virtuous
woman is a crown to her husband." For, in words of the Latin poet Tacitus, neque
femina, amissa pudicitia, alia abnuerit: A woman who has lost chastity will not
refuse to do anything.

V. V. Raman
September 21, 2010

6.5 deivam tozhA aL kozhunan tozhudezhuvAl
peiyyenap peiyyum mazhai

Not to gods, but to spouse, who rises and prays:
Rain will pour down, when "Pour down!" she says.

Core idea: The worth of a wife who is truly devoted to her husband, such as this
was regarded in the ancient world, is brought out here. It is suggested that a
devoted wife is like a penitent sage, for she too acquires extraordinary
capacities We must bear in mind that like other ancient thoughts and insights,
this too must not be judged on the basis of our current values or standards. On
this basis, no doubt, the statement may seem unacceptable, even objectionable.
However, accepting for a moment the framework in which it was stated, the
meaning is that the chaste woman who is devoted to her husband, possesses
immense powers. She even has control over the forces of nature.

7.6 yaRkAttut taRkonDAr peNit tagaichAnDRa
chorkAttuch chOrvilAL peN.

Who guards herself, cares for spouse, protects her worth and chastity;
Who of rules isn't negligent, she has woman's quality.

Core idea: The traditional roles of a married woman are mentioned here: She is
expected to guard herself (maintain her character) and to look after the welfare
of one who has taken her (her husband); Her worthy qualities as a chaste woman
is the admiration of all. Finally, she should not forget her responsibilities as
wife. Some have interpreted tagaichADRa chor to mean to the admiration of all.
One who has these qualities deserves to be called woman. Of such a one, this
Kural says, Ecco femina! We may note in passing that whereas in the last chapter
the poet talked about the ideal householder, here he is suggesting that the man
cannot fulfill all his duties without a devoted wife. Modifying Groucho Marxís
quip that behind every successful man is a woman, Valluvar says that behind
every upright man is a devoted wife.

V. V. Raman
September 22, 2010

6.7 chiRaikkAkkum kAppevan cheiyyum magaLir
niRaikkAkkum kappE talai.

What can any incarceration do?
Integrity alone is women's protection true.

Core idea: Certain possessions cannot be protected by external physical means.
Purity of thought and chastity in woman are examples. These cannot be kept under
lock and key by a prison guard. Only the woman's own integrity can maintain
these. We are reminded of Abraham Cowley's lines:
In vain to honor they pretend
Who guard themselves with ramparts and walls.
Them only fame the truly valiant calls
Who can an open breach defend.

6.8 peTRAr peRinpeRuvar peNDir peruŮchirappu
puttELir vAzhum ulagu.

Who get women of worth as their bride
Get the glory of the world where gods reside.

Core idea: Fortunate are those who find a worthy life's companion. The joy and
happiness one can derive from a good wife may be truly compared to bliss in
heaven. In other words, a good wife is a real blessing. We read in the Bible
(Ecclesiastics, xxvi): "Blessed is the man that hath a virtuous wife." The
eminent scholar V. V. S. Aiyar interpreted this Kural to mean that if a woman
who begets a worthy son her place would be high in the world of the gods

V. V. Raman
September 23, 2010

6.10 mangalam enba manaimAtchi maTRuadan
nankalam nanpTkka pERu

A blessing, they say, is a wife with merit
But getting children is ornament for it.

Core Idea: The kind of spouse one gets in life is rarely in one's own hands.
Many facts beyond one's control determine this. This Kural expresses this idea
by saying that obtaining a good wife is a great blessing. And it goes on to add
that when good children are born of a marriage, they become beautiful adornments
to that blessing. The idea of children as ornaments is also expressed in the
Psalms where it says, "Thy children are like olive plants round about thy
This Kural is a prelude to the next chapter.
The lofty extolling of a faithful wife as something extraordinary may reflect a
society where chastity was perhaps not that common. It may be that when the poet
is raising faithful wives to the skies, he is speaking indirectly against
unchaste wives no less for their behavior.
One of my readers sent the following thoughtful query: ďI AGREE, CHASTITY IN
This is the kind of question modern Indian/Hindu thinkers must not be shy or
afraid of raising. However, here I am not preaching chastity for women or for
anyone. I am bringing to the attention of interested readers an ancient great
work of Tamil literature. If we read with English translation Ramachartiramanas
and other such sacred works of our (or of any other) tradition, questions like
this will inevitably occur in the minds of enlightened people. It is by fairly
and objectively reflecting on them that we will realize that we have a great
culture and literary history, but not a perfect one, and that some of the values
and worldviews expressed in them need to rejected or modified and enlarged,
rather the defensively justified. For this, we need to be convinced that the
great thinkers of India were keen minds of impressive stature, yet restricted
by the thought-currents and worldviews of their times, as we are by ours. They
were not flawless superhumans as some of us are sometimes tempted to imagine.

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7. pudalvaraip peRudal
On Begetting Children

7.1 peRumavaTRuL yAmaRivadu illai aRivaRinda
makkaTpERu allapiRa.

Of obtainable things, naught else we find
Like getting children who value the mind.

Core idea: One may receive many kinds of blessings, many things which enrich
one's life. But of all these, declares the poet, he cannot think of anything
that is as good as obtaining children who know the value of knowledge. We note
here the emphasis on knowledge, and the respect for the mind. These have
always been essential features of Indic civilization. It is believed that if
mind is sound, it leads to good judgment and to good character.

7.2 ezhuppiRappum tIyavai tINDA pazhipiRangAp
paNbuDai makkaT peRin

For seven births will nothing bad approach,
Who get worthy children beyond reproach.

Core idea: The essence of this KuraL is that the impact of having good children
can last for a very very long time. In the framework of reincarnation, one
belief is that there is a cycle of seven births to which all souls are subject,
before one goes to heaven or hell. Here it is suggested that, even during
several later births, the good deeds of one's children will protect an
individual. Such children should not even appear to be with any blame-worthy
quality. In more realistic and current terms, those who are fortunate in
obtaining good and well-behaved children will be spared a lot of unpleasant
problems for a very long time. It may be mentioned in passing that according to
the Great Law of the Iroquois Indians, each generation should behave in such a
way that takes into account the impact it will have on the seventh generation
from its time.

V. V. Raman
September 27, 2010

7.3 tamporuL enbadam makkaL avarporuL
tamtam vinaiyAn varum

Word meanings
tam oneís own
poruL wealth (materials)
enba it is said (by the wise)
tamtam oneís own
makkaL children
avar their (of the children)
poruL wealth
tamtam of each one
vinaiyAn through work
varum will come.

Children are one's wealth: so say the wise;
One's own acts, to their wealth give rise.

Core idea: When we speak of wealth we often think in terms of the material
possessions we have acquired. Though such things may add up to one's prosperity,
it is only in children that true wealth is to be found. Thomas Fuller said,
"Children are poor men's riches." This Kural says that by the word wealth one
should simply mean one's children. In other words, children are riches for one
and all. Furthermore, our children are enriched in life as a result of what we
do. With love and values, guidance and education, one can enrich abundantly
the lives of one's children.

7.4 Amizhdinum ATRa inidE-tam makkaL
chiRugai aLAviya chUzh.

Word meanings
தம் tam oneís own
பொருள் poruL wealth (materials)
enba it is said (by the wise)
tam oneís own
makkaL children
avar their (of the children)
poruL wealth
tamtam of each one
vinaiyAn through work
varum will come.

Sweeter than nectar is pap (so bland),
When mixed by one's children's tiny hand.

Core idea: This is a simple KuraL which expresses beautifully the great
affection that a parent feels towards the child. When babies are fed with soft
food (in Tamil, child's porridge or pap of this kind is called kUzh), they
sometimes like to play with the food by putting their tiny hands in the bowl and
mixing it all up. The baby's food thus mixed up becomes especially sweet, i.e.
there is a sweet charm about it, for the loving parent. This is the idea
conveyed by the poet. There is no moralizing here, nor profound philosophy, but
a simple and affectionate observation This is the kind of KuraL in which
Tiruvalluvar reveals his keen insight into the most ordinary matter pertaining
to everyday life.

V. V. Raman
October 2, 2010
Gandhiji's Birthday.
Let's pray for Peace!

7.5 makkaLmei tINDal uDaRkinbam maTRUavar
choRkETTal inbam chevikku

Word meanings
makkaL chilren
mei body
tINDal to touch
uDaRku to the body
inbam joy
maTRu moreover
avar their
chol words, speech
kETTal kearing
inbam joy
chevikkua to the ear .

Joy to the body: to touch children (dear);
Hearing their words is joy to the ear.

Core idea: There is a tenderness about babies, and parents feel a special
delight in caressing their children and when their children touch them. The
soft touch of children is a soothing experience for anyone, especially for a
parent. That is why one is fond of holding a baby close to oneself. Likewise,
when one hears one's children talk, be it the babble of early years or the more
comprehensible sounds of later times, one experiences great joy also. This Kural
again, like the previous one, refers to some of the simple joys of being a
parent: a simple observation, and nothing more.

7.6 Kuzhalinidu yAzhinidu enbaam makkaL
Mazhalaich choR kELAdavar.

Word meanings
kuzhal flute
inidu (is) sweet
yAzh lute
inidu (is) sweet
enba (they) will say
tam their (own)
makkaL children(s)
mazhalaichchol prattle
kELAdavar who havenít heard

Flute is sweet, lute is sweet, they say alone
Who haven't heard the prattle of their children own.

Core idea: Compared to the delight to be derived from listening to the prattle
of one's own baby, all the other joys of sound will seem trivial to a fond
parent. This is among the invisible bonds that bind parent to child. This Kural
says that only those who have not had this experience will say that this or that
musical instrument sounds very sweet. This is one of the many poetic hyperboles
in Valluvar, but it is most effective in conveying the idea implied. The idea is
that there are certain joys that only parenthood can confer.

V. V. Raman
Octover4, 2010

7.7 Tandai magaRkATRum naDRi avaiyattu
Mundi iruppach cheyal

Word meanings
tandai (oneís own) father
magan son

The good from a father to his son should be
To make him the first in an assembly.

Core idea: This is one of the best known Kurals. A father may give many things
to, and do many things for, his son (child). But most of all, says this Kural,
it should be to enable the progeny to become successful in life. One mark of
that success will be the high regard and reputation that the son (child) may
enjoy in society, especially in the society of oneís peers, for this is the
height of professional accomplishment. This implies that the father should give
his son sound education and judgment. "One who is foremost in an assembly" could
also refer to a leader. Tacitus notes that ratione et consilio (reason and
judgment) are the attributes of a leader. From this perspective this Kural says
that a father should guide his son in acquiring these qualities.

ATRum do, perform
nanDRi favor, good act
avaiyattu in an assembly (o the learned)
mundi coming in front of, heading
iruppa to be
cheyal to make, do.

7.8 Tammintam makkaL aRivuDaimai mAnilattu
Mannuyirk kellAm inidu.

Word meaning
tammil more than oneself
tam oneís own
makkaL children
aRivu knowledge, intelligence
uDaimai being in possession of
mAnilattu of the great world
mannutirkku for human life
ellAm all
inidu sweet.

When one's children, in knowledge, oneself exceed,
To all in the world that's sweet indeed.
Core idea: One may feel jealous of someone having something more than what one
has. But never if that someone happens to be one's own child. Then it becomes a
matter of pride and exhilaration, rather than jealousy. It is, says this Kural,
a truly sweet experience when one finds that one's children have advanced to a
higher level of knowledge than oneself. In fact, one expects one's children to
do even better than oneself in life: at least, that should be the goal of any
enlightened parent.

V. V. Raman
October 6, 2010

7.9 InDRa pozhidin periduvakkum tanmaganaich
chAnDROn enakkETTa tAi

Word meanings
InDRa when gave (brith)
pozhudin than the time
peridu what is great(er)
vakkum by this means
tan oneís own
son (acc. case) son
chAnDROn a learned person
ena that
kETTa (who has) heard
tAi mother

More than at birth, mother feels joy
When learned she hears them call her boy.

Core idea: Every mother feels immense joy at the moment she casts her eyes on
her new-born. But, says this Kural, her joy is even greater when some day she
hears people saying that her son is a very learned person, a very accomplished
individual. Two points may be noted here. We see the great respect in which
knowledge and learning were held in that culture. Secondly, it shows how true
pride and joy are related, not so much to material acquisitions, as to
intellectual accomplishments. This reminds us of another Tamil saying:
chAnDROrenkai InDROrkkazhago: When a child is called, learned it is an
adornment to those who gave birth to him.

7.10 Magantandaikku ATRum udavi ivantandai
ennOTRAn kol-enum chol

Word meanings
magan son
tandaikku to father
ATRum doing, performing
udavi help, gift
ivan his
tandai father
en whatever
nOTRAn dis penance
kol oh (an interjection)
enum that (kind of)
chol word, saying.

Son's gift to father is when people wonder:
Oh, what penance did his father render!

Core idea: The good things we receive in life are the fruits of our deeds in
previous births. Boons are obtained by penitence. The kind of children one gets
is not of one's choice in this life. It is a consequence of one's actions in
prior lives. Therefore, if a son is exceptionally good he is a boon, resulting
from some arduous penances the father must have done in previous births. This
Kural says that if people exclaim this, the father is supremely happy, for it
implies that the son is very good indeed.

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8. Anbudaimai On Having Love

8.1 anbiRkum uNDO aDaikkundAzh Arvalar
punkaNir pUchal tarum

Word Meanings
anbiRkum for love
uNDO is there? Does is exist
aDaikkum closing, enclosing
tAzh bolt
Arvalar (of) those in love
pun sad
kaNIr water from eye
pUchal noise
tarum will give

Is there a bolt to keep love enclosed in?
Lover's sad teardrop gives out a din.

Core idea: One cannot keep love bolted in the heart. That is say, it is
impossible to hide one's love. Teardrops will speak loud and make it clear that
the torment of love in the heart. As Tennyson said in The Bridesmaid: "I
loved thee for the tear thou coulds't not hide." Again, Coleridge wrote in his
In many ways doth the full heart reveal
The presence of the love it would conceal.
More generally, the deepest feelings of the human heart become plain on the face
for all to read.

8.2 anbilAr ellAm tamakkuriyar anbuDaiyAr
enbum uriyar piRarkku

Word meanings
anbu love
ilAr those (who are) without
ellAm everything
tamakku to themselves
uriyar owners
anbu laove
uDaiyAr those with, who have
enbum even bones
uriyar owners
pirarkku for others

Who loveless are, make all their own;
The loving: for others are even their bone.

Core idea: Self-centeredness comes from lack of love. Intense desire to possess
everything for oneself results from an utter lack of consideration for others,
from absence of any love. Giving to others is in the nature of love. In the
words of Giles Fletcher,
More rich by giving, taking by discarding;
Love's life's reward, rewarded in rewarding.
But the spirit of sacrifice which is a characteristic of love implies more than
simply giving. It is giving at one's own cost. That is what this Kural means
when it says that love would give the very bones (i.e. life) to another. As John
Hobbes noted, "To love is to know the sacrifices which eternity extracts from

V. V. Raman
11 October, 2010

8.3 anbODu iyainda vazhakkenba Aruyirkku
enbODu iyainda toDarbu

Word meanings
anbODu with love
iyainda associated with
vazhakku is usual, is the cause
enba it is said (by the wise)
Ar earth
uyirkku for life
enbODU with bones (and flesh)
iyainda joined with
toDarbu continuation.

It's for life with love, the wise do say,
That earthly life (with bone) continues this way.

Core idea: What is the purpose of physical life on earth? This Kural states that
ultimately it is for the manifestation and exercise of love. This may be taken
in a particular as well as in a general sense. Our individual lives would be
utterly meaningless if there was no one towards whom we have feelings of love.
It could also imply (through the word continues) that the soul keeps re-entering
the body in order to experience love. More generally, the phenomenon of (human)
life - especially its physical manifestation - has, as one of its primary
purposes, the expression of love. Robert Browning put it this way:
For life, with all it yields of joy and woe...
Is just a chance o'er the prize of learning love.

8.4 AnbInum Arvam uDaimai adu0Inum
naNbennum nADAch chiRappu

Word meanings
anbu love
Inum will give
Arvam interest, affection
uDaimai quality of having
adu that (in turn)
Inum will give
naNbu friendship
ennum what is called
nADA unreachable
chiRappu excellence, quality

Love gives longing which gives too
Priceless bonds of friendship true.

Core idea: Love creates a desire to be with the one who is loved. When that
desire is fulfilled, one gets the opportunity to interact with that person.
Thus, one gets to know the other person more intimately. As long as the bond of
love exists between the two, an ever increasing friendship will exist between
the two. Valluvarís description of friendship as springing from love was echoed
by William Penn when he said, "Friendship is a union of spirits, a marriage of
hearts, and the bond thereof virtue."

V. V. Raman
October 13, 2010

8.5 anbuTRu amarnda vazhakkenba vaiyagattu
inbuTRAr eidum chiRappu.

Word meanings
anbuTRu with love
amarnda peaceful, harmonious
vazhakku manner, mode
enba (thw wise) say
vaiyagattu on earth
inbuTRAr who have enjoyed
eidum what is acquired
chiRappu excellence, special quality

Who live in peace with love, wise men say,
Acquire joy on earth and beyond, in every way.

Core idea: Serene love is love that is characterized by inner peace and harmony
with the world around. It endows life with a special kind of joy. This love is
deep devotion springing from heart-felt affection. It is ever prepared to
undergo any sacrifice. Such love need not be simply for another individual.
Indeed the most glorious fruits of love are manifested when it extends to many
people: from family to community to all people and to all lives. We may
interpret this Juralto be referring to such universal love.

8.6 aRattiRkE anbuchAr penba aRiyAr
maRattiRkum ahdE tuNai.

Word meanings
aRattirkE only to aRam
anbu love
chArbu help, support
enbar they say
aRiyAr who know not
maRattiRkum for evil too
ahdE that alone
tuNai is helpful.

Love's just for the good, who know not, say;
But evil too, it helps keep away.

Core idea: It is easy to see that the feeling of love induces one to do good
things towards others. But it would be a mistake to think that this is the only
function of love. In fact, love as an exalted virtue will also prevent one from
doing harmful things to others. This is an important insight in that, knowingly
or unknowingly, people do hurt even those whom they supposedly love. This Kural
reminds us that where there is real love, such hurting will not occur.

V. V. Raman
Octover 15, 2010

8.7 Enbi ladanai veyilpOlak kAyumE
Anbi ladanai aRam.

Word meanings
enbu bone
idalani that which is without
veyil (scorching) sun
pOla like
kAyumE dries up, heats up
anbu love
iladanai one without
aRam aRam

Like boneless creature in the scorching sun,
ARam burns up the loveless one.

Core idea: Love is what gives meaning and joy to life. One without love is
dried up like a scorched piece of deadwood. Worms and other creatures without
bones cannot stand the heat of the sun: they will be quickly dried up, says the
poet. Likewise, the laws of righteousness, the framework of aRam, will scorch up
people who lead a life without love. The reaction of scorpions to the heat of
the sun is especially pronounced in tropical climes. This simile reflects the
poet's keen sense of observation of nature.

8.8 Anbagat tillA uyirvAzhkkai vanbARkaN
vaTRal marandLirt yTRu.

Word meanings
anbu love
agattil in the heart
illA if (is) not
uyir life, creature
vAzhkkai leading a life
vanbARkaN in a barren land, desert
vaTRal dried up
maram tree
taLitta sprouting
aTRu is like

A life with a heart that of love is free
Is like a sprout in a desert, of a dried up tree.

Core idea: There must be love in the heart of every living person for life to
blossom to its fullness. Yes, we may see a few dried up trees sprouting here and
there in the scorching heat of some barren terrains. They look pathetic, and we
wish they could receive some water to bring them to full life. People without
the experience of love or compassion towards fellow beings are just as pitiful,
and they too could be enriched if only their hearts would accommodate some love.

V. V. Raman
OCTOBER 18, 2010

8.9 puRattuRup pellAm evancheyyum yAkkai
agattuRuppu anbi lavarkku

Word meanings
puRam outside, exterior
uRuppu body parts, components
ellAm all
evan what
cheyyum can (will they) do
yAkkai body
agattu in the heart
uRuppu parts, components
anbu love
Ilavarkku who donít have.

What can they do, their external parts
If no love there is, within their hearts?

Core idea: One is often concerned about how well one looks. External features
and a fine physical frame may all be good. But ultimately they are worthless if
one is incapable of love. Those who have no love in their heart are utterly
useless in this world, no matter how good-looking and charming they may appear
on the outside. There is a Tamil saying to the effect that the beauty of the
heart is reflected in the face: agattin azhagu mugattil terium. In other words,
even the external charm of the face will be disfigured if there is no true
feeling in the heart.

8.10 Anbin vazhiyadu uyirnilai ahdilArkku
enbutOl pOrtta uDambu.

Word meanings
anbin of love
vazhi path, mode
adu it (is)
uyir life
nilai state
ahdu that
ilArkku who have not
enbu bone(s)
tOl skin
pOrtta covered with
uDambu physical body

Loveís normal state is love within
Loveless ones are just bones with skin.

Core idea: Life is made up of the physical body and a spirit that thinks and
experiences. This spirit in the body is what transforms mere matter into a
living entity making it meaningful and interesting. This Kural says that in the
normal state of affairs, love should be an important component of the human
spirit. This is a positive appraisal of the human condition. Bereft of love, an
individual is no more than bones covered by skin: a mere physical robot that
does its things.

V. V. Raman
October 20, 2010

#1423 - November 17, 2010 11:46 AM Re: Kural [Re: webmaster]
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
VirundOmbal On Cherishing Guests (Hospitality)

9.1 irundOmbi ilvAzhva dellAm virundOmbi
vELANmai cheidaR poriTTu.

Word meanings
irundu staying
Ombi supporting
il home, household
vAzhvadu living, life
ellAm all, all aspects
virundu feast, guest
Ombi cherishing
vELANmai generosity, beneficence
cheidal doing
poruTTu in order to, for the sake of.

For this is all household living:
Receiving guests, and generous giving.

Core idea: An important element of the Indian value system is brought out here:
that we do not live for ourselves alone. We are part of a community, of a world
at large. We have our things and our people in our household. But ultimately,
everything we do must have some positive impact on others. As an example, the
poet says that we must treat guests with kindness and consideration, and be
generous to them. Guests symbolize the world beyond our family.

9.2 virundu puRattAt tAnuNDal chAvA
marundeninum vENDaRpAT RanDRu.

Word meanings
virundu guests
puRattAr who are outside
tAn oneself
UNDal eating
chAvA immortal
marundu medicine, elixir
eninum even if it is
vENDal wanting
pATRu (pAvadu) proper, appropriate.V. V. Raman
October 22, 2010

9.3 Varuvirundu vaigalum OmbuvAn vAzhkkai
Paruvandu pAzhpaDudal inSDRu.

Word meanings
varu who come
virundu guests
vaikulum each dawn, every day
OmbuvAn who upholds
vAzhkai (his) life
paruvandu suffering
pAzhpaDudal ruin-occurring
inDRu (is) not.

Who daily tends to guests who come:
His life won't painful waste become.

Core idea: One must receive guests each and every day. They may be total
strangers. As it says in the Old Testament (Hebrews,xiii, 2), "Be not forgetful
to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." The
corresponding idea in Tamil culture is that of aditi: the unexpected
stranger-guest. One who adheres to the principle of receiving guests this way
will always be blessed with a happy life. His life will never be a waste. This
insistence on receiving guests as a matter of habit is an important feature of
all civilized societies, and of Indian culture in particular, because of sayings
like this.

9.4 Ahanamarndu cheiyyAn uRaiyum muganamarndu
Nalvirundu OmbuvAn il.

Word meanings
agam heart
amarndu rejoicing
cheiyyAL the fair won (Lakshmi)
uRaiyum will abide, lodge in
mugam face
amarndu rejoicing
nalvirundu welcome guests
OmbuvAn who cherishes
il (at) home.

In his home will joyful Fortune dwell
Who welcomes guests with a smile as well.

Core idea: Lakshmi is the Goddess of prosperity and good fortune. In this KuraL
she is referred to by the epithet CheiyyAL which also meant in classical Tamil
the Beauteous One. For it is important to have a pleasant face when guests
arrive. Indeed the Kural goes on to say that guests are to be received with a
face that reveals joy. We are reminded of the words of Shakespeare, "Bear
welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue." We are told in this Kural that
good fortune will smile in the home of one who receives guests in this manner.

V. V. Raman
October 25, 2010

9.7 inaittuNait tenbadon DRillai virundin
tuNaittuNai vELvip payan

Word meanings
inattu this much
tuNaittu measured
enbadu thus
onDRu one (such thing)
illai (there is) not
virundin of the guests
tuNaittuNai value, measure
vELvi beneficence
payan fruit, reward

This, its measure: there's no such thing.
Its fruits are in the good that guests do bring.

Core idea: There is no way in which we can measure the value of extending
hospitality. It is primarily in the quality of the guests one receives and in
how they are treated that one can find its true value. In other words, the value
of hospitality is also a function of the people towards whom one is hospitable.
This arises in two ways: First, its value increases if the recipient is truly
deserving. Being hospitable to a truly hungry person is better than being so to
a well-fed one. Secondly, the gratitude and consequent good wishes of the guest
will also enhance the merit one gains from being hospitable.

9.8 pirindOmbip paTRaTREm enbar virundOmbi
vELvi talaippaDA dAr

Word meanings
pirindu having worked hard, with toil
Ombi cherished
paTRa what has been obtained
aTREm we are severed from, have lost
enbar they will say
virundu guests
Ombi cherished
vELvi benefit, fruit
talaippaDA not successful in getting
dAr (those) who.

They'll say, ďwe've lost all that toil had brought,
Who, of the fruits of hosting, have but naught.

Core idea: People are sometimes so involved with amassing wealth they have
hardly have any time to receive guests and reap the fruits of hospitality.
Unfortunately, all the accumulated things derived from hard work become a waste,
and some day they may exclaim, "Oh, all that is gone." The idea is that unless
we share whatever we have with others, we will not reap the kŗrmic fruits of
hospitality, and every selfishly accumulated thing is bound to turn to waste.

V. V. Raman
October 27, 2010

9.9 uDaimaiyuL inimai virundOmbal OmbA
maDamai maDavArkkaN uNDu

Word meanings
uDaimaiyuL In the midst of possessions
inmai destitution
virundou guests
Ombal cherishing
OmbA not cherishing
maDamai foolishness
maDavArkaN among fools
uNDu is present

It's poverty in plenty, when no guests are around;
Among fools alone is such folly found.

Core idea: There are people living in enormous wealth who want even more. When
one is not inclined to be hospitable, it is, says this Kural, somewhat like
this. Such people do not share their blessings with others. Such selfishness is
as pathetic as being mired in poverty. There is really no need for this. To live
in an utterly unsharing way when one has something to share is more stupid than
malicious, we are told. Valluvar is quite harsh in this couplet. He says that
only fools behave in this way.

9.10 mOppak kuzhaiyum anichcham mugandiridu
nOkkak kuzhaiyum virundu.

Word meanings
mOppa upon smiling
kuzhaium it droops hrinks
anichcham a flower which is said to droop when smelled
mugam face
tirindu turning away
nOkka looking
kuzhaiyum is dismayed, fades
virundu guest.

(Flower)aniccam, when smelled, does fade;
A guest ignored, is dismayed.

Core idea: The most important aspect of receiving guests is to make them feel
welcome. The host must show every sign of being happy on seeing the guest. This
calls for a cheerful face when the guest enters the home. If, on the other hand,
the guest turns the face away from the guest, and appears to be occupied with
other things, this can be a very disheartening experience for the guest. It is
said that the aniccam flower quickly droops down when it is smelled. The poet
gives the behavior of that flower as a simile.

V. V. Raman
October 29, 2010

#1424 - November 17, 2010 11:50 AM Re: Kural [Re: webmaster]
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Iniyavai kURal On Saying Pleasant Things

10.1 incholAl Iram aLaip paDRuilavAm
chemporuL kaNDArvAich chol

Word Meanings
in sweet
cholAl what are words
Iram kindness, tenderness
aLai mingled with
I this
paDiRu falsehood, deceive
ilavAm is said to be without
chemporuL the essence of things, truth.
kaNDAr who have seen
vAi mouth
chol words

Sweet speech is kind, free from lies;
Words from who've seen Truth with their eyes.

Core idea: People sometimes say nice things without really meaning what they
say. Such false uttering is not sweet speech. Those who have known the nature of
things, i.e. who have seen the truth that love should be the essence of all
relationships, practice sincere sweet speech. Phaedrus said: Habent insidias
hominis blanditiae mali: The smooth words of the wicked are insidious. This
Kural reminds us of this truth in a more positive way: Smooth (sweet) words are
sincere when they emerge from the truly enlightened..

10.2 Aganamarndu Idalin nanDRe mugamarndu
Inchaolan Agap peRin.

Word meanings
agan(m) heart
amarndu rejoicing
Idalin if one gives
nanDRE is better than
mugan(m) face
amarndu rejoicing
in sweet
cholan words
Aga as
peRin if (it) bears

Better than giving a heart-felt present,
Is smilingly saying words that are pleasant.

Core idea: Sometimes we tend to think that we can make people happy by giving
them nice gifts. Even when this is done in a hearty way, it is not as effective
as saying something pleasing to one's ears. Saying this with a joyful face is
bound to bring far greater joy to the heart of any human being. The ancient
Roman playwright
Titus Maccius Plautus wrote dicta docta pro datis: smooth words in place of
gifts. We may say, modifying Plauus, dicta dulces pro datis: Sweet words
instead of gifts.

V. V. Raman
November 1, 2010

10.3 mugattAn amandu inidunOkki agattAnAm
incho kinadE aRam

mugattAn with face
amarndu rejoicing
inidu sweet
nOkki looking
agattAm with (oneís) heart
in sweet
cholin if said (if one says)
adE that indeed is
aRam aRam.

Sweet heart-felt words to the face to say
That indeed is aRamís way.

Core idea: We recall that a¬am is a code of conduct which keeps us in harmony
with the world around us. Now, what does living in harmony with the people
around oneself consist in? This Kural gives an answer to this question. ARam
consists in speaking to people in sincere and pleasing ways with a cheerful
face. For this is bound to bring peace and love to those with whom we interact.
This will establish harmony and good will among people. It does not call for any
material exertion or costly gift.

10.4 tunbuRUum tuvvAmai illAgum yArmATTum
inbuRUum incho lavarkku.

Word meaningds
tunbuRu-um distress causing
tuvvAmai non-enjoyment, poverty
illAgum will become not
yArmATTum ro whoever
inburU-um joy-producing
in chol sweet words
avarkku for them.

Painful penury with never reach
Those with sweet joy-giving speech.

Core idea: Much of our happiness is determined by the state of our mind. Those
who have unpleasant and uncomfortable thoughts are unhappy. People who
consistently practice kindness and pleasant expressions towards others will have
no occasion to feel bad about whatever they may have said or done to others. The
painful state of joylessness will be theirs on account of harsh words.

V. V. Raman
November 3, 2010

10.5 paNivuDaiyan inchol Adal oruvaRku
aNiyalla paTRup piRa

Word meanings
paNi humility
uDaiyan one who has
in sweet
cholan speaker
Adal being
oruvarkku for one
aNi ornament
alla (is) not
maTruppiRa other things, all else.

Sweet words of the humble are like jewels
Such as, for one, there is naught else.

Core idea: Along with sweet speech must come a gentle attitude. There must be
absence of pride or condescension. When one speaks pleasantly and with
gentleness, it is as if one wears precious jewels. No matter what material
ornament one may wear to make oneself more beautiful, it cannot have the same
pleasing effect on others as sweet and gentle speech. In the New Testament
(Luke, xiv. 11) we read:
Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased;
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
We are also reminded here of J. Montgomery's modified lines:
Fairest and best adorned is she
Whose ornament is humility.

10.6 Allavai tEya aRamperugum nallavai
nADi iniya cholin.

Word meanings
allavai evil, sins
tEya erased, effaced
aRam aRam
perugum will increase
nallavai what is good
nADi seeking, desiring
iniya sweet
cholin if one speaks.

Sins erased, oneís merits will swell
If, seeking good, one speaks sweetly well.

Core idea: We all carry heavy burdens of sin on our spiritual shoulders. There
are ways by which these may be reduced. This Kural suggests that if one seeks
whatever is good (as opposed to whatever is evil) and speaks in sweet and gentle
terms to others, then the accumulated sins will be erased, and replaced by
merits which will lead us to salvation. Note that the poet reminds us that along
with sweet speech must come a desire to do good to others.

V. V. Raman
November 5, 2010

10.7 nayan-InDru naDRi payakkum payan-InDRu
paNbin talaippiriyAch chol

Word meanings
nayan joy
InDRu giving
nanDRi gratitude
payakkum will yield, will produce
payan fruits, results
InDRu giving
paNbin well-being, worth
talai from
piriyA not separated
chol words, speech.

Yielding joys, fruits, and gratitude
Is speech that does not good exclude.

Core idea: Whatever one speaks must always be tied to what is good and
righteous. Speech that is of this kind, says this Kural, will not only result in
joy and a sense of gratitude in the heart of the listener, but will also produce
good results for the one who utters such words. Thus, like most things that are
part of aRam, good thoughts and words and deeds benefit the target as much as
the source.

10.8 chiRumaiyuL nIng-iya inchol maRumaiyum
immaiyum inbam tarum.

Word meanings
chiRumaiyuL from pettiness
nIng-iya without, removed from
inchol sweet words/speech
maRumaiyum in the other birth (also)
inmaiyum inthis birth (also)
inbam joy
tarum will give.

Sweet speech, not petty, joys will give
Which in this and future births will live.

Core idea: If speaking gently and pleasantly becomes a habit, it will take one
a long way. The self-fulfillment that a person derives from such a pattern of
behavior will be with one not only in this life, but in all births to follow. In
other words, cultivating sweet speech has long range effects. We note that the
statement that the fruits of good behavior are not confined to a single birth is
an expression in the framework of reincarnation.

V. V. Raman
November 8, 2010

10.9 inchol initInDRal kANbAn evankolO
vanchol vazhakku vazhanguvadu.

Word meanings
inchol sweet words
inidu sweetness
Indral giving
kANbAn one who sees
evankolO oh, why should
vanchol harsh words
vazhanguvadu use, practice

Who sees the sweetness that in sweet words lies,
Oh, why does he harsh words exercise?

Core idea
Anyone should be able to see that kind and gentle words that bring joy as much
to the one spoken to as to the speaker himself. In other words, it is as much to
the advantage of the speaker as to the one to whom the words are addressed. Is
it therefore not strange that, knowing this, people still indulge in unpleasant
and hurting words? In this Kural the poet expresses his bewilderment at the
irrational behavior of human beings. Some truths are so obvious, yet people go
against them, is the exclamation here. Indeed, this is where true awakening
comes. Only the awaked person can see the folly of the inertness of dormant.

10.10 iniya uLavAga innAda kURal
kaniiruppak kAikavarn daTru

Word meanings
iniya sweet
uLavAga where there is
innAda not sweet
kURal saying, speaking
kani (sweet) ripe fruit
iruppa when there is
kAi unripe, raw berry
kavarndu tolong for, to desire
aTRu is like, may be compared to.


When sweet words are there, harsh ones to use,
Is wanting raw ones, with ripe fruits profuse.

Core idea:
Language has countless pleasant words. To choose ugly and unpleasant words from
this grand orchard is like picking out raw and bitter berries when sweet and
ripe fruits are abundant. Shakespeare said (in The Taming of the Shrew)
There's small choice in rotten apples.
This is not the case with words considered as apples. There are sweet and
delicious apples as well as rotten and sour ones. And we have the choice, says
this Kural.

V. V. Raman
November 10, 2010


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