Tiruvalluvar

Tiruvalluvar (Tamil: திருவள்ளுவர்) [c. 1st century BCE] was a great sage and scholar hailing from Tamil Nadu. Born to a brahmin father and a mother who was the foster child of an untouchable, Tiruvalluvar derived his sustenance from his profession as a weaver and also became one of the greatest scholars of all time, authoring one of the great classics in world literature - the Tirukkural. The Tamil culture has been one of the great contributing to the mine of wisdom emanating from the Hindu lands, and the Tirukkural is an example of this.

Table of Contents

Overview

Tiruvalluvar, the Tamil sage excels each one of these ancients in his respective sphere. He makes humanity and love the cementing force of society, and considerations of birth are of no account to him. His political wisdom is characterised by a breadth of vision at once noble and elevating. The sexual love which he depicts with inimitable grace and delicacy is idealistic, even if it be schematic and mannered. Its romance is ethereal and carries us to an atmosphere where purity of emotion, freshness and beauty reign supreme…

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The weaver-saint Tiruvalluvar is part of Hindu history. Living in South India around 200 BCE, he wrote the ethical masterpiece Tirukural to guide humanity along the right path. Here he is etching verses onto a palm leaf, while his family spins thread and looms cloth.

The utter simplicity of his language, his crystal clear utterances, precise and forceful, his brevity, his choice diction, no less his inwardness, his learning, culture and wisdom, his catholicity and eclecticism, his gentle humour and wholesome counsel have made him an object of veneration for all time and his book is considered the Veda of the Tamils.

Tirukkural

The Tirukkural is considered the pinnacle of Tamil spiritual literature. The Tirukkural is woven into 1330 couplets in 3 major divisions - Virtue, Wealth and Love. Tirukkural is a guiding light for humanityto lead a life with all human values. It guides mankind to live in moral purity, eternal wisdom and in perfect wealth, health and prosperity.

The Thirukural consists of three books, the first book on aram (the way or dharma), the second on porul (material or artha) and the third on inbam (joy or kama).

There are 37 chapters in the first book, the first four called payiram or prefactory matter, the next twenty about ill-aram (the householder’s dharma) and the next thirteen about turavaram (the path of renunciation)

The second book on porul contains seventy chapters, the first twenty dealing with kings and their duties, the succeeding thirty two chapters with the other matters concerning the state, and next thirteen, with sundry concerns.

The third book on inbam contains twenty five chapters, the first seven being on pre marital love (kalavu) and the next eighteen on marital love.

The following are quotes from the Tirukkural:

"Though one belongs to high caste, when he loses his conduct (good decorum), no more is he of high caste" (134)

"All beings are equal in birth. But work decides their varied worth." (972)

"The greatness of an individual depends on his ability to perform rare deeds, not in their caste" (973)

It should be noted that the idea that conduct, qualities and actions determine a persons worth rather than their birth is a theme that runs through all the basic texts of Hinduism - including the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita. The Tirukkual is on par with these texts, amd should be read and studied by all.

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