தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Thiru Kural
- English Translation - Himalayan Academy

[see also Thirukural in Tamil with English Translation by Kavi Yogi Shuddhananda Bharatiar]

An inspired talk by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, on Saint Tiruvalluvar's Guru Puja Day, February 15, 1979, introducing selections from the Holy Kural, the Saint's 2,100 year-old Tamil classic on virtuous living. 

(see also *Weaver's Wisdom - Ancient Precepts for a Perfect Life - Satguru Sivaya Subramaniyaswami)


"This edition of the Holy Kural has been several years in the preparation. It was during a pilgrimage in 1975 to pay respects at my Satguru's mahasamadhi in Sri Lanka that the decision was made to bring the Tirukural to the West. I instructed one of the sannyasins of our Order traveling with me to bring into American English the essential meaning of the verses.

There had never been a translation in modern American English. He studied the various translations. Later he returned to the monastery here in Hawaii and with another Sannyasin worked in the hours before dawn for many months. There were five objectives in their work - to be faithful to the original Tamil in meaning and style, to be clear and understandable, to be brief whenever possible so as to capture the saint's succinct style, to be subtle and profound, and finally to have the verses as graceful and refined in English as they are in Tamil. This was not an easy task, as you can imagine.

It was further complicated by the fact that the text was written twenty centuries ago in a classical form of Tamil that is difficult to understand today. It is like trying to read the Old English works of Chaucer. They had to reflect on exactly what the saint meant, for often his verses are obscure and subtle. They had to catch the same meaning, the same insight, to discover the same area of consciousness which the saint held as he wrote. And then they had to speak out that perception in the vernacular of our day. Realizing that much meaning would be lost if the attempt was made to use rhyming verse in the translation, I asked the Sannyasins to not attempt that, but to work in prose instead.

 

Of the 133 chapters in the original work, 108 are included in this present abridged edition, comprising the sections on virtue and wealth but not the final 25 chapters on marital love. Each chapter consists of ten verses.

The total scripture is divided into four sections: the Preface, Virtue, Wealth and Love. In not speaking of the fourth and final objective of human existence, moksha or spiritual liberation, Saint Tiruvalluvar was able to reach out with his message of goodness and touch the lives of many generations.

Certainly he knew that in speaking of virtue and love he was leading the soul to the liberation which he perhaps held too sacred, or too advanced, to openly discuss. That is why it was awesome to be at the puja today and to see the two larger-than-life black granite statues made for us in South India sitting together - the one who spoke on virtue, wealth and love and the other who spoke so potently on liberation in his great work, the Tirumantiram. 

The whole of the way of Saivite Hinduism is contained in the works of these two eminent saints. The Holy Kural should be used in everyday life - its verses committed to memory and meditated upon, to quote freely as your very own.

You will sound wise if you do remember and share these jewels. One of the greatest benefits of this scripture is to guide our actions and our thoughts, to direct our purpose in life and refine our interactions with our fellow man. Problems can be resolved in the light of the saint's wisdom. If something is going along wrong in your life, bring the forces of life back into harmony by studying the Holy Kural and applying its knowledge.

That is perhaps its main function - to perfect and protect our lives in the everyday world by preventing mistakes which can cause an unhappy karma, by preventing erroneous attitudes which can bring unnecessary sorrow into our experience. Yet, there is nothing in the Kural that has to be obeyed.

Each of the couplets contains such insight, however, that we are drawn to it and want to obey. Use the verses in this scripture to provide guidelines for effective and virtuous action in your life. It can be our refuge in times of confusion, a source of inspiration when we feel less than inspired, a central hub around which the endless play of Lord Siva's maya revolves.

Of course, it can be studied so as to comprehend the nature of virtue and the difficulties caused by transgressing virtue's natural laws. It does not contain a single concept or expression that would offend another faith, and thus it is a fine introduction to the scriptures of the East.

The Holy Kural may well be the meeting ground, the common ground, of all religions. It could be called a Common Creed for the modern world. But above all it is to be used by the individual to bring the wisdom of the ages, the wisdom of Saivaite Hinduism, into our lives. I hope you will all allow Saint Tiruvalluvar's insights to spark your own intuition and reveal from within yourself the laws which he too discovered within himself. Do not look upon this scripture as something "out there."

Meditation and reflection will reveal that its knowledge lies within, vibrantly alive, dynamically real. It is impossible to not be moved by the grand compassion and the direct discernment of the Kural. Let it enrich your life as your journey along this Eternal Path, the Sanatana Dharma.

I would suggest that you commit to memory as many stanzas as you can. Many have done this, keeping them on the tip of their tongue and in the forefront of their mind. Impress them on the subconscious mind and thereby make a gridwork for living that takes you swiftly to the goal and brings joy in the process, for Hinduism is a joyous religion.

I would also suggest that you teach these gems to the children. This advice and admonition, coming from the world's most ancient faith and culture, will enrich every child's understanding of goodness, right conduct and right thought. It is one of the most astute scriptures in the world today. It should be memorized, especially by small children. It will create a positive conscience for their inner decision, guiding how they will conduct themsevles through life.

Small children all through South India memorize the Holy Kural in order to be able to chant it verse after verse - many can recite the entire 1,330 verses by heart. This gives them a code of living that remains with them the rest of their lives. It is crucial that children be given the benefit of strong principles from an early age, especially in these times when television and the stories, plots and scenes that children see on television which form the code of living for their lives provide opposite and obscure values.

The Holy Kural is therefore most important. It is essential that the values which are the substance of the Holy Kural - the do's as well as the don'ts - be carried over into the next generation with courage and persistence and fortitude so that our descendants, the heirs of a future which we are even now in the process of creating, are benefited by these age-old insights into universal laws, humanitarian laws and plain common sense. This is the responsibility of all parents and those who teach our children. They may use this translation freely, drawing upon its storehouse of virtuous living.

Quote from these verses freely. Use them as your very own. In Saivaite Hinduism we believe that the soul, man's soul created by Siva, is returning to the Source which it already is, and this maturation is effected and directed by karma, through experience, through a succession of lives that provide experience from which inner knowledge is attained. This passage through one life and then another brings the soul ever closer to its true, effulgent being.

Saivaites believe that the soul can and does ultimately merge with Siva, with God, with Absolute Reality. It becomes one with God, united in an ultimate experience, or non-experience, called Self-realization, which in turn leads to moksha or liberation from the necessity for further incarnation. This is the final goal, and the Holy Kural provides a foundation upon which the quest for that goal may proceed with confidence and stability. "

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