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Tirukural
Tirukural
Description

Back of the Book

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a living legend, yoga master and author of Merging with Siva, recognized the immense value of the Tirukural in 1949 as a young seeker in Sri Lanka. Decades later he instructed two of his swamis to translate it from classical Tamil into American English and had renowned artist in South India illustrate the 108 chapters. For the first time, a long-neglected and much-needed rendering into modern Tamil is included, making the obscure verses accessible to one and all. Here is the fruit of those efforts-the gentle, profound world of Asian ethics and simple humanness. Yet, Tirukural's universality makes it a book you can share wit anyone. Its charming wit and common sense will uplift and inspire you and your whole family.

"There hardly exists in the literature of the world a collection of maxims in which we find such lofty wisdom."

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Humanitarian

"Only a few of us know the name of Tiruvalluvar. The North Indians do not know the name of the great saint. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him."

Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Modern India

"The Kural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature ? one of the highest and purest expressions of human thought."

M. Ariel, Historian

" Tirukural alone is enough to edify the world. It contains all things, and there is nothing which it does not contain."

Tiru Naganar, Tamil Scholar

Form the Jacket

Tiruvalluvar, the poet-saint, or rather the saint-poet, lived in the hamlet now called Chennai about 2,000 years ago. Tirukural, his work, is a book for universal acceptance, ulakappodumarai . The very first votive offering is unto the Omnipotent. "Adi Bhagvan mudatre ulagu," and reflects the very words found in the Ishavasya Upanishad, "Ishavasyam-idam Sarvam. "The aphorisms (couplets) are full of practical wisdom touching on all aspects of an ideal life. Though there have been several English translations, the present one is excellent in that the verses are lucid and in simple style. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, of international renown, has done a monumental service in having Tirukural translated in English and modern Tamil so that this work of wisdom from the Weaver reaches a very large number of aspirants.

His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswathi, Spiritual Head of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam; Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Tirukural not a mere book to gain wisdom but a means for knowing Truth. Such an authoritative source of knowledge has been crowned by the holy hands of His Divinity, Sivaya Subramuniyaswamigal, whose continuous, untiring dedicated service will become the canon to destroy the forts of ignorance. His devoted, undiluted work for twenty years to complete this Herculean task in a flawless manner reflects his adoration and faith in Sri Tiruvalluvar and Tirukural . I have studied many commentaries on Tirukural in Tamil, but I felt the spirit was missing in all of them. But in this unique book, the life, spirit and meaning are well preserved. It will enlighten millions of people to gain the wisdom herein and lead a meaningful life. I am sure this book is bound to correct the cankered mind of the youth and show them the path of reclamation. The pictorial representations in the book will help the children and youth to understand easily the valuable message of this ancient great epic. Hail Hinduism!

His Holiness Sri Sri Swami Buaji Maharaj, Centenarian, Founder and Head of Indo-American Yoga-Vedanta Society; New York, USA

I am amazed at the depth and clarity of this American English translation of the Tirukural . This work, which has been undertaken by two sannyasins with great love and devotion under the guidance of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, makes the words of wisdom of the Tamil Sage Tiruvalluvar relating to many aspects of human activity as relevant to the modern world of today as they were 2,200 years ago.

Shiva Pasupati, President's Counsel; Former Attorney General of Sri Lanka; President, Australian Tamil Foundation; Strathfield, Australia

To comment on this holy book Tirukural, translated into modern American English from the holy devotional Tamil language, "is like carrying coal to Newcastle." It is an accepted fact that the Tamil language is the Gods' language given to the Tamils by Lord Ganesha. It is as old as Saivism. It has stood the test of times, such as wars, earthquakes and foreign invasion. Surely and certainly Tirukural will become a handbook to those interested in a humble and modest life.

Dr. Pundit K.N. Navaratnam, M.A.F.A., F.A.A.; Jyotisha Marthand, National Astrologer of Australia; Sivathondan Center; Hallam, Australia

The translation of this great classic has been done to honor Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Sri Lanka, the Self-realized mystic of the highest order and spiritual beacon light who preached universal love: every country is your country and every person your kinsman, seek God within and see God in everyone and everywhere. The introductory chapters and comments by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami give luster to the translations. The watercolor paintings appearing with each chapter give the cultural background for those not familiar with Hindu Culture. This book should adorn the libraries of the world and find a place in every home. It is a happy significance that the book is being published at the time of the installation of the 133-foot-tall Tiruvalluvar granite statue at Kanya Kumari in South India to proclaim India's cultural contributions to the world.

Tiru M. Arumugam, President, Sivathondan Society UK; London, England

Now, the 2.200-year-old Kural, ever youthful, presents itself in popular American English and modern Tamil. We see the genesis of this project in the ever-fulfilling sankalpa will, of our venerated Satguru Sivayoga Swamigal. We sense the universal transmission of our Satguru Yogaswami's grace through Gurudeva Sivaya Subramaniyaswami's dedicated service. Eppavo Mudintha Kerrym ? Accomplished is His will. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy says, "A man is only qualified to translate an ancient text when he has really participated in, and not merely observed the outer and inner life of its time and identified this time with his own. All this evidently requires a far longer, more roundabout and self-denying discipline," This criterion is met here by the translator of Tirukural, whose life has been molded by the religious, ethical and social codes enunciated in the Kural. Sage Tiruvalluvar's Kural, translated into American English and modern Tamil, has retained its power to transform one's psyche.
Vimala Krishnapillai, Ph.D., Lecturer. Faculty of Education, University of Colombo; Joint Trustee of the Sivayogar Swami Thiruvadi Trust; Colombo, Sri Lanka

The divine poet through his gift of Tirukural gives maxims to serve as guidance for all classes, sections, denominations, etc., in the world. Tirukural couplets have the added significance of providing invaluable advice for all times, as it takes into consideration the wider aspects, with necessary changes, of human nature beyond national, religious and linguistic boundaries. Tirukural gives added value because the author, Tiruvalluvar, had the rare distinction of having lived the ideal life as portrayed in his immortal work. Tirukural shows a way of life applicable to all sections of society, from kings and nobles down to the common man. This teaching echoes the sentiments expressed in many other religious texts, such as Tirumantiram, Naladiyar, Saiva Tirumuraigal of the Nayanars and Vaishnava Prapanthams of the Alwars. Good conduct with abiding moral values and sincere brotherhood are the centerpieces of Tiruvalluvar's teachings. Kindness to fellow human beings, full sense of humanity and human values will ensure a better world, according to the tenets of Tirukural . In a world full of turmoil, the Tirukural stands as a beacon to a peaceful way of life, and this coupled with the daily recitation of the Panchakshara Mantra, "Namasivaya, "found at the heart of the Vedas, will ensure peace and well being.

Dr. T.S. Sambamurthy Sivachariar, Head of the South India Archaka Sangam; Head Priest, Shree Kalikambal Kovil; Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

The Tirukural was very dear to Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna. Under his holy feet I have been brought up as one of his devotees from my early age of eight years. Whenever I visited, he spoke to me, directed and blessed me always through the sacred Kural . In 1949 with Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami made a vow to bring together the best of both the East and West. In 1999 with his latest book, Tirukural, he has successfully brought this to the West. Referring to the statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar at Kanya Kumari, Subramuniyaswami states, "While America's Statue of Liberty is a metal monument to political freedom and social promise. Tiruvalluvar stands as a stone statement of political wisdom, social duty and the spiritual promise of dharma." We should not confine Tiruvalluvar only to Tamil Nadu. He belongs to the world. Tirukural is beyond race, religion and nationality. It will enrich the life of a person as he or she journeys along this Eternal Path. The wisdom of the weaver is a vital part of our lives, and it will pave the way for success in life.

Tiru A. Kandiah, Ph.D.; Author of Malarum Manamum; Former Head, Department of Tamil,University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka; Former Professor, University of London; Sydney, Australia

Dedication

Samarpanam

This dedication is three-fold: First to honor my Satguru, Siva Yogaswami, the lauded and proclaimed pontiff of the three million Jaffna Tamil People, the 161st successor in the esteemed line of the Nandinatha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara, and to Tiru Mylvaganam, whom Yogaswami requested to squeeze grapes into juice for me with his own hands while I sat facing the devotees at the satguru's left side in 1949. Mylvaganam was also present at the opening of the Sri Subramuniya Ashram in Alaveddy in the early 70s, and years later at the opening of the Subramuniya Kottam in Kopay, where he lives today. In recent years, despite the terrible conflicts in his country, this great man translated 800 of our English verses into modern Tamil which appear in this edition for the next generation. Long ago, Yogaswami gave a sadhana to him to memorize Tirukural and to recite some of the verses daily. Humorously, the youthful, Oxford-educated Mylvaganam said, "Swami, what if I forget some days?" Yogaswami said, "Then I will come as a centipede and bite you." Mylvaganam has testified now, at 90 years of age that he has been bitten forty times or more, always soon after he had neglected to recite the verses. He said, "I now see that Yogaswami was preparing me to translate for Gurudeva into modern Tamil all the verses I memorized so many years ago." We also dedicate this book to Justice of Peace Tiru S. Subramaniam, who witnessed Satguru Yogaswami's giving me, as a gesture of ordination, a slap on the back as I was leaving his compound one morning, by which he transferred his samskaras, or vital divine spiritual energies.

 

Introduction

 

Arimukam

MANY YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS FIRST IN SRI LANKA- THAT WAS IN 1949-1 MADE A VOW TO BRING TOGETHER THE BEST OF THE EAST AND THE BEST of the West. Living with a traditional Saivite family that in- formally adopted me in those early days, I was introduced to the Tirukural. I found it to be one of the most important scriptures in all of Asia, so enchanting and so very practical. It contains wondrously no-nonsense insights on life, teaching us how to deal with the various feelings and circumstances that we encounter in our internal life and our interactions with others. In this sense, the Tirukural is the most accessible and relevant sacred text I know, applying to everyday matters and common concerns.

The Tirukural is a 2,200-year-old South Indian Dravidian classic on ethical living. Not unaware that there are advocates of later dates (from ca 200 bce down to ca 400 ce) we honor here the prevalent Tamil tradition. Its 1,330 verses were written by a Tamil weaver sage named Tiruvalluvar. His work is called Tirukural in the Tamil language. Tiru means "holy" or "sacred," and kural describes a brief verse or literary couplet.

The poetic masterpiece you are holding in your hands is one of the most revered scriptures in South India, where every child learns to recite its verses by heart. Hindus there regard it with the same reverence that Buddhists regard the Buddha's Dhammapada and Christians regard Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount." In fact, other religions also claim it as their own. The Jains proclaim it theirs, saying it expresses precisely their ideals of nonviolence, of dharma, of asceticism, vegetarianism and other aspects of Jainism. The Christians have argued that the Tirukural is so profound and filled with such compassion that it must have been influenced by the Christian missionaries who, their legends say, carne to South India in the first century CE (300 years after native historians assert it was written). Many are surprised to find that the Tirukural is still sworn upon in the courts of law in South India's state of Tamil Nadu, just as the Christian Bible and Muslim Koran are sworn on elsewhere. Just as the Sikhs worship their holy text, Adi Granth, devout Hindus venerate with a sacred ceremony, called puja, the weaver's scripture in temples and home shrines. Albert Schweitzer, medical missionary and Christian theologian in Africa, considered it one of the grandest achievements of the human mind, writing, "Like the Buddha and the Bhagavad Gita, the Kural desires inner freedom from the world and a mind free from hatred. You find the quintessence of the best gems of thoughts in the Kural, a living ethic of love and liberation." Indeed, many claim that the Tirukural is man's earliest statement of the ostensibly contemporary ecumenical tenets, for it is free of the dogmatic bias that commonly attends religious scriptures. The Father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi, took to these verses in his own spiritual life, telling his people, "Only a few of us know the name of Tiruvalluvar. The North Indians do not know the name of the great saint. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him."

One of the hallmarks of Saint Tiruvalluvar's genius was his ability to deftly define and subtly delineate Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Spiritual Path, to all men equally, never limiting his audience to a sectarian view. Even when he speaks directly of God, Whom he addresses as Adi Bhagavan, Iraivan and Kadavul-ancient Tamil words for Supreme God Siva- the weaver's broad heart praises not the God of this faith or that, but sings his panegyric to "God Primordial," "the Incomparable One," "the Gracious One" or "the Compassionate One." In other words, everyone's God.

Having honored the Worshipful One, the weaver then praises rain, for without rain's gift of life all the human experience would be impossible. The third chapter speaks of renunciation, santivasa, for to him the renunciate monk is the most noble exemplar of humanity, the highest of souls, the minister of Sanatana Dharma, nowadays called Hinduism in English, Indu Samayam in Tamil, Hindutva in Sanskrit, Hindouisme in French, Hinduismo in Spanish, Religione Hindu in Italian, and Hinduismus in German. He exalts renunciation as a way of life opposed to that of the householder, encouraging ardent souls seeking the realization of their own True Being to take up their faith with vigor and to live the detached, selfless life of a renunciate-noninvolvement in the joys and sorrows of the world, which he also describes in minute detail in other chapters. Without giving us a hint of what he is up to, the weaver has thus defined in his first three chapters the three fundamental dimensions of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy- God, world and soul, known in Tamil as Pati, pasam and pasu. It is indicative of his subtle literary style that Tiruvalluvar begins the very first verse with the first letter of the Tamil alphabet, "A," and ends the last line of verse 1,330 with the final letter, "N," quietly informing us that he has covered all human concerns, from A to Z.

 

 
CONTENTS
 
 
Porulatakkam
 
Dedication   V
Introduction   Xiii
 
PART ONE: ON VIRTUE
 
  Section I: Prologue  
  Introduction 4
Chapter 1 Praising God 7
Chapter 2 The Importance of Rain 11
Chapter 3 Greatness of Renunciates 15
Chapter 4 Asserting Virtue's Power 19
  Section II: The Way of the Householder  
  Introduction 24
Chapter 5 Family life 27
Chapter 6 The Good Wife 31
Chapter 7 The Blessing of Children 35
Chapter 8 Possessing Love 39
Chapter 9 Hospitality 43
Chapter 10 Speaking Pleasant Words 47
Chapter 11 Gratitude 51
Chapter 12 Impartiality 54
Chapter 13 Possession of Self-Control 59
Chapter 14 Possession of Virtuous Conduct 63
Chapter 15 Not Coveting Another's Wife 67
Chapter 16 Possession of Forbearance 71
Chapter 17 Avoidance of Envy 75
Chapter 18 Avoidance of Covetousness 79
Chapter 19 Avoidance of Backbiting 83
Chapter 20 Avoidance of Pointless Speach 87
Chapter 21 Dread of Sinful Deeds 91
Chapter 22 Understanding One's Duty to Give 95
Chapter 23 Charity 99
Chapter 24 Glory 103
  Section III: The Way of the Renunciate  
  Introduction 108
Chapter 25 Possession of Compassion 113
Chapter 26 Abstaining from Eating Meat 117
Chapter 27 Austerity 121
Chapter 28 Deceptive Conduct 125
Chapter 29 Avoidance of Fraud 129
Chapter 30 Truthfulness 133
Chapter 31 Avoidance of Anger 137
Chapter 32 Avoidance of Injuring Others 141
Chapter 33 Avoidance of Killing 145
Chapter 34 Impermanence of All Things 149
Chapter 35 Renunciation 153
Chapter 36 Knowledge of Truth 157
Chapter 37 Eradication of Desire 161
  Section IV: Destiny  
  Introduction 164
Chapter 38 Destiny 167
 
PART TWO: ON WEALTH
 
  Section V: Royalty  
  Introduction 176
Chapter 39 The Merits of the King 179
Chapter 40 Learning 183
Chapter 41 The Neglect of Learning 187
Chapter 42 Learning by Listening 191
Chapter 43 Possession of Wisdom 195
Chapter 44 Guarding Against Faults 199
Chapter 45 Gaining Support from the Great 203
Chapter 46 Avoidance of Base Company 207
Chapter 47 Deliberate Before Acting 211
Chapter 48 Understanding Strength 215
Chapter 49 Understanding Timeliness 219
Chapter 50 Understanding the Right Place 223
Chapter 51 Testing and Trusting Men 227
Chapter 52 Testing and Employing Men 231
Chapter 53 Fellowship of Kindred 235
Chapter 54 Avoiding Unmindfulness 239
Chapter 55 Just Reign 243
Chapter 56 Unjust Reign 247
Chapter 57 Avoidance of Tyranny 251
Chapter 58 The Kindly Look 255
Chapter 59 Espionage 259
Chapter 60 Possession of Industriousness 263
Chapter 61 Avoidance of Laziness 267
Chapter 62 Perseverance 271
Chapter 63 Being Undaunted by Troubles 275
  Section VI: Ministers  
  Introduction 280
Chapter 64 Ministers 283
Chapter 65 Eloquence 287
Chapter 66 Purity of Action 291
Chapter 67 Resoluteness of Action 295
Chapter 68 Modes of Action 299
Chapter 69 Ambassadors
303
Chapter 70 Associating with Monarchs 307
Chapter 71 Discerning Unspoken Thoughts 311
Chapter 72 Judging the Audience 315
Chapter 73 Not Dreading the Audience 319
  Section VII: Qualities of Country  
  Introduction 324
Chapter 74 The Country 327
Chapter 75 Fortresses 331
Chapter 76 The Ways of Acquiring Wealth 335
Chapter 77 Merits of the Army 339
Chapter 78 Military Pride 343
Chapter 79 Friendship 347
Chapter 80 Testing Fitness for Friendship 351
Chapter 81 Old Familiarity 355
Chapter 82 Harmful Friendship 359
Chapter 83 False Friendship 363
Chapter 84 Folly 367
Chapter 85 Ignorance 371
Chapter 86 Hatred 375
Chapter 87 Merits of Enmity 379
Chapter 88 Understanding the Nature of Enmity 383
Chapter 89 Internal Enmity 387
Chapter 90 Not Offending the Great 391
Chapter 91 Being Led by Women 395
Chapter 92 Wanton Women 399
Chapter 93 The Avoidance of Drunkenness 403
Chapter 94 Gambling 407
Chapter 95 Medicine 411
  Appendix  
  Introduction 416
Chapter 96 Nobility 419
Chapter 97 Honor 423
Chapter 98 Greatness 427
Chapter 99 Perfect Goodness 431
Chapter 100 Possession of Courtesy 435
Chapter 101 Wealth That Benefits No One 439
Chapter 102 Possession of Modesty 443
Chapter 103 Advancing the Community 447
Chapter 104 Farming 451
Chapter 105 Poverty 455
Chapter 106 Begging 459
Chapter 107 Dread of Bogging 463
Chapter 108 Baseness 467
Conclusion   471
Glossary   473
Index   507
Resources   547
Colophon   549
About Gurudeva    
A Few Unusual Young Man    
Mini-Mala Giftshop    
Sample Pages




















Tirukural

Item Code:
IDJ264
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2000
ISBN:
8170173906
Language:
An American English and Modern Tamil Translations of an Ethical Masterpiece
Size:
8.6" X 6.0"
Pages:
549 (140 Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book:1.0 kg
Price:
$50.00
Discounted:
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Back of the Book

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a living legend, yoga master and author of Merging with Siva, recognized the immense value of the Tirukural in 1949 as a young seeker in Sri Lanka. Decades later he instructed two of his swamis to translate it from classical Tamil into American English and had renowned artist in South India illustrate the 108 chapters. For the first time, a long-neglected and much-needed rendering into modern Tamil is included, making the obscure verses accessible to one and all. Here is the fruit of those efforts-the gentle, profound world of Asian ethics and simple humanness. Yet, Tirukural's universality makes it a book you can share wit anyone. Its charming wit and common sense will uplift and inspire you and your whole family.

"There hardly exists in the literature of the world a collection of maxims in which we find such lofty wisdom."

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Humanitarian

"Only a few of us know the name of Tiruvalluvar. The North Indians do not know the name of the great saint. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him."

Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Modern India

"The Kural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature ? one of the highest and purest expressions of human thought."

M. Ariel, Historian

" Tirukural alone is enough to edify the world. It contains all things, and there is nothing which it does not contain."

Tiru Naganar, Tamil Scholar

Form the Jacket

Tiruvalluvar, the poet-saint, or rather the saint-poet, lived in the hamlet now called Chennai about 2,000 years ago. Tirukural, his work, is a book for universal acceptance, ulakappodumarai . The very first votive offering is unto the Omnipotent. "Adi Bhagvan mudatre ulagu," and reflects the very words found in the Ishavasya Upanishad, "Ishavasyam-idam Sarvam. "The aphorisms (couplets) are full of practical wisdom touching on all aspects of an ideal life. Though there have been several English translations, the present one is excellent in that the verses are lucid and in simple style. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, of international renown, has done a monumental service in having Tirukural translated in English and modern Tamil so that this work of wisdom from the Weaver reaches a very large number of aspirants.

His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswathi, Spiritual Head of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam; Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Tirukural not a mere book to gain wisdom but a means for knowing Truth. Such an authoritative source of knowledge has been crowned by the holy hands of His Divinity, Sivaya Subramuniyaswamigal, whose continuous, untiring dedicated service will become the canon to destroy the forts of ignorance. His devoted, undiluted work for twenty years to complete this Herculean task in a flawless manner reflects his adoration and faith in Sri Tiruvalluvar and Tirukural . I have studied many commentaries on Tirukural in Tamil, but I felt the spirit was missing in all of them. But in this unique book, the life, spirit and meaning are well preserved. It will enlighten millions of people to gain the wisdom herein and lead a meaningful life. I am sure this book is bound to correct the cankered mind of the youth and show them the path of reclamation. The pictorial representations in the book will help the children and youth to understand easily the valuable message of this ancient great epic. Hail Hinduism!

His Holiness Sri Sri Swami Buaji Maharaj, Centenarian, Founder and Head of Indo-American Yoga-Vedanta Society; New York, USA

I am amazed at the depth and clarity of this American English translation of the Tirukural . This work, which has been undertaken by two sannyasins with great love and devotion under the guidance of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, makes the words of wisdom of the Tamil Sage Tiruvalluvar relating to many aspects of human activity as relevant to the modern world of today as they were 2,200 years ago.

Shiva Pasupati, President's Counsel; Former Attorney General of Sri Lanka; President, Australian Tamil Foundation; Strathfield, Australia

To comment on this holy book Tirukural, translated into modern American English from the holy devotional Tamil language, "is like carrying coal to Newcastle." It is an accepted fact that the Tamil language is the Gods' language given to the Tamils by Lord Ganesha. It is as old as Saivism. It has stood the test of times, such as wars, earthquakes and foreign invasion. Surely and certainly Tirukural will become a handbook to those interested in a humble and modest life.

Dr. Pundit K.N. Navaratnam, M.A.F.A., F.A.A.; Jyotisha Marthand, National Astrologer of Australia; Sivathondan Center; Hallam, Australia

The translation of this great classic has been done to honor Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Sri Lanka, the Self-realized mystic of the highest order and spiritual beacon light who preached universal love: every country is your country and every person your kinsman, seek God within and see God in everyone and everywhere. The introductory chapters and comments by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami give luster to the translations. The watercolor paintings appearing with each chapter give the cultural background for those not familiar with Hindu Culture. This book should adorn the libraries of the world and find a place in every home. It is a happy significance that the book is being published at the time of the installation of the 133-foot-tall Tiruvalluvar granite statue at Kanya Kumari in South India to proclaim India's cultural contributions to the world.

Tiru M. Arumugam, President, Sivathondan Society UK; London, England

Now, the 2.200-year-old Kural, ever youthful, presents itself in popular American English and modern Tamil. We see the genesis of this project in the ever-fulfilling sankalpa will, of our venerated Satguru Sivayoga Swamigal. We sense the universal transmission of our Satguru Yogaswami's grace through Gurudeva Sivaya Subramaniyaswami's dedicated service. Eppavo Mudintha Kerrym ? Accomplished is His will. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy says, "A man is only qualified to translate an ancient text when he has really participated in, and not merely observed the outer and inner life of its time and identified this time with his own. All this evidently requires a far longer, more roundabout and self-denying discipline," This criterion is met here by the translator of Tirukural, whose life has been molded by the religious, ethical and social codes enunciated in the Kural. Sage Tiruvalluvar's Kural, translated into American English and modern Tamil, has retained its power to transform one's psyche.
Vimala Krishnapillai, Ph.D., Lecturer. Faculty of Education, University of Colombo; Joint Trustee of the Sivayogar Swami Thiruvadi Trust; Colombo, Sri Lanka

The divine poet through his gift of Tirukural gives maxims to serve as guidance for all classes, sections, denominations, etc., in the world. Tirukural couplets have the added significance of providing invaluable advice for all times, as it takes into consideration the wider aspects, with necessary changes, of human nature beyond national, religious and linguistic boundaries. Tirukural gives added value because the author, Tiruvalluvar, had the rare distinction of having lived the ideal life as portrayed in his immortal work. Tirukural shows a way of life applicable to all sections of society, from kings and nobles down to the common man. This teaching echoes the sentiments expressed in many other religious texts, such as Tirumantiram, Naladiyar, Saiva Tirumuraigal of the Nayanars and Vaishnava Prapanthams of the Alwars. Good conduct with abiding moral values and sincere brotherhood are the centerpieces of Tiruvalluvar's teachings. Kindness to fellow human beings, full sense of humanity and human values will ensure a better world, according to the tenets of Tirukural . In a world full of turmoil, the Tirukural stands as a beacon to a peaceful way of life, and this coupled with the daily recitation of the Panchakshara Mantra, "Namasivaya, "found at the heart of the Vedas, will ensure peace and well being.

Dr. T.S. Sambamurthy Sivachariar, Head of the South India Archaka Sangam; Head Priest, Shree Kalikambal Kovil; Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

The Tirukural was very dear to Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna. Under his holy feet I have been brought up as one of his devotees from my early age of eight years. Whenever I visited, he spoke to me, directed and blessed me always through the sacred Kural . In 1949 with Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami made a vow to bring together the best of both the East and West. In 1999 with his latest book, Tirukural, he has successfully brought this to the West. Referring to the statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar at Kanya Kumari, Subramuniyaswami states, "While America's Statue of Liberty is a metal monument to political freedom and social promise. Tiruvalluvar stands as a stone statement of political wisdom, social duty and the spiritual promise of dharma." We should not confine Tiruvalluvar only to Tamil Nadu. He belongs to the world. Tirukural is beyond race, religion and nationality. It will enrich the life of a person as he or she journeys along this Eternal Path. The wisdom of the weaver is a vital part of our lives, and it will pave the way for success in life.

Tiru A. Kandiah, Ph.D.; Author of Malarum Manamum; Former Head, Department of Tamil,University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka; Former Professor, University of London; Sydney, Australia

Dedication

Samarpanam

This dedication is three-fold: First to honor my Satguru, Siva Yogaswami, the lauded and proclaimed pontiff of the three million Jaffna Tamil People, the 161st successor in the esteemed line of the Nandinatha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara, and to Tiru Mylvaganam, whom Yogaswami requested to squeeze grapes into juice for me with his own hands while I sat facing the devotees at the satguru's left side in 1949. Mylvaganam was also present at the opening of the Sri Subramuniya Ashram in Alaveddy in the early 70s, and years later at the opening of the Subramuniya Kottam in Kopay, where he lives today. In recent years, despite the terrible conflicts in his country, this great man translated 800 of our English verses into modern Tamil which appear in this edition for the next generation. Long ago, Yogaswami gave a sadhana to him to memorize Tirukural and to recite some of the verses daily. Humorously, the youthful, Oxford-educated Mylvaganam said, "Swami, what if I forget some days?" Yogaswami said, "Then I will come as a centipede and bite you." Mylvaganam has testified now, at 90 years of age that he has been bitten forty times or more, always soon after he had neglected to recite the verses. He said, "I now see that Yogaswami was preparing me to translate for Gurudeva into modern Tamil all the verses I memorized so many years ago." We also dedicate this book to Justice of Peace Tiru S. Subramaniam, who witnessed Satguru Yogaswami's giving me, as a gesture of ordination, a slap on the back as I was leaving his compound one morning, by which he transferred his samskaras, or vital divine spiritual energies.

 

Introduction

 

Arimukam

MANY YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS FIRST IN SRI LANKA- THAT WAS IN 1949-1 MADE A VOW TO BRING TOGETHER THE BEST OF THE EAST AND THE BEST of the West. Living with a traditional Saivite family that in- formally adopted me in those early days, I was introduced to the Tirukural. I found it to be one of the most important scriptures in all of Asia, so enchanting and so very practical. It contains wondrously no-nonsense insights on life, teaching us how to deal with the various feelings and circumstances that we encounter in our internal life and our interactions with others. In this sense, the Tirukural is the most accessible and relevant sacred text I know, applying to everyday matters and common concerns.

The Tirukural is a 2,200-year-old South Indian Dravidian classic on ethical living. Not unaware that there are advocates of later dates (from ca 200 bce down to ca 400 ce) we honor here the prevalent Tamil tradition. Its 1,330 verses were written by a Tamil weaver sage named Tiruvalluvar. His work is called Tirukural in the Tamil language. Tiru means "holy" or "sacred," and kural describes a brief verse or literary couplet.

The poetic masterpiece you are holding in your hands is one of the most revered scriptures in South India, where every child learns to recite its verses by heart. Hindus there regard it with the same reverence that Buddhists regard the Buddha's Dhammapada and Christians regard Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount." In fact, other religions also claim it as their own. The Jains proclaim it theirs, saying it expresses precisely their ideals of nonviolence, of dharma, of asceticism, vegetarianism and other aspects of Jainism. The Christians have argued that the Tirukural is so profound and filled with such compassion that it must have been influenced by the Christian missionaries who, their legends say, carne to South India in the first century CE (300 years after native historians assert it was written). Many are surprised to find that the Tirukural is still sworn upon in the courts of law in South India's state of Tamil Nadu, just as the Christian Bible and Muslim Koran are sworn on elsewhere. Just as the Sikhs worship their holy text, Adi Granth, devout Hindus venerate with a sacred ceremony, called puja, the weaver's scripture in temples and home shrines. Albert Schweitzer, medical missionary and Christian theologian in Africa, considered it one of the grandest achievements of the human mind, writing, "Like the Buddha and the Bhagavad Gita, the Kural desires inner freedom from the world and a mind free from hatred. You find the quintessence of the best gems of thoughts in the Kural, a living ethic of love and liberation." Indeed, many claim that the Tirukural is man's earliest statement of the ostensibly contemporary ecumenical tenets, for it is free of the dogmatic bias that commonly attends religious scriptures. The Father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi, took to these verses in his own spiritual life, telling his people, "Only a few of us know the name of Tiruvalluvar. The North Indians do not know the name of the great saint. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him."

One of the hallmarks of Saint Tiruvalluvar's genius was his ability to deftly define and subtly delineate Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Spiritual Path, to all men equally, never limiting his audience to a sectarian view. Even when he speaks directly of God, Whom he addresses as Adi Bhagavan, Iraivan and Kadavul-ancient Tamil words for Supreme God Siva- the weaver's broad heart praises not the God of this faith or that, but sings his panegyric to "God Primordial," "the Incomparable One," "the Gracious One" or "the Compassionate One." In other words, everyone's God.

Having honored the Worshipful One, the weaver then praises rain, for without rain's gift of life all the human experience would be impossible. The third chapter speaks of renunciation, santivasa, for to him the renunciate monk is the most noble exemplar of humanity, the highest of souls, the minister of Sanatana Dharma, nowadays called Hinduism in English, Indu Samayam in Tamil, Hindutva in Sanskrit, Hindouisme in French, Hinduismo in Spanish, Religione Hindu in Italian, and Hinduismus in German. He exalts renunciation as a way of life opposed to that of the householder, encouraging ardent souls seeking the realization of their own True Being to take up their faith with vigor and to live the detached, selfless life of a renunciate-noninvolvement in the joys and sorrows of the world, which he also describes in minute detail in other chapters. Without giving us a hint of what he is up to, the weaver has thus defined in his first three chapters the three fundamental dimensions of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy- God, world and soul, known in Tamil as Pati, pasam and pasu. It is indicative of his subtle literary style that Tiruvalluvar begins the very first verse with the first letter of the Tamil alphabet, "A," and ends the last line of verse 1,330 with the final letter, "N," quietly informing us that he has covered all human concerns, from A to Z.

 

 
CONTENTS
 
 
Porulatakkam
 
Dedication   V
Introduction   Xiii
 
PART ONE: ON VIRTUE
 
  Section I: Prologue  
  Introduction 4
Chapter 1 Praising God 7
Chapter 2 The Importance of Rain 11
Chapter 3 Greatness of Renunciates 15
Chapter 4 Asserting Virtue's Power 19
  Section II: The Way of the Householder  
  Introduction 24
Chapter 5 Family life 27
Chapter 6 The Good Wife 31
Chapter 7 The Blessing of Children 35
Chapter 8 Possessing Love 39
Chapter 9 Hospitality 43
Chapter 10 Speaking Pleasant Words 47
Chapter 11 Gratitude 51
Chapter 12 Impartiality 54
Chapter 13 Possession of Self-Control 59
Chapter 14 Possession of Virtuous Conduct 63
Chapter 15 Not Coveting Another's Wife 67
Chapter 16 Possession of Forbearance 71
Chapter 17 Avoidance of Envy 75
Chapter 18 Avoidance of Covetousness 79
Chapter 19 Avoidance of Backbiting 83
Chapter 20 Avoidance of Pointless Speach 87
Chapter 21 Dread of Sinful Deeds 91
Chapter 22 Understanding One's Duty to Give 95
Chapter 23 Charity 99
Chapter 24 Glory 103
  Section III: The Way of the Renunciate  
  Introduction 108
Chapter 25 Possession of Compassion 113
Chapter 26 Abstaining from Eating Meat 117
Chapter 27 Austerity 121
Chapter 28 Deceptive Conduct 125
Chapter 29 Avoidance of Fraud 129
Chapter 30 Truthfulness 133
Chapter 31 Avoidance of Anger 137
Chapter 32 Avoidance of Injuring Others 141
Chapter 33 Avoidance of Killing 145
Chapter 34 Impermanence of All Things 149
Chapter 35 Renunciation 153
Chapter 36 Knowledge of Truth 157
Chapter 37 Eradication of Desire 161
  Section IV: Destiny  
  Introduction 164
Chapter 38 Destiny 167
 
PART TWO: ON WEALTH
 
  Section V: Royalty  
  Introduction 176
Chapter 39 The Merits of the King 179
Chapter 40 Learning 183
Chapter 41 The Neglect of Learning 187
Chapter 42 Learning by Listening 191
Chapter 43 Possession of Wisdom 195
Chapter 44 Guarding Against Faults 199
Chapter 45 Gaining Support from the Great 203
Chapter 46 Avoidance of Base Company 207
Chapter 47 Deliberate Before Acting 211
Chapter 48 Understanding Strength 215
Chapter 49 Understanding Timeliness 219
Chapter 50 Understanding the Right Place 223
Chapter 51 Testing and Trusting Men 227
Chapter 52 Testing and Employing Men 231
Chapter 53 Fellowship of Kindred 235
Chapter 54 Avoiding Unmindfulness 239
Chapter 55 Just Reign 243
Chapter 56 Unjust Reign 247
Chapter 57 Avoidance of Tyranny 251
Chapter 58 The Kindly Look 255
Chapter 59 Espionage 259
Chapter 60 Possession of Industriousness 263
Chapter 61 Avoidance of Laziness 267
Chapter 62 Perseverance 271
Chapter 63 Being Undaunted by Troubles 275
  Section VI: Ministers  
  Introduction 280
Chapter 64 Ministers 283
Chapter 65 Eloquence 287
Chapter 66 Purity of Action 291
Chapter 67 Resoluteness of Action 295
Chapter 68 Modes of Action 299
Chapter 69 Ambassadors
303
Chapter 70 Associating with Monarchs 307
Chapter 71 Discerning Unspoken Thoughts 311
Chapter 72 Judging the Audience 315
Chapter 73 Not Dreading the Audience 319
  Section VII: Qualities of Country  
  Introduction 324
Chapter 74 The Country 327
Chapter 75 Fortresses 331
Chapter 76 The Ways of Acquiring Wealth 335
Chapter 77 Merits of the Army 339
Chapter 78 Military Pride 343
Chapter 79 Friendship 347
Chapter 80 Testing Fitness for Friendship 351
Chapter 81 Old Familiarity 355
Chapter 82 Harmful Friendship 359
Chapter 83 False Friendship 363
Chapter 84 Folly 367
Chapter 85 Ignorance 371
Chapter 86 Hatred 375
Chapter 87 Merits of Enmity 379
Chapter 88 Understanding the Nature of Enmity 383
Chapter 89 Internal Enmity 387
Chapter 90 Not Offending the Great 391
Chapter 91 Being Led by Women 395
Chapter 92 Wanton Women 399
Chapter 93 The Avoidance of Drunkenness 403
Chapter 94 Gambling 407
Chapter 95 Medicine 411
  Appendix  
  Introduction 416
Chapter 96 Nobility 419
Chapter 97 Honor 423
Chapter 98 Greatness 427
Chapter 99 Perfect Goodness 431
Chapter 100 Possession of Courtesy 435
Chapter 101 Wealth That Benefits No One 439
Chapter 102 Possession of Modesty 443
Chapter 103 Advancing the Community 447
Chapter 104 Farming 451
Chapter 105 Poverty 455
Chapter 106 Begging 459
Chapter 107 Dread of Bogging 463
Chapter 108 Baseness 467
Conclusion   471
Glossary   473
Index   507
Resources   547
Colophon   549
About Gurudeva    
A Few Unusual Young Man    
Mini-Mala Giftshop    
Sample Pages




















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