Tirukkural

Tirukkural

by Saint Thiruvalluvar

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Overview

Tirukkural also known as the Kural, sometimes spelt 'Thirukkural, is a classic of couplets or Kurals (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) celebrated by Tamils. It was authored by Thiruvalluvar, a poet who is said to have lived anytime between the 2nd and 6th centuries AD. It is undoubtedly one of the finest wisdom literatures India has ever produced. Although the exact period of its composition is still disputed, scholars agree that it was produced in the late Tamil Sangam period. The Thirukkural expounds on various aspects of life and is one of the most important works in the Tamil language. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is known: Tamil marai (Tamil Vedas); poyyamozhi (words that never fail); and Daiva nool (divine text). The book is considered to precede Manimekalai and Silapathikaram since they both acknowledge the Kural text.

Thirukkural (or the Kural) is a collection of 1330 Tamil couplets organised into 133 chapters. Each chapter has a specific subject ranging from "ploughing a piece of land" to "ruling a country". According to the LIFCO Tamil-Tamil-English dictionary, the Tamil word Kural literally means "short verse", and is typified by the Venpa metre that consists of two lines. In the aspect of metre & brevity, and the profoundity of expression, it can be compared with the Sutra style of Sanskrit poetry. Thirukkural comes under one of the four categories of Venpas (Tamil verses) called Kural Venpa. The 1330 couplets are arranged into 3 main sections and 133 chapters. Each chapter contains 10 couplets. A couplet consists of seven cirs, with four cirs on the first line and three on the second. A cir is a single or a combination of more than one Tamil word. For example, Thirukkural is a cir formed by combining the two words Thiru and Kural, i.e. Thiru + Kural = Thirukkural. It has been translated to various other languages.

There are claims and counter claims as to the authorship of the book and to the exact number of couplets written by Thiruvalluvar. The first instance of the author's name mentioned as Thiruvalluvar is found to be several centuries later in a song of praise called Garland of Thiruvalluvar in Thiruvalluva Malai.

Most of the Researchers and great Tamil Scholars like George Uglow Pope or G.U. Pope who had spent many years in Tamil Nadu and translated many Tamil texts into English, which includes Thirukkural.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466378216
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 12/28/2011
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 68
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.16(d)

About the Author

Tiruvalluvar (First Century BCE) was a Tamil poet born in southern India. As with many Indian sages, there is some uncertainty concerning the details of his life. His date of birth may have been as early as 200 BCE or as late as 800 CE. His birth place is usually said to be Madras (now called Chennai) where a temple has been built in his name. However, an argument has been made that he was a king of the region of Kanyakumari at the southern tip of India, renouncing his estate in the same manner as Gotama Buddha. There is also a claim made of Brahmin descent, although this has to be explained by recourse to illegitimacy. The 'Tiru' part of his name is an honorific given to him as a mark of respect. 'Valluvar' is perhaps a respectful form of 'Valluvan', which indicates 'weaver' or 'town crier'. This in turn may refer to his caste or occupation, or may be his name. The uncertainty arises, of course, because the occupation he is most famous for is that of poet.

Tiruvalluvar wrote in the Dravidian language of southern India, an older tongue than the Aryan languages of the north. He expressed his philosophy in the Kural, a collection of 1330 short, pithy couplets, primarily in the form of maxims. These are divided into three main sections: virtue, wealth, and love, but the subject matter ranges far wider than these titles suggest. Tiruvalluvar covers, for example, such things as gambling, espionage, medicine, folly and military forts. There is very little abstract philosophizing or reference to the transcendental; he is practical and down to earth. Tiruvalluvar is aware that poverty can be utterly destructive and that virtue without some wealth to sustain it is rarely possible. He also recognizes the essential part played by the farmer in supporting society. As for learning, while Tiruvalluvar praises it, he emphasizes that it is something that is useless unless passed on to others.

The word "kural" applies in general to something that is short or abridged. More specifically it describes a poetic couplet in which the two lines have fourteen syllables. In the Kural the couplets are arranged in groups of 10 in 133 chapters. Each chapter deals with a particular subject and gives Tiruvalluvar's views on different aspects of it. By this means he is able to put forward a wide ranging humanitarian guide to life at home and in the local community. In the extracts that follow, the number of the couplet is indicated.

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