Thirukkural, meaning ‘Sacred couplet,’ is a Tamil Classic written by Saint Thiruvalluvar. The author is said to have lived sometime between the 1st century BC and the 8th century AD. It’s the only literature translated into many of the world languages. The verses hold a treasure of principles and information that can be applied for any occasions, fields and times, irrespective of religion and race.
Thirukkural has three main sections as Righteousness, Resources or Wealth, and Love and Happiness. Under the above three categories, 1330 couplets have been arranged serially into 133 chapters of ten each. The names of the chapters are self-explanatory to understand what the author wanted to preach and guide.
In keeping with the land’s tradition, the book starts out with ‘Praise of God’ as the first chapter. Author emphasizes the fact man cannot take pride in his self, but appreciates the omniscient and omnipresent Almighty. Without God, it is impossible to lead a happy life. Under ‘Rain’s importance’ chapter, the value of rain and water is highlighted. Without water, the life on earth becomes impossible and chaotic. The significance of righteousness is amply explained in the chapter ‘Value of Integrity.’
What are the essential ingredients of a happy life? How to conduct ourselves towards it? Chapters under ‘Domestic Life and its virtues ‘ provide the detailed answers. Getting Children, Possessing love, Hospitality, Pleasing talks, Gratitude, Impartiality, Humility, Realizing Truth, etc. Are some of the subjects discussed nicely. Virtues or attitudes that make a true and happy life are treated under the topics like Patience, Envy, Evil deeds, Kindness, Nonviolence, Penance, Honesty, Veracity, Anger, Renunciation, Fate, etc..
The ways and means of wealth are explained through the chapters of Able King, Education, Positive Attitude, Laziness, Time Awareness, Judgement, Power of Action, Administration, Need for Army and Fortification, Friendship, Hatred, Enemy, Gambling, Perfectness, Courtesy, Hostility, Medicine, Remembrance, etc.. The value of time cannot be expressed more beautifully than by the couplet reproduced here below.
Who think the pendant world itself to subjugate, with mind unruffled for the fitting time, must wait.
The author has defined the love and sex, depicted the signs of love, delineated the methods of seduction, seclusion and reunion by scripting 250 verses under the third part of his work named ‘ Love and Joy.’ Premarital and post-marital love is described in an absorbing and elegant style: By reading these couplets, one is certain to get sensual feelings instantly.
It’s amazing to find that Thiruvalluvar had such a vision and ingenuity to present the invaluable and enduring tips and principles of life in a sleek and crisp two-lined verses. A translated version cannot match the original work. One should learn the language in which the literature is written, to admire and understand the classic like Thirukkural.