Often, we are so much into philosophising our existence and building theories for spiritual and material progress that we actually miss out on the ways to bring out the lofty philosophical conclusions and realisations into our daily life. This process of intense intellectualisation has even, over the course of history, ripped the spiritual from the material with a forceful blow, biffurcating the two into seemingly irreconcilable opposites. Without application and the experience that follows, philosophy remains like a juicy ripe mango left on its tree; where we enjoy its beauty and fullness but remain completely clueless about its taste.
The ancients knew the complex mechanics of life. Millenias of experimentation have opened their consciousness to worlds deep within, to states of equanimous understanding, where opposites are reconciled and where the absolute exists in its entirety, bereft of anything else. Reaching this state of supreme bliss came to be the very core of living. Consequently, to transmit to human beings the ways to reach their ultimate destiny, the realisation of their innermost essence, those ancient sages have crafted a wonderful culture and way of life, where each routine action is a step towards realisation. Unsurprisingly, one of the ways to bring lofty conclusions into practice is to carefully carve them into a strong and meaningful ethos.
Thiru Valluvar, was among those great sages. A mind that could perceive life and human interaction far into millenias ahead of his time. He deciphered the dynamics that could harmonise life, both at an individual and social level, towards reaching full human potential and at the same time not neglecting the quest for eternal truth.
His magnum opus, the Thirukkural, is a work unsurpassed in nature. Written some 2500 years ago, the Thirukkural verses are so vast and all encompassing in implication, that it forces one to assume that Thiruvalluvar was like a live instrument through which human life has revealed all its intricacies.
Our religious and spiritual traditions are tremendously rich with scriptures that house knowledge about everything in existence and even beyond existence. However, understanding and putting these into our daily life pattern has always been a sort gentle struggle. All our traditions agree on one thing, on a mundane but very real level, human beings are different and have varying levels of understanding. Bringing all of this difference into a productive, harmonious and spiritually conducive society is a challenge. The Thirukkal basically adresses this.
How? Thiruvalluvar, divides life into three major components and he tackles in his work, the ways to live through them harmoniously and without unecessary friction. They are three things to be fulfilled in life. This fulfilment leads to contentment and in the end life’s experience is meant to flower into spiritual realisation. These three components are:
- Aram – Dharma – Virtue
Aram is the part of the Thirukkural that deals with virtue. Righteous living, non-violence, self-restraint, The praise of God, Domestic Life are among the 38 chapters of the Thirukkural that fall under Aram.
2. Porul – Artha – Wealth
Porul deals with wealth and its mechanics. This section has 70 chapters, some of them being about, Learning, Ignorance, Selection and Employment, Absence of Terrorism, the Excellence of and Army, Ways of accumulation wealth, the way of maintaining the family.
3. Inbam – Kaama – Love
The third major aspect with which the Thirukkural deals is Inbam, or Love. Among the 25 chapters in this section are, Mutual Desire, Soliloquy, The abandonment of reserver.
Well, most of the woes of modern life arise from the non-fulfillment of one of those three elements of life. People today are frustrated with the accumulation of wealth and the consequences of this unguided and unwise race is being felt inside social nucleus, through a disturbed family life, slanted upbringing of children and all types of social problematics. Couples no longer know how to love. Faith in God is at its all time low and self-restraint and non-violence are regarded as signs of frailty and cowardliness. We hear everyday of people being cheated in business dealings, of corruption and of theft.
In this era of great turmoil, the Thirukkural shines bright as a saviour. It provides tested behavioural solutions. It is the panacea to our woes!
This article is the first of a series about the Thirukkural and the treasure that it is for us, human beings. Let us seize the Tamil New Year as an opportunity to re-enginneer our lives towards betterment.
Join us in making the Thirukkural part of daily life!
Some useful resources:
The weaver’s wisdom is a wonderful translation of the Thirukkural into modern English, by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. The book is available for online reading or download through the above link.
- Tirouk Koural de Tirouvallouvar by Mootoocoomaren Sangeelee, is very good French translation of the Thirukkural.
Malai Kovil Press Team