The entire gamut of Śastraic texts compressed into 1330 seven-word-verses
Christian missionary Bishop Caldwell, in his most popular work, claimed that Tirukkural “teaches the old Sankhya philosophy,” a Vedic darśanā (roughly translated as a school of philosophy). Yet the anti-Tamizh Dravidian movement has no qualms to institute a statue for him at the Marina Beach in Chennai, while simultaneously rejecting any relationship between Tamizh and Sanskrit.
Book review: Tirukkural, an abridgement of Śāstras – by Dr R Nagaswamy, Tamil Arts Academy & Giri. Price Rs. 150/-
So far Tirukkural, an outstanding Tamizh work of great depth and the highest brevity, has been ignorantly thought of as a “mere” collection of unordered, almost random, aphoristic verses. In fact, it is akin to Tolkappiyam (the oldest extant Tamizh text) in following the style of many ancient Vedic texts; that is, the form of Sutrās (Venbās).
Kural is the essence of the four Vedas (3); fits the four Purusharthas (as per Dharma Śastras) in three arthas, divisions (19); the truth that is in the Vedas is in the Kural given by the incarnation of Brahma himself (28) – cf. the King Ukiraperu Vazhuti as well made the same comparison writes Dr Nagaswamy
TAMIZH UPANISHAD: Now, Dr Nagaswamy has shown unequivocally that the Sutra style used in the composition is not the only similarity to the Vedic texts. Its entire structure, the order in which it deals with the various subject matters, is also thoroughly in accord with the Hindu Veda-Agamic tradition. To have missed this beautiful structure for so long is the greatest disservice done to the work and Tamizh language by the self-proclaimed aficionados of one of the foundational languages of Bharatiya civilisation (Samskriti). Perhaps these fanatics saw only their own poorly formed intellect in it, which is a random mess indeed.
In fact, verse 30 by Bharatam Padiya Perundevanar in Tiruvalluva Malai proclaims that Kural, being well above the rest of the literature, is on par with only the ancient Vedas, Mahabharatam, Ramayanam and Manu Dharma Śastra (முப்பாற்கு பாரதஞ்சீ ராம கதைமனுப் பண்டைமறை நேர்வன).
SELF-HATE MOVEMENT: The source for this confusion is the ignorance of these pseudo-intellects of many of the traditional commentaries available on the text which acknowledge the close kinship with the Vedic Śastraic texts. (கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன் 2004) The primary reason being a wanted ignorance of Sanskrit texts and the unwarranted reliance on shallow translations and commentaries of Christian missionaries, such as G U Pope. The ridiculousness of relying on a non-native student of the language for understanding one’s own mother tongue shows the psychological state of the so-called “self-respect movement” in Tamizh Nadu. To quote a few of the couplets from the traditional view as expressed in a eulogy on Tirukkural written by a collection of authors from great antiquity (obviously ignored by the “self-hate movement”):
செய்யா மொழிக்கும் திருவள் ளுவர்மொழிந்த
பொய்யா மொழிக்கும் பொருள் ஒன்றே
~ வெள்ளி வீதியார், திருவள்ளுவமாலை (23)
(Apaureshya Vedas and Tiruvaḷluvar’s Kural are the same)
ஓதற் கெளிதாய் உணர்தற் கரிதாகி
வேதப் பொருளாய் மிகவிளங்கித்
~ மாங்குடி மருதனார், திருவள்ளுவமாலை (24)
(An exemplary essence of the Vedas, the Kural, is effortless to recite but great in depth)
ஆரியமும் செந்தமிழும் ஆராய்ந் திதனினிது
சீரிய தென்றொன்றைச் செப்பரிதால் – ஆரியம்
வேதம் உடைத்துத் தமிழ்திரு வள்ளுவனார்
ஓது குறட்பா உடைத்து.
~ வண்ணக்கஞ் சாத்தனார் (43)
(The learned should not compare Tamizh and Sanskrit and claim superiority or inferiority for one over the other as Sanskrit has Vedas and Tamizh has Tirukkural)
Tiruvalluvamalai verses (numbers in parentheses): Kural is the essence of the four Vedas (3); fits the four Purusharthas (as per Dharma Śastras) in three arthas, divisions (19); the truth that is in the Vedas is in the Kural given by the incarnation of Brahma himself (28) – cf. the King Ukiraperu Vazhuti as well made the same comparison writes Dr Nagaswamy (Nagaswamy 2017: 111); which is more beautiful, the earliest text of Vedas or Kural which captures all their essence? (32); since ancient text of Vedas are difficult to understand Kural distils their essence for universal comprehension (33); since the highest truth of Vedas are contained in Kural the world is kept in the righteous path (37); whatever is fit for Manu and the rest of the Dharma Sastras alone is included by Tiruvalluva Nayannar (38); Kural is a Tamizh commentary on the essence of Vedas (42); the gist of all the Vedas and the six Darśanas are in the Kural (44).
The Kural starting with Akśaram corresponds with the Dr Nagaswamy’s identified structure of Tirukkural. It signifies the start of Bramaçarium (the phase of studentship in one’s life) which usually starts on the Vijayadasami Day even today, with the ritual of the child sat on the lap of the father and writing the first alphabet of their respective Indic languages (अ – அ – A).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE: Even non-textual evidence attests to such a mutually influential connection between the Tamizh and Sanskrit traditions. For example, Sangam-era Chera copper coins which were excavated from Karur in Tamizh Nadu there is an elephant that is shown to emerge from the seas. In fact, this motif is there across many such coins excavated across various parts of South India. This corresponds to none other than Iravatham, the elephant mount of Indira, which is considered to have emerged from the seas during Samudra Manthan. (இரா. நாகசாமி 2010)
STRUCTURE OF DHARMA ŚĀSTRAS AND THE KURAL: The Dharma Śastras divide the stages of life into different Aśramas (Brahmaçariam, Grahastam, Vānaprastam, Sanyāsam) and they are guided by the different goals of life, Puruśartha (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Mokśa; the first three being addressed as Trivarga in Sanskrit and Muppal in Kural’s commentaries and other Tamizh texts) each four in number (the same classification and interestingly the same order is as well followed in Kural). Varnaśrama is the merit-based classification of professions and aptitude-based assigning of professional responsibilities to people. This is also followed in Kural. Nīttar Perumai is the chapter on Brahmaçariam (the studentship stage in life where celibacy is practised). Sadly, in spite of a separate chapter on renunciation (Sanyās) by Tiruvaḷluvar later in the text, this chapter is confused with renunciation simply because celibacy is a characteristic feature at this stage of life as well. (Nagaswamy 2017: 71, 97) Why would such a work, one of the highest brevity, repeat concepts? The kama and Artha chapters follow the layout of Artaśastra and kāma Śastra (for example, Samyoga and Vipralambha corresponding to kalaviyal and karpiyyal). The style of the third section of the text, on kāma, is in the form of a dialogue for stage performance, similar to Silapatikaram. It follows the prescriptions of the Sanskrit text of Bharata and is similar to the Aham collection of Sangam literature. (கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன் 2004; Murali KV 2017)
Even a 1960s Dravidianist Mu. Va. categorically states that the third section of the Kural dealing with kāma as the subject is a Nātaka Kāvya, citing medieval texts as well as evidence. He even cites Anand Coomaraswamy. How refreshing for a Dravidian ideologue. In other words, it follows the Bharata’s Nātyaśastra’s nātyadārmi format (Agam) and while lokadārmi format is followed by Sangam literature such as Puram family. (கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன் 2004)
COMMON CONCEPTS, IDIOMATIC PHRASES AND CONTEXTUAL USE OF WORDS: Dr Nagaswamy also points out how certain traditional manuscripts of Manu define Aryavartā as the land between the mountain and the seas including the present day Tamizh Nadu, up to Kanyakumari. Even in Sangam literature, the Bharatiya dēsam is considered from the Himalayas to Kumari and the Tamizh speaking region being between Tirupathi (Tiruvengadam) and Kanyakumari (Kumari). (Nagaswamy 2017: 35)
Agaram in Tamizh is Akkaram in Prākrit and Akśaram in Sanskrit, explains Dr Nagaswamy. Here his epigraphical and multilingual skills come in to play, which has been either ignored by, or simply unknown to, the Dravidian racists (sepoys) and their Christian colonial masters. So the first word in the first Kural itself is a pan-India symbol of a common civilization shared amongst diverse landscapes, cultures, and languages.
According to a medieval commentator on the text, Parimelazhagar, the phrase ஆதி பகவன் (Ādi Bagavan) is a Sanskrit construction, as Tamizh Sandhi construct will be written as ஆதிப்பகவன். (கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன் 2004) So the unity across Tamizh and other Indian languages, including Sanskrit, has been continuously acknowledged until the recent Christian colonial rule. Interesting to note that how come a theology that does not believe in God (Jainism) be the belief system of Tiruvaḷluvar if the first Kural is considered a worship of the God? In fact, if going by the argument that the phrases used in Kural, namely அடி சேர்தல், தாள் சேர்தல், தாளை வணங்காத்தலை, இறைவன் அடிசேரல் does mean God (இறைவன் = God) then how can Jainism (which followers believe in the concept of Tīrtankaras, realised souls, but not God) be the religion of Tiruvaḷluvar? It only goes to expose the lack of academic integrity and a general dishonesty in such scholars. (Nagaswamy 2017: 41)
The Kural starting with Akśaram corresponds with the Dr Nagaswamy’s identified structure of Tirukkural. It signifies the start of Bramaçarium (the phase of studentship in one’s life) which usually starts on the Vijayadasami Day even today, with the ritual of the child sat on the lap of the father and writing the first alphabet of their respective Indic languages (अ – அ – A). This is the beginning of the Aśarama (ஆசரம்; stage) of life called Bramaçarium. In fact, the previously seen phrases correspond to the respect given to the Guru in Bramaçarium, namely prostrations to the Guru (pada ṣparśa) and humility in the presence of the Guru.
“Valluvar was the unparalleled integrator of this country, 2000 years ago, but it is a pity that his role has not been properly focused.” writes Dr Nagaswamy
What Dharma (விதி) is prescribed by the Dharma Śastras is also prescribed by the Kural. (Nagaswamy 2017: 43–44) To cite a handful of examples:
श्रुत्वा (ஓசை) स्पृष्ट्वा (ஊறும்) च दृष्ट्वा (ஒளி) च भुक्त्वा (சுவை) घ्रात्वा (நாற்றம்) च यो नरः।
न हृष्यति ग्लायति वा स विज्ञेयो जितैन्द्रियः (five senses)॥ (Manu 2.98)
சுவைஒளி ஊறுஓசை நாற்றமென ஐந்தின் (five senses)
வகைதெரிவான் கட்டே உலகு
That man is to be known as having subjugated his sense-organs, who, on having heard, or touched, or seen, or tasted, or smelt, anything, neither rejoices nor grieves. (www.wisdomlib.org 2016a)
வேண்டுதல் (कामात्मता) வேண்டாமை (अकामता) இலான்அடி சேர்ந்தார்க்கு
யாண்டும் இடும்பை இல
कामात्मता न प्रशस्ता न च इहैव अस्ति अकामता।
काम्यो हि वेदाधिगमः कर्मयोगश्च वैदिकः।। [Manu 2.2; Kulluka Bhatta (Nagaswamy 2017: 50–52)]
Kural 41 and 42
இல்வாழ்வான் என்பான் இயல்புடைய மூவர்க்கும்
நல்லாற்றின் நின்ற துணை (41)
यथा वायुं समाश्रित्य वर्तन्ते सर्वजन्तवः।
तथा गृहस्थमाश्रित्य वर्तन्ते सर्व आश्रमाः।। (Manu 3.77)
The householder (Grhastha) stands as the support (वर्तन्ते – நின்ற துணை) for all the other Āśramas as the creator of wealth. This interpretation is indeed verily supported by the next immediate Kural – இல்வாழ்வான் என்பான் துணை – and is in accord with the opinion of the pre-colonial commentators. (Nagaswamy 2017: 88–89)
துறந்தார்க்கும் துவ்வா தவர்க்கும் இறந்தார்க்கும்
இல்வாழ்வான் என்பான் துணை (42)
தென்புலத்தார் தெய்வம் விருந்தொக்கல் தானென்றாங்கு
ஐம்புலத்தாறு ஓம்பல் (पञ्च महायज्ञाः) தலை
पञ्च कॢप्ता महायज्ञाः प्रत्यहं गृहमेधिनाम् ॥(Manu 3.69)
Both the Kural and Dharma Śāstra use the same phraseology in their respective languages for the five-fold duties (yajñas) of the householder.
மனைமாட்சி இல்லாள்கண் இல்லாயின் வாழ்க்கை
எனைமாட்சித் தாயினும் இல். (52)
यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः।। (Manu 3.56)
Where women are honoured, there the gods rejoice; where, on the other hand, they are not honoured, there all rites are fruitless. (www.wisdomlib.org 2016b; Nagaswamy 2017: 128)
दिवा काकः कौशिकं हन्ति। रात्रौ कौशिकः काकम् इति।। (Arthaśastra IX.1)
பகல்வெல்லும் கூகையைக் (कौशिकं) காக்கை (काकः) இகல்வெல்லும்
வேந்தர்க்கு வேண்டும் பொழுது
The crow (काकः – காக்கை) will conquer an owl (कौशिकं – கூகை) in the daylight; similarly, the king needs to strike at the appropriate time to crush the enemy. (Nagaswamy 2017: 143)
இருபுனலும் வாய்ந்த மலையும் (पर्वतः) வருபுனலும் (नदी)
வல்லரணும் (दुर्ग) நாட்டிற்கு (जनपदा) உறுப்பு (रक्षस्थानानाम्)
नदीपर्वतदुर्ग जनपदारक्षस्थानानाम्।। (Arthaśastra II.3)
Rivers, mountains, and fortresses make a land blessed. (Nagaswamy 2017: 161–162)
ஒண்பொருள் காழ்ப்ப இயற்றியார்க் கெண்பொருள்
ஏனை இரண்டும் ஒருங்கு
वेश्यायाश्र्च इति त्रिवर्गप्रतिपत्तिः।। (Kāmasutra I.ii.17)
Whoever gains wealth gains the other two Arthās of life (Trīvarga) with ease. (Nagaswamy 2017: 163)
परिभवः द्रव्यनाशः … कामः
कामजस्तु मर्गय द्यूतं स्त्रियः पानमिति चतुरवर्गः।। (Arthaśastra VIII.3)
இருமனப் பெண்டிரும் (स्त्रियः) கள்ளும் (पानं) கவறும் (द्यूतं)
திருநீக்கப் பட்டார் தொடர்பு
Women of a certain profession, alcohol, and gambling will lead to the destruction of one’s wealth. (Nagaswamy 2017: 164)
Similarly, many more matching idiomatic phrases, concepts and words expressing a unique Hindu allegory is present throughout Tirukkural (Nagaswamy 2017: 121, 128, 153, 156–157; கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன் 2004) –
- Kural 57 and Manu 9.12 (நிறைகாக்கும் காப்பே – आत्मानमात्मना)
- Kural 62 and 64 and the Gita XIV.8 (மடியை – तमस्)
- Kural 581 and the Gita XIII.29 (மன்னவன் கண் – पश्य … पतिः)
- Several mentions of Hindu Gods and Goddess –
- Vishnu – தாமரைக் கண்ணான் [Kural 1103]
- Mahalakshmi – திரு [Kural 179, 519, 920], செய்யாள் [Kural 84], செய்யவள் [Kural 167], தாமரையினாள் [Kural 617]
- Mahalakshmi’s sister
- Indira – இந்திரன் [Kural 25]
- Kama – காமன் [Kural 1197]
- Kural 501 and Arthaśastra I.10 (நான்கின் – चतुर्विधे)
- Kural chapter 69 and Manu 7.63 to 7.64 (நூலாருள் நூல்வல்லன் – सर्वशास्त्रविशारदम्, உரு – वपुष्मान्, etc.)
- The chapter on “fate and karma” (ஊழ்) is set as the ultimate chapter in the section on Dharma (அறம்), in concordance with Yajñavalkya Smritī. (Nagaswamy 2017: 98)
It is obvious, from the above examples alone, how the order and structure flow with the information (meaning) conveyed when such a comparison is made, proving that Tirukkural is “no” random collection of pithy aphorisms as the half-literate “scholars” would like us to believe. (Nagaswamy 2017: 92–94) For the trilingual readers, this is an uncomplicated and simple, yet elegant example of the one-to-one relationship between Sanskrit texts and ancient Tamizh literature, before the arrival of the Christian colonial narrative and their sepoys.
Of course, it would be remiss not to decidedly point out that the author of the book, appropriately citing the Gita, clarifies early on in the text that the Varna prescribed in the Kural and Dharma Saśtras is not one of birth, but one achieved by by merit: गुणकर्मविभागशः (Bhagavat Gīta 4.13). (Nagaswamy 2017: 79–80)
“Valluvar was the unparalleled integrator of this country, 2000 years ago, but it is a pity that his role has not been properly focused.” writes Dr Nagaswamy. (Nagaswamy 2017: 96) So let us end this short review with that sober thought.
Murali KV. 2017. “What The Silapatikaram Reveals About The Society Which Produced It,” October 2. https://swarajyamag.com/culture/what-the-silapatikaram-reveals-about-the-society-which-produced-it.
Nagaswamy, R. 2017. Tiruḳkural: An Abridgement of Śāstras. Tamil Arst Academy & Giri.
www.wisdomlib.org. 2016a. “Manusmriti Verse 2.98.” September 2. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc199557.html.
———. 2016b. “Manusmriti Verse 3.56.” October 29. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc199834.html.
இரா. நாகசாமி. 2010. பொய்யிலி மாலை. சென்னை: தமிழ் ஆர்ட்ஸ் அகெடமி.
கி.வா. ஜகந்நாதன். 2004. திருக்குறள் ஆராய்ச்சிப் பதிப்பு. ராமகிருஷ்ணா மிஷன் வித்யாலயம்.
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