If man can learn to envy none on earth. It’s the richest gift, beyond compare its worth. [Thiruvalluvar]

Krish Ponnusamy, CSK

In his Foreword to the book Thirukkural, translated in English by Rev.G.U. Pope in 1958, the learned Professor V.Subrahmanyam wrote:

“Among the peoples who, after long centuries, had built a solid and brilliant fabric of civilization, were the Tamils. They had built towns, cities and had reached a high standard of life and achievement not merely in relation to the material comforts and convenience of life, but also in the realms of art, literature and philosophy.”

An unknown weaver of Mayilapur by the name of Valluvar gifted the Tamils and the whole of humanity, some two centuries BC, with an outstanding philosophical work called the Thirukkural, written in exquisite poetic form in Tamil. He must have been inspired by the Almighty to offer such gems which would be treasured and relayed to succeeding generations.

Qualified as one of the greatest books on Ethics and Morality, Thirukkural contains 1330 couplets on the multi facets of the life of different categories of people. The sage Valluvar, elevated unanimously to the rank of Thiruvalluvar, observed both the goodness and the weaknesses of governance at different levels and encouraged men and women, through the different couplets, to lead a moral life, based on strong values, e.g. righteousness, justice, truth, love, honesty, courage, compassion. He described the life and attributes of inter alia ordinary citizens, wives, husbands, kings.

Ministers, Administrators, formulating the rules of conduct to ensure the individual success, happiness and social harmony, but also depicting the causes of failure due to numerous vices. Thirukkural equally emphasizes the vital principles of non violence, vegetarianism, castelessness and brotherhood. The lessons that each human being can draw from the Thirukkural are so powerful that they can be regarded as a source of inspiration for all ages.

Thirukkural has become a research subject in many universities and learning centres around the globe. It has been translated in more than 40 languages and its universality has been unanimously recognized and acclaimed.

A couple of years back, the Indian Prime Minister, N.Modi, publicly acknowledged the importance of the teaching of Thirukkural in schools and allocated special funding for the wide dissemination of the opus throughout the Indian continent. Thousands of copies were printed in different languages and freely distributed. Additionally, Tirruvalluvar Day (15 January) is celebrated in a grand manner not only in Tamil Nadu, but in all countries where there is a thriving Tamil diaspora. This is the case in Mauritius.

We are glad to learn that the Tamil associations have taken the laudable initiative of inviting Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court to Mauritius to pay a special and fitting tribute to Thiruvalluvar and deliver a lecture on the impact of Thirukkural on Humanity at the Tamil League on the 15 January. Justice Mahadevan has been chosen because of his landmark judgements on the Thirukkural and a number of socio economic  and environmental issues.

The 133-foot statue of Thiruvalluvar at Kanyakumari

Recently, a citizen of Tamil Nadu filed a case before the Madras High Court to ask for appropriate action from the Court in the face of rising criminality and immorality and the lack of moral lessons in schools. In a luminous judgement, Justice Mahadevan ordered the Tamil Nadu government to make the study of Thirukkural compulsory in schools and treat it as a special subject for classes 6 to 12. He motivated his judgement by saying that students, teachers and the population as a whole are bound to become responsible citizens if they learn how to apply the precepts of the saint poet in their daily life.

Among the finest tributes paid to the genius of Thiruvalluvar is the 133-foot statue of the philosopher at Kanyakumari, situated at the southern tip of the Indian sub continent where the Arabian sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian ocean converge. My wife, my daughter and I were mesmerised  when we admired the impressive statue of Thiruvalluvar overlooking the immensity of the sea as if he was praying for his teachings on ethics and morality to reach the hearts  of people in  all the continents.