leads life


Thirukkural (Tamil: திருக்குறள் also known as the Kural) is a classic of couplets or Kurals (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) or aphorisms celebrated by Tamils. It was authored by Thiruvalluvar and is considered by Chellapan K to be the first work to focus on ethics, other than the Buddhist - Jain literature of India Thirukkural expounds various aspects of life and is one of the most important works in Tamil. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is known: tamilmarai (Tamil Veda); poyyamozhi (speech that does not lie); and teyva nul (divine text). It is dated anywhere from the second century BC to the eighth century AD. The book is considered to be a posterior to Arthashastra by some historians and to precede Manimekalai and Silapathikaram since both the latter acknowledge the Kural text. The popularity of the Thirukkural is limited to Tamil Nadu and parts of the subcontinent. The most likely reason for the limitation is that it was written in Tamil .

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 means Venpa verse with two lines. Thirukkural comes under one of the four categories of Venpas (Tamil verses) called Kural Venpa. The 1330 couplets are divided into 3 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 is has been translated to many languages next only to Bible, Quran and possibly the Gita.

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 in Thiruvannamalai.


Thirukkural is organised into three sections aram(virtue), porul (realities of life) and inbam(pleasures experienced by a man and a woman in the course of their relationship).

Chapters 1 to 38 deal with aram and are classified as Arathuppaal. Chapters 39 to 108 address Porul. Chapters 109 to 133(Inbathuppal) deal with inbam.

It is claimed that Thirukkural is based on the canonical dharma, artha and kama trivarga articulated in the Sanskritic classical texts. It is, also, presumed that if one leads life according to ethical principles set out in the text, the fourth Purushartha - moksha or veedu(in Tamil) or salvation will be automatically achieved.

Thirukkural and religion

Parimelazhagar, a 13th century commentator in his celebrated commentary interprets the word Aadipahavan in the first kural as Aadi Bhagavan or God, It also Aadi=Mother, Bhagavan=Father, which states parents to be given first prefernce. The word Adibaghavan in Jain theology is used to refer to Rishabhadeva, the first Tirthankara. Some kurals also echo the principles of the middle way of Buddhism An important point to be noted in this juncture is the attribute of god mentioned in the ninth kural of the first adhikaram (Kadavul vaazhthu).It mentions "... engunathaan thaalai vanangaath thalai. Here he mentions that God has eight qualities. According to Jains, Siddhas have eight specific characteristics or qualities (8 guñas) . They are described as Ananta jnāna, Ananta darshana, Ananta labdhi, Ananta sukha, Akshaya sthiti, Being vitāraga, Being arupa and Aguruladhutaa. For people who know Tamil language, they are: அனந்த ஞானம், அனந்த வீரியம், கோத்திரமின்மை, அனந்த தரிசனம், அனந்த குணம், அழியா இயல்பு, நாமமின்மை, அவாவின்மை. For English viewers, the eight characteristics of Siddha may be translated as having infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite vision, infinite discipline, without any change (permanence), impartial and having no name or form.

Latin translation

The Latin translation of Thirukkural made by Constanzo Beschi in 1730 did much to make known to European intellectuals the richness and beauty of Oriental Tamil literature.


  • Subramaniyam, Ka Naa, Tiruvalluvar and his Tirukkural. Bharatiya Jnanpith: New Delhi 1987.
  • P. S. Sundaram, The Kural. Penguin Books: London, 1990.
  • Blackburn, Stuart. (2000). Corruption and Redemption: The Legend of Valluvar and Tamil Literary History. Modern Asian Studies, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 449-82, May 2000.
  • Yogi Suddhananda Bharathi(1897), Thirukkural with English Couplets - Tamil Chandror Peravai: Chennai.(15 May 1995)
  • Thirukkural with English Couplets by Tamil Chandror Peravai (Translated by Yogi Suddhananda Bharathi[1897]), Tamil Chandror Peravai, 26 Sardar Patel Road, Adyar, Chennai - 600 020
  • Drew, W.H, Translated by John Lazarus, Thirukkural (Original in Tamil with English Translation), ISBN 81-206-0400-8


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