Let us see some of the controversies sorrounding Kural.
Last 25 chapters
The last 25 chapters are split into two parts, premarital and marital love, separately, yet because of their different style there is controversy whether these chapters were part of the original work because many of principles in this chapters are contrary to what is discussed in previous chapters.
Very little is known conclusively about the life of Tiruvalluvar.As per Tamil tradition, he is believed to have lived some time before Tholkappiar .His wife name is vasuki.
He is said to have been a textile weaver by profession, who led an austere life. His devoted wife was named Vasuki. The name Valluvan is ambiguous as well: it may have referred to his caste/occupation and may not have been his real name. There is a distinct caste to this day with this name, among the Tamils whose traditional occupation used to be textile weaving who trace their ancestry to valluvar. However, the question of whether the author was named after his community or vice versa, has never been satisfactorily answered.
Pope begins his introduction by discussing the issue of Thiruvalluvars caste. While Thiruvalluvar's biography was generally acknowledged to be legend, certain aspects of the legend were seen by most scholars as based upon historical fact. One of these was his low-caste origin. As Pope explains, the name Valluvar was an honorific, meaning teacher or priest, traditionally given by the paraiyar (the untouchables of the Tamil country) to the learned men of their community.
Truth is nothing is known about the author other than his name is valluvan.
Legends abound about the birthplace of Thiruvalluvar.
According to one legend he is supposed to have been born and lived in Mylapore,an ancient part of present day Chennai city. Author lived in Pallava times,who also patronised jainism.
Another legend associates him to Madurai,the ancient capital of the Pandya rulers. This second legend probably has its origins due to the fact that Pandya rulers promoted Tamil by patronising a lot of Tamil poets and Thiruvalluvar is supposed to be one of them. In fact, some folklore cite that Tirukkural was introduced to the world by Tiruvalluvar in Madurai’s Tamil Sangam.
During the 9th century A.D. a Valluvanadu existed in Kerala. But exact location of valluvanadu is disputed.
The Valluvanadu of the Palaghat district was ruled by Valluvakon in the ancient times. In the laterdays Nairs who entered Kerala annihilated or assimilated the Valluvars of Palaghat and occupied the land. The king of Valluvanadu was called Valluvakonathiri Moopil Nair.The Valluvanad is associated with bravery as most of the Chavers or the suicidal army of Kerala was derived from the Valluvanad area. The Valluvanad Chavers participated in the Mamankam a festival held every twelve years in which, the Chavers tried to kill the Samudhiri the king of neighbouring kingdom even though they were quite aware impossibility and the possibility definite death.
At Wayanad district the Valluvans are believed to have their kingdom at Valluvady near the Kerala Karnataka border. At Valluvady many artifacts of Valluvars including golden artifacts are believed to be found.
There are also recent claims by Kanyakumari Historical and Cultural Research Centre (KHCRC) that Valluvar was a king who ruled Valluvanadu in the hilly tracts of Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Though this recent claim comes through research, many questions remain unanswered.
Caldwell and Pope dated the text to the 8th—10th centuries C.E., while the majority of Tamil scholars placed it in the late Sangam period whose period is disputed. Modern scholars like Zvelebil favour a date earlier than that of Caldwell and Pope to 7th century.
Caldwell argued that of Tamil was both the oldest and the least dependent upon Sankrit. But even while granting the antiquity of the language, he dismissed the antiquity of Tamil literature. The oldest of it could not be older than the 8th — 9th century C.E. Caldwell further questioned ancient Tamil society's exposure to the higher forms of civilization, such as art, science or religion, prior to the arrival of Brahmins; Dravidian religion, for instance, prior to their advent, had been a sort of demonolatry or primitive Shamanism.
If X mentions Y then Y is earlier, probably a hundred years earlier than X. This works well in some caes. Kural is mentioned in Silapathikaram and manimekalai.So kural is before that but silapthikaram date is also disputed. So how do you date kural.
Thirukkural does not adhere to the rules of Tholkappiyam, the Grammar book. This shows that this book has preceded Tholkappiyam which is not the widely held view.
Tiruvalluvar’s faith is disputed. There are claims he is Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and even christian , let us see.
- The phrase `malar misai Ekinaan'that appears in the first chapter. Roughly translated:malar misai Ekinaan = one who went towards or reached the flower. If the meaning for the verb Ekuthal'is given . scholars say `malar misai Ekinaan' is Mahavira. It seems the iLangO adikaL in his work `silappadhikaaram' uses the same phrase to refer to Mahavira.
- The third kural, in the first chapter is translated by Prof. P.S.Sundaran as: Long life on earth is theirs who clasp. The glorious flower-embedded feet In his notes he writes: "Flower-embedded feet may refer either specifically to Aruhan, the Jain God who is usually represented as standing on a flower, or to God in general whose seat is not only in haven, but also in the flower-shaped-heart of his devotees." "Aruhan" (Arhant) can be any one of the 24 Jinas.
- Comparing the kural verse with a verse in Bhaktaamar Stotra, composed by Mantungacharya. The 44 verses of Bhaktaamar praise the first Jina (just like the first chapter of Thirukkural), as mentioned in the last quarter of second verse: ... stoshye kilaahamapi tam prathamam jinendram .. I will also praise the first Jina. The second half of the 32nd shloka is: paadau padani tava yatra Jinendra dhatth, padmani tatra vibudha parikalpayanti.. wherever you put your feet, gods create lotus flowers. mostof the verses of the first chaper can also apply to Gautama Buddha, since he is also "one who has conquered his five senses",however the mention of Aadi Bhagavan make it clear that it is the first Jina being praised.
- Professor A Chakravarty identifies the author of the Tirukkural text as the same Kundakunda Acarya and identifies places in the South with him. He offer the opinion that the Kural was of his authorship, the only one he wrote in the local language of the Tamils among whom he lived and which he sent through a friend, or disciple of his to Madurai to get approval from the Tamil Sangam. But this theory of present date and has no basis.
- Tamil tradition identifies an Eladhi Nayanar in close proximity to Valluvar, Under these somewhat negative proofs,Kundakunda might have fathered the work and might have underscored the relationship of Eladhi Nayanar with the Valluvar of the Kural for among his own many names Elacarya is given as one. But this is a legend of 13th century making in supporting antiquity of another lengend avvaiyar.
- Section devoted to vegetarian food, the author distinctly condemns the Buddhist principle of purchasing meat from the butcher. Buddhists Say that they are not to kill with their own hands but may purchase meat from slaughter house. The author of the Kural in unmistakable terms points out that the butcher's trade thrives only because of the demand for meat. Butcher's interest is merely to make money and hence he adopts a particular trade determined by the principle of 'supply and demand'. Therefore the responsibility of killing animals for food is mainly on your head and not upon the butcher's. This is clear jain mind working against buddhist.
- The Jaina commentator of the Tamil work called Neelakesi freely quotes from this Kural, and whenever he quotes, he introduces the quotation with the words "as is mentioned in our scripture". From this it is clear that the commentator considered this work as an important Jaina scripture.
- Non Jaina Tamil work called "Prabodha Chandrodaya". This Tamil work is evidently modelled after the Sanskrit drama Prabodha Chandrodaya. This tamil work is in Viruttam metre, consist of four lines. It is also in the form of a drama where the representatives of the various religions are introduced on the stage. Each one is introduced while reciting a characteristic verse containing the essence of his religion. When the Jaina sanyasi appears on the stage, heis made to recite that particular verse from the Kural which praises the Ahimsa doctrine that "not killing a single life for the purpose of eating is far better than performing 1000 yagas". Kural was characteristically a Jaina work. Otherwise he would not have put this verse in the mouth of 'Niganthavadi' ( a Jaina).
- The very arrangement of the book into 3 divisions (muppaal)is a vedic concept of Purusharthas, dharma, artha and kaama. He left out the 4 th division, Moksha, because adherence to the principles of the first 3 will automatically elevate one to Moksha or Liberation from the cycle of life and death.
- The compartmentalization of the ‘adhikaras’ into the mystic number 108 for Dharma (aram) and Artha (poruL) also is indicative of a definite plan to present his bookon the vedic notion of spirituality. The choice of the term, ‘Adhikaram’ itself for the chapters is indicative of the vedic practice of Yatho-desa paksham – which means the spread of control / influence by itself and its own sake, that is, the message of Kural will spread by itself the message of Purusharthas.
- The positioning of adhikaram, ‘voozh’ (destiny) after dharma (aratthu-p-paal)is also demonstrative of a Vedic influence. How-much-ever dharmic one may be, one can not stop or escape from the interference of ‘oozh’ or destiny is the message given at all ages, from Gita onwards (one has control over one’s actions only, not on the results) to Silappadhikaaram (oozh vinai urutthu vandhu ootttum)and this has been aptly given as a finale for Aratthu-p-paal.
- The only source book he quotes for all rules is the ‘nool’The ‘nool’ that he often speaks in kural is the Vedas and he has repeatedly glorified the ways the ‘Saandror’ or Aryans.
“kadan enba nallavai ellaam kadan aRindhu
saandraaNmai mEr koLbhavarkku.”
“saman seidhu seer thookkum kOl pOl amaindhoru paal
kOdaamai saandrOrkku aNi”
- Brahmins (anthanar) and Vyakarana sastras (725)are the respected ones he looks at, for any reference to acts of dharma.
- Devas and their habit of receiving Havis from humans are often mentioned by him.
- He disapproves animal sacrifice in yajnas but not yajnas themselves,giving indication of his leanings towards vedic practices and his willingness to usher in modifications – which is what sages too had said for kali yuga.
- The Vamana avatara is clearly mentioned in kural 610 where he tells that the king must be like “ulagu aLandhaan”,Vamana in conquering worlds.
- He makes a veiled mention of Rama’s valour in kural 773 for showing mercy to the enemy in the war field when he is down in spirits. Most important of these is his veiled reference to Rama in his opening verse.These ancient norms of poetry were aimed at spreading and preserving the greatness of the Lord or God who had been praised by the poet. The praise of the Lord to live long can not just be empty words but it also must incorporate certain features that help in making the Lord and his name immortal.We come across such norms in Choodamani nigandu, given as sutras and Thirukkaural had followed these ancient norms and had indicated his Lord, his Ishta devatha as Rama!! One will be surprised to know that these norms were in tandem with certain rules of astrology, meant for longevity and greatness!
- Thiruvalluvar begins his book with a worship of god.The Akaara Brahman is indicated in his very first verse as also the Bhagam (6 qualities) of Bhagavan – a vedic concept.Akaara Brahmam is equated to Vishnu in Bhagavad Gita.
- He has indicated his God – ishta devatha in this verse – ‘agara mudala..’
It has been a practice in ancient times for the poets to reveal their God or Lord or the Lord of the song (paattudai-th-thlaivan)in their first verse as a puzzle. Thirvalluvar too had done that.
- Vaiyapuri Pillai has said:"There are many couplets of the Kural that are either translations or
adaptations of Manusmriti”, such as:
- Kural 57 and Manusmriti IX:12
- Kural 41 and Manusmriti III:78. This verse of smriti, Pillai points
out, has been reiterated by Tiruvalluvar more than once.
- Kural 396 and Manusmriti II:218 "
- He talks about "destroying the five senses", which you can see in upanishads and bhagavat gita. Concept of multiple birth is a hall mark of Hindu dharma. Undoubtadly, TiruValluvar endorse future birth. Destruction of ego: this is another characteristic aspect of Vedic religion.
Kural - 346
Who kills conceit that utters 'I' and 'mine',Shall enter realms above the powers divine.
He who destroys the pride which says "I", "mine" will enter a world which is difficult even to the Gods to attain.
Kural - 348
Who thoroughly 'renounce' on highest height are set;The rest bewildered, lie entangled in the net.Those who have entirely renounced (all things and all desire) have obtained (absorption into God); all others wander in confusion, entangled in the net of (many) births.
Kural - 349
When that which clings falls off, severed is being's tie;All else will then be seen as instability.
At the moment in which desire has been abandoned, (other) births will be cut off; when that has not been done, instability will be seen.
Kural - 350
Cling thou to that which He, to Whom nought clings, hath bid thee cling, Cling to that bond, to get thee free from every clinging thing.
Yama, the god of death, a Hindu entity
E'en over death the victory he may gain,If power by penance won his soul obtain.Those who have attained the power which religious discipline confers, will be able also to pass the limit of Yama, (the God of death).
- Kural-24 to Kural-27 is without any doubt part of the Upanishadic, Yogic and Tantric traditions.
He, who with firmness, curbs the five restrains,
Is seed for soil of yonder happy plains.
Their might who have destroyed 'the five', shall soothly tell
Indra, the lord of those in heaven's wide realms that dwell.
Things hard in the doing will great men do;
Things hard in the doing the mean eschew.
Taste, light, touch, sound, and smell: who knows the way
Of all the five,- the world submissive owns his sway.
- Deivanayagam, has claimed ' Porivaayil Aintavittan' has reference to Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself in human form with the five senses complete, on the symbol of the cross, so that humanity may be redeemed and ennobled towards an eternal life.
- M Deivanayagam says Thiruvalluvar was a Christian and a disciple of St.Thomas and most of the Saiva Sidhantha and the vivid knowledge found in Thiruklural were nothing but the sayings of The Bible.
This is just attempt to spread christianity and there is no basis of this claim.
TranslationIt is maintained by a well known Tamil scholar that the work is a faithful translation of the Dharmasastra by Bodhayana. Many Sanskrit words are found in this Kural and from among the traditional doctrines some are also treated therein. Let us see.
This Bodhayana Dharma Sastra, since it is based upon the traditional Varnasrama, keeps to the traditional four castes and their duties. According to this conception of Dharma, cultivation of the land is left to the last class of Sudras and would certainly be infra dig for the upper class to have anything to do with agriculture. The author of Kural, on the other hand placed agriculture first among the professions. For he says, "living par excellence is living by tilling the land and every other mode of life is parasitical and hence next to that of the tiller of the soil".
Another interesting fact mentioned in Dharma Sastras is the mode of entertaining guests by the householders. Such an entertainment is always associated with killing a fat calf; the chapter on guests in Bodhayana Dharmasastra gives a list of animals that ought to be killed for the purpose of entertaining guests. This is necessary part of Dharma and violation of it will entail curse from the guests in the firm belief of those who accept Vedic ritualism as religion. A cursory glance at the corresponding chapter in the Kural will convince any reader that Dharma here means quite a different thing from what it means in the Dharma Sastras of the Hindus. Hence we have to reject this suggestion that the work represents merely a translation of the Dharma Sastras for the benefit of the Tamil reading people
What scholars opine about Tirukkural.
What scholars opine about Tirukkural.
- There is a distinct intellectual relationship of the Arathupal of Kural with the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Parasara Samhitha, Srimad Bhagavatham, Rg Veda and
- Porutpal has very many similarities with Kamanthaka Neeti, Artha Sastra of Kautilya, Sukra Neeti, Bodayana Smrithi
- Kamathupal reflects many a thoughts from Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. (Sri V.R. Ramachandra Dikshidhar)
- More than twenty five pure Sanskrit words have been borrowed from the Sanskrit Language and incorporated in the body of the Kural by Valluvan as well as according to Mr.Vyapuri Pillai time it was written in the 6th century AD. (S. Vyapuri Pillai)
- Aran, Iyalbu, Ottrar, Duthar Adhikarams in Kural reflects the thinking of Kautilya's Artha Sasthra (S. Vayapuri Pillai)
- Valluvan did codify the Kural in the present format and there has not been much of any differentiation in presentation from its time of origin.
- What Kural says in Tamil has been told by various rishis in Sanskrit which can be found in the very many ancient philosophical literature available in India.
- One of the most important points to note is, in Kural Valluvan has never discussed the Tamils, by name, nor has he referred to the various Tamil kings of the Chera, Chozha and Pandiyan dynasties and their histories. In contrast, they are available in plenty in the Sangam Literature.
- Valluvan has never used the word Tamil or Tamizhan in the Kural.
- Neither does Valluvan talk about the life and times of Tamilians in Tamilnadu, in his Kural.
Non Random Thoughts
S. N. Srirama Desikan, Research Scholar - Tirukkural published by Ganghai Puthaga Nilayam, Chennai 1991