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Published by: RSK_1 on Feb 21, 2010
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HIS ECONOMIC IDEAS AND THEIR RELEVANCE TODAYFr. Felix Raj, SJThere was a man in the first century B.C. in Tamil Nadu, in a place named Poompuhar onthe banks of the river Cauvery. He earned a living by weaving cloth and selling it. In thesame place there was a rich man whose son was a naughty boy. This lad came to the weaver and asked what was the price of the sari he was selling. The man replied, "
Three rupees
the price in those days
)". The lad tore the sari into half and asked what was the price of the half of the sari. The weaver relied, "
 A rupee and a half 
." The lad tore it again into two and askedwhat was the price of the torn piece. The man replied
 It is worth twelve annas
" (
The three fourths of a rupee
). The weaver did not get angry at the lad’s behavior. He was calm andunruffled. The young lad was astonished. He asked the weaver 
 How did you acquire thequality of forbearance
)?" The man replied, "
 Forbearance is truth. It is right conduct. It is non-violence. It is a source of great joy. It is heaven itself. It is the summumbonum of this world. There is nothing greater than forbearance in this world.
[i]The weaver was Thiruvalluvar and the numerous poems he composed were Thrukkural:“Thiru” plus “Kural”. The word “Thiru” denotes Kural’s sanctity (sacredness), and “Kural”means the short verses (couplets). Thirukkural, meaning sacred couplets, is consideredequivalent to the Vedas of the Hindu Scriptures and “the Bible of the Tamil Land”. It isevident from the Kurals that Valluvar had plenty of opportunities to talk to people fromabroad and to know their different cultures and religions. He has taken the best from allcultures and religions and put them together in Kural form. All the 1330 couplets portray thesimple human pictures of life. The sacred verses deal very much with political and socialaffairs of life.St. Thiruvalluvar, the author of 
was born about 30 years before JesusChrist in Mylapore, the village of peacocks (
in Tamil means peacock), the present dayChennai, at a time when the Tamil Land was rich in culture, vivid in its life and adventurousin its commerce. Valluvars were the priests of outcaste people at that time. Tamilians takecognizance of the birth of Thiruvalluvar as a basis of Tamil calendar according to which weare now in the year 2032 of Thiruvalluvar Aandu (Year). Thirukkural is regarded as arenowned work, eulogized as a directory of code of conduct and ethics to humanity. Therevered poet not only deals with the general administration, but also codified clear-cutdirections to the mankind on how they should behave and act in a social, political, religiousand family circles.Thiruvalluvar used to keep by his side, when he sat for meals, a needle and a small cupfilled with water. Once, his host asked him as to why he insisted on having these two placed by the side of the plate. He said, "
 Food should not be wasted, even a grain is precious.Sometimes, stray grains of cooked rice or stray pieces of cooked vegetables fall off the plateor away from it. While I eat, I lift them off the floor, with the help of this needle and stir 
them in the water to clean them and eat them.
" What a great lesson this is for those whowaste more, than they consume in today’s consumerist society!As Emmons White has said, Thiruvalluvar was a kindly, liberal-minded man and his poetryis a kind of synthesis of the best moral teachings of his age. In the words of Dr. JohnLazarus who has made an English translation of the Kural, “It is refreshing to think of anation which produced so great a man and so unique a work. The morality he preachedcould not have grown except on an essentially moral soil.” This classical work in Tamil has been widely translated in over 60 languages of the world. Nearly 300 years ago, the ItalianJesuit missionary, Constantius Beschi (known as Veeramamunnivar in Tamil) who came toTamil Nadu in 1710, translated the Thirukkural into Latin. Rev. G U Pope who hailedThiruvalluvar as “the Bard of Universal Man” translated the Kural and printed the it first inEnglish. Many European missionaries have made translations into English between 1820and 1886. Freedom fighters and statesmen, C Rajagopalachari and VVS Iyer have alsotranslated the Kural into English. Barring perhaps the Bible and the Koran, the Kural is themost translated work. The well-known Tamil Poet of the Freedom Movement, Mahakavi Subramani Bharatiyar has acknowledged the greatness of Thiruvalluvar in the following words: “Tamil Nadu gaveunto the World Valluvar and won thereby great renown.” Kural’s immortality anduniversality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all religions, allcountries and at all times. That is why Mahatma Gandhi said; “Thiruvalluvar gave us thefamous Thirukkural, holy maxims described by Tamilians as the Tamil Veda and by M.Ariel as one of the highest and purest expressions of human thought”.Erudite Tamil Poets as well as the kings of the three Tamil Kingdoms – Chera, Chola andPandya – acknowledged the literary greatness of Thirukkural. It is said that at the time of itsfirst presentation to the king’s court, the Pandyan king wanted its greatness to be known tohis whole kingdom. He put it to test by placing the manuscript along with those of other contemporary works in a golden lotus plank and allowed it to float in the tank at theMadurai Meenakshi temple. The sanctified plank that would recognize only themasterpieces is said to have rejected all other works and retained only the Thirukkural.People in Tamil Nadu worship Thiruvalluvar as a guru. They have erected a beautiful shrineto him and to his wife in the midst of a garden in Mylapore. It lies not far from the waves of the sea that are often referred to in his verses. Every year in the month of April, peoplecelebrate a grand festival at the shrine. Another important memorial to the immortal saint isValluvar Kottam in Chennai, which is shaped like a temple chariot. A life size statue oThiruvalluvar has been installed in the tall chariot. The 133 chapters of his work have beendepicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. The auditorium atValluvarkottam is said to be the largest in Asia with accommodation capacity for 4000 people. Recently, Tamil Nadu government has erected a magnificent 133-foot height statueof the saint denoting the 133 chapters in Thirukkural for tourists in the midst of sea inKaniyakumari (Cape Comerin) at the confluence of the three seas. The statue dedicated atthe dawn of the new millennium on 1.1.2000, stands out as a beacon light to guide humanlife forever.
Thirukkural, the precious gem among the classics enshrines in it 1330 couplets under 133Chapters, and each chapter comprising 10 couplets. The chapters fall under 3 major parts:Virtue, Wealth and Love. The first part known as
(on Virtue) describes thegreatness of the individual man. The second part,
(on Wealth) is the largest one with70 chapters (700 couplets) covering the essentials of life in society – State and its policies:Army (
), People (
), Food (
), Ministers (
), Allies (
) andFortress (
). The third and last part,
) (on Love), portrays thevictory of inner self.
[ii] They are again divided into subgroups as follows:
PART I (1 – 38) 
 [iii] is on VIRTUE (
(1 – 4): On praise of God and praise of ascetics.1.2.
 Domestic Virtue
(5 24): On domestic life; obtaining sons, possession of love,cherishing guests, utterance of pleasant words, dreading evil deeds, and so on1.3.
 Ascetic Virtue
(25 – 37): On Ascetic life and virtues, penance, renunciation of flesh, not being angry, not doing evil, not killing. Knowledge of truth, etc.1.4. Chapter 38 is on
( 39 63): On the greatness of the King and his qualities: possession of knowledge, seeking the aid of great men, acting after due consideration; avoiding meanassociation, knowledge of power, knowing the right time, listening to people, knowing the place, confidence, right scepter, absence of terrorism, hopefulness in trouble, etc.2.2.
Ministers of state
(64 – 73): On the office of ministers; power in speech, purity of action, power in action, the right method of acting, the envoy, the knowledge of council chamber,not to dread the council etc.2.3.
The Essentials of a S 
tate (74 – 95): The land, fortification, ways of accumulating wealth,excellence of the army, military spirit, enmity within, hostility, medicine, gambling, notoffending the great, not drinking wine; etc.2.4.
/ Miscellaneous) (96 – 108): On nobility, honor, courtesy, shame, agriculture, poverty, begging, the way of maintaining a family, perfectness, etc.
Gandharva Marriage
(The Pre-marital love) - (109 – 115): On beauty of the princess, praise of beauty, embrace, signs of mutual love, declaration of love, etc.3.2.
Wedded Love
(The Post-marital love) - (116 133): Problems of married life – 

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