Political compulsions should not limit Thirukural to book of ethics, morality, says TN Governor

Thirukural couplets are pithy and pregnant with deep meanings, which cannot be understood without spirituality, the Governor said, at the inauguration of the International Thirukural Conference 2022 in Coimbatore

Political compulsions or ideologies should not be allowed to limit Thirukural to a book of ethics and morality, for it was rooted in spirituality, Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi said in Coimbatore, at the inauguration of the International Thirukural Conference 2022, at Sri Krishna Arts and Science College on Friday.

The Sri Krishna Institutions and Kural Malai Sangam have organised the event.

“Limiting Thirukural to a book of ethics and morality reduces its messages to a list of ‘dos and dont’s’ or advice. Thirukural was more than that. Its couplets were pithy and pregnant with deep meanings, which cannot be understood without spirituality. Unfortunately, due to compulsion and ideology, Thirukural is getting reduced to [a] book of ethics and morality,” he said.

In the thousand years or so since Thiruvalluvar had authored Thirukural, several ideologies have come and gone. Therefore, political correctness or the present ideology should not limit what the book has to offer. Only then Thirukural’s glory would continue, the Governor said.

Though the work started with ‘Agara mudhala…’ and had couplets extolling bhakti (devotion), the translations he had received of the work had the spiritual quotient missing. Thirukural not only talked about devotion, it also had couplets on renunciation and the cycle of birth and death, Mr. Ravi said, and reiterated, “Limiting Thirukural to a work on ethics and morality is a great injustice.”

If Thirukural was viewed in totality by including the dharmic perspective, then it would automatically achieve the status of a world classic. No effort was needed to promote it, Mr. Ravi said and appealed for more commentaries with a spiritual perspective on the Thirukural and not just translations, to make it more popular across the world.

The book was also rooted in dharma, but “due to perverse politics”, the spiritual and dharmic quotients of the book were ignored. The couplets on ethics and morality did not stand independent of their spiritual meaning. The absence of such an understanding or appreciation would not reveal the inner meanings the couplets carried, he said.

Justice (retd.) N. Kirubakaran appealed to Governor Ravi to seek the Central government’s help in making Thirukural a world classic. Tamil was the oldest language still in use, he said, the Prime Minister had acknowledged it as well. Therefore Tamils should be proud of the language. But one should be open to all languages. For, knowing more languages brought about scholarship.

Justice (retd.) Kirubakaran also said British civil servant and former Madras collector Francis Whyte Ellis was the first in government to recognise the value of Thirukural by minting gold coins with images of the saint. He had also translated the work into English.

Sir Krishna Instiutions Chairperson S. Malarvizhi welcomed the gathering. Kural Malai Sangam’s P. Ravikumar proposed the vote of thanks.

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