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Updated on September 6, 2009


Tiruvalluvar was perhaps the first poet of the Tamil language. He was a man of remarkable wisdom who emerged in an age of tamil culture when morality and right-living, more than rituals and whorship, were the ideals preached by thinkers and writers.

Tirukkural :

Not many people brought up in the Tamil tradition have not heard of the Tirukkural (The sacred Kural). This is just one name for this immortal work of the Tamil language, for it has many other names which are laudatory epithets, like Devanul (Divine treatise), Muppal (The Triple Path), Tammilmannul (The Tamil Manu – Treatise), Tamilmarai (Tamil Veda) and Tiruvalluvamalai (The Garland of Tiruvalluvar.).

Scholars are not agreed upon the period of composition of the work. Some are not agreed upon the period of composition of the work. Some have claimed that it was composed centuries before-Christ, others that it could be as late as the 7th century of the Common Era. A balanced viw seems to be that it belong sto the fifth century C.E. The year or period of composition should not matter except in the context of historical inquiry. But cultural chauvinists tend to imagine that the gratness of a traditionally honored work is proportional to its antiquity.

The Kural is a collection of thousand three hundred and thirty couplets. These are arranged in 133 chapters of ten kurals each. They are presented under three (of the four) broad categories governing life in the hindu tradition. The four categories are known (in their tamil version) as. Aram (ethical behaviour), porul (material things, economic and political frame work), Kamam(pleasure, enjoyment) and vidu (spiritual liberation).

Agara mudala eluttelam adi

Bagavan mudatre ulagu

First in alphabets is the sound of A;

First in the world, source-God does stay.

Core idea: Words represent knowledge, ideas, meaning, and thought, conveyed through the alphabet. The first sound of alphabetical systems is A. Likewise, the adi-bagavan: divine principle who is the source (beginning) is at the beginning of the whole manifested universe which represents cosmic thought.

Literal Meanings

Agaram – the sound of A

Mudala – first

Eluttu – letter

Ellam – (of) all

Adi – source, origin, beginning

Bagavan – the Lord God

Mudatre – for that is the first

Ulagu – the universe, world


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