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Tirukkuṟaḷ (Tamil: திருக்குறள் also known as the Kural), sometimes spelt 'Thirukkural, is a classic of couplets or Kurals (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) or aphorisms. It was authored by Thiruvalluvar, a poet who is said to have lived anytime between 2nd century BCE and 5th century CE. Most believe he wrote Thirukkural in 30 BC which is part of Tamil Sangam Period. It is one of the Tamil books of Law.
The Thirukkural is one of the most important works in the Tamil language. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is known: Tamil marai (Tamil Vedas); poyyamozhi (words that never fail); and Deiva nool (divine text). The book is considered to precede Manimekalai and Silapathikaram since they both acknowledge the Kural text.
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". It preaches simplicity and truth throughout its verses.
- (Tamil: அறம், aram ?) righteousness
- (Tamil: பொருள், poruḷ ?) wealth and
- (Tamil: இன்பம், inbam ?) love
While Aram and kaamam discuss about ethical living in private life, Porul deals with public affairs.
According to the LIFCO Tamil-Tamil-English dictionary, the Tamil word Kural literally means "short verse", and is typified by the Venpa metre that consists of two lines. In the aspect of metre & brevity, and the profoundity of expression, Thirukkural comes under one of the four categories of Venpas (Tamil verses) called Kural Venpa.
A couplet or Kural 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.
Aram contains 380 verses, Porul with 700 and Inbam with 250. Couplets and the topics go like this: 40 couplets on God, Rain, Virtue and Ascetics, 200 couplets on Domestic Virtue, 140 couplets on Higher Virtue based on Grace, 250 couplets on Royalty, 100 couplets on Ministers of State, 220 couplets on the Essential requirements of Administration, 130 couples on Morality, both positive and negative, 250 couplets on Human Love and Passion.
The Authorship and period of composition
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 of Thiruvalluvar in Thiruvalluva Malai.
Other names and Praises
Thirukural is praised with many names such as:
- Uttaravedam - the Superior-Vedam (uttara = Superior / Higher / Future, vedam = Veda)
- Poyyamozhi - Statements devoid of untruth
- Vayurai vazhthu - truthful utterances
- Deyvanool - the divine book
- Pothumarai - the common-man's Veda
- Muppal - threefold path
- Tamil marai - Tamil Veda
There were several commentaries written on Thirukkural but the most popular one in Tamil has been that of Parimelazhagar. 'Parimelazhagar urai' or 'Commentary of Parimelazhagar' has been a standard benchmark for rendering the meaning of Thirukkural in Tamil for many centuries. There are other extant older commentaries by Kaalingar, Manakudavar, Pariperumal and Paridhiyar. There are also commentaries, which are not available now, by Dharumar, Thaamachar, Nachar, Thirumalaiyar, Mallar, and Kaviperumal.
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.One of the earliest commentaries on the Thirukkural was by Parimelazhagar, belonging to the 12th century. His commentary (Urai) give us an idea of the amount of information contained in each and every kural. A lot of software are available these days for installing Kurals in desktops.The software based Kural (poem) changes each day and you get the kural and its explanation in both English and Tamil.
The following is a list of translations/commentaries of the Tamil literary classic THIRUKURAL - taken out from the Encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, vol. 1, Inst. of Asian Studies, Thiruvanmayur, Tamil Nadu, India.
01) Arabic 02) Bangla 03) Burmese 04) Chinese 05) Czech 06) Dutch 07) English 08) Fiji 09) Finnish 10) French 11) German 12) Gujarati 13) Hindi 14) Hungarian 15) Italian 16) Japanese 17) Kannada 18) Konkani 19) Korean 20) Latin 21) Malay 22) Malayalam 23) Marathi 24) Nederlands 25) Norwegian 26) Oriya 27) Polish 28) Punjabi 29) Rajasthani 30) Russian 31) Sanskrit 32) Saurashtra 33) Sinhalese 34) Spanish 35) Swedish 36) Telugu 37) Urdu
- Nalini Mohan, Sanyal, thirukural, Calcutta, 1939
- Sastri, E.C., thirukural, Calcutta, 1974
- Krishnamoorthy, S. Calcutta, 2001
- Dr Malini Goswami, thirukural, Assam Publication Board, Guwahati 2012
- Myo Thant, U, thirukkural, Rangoon
- Cheng Xi 程曦, Gula Zhenyan 古臘箴言, Hong Kong: Xianggang daxue chubanshe 香港大學出版社, 1967.
- Yu Hsi, Taipei, Taiwan, 2 December 2010. Book released by Former President of India, Dr APJ Abdulkalam.
- Zvelebil, Kamil V, Thirukural (selections), Prague, 1952–1954
- Kat, D, Thirukural (selections), Netherlands, 1964
- V.V.S, Kural_: Maxims of thiruvalluvar, 4th ed, Madras, 1961
- Balasubramanian, K.M, Thirukural of thiruvalluvar, Madras, 1962
- Chakravarthi, A, thirukural in English with commentary, Madras, 1953
- Drew, H.W., The kural of thiruvalluvar with commentary of Parimelazhakar, Madras, 1840
- Drew, H.W. and Lazarus, J., Thirukural (in verses), Reprint, Madras, 1956
- Ellis, F.W., thirukural on virtue (in verse) with commentary, 1812, reprint Madras 1955
- Gajapathy Nayagar, A, The rosary of gems of thirukkural, Madras, 1969
- Stalin Srinivasan, Thirukural: an ancient Tamil classic (in couplets), Bombay, 1969
- Mathavaiyah, A, Kural in English with commentary in Tamil, Madras, 1925
- Michael, S.M., The sacred aphorisms of thiruvalluvar (in verse), Nagarcoil, 1928
- Muthuswamy, P, Thirukural in English, Madurai, 1965
- Parameswaran Aiyar, T.V., 108 gems from the sacred Kural, Kottayam, 1928
- Parameswaran Pillai, V.K., kural, Madras
- Pope, G.U, A collection of the English translation of thirukural, Madras, 1959
- Popely, H.A., The sacred Kural (selections in verses), Calcutta, 1951
- Raja, P, thirukural (in verses), Kumbakonam, 1950
- Rajagopalachari, C, kural, the great book of thiruvalluvar, Madras, 1937, 3rd ed, 1973
- Ramachandra Dikshithar, V.R., thirukural in English with roman translation, Madras, 1949
- Ranganatha Muthaliar, A: thirukural moolamum uraiyum with English translation, Madras, 1933
- Thangaswami, T.D, thirukural (selections in verse), Madras, 1954
- Thirunavukarasu, Mrs, T., Kural a selection of 366 verses (a gem for each day), Poona, 1916
- Vadivel chettiar, K, kural in English with Tamil text and parimelazhakar commentary,(3parts), Madurai, 1972–1980
- Vanmikinathan, G, the thirukural - a unique guide to moral, material and spiritual prosperity, trichy, 1969
- Yogi Shuddananda Bharati, Thirukural with English couplets, Madras, 1968
- Yogi Shuddananda Bharati, Thirukural couplets with clear prose rendering, Madras, 1970
- Berwick, S.L, Na. Thirukkurala, Fiji, 1964
- Geraghty, Paul. Tirukurali, Fiji, 2008
- Aalto, Pentit, Kural - the ancient Tamil classic, Finland, 1972
- Ariel, M, kural de thiruvalluvar (traduits du tamoul), Paris, 1848
- Barrigue de, Fontaineu, G, le livre de l'amour de thiruvalluva, Paris, 1889
- Danielou, Alain, thiruvallouvar kural, Pondicherry, 1942
- Jacolliot, Louis, kural de thiruvalluvar, selections, Paris, 1767
- Lamairesse, M, thirukural in French, Pondicherry, 1867
- Gros, François, Le Livre de l'Amour, Gallimard, Collection UNESCO, Paris, 1992
- Sangeelee, M, Tiroukkoural, Editions de L'Ocean Indien, 1988
- Albrecht, Fenz and K. Lalithambal: thirukural von thiruvalluvar aus dem Tamil, Madurai, 1977
- Albert Schweitzer
- Cammera, A.F, thirukural waith German translation, Leipzig, 1803
- Graul, Karl, der kural des thiruvalluvar, London, 1854
- Graul, Karl, der tamu lische gnomes dichtar thiruvalluvar, Leipzig, 1865
- Rickert, Friederich, thirukural, selections, Berlin, 1847
- William and Norgate, Der kural des thiruvalluvar, 2nd ed, London, 1866
- Kalani, Kantilal L., thirukural in Gujarati, Bombay, 1971 (Gujarti - Philosopher - Writer in Gujarati Literature - [1930-1998].
- Sankar Raju Naidu, S, thirukural in Hindi, Madras, 1958
- Seshadri, K, thirukural in Hindi, Lucknow, 1982
- Govindarai Shastri Jain, Kural in verse, first two parts, New Delhi, 1942
- Jain, B.D, thirukural, thirupananthal, 1961
- Khenand Rakar, thirukural, parts 1 and 2, Ajmer, 1924
- Rajan Pillai, thirukural, Lucknow, 1976
- Venkatakrishnan, M.G, thirukural, Trichy, 1964
- Shuzo Matsunaga, Thirukkural, Osaka, Japan, August 1981
- Gundappa, L, thirukural (3 parts), Madras, 1960
- Gundappa, L, thirukural dharma bhaga, Bangalore, 1955
- Srinivas, P.S, thirukural with original couplets and translations in Kannada, Madurai, 1982
- Srikanthaiah, B.M, Kural (selections in verses), bangalore, 1940
- Graul, Charles, Kural of thiruvalluvar, Tranquebar, 1866
- Veeramamunivar, thirukural (Books I and II), London, 1730 
- Dr.G.Soosai Ph.D,J.P.,P.P.N,P.K.T.,Thirukkural Kitab Murni Tamil Nadu.,Kuala Lumpur,1978 & 1991
- Ismail, Hussein: thirukural sastera kalasik Tamil yang, Kuala Lumpur, 1967
- Ramily Bin Thakir thirukural (in verses), Kuala Lumpur, 1964
- Azhakathu Kurup, thirukural in verses, Trivandrum, 1875
- Balakrishna Nair, G, Kural waith commentary, Part I, Trivandrum, 1963
- Chellan Nadar, K, thirukural tharmanaskantam, Parassala, 1962
- Damodaran Pillai,P, thirukural manikal, Trivandrum, 1951
- Gopalakurup, Vennikulam, thirukural (first 2 parts in verse), Kottayam, 1960
- Govinda Pillai, A, thirukural, Trivandrum
- Thirukkural Malayalam Vivarthanam Published by DC Books Kottayam Written By S. Ramesan Nair
- Kishrod, Dash Ch, thirukuralu-in oriya language, Sampalbur, 1985
- Ram Murti Sharma, thirukural dhamma granth of the tamils, Chandigarh, 1983
- Umadevi, Wandy Dynowskiev, thiruvalluvar kural, Madras, 1958
- Kamala Gurg, thirukural needhi sastra, Jaipur, 1982
- Glazov, J.J. and Krishnamurthi, A, thirukural, a book on virtu, politics and love, Moscow, 1963
- Ibragimov, A., Thirukural in couplets with illustrations, Moscow, 1974
- Govindarai Shastri Jain, Kural in verse, first two parts, New Delhi, 1942.
- Srirama Desikan, S.N, thirukural in Sanskrit slokas, Madras, 1961, 1968
- Ram, S.S, Saurastra thirukural payiram - pitika pragaranam, Madurai, 1980
- De Silva, Charles, Sirigiya (thirukural in sinhalese), Colombo, 1964
- Sissigamy Govokgada, M, thirukural, Colombo, 1961
- Frykholm Ingya, thirukural, Uddavalla, 1971
- Jagannatha Sastri, Mudiganthi, thiruvalluvar sookthulu, West Godavari, 1952
- Lakshminarayana Sastri, Kural, chittoor, 1906
- Kohan, Muhamad Yusuf, Kural in Urdu and Arabic, Madras, 1976
- Surawathi Hasarat, Kural in Urdu, New Delhi, 1966
Quotations (English translation)
- Something may not be achievable even by God or through God's help. But the effort exerted to attain that non-achievable will yield its deserving result!
- Though the world goes round with many activities, it is dependent on agriculture. Hence, though laborious, farming is the foremost activity.
- As water changes its nature, from the nature of the soil in which it flows, so will the character of men resemble that of their associates.
- Friendship is not just a smile on the face; It is what is felt deep within a smiling heart.
- The stalks of water-flowers are proportionate to the depth of water; so is men's greatness proportionate to their minds (Knowledge).
- Avoid an act which you may repent later; If done by mistake, better not to repeat it.
- Whatever is thought to be done will be achieved as planned, if the planners possess firmness in execution.
- Excessive or deficient food or activity causes disorders in mobility, breathing and digestion.
- Agriculturists are the linchpin of the mankind since they support all others who cannot till the soil.
- The learned teacher makes you enjoy learning; On leaving, makes you to keep thinking of his teaching.
- Think and then undertake the work; to think after commencement will bring disgrace.
- Determined efforts result in prosperity; Idleness will bring nothing.
- Defer not virtue to another day; receive her now; and at the dying hour she will be your undying friend.
- Water will flow from a water well in proportion to the depth to which it is dug, and knowledge will flow from a man in proportion to his learning.
- That which God gives, nobody can ban. That which God bans, nobody can give.
- If any one do wrong thing for you, do good thing for them.
- Statue of Thiruvalluvar
- Valluvar Kottam
- A Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy in which he's referred as The Hindu Kural
- 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 Shuddhananda Bharati (1897), Thirukkural with English Couplets - Tamil Chandror Peravai: Chennai.(15 May 1995)
- Thirukkural with English Couplets by Tamil Chandror Peravai (Translated by Yogi Shuddhananda Bharati ), 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
- Thirukkural with English Couplets by Editions ASSA, L'Auberson (Translated by Dr. Shuddhananda Bharati [1897-1990]), ISBN 978-2-940393-17-6
- Blackburn, Cutler (2000). "Corruption and Redemption: The Legend of Valluvar and Tamil Literary History". Modern Asian Studies 34 (2): 449–482. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00003632. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Pillai, MS (1994). Tamil literature. Asian Education Service. ISBN 81-206-0955-7.
- "Literature - Thirukural". Tamilnadu.com. 3 April 2013.
- Cutler, Norman (1992). "Interpreting Thirukkural: the role of commentary in the creation of a text". The Journal of the American Oriental Society 122. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Aiyangar Thirukkural cannot be compared with Arthashastra as it not only deals with Kingship or Statesmanship as in Arthashastra but also deals with various other aspects of life., SK (1995). Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture. Asian Educational Services. p. 125. ISBN 81-206-0999-9.
- Ramasamy, V. 2001. On Translating Tirukkural. International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai. page 29
- Ravindra Kumar (1 January 1999). Morality and Ethics in Public Life. Mittal Publications. pp. 92–. ISBN 978-81-7099-715-3. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- Sujit Mukherjee (1 January 1999). A dictionary of Indian literature. Orient Blackswan. pp. 393–. ISBN 978-81-250-1453-9. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- Tirukkural. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
- Kamil Zvelebil (1973). The smile of Murugan on Tamil literature of South India. BRILL. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-90-04-03591-1. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- Pope, GU (1886). Tirukkural English Translation and Commentary. W.H. Allen, & Co. p. 160.
- Thiruvalluvar's Thirukkural in Tamil
- Best English to Tamil Dictionary
- http://www.kurals.com World Largest Online Thirukural Community,e-learning for children's.
- Thirukkural Oli Pathipu: Thirukkural Audio book
- Thirukural on Android by Premanand
- Thirukural App for iPhone
- Thirukkural App for Symbian
- Thirukkural App for Windows 8
- Thirukurals - Tamil, English & Transliteration (searchable)
- Tirukkural of Tiruvalluvar - English Translation
- Complete list of Thirukkural
- Thirukkural for Mobile phones
- திரு மு.வரததாசனார், திரு மு.கருணாநிதி மற்றும் பலர் எழுதிய உரைகளின் தொகுப்பு ஆங்கில விளக்கத்துடன்
- IIT Madras site
- Thirukkural with English translation
- Thirukkural in Tamil with Explanation
- Thirukural - Another site which is categorized by chapters
- Another site which provides informations about thirukkural 2011 an education expo and mega job fair for all students in coimbatore
- Follow ThirukurlADay in Twitter. Get a Thirukural a day
- Thirukkural with english couplets translated by Dr. Shuddhananda Bharati, Editions ASSA, L'Auberson
- Thirukkural in Tamil & English with Explanation
- Thirukkural Online Video Lessons