Kural: The Tamil Classic
and Jainism

A discussion on soc.culture.tamil. In chronological order from Mar 16 1995 to Feb 3 1998.
Yashwant K. Malaiya

                    Thiru-Kural: First Kural

Responding to Arasu Chellaiah's comment that Dr. Abdul Rehman re-
gards Thirukural to be written by a Jain, Raghu Seshadri asked:

>In the very first Kural, and in many subsequest ones,
>Valluvar pays homage to God. Jainism, as we all know,
>is atheistic. So how could Valluvar be a Jain?

That is a rather interesting comment. For a Jain, or someone fam-
iliar  with  Jain  terminology,  the first kural would be perhaps
among the the most important reasons to think that it was written
by a Jain.

Dr. C.R.Selvakumar is right in pointing out the  universality  of
Kural  and  the  fact  that Kural is not written for readers of a
specific sect.  Thirukkural is not a  "Jain  book",  but  it  was
written  by  a Jain.  For a long time, I was not really convinced
that Kural was the work of a Jain. However having  looked  at  it
carefully,  it  is  clear  to  me that it is indeed the work of a
Jain. It was written in the age when  strong  sectarian  feelings
were  not common in the Indian community, and other books of that
era  also  tend  to  be  non-sectarian.  Incidentally  there  are
numerous secular books written by Jain authors.

There is evidence outside of the Thirukkural, of its author  hav-
ing been a Jain, as well as many kurals that support that view.

The first Kural is translated as following.

P.S. Sundaram's translation:

    A begins the alphabet
    And God, primordial, the world.

Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's translation

   "A" is the first and source of all the letters. Even so is
   God Primordial the first and source of all the world.

Both have chosen to translate "Aadi Bhagavan" as "Primordial God".
To  a  Jain, neither a translation, nor an explanation of the
term would be needed. Why?

It is commonly believed that the Jain idols  represent  Mahavira.
That is true in only some of the cases. They can represent anyone
of the 24 Tirthankaras or Jinas, of whom Mahavira (born 6th cent.
BCE)  was  the  last. The name of the first Jina was Rashabha. In
Jain  literature  (Prakrit,  Sanskrit,  as  well  as  in   modern
languages)  the common term used for him is "Aadi", his real name
"Rashabha" is used less often. In Jain tradition, he is not  only
the  first Jina, he is credited with having introduced culture in
the current cycle as a king.

Incidentally  Rashabha is mentioned in most of the  Puranas.  The
Puranas  agree  with  the  Jain  tradition  that  India was named
"Bhaarata- varsha" because the Chakravartin King Bharata, son  of

The 6th kural praises "him who conquered the five senses",  makes
it clear that the first 10 kurals praise someone born as a mortal
and not the Supreme God.

For those who are interested,  I  include  Govindarai  Shastri's
translation  of  the  first  kural. When he lost his eyesight, he
started wondering what he should do with his life. He then decid-
ed  to translate Thirukkural he had come across 30 years ago when
he was a student.  He had once recited part  of  his  translation
for Chakravarti Rajagopalacharya.

  "a" varNo vartate loke shabdaanam prathamo yathaa |
  thaadibhagavanasti           puraaNapuruShottamah ||1||



"Aadi" generally implies first of a (finite) sequence. Thus Aadi-
parvan  and Aadikaandam are the first chapters of Mahabharata and
Ramayana respectively,  and Aadi-Sankaracharya was the  first  of
the  Sankaracharyas.  The term "X aadi" implies a sequence with X
as the first element.

"Bhagavana" can be used as in "Bhagavana  Ram", "Bhagvana Buddha"
or  "Bhagavana  Mahavira"  or  independently to imply the Supreme
God.  In the first case, the usage is like  in  "lord"  in  "Lord
Jesus Christ".

The author of Thirukkural is pointing out the fact the lord  Aadi
Bhagavan's  name  starts  with  letter "a". The letter "a" is the
first  letter of all Indian scripts derived from Brahmi.

P.S. Sundaram mentions a tradition  that  "Aadi"  and  "Bhagavan"
were the names of Valluvar's mother and father.

Prof. Sundaram's translation attempts to capture the  brevity  of
the  original  verses. His view that the author of Kural may have
been a Jain, is mentioned in the introduction. In his  notes,  he
mentions  how  some of the verses may be differently interpreted.
As one can see from his notes, a simpler and more consistant  in-
terpretation of the first Chapter results if we assume the author
to be a Jain.


The Third Kural Badrinarayanan Seshadri wrote: >In this regard, I want to mention the phrase `malar misai Ekinaan' >that appears in the first chapter. Roughly translated, this means: malar misai Ekinaan = one who went towards or reached the flower. >I hope I have given the right meaning for the verb Ekuthal'. Some >scholars opine that the person who is referred to as `malar misai >Ekinaan' is Mahavira based on some historical records. It seems the >Jain author 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 devo- tees." "Aruhan" (Arhant) can be any one of the 24 Jinas. Here it would be interesting to compare the kural verse with part of 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 ||2|| .. 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 ||32|| .. wherever you put your feet, gods create lotus flowers. That reminds one of the scene in "Little Buddha". Actually, most of the verses of the first chaper can also apply to Gautama Bud- dha, 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. It would be interesting to look at Govindarai Shastri's transla- tion again. This time, let me give his Hindi translation. SharaNa liye jisne yahan, us vibhu ke padapadma, Kanaka kamalagami vahi, kare use sukhasadma. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Notes Bhaktaamar Stotra, is used by both Digambaras and Swetambaras, suggesting it was composed before 6th century AD, before major differences between the two branches of the Jains were introduced. However as the oldest Jain literature is in Prakrit, rather than Sanskrit, it can not be earlier than 1st cent. AD. Digambara monks today all belong to the ancient Mula Sangha (Ori- ginal Assembly). It is linked with Kundakundacharya, a monk from Tamil Nadu who wrote his books in Prakrita in around 1st cent. AD. Pali, language of the Buddhist books, is one of the Prakrits. The emphatic support of vegetarianism suggests that the author must have been a Jain and not a Buddhist. Buddhists should not kill, but are not required to be vegetarian. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Thirukkural and its Author I first came across Kural when I was very young, in form of Govindarai Shastri's translation. In the introduction, he ex- plains why he thinks its author was a Jain. I was not convinced. Except the "Aadi Bhagavan" term in the first kural, I could not identify (at that time) anything else that would suggest it was written by a Jain. Also since Govindarai Shastri was a Jain, his claim naturally would be suspected. Having become interested into it recently, I got a copy of the English translation by P.S. Sundaram. His translation of the first chapter is in not sect-specific. He does mention in his introduction "there are some indications in the Kural of Valluvar having been a Jain". Coming from an obviously non-Jain scholar, that raised my curiosity. I was amazed when I looked at the notes in the back of the book. Sundaram points out the Jain interpretation of several of the verses in the first chapter. Not being a Jain, he misses a few things. I am convinced that Kural was written by a Jain. In fact I think it is obvious. However let me explain my views on Thiruk- kural. I once came across an old textbook of high school algebra written by a Bengali author in English. I can not recall the name. He starts with a dedication page with a Sanskrit inscription "Shri- krashNaarpaNamastu" - dedicated to Lord Krishna. Similarly, I be- lieve that the first chapter is the personal dedication by Vallu- var, however the book itself is written for everyone. Goswami Tulsidasa, author of the Raama-charita-maanasa has writ- ten: "Jaaki rahi bhaavanaa jaisee, prabhu moorati dekhi tin jai- see" - one sees in the idol of the lord, what one wishes to see. I see no problem in people of different religions seeing their own deity in the first chapter. I agree with Selvakumar that VaLLuvar is beyond all religions, as far as the main text of the book is concerned. His Jain back- ground shows, but obviously it is a non-sectarian composition. I also agree with Kannan that a reader of Thirukkural should not focus on what religion Valluvar belongs to. However it should be completely appropriate for one to proudly point out that a great author was "one of us". I hope the readers of soc.culture.tamil would find my views in- teresting. I will appreciate any comments or suggestions. I am planning to write one or two articles on Thirukkural for North Indian readers, possibly in some Jain publications. Kural is vir- tually unknown in the North, I am sure people will benefit by knowing about it. It indeed ought to be considered a national work. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Theism as a concept, can be easily defined in within the Judeo- Christian- Islamic context. However in the Indian (i.e. Hindu) tradition it can be hard to specify exactly. The various terms for "god" can be used for minor gods, for anyone who is the ob- ject of worship, for souls that have achieved perfection (and hence release) or for the Supreme God. The term "atheism" con- notes a purely materialistic point of view. Jainism believes that one receives the results of ones karmas without the intervention of another entity. It believes that the physical actions in the universe occur according to the laws of nature, rather than being acts of a superior being. In this sense one could say that Jainism is atheistic. However, the difference between Jainism/Buddhism and other Hindu traditions, can be con- sidered to be simply use of a different modeling scheme. If one takes Einstein's view that the "God is the sum-total of all na- tural laws", than its really the same thing. It is somewhat like modeling the propagation of electromagnetic waves as propagation of energy in the vacuum, or as perturbations in the all pervading substance "ether". Just a different modeling scheme. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Tirukkural as DharmashAstra In the broad definition, Dharma of an object is its own nature, "vatthu sahAvo dhammo" as SamantabhadrAcharya wrote. More specif- ically, the Dharma of a person is conduct that is both proper and natural. In Jainism (as well as in other Hindu traditions) the Dharma for a monk (anAgAra i.e. homeless) is different from the Dharma for a lay person (sAgAra i.e. householder). The conduct for a monk is given in books like AcharAnga or MUlAchAara. The books called ShrAvakAchAras define the religious duties of the householder (ShrAvaka "one who listens"). For a householder, the religious conduct does not fully define his Dharma. While he accepts liberation as the ultimate goal, he enjoys the pleasures of the world and accepts the accompanying responsibilities. Somadeva Suri wrote Yashastilaka-ChampU in 959AD during the reign of Arikesharin II, a feudatory of RashtrakutaKrishna III. A sec- tion of the this large book is UpAsakAdhyayana, which itself may be regarded as a separate book on Dharma of an UpAsaka (wor- shiper). He writes: dvau hi dharamu gRahasthANam, laukikah, pArlaukikah | lokAshrayo bhavedAdyah, parah syAdAgamAshrayah || For the householder there are two dharmas, laukika (worldly) and paaralukika (beyond worldly). The basis of the first is world it- self, for the second the Jain canon. The fourth chapter of Kural praises Dharma. The first verse iden- tifies the two components of the Dharma. It is translated by Sundaram as What is better investment than virtue which yields Both wealth and release to the living? Govindrai Shastri translates this as dharmAt sAdhutarah koanyo, vindanti mAnavAh| puNyam swargapradam nityam, nirvANnch sudurlabhah|| Thirrukural is different from most other treatises on Dharma, it is devoted almost entirely to the laukika (worldly) dharma of the householder. A comparable Sanskrit work is NItivAkyAmRata, also by Somadeva Suri himself. Not surprisingly, NItivAkyAmRata is also not a sectarian composition, it quotes from numerous past authors in support, many from non-Jain traditions. Here it is interesting to look at the Confucian philosophy, which is almost entirely laukika. People sometimes say it is not a "re- ligion", however it is certainly a dharma. In China, Confucianism and Buddhism generally existed in harmony, because the first specified the laukika dharma and the second the pArlaukika dhar- ma. Notice that the fifth Kural is from pArlaukika point of view. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Notes: the 10th century was a good period for Jain Authors in Karnataka. They wrote numerous books in not only Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsha, they also wrote the earliest Kannada literature dur- ing this period. Many of these Jain authors were Brahmin, as was the general Chamundaraya, who had the idol of Gommateshwara carved in Shravanabelgola. The Confucian Analects describes the discussion following death of one of Confucious' favorite student Yen Yuan. Someone asked about "serving" the spirits of the dead. The Master answered: "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?" He was further asked about death. He answered "While you do not know life, how can you know about death". The Confu- cians can perhaps be considered atheistic, however they do have the concept of the "heaven". Thus a dynasty rules as long as it has the "mandate of the heaven". In Beijing, there is famous tem- ple and an altar, both circular and empty, where the Emperors used to worship "heaven".
Date of Thirukkural Vindha@aol.com (VINDHA) wrote: I vaguely remember reading in high school, that Valluvar was born in Mylapore. Is there any truth to this? From what you say, it seems quite likely, that valluvar is a JAin. It is also a fact that Jainism was very popular during the Pallava period. In fact Mahendra varman was a jain before he became a saivite due to the influence of Appar. Since Mylapore area could very well have been a part of Pallave kingdom, by it's sheer proximity to Kancheepuram, Thiruvalluvar could have been a Jain who lived around Mahendra Varmans period. This approximately puts his time around 900 A.D. Again all this are based upon the above assumptions. Perhaps somone has studied about the date of Kural and can give what scholars think. Let me mention what I have seen. First, Jainism has been in Tamilnadu since very early times. One indication of that can be found in the Mahavamsa. It mentions that King Pandukabhaya had buildings constructed for Nirgranthas (i.e. Jain monks) in Anuradhapura. Assuming Buddha's nirvana occured in 544BC, Pandukabhaya's period would be 438-368BC. Another mention of the Nirgranthas occurs during the battles of Vattagamini Abhaya when a (apparently Tamil) Nirganta named Giri is mentioned. The Abhaya-giri Mahavihara thus is the only Buddhist institution partly named after a Nirgrantha monk! Inscriptions in Tamilnadu from 1st and 2nd century BC mention existance of Jain monks and householders. Among well known early Jain authors from Tamilnadu are Kundakunda and Samantabhadra, both born in noble or ruling families according to tradition. Now about Thirukkural. Acording to Sundaram, it has been dated from 2nd cent. BC to 8th cent. AD. However if I am not mistaken, most scholars tend to place it between 1-4th cent AD. According to Jain tradition, the author was Elacharya (also called Kundakunda) or his householder student. Kundakunda is dated around 2-3rd cent AD, he is well known for his Prakrit books. It is hard to see how a monk could have written on matters of household duties etc (although there are such examples), however this tradition supports a date of about 2-3rd century AD. Thirukkural hints at popularity of Indra worship. Indra is now generally not invoked during the puranic rites, but is still invoked during the vedic rites like upanayanam. This may also suggest early centuries of the Christian era. I will appreciate any suggestions on this. Incidentally, Prof. Sundaram write that Mylapore might have been the place of his death rather than birth. According to Dr. S. Padmanathan, he may have been born near Kanyakumari. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Related discussions: From: MFPD@utcvm.utc.edu (Parthasarati Dileepan) First, I have not found anything about TK in aazhvaar's works. I will consult an Indian source shall post what I find later. Badri has already posted TK in silappathikaaram and maNimEgalai and I won't repeat them. From what I have seen it seems safe to conclude that TK is after Tholgappiyam and before Silappathikaaram. However, there seems to be a lot of disagreement in placing Tholgappiyam. With this preamble let me quote the following passages. "The Golden Anthology of Ancient Tamil Literature," Volume 1, by Ilavazhaganar, Translated by Nalladai, R. Balakrishna Mudaliyar, The south India Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society, Tinnevelly, Madras - 1, 1959. ------------------------------------ Page x and xi: "....Tholkappiam is believed to have been written before the seventh century B.C. when the second Tamil Sangam was in existence. The other sangam works viz. Pattu, Thokai and Kanakku are assigned to the third Sangam, between the 2nd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. though among the 18 shorter works or Pathinen keezh kanakku, Thirukkural is considered to be the oldest, it being assigned a period immediately following Tholgappiyam, i.e. prior to the 5th century B.C." "The Sacred Kural, H.A. Popley, Y.M.C.A. Publishing House, Calcutta-16, 1958 --------------------------------------------- Page 6 through 10 (I am giving only highlights, read the book for complete discussion.) "... The date to be assigned to kural depends upon the date fixed for the Tholgappiyam. The date of the Tholgappiyam was formerly fixed as the third or second century before Christ, .... but many recent scholars date it later and the date most generally accepted is the first century before Christ..... The dates fix the anterior limit for date of the Kural...... It is not so easy to obtain a posterior limit for the date of the Kural....... All that we can say with any degree of certainty is that it was produced between 100 B.C. and 300 A.C." The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sanskrit Counterparts," George Hart, University of California Press, 1975. ------------------------------- I was able to find discussion relating only to Tholgappiyam. Hart relates the date of Tholgappiyam to that of ancient Tamizh anthologies. He dates the anthologies at 1st - 3rd century A.D. (Page 9). He then cites Mahadevan's 1971 paper on "Tamil Brahmi Inscriptions of the Sangam Age" to indicate, "parts of the Tholgappiyam are quite late, though some parts may be as early as has been generally claimed." I take this to mean that according to Hart, more than one author is involved and the work is between 2nd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D. and TK being even later or somewhere in between. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ From: selvakum@sun14.vlsi.uwaterloo.ca (C. R. Selvakumar) Dr. Sankaran, I'm not an expert on dating any work but I can share my understanding based on some of the arguements I've heard. About Tholkaapiyam, nothing is certainly known except that it is claimed to be a pre-Sangam work ( i.e. the so called third and only Sangam we are aware of, although there are some ancient tamil songs which claim that there were 'kal kOL' s and much of the literature and lineage is lost.). The basis for believing that Tholkaapiyam to be earlier than the so called kadaic cankam ( last academy ) are mostly based on certain linguistic characteristics being unfamliar or not used in the third academy and assessed to be an earlier form.... Based on this it is argued that it is earlier than about 200-300 B.C. Some scholars like Ilakkuvanaar ( I don't have exact reference with me) have argued that it is 700 B.C or earlier. I personally believe a more in-depth study is needed before one can assess much closer estimates about the period. Since there is nothing to prevent one from claiming 1000 B.C etc. some have done that as well. All one can reasonably say now ( even this could turn out to be incorrect) is that it 'probably belongs to a period earlier than about 300 B.C. About ThiruvaLLuvar ( Luv): He is said to have lived after Tholkaapiyar, because he seems to have adopted some thoughts from tholkaapiyam. For example Devaneyap paavaanar gives a ocurences: Tholkaappiya - nURpaa: "niRaimozhi maanthar aanaiyiR kiLantha maRaimozhi thaanE manthiraam enba ( thol. 1434) with thirukkuRaL: 'niRaimozhi maanthar perumai nilaththu maRaimozhi kaatividum' ( kuRaL - 28) and Devaneya Paavaanar gives a few more. About the later limit, thiruvaLLuvar definitely lived earlier than MaNimEkalai author since he quotes as Badri has give above. In addition to Badri's quote from Silappathikaaram, there is another apparent adoption of vaLLuvar's words in "muRpakaR ceythaan piRankEdu than kEdu piRpakaR kaNkuRUum peRRiya kaaN" ( cilappathikaaram, 25: 3-4) Devaneyap paavaaNar gives some more considerations ( read his thamizh maraburai pages 7-11 ) and concludes that thiruvaLLuvar should have lived sometime between tholkaapiyar and Silappathikaaram- MaNimEkalai authors' time. He says it could anywhere between 200 B.C to even upto 500 A.D. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ From: Shyamala Parameswaran With regard to approximation of the Tolkappiam in about 400-300 BC, the TK anywhere between 2nd and 4th century AD, followed by the Silappthikaram and Maanimekalai, the approximate placement of Manu Smriti is as follows: 200 AD. Composition of Manu Smriti, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Epics had further accretions. 300 c.-200 BC. Arthasastra of Kautilya, earliest form From Cutler: Interpreting Tirukkural, JAOS, 112.4(1192): "..Some of the names by which the text [Tirukkural] is known ... are tamilmarai ("Tamil Veda"), poyyamoli ("speech that does not lie"), and teyva nul ("divine text") [fn4]. There is evidence that TK has long occupied an honored place in the Tamil literary canon. For example, quotations from or allusions to verses from TK have been identified in classic works such as Cilapatikaram, Manimekalai, and the Tamil Ramayana of Kampan [fn5]" [fn5] S. Maharajan, Tiruvalluvar (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi: 1982), 17, 22. The dating of these texts is far from certain, and the relative chronology of the TK and some of the texts in which Maharajan finds allusions to verses from TK is debatable. However, in Manimekalai a verse from TK (6.5) is quoted verbatim. The fifth century A.D. has been suggested as a likely date for the composition of Cilapatikaram and the sixth century for Manimekalai. Dates ranging from the ninth ninth to the twelfth century A.D. have been suggested for the composition of Kamapan's epic. For detailed discussion of these factors influencing the dating of these and other traditional Tamil texts see Kamil Zvelebil, Tamil Literature, vol. 2, fasc. 1 of Handbuch der Orientalistik, ed. Jan Gonda (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975) @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
The Fifth Kural The fifth kural presents a concept which is somewhat strange from a worldly point of view. It regards both good and bad karmas to be undesirable. It is translated by P.S. Sundaram as The delusions caused by good deeds and bad Shall never be theirs who seek God's Praises. The Himalayan Academy translation is Good and bad, delusion's dual deeds, do not cannot cling Those who delight in praising the immutable, worshipful One. This is actually a well known basic Jain concept. sovanniyam pi niyalam, bandhadi kaalaayasam pi jaha purisam| bandhadi evam jivam, suhamasuham va kadam kammam|| Just as fetters whether made of iron or gold binds a person, similarly karma, whether auspicious (punya) or inauspicious (paapa) binds the soul. Thus for liberation of the soul, karmas of both kind must be exhausted through tapa. The delusion mentioned in the fifth kural, delusion about the "bandha tattva", is one of the seven delusions discussed in Jain texts.
Meenaradchagan Vishnu wrote about Samkhya Karika: >So according to Bharathidasan, thirukkuRal was based on 'eNNool' which >is in Skt. known as 'Samkhya'. However, thEva nEyap paavaNaar refutes >this claim. > >Under the section "thiruvaLLuvar emmathaththaar?" of the "thirukkuRaL >thamiz marapurai", paavaNaar says: > >"kadauL illai yenRum, meyppoRuL irupaththainthenRum kooRum caankiyak >koLkaikaLai oppukkoLLaamaiyaal thiruvaLLuvar caankiyarallar" >(ThiruvaLLuvar is not a Samkhya because he does not accept the atheism >and the 25 categories of Samkhya philosophy) > >In my personal view, I think Samkhya played an important role in the >non-Vedic philosophies (including Buddhism) of India. VaLLuvar may >have been aware of Samkhya philosphy but his work is unique. Just like Cilappatikaram, ThirukkuRal is a non-sectarian work written by a Jain. ThirukkuRal was written for people of all sects. While the author's Jain background shows up occasionally, it is not a sectarian book, with the exception of the opening. In the first chapter, the author praises lord Aadi, the first Jina, using Jain conventions and expressions. It is possible that with some effort the kurals of the first chapters can be interpreted differently, but taken directly, they can only refer to the first Jina. The religious views of the Tamil society (as well as the Indian society) when ThirukkuRal was composed, are reflected in Manimekhalai and in Cilappatikaram. While the monks and nuns generally belonged to a specific sect, it was not necessary for ordinary people who did not view the sects as being mutually exclusive.
I am grateful to C.R. Selvakumar for his comments. I have learned from his exceptional knowledge of classical Tamil. Following my comments on Meenaradchagan Vishnu's post (about the view that Thiruvalluvar was Samkhya), Dr. Selvakumar wrote: "Borrowing your line, one can say that it is possible that one can interpret certain Kurals in the first Chapter as reflective of Jain philosophy but I would add that a closer look would reveal the lack of substance in this interpretation. .. Your interpretations of KuRaLs 1, 5 etc. are pretty narrow ( sectarian)." In my view, a Jain interpretation is more direct. I believe that the first chapter (and possibly the next 3 as well) should be taken as his personal dedication (mangalacharana), just like many Indian popular singers open public performances with a personal prayer. "If VaLLuvar was a Jain or a Buddhist or whatever, it does not matter, because what he says is what matters and what he says is secular philosophy of great value." That is true. While it is hard for me to resist the temptation of claiming VaLLuvar as one of us, what he is saying about the laukika (secular) dharma, is important. "The only thing that can be said is that vaLLuvar speaks for the Theism but not some particular dogma of Theism." We can perhaps assume that the sects prevailing at the time of Valluvar were: Shaiva, Brahma-vadis, Vaishnavas, Veda-vadis, Ajivakas, Nirgranthas (Jain), Samkhya, Vaisheshika , Bhuta-vadis (materialists) and Buddhists; as discussed in Manimekhalai. Manimekhalai gives a description of each of these. Which of these are "Theists" and which are not? Selvakumar probably excludes Jains and Buddhists from "Theists". They have indeed been termed "Nastikas" by the rivals, even though they believe in the atman (soul), cycles of rebirth, karma and nirvana. They also have gods and goddesses, although their significance is minor. The Greek term "theos" was originally applicable to all such gods. In any case if you look at prayers, you will find Jains using the term Bhagvan, Prabhu, Natha, Deva, Ish etc. for the Jinas. "Mr. Malaiya, I will give you one more ammunition to your pet theory. The Tamil word neeththaar ( renounced ones) oftentimes _specifically_ means Jinas ( specifically Jain saints) and VaLLuvar had devoted one chapter for neeththaar perumai ( glory/greatness of the renounced). You can use this chapter to bring more force to your argument." Thanks. Yes, that is a good point. The Jains actually worship the ascetics. Some Jain formulas invoke the following: Arhats: The Jinas (like Vardhamana Mahavira, who was the 24th) Siddhas: the liberated souls Sadhus: the ascetics and the Dharma. The first chapter praises the Arhats (specifically the first one) and also mentions liberation of the soul. The third and the fourth chapters praise the ascetics and the Dharma. The second chapter had been enigma to me for a long time, however I now believe it can be explained using Cilappadikaram (and Manimekhalai) to understand the historical background. I hope to write about it sometime.
I must apologize for raising a question which is not really of great significance to any reader of Thirukural. However it is hard for me to resist the temptation. This note is a response to Selvakumar's note of Sept. 6, 95. Selvakumar writes: I quoted verbatim what Devaneyap Pavanar had said that vaLLuvar belongs to 'kadavuL matham'. While this is closer to what appears to be the case, even this is I find it needless. I will appreciate if you could elaborate on vaLLuvar belonging to 'kadavuL matham' and why you think it is closer to the truth. I honestly believe that vaLLuvar attained a certain wisdom and he had the talent and charity of heart to write down a code of conduct for human beings based on his wisdom. I agree. ---------quote from Malaiya's recent posting of July 20th---- The Fifth Kural ..... Just as fetters whether made of iron or gold binds a person, similarly karma, whether auspicious (punya) or inauspicious (paapa) binds the soul. ... ----------end of quote------------------------------ The concept quoted above can be shown from Saivism, Vedic philosophy and possibly from Vaishnavism. I would be interested in seeing if the concept can be shown to be from Saivism, Vedic philosophy or Vaishnavism. Based on my readings of Jainism books I could not find much support that vaLLuvar was a Jain as claimed by Mr. Malaiya. Kural, with the exception of the opening, is written for all. While the author's views on things like vegetarianism show his background, one should not expect to find a discussion of Jain philosophy there. For the first chapter, one ought to compare it with Jain prayers.
Response to some of the questions by Dr. Selvakumar. [1] How many Jain philosophy books are from pre 5th century of the Current Era ( C.E), authentically ? All ancient books in India were handed down using oral tradition. That includes Jain books also. Inscriptions are often very valuable in establishing dates. As you know, for practically all ancient Indian books, dating can be done only approximately. Lord Mahvira (Vardhamana), the 24th Jina, attained nirvana in 527BCE. His teachings were compiled into 12 Angas and 14 Purvas. There were many other books composed in the period immediately following, which are regarded to be part of Aagam. At the time of Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 BCE), two branches of the Jain tradition arose (later they became the two sects, Digambaras and Shwetambaras). At the same time the Council of Patliputra took place that collected and edited the canonical books. At this time, only one person knew the complete Purvas, who did not participate in the council. Thus after him only fragments of the Purvas were known. Later councils took place in early fourth century AD in Mathura and Valabhi (Gujrat). The Shwetambara sect had a council in 453AD at Valabhi, when the Angas and other minor books were written down. One famous South Indian author was Acharya Kundakunda (perhaps first or second cent. AD), who wrote several books. He is mentioned in many ancient inscriptions. Umaswati (2-3rd cent), Bhutabali-Pushpadant (2nd cent) , Gunadhara (2nd cent), Samantabhadra (3-4 cent) all wrote before 5th cent AD. You may want to check Manimekhalai for a mention of the Jain texts (and an interesting introduction to Jain philosophy). Jainism has been present in Tamilnadu since very early times. There are many 2nd-1st cent BCE Jain inscriptions in Tamilnadu. According to the chronicals in Ceylon, Pandukabhaya (438-368BC) had residences built in Anuradhapur for Nirgranthas (Jain ascetics). [1a] What is your understanding when Valluvar wrote his work ? I would guess 1-3nd cent AD. Manimekhalai mentions Gajabahu (171 AD-), King of Ceylon. It is also believed by some scholars that Manimekhalai could not have been written after the Pallava intrusion (around 295 AD). If correct, this would fix Manimekhalai in 2-3rd cent AD, and thus Valluvar in 1-3 cent AD. will continue.
Responses to Dr. Selvakumar's questions: Below I continue my response to some of Selvakumar's questions. Let me first comment on something he wrote: "Current Jain practices and philosophies (temples, prayers, relgious doctrines) are said to be influenced by Hindu, Buddhist religions and even other religions, just as these religions were influenced by Jainsism." It should be pointed out that at the time of composition of Thirukural, there was no such thing as the "Hindu" religion, unless it also included Jainism and Buddhism. Various sects developed in presence of each other. Some of the supposed influences of "Hinduism" on Jainism and Buddhism, were in fact developments that occured in various sects at around the same time. Earliest available anthropomophic Jain idols date from Maurya or Shunga period. The earliest known idol of Saraswati was installed by a Jain monk in Mathura, and the earliest representation of Laksmi occurs on the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi. Selvakumar has talked about authenticity of books. Practically all the books in India were transmitted using the oral tradition. Some scholars believe that Mahabharata and Ramayana were finalized in the present form by 5th cent AD. That does not mean that they originated in 5th cent A.D. Selvakumar wrote: "As I understand several changes in Jain practices and doctrines were introduced after encounters with Saivites in TN ( around 600-750 C.E) and a few centuries later in Karnataka." That is rather odd. It is perhaps possible for Jains in Tamilnadu to be influenced by the TN Saivites. But why would the Shwetambaras in Gujrat (who had written down the oral tradition by 453AD) and Digambaras in North and Central India be influenced by Tamilnadu Saivites? I would be very interested in knowing exactly what changes in Jain practices and doctrine he is thinking about. Even though the two Jain sects, Digambaras and Shwetambaras separated a long time ago, even now the basic principles are the same, with the exception of some well known differences. Continuing the list of questions by C.R. Selvakumar: [2] What are the sources of the 'Jain' prayers and slokas quoted by Mr. Malaiya and what is the proof that they were not adopted after 5th century C.E. or after encounters with Saivites in TN ? I only have a few popular Jain books including some prayer books. About Lord Adi (first Jina) the Sanskrit shloka and the Gujrati verse are from the Shwetambara tradition. Their centers have been in Gujrat/ SE Rajsthan region. The Sanskrit shloka is older, but I can not say when it was written. The Hindi verses (from Digambara tradition) written probably in Rajsthan, are not old; but it would be hard to see why the authors would have been affected by Tamil Saivism. Thirukural is practically unknown in North India (which ought to change). Would Jains in the North start using the term Aadi for the first Jina (Rashabha), just so that they can claim Thirukural? [2a] Were there redactions after 5th century C.E in Jainism? Like what? [3] While Adinaatha and Vardhamana are used for Rsaba, when was the term Adibagavan used for Rsaba first ? Is the word Adibagavan found in a well dated Jain work prior to 5th century C.E. ? That would require research. But I would like to ask: When was the word "Adibagavan" first used in a well dated "theist" work? [4] If Bharathi uses 'veLLaith thaamarai meethu' when he says Saraswati sits on white lotus flower, would he become a Jain ? No. By tradition the Jinas walk on lotus flowers, but that is just one clue. [5] What is the understanding of those who argue that vaLLuvar is a Jain about the relgious understanding, philosophical maturity and spiritual knowledge of Tamils? Prof. P.S. Sundaram and Dr. Abdul Rehman must have a good understanding of the Tamil culture. Tamil Jains whose work I have seen, must have a good knowledge. I strongly suspect that many readers of soc.culture.tamil, who have agreed with me also have a very good understanding of the Tamil society. [6] When sEkkozhaar ( who wrote Periya puraaNam, a hagiography of Saivite Saints) says the following re Appar would he become a Jain, because he uses 'iruvinai' ? "thaNdamizh maalaigaL paadi tham perumaan... ... ... iruvinaip paasamu malakka laarththalin =============== varupavak kadalil vIzh maakka LERida aruLumey yaNYcezhuth tharaicai ikkada(l) oru kanmE lERRida(l) uraikka vENdumE No. But a Bhagavan, who conquered his five senses (born as a person), called Aadi, must be the first Jain Tirthankara. Selvakumar further writes: ".. If he is a Jain, consider me a vaLLuvar Jain; .." No need to become a Jain to follow Thirukural. Anyone can do it.
The sixth kural in the first chapter is \BT poRi vAyil aintu avittAn2 poy tIr ozukka neRi nin2RAr nITu vAzvAr \bt The Himalayan Academy translation is A long and joyous life rewards those who remain firmly On the faultless path of Him who controls the five senses. The translation by Prof. Sundaram is, Long life is theirs who tread the path Of him who conquered the five senses. Sundaram comments: "The stanza is almost invariably interpreted as referring not just to anyone who has controlled his senses, but to the Supreme One-God. It may seem strange to refer to God as one who conquered the five senses as if this was for Him a matter of effort. But Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, like the Buddha, took birth as a man and achieved godhead by overcoming the temptations of the flesh." Only a person born as a human being can conquer his five senses. A Supreme God, by definition, is not subject to senses. This verse like others in the first chapter, refers to Lord Aadi, the first Jina (mistakenly called Mahvira by Sundaram). The word "Jina" in fact literally means a "conqueror", conqueror of the five senses. An ordinary reader of the Thirukkural is not expected to be a conqueror of the five senses. He is a householder, who enjoys a sensuous life which is entirely proper for him as long as it is in accordance with the dharma. Kural, while it praises the ascetics, is written for the ordinary people. Here is the Govindrai Shastri's Sanskrit translation: Aatmanaa jayinaa tena, yo dharmadhva pradarshitah | Tam nityam yeenugachchhanti te nunam dirgha-jivinah ||
Muthuram M. Sujana Kumar: You have asked some interesting and specific questions. Somtime perhaps I would like to resond to them. But first, let me address a few things. I am not a scholar in these things. I have expressed my views based on what I have read, and have really learnt quite a bit from others, those who have expressed opposite views as well as those who have supported my view. I am convinced that Kural is an essentially non-sectarian work written by a Jain. I have shared my views why I think so. I recognize that Kural is very close to many, and I can not expect to change their views. You write: "There is absolutely no way anyone can understand the kural without seeing that as the essence of Vedanta. I am tired of people commenting on the kural, without knowing a word of vedanta, and just interpreting this, sometimes even as an atheistic work. The kural is nothing but the essence of the vedas." I disagree. First, Kural is mostly about laukika or secular dharma which is separate from paarlaukika considerations. One does not have to know about any specific religion or believe in it, to understand Kural. Secondly, most verses of Kural are simple and direct. That is the beauty of Kural. You do not need to be a philosopher to understand them. Since they are brief, like sutras, and they are in an older form of the language, commentaries are useful. To say Kural is nothing but the essence of the Vedas is a good tribute to the Kural and the Vedas. In practice, anyone who has studied Vedas will benefit from studying the Kural, and vice versa. You write: "Jain philosophy and Buddhist philosophy are without God, as well as they both deny the authority of the Vedas." Many philosophical differences occur because of use of different modeling schemes. You are using a standard phrase to dismiss Jain and Buddhist philosophy, which has been used for many centuries. Have you studied Jainism or Buddhism? Do you know about them through sources other then partisan references? Jains and Buddhists do not use Vedas but they have always recognized Vedas as ancient wisdom. You wrote: "I have to ask you, how you can assume that supreme God cannot have senses. I do not know what you mean by "subject to senses". There is no reference to effort being necessary to conquer the senses, as Sundaram refers to. I am not sure if you are saying that God should be without senses, which is not correct again." Does Supreme God have physical urges like we have? We have urges because we have the five senses. The ascetics control those five senses. For the Supreme God the question does not rise.
The ninth kural is: \BT kOL il poRiyin2 kuNam ilavE eNkuNattAn2 tALai vaNagkAt talai \bt The Himalayan Academy translation is: The head which cannot bow before the Feet of the Possessor Of eight infinite powers is like the senses lacking the power to perceive. The translation by Prof. Sundaram is: Palsied and useless the head unbowed At the feet of the God of eightfold virtue. The Sanskrit translation by Govindrai Shastri is: nishkriyendriyasankaasha manvaaste mahiitale | paadadvayam namasyanti ye naashta-guNa-dhaariNah || This praises the Siddhas (liberated souls), the second among the five parmeshThins. The first parmeshThins are the Arhats (or Jinas) who while living on the earth, preach the Dharma. What are their eight guNas? Ananta jnana Ananta darshana Being vitaraga Ananta labdhi Ananta sukha Akshaya sthiti Being arupa Aguruladhutaa These eight guNas are obtained by having destroyed the eitht kinds of karmas. Here is the complete list of 5 parameshThins: 1. Arhats or Jinas (with 12 guNas) 2. Siddhas: liberated souls (with 8 guNas) 3. Aacharyas: (Master ascetics) (with 36 guNas) 4. Upadhyaayas: (Ascetics who teach as well as learn) (with 25 guNas) 5. Saadhus: all ascetics (27 guNas) The Suddhas are worshipped by worshipping the footprints at the site of the nirvana, or by worshipping "negative" idols, blocks with a human form carved out to symbolize the liberated soul which is non-physical.
Shabari Kumar wrote: >recently, i revisted the tirukkural, on the theory that so many eminences >(who praise it) can't be wrong. i read it in penguin translation (my >tamizh is not what it once was), so the poetry is not there obviously. >i'll take the eminent word that it exists (altho even the kama sections >struck me as unmoving, compared to cankam verses i've read). i found it >disjointed (the kama section is totally at odds with the rest as it is >the only one with characters and not platitudes), the philososphy >unremarkable when not downright offensive. this is all bringing me the It should be recognized that tirukkural is devoted to earthly matters of the householders. While it praises the ascetics, and mentions the ultimate aim, release of the soul, its focus is the householder's laukika dharma, nIti and the pleasures. Let me present some of the sutras from Dharma-Bindu by Acharya Haribhadra (approx. 6-7th cent.). so.ayam-anushhThaatR^i-bhedat dvi-vidho gR^ihastha-dharmo yati-dharmash-cha | Because of the difference in practice, Dharma is of two kinds, for the householders and for the monks. tatra gR^ihastha-dharmo.api dvi-vidhaH saamanyato visheshhatash-cha | Of the householder's dharma, there are two kind, "ordinary" and "special" tatra saamnayato gR^ihastha-dharmaH kula-krama-agatam-anindyaM vibhavady-apekshayaa nyaato.anushhThaanaM | The ordinary gR^ihastha-dharma should be carried out according to tradition, such that it is not objectionable, according to ones abilities such as wealth, in accordance with nyaya (everyone treated fairly and according to laws). Somadeva-suri (10th cent) calls the "ordinary" and "special" dharmas laukika and the paralukika dharmas respectively: dvau hi dharamau gR^iahasthANam, laukikaH, paarlaukikaH | lokaashrayo bhavedaadyah, parah syaad-aagama-AshrayaH || A householder follows both laukika and the paralukika dharmas at the same time. Thus the kama (desires) section does not appear at odds with the rest of the Thirukkural to me.
The 8th Kural: Virtue-wheel The eighth Kural can confuse even Jains who are not familiar with historical Jain tradition. Prof. Sundaram translates it as: The feet of the Lord with the Virtue-wheel Will help to cross the sea of birth. However Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's translation is They alone can cross life's other oceans who take refuge At the Feet of the Gracious One, Himself an ocean of virtue. Sundaram explains: "aravaazhi" could mean either the "ocean of virtue" or the "wheel of virtue", the "dharma chakra". The latter meaning would be appropriate to the Jain God Aruhan who "caused and possesses the circle of virtue". According to Ellis the dic- tionaries give the name "antanan" (Brahmin) to only two gods, viz., Brahma (from whom comes Brahmin) and Aruhan. With the meaning "the sea of virtue" , the verse could be translated, "Except with that raft, the sea of virtue, other seas can not be crossed," the other seas being those of wealth and happiness. I do not know if Prof. Sundaram is familiar with the fact that for several centuries, it was a common convention to show a "dharma-chakra" just below the idols of the Tirthan- karas. A large number of Kushana period (first to third cen- tury AD) idols, excavated at Mathura show a dharma chakra located below the Jina's feet. Many show dharma chakras inscribed on the soles of the feet of the Jina. It was once common for Jains to worship the dharma chakra, and even now it will occasionally be found in Jain temples. A first cen- tury dharma chakra has been found as part of a collection of Jain bronzes unearthed in Bihar. A dharma chakra is one of the items traditionally associated with a Jina. Dharamachakra also had a similar significance for Buddhists. {Response to Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan's note}

Also see Re: Tirukkural & Religion Tiruvalluvar -a true Jain Christian Saiva Vaishnava Dalit