The Tamils may justly be proud of the fact that Tamil has won the status of a Classical language, the status it richly deserves and should have got long, long ago. The Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), established in Chennai, has mapped out various plans including preparation of definitive editions of forty-one Classical Tamil texts and translation of these works into English and other major European languages as well as into major Indian languages and writing of a historical grammar of Tamil. Language being the autobiography of a people, our objective is to preserve and safeguard the invaluable treasure of the literary compositions in our language. If only we could delve into our past and recover the riches and wealth of the mighty treasure trove of Classical Tamil poetry, we will be amply rewarded by its lofty poetry, the poetry that strengthens and purifies the holiness of heart's affection and enlarges our imagination. Apart from these, reading the ancient Tamil texts such as Tolkappiyam, Ettuttokai, Pattuppattu, Tirukkural etc., provides a foundation for scholarship for the present and in this sense they do provide enlightened education.
It is heartening to write this foreword to the series of publications brought out by CICT, which I am sure, will do full justice to the masterpieces in Tamil without compromising on the quality of production. The Cankam corpus being a repository of our glorious culture, it behaves our present and future generations to study them and to convey their message and the vision of life embodied in them to the public at large. Let me, therefore, commend the series to the enlightened beings the world over.
Tirukkural, a classic of 1,330 rhymed couplets in 133 sections of 10 distiches each, composed in the first century BC is a philosophic poem dealing with the most elemental themes that govern human life: ethics, polity and love. The poem is in three distinguishable parts, Aram, Porul and Inpam. Part I Aram in thirty-eight verses deals with virtue, moral and cosmic order. Beginning with a prologue in praise of the Almighty, this section expatiates on moral code of conduct, righteousness in private and public life and defines the virtues associated with family life and asceticism. Part II Porul in seventy couplets handles the theme of wealth, social life and political skill. This section is a comprehensive discourse on the rights and duties of the king, laws of good governance, duties of an able administrator and ways and means of protecting and guarding one's nation. Part III in twenty-five couplets, divided into two broad subdivisions, discusses secret courtship and the joys of wedded love. This short section presents a number of captivating dramatic scenes, each of which is a brief analysis of the varying moods of lovers.
Tirukkural is at once a moral treatise and a work of art of the highest order. Music married to immortal verse, the poem employs a single metre, the Kuralvenpa, most appropriate to gnomic poetry. The first line of each couplet consists of four feet and the second line, three. This tight structure does not exercise any restraint on Valluvar's imagination. Each couplet "snatches a grace beyond the reach of art."
Brevity, it is said, is the soul of wit. The wealth and richness of poet-prophet Thiruvalluvar's concise expressions can be seen in the manifold ways these lyrics have been interpreted by scholars and commentators from time immemorial.
The present volume is the first translation of the celebrated book into Kannada by S. Srinivasan.
I am pleased to thank him for coming forward to undertake this responsibility and bringing it to a successful completion with so much involvement.
I am thankful to the Department of Translation of the Institute and the Publications Division for their help in bringing out this volume.
The Hon'ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Vice-Chairman of the Central Institute for Classical Tamil has written the foreword which lends grace to this present volume. We are indeed privileged to have his foreword for this volume and it is our bounden duty to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to him.
Tirukkural is considered to be a book of pride by Tamils; the author of these verses is Saint Tiruvalluvar. No one knows the original name of this blessed poet. He belongs to the sect Valluvar (person propagating and proclaiming kings' orders) and hence is known as Tiruvalluvar. Even the period of his existence is disputed. In Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai there is a reference to the following Kural:
A wife who riseth worshipping no God except her Lord
Can bid and force the clouds to rain through her commanding words.
Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai are classified as belonging to the second century. Hence Tirukkural must have been written much before the second century. It is presumed that Tiruvalluvar might have lived between the third and sixth century BC.
Society does not remain stagnant. Births of saints, propagation of virtues, changes in the society, progress and developments have been happening continuously and development has been part and parcel of the progress of the society. Tiruvalluvar's verses have withstood the test of time and several of his verses can be referred and applied to resolve present-day problems even today.
There can be no time limit ascribed to Tiruvalluvar's Chapter "On Love". His verses advising virtue have been written in a way that are applicable and adaptable today and the days to come. His advice to kings' ministers are applicable to the present day Ministers and Governors of our democratic set up. These verses can be used as reference in their day-to-day activities by those holding administrative positions in the governance of any nation.
Men have to progress despite facing problems. Finding solutions to problems itself is a problem for several humans. This virtuous poet has prescribed solutions to several day-to-day problems.
This ancient work of Tiruvalluvar has been translated into several languages.
This has been translated into Kannada by these Great men:
1. Kural: B. M. Srikantaiah, 1940.
2. Tirukkural - Chapter on Virtue: L. Gundappa, 1955.
3. Tirukkujal - 3 Parts: L. Gundappa, 1960.
4. Tirukkural - Original & Kannada Translation: P. S. Srinivas, 1982.
Tirukkujal has been written in three parts;
First Chapter - On Virtue - 380 Verses
Second Chapter - On Wealth - 700 Verses
Third Chapter - On Love - 250 Verses
It is a total of 1,330 couplets containing preachings of great utility written earlier than the second century in a language that can be easily understood.
In this translation I have given the Tamil original, transliteration in Kannada, and Kannada translation. On reading this, one would notice similarities not only in words but also in the letters of Tamil and Kannada.
I have used some original words of Tamil text in my Kannada translation; some of these words are in use in Kannada even today; some of the words were in use in Kannada earlier and not widely used in present-day Kannada literature. Since Kannada has now been classified as a classical language, my perception is that there is nothing wrong in using the original words, as it would add flavour to the already beautiful Kannada language.
My friend and well-known Kannada literati Dr. Purushothama Bilimale has read the work in full and has helped and advised me to improve the Kannada translation part, for which I thank him profusely. Dr Bilimale has introduced me to Kannada lovers by bringing out a few verses in the Kannada monthly Abhimata, an in-house magazine of Delhi Karnataka Sangha.
I am also thankful to the Director and all his colleagues of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, Chennai for examining the work in detail and providing the standardised Tamil text and extending help for its publication.
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