Tirukural- the Tamil Veda (HOLY BOOK) was written 2000 years ago, so its author, Saint Tiruvalluvar, was a contemporary of Jesus Christ. The content of Tirukural applies even to modern thought and education. Kural means any short verse. The title ‘Tiru’ (or Thiru) is added as a mark of respect to both the verses and the poet. For brevity, it is mentioned in some places like Kural and Valluvar respectively. Tirukural belongs to the SANGAM LITERATURE of the Tamil language. Tamil Sangam means an association of Tamil scholars from Madurai, the ancient capital of the PANDYA kingdom, where the written works of poets were recognized after great scrutiny and review by eminent Tamil scholars. Tirukural is one of those literal works recognized among the 18 books of Sangam during the 1st century BC. Tirukural has been translated into all the major languages of the world. In fact, the Reverend Father GUPope was very impressed by its translation into Latin and ventured to translate it into English. He compared Tiruvalluvar’s saying “All living things are born equal” (pirappokkum ella uyirkkum) with the teaching of the Bible.
There are 1330 verses in total in 133 chapters of 10 verses each on different topics.
This article is about what Tiruvalluvar has to say about EDUCATION. The ten verses that he has written on education form couplets 391 to 400, that is, chapter 40 that falls into the category of Materialism. This is not a word-for-word translation, but a treatise on the subject of how one can obtain Bliss in a single birth by obtaining the high value of Education during life.
1. (Kural 391 onwards): you have to learn everything there is to learn without fail. Once that learning is complete, you must live up to the lessons you have already learned true to the spirit of learning. Perfect learning, free from mistakes and doubts, is the foundation of education. All aspects of the chosen topic must be clear. More importantly, there should be no doubt about the questions that may come up at a later date, even after completing the education. Only such an education could make one adapt to a higher self. Furthermore, upon completion of education, one should never deviate from the path guided by education. Therefore, such a high value for education, regardless of the chosen field of profession, such as medicine, jurisprudence, engineering, and what not!
2. Numbers (which are part of arithmetic knowledge) and alphabets (which are the basis of literal knowledge) should be considered as two eyes for living beings.
3. Only educated people are considered to have Vision. Uneducated people do not have ‘eyes’, but only have two punctures in the place of the eyes. Without education, so-called eyes will be useless. Isn’t it true that sight is the most important physical property of a human being, only through the use of which the entire physical Universe can be visualized? Education is compared to this unique property of the living person through these 2 Kurals
4. Even friendship receives a new definition among those who are well educated. Their meeting and mutual discussions each time is a source of great pleasure and joy and when they separate there is a great desire to meet again.
5 An educated person is rich in all respects because he possesses knowledge, compared to an uneducated person who has to bow down with all humility since he is in the lowest frame of society.
6. Many similes are used to clarify these points. Knowledge is compared to the water that flows from the muddy earth. A pool of water will gush out of water in proportion to the extent to which it is dug, and in the same way knowledge will progressively improve as one learns deeply.
7. For an educated person, each city is its own city and each country is its country. “So why is one persistently losing life to death without education?” Tiruvalluvar wonders.
This Kural can be compared to the saying in another Sangam classic ‘Purananuru’ (four hundred songs representing external social life): which says:
“All places are my birthplace, and all men are my relatives”
(“yadhum urey, yavarum kelir” -tamil equivalent)
These words are especially cited here because they are the favorite words of the learned Tamils. It emphasizes universal unity and brotherhood with an exceptional sense of understanding and peaceful coexistence that existed 2,000 years ago.
8. Hindu popular belief is that one has seven births before reaching salvation. But the poet affirms that the education that one learns in one birth will be sufficient for the seven births. It goes without saying that you should learn it flawlessly and with the best possible content. Such an education will give you pleasure during the seven births. In other words, perfect education gives one MUKTHI, that is, salvation in the present birth itself. Even if one is not a believer in later births, he can accept this Kural which assures him of permanent peace in a birth, provided he is perfectly educated.
9. It is also insisted that the nature of an enlightened person is to derive more pleasure from learning and also to yearn for more knowledge, seeing that the pleasure obtained through education is shared by society as a whole. The benefit and pleasure of education is not only for the individual but for the collective. The pleasure of others acts as a catalyst for him that enables him for such accumulation in learning. You lose nothing by sharing your knowledge with others, and in fact your knowledge and pleasure are multiplied in due course.
10. It is categorically stated that the only viable wealth that a person can possess is education and other wealth, in fact, they are of no use. No flood, fire, or theft can eliminate the wealth of knowledge gained from education.
An introduction to this world-famous epic has been given, and if readers’ interest in seeing the entire book has been piqued, the purpose of this article is served. Needless to add, such readers will attain eternal bliss at this very birth, as listed in the preceding paragraphs.