Introduction to Thirukural

Thirukural is a masterpiece of Tamil literature, composed during the last of the three Sangam eras. While it has not been possible to exactly date the work, the reference to Kural in the great epics Manimekalai and Silappadhikaram give us some idea of when it would have been composed.

About Thiruvalluvar

Not much is known about Thiruvalluvar, the author of the work though it is believed that he was born in Mylaopore (Chennai, Tamilnadu) and belonged to the weaver community. He is also known by several other names e.g., Nayanar, Theivappulavar, Perunavalar. The work itself is often called Tamil Marai, a reference to its identification with the Vedas.

Historical Information

It is believed that Valluvar composed the work on request from his close friend and student by name Elela Singan. Upon completion, Valluvar took the work to Madurai, as per the prevailing practice of reading out new compositions in a public forum where critics and scholars would be present.

The conceited scholars at Madurai, insisted on measuring the greatness of the work through a test where the manuscript would be placed with other works on a plank kept afloat in the tank of the great temple and it was to be seen if the plank remained afloat. The significance of this is that the greatness of a work is realized on the basis of not the weight of its manuscript (written on Palm leaves) but the devine qualities of the work which foced the plank to stay afloat.

It is said that to the amazement of the critics, the Sangam Plank shrunk itself in size to hold only the Kural manuscript and in the process throwing out the rest

There is also a belief that Valluvar and the great poetess Auvaiyar were siblings and it was Auvaiyar who went one step ahead of what had been said about Kural earlier. Idaikkadar had praised Kural with a reference that the greatness of Kural is such that Valluvar had packed inside a mustard seed, the essence of all knowledge from the broad world spanned by seven seas. Auvaiyar had substituted the term kadugu (mustard) by Anu (meaning an atom). It is interesting to note that the concept of Atom had already been established in the Tamil country two thousand years ago!

Kural - statistics

Thirukural is a work of 1330 couplets each of which conforms to the structure of "Kural Venba", a grammatical construction with two lines of four and three words respectively. The work is arranged in 133 Adhikarams, each with 10 couplets. The 133 Adhikarams are divided into three major groups known as "Aram", "Porul" and "Inbam". Aram represents Virtue, Porul defines the principles of Life for common people as well as the State. The last section deals with aspects of Love. The overall organization of Thirukural is as follows, based on seven ideals prescribed for people followed by observations on Love.

  • 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

Thiruvalluvar Statue, Kanyakumari

The Thiruvalluvar Statue is a 133 feet (40.5 m) tall stone sculpture. It was opened in January 1, 2000 (Millenium) and is located atop a small island near the town of Kanyakumari, where two seas and an ocean meet; the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean . The idea of the Statue was conceived and achieved by M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.

The statue has a height of 95 feet (29 m) and stands upon a 38 foot (11.5 m) pedestal that represents the 38 chapters of "virtue" in the Thirukkural. The statue standing on the pedestal represents "wealth" and "pleasure", signifying that wealth and love be earned and enjoyed on the foundation of solid virtue.

The combined height of the statue and pedestal is 133 feet (40.5 m), denoting the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural. It has a total weight of 7000 tons.

The statue, with its slight bend around the waist is reminiscent of a dancing pose of the ancient Indian deities like Nataraja. It was sculpted by the Indian sculptor Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati.

Article Source:,_Kanyakumari