WRITTEN by London Swaminathan 


Date: 22 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  17-22 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4939


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TIRUKKURAL is considered the Tamil Veda; it was written by Thiru Valluvar. One of Valluvar’s contemporary himself said this in Thiruvallauva Malai. He said that Sanskrit has Veda and Tamil has now got Tirukkural. It has 1330 couplets divided into 133 chapters which deal with didactic topics. There are lots of myths about its author Tiruvalluvar and his book. After Dravidian parties came to power in Tamil Nadu fifty years ago, lot of things about Vallauvar’s personal life was changed in the text books. And the accepted commentary of Parimel Azakar is tampered with. Dr R Nagaswamy, eminent historian and famous archaeologist looks at the book from a new angle.


He explodes the myths about G U Pope’s contribution to Tamil literature, Pope’s half- baked statement about Valluvar’s date  (800 to 900 CE) and some people’s attempt to show Tirukkural a text of Jain origin. G U Pope who translated 72 Purananuru verses, deliberately vomited Kapilar’s vesre showing him as an ‘Antana’ (Brahmin) and dubbed him a Pariah. Dr Nagasamy also Shows how hardly Pope tried to show Valluvar as a Christian or influenced by Christianity.

Another myth exploded by Dr R N is the gold coin of Valluvar. The coin said to have been issued by Ellis is not of Valluvar, but of Buddha. It was found in a museum in Calcutta. Ellis’ name was unnecessarily dragged into this matter.

Nagaswamy described in detail the futile colonial attempt to Christianise Tirukkural.

Dr R Nagaswamy needs no introduction. He was the Director of Archaeology in Tamil Nadu from 1966 to 1988. He was the Vice Chancellor of Kancheepuram University. He was the author of over 50 books and hundreds of research articles. He has travelled around the world lecturing on History and culture of Tamil people. Recently he has been awarded Padmabhusan by the Government of India.


He says that there is no gem in the whole field of Tamil literature more precious than Tirukkural. He has compared Tirukkural with lot of similar verses in Sanskrit Dharma sastras, Artha sastra, Natya sastra and Kama Sastra. He has also shown that Valluvar wrote it on the basis of Hindu values Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Valluvar himself divided his book into three major sections Dharma (Aram), Artha (porul) and Kama (Inbam). Moksha is dealt with in the book under Dharma.


Dr Nagaswamy says that the work of Valluvar is an abridgement of Sanskrit sastras.  Without leaving anyone to guess the authenticity, he has given the relevant passages as well. So no one could challenge him. It is a treasure for the English speakers,  and particularly the Non Tamil speakers in India.

Though scholars like V R Ramachndra Dikshitar has done such a comparative study before Dr Nagasawmy, he has added more materaias from different scriptures such as Dhammapada of Buddha and Bhagavad Giat of Lord Krishna.

Another unique feature is the addition of Sanskrit verses in Devanagari lipi which would be of help to North Indians.

He as beautifully summarised all the relevant data from Sangam literature to prove the ancient character of the Tirukkural. First he deals with the three theories about the age of the work and concludes that it is older than the Tamil epic Silappadikaram of second century CE. He rightly pointed out that the couplets are in Sutra format which is further proof for its age.


About Valluvar’s religion Dr Nagasamy says, after examining the previous arguments, “The examination of the personal religion of Valluvar does not  give us any definite lead in the matter. Valluvar did not wish to give his work a sectarian character. He gives lot of examples to show the striking correspondence between the Kural couplets and the works of Manu, Kautilya and Vatsyayana.


In another chapte,r the author of the current book examines the statement of Nataka Valakku by the doyen of Tamil literature U Ve  Swaminatha Aiyar.

In the concluding chapter hr makes an important statement, “Thirukkural of Thiruvalluvar can be fully understood only with the knowledge of Sanskrit, as it draws heavily from Dharma sastras, Artha sastras, Natya sastra and Kama Sastra and also their commentaries.

Everyone who is interested in Tamil literature  must have this book.


The book is priced only 150 rupees which is very cheap. The book has got great value for money.

Details of the Publication:

Tirukkural- An Abridgement of Sastras

Dr R Nagaswamy

December 2017

Pages 248, Price Rs.150

Published by Tamil Arts Academy and Giri Trading Agency Private Limited




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1 Comment

  1. I have bought and read this book. We all know about Dr.Nagaswamy. The theme of this book is also well known to the old students of Indian literature, though in the last 60 odd years, this knowledge has been deliberately obscured in Tamil Nadu, where there is no scope for even a healthy discussion on the subject.. Dr.Nagaswamy has really made bold to bring out this book at this time.

    But with all our respect to Dr.Nagaswamy, and regard for his learning, this book is not a sound publication.. Of course, the book is printed well and brought out attractively . But the contents are disappointing.The publisher, Giri Trading Agency is a publisher of cheap religious literature, and does not seem to have heard that a serious academic book requires expert editing. The book does not seem to have seen any editing, or the editor did not know his job. In many places, the sentence is not even complete, and does not make sense, as it stands. We do not know whether the book was dictated and the scribe made mistakes which went undetected. Or whether it was first written in Tamil, and then translated, so pathetically.
    It all seems to have been done in a terrible hurry.

    The proof reader does not seem to be familiar with either the subject or the language. There is practically no page without a printing, grammatical or other mistakes .

    The publication as it stands does no credit either to the subject or the learned author. No serious scholar will pay attention to such a poor publication. It was an unrelieved ordeal to complete reading the book. I got tired of correcting the mistakes, and gave up half way. It is a disservice to the great author. It is an imperfect product, and does no credit to him.The publishers should make amends by bringing out a competently edited version. This is their prayaschitta for the sin of doing injustice to a real scholar.
    i am only pointing out the most serious flaws in the publication, and this is not meant to be a review of the book. I am sorry to have to say this, but some one has to point out the serious lapses. Being goody-goody helps no one.
    Incidentally, Alliance Publishers of Chennai brought out a book on the same theme of Tirukkural and Dharma Sastras in Tamil ( in two volumes) more than 10 years ago. This has been out of print ever since! it would be interesting to compare the approaches of the two books.

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