Comparison of Sankara’s Viveka Cudamani and Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural (Post No.5444)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 18  September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 8-57 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5444

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.


Adi Sankara, one of the greatest Hindu philosophers, has beautifully explained the Advaita (Non Dualism) Philosophy in his masterly work, Viveka Cuudaamani, ‘Crest Jewel of Discrimination’. It has got 580 couplets in Sanskrit.


Tiruvalluvar, the greatest Tamil poet has dealt with 133 subjects of moral importance in his work Tirukkural. The 133 chapters have got 1330 couplets on ethics in Tamil.

It is said that ‘Great men think Alike’, which is amply illustrated in the following comparisons of the two great geniuses.

If we couldn’t get access tomorrow to important Hindu scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita or the Vedas we don’t need to worry. Tiruvalluvar has given the gist of Hinduism in fifty or so couplets.

In his first chapter on God, Valluvar says
‘None but those who have meditated constantly on the feet of god can cross the oceans of birth’- Kural 10
‘Ocean of birth and death’ is known to every learned Hindu as ‘Samsara Saagaram .

Sankara says in Viveka Cudamani (VC),
‘Having attained the Yogaruda state one should recover oneself, immersed in the sea of birth and death, by means of devotion to right of discrimination’- VC 9

Yogaruda state is when onr is attached neither to sense objects nor to actions, and has given up all desires.


Shankara continues,
‘Therefore, a man of learning should strive for his best for liberation, having renounced his desire for pleasures from external objects, duly approaching a good and generous preceptor, and fixing his mind on the truth inculcated by him’–VC 8

Valluvar says,
‘Of what avail is a man s learning if he does not pray to god’- Kural 2

Can wealth help you to reach heaven?
‘There’s no hope of immortality by means of riches- such indeed is the declaration of Vedas. Hence it is clear that works/karma cannot be the cause of liberation’ –VC 7

Valluvar also says it, but indirectly,

‘As those without riches can have no enjoyments in this world so also are those without compassion denied the belongings of the world above’.

Here Valluvar clearly associates wealth with the human world and compassion with the heaven.


Desire and Egoism

‘Let the wise and erudite man, having commenced the practice of realisation of the Atman give up all works/ Karma, and try to cut lose the bonds of birth and death’-VC10
A child plays with its toys forgetting hunger and bodily pains ; exactly so does the man of realisation take pleasure in the Reality, without ideas of I and Mine and is happy—537 Viveka Cudamani
He who renounces the egoism of I and mine shall attain the highest heavenly bliss rare of attainment even by the gods– Kural 346

Only when one renounces the two -fold desires can one overcome births. Other wise one will be subject to the rotation of births and deaths caused by desires–Kural 349



Time and Place
Though Shankara wrote a religious manual and Valluvar an ethical manual certain things are common for one who wants to achieve something or to reach a goal.

Shankara says,
Success depends essentially on a qualified aspirant; time, place and other such means are but auxiliaries in this regard’– VC14

Valluvar also acknowledges it,
‘Consider these five before deciding on an action: finance, instrument, time, proper place and the nature of action’- Kural 675


Use of certain similes such as ‘tiger and cow’, ‘actors’ etc show that Hindu geniuses think in the same way. There is a possibility ofone influencing the other as well as both are from South India. Both of them might have spoken Tamil at home.

Tiger Simile


The pretentious conduct of a man who has not the firmness of mind to direct him in the path of true ascetism is likened to a cow grazing clothed in tigers skin– Kural 273

O Master, you have awakened me from sleep and saved me . I was wandering in the forest of illusion, troubled by the tiger of egoism–
VC 518

The arrow which is shot at an object with the idea that it is a tiger, does not, when the object perceived to be a cow, check itself, but pierce s the object with full force –VC452.

Actor Simile
‘Fortune coming to one and its departure are likened to the assembling of a crowd to witness a drama and its dispersal respectively’- Kural 332

‘As an actor, when he puts on the dress of his role or when he does not, is always a man. So the perfect knower of Brahman is always Brahman and nothing else’– VC 555



Leave a comment


  1. A map with just 4 Shankara Maths without the Math at Kanchipuram is incorrect. There are two very serious falsehoods that are warping our charthra. One is that the Kanchi Math was not established by Adi Shankara. Two that His descent was in the 9th century CE and not in 6th Century BCE. If both these are accepted and fitted in as they should be, our confused snd messy chronology will straighten out, and the puzzles will become pictures.

    A serious and patient study of the life of Sri Vidyaaranya, the founder of the Vijayanagara Samrajya and later to become a Shankaracharya of Sringeri, and the shifting of the Shankara Matha from Tungabhadhra Kudali Sringeri to the present Sringeri on the Tunga river, will show up how our history has been distorted,


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