Written by London Swaminathan 


Date: 24 NOVEMBER 2017


Time uploaded in London- 17-55



Post No. 4429

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.



This is part 3 where I compare Shakespeare’s sayings with Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural, which is praised as Tamil Veda by his contemporaries.




Shakespeare in his play Titus Andronicus (Act 1, Scene 1) says ‘Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge:’


Tam.  Stay, Roman brethren! Gracious conqueror,
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,         110
A mother’s tears in passion for her son:
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,
O! think my son to be as dear to me.
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,
To beautify thy triumphs and return,         115
Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke;
But must my sons be slaughter’d in the streets
For valiant doings in their country’s cause?
O! if to fight for king and commonweal
Were piety in thine, it is in these.         120
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them then in being merciful;
Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge:
Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.



Tiruvalluvar has a whole chapter with ten couplets on Compassion

Temple of Tiruvalluvar in Chennai

Tiruvalluvar in Tirukkural says,


“Even as happiness in the world wholly depends on material possessions

Happiness in the world beyond will surley depend on compassion” (Kural 247)


“Men with hearts, overflowing with gentle compassion, will never

Have to go to the nether-world of darkness” (Kural 243)


“The vast and flourishing wind-blown earth is witness to the fact,

That those who practise compassion will never be subjected to suffering” (Kural 245)




William Shakespeare says in Cymbeline

I cannot sing: I’ll weep, and word it with thee;
For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse
Than priests and fanes that lie.
[IV, 2]
Richard du Champ.
If I do lie and do
No harm by it, though the gods hear, I hope
They’ll pardon it.—Say you, sir?
[V, 5]
Posthumus Leonatus
Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page,
There lie thy part.


In All’s Well That Ends Well
[IV, 3]
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ’em he
is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with
such volubility, that you would think truth were a
drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will
be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little
harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they
know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but
little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
every thing that an honest man should not have; what
an honest man should have, he has nothing.

Statue of Tiruvalluvar in London University (SOAS)

Tiruvalluvar has a whole chapter on Truthfulness; here are some parallel couplets:


If a man should utter a lie consciously, his own mind would torture him for the lie he uttered. (Kural 293)

If it will produce pure, unmixed good, even falsehood may be considered truth (Kural 292)


If one lives true to one’s inner mind

That person lives in the hearts of all mankind (Kural 294)




Shakespeare says,

Wrath makes him deaf.
3 Henry VI (1.4.54), Queen Margaret, speaking of Clifford



Never till this day
Saw I him touch’d with anger so distemper’d.
The Tempest (4.1.159-60), Miranda speaking of Prospero



But men are men, the best sometimes forget.

Though Cassio did some little wrong to him,

As men in rage strike those that wish them best,

Yet surely Cassio, I believe, received

From him that fled some strange indignity

Which patience could not pass. (Iago in Othello, Act 2, Scene 3)



This tiger-footed rage.
Coriolanus (3.1.311), Menenius to Brutus


And Valluvar says in Tirukkural,


Anger not only destroys those whom it affects, like fire, but it will also burn

Those kindred souls, who step in to help (Kural 306)


If you would protect yourself, guard against your own anger;

For anger not controlled would lead to self-destruction (305)


Even where it cannot hurt others, anger is bad;

But where does it hurt, there is nothing worse. ( Kural 302)


to be continued………………….




Written by London Swaminathan 


Date: 22 NOVEMBER 2017


Time uploaded in London- 20-58



Post No. 4423

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.



Tirukkural is a book of ethics in Tamil. Tirukkural means a ‘book of sacred couplets’. It has 1330 couplets divided into 133 chapters. It is divided into three sections dealing with Dharma (Virtue), Artha (wealth) and Kama (Love between man and woman). It was written by Tiruvalluvar, who lived approximately 1500 years before our time. The book is praised as Tamil Veda by his contemporaries. All the Hindu ideals are incorporated into the book. Some of the couplets can be compared with the sayings of Shakespeare.


Who is Shakespeare?

Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English dramatist and poet. He wrote 37 plays and over 150 poems. His quotations are used very often in English essays and other literary articles. Tiruvalluvar and Shakespeare agree on many issues. When one reads them one thinks that the famous saying ‘Great men think alike’ is proved once again.

Here are some comparisons culled out from various books:

Compassion and Mercy

Tiruvalluvar says

Those who are merciful are really the men of virtue

because they have compassion for all living creature (Kural 30)

In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare say that people with mercy are the real sages of the world.


The quality of mercy is not strain’d,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God Himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much

To mitigate the justice of thy plea;

Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice

Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.


(Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1)


Tiruvalluvar says

Of what avail is watch and ward? A woman’s will

is the best safeguard of her honour (Kural 57)

Prison walls, pad-locks and chastity belts are absolutely of no use to ensure a woman’s chastity. Her own conscience and inner strength will alone keep her really pure.

Sakespeare says,

“My chastity is the jewel of our house bequeathed down from many ancestors”

I see that men make hopes in such a case,
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.

I’ll lend it thee, my dear, but have no power
To give it from me.

Will you not, my lord?

It is an honour ‘longing to our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose.

Mine honour’s such a ring:
My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose. Thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion honour on my part
Against your vain assault.

All is well that ends well, Act 4, Scene 2


Wife,The Helpmate

Tiruvalluvar says,

If a man’s wife does not bring him credit and honour, he cannot walk

with proud leonine gait in the face of his distractors- (Kural 59)


Shakespeare says,

‘A light wife doth make a heavy husband’

-The Merchant of Venice, Act 5, Scene 1


It is a sarcastic remark.

It’s a pun (a play on words to make a joke) because “light” and “heavy” have many meanings.

“A light wife” is an adulteress.
We also say someone is “heavy” if they carry an emotional burden, e.g. an unfaithful wife.

Light and heavy most commonly refer to the weight of something and are opposites, as are husband and wife, as are an unfaithful and faith spouse.

Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and their Followers.
  Bass.  We should hold day with the Antipodes,
If you would walk in absence of the sun.
  Por.  Let me give light, but let me not be light;         145
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me:
But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
  Bass.  I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend:
This is the man, this is Antonio,         150
To whom I am so infinitely bound.


–to be continued



Ganga Jal (Ganges water) for a Donkey!

donkey (1)

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No. 905 Dated 13th March 2014.

Eknath was a great saint of Maharashtra. Once he went on a pilgrimage to Benaras (Varanasi or Kasi). From there he brought back with him two pots filled with the holy water of the Ganges slung across a pole. He thought of taking it to Rameswar, a place of pilgrimage in the south, for offering to God. Hindus who visit Kasi bring Ganga jal to Rameswaram (in Tamil Nadu) and do the Abhishek ( bathing) on Shiva linga there. This is considered a meritorious act.

Eknath headed a party of pilgrims, each of whom carried water pots filled with the holy water. It was summer. The heat was very severe. Not a single tree was visible anywhere. Presently Eknatha saw a donkey dying of thirst. His heart was filled with compassion. Immediately he poured out the contents of his water pots to the dying animal, which straightaway lapped up the whole quantity.
Restored to life the donkey got up and went away braying.

After sometime Eknath’s fellow pilgrims arrived there. They were surprised to see the water pots of the saint empty. Therefore, they inquired of him, “Sir, where is the holy water, you brought with you?”

Eknath replied, “Brothers I gave it away to a poor donkey which was dying of thirst, since no water was available anywhere in the neighbourhood”

The fellow pilgrims exclaimed, “But sir, you have nothing left to offer to God Rameshwar! Alas! Your pilgrimage ill remain incomplete!”


The saint however, observed calmly,” What you say is true.But how could I pass by the donkey, dying of thirst, without giving it water?And as I had some water, thought it was of the holy Ganges, I let the creature slake its thirst. But I am quite sure that God Rameshwar will not only forgive me but, on the contrary, will even be pleased with me.
(Source: Inspiring Anecdotes, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Year of Publication 1957)

Buddha’s compassion

Swami Vivekananda narrated a story in one of his talks:
“Buddha is the name of infinite knowledge, infinite as the sky; I,Gautama, have reached that stage; you will all reach that too if you struggle for it.” Bereft of all motive power, he did not want to go to heaven., did not want money; he gave up his throne and everything else, and went about begging his bread through the streets of India preaching for the good of men and animals with a heart as wide as the ocean. he was the only man was ever ready to give up his life for animals, to stop sacrifice. He once said to a king, “if the sacrifice of a lamb help you to go to heaven, sacrificing a man will help you better, so sacrifice me.” The king was astonished. And this man was without any motive. He stands as the perfection of the active type, and the very height to which he attained shows that through the power of work we can also attain to the highest spirituality.”

Source: Selections from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekanada, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta 700 014, Year 1990.

Ramanuja’s Compassion

Following is an anecdote in Swami Ramdas’ words:
“You must have heard of the three great Teachers (Acharyas) –Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhwa. They have established their systems of philosophy in India. Ramanuja went to a Master (Guru) and requested him to initiate him. The Master gave him God’s name and also advised him not to give this Name (mantra) to anybody, adding that if he did so, he would go to hell. At once Ramanuja went to the top of the local temple and shouted, “I am going to give you all a Name which will save you. My Master has given me the Name”. He uttered the Name ( the mantra was OM NAMO NARAYANA) loudly so that everybody could hear.


The Master heard about it and why he did so in spite of his warning. Ramanuja’s reply was, I am prepared to go to hell a hundred times if I can save thousands”.

(All within brackets are my additions:-swami)

Source: Stories As told by Swami Ramdas, Published for Anandashram by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chowpatty, Bombay-7, Year 1969.

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