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Aram in Thirukkural
© www.balaramanebooks.com : 2013
(An Institution to Promote Environment Friendly Electronic Publications)
A healthy, civilized, evolved society is based on the principles of morality, ethics, principles values and good codes of conduct. Cultural, economic, social, educational and historic facets are distinguishing features between societies. In the modern societies, the dimensions of science and technology have changed the perceptions on the functioning of societies. All the same, there are fundamental, universal principles accepted and underlined in all philosophical and religious texts. They have validity as guiding forces to humans for all time to come, irrespective of colour or creed. Thirukkural (¾¢ÕìÌÈû) by Thiruvalluvar (¾¢ÕÅûÙÅ÷) is one such text which has attained world wide acclaim for its simple elucidation of guiding principles for the functioning of the society at individual and organizational entities.
The uniqueness of Thirukkural lies in unbiased, secular approach and its organized presentation with logistics built into it. The text contains 1330 couplets under 133 units of 10 couplets each. The couplets are two - line ‘Venbas’ (¦ÅñÀ¡ì¸û) not meant for recitation or rendering into music, but to record the contents with poetic and rhythmic flavour for easy remembrance and adoption in practical life. There are three major sections under which the entire text is divided, the titles of which are drawn from the Hindu, Sanskrit scriptures. The Hindu philosophical thought has classified societal functioning into four facets, the first three related to the existing, mundane life and the last, dealing with ‘Eternal Bliss’ to be attained after the end of the life in the world. They are Dharmam, Arththam, Kamam and Moksham (¾÷Áõ, «÷ò¾õ, ¸¡Áõ, §Á¡‡õ). Thiruvalluvar has taken up only the first three relating to practical, functional life, thus establishing his unassailable secular approach, acceptable to one and all. They are Aram («Èõ), porul (¦À¡Õû) and kamam (¸¡Áõ), leaving Moksham or Veedu (Å£Î).
Valluvar uses the word Kamam in place of Inbam (þýÀõ) purposefully since he could differentiate the two words by their intricate meanings. Kamam relates to the lesser aspect of Inbam, namely º¢üÈ¢ýÀõ, while the higher, elevated, spiritual bliss known as §ÀÃ¢ýÀõ is related to the ultimate attainment of Moksham through various means of Duty (Karma), Penance (Tapasya), Meditation (Dhanam), Learning (Gyanam) and Unstinted Devotion (Bhakti).
The sequential arrangement of the three major sections in a logistic manner indicates that Aram ‘The Code of Conduct)’ is the basis by which the subsequent guidelines stand. The social arrangement as explained and expounded in the Hindu religious texts is described as ‘Varnashrama Dharmam’ (Å÷½¡ŠÃÁ ¾÷Áõ). The consolidated social divisions which were horizontal to start with and turned vertical with the passage of time were Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, all coming under the system of ‘Varna, The Ashramams depict the four stages of life one invariably passes through from birth to death. The Karma is assigned to the different categories of the combined system of Varnashrama Dharmam. However, Valluvar takes up under Dharmam or Aram only the two modes of life ‘The Family Life’ (þøÄÈõ) and ‘Sainthood’ (ÐÈÅÈõ), missing no opportunity to place the Truthful Family Life based on the principles of Aram at a higher pedestal.
This write up proposes to examine the philosophical dimensions of Araththuppal («ÈòÐôÀ¡ø) in Thirukkural and their relevance to ever changing mundane world.