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Thirukkural (Tamil: திருக்குறள் also known as the Kural) is a classic of couplets or Kurals (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) or aphorisms [1] celebrated by Tamils.[2] It was authored by Thiruvalluvar, and is considered to be the first work to focus on ethics, in Dravidian Literature. The work begins with a salutation to the Almighty. The author was hence certainly a believer in God . His work is however, completely universal in approach. It is hence called ulga podhu marai (the world's common scripture). It does not advocate any specific religion. Thirukkural expounds various aspects of life and is one of the most important works in Tamil. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is known: tamil marai (Tamil Veda); poyyamozhi (words that never fail); and teyva nul or dheiva nool (divine text). [3] The book is considered to be a posterior to Arthashastra by some historians and to precede Manimekalai and Silapathikaram since both the latter acknowledge the Kural text. [4] Thirukkural is and remains to be the book that has been translated into the most number of languages and hence it is called as "Ulaga Podhu Marai" meaning the Common Knowledge for the world. Copies of Thirukkural are available even at places as far as New York. Copies of Thirukkural published as early as 1930 can be found in New York Public Library.

Thirukkural (or the Kural) is a collection of 1330 Tamil couplets organised into 133 chapters. Each chapter has a specific subject ranging from "ploughing a piece of land" to "ruling a country". According to the LIFCO Tamil-Tamil-English dictionary, the Tamil word Kural means Venpa verse with two lines. Thirukkural comes under one of the four categories of Venpas (Tamil verses) called Kural Venpa. The 1330 couplets are divided into 3 sections and 133 chapters. Each chapter contains 10 couplets. A couplet consists of seven cirs, with four cirs on the first line and three on the second. A cir is a single or a combination of more than one Tamil word. For example, Thirukkural is a cir formed by combining the two words Thiru and Kural, i.e. Thiru + Kural = Thirukkural. It is has been translated to various other languages.[citation needed]

There are claims and counter claims as to the authorship of the book and to the exact number of couplets written by Thiruvalluvar. The first instance of the author's name mentioned as Thiruvalluvar is found to be several centuries later in a song of praise called Garland of Thiruvalluvar in Thiruvalluva Malai. [5]



The Thirukkural is divided into three sections. They are (in this order):

  • அறத்துப்பால் - Arattuppaal: virtue (Aram) section (paal) [see also Dharma]
  • பொருட்பால் - Porutpaal: politics (Porul) section (paal) [see also Artha]
  • இன்பத்துப்பால் - Inpattuppaal: love (Inpam) section (paal) [see also Kama]

We find Thiruvalluvar as a moral philosopher, political scientist and master of public administration in the first two parts of Thirukkural. We find him to be a creative artist in the third part, depicting the fascinating aspects of lovers.


Upon completion, Thiruvalluvar took the work (Thirukkural) to Madurai (Tamil Nadu, India) 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 Meenakshi 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.

Famous Quotes from Thirukkural

• Smile, with patience, hopeful heart, in troublous hour; Meet and so vanquish grief; nothing hath equal power.

• The stalks of water-flowers are proportionate to the depth of water; so is men's greatness proportionate to their minds (Knowledge).

• Defer not virtue to another day; receive her now; and at the dying hour she will be your undying friend.

• Avoid an act which you may repent later; If done by mistake, better not to repeat it.

• He that is reduced to absolute poverty will be regarded as a stranger even by his own mother.

• Friendship is not just a smile on the face; It is what is felt deep within a smiling heart.

• True friends guard you from evil, make you walk in right path and share your sorrow in difficult times.

• Excessive or deficient food or activity causes disorders in mobility, breathing and digestion.

• Though the world goes round with many activities, it is dependent on agriculture. Hence, though laborious, farming is the foremost activity.

• Agriculturists are the linchpin of the mankind since they support all others who cannot till the soil.

• The learned teacher makes you enjoy learning; On leaving, makes you to keep thinking of his teaching.

• Think and then undertake the work; to think after commencement will bring disgrace.

• Determined efforts result in prosperity; Idleness will bring nothing.

• Water will flow from a well in the sand in proportion to the depth to which it is dug, and knowledge will flow from a man in proportion to his learning.

• As water changes (its nature), from the nature of the soil (in which it flows), so will the character of men resemble that of their associates.


The Latin translation of Thirukkural made by Constanzo Beschi in 1730 did much to make known to European intellectuals the richness and beauty of Oriental Tamil literature. Being a collection of poem, the translation to prose or the Urai (explanation) of Tirukural have been given by eminent personalities like M.K.Karunanidhi, the current Chief minister of Tamilnadu. The earliest possible Urai of the Thirukkural was given by Parimelazhagar. His Urai give us an idea of the amount of information contained in each and every kural. A lot of software are available these days for installing Kurals in desktops. The software based Kural (poem) changes each day and you get the kural and its explanation in both English and Tamil. An English Translation of Tirukural by GU Pope brought the Tirukkural to the western world in 1886. This work is widely revered and accepted in many parts of the world. Pope's translation can be viewed from the website

The following is a list of translations/commentaries of the Tamil literary classic THIRUKURAL - taken out from the Encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, vol. 1, Inst. of Asian Studies, Thiruvanmayur, Tamilnadu, India.


  • Nalini Mohan, Sanyal, thirukural, Calcutta, 1939
  • Sastri, E.C., thirukural, Calcutta, 1974


  • Nalini Mohan, Sanyal, thirukural, Calcutta, 1939
  • Sastri, E.C., thirukural, Calcutta, 1974
  • Krishnamoorthy, S. Calcutta, 2001


  • Myo Thant, U, thirukkural, Rangoon


  • Chi Eng Hsi, thirukkural, Hongkong, 1967


  • Zvelebil, Kamil V, Thirukural (selections), Prague, 1952-1954


  • Kat, D, Thirukural (selections), Netherlands, 1964


  • Aiyar, V.V.S, Kural_: Maxims of thiruvalluvar, 4th ed, Madras, 1961
  • Balasubramanian, K.M, Thirukural of thiruvalluvar, Madras, 1962
  • Chakravarthi, A, thirukural in english with commentary, Madras, 1953
  • Drew, H.W., The kural of thiruvalluvar with commentary of Parimelazhakar, Madras, 1840
  • Drew, H.W. and Lazarus, J., Thirukural (in verses), Reprint, Madras, 1956
  • Ellis, F.W., thirukural on virtue (in verse) with commentary, 1812, reprint Madras 1955
  • Gajapathy Nayagar, A, The rosary of gems of thirukkural, Madras, 1969
  • Kasturi Srinivasan, Thirukural: an ancient tamil classic (in couplets), Bombay, 1969
  • Mathavaiyah, A, Kural in English with commentary in Tamil, Madras, 1925
  • Michael, S.M., The sacred aphorisms of thiruvalluvar (in verse), Nagarcoil, 1928
  • Muthuswamy, P, Thirukural in english, Madurai, 1965
  • Parameswaran Aiyar, T.V., 108 gems from the sacred Kural, Kottayam, 1928
  • Parameswaran Pillai, V.K., kural, Madras
  • Pope, G.U, A collection of the english translation of thirukural, Madras, 1959
  • Popely, H.A., The sacred Kural (selections in verses), Calcutta, 1951
  • Raja, P, thirukural (in verses), Kumbakonam, 1950
  • Rajagopalachari, C, kural, the great book of thiruvalluvar, Madras, 1937, 3rd ed, 1973
  • Ramachandra Dikshithar, V.R., thirukural in english with roman translation, Madras, 1949
  • Ranganatha Muthaliar, A: thirukural moolamum uraiyum with english translation, Madras, 1933
  • Thangaswami, T.D, thirukural (selections in verse), Madras, 1954
  • Thirunavukarasu, Mrs, T., Kural a selection of 366 verses (a gem for each day), Poona, 1916
  • Vadivel chettiar, K, kural in english with tamil text and parimelazhakar commentary,(3parts), Madurai, 1972-1980
  • Vanmikinathan, G, the thirukural - a unique guide to moral, material and spiritual prosperity, trichy, 1969
  • Yogi Suddanantha Bharathi: Thirukural with english couplets, Madrs, 1968
  • Yogi Suddanantha Bharathi, thirukural couplets with clear prose rendering, Madras, 1970


  • Berwick, S.L, Na. Thirukkurala, Fiji, 1964


  • Aalto, Pentit, Kural - the ancient tamil classic, Finland, 1972


  • Ariel, M, kural de thiruvalluvar (traduits du tamoul), Paris, 1848
  • Barrigue de, Fontaineu, G, le livre de l'amour de thiruvalluva, Paris, 1889
  • Danielou, Alain, thiruvallouvar kural, Pondicherry, 1942
  • Jacolliot, Louis, kural de thiruvalluvar, selections, Paris, 1767
  • Lamairesse, M, thirukural in french, Pondicherry, 1867


  • Albrecht, Fenz and K. Lalithambal: thirukural von thiruvalluvar aus dem Tamil, Madurai, 1977
  • Cammera, A.F, thirukural waith german translation, Leipzig, 1803
  • Graul, Karl, der kural des thiruvalluvar, London, 1854
  • Graul, Karl, der tamu lische gnomes dichtar thiruvalluvar, Leipzig, 1865
  • Rickert, Friederich, thirukural, selections, Berlin, 1847
  • William and Norgate, Der kural des thiruvalluvar, 2nd ed, London, 1866


  • Kalani, Kantilal L., thirukural in Gujarati, Bombay, 1971 (Gujarti - Philosopher - Writer in Gujarati Literature - [1930-1998]. Kantilal has won many prices for his books and has written more then 60 books. One of his Co-profound translation is “VISHNU SAHSTRNAM”.


  • Sankar Raju Naidu, S, thirukural in Hindi, Madras, 1958
  • Seshadri, K, thirukural in Hindi, Lucknow, 1982
  • Govindaraj Jain, Kural in verse, first two parts, New delhi, 1942
  • Jain, B.D, thirukural, thirupananthal, 1961
  • Khenand Rakar, thirukural, parts 1 and 2, Ajmer, 1924
  • Rajan Pillai, thirukural, Lucknow, 1976
  • Venkatakrishnan, M.G, thirukural, Trichy, 1964


  • Gundappa, L, thirukural (3 parts), Madras, 1960
  • Gundappa, L, thirukural dharma bhaga, Bangalore, 1955
  • Srinivas, P.S, thirukural with original couplets and translations in Kannada, Madurai, 1982
  • Srikanthaiah, B.M, Kural (selections in verses), bangalore, 1940


  • Graul, Charles, Kural of thiruvalluvar, Tranquebar, 1866
  • Veeramamunivar, thirukural (Books I and II), London, 1930


  • Dr.G.Soosai Ph.D,J.P.,P.P.N,P.K.T.,Thirukkural Kitab Murni TamilNadu.,Kuala Lumpur,1978 & 1991
  • Ismail, Hussein: thirukural sastera kalasik tamil yang, Kuala Lumpur, 1967
  • Ramily Bin Thakir thirukural (in verses), Kuala Lumpur, 1964


  • Azhakathu Kurup, thirukural in verses, Trivandrum, 1875
  • Balakrishna Nair, G, Kural waith commentary, Part I, Trivandrum, 1963
  • Chellan Nadar, K, thirukural tharmanaskantam, Parassala, 1962
  • Damodaran Pillai,P, thirukural manikal, Trivandrum, 1951
  • Gopalakurup, Vennikulam, thirukural (first 2 parts in verse), Kottayam, 1960
  • Govinda Pillai, A, thirukural, Trivandrum
  • Thirukkural Malayalam Vivarthanam Published by DC Books Kottayam Written By S. Ramesan Nair


  • Kishrod, Dash Ch, thirukuralu-in oriya language, Sampalbur, 1985


  • Ram Murti Sharma, thirukural dhamma granth of the tamils, Chandigarh, 1983


  • Umadevi, Wandy Dynowskiev, thiruvalluvar kural, Madras, 1958


  • Kamala Gurg, thirukural needhi sastra, Jaipur, 1982


  • Glazov, J.J and Krishnamurthi, A, thirukural, a book on virtu, politics and love, Moscow, 1963
  • Glazov, J.J, thirukural in couplets with illustrations, Moscow, 1974


  • Srirama Desikan, S.N, thirukural in sanskrit slokas, Madras, 1961, 1968


  • Ram, S.S, Saurastra thirukural payiram - pitika pragaranam, Madurai, 1980


  • De Silva, Charles, Sirigiya (thirukural in sinhalese), Colombo, 1964
  • Sissigamy Govokgada, M, thirukural, Colombo, 1961


  • Frykholm Ingya, thirukural, Uddavalla, 1971


  • Jagannatha Sastri, Mudiganthi, thiruvalluva sookthalu, West Godavari, 1952
  • Lakshminarayana Sastri, Kural, chittoor, 1906


  • Kohan, Muhamad Yusuf, Kural in Urdu and Arabic, Madras, 1976
  • Surawathi Hasarat, Kural in Urdu, New Delhi, 1966


  • Subramaniyam, Ka Naa, Tiruvalluvar and his Tirukkural. Bharatiya Jnanpith: New Delhi 1987.
  • P. S. Sundaram, The Kural. Penguin Books: London, 1990.
  • Blackburn, Stuart. (2000). Corruption and Redemption: The Legend of Valluvar and Tamil Literary History. Modern Asian Studies, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 449–82, May 2000.
  • Yogi Suddhananda Bharathi(1897), Thirukkural with English Couplets - Tamil Chandror Peravai: Chennai.(15 May 1995)
  • Thirukkural with English Couplets by Tamil Chandror Peravai (Translated by Yogi Suddhananda Bharathi[1897]), Tamil Chandror Peravai, 26 Sardar Patel Road, Adyar, Chennai - 600 020
  • Drew, W.H, Translated by John Lazarus, Thirukkural (Original in Tamil with English Translation), ISBN 81-206-0400-8


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