Thurukkural and Buddhism Part 1

Ramalingam Shanmugalingam AppuArchie at AOL.COM
Sat Feb 12 14:59:36 UTC 2000

Tirukural author Jain or Buddhist?
By D. Amarasiri Weeraratne
Tirukkural is a Tamil classical poem which is
considered a masterpiece of world literature. It has
achieved world-fame after it was translated and
published in foreign languages - English. Latin,
German, Russian, etc.
There are two Sinhala translations one by Missy Nona,
a school mistress who won laurels by bringing out this
translation. The other is by Charles de Silva, a
Sinhala scholar and linguist of high attainment.
Nowhere in the work do we get any information who the
author was or where he lived. Like the authors of the
earliest Sinhala classics, the sage author remained
anonymous. But all scholars accept the tradition that
the author was Tiruvalluvar who lived in the 6th
century C.E.
This book was well-known to Sinhala scholars of the
Kotte period. In fact Tamil literature was taught at
the Vijayabahu Pirivena, Totagamuwa, where Sri Rahula
was the Principal. One of his pupillary disciples
Ranasgalle Thera wrote the well-known Lokopakaraya
which is entirely inspired and based on the
Tirukkkural. Lokopakaraya (Counsel for the People of
the World) needs no introduction to Sinhala literary
Was Tiruvalluvar a Buddhist, Jain, or Hindu? Many Jain
scholars and a few saivaites claim him to be an
adherent of their faith. It is a tricky problem to
sort out these claims and arrive at a conclusion which
would satisfy all.
This book contains sage advice on the practice of the
Dharma (religion), acquiring wealth (artha) and
enjoyment of sensual pleasures (kama). It teaches
ethics, manners, morals and decorum, in fact all the
paraphernalia of a civilised and cultured man. In fact
it became the vade-mecum of the elite Indians whatever
their religion.
There is no special doctrine or teaching peculiar to
any Indian religion in the book by which we can
identify Tiruvalluvar's faith. But his salutations at
the outset in ten verses are to the primordial source
of everything in the universe, to which he gives the
appellation " Adi-Bhagavat".

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