Thirukkural and Buddhism Part 2

Yashwant Malaiya malaiya at CS.COLOSTATE.EDU
Sat Feb 12 20:53:48 UTC 2000

Thank to Ramalingam for this interesting note.

I will mention why I think Thirukkural is the work
of a Jain, although it is certianly written as a
non-sectarian work.

First let me mention that for the period it was
composed in, the question should not be
"Was Tiruvalluvar a Buddhist, Jain, or Hindu?"
rather it should be "Was Tiruvalluvar a Buddhist, Jain,
a Shaiva, a Vaishnava, a Vedavadi etc." The separate
religious traditions identified in Manimekhalai
are Shaiva, Brahmavadi, Vaishnava, Vedavadi, Ajivika,
Jain, Samkhya, Vaisheshika, and materilist in addition
to Buddhism. Also there is no general agreement about
the time of Tiruvalluvar (it may depend on the assumed
date for Manimekhalai).

The first Jina, Lord Rishabh is quite often called Adi.
For example:

Aadimam prathiveenatham-aadimama nishparigraham|
Aadimam tirthanatham cha, Rashabhaswaaminam stumah||1||

In fact term Adinath is more common than Rishabh.
Incidentally  Mahavira was the 24th Jina (just
like Gotam Shakyamuni was the 25th Buddha).

Much of the first chapter could be interpreted
as applying to Buddha. Verse 6 suggests that
Adi Bhagavan was born as a human being and he
controlled his senses.

However the concept in verse 5 probably can not
be Buddhist (Weeraratne's translation appears to
be faulty)

It is translated by P.S. Sundaram as:
  The delusions caused by good deeds and bad
  Shall never be theirs who seek God's Praises.

Kural is a strong supporter of vegetarianism. In
Theravad Buddhism, while killing is not permitted,
eating meat is. In some Buddhist regions, Muslim
butchers sell meat (like in Kashmir before people
became Muslim)

Verse 256 says (tr: Dikshitar)

  Would there be meat for sale,
  if men were not to kill animals for flesh?

suggesting Valluvar was a Jain and not a Buddhist.

Incidentally, in Mahayana, the monks are vegetarian, but
lay people can eat meat.


PS: I have always wondered if the Kural manuscripts
differ at all, or all printed versions are based on
a single manuscript?

Incidentally, Jainism was once present in Srilanka,
it was perhaps common among Tamils there.

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