Why everybody wants to appropriate Thiruvalluvar

In 1967, then Chief Minister and founder of the party, CN Annadurai, recognised KR Venugopal Sarma Thiruvalluvar portrait as the official image of the saint poet. His book Thirukkural is probably the most translated book after Bible. Imaging: Manikandan R

‘To pierce a mustard seed and let in seven oceans.’

That’s how ascetic Idaikaadar described poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar’s epic work Thirukkural– a book of 1,330 couplets written in Tamil. What Idaikaadar was referring to is the vastness of the subjects the couplets address and the depths of the philosophical plunge they take.

Idaikaadar, it is claimed, lived in the Sangam age, which lasted from about the 6th century BCE to around 3rd century CE. If Idaikaadar was asked to talk of the work today, he probably would have said, ‘To pierce a mustard seed and let in a thousand claimants.’

And that is because today, as Tamil Nadu celebrates Thiruvalluvar Day, everyone wants to claim Thirukkural as their own without understanding the work’s true essence. In recent years, both Thiruvalluvar and his work, Thirukkural, have assumed a greater importance beyond their literary and philosophical merit.

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