Thirukural of Tiruvalluvar | 2


1.3.13 Curbing of Desire

Desire to all, always is seed
From which ceaseless births proceed. |361

If long thou must, long for non-birth
It comes by longing no more for earth. |362

No such wealth is here and there
As peerless wealth of non-desire. |363

To nothing crave is purity
That is the fruit of verity. |364

The free are those who desire not
The rest not free in bonds are caught. |365

Dread desire; Virtue is there
To every soul desire is snare! |366

Destroy desire; deliverance
Comes as much as you aspire hence. |367

Desire extinct no sorrow-taints
Grief comes on grief where it pretends. |368

Desire, the woe of woes destroy
Joy of joys here you enjoy. |369

Off with desire insatiate
You gain the native blissful state. |370

1.4 Destiny
1.4.1 Destiny

Efforts succeed by waxing star
Wealth-losing brings waning star. |371

Loss- fate makes a dull fool of us
Gain- fate makes us prosperous, wise! |372

What matters subtle study deep?
Levels of innate wisdom- keep. |373

Two natures in the world obtain
Some wealth and others wisdom gain. |374

In making wealth fate changes mood;
The good as bad and bad as good. |375

Things not thine never remain
Things destined are surely thine. |376

Who crores amass enjoy but what
The Dispenser's decrees allot. |377

The destitute desire will quit
If fate with ills visit them not. |378

Who good in time of good perceive
In evil time why should they grieve? |379

What power surpasses fate? Its will
Persists against the human skill. |380

2. Wealth

People, troops, wealth, forts, council, friends
Who owns these six is lion of kings. |381

Courage, giving, knowledge and zeal
Are four failless features royal. |382

Alertness, learning bravery
Are adjuncts three of monarchy. |383

A brave noble king refrains from vice
Full of virtue and enterprise. |384

The able king gets, stores and guards
And spends them for people's safeguards. |385

That land prospers where the king is
Easy to see, not harsh of words. |386

The world commends and acts his phrase
Who sweetly speaks and gives with grace. |387

He is the Lord of men who does
Sound justice and saves his race. |388

Under his shelter thrives the world
Who bears remarks bitter and bold. |389

He is the Light of Kings who has
Bounty, justice, care and grace. |390


Lore worth learning, learn flawlessly
Live by that learning thoroughly. |391

Letter, number, art and science
Of living kind both are the eyes. |392

The learned alone have eyes on face
The ignorant two sores of disgrace. |393

To meet with joy and part with thought
Of learned men this is the art. |394

Like poor before rich they yearn:
For knowledge: the low never learn. |395

As deep you dig the sand spring flows
As deep you learn the knowledge grows. |396

All lands and towns are learner's own
Why not till death learning go on! |397

The joy of learning in one birth
Exalts man upto his seventh. |398

The learned foster learning more
On seeing the world enjoy their lore. |399

Learning is wealth none could destroy
Nothing else gives genuine joy. |400


Like play of chess on squareless board
Vain is imperfect loreless word. |401

Unlearned man aspiring speech
Is breastless lady's love- approach. |402

Ev'n unread men are good and wise
If before the wise, they hold their peace. |403

The unread's wit though excellent
Is not valued by the savant. |404

A man untaught when speech he vaunts
Sadly fails before savants. |405

People speak of untaught minds
"They just exist like barren lands". |406

Like painted clay- doll is his show
Grand subtle lore who fails to know. |407

Wealth in the hand of fools is worse
Than a learned man's empty purse. |408

Lower are fools of higher birth
Than low- born men of learning's worth. |409

Like beasts before men, dunces are
Before scholars of shining lore. |410


Wealth of wealths is listening's wealth
It is the best of wealths on earth. |411

Some food for the stomach is brought
When the ear gets no food for thought. |412

Whose ears get lots of wisdom-food
Equal gods on oblations fed. |413

Though not learned, hear and heed
That serves a staff and stay in need. |414

Virtuous men's wisdom is found
A strong staff on slippery ground. |415

Lend ear to good words however few
That much will highly exalt you. |416

Who listen well and learn sharply
Not ev'n by slip speak foolishly. |417

That ear though hearing is dulled
Which is not by wisdom drilled. |418

A modest mouth is hard for those
Who care little to counsels wise. |419

Who taste by mouth and not by ear
What if they fare ill or well here? |420


Wisdom's weapon wards off all woes
It is a fort defying foes. |421

Wisdom checks the straying senses
Expels evils, impels goodness. |422

To grasp the Truth from everywhere
From everyone is wisdom fair. |423

Speaking out thoughts in clear trends
Wisdom subtle sense comprehends. |424

The wise- world the wise befriend
They bloom nor gloom, equal in mind. |425

As moves the world so move the wise
In tune with changing times and ways. |426

The wise foresee what is to come
The unwise lack in that wisdom. |427

Fear the frightful and act wisely
Not to fear the frightful's folly. |428

No frightful evil shocks the wise
Who guard themselves against surprise. |429

Who have wisdom they are all full
Whatev'r they own, misfits are nil. |430


Plenty is their prosperity
Who're free from wrath pride lust petty. |431

Mean pride, low pleasure, avarice
These add blemishes to a prince. |432

Though millet- small their faults might seem
Men fearing disgrace, Palm-tall deem. |433

Watch like treasure freedom from fault
Our fatal foe is that default. |434

Who fails to guard himself from flaw
Loses his life like flame-lit straw. |435

What fault can be the king's who cures
First his faults, then scans others. |436

That miser's wealth shall waste and end
Who would not for a good cause spend. |437

The gripping greed of miser's heart
Is more than fault the worst apart. |438

Never boast yourself in any mood
Nor do a deed that does no good. |439

All designs of the foes shall fail
If one his wishes guards in veil. |440


Weigh their worth and friendship gain
Of men of virtue and mature brain. |441

Cherish the help of men of skill
Who ward and safe-guard you from ill. |442

Honour and have the great your own
Is rarest of the rare things known. |443

To have betters as intimates
Power of all powers promotes. |444

Ministers are the monarch's eyes
Round him should be the right and wise. |445

To move with worthy friends who knows
Has none to fear from frightful foes. |446

No foe can foil his powers
whose friends reprove him when he errs. |447

The careless king whom none reproves
Ruins himself sans harmful foes. |448

No capital, no gain in trade
No prop secure sans good comrade. |449

To give up good friends is ten times worse
Than being hated by countless foes. |450


The ignoble the noble fear
The mean hold them as kinsmen dear. |451

With soil changes water's taste
With mates changes the mental state. |452

Wisdom depends upon the mind
The worth of man upon his friend. |453

Wisdom seems to come from mind
But it truly flows from the kind. |454

Purity of the thought and deed
Comes from good company indeed. |455

Pure- hearted get good progeny
Pure friendship acts with victory. |456

Goodness of mind increases gain
Good friendship fosters fame again. |457

Men of wisdom, though good in mind
In friends of worth a new strength find. |458

Good mind decides the future bliss
Good company gains strength to this. |459

No help good company exeeds;
The bad to untold anguish leads. |460


Weigh well output the loss and gain
And proper action ascertain. |461

Nothing is hard for him who acts
With worthy counsels weighing facts. |462

The wise risk not their capital
In doubtful gains and lose their all. |463

They who scornful reproach fear
Commence no work not made clear. |464

Who marches without plans and ways
His field is sure to foster foes. |465

Doing unfit action ruins
Failing fit-act also ruins. |466

Think and dare a proper deed
Dare and think is bad in need. |467

Toil without a plan ahead
Is doomed to fall though supported. |468

Attune the deeds to habitude
Or ev'n good leads to evil feud. |469

Do deeds above reproachfulness
The world refutes uncomely mess. |470


Judge act and might and foeman's strength
The allies' strength and go at length. |471

Nothing hampers the firm who know
What they can and how to go. |472

Many know not their meagre might
Their pride breaks up in boastful fight. |473

Who adapts not, outsteps measure
And brags himself- his fall is sure. |474

Even the gentle peacock's plume
Cart's axle breaks by gross volume. |475

Beyond the branches' tip who skips
Ends the life as his body rips. |476

Know the limit; grant with measure
This way give and guard your treasure. |477

The outflow must not be excess
No matter how small income is. |478

Who does not know to live in bounds
His life seems rich but thins and ends. |479

Wealth amassed quickly vanishes
Sans level if one lavishes. |480


By day the crow defeats the owl
Kings need right time their foes to quell. |481

Well- ordered seasoned act is cord
That fortune binds in bon accord. |482

What is hard for him who acts
With proper means and time and tacts? |483

Choose proper time and act and place
Even the world you win with ease. |484

Who want to win the world sublime
Wait unruffled biding their time. |485

By self-restraint stalwarts keep fit
Like rams retreating but to butt. |486

The wise jut not their vital fire
They watch their time with hidden ire. |487

Bear with hostiles when you meet them
Fell down their head in fateful time. |488

When comes the season ripe and rare
Dare and do hard things then and there. |489

In waiting time feign peace like stork
In fighting time strike like its peck. |490


No action take, no foe despise
Until you have surveyed the place. |491

Many are gains of fortresses
Ev'n to kings of power and prowess. |492

Weaklings too withstand foe's offence
In proper fields of strong defence. |493

If fighters fight in vantage field
The plans of foes shall be baffled. |494

In water crocodile prevails
In land before others it fails. |495

Sea-going ship goes not on shore
Nor on sea the strong-wheeled car. |496

No aid but daring dash they need
When field is chosen right for deed. |497

Though force is small, if place is right
One quells a foe of well-armed might. |498

To face a foe at home is vain
Though fort and status are not fine. |499

A fox can kill a war tusker
Fearless with feet in deep quagmire. |500


Pleasure, gold, fear of life Virtue-
Test by these four and trust the true. |501

Spotless name of noble birth
Shamed of stain -that choice is worth. |502

Though deep scholars of stainless sense
Rare is freedom from ignorance. |503

Good and evil in man weigh well
Judge him by virtues which prevail. |504

By the touchstone of deeds is seen
If any one is great or mean. |505

Choose not those men without kinsmen
Without affine or shame of sin. |506

On favour leaning fools you choose;
Folly in all its forms ensues. |507

To trust an untried stranger brings
Endless troubles on all our kins. |508

Trust not without testing and then
Find proper work for trusted men. |509

Trust without test; The trusted doubt;
Both entail troubles in and out. |510


Employ the wise who will discern
The good and bad and do good turn. |511

Let him act who resource swells;
Fosters wealth and prevents ills. |512

Trust him in whom these four you see:
Love, wit, non-craving, clarity. |513

Though tried and found fit, yet we see
Many differ before duty. |514

Wise able men with power invest
Not by fondness but by hard test. |515

Discern the agent and the deed
And just in proper time proceed. |516

This work, by this, this man can do
Like this entrust the duty due. |517

His fitness for the duty scan
Leave him to do the best he can. |518

Who do duty for duty's sake
Doubt them; and fortune departs quick. |519

Worker straight the world is straight
The king must look to this aright. |520


Let fortunes go; yet kinsmen know
The old accustomed love to show. |521

The gift of loving Kins bestows
Fadeless fortune's fresh flowers. |522

A kinless wealth is like a tank
Which overflows without a bank. |523

The fruit of growing wealth is gained
When kith and kin are happy found. |524

Loving words and liberal hand
Encircle kith and kin around. |525

Large giver and wrathless man
Commands on earth countless kinsmen. |526

The crows hide not; thy call and eat
Welfare abides a man of heart. |527

From public gaze when kings perceive
Each one's merits so many thrive. |528

Forsaken friends will come and stay
When cause for discord goes away. |529

Who leaves and returns with motive
The king should test him and receive. |530


Worse than wrath in excess is
Forgetfulness in joy-excess. |531

Negligence kills renown just as
Ceaseless want wisdom destroys. |532

Forgetful nature fails of fame
All schools of thinkers say the same. |533

The fearful find no fortress here
The forgetful find good never. |534

Failing foresight the guardless man
Shall rue his folly later on. |535

Forget none; watch with wakeful care
Miss none; the gain is sans compare. |536

With cautious care pursue a thing
Impossible there is nothing. |537

Do what the wise commend as worth
If not, for seven births no mirth. |538

When joy deludes, their fate recall
Whom negligence has made to fall. |539

Easy it is a thing to get
When the mind on it is set. |540


Test and attest impartially
Consult and act the laws justly. |541

The earth looks up to sky and thrives
And mankind to king's rod of justice. |542

The Sage's scripture and virtue spring
From the sceptre of a stately king. |543

The world clings to the ruler's feet
Whose sceptre clasps the people's heart. |544

Full rains and yields enrich the land
Which is ruled by a righteous hand. |545

Not the spear but the sceptre straight
That brings success to monarch's might. |546

The king protects the entire earth
And justice protects his royal worth. |547

Hard of access, the unjust king
He shall himself his ruin bring. |548

Save his subjects and chide the wrong
Is flawless duty of a king. |549

Killing killers, the king, behold
Weeds removes from cropful field. |550


The unjust tyrant oppressor
Is worse than cruel murderer. |551

Sceptered tyrant exacting gold
Is "give" of lanced robber bold. |552

Spy wrongs daily and do justice
Or day by day the realm decays. |553

The king shall wealth and subjects lose
If his sceptre he dares abuse. |554

Groaning tears caused by tyrant's sway
File the royal wealth away. |555

Glory endures by sceptre right
Without it wanes the royal light. |556

Dry like the earth without rainfall
Is graceless king to creatures all. |557

To have is worse than having not
If ruler is unjust despot. |558

The sky withdraws season's shower
If the king misuses his power. |559

The *six-functioned forget their lore
Cows give less if kings guard no more. |560

* the six functions are: learning, teaching, giving,
getting, sacrificing, kindling sacrifice.
These are duties of Vedic savants.


A king enquires and gives sentence
Just to prevent future offence. |561

Wield fast the rod but gently lay
This strict mildness prolongs the sway. |562

His cruel rod of dreadful deed
Brings king's ruin quick indeed. |563

As men the king a tyrant call
His days dwindled, hasten his fall. |564

Whose sight is scarce, whose face is foul
His wealth seems watched by a ghoul. |565

Whose word is harsh, whose sight is rude
His wealth and power quickly fade. |566

Reproofs rough and punishments rude
Like files conquering power corrode. |567

The king who would not take counsels
Rages with wrath-his fortune fails. |568

The king who builds not fort betimes
Fears his foes in wars and dies. |569

The crushing burden borne by earth
Is tyrants bound to fools uncouth. |570


Living in the world implies
The bounteous dame of benign eyes. |571

World lives by looks of lovely worth
Who lack them are burdens of earth. |572

Of tuneless song what is the use?
Without gracious looks what are eyes? |573

Except that they are on the face
What for are eyes sans measured grace. |574

Kind looks are jewels for eyes to wear
Without them they are felt as sore. |575

Like trees on inert earth they grow
Who don't eye to eye kindness show. |576

Ungracious men lack real eyes
Men of real eyes show benign grace. |577

Who gracious are but dutiful
Have right for this earth beautiful. |578

To be benign and bear with foes
Who vex us is true virtue's phase. |579

Men of graceful courtesy
Take hemlock and look cheerfully. |580


A king should treat these two as eyes
The code of laws and careful spies. |581

All that happens, always, to all
The king should know in full detail. |582

Conquests are not for the monarch
Who cares not for the Spy's remark. |583

His officers, kinsmen and foes
Who watch keenly are worthy spies. |584

Fearless gaze, suspectless guise
Guarding secrets mark the spies. |585

Guised as monks they gather secrets
They betray them not under threats. |586

A spy draws out other's secrets
Beyond a doubt he clears his facts. |587

The reports given by one spy
By another spy verify. |588

Engage the spies alone, apart
When three agree confirm report. |589

Give not the spy open reward
It would divulge the secret heard! |590

2.1.22 ENERGY

To own is to own energy
All others own but lethargy. |591

Psychic heart is wealth indeed
Worldly wealth departs in speed. |592

The strong in will do not complain
The loss of worldly wealth and gain. |593

Fortune enquires, enters with boom
Where tireless strivers have their home. |594

Water depth is lotus height
Mental strength is men's merit. |595

Let thoughts be always great and grand
Though they fail their virtues stand. |596

Elephants are firm when arrows hit
Great minds keep fit ev'n in defeat. |597

Heartless persons cannot boast
"We are liberal to our best". |598

Huge elephant sharp in tusk quails
When tiger, less in form, assails. |599

Mental courage is true manhood
Lacking that man is like a wood. |600


Quenchless lamp of ancestry goes
When foul idleness encloses. |601

To make your home an ideal home
Loath sloth as sloth; refuse it room. |602

The fool who fosters sluggishness
Before he dies ruins his house. |603

Who strive not high, sunk deep in sloth
Ruin their house by evil growth. |604

To lag, forget, idle and doze
These four are pleasure boats of loss. |605

With all the wealth of lords of earth
The slothful gain nothing of worth. |606

The slothful lacking noble deeds
Subject themselves to scornful words. |607

If sloth invades a noble house
It will become a slave of foes. |608

The blots on race and rule shall cease
When one from sloth gets his release. |609

The slothless king shall gain en masse
*All regions trod by Lord apace. |610

* Hindu mythology holds that Lord Vishnu
measured with his feet the three worlds.


Feel not frustrate saying "Tis hard".
Who tries attains striving's reward. |611

In doing work don't break and shirk
The world will quit who quits his work. |612

On excellence of industry
Depends magnanimous bounty. |613

Bounty of man who never strives
Like sword in eunuch's hand it fails. |614

Work who likes and not pleasure
Wipes grief of friends, pillar secure. |615

Industry adds prosperity
Indolence brings but poverty. |616

Illuck abides with sloth they say
*Laxmi's gifts with labourers stay. |617

*Laxmi the Goddes of wealth and prosperity

Misfortune is disgrace to none
The shame is nothing learnt or done. |618

Though fate is against fulfilment
Hard labour has ready payment. |619

Tireless Toiler's striving hand
Shall leave even the fate behind. |620


Laugh away troubles; there is
No other way to conquer woes. |621

Deluging sorrows come to nought
When wise men face them with firm thought. |622

Grief they face and put to grief
Who grieve not grief by mind's relief. |623

Who pulls like bulls patiently on
Causes grief to grieve anon. |624

Before the brave grief grieves and goes
Who dare a host of pressing woes. |625

The wise that never gloat in gain
Do not fret in fateful ruin. |626

The wise worry no more of woes
Knowing body's butt of sorrows. |627

Who seek not joy, deem grief norm
By sorrows do not come to harm. |628

In joy to joy who is not bound
In grief he grieves not dual round! |629

His glory is esteemed by foes
Who sees weal in wanton woes! |630


He is minister who chooses
Right means, time, mode and rare ventures. |631

With these he guards people, - by his
Knowledge, firmness and manliness. |632

A minister cherishes friends
Divides foes and the parted blends. |633

A minister must sift reflect
Select and say surely one fact. |634

Have him for help who virtue knows
Right wisdom speaks, ever apt in acts. |635

Which subtler brain can stand before
The keen in brain with learned love? |636

Albeit you know to act from books
Act after knowing world's outlooks. |637

The man in place must tell the facts
Though the ignorant king refutes. |638

Seventy crores of foes are better
Than a minister with mind bitter. |639

The unresolved, though well designed
To fulfil an act they have no mind. |640


The goodness called goodness of speech
Is goodness which nothing can reach. |641

Since gain or ruin speeches bring
Guard against the slips of tongue. |642

A speech is speech that holds ears
And attracts ev'n those that are averse. |643

Weigh thy words and speak; because
No wealth or virtue words surpass. |644

Speak out thy world so that no word
Can win it and say untoward. |645

Spotless men speak what is sweet
And grasp in others what is meet. |646

No foe defies the speaker clear
Flawless, puissant, and free from fear. |647

The world will quickly carry out
The words of counsellors astute. |648

They overspeak who do not seek
A few and flawless words to speak. |649

Who can't express what they have learnt
Are bunch of flowers not fragrant. |650


Friendship brings gain; but action pure
Does every good thing we desire. |651

Eschew always acts that do not
Bring good nor glory on their part |652

Those in the world desire for fame
Should shun the deed that dims their name. |653

Though perils press the faultless wise
Shun deeds of mean, shameful device. |654

Do not wrong act and grieve, "Alas"
If done, do not repeat it twice. |655

Though she who begot thee hungers
Shun acts denounced by ancient seers. |656

Pinching poverty of the wise
Is more than wealth hoarded by Vice. |657

Those who dare a forbidden deed
Suffer troubles though they succeed. |658

Gains from weeping, weeping go
Though lost, from good deeds blessings flow. |659

The wealth gathered in guilty ways
Is water poured in wet clay vase. |660


A powerful mind does powerful act
And all the rest are imperfect. |661

Shun failing fuss; fail not purpose
These two are maxims of the wise. |662

The strong achieve and then display
Woe unto work displayed midway. |663

Easy it is to tell a fact
But hard it is to know and act. |664

Dynamic deeds of a doughty soul
Shall win the praise of king and all. |665

The will- to-do achieves the deed
When mind that wills is strong indeed. |666

Scorn not the form: for men there are
Like linchpin of big rolling car |667

Waver not; do wakefully
The deed resolved purposefully. |668

Do with firm will though pains beset
The deed that brings delight at last. |669

The world merits no other strength
But strength of will-to-do at length. |670


When counsel takes a resolve strong
Weak delay of action is wrong. |671

Delay such acts as need delay
Delay not acts that need display. |672

It's best to act when feasible
If not see what is possible. |673

Work or foe left unfinished
Flare up like fire unextinguished. |674

Money and means, time, place and deed
Decide these five and then proceed. |675

Weigh well the end, hindrance, profit
And then pursue a fitting act. |676

Know first the secret from experts
That is the way of fruitful acts. |677

Lure a tusker by a tusker
Achieve a deed by deed better. |678

Than doing good to friends it is
More urgent to befriend the foes. |679

Small statesmen fearing people's fear
Submit to foes superior. |680


Love, noble birth, good courtesy
Pleasing kings mark true embassy. |681

Envoys must bear love for their prince
Knowledge and learned eloquence. |682

Savant among savants, he pleads
Before lanced king, triumphant words. |683

Who has these three: good form, sense, lore
Can act as bold ambassador. |684

Not harsh, the envoy's winsome ways
Does good by pleasant words concise. |685

Learned; fearless, the envoy tends
Convincing words which time demands. |686

Knowing duty time and place
The envoy employs mature phrase. |687

The true envoy of three virtues
Is pure helpful and bold in views. |688

The envoy who ports the king's message
Has flawless words and heart's courage. |689

Braving death the bold envoy
Assures his king's safety and joy. |690


Move with hostile kings as with fire
Not coming close nor going far. |691

Crave not for things which kings desire
This brings thee their fruitful favour. |692

Guard thyself from petty excess
Suspected least, there's no redress. |693

Whisper not; nor smile exchange
Amidst august men's assemblage. |694

Hear not, ask not the king's secret
Hear only when he lets it out. |695

Discern his mood and time and tell
No dislikes but what king likes well. |696

Tell pleasing things; and never tell
Even if pressed what is futile. |697

As young and kinsman do not slight;
Look with awe king's light and might. |698

The clear-visioned do nothing base
Deeming they have the monarch's grace. |699

Worthless acts based on friendship old
Shall spell ruin and woe untold. |700


Who reads the mind by look, untold
Adorns the changeless sea-girt world. |701

Take him as God who reads the thought
Of another man with without a doubt. |702

By sign who scans the sign admit
At any cost in cabinet. |703

Untold, he who divines the thought
Though same in form is quite apart. |704

Among senses what for is eye
If thought by thought one can't descry? |705

What throbs in mind the face reflects
Just as mirror nearby objects. |706

Than face what is subtler to tell
First if the mind feels well or ill. |707

Just standing in front would suffice
For those who read the mind on face. |708

Friend or foe the eyes will show
To those who changing outlooks know. |709

The scale of keen discerning minds
Is eye and eye that secrets finds. |710


The pure in thought and eloquence
Adapt their words to audience. |711

Who know the art of speech shall suit
Their chosen words to time in fact. |712

They speak in vain at length who talk
Words unversed which ears don't take. |713

Before the bright be brilliant light
Before the muff be mortar white. |714

Modest restraint all good excels
Which argues not before elders. |715

Tongue-slip before the talented wise
Is like slipping from righteous ways. |716

The learning of the learned shines
Valued by flawless scholar- minds. |717

To address understanding ones
Is to water beds of growing grains. |718

O ye who speak before the keen
Forgetful, address not the mean. |719

To hostiles who wise words utters
Pours ambrosia into gutters. |720