the greatest Tamil poet ever, Thiruvalluvar was a man of few
words. A man who could pack a wealth of meaning in two phrases.
Thiruvalluvar was a phenomenon. In the words of Tamil Poet Bharathiyar,
Tamil Nadu has become universally famous, because of Thiruvalluvar.
Though much is not known about his life, he is said to have been
born in 31 B. C to Athi and Bhagavan. His birthplace
was Mylapore in Madras. He was a weaver by profession.
His major work the 'Thirukkural', has been translated
into several Indian and Foreign languages, including English,
French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The Thirukkural
has three sections - Arathupaal (Principles), Porutpaal
(Public life and Relationships) and Kamathupaal (Love). The
work has 133 chapters; each chapter containing ten couplets, totalling
All the 1,330 couplets are inscribed on the granite pillars that
surround the auditorium in Valluvar Kottam (built in memory
of the poet-saint, in 1976, at Nungambakkam, Chennai). There is
also a 101-feet high temple chariot structure, with a life-size
image of the poet in it. The base of the chariot depicts the 133
chapters of the Thirukkural.
In 2000, a colossal Thiruvalluvar statue, 133 feet high, was opened
to the public, on the rock adjacent to the Vivekananda rock,
A S GNANASAMBANDAN
A S Gnanasambandan has not only helped make the 'Thirukkural'
(Thiruvalluvar's epic) come alive, but has also given to it, lucid
and convincing commentaries.
Author of around three-dozen books, Gnanasambandan began focusing
on the study of Tamil on the advice of his father. Today, he is acknowledged
as an authority on Tamil classics. He maintains that the Thirukkural
was written against a static backdrop. That dispels any misguided
impression that it was influenced by the Vedas (which were written
in the context of a nomadic civilisation).
Gnanasambandan was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award
in 1985 for his book 'Kamban-Pudiya Paarvai'. He is
also the recipient of the state Government awards in 1957 and 1990.
The Tamil Newspaper Daily Thanthi conferred the 'Mootharingnjar'
(elderly scholar) award on him in 1998.
For this scholar, what is most worrying is the apathy towards reconstructing
the history of Tamil literature. Most students, who opt for Tamil,
do so out of default. If Tamil literature is to flourish as it did
at the time of Thiruvalluvar, somebody ought to give Gnanasambandan
- Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy