Pearls of Wisdom

Avvaiyar’s pearls of wisdom - 5

Moothurai - 5

அடக்கம் உடையார் அறிவிலர் என்றெண்ணிக்
கடக்கக் கருதவும் வேண்டா - மடைத் தலையில்
ஓடுமீன் ஓட உறுமீன் வருமளவும்
வாடி இருக்குமாம் கொக்கு. 16

adakkam udaiyAr arivilar endreNNi

kadakka karudhavum vEndA – madaithalaiyil

OdumIn Oda urumIn varumaLavum

vAdi irukkumAm kokku 16

A crane waits patiently in the stream of water (from the fountain head) for the big fish while letting all the small fish swim by. Likewise, one should not try to cross the path of the patient, humble people misreading them as fools (for they would let all go but wait for the right enemy and attack them).

Appearances are deceptive. One’s demure countenance should not be taken for their weakness. They might not react at all times for anyone and everyone, but at the right time they will give a fitting reply for the right type of enemy. One’s real power is not in what he does, but in knowing what he can do and restraining himself.

The simple message is that one should not underestimate a person for his calmness.

அற்ற குளத்தில் அறுநீர்ப் பறவைபோல்
உற்றுழித் தீர்வர் உறவல்லர் -அக்குளத்தில்
கொட்டியும் ஆம்பலும் நெய்தலும் போலவே
ஒட்டி உறுவார் உறவு. 17

attra kuLaththil arunIr paravaipOl

uttruzhiththIrvar uravallar – akkuLaththil

kottiyum Ambalum naidhalum pOlavE

otti uruvAr uravu  17

A water-bird leaves a pond if it dries up. Likewise, relatives leave in times of poverty and they are not true relatives. True relatives are those who stay without leaving even in bad times similar to the flowers (kotti, lilies, neithal) that stay in the pond even when it dries up.

This brilliant verse sums up how a true relative should be. AvvaiyAr qualifies a true relative similar to that of a good friend.

Let us get into a small discussion here…

One can choose his friends but not his relatives because relations are established when one is born (or when married). Choice of a friend can be based on the trait of timely help and support.

PanchatantrA says that all men are friends in good times. But, regard him as a true friend who helps you when times are bad.

So, if this does not apply entirely to choosing a relative then what is the import of the verse?

The verse can only mean that how one should conduct oneself as a relative! We tend to judge relatives in terms of affluence, mutual respect and rationalized jealousy also, but we fail to behave like good relatives ourselves, on these very terms. In many cases, it is the money which decides our behaviour.

PanchatantrA says that when a man loses his wealth, his friends and relatives avoid him and even his sons desert him. His wife, though born of good family, distances herself from him. His good qualities are not appreciated. Though his body, voice and mind remain the same, the rest all qualities crash in a flash. With money gone, one’s troubles increase.

We must make a conscious effort to see beyond money when we look at people. This would be a proper step in one’s evolution towards a good human being.

சீரியர் கெட்டாலும் சீரியரே; சீரியர் மற்(று)
அல்லாதார் கெட்டால் அங் கென்னாகும்? - சீரிய
பொன்னின் குடம்உடைந்தால் பொன்னாகும் என்னாகும்
மண்ணின் குடம் உடைந்தக் கால். 18

sIriyar kettAlum SIriyarE SIriyar mattru
allAthAr  kettAl  angennAgum? - SIriya
ponnin kudam udainthal ponnAgum ennAgum 
maNNin kudam udaintakkAl 18

If a golden pot cracks, it still benefits one as old gold. But if an earthen pot breaks, it is destroyed and is of no use. Likewise, when good people (of noble character and conduct) fall in bad times (lose wealth and face poverty) they still uphold their good character and shall be considered noble. Whereas, when people of mean character fall in bad times what becomes of their character? (the mean, ill qualities do not change).

The short form of this is “kettAlum mEnmakkal mEnmakkaley”.

The last phase of Karna’s life stands as a stunning example of these qualifying statements. Karna goes to the extent of giving off his virtuous fruits (punya) even in the face of death.

Harischandra makes no compromises to his sattwic quality of speaking the truth. He is intermittently tempted by Nakshatraya (a disciple of Viswamitra who accompanies Harischandra after he gives away the kingdom and riches) to refute his promise to Viswamitra.

Harischandra is put to all kinds of miseries a man can face:

A comfortable king turned to a pauper in moments… his queen put to menial hardships and dishonoured… a king condemned to perform a thankless, abhorred labour of disposing the dead… and finally facing the ultimate pain of facing his son’s death… All these miseries do not deter him from the path of righteousness. These could be declared as legends but the story of Dayananda Saraswati is more contemporary and real in substance.

The Swamiji’s thoughts were moving many. Nationalism and patriotism were finding new takers combined with such a fervour that caused a concern to the British regime in India. The British employed cunning means to get rid of him. They bribe his man-servant to poison Swamiji’s food. Swamiji becomes aware of the plans. When he is offered milk with poison (or diamond powder?) from the hands of his servant, he drinks the same. He calmly offers some money to the servant and advises him to leave the town. His servant is shocked and regrets his act moved by Swamiji’s kindness. Swamiji tells him that the same British officers who bribed him will arrest him and make him the scapegoat for his act.

Apart from qualifying as a noble soul which maintains its sattwic nature, Dayananda Saraswati epitomizes the words of Valluvar that one should repay goodness to someone who does harm and put him to regret.

Let us meditate on Dayananda Saraswati for a while…


Rajoo Balaji

Revised from earlier version published in ‘Nandini Voice for the Deprived’

Jul 20, 2010
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