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Avvaiyar/Thiruvalluvar

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    4th Mar, 2020

Recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cited some poets in her Budget speech. The famous Tamil poets, Avvaiyar and Thiruvalluvar were also among them. Also, in late 2019, the statue of Thiruvalluvar was vandalized in Pillayarpatti in Tamil Nadu.

Context

Recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cited some poets in her Budget speech. The famous Tamil poets, Avvaiyar and Thiruvalluvar were also among them. Also, in late 2019, the statue of Thiruvalluvar was vandalized in Pillayarpatti in Tamil Nadu.

About

  • Avvaiyar’s “aaathichoodi” and Thiruvalluvar’s ‘five jewels’ was quoted by Finance Minister during her Budget 2020 presentation in the Parliament.
  • The three major themes of Budget 2020 are aspirational India, a caring society and economic development for all.
  • In reference to asking farmers to adopt organic fertilizers, Tamil poet Aauvaiyar’s advice, “aaathichoodi" was quoted.
    • It translated means one must first till one’s land and then eat.
  • Quote on good governance included Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar’s ‘five jewels’: freedom from illness, wealth generation, farm productivity, happiness, and good defences.

Facts about Avvaiyar

  • Avvaiyar (literally 'Respectable Woman') was the title of more than one female Tamil poets active during different periods of Tamil literature.
    • According to linguists, there were three avvais - one from Sangam-age, another from Chola-age, and third one belonging to contemporary times.
    • She is often imagined as an old and intelligent lady by Tamil people.
  • Avvaiyar I: Budget 2020 refers to Sangam-age Avvaiyar. She authored various aphorisms as a guide to moral life. They are taught to children as an introduction to poetry and are recited even today by school kids in Tamil Nadu.
    • Her poems are found in Purananuru, Kurunthogai and Natrinai.
  • Avvaiyar II: The second Avvaiyar was contemporary of 12th century Tamil poets, Kambar and Ottakoothar, during reign of Chola dynasty.
  • Avvaiyar III: The third Avvaiyar is most widely known for her works including; ‘Vinayagar Agaval’ ,‘Aathi Soodi’, ‘Kondrai Vendhan’, ‘Nalvazhi’ and ‘Moodhurai’.
  • Legend around Avvai: According to legend, Vinayaka bestowed young Avvai with the looks of an old woman, as she did not want to be entangled in marriage. With her poems pregnant with common sense, she could easily impress kings and commoners.
    • Kings valued her wisdom and wanted her to stay in their courts, but she refused to be bogged down. She was always on the move.
    • Her moral uprightness gave her the courage to talk to kings on equal terms and correct them when they were wrong.
  • Myths and theories: According to some theories, there is only one Avvaiyar and she lived during period of Kulothunga III. The Sangam Age Avvai is a myth.
  • Recognition: An Avvaiyar aphorism “What you haven't learned is the size of the world" is exhibited at
    • In 1991, a 20.6 km-wide crater in Venus was named 'Avviyar crater’, by the International Astronomical Union.

Aaathichoodi

  • Aathichoodi is a collection of single-line quotations written by Avvaiyar and organized in alphabetical order.
  • There are 109 of these sacred lines which include insightful quotes expressed in simple words. It aims to inculcate good habits, discipline and doing good deeds.
  • In an attempt to push organic farming for better care of agricultural land, Aathichoodi text (Bhumi Tiruthi Unn ) was quoted by in Budget speech

Facts about Thiruvalluvar

  • Thiruvalluvar, also known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher. He is best known for Thirukkural a collection of couplets on ethics, politics, economics, and love.
    • Thiruvalluvar is thought to have lived sometime between 33rd – 11st century BC.
  • Origin: Valluvar is believed to have lived in Madurai and later in town of Mayilapuram or Thirumayilai (present-day Mylapore in Chennai), although there is no real proof.
    • He is generally thought to have belonged either to Jainism or Hinduism. However, almost every religious group has claimed him and his work as their own.
  • Thiruvalluvar statue: There is a 133-foot tall statue of Thiruvalluvar erected at Kanyakumari, denoting Tirukkural's 133 Chapters. It displays a show of three fingers denoting the three themes in it; Aram, Porul, and Inbam.
  • Official image of Thiruvalluvar: Tamil Nadu government's official image of Thiruvalluvar sports a white dhoti with no sacred ash on forehead.
    • Lately, there was a controversy about BJP posting a picture of Thiruvalluvar draped in saffron dhoti.
    • Thiruvalluvar is considered an icon of Tamil identity, with his teachings finding place in all Dravidian parties.

Ancient Dravidian history

  • Keeladi excavation: Findings from Keeladi excavation site, published by state archaeological department, had pushed back Tamil Dravidian history in South India by at least 300 years, from 300 BCE to 600 BCE.
  • The excavations are expected to throw light on a nearly 1,000-year gap between the Indus Valley civilisation (1500 BCE) and the Sangam Era (600 BCE).
  • Little association with Hinduism:  The exhaustive excavation did not find symbols associated with Hinduism, which strengthened the theory that ancient Dravidian history is detached from Hinduism.


Thirukkural

  • Thirukkural is one of the most revered ancient works in Tamil language. It is considered a 'common creed', providing a guide for human morals and betterment in life.
    • It has been translated into several languages, including a translation into Latin by Constanzo Beschi in 1730.
  • Divided into three sections: Section one deals with Aram, good ethical behavior with conscience and honour ("right conduct"); section two discusses Porul, the right manner of conducting worldly affairs; and section three dwells on Inbam, love between man and woman.
    • Aram and Inbam deal with private life of an individual, while more than half of couplets are grouped under Porul, which discuss ethics in public life.
  • Kurals: The first section has 38 chapters, second has 70 chapters, and third has 25 chapters. Each chapter consists of 10 couplets or kurals, i.e. a total of 133 chapters and 1330 couplets.
    • The book is also called the ‘fifth Veda’ or ‘Bible of the Tamil Land’.
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