Tirukural, the Great Tamil Classic Defines Human Virtues in 1330 Verses – A Review Using Ten Verses

Tirukural- the Tamil Veda (HOLY BOOK) was written 2000 years back and so its author Saint Tiruvalluvar was a contemporary to Jesus Christ. The contents of Tirukural apply even for modern thinking and education. Kural means any brief verse. The title ‘Tiru’ (or Thiru) is added as a sign of respect to both the verses and the poet. For brevity, it is mentioned in some places as Kural and Valluvar respectively. Tirukural belongs to SANGAM LITERATURE of Tamil language. Tamil Sangam means an association of learned Tamil Scholars of Madurai, the erstwhile capital of PANDYA kingdom where, written works of poets were recognised after great scrutiny and review by eminent Tamil scholars. Tirukural is one such literal work recognised among 18 books by Sangam during the first century B.C. Tirukural has been translated in all major languages of the world. In fact, Rev Father G.U.Pope was impressed greatly by its Latin translation and ventured to translate it in English. He compared the saying of Tiruvalluvar “All the living beings are born equal”(pirappokkum ella uyirkkum) to the teaching in Bible.

There are 1330 verses in toto in 133 chapters of 10 verses each on different topics.

This article deals with what Tiruvalluvar has to say about EDUCATION. The ten verses he has written about education form couplets 391 to 400, i.e. the 40th chapter which falls under the category of Materialism. This is not a word to word translation, but a treatise on the subject how Bliss can be obtained in one birth itself by getting the high value of Education during one’s life time.

1. (Kural 391 onwards): one should learn whatever has to be learnt without any fault. Once such learning is complete, he should live according to the lessons he has already learnt true to the spirit of learning. Perfect learning, devoid of all errors and doubts, is the basis of education. One should be clear about all aspects in the subject chosen. More importantly, there should not be any doubt about the questions that might arise at a later date even after the education is completed. Only such an education could make one fit for higher self. Also, on completion of education, one should never deviate from the path guided by education. Thus such a high value to education, regardless of the chosen field of profession such as medicine, jurisprudence, engineering, and what not!

2. Numbers (which form a part of arithmetical knowledge) and Alphabets (which are the basis of literal knowledge) are to be considered as two eyes for living beings.

3. Only educate people are considered as having Vision. The uneducated do not have ‘eyes’, but have only two punctures in the place of eyes. Without education, the supposed eyes will serve no purpose at all. Is it not true that eyesight is the most important physical property of a human being, only by use of which one can visualise the entire physical Universe? Education is compared to this unique property of the living person through these 2 Kurals

4. Even friendship is given a new definition among those who are well-educated. Their meeting and mutual discussions each time is a matter of great pleasure and joy and when they part with each other there is a great yearning to meet again.

5 An educated person is rich in all aspects because he is in possession of knowledge, when compared to an uneducated person who has to bow with all humility as he is in the lowest cadre of the society.

6. A lot of similes are used to bring home these points. Knowledge is compared with water that springs from muddy land. A water pond will spring water in proportion to the extent it is dug and in the same way knowledge will improve progressively as one learns deeply.

7. For an educated person, every town is his own town and every country is his country. “Then why one is persistently wasting his life until death without education?” Tiruvalluvar wonders.

This Kural can be compared to the saying in another Sangam classic ‘Purananuru’ (four hundred songs depicting social external life): which states:

“All places are my native place, and All men are my kinsmen”

(“yadhum urey, yavarum kelir”-Tamil equivalent)

These words are specially quoted here because these are the most favourite words of learned Tamils. It emphasises the oneness and a universal brotherhood with an exceptional sense of understanding and peaceful co-existence.which existed 2000 years ago.

8. Popular Hindu belief is that one has seven births before reaching salvation. But, the poet asserts that, the education one learns in one birth will suffice for all the seven births. Needless to add, he should learn it without any flaw and to the best of its contents. Such an education will give him pleasure for all the seven births. In other words, perfect education gives one MUKTHI i.e. salvation in the present birth itself. Even if one is a non-believer of subsequent births, he can accept this Kural which assures him permanent peace in one birth itself, provided he is perfectly educated.

9. It is also insisted that the nature of an enlightened person is to derive more pleasure in learning and also to yearn for more knowledge, on seeing that such pleasure he earns through education is shared by the society as a whole. The benefit and pleasure of education is not for the individual alone but collective. The pleasure of others acts as a catalyst to him to empower him for such an accumulation in learning. He does not lose anything by sharing the knowledge with others, and in fact his knowledge and pleasure multiply in due course.

10. It is categorically stated that the only viable wealth, a person can possess is education and other riches are in fact,of no use. No flood, fire, or theft can take away the great wealth of knowledge earned by education.

An introduction has been given to this world-famous epic and if the readers’ interest to learn the entire book has been enkindled, the purpose of this article is served. Needless to add, such readers will attain eternal bliss in this birth itself as enumerated in the above paragraphs.

A Two Dimensional Perspective in a Modern World

Dimension, in physics, is an expression of the character of a derived quantity in relation to fundamental quantities, without regard for its numerical value. In any system of measurement, such as the metric system, certain quantities are considered fundamental, and all others are derived from them. CLINK! The noise of the golf club hitting the ball reaches your ears, and at the sight of seeing the ball soar through the sky you notice that this is a prime example of two dimensional motion. The motion of an object that is shot, thrown, or in some other way launched into the air, such as a golf ball being hit into the air, is two dimensional because it will contain both x and y components. The ball’s trajectory is called the parabola. In the y direction, the ball is thrown upward with an initial velocity of Vy2, and the X direction is the ball being thrown forward with an initial velocity of Vx2.

Another good example of a 2 dimensional is firing a gun. When a bullet is shot out into the open, it will eventually hit the ground if there is no obstacles to stop it. This is because out the force of gravity being applied downward to the bullet. This is a very good example of 2-dimensional motion because it has a y and x component to it just like any other motion that consists of firing, throwing, or dismissal of an object into the air. Throw a ball at an angle up off a building. It is now a projectile, which is an object that is propelled by another force and continues to travel because of its own inertia. Watch at first as it travels at the angle that you threw it. When the ball’s velocity reaches zero, (which is its highest point), it begins to travel down to the ground while moving horizontally because its force is constant. This is an example of Projectile Motion. Projectile Motion is a nonlinear motion in which matter travels on a curved path or motion under the influence of gravity.

In the late 1500s a famous physicist, Galileo Galilei, was the first to accurately describe projectile motion and showed how the motion had separate components such as constant horizontal motion and the object would continue to accelerate downward because of gravity. Inertia is a large part of projectile motion because it explains precisely why an object continues to be in motion even after a force has stopped being exerted on it.

Challenges in Introducing Value Education at Higher Education in India

Value Education is the much debated and discussed subject in the plethora of education in India. Of course it is true that the main purpose of any education will go with Value orientation. More concentration on Value education has been given at the primary and secondary level of school education than in higher education in India. Values could be effectively imparted to the young minds rather than to the matured ones. It may be the important reason for this prime importance given at the school level. There are so many modules designed with the help of agencies like NCERT and others for effectively imparting the value education to the school students. In this context, many innovative educational practices are being identified by the experts. Good number of experiments and studies are being conducted in the recent days on the effectiveness of teaching value education at school level. Some schools have very innovative and radical course designs to impart the values.

Effective teaching practices in imparting value education ranges from story telling, exhibitions, skits, one act play and group discussions to various other formats. New methods have been evolved by educationists to create an effective learning sphere. The usage of electronic gadgets also gains importance in the teaching-learning practices of value education. But at the higher education level, due to various reasons, the importance given to value education is not as much as it is given at the school level. The curriculum and the teaching methods also could be subjected to scrutiny. It is true that colleges are meant for a kind of specialization in some field of education. But in the Indian social context, the youth require direction and counseling at this stage. They have been exposed to various challenges at this stage which demands the intervention of educationists for his/her betterment. His/her character building also strengthens at this juncture. Students’ perception on various life factors and events are getting shaped at this stage. On the whole they evolve their own philosophy of life. Their sensitivity and knowledge are getting direction at this stage. Hence, an effective value orientation becomes inevitable to the students of colleges. Keeping this requirement in mind, States like Tamilnadu introduced a compulsory paper/course on value education to undergraduate students of all colleges in the State under the choice based credit system. Though this kind of effort is made with the good intention of imparting values to the youth, many limitations in bringing out the expected outcome could be identified.

The problem mainly begins with the definition of values. Defining the term ‘value’ poses a challenge to all scholars. The term value is loaded with varieties of meaning. Each meaning reflects its own philosophical position. Generally the term value is spontaneously associated with religious values. It is believed by many Indians that values are nothing but the religious and spiritual guiding principles of life. Hence, it is supposed that the path is already been laid for the life journey. But in the context of modernity and modernism there rises a fundamental question of whether value education is required at all in a modern state. There are those who argue that modern life is based on science and technology, and both are value neutral. They view that the values are bugbear held out by people living in the past, glued to outdated religious principles that have no relevance to the 21st century. At this point, there is also another group of modernist who propagate the necessity of value education at learning centres in order to safe guard the democratic state and its values. The values they wish to cultivate are modern secular values such as honesty, respect to other, equality, collectivity, democracy, respecting the human rights, sharing equal space in the public sphere and so on. These values are considered as the products of enlightenment period. Hence, four positions could be arrived at on the basis of the above understanding. The are:

1. There are religious values which are very much essential for every one and must be included in the curriculum.

2. The religious values should not find place in the educational system. They may operate at the private sphere.

3. There are non-religious secular values and they must find space in the education.

4. There is no need for teaching value education in the academics because they cannot be cultivated through formal learning and such value cultivation will make the individual biased.

In consequence to these positions, following questions arouse.

1. Whether value education should find place in the educational system?

2. If it is required, then what sort of values should be given preference in the curriculum?

3. What is the importance to be given to the religious values which are primarily developed on the basis of scriptures?

4. Can modern values alone are sufficient enough or is there any possibility of blending the values of modernity with religious values?

5. If religious values are to be given importance in the curriculum, which religion will find prime place? If there are contradictory propagation on a single virtue by two religions, then how are they to be handled?

6. Similarly religions differ on the practices also. Right from eating patterns, dress mode, marriage systems, war tactics, killing, punishments to various other aspects, religions differ on their outlook. In this situation, what sort of perceptions need to be taught?

Besides these questions, another billion dollar question would be raised on the methodology of effectively imparting those values. Then again as it is mentioned earlier, the school education can very well include this education easily because the system itself is advantageous for it to accommodate. But at the college level, the system finds it very difficult to work out. So this study could analyse the theoretical problems relating to the identification of values to be included in the curriculum at the one side and the problem of effective designing of the curriculum and imparting those values on the other side.

II

The necessity for imparting values to the students of all levels has been felt by everyone. The world today is facing unprecedented socio-political and economic challenges. Problems of life are becoming increasingly intense and complex. Traditional values are decentered. ‘An environment of strife pervades all countries and broken homes have become common. An insatiable hunger for money and power, leads most of people to tension and absence of peace of mind and all kinds of physical and mental ailments have become common place” 1. In the present day context of frequent and often violent social upheavals, we have to look at the problem of restlessness of the youth, their frustration born out of futility of their search for meaning of life and the purpose for which they are living, often leading to evil and wickedness. This calls for a new approach to, and a new vision of education. It is obviously felt that the present educational system promotes rat race and keep the student community in a sense of insecurity. Educational institutions have become the pressure cookers building pressures in the minds of youth. Also a loft sided educational pattern which insists on instrumental and technical rationality for the successful life in terms of gaining money and power has invaded the educational system of India. The person who is deemed to be unfit for this survival race becomes disqualified and ineligible to live in this market economy based life. The spate of industrialization and economic growth in developed nations has brought about a perceptible change in this scenario. And developing countries including India are feeling the ripple effects of this development. Values earlier considered essential by all societies have been eroded and have given way to unethical practices around the globe. Where honesty and integrity were loved and appreciated, greed, corruption and red tapism have come in, bringing in their wake, unethical responses which have pervaded all walks of life and are thwarting efforts of a few enlightened individuals to promote value based society.2 Hence, implementation of well structured education is the only solution available with all states. With growing divisive forces, narrow parochialism, separatist tendencies on the one hand and considerable fall in moral, social, ethical and national values both in personal and public life on the other, the need for promoting effective programmes of value orientation in education has assumed great urgency. Development of human values through education is now routinely seen as a task of national importance. Value education though supposes to be the part and parcel of the regular education, due to the market influences, it could not be so. Hence, it has become an inevitable need to include an exclusive curriculum for value education at all levels.

Now the next question would be about the nature of value education. What sort of values should be given preference in the curriculum is the prime problem in the introduction of value education. This problem surfaces because we can find varieties of values prescribed on the basis of various scriptures and theories. Sometimes they are contradictory to each other. This issue has been thoroughly discussed earlier. But the solution to the problem of the nature of value education is primarily dependent on the social conditions that prevail in the state. There need not be an imported value educational pattern to be prescribed in India. The burning social issues would demand the required value education. Though India is considered to be the land of divinity and wisdom, the modern value system throws challenges to the ancient value pattern. Right from the Gurkula pattern to the varna ashrama values, all values are under scrutiny by modern rationality. Hence, the relevance of the golden values prescribed by the then society is questionable in the present situation. On the other hand, the so called modern values which have been listed earlier also subjected to criticism by philosophers like post modernists. They question the very nature of the rationality of the enlightenment period. Because critics of modernity strongly declare that the modern rationality is the reason for the deterioration of human concern in the world and they paved the way for inhuman killing and escalation of values. The reason of the modernism is considered as the root of power politics which leads to inhuman behaviour of the power system, according to them. Hence the modern values like democracy, civil rights, environmental ethics, professional ethics, discipline and all such values are found useless in bringing harmony in the society. The values like discipline, tolerance, peace bears the negative connotation in this context. Hence, what sort of modern values are to be included in the curriculum is a challenge thrown towards the educationists. At one side the fanatic and fundamentalist features of religious values and on the other side the modern values based on the market economy and other factors are to be excluded and a well balanced curriculum with genuine worthy values suitable to the society has to be identified and included in the educational system. In this context, it becomes obvious that there cannot be any universal pattern of values to be prescribed in the system. When a suitable blend of religious and modern values is to be done, the designing of such course demands an unbiased, scrupulous, intelligent approach on the part of the academician who designs such course. Thus the spiritual values of sensitizing the youth for happy world and rational values for a just world are very much required. Religious values can be taken but not with the label of any particular religion, democratic values are to be included but not with its dogmatic inhuman approach. Thus there need a perfect blend of both. This is the real challenge thrown to the Indian academicians.

After the identification of these values, they need to be inculcated not to be informed to the students. Mostly listing the values is done very easily, but imparting them effectively requires genuine spirit and innovative educational practices. In the Vedic period, the gurukula system prevailed in which the student has to thoroughly undergo a pattern life with the guru shishya hierarchy. Whatever the guru declares are the values of life. But in the modern context, which is supposed to be the democratic sphere, a sense of equality and freedom has to prevail the learning situation. Also the values identified cannot be preached on the basis of the religious faiths. So the teacher has to find effective working module to internalize the values in the minds of the youth. The teachers’ understanding about the values prescribed and his/her commitment in imparting them also play a crucial role here. How to sensitize the teacher before carrying the values to the students is also a challenge to the educationists. The value education class room, if it is dealt with full seriousness and sincerity would be very interesting and challenging sphere for students and teachers. At times they need to sail at the same level with the students. The hierarchy may get disappeared. Value education demands a total responsibility from the teachers. They become more accountable. On the other side, a teacher who is committed to a set of values would always like to preach and impose them on the young minds. That extreme should also to be avoided with a balance of mind. Value education cannot be done by just delivering lectures and screening films. It requires a strong interaction between the students and the society. A lot could be experimented at this sphere. For which the supreme value ‘integrity’ is expected from the educator.

It is observed that many modules of teaching values have been designed and tested. Some are seemed to be very effective. In Tamilnadu, especially in aided colleges, with all good intention the government has introduced the value education as a compulsory scheme at the undergraduate level. But each university has its own syllabus for the same. The scrutiny of those syllabi also reveals a lot of variations in conceiving the value education. In some universities, some religion based institutions are given the responsibility of designing and even carrying out the course. Similarly the teachers who have not been exposed to any such type of training in value education are given the responsibility of teaching values. The introduction of value education for all under graduate courses is done at the cost of a core paper of that course. The teachers who have been handling their hardcore subject papers had to meet the shortage of workload due to this programme and to solve this problem, they have been entrusted with the job of teaching value education paper. This is done with the aim of avoiding the workload problem of existing teachers. The most valuable and sensitive part of education has been made like a mechanical dogmatic part. At this juncture, the fate of value education at the college level could be imagined. How to solve this issue is again a challenge to the educationists of Tamilnadu. The same fate could be observed in many other states of India. Hence, two important problems surfaces here, one at the syllabus level and the other at the teaching level. As it is discussed earlier the syllabus could be designed by way of paying attention to all aspects but imparting the same requires not only innovative teaching methods, but also innovative training method of the educators. It is as good as training the driver to drive the car; the teacher needs to be trained in imparting the values. The technical education employs teachers with sound knowledge in the subject, similarly it is essential to have teachers with sound mind and creative teaching skill to teach value education. Value education is definitely not to be dealt with compartmentalization but it should be taken as a part of the whole educational system. As Nietzsche puts it, the society requires masters to create and impart values, not the slaves who accept all the values imposed on them without any critical understanding.

If education fails to impart necessary values to its citizens, it will definitely have a telling effect on the society. All efforts to bring just and peace in the world will become futile if proper value education is not imparted.

Notes:

1. Kireet Joshi, Philosophy of Value Oriented Education Theory and Practice, ICPR

Publications, New Delhi,p.217.

2. Ibid., p.218.

Long Live the Theocratic Doctor-Kings

If you want to understand humanity, study shamanism.

When so many isolated cultures throughout history cotton onto the same ideas, the wise folks pay attention.

This is where scientists-in-name-only and religious fundies fail in the exact same way:

They dismiss these as primitive belief systems, maybe a historical curiosity but nothing of… you know, real value.

Bah.

Even a cursory glance reveals incredible things about the way humans live, think and survive.

Now, shamanism has evolved over thousands of years, flourishing in the Americas, Siberia, and everywhere in between. There are only so many broad statements you can make about these traditions.

Here’s one:

What do modern priests do?

They specialise.

They teach their followers the traditions of the faith, offer some moral guidance, organise events to help the community…

All noble things.

What do shamans do?

Just about everything, really.

Sure, they do all of that – although, since their ‘traditions of the faith’ also include knowledge, (like what plants are good for owies,) that also makes them teachers.

And they’re the healers, which makes them doctors too.

Plus, they’re leaders. Sometimes as in ‘spiritual leaders’, sometimes as in advisors and consultants, sometimes as in the actual person in charge.

That makes them theocratic doctor-king lecturers.

How can one person where so many hats?

Trick question – they’re all the same hat.

When a community is in crisis, what do you do? You could form a committee to research the issue to uncover the root causes to inform a task force to…

*Yawn*

It’s a slow, expensive approach. And if your team is excellent and with a little luck, you won’t make the problem worse.

A shaman would guide their people – not as a bureaucrat or tyrant, but as a counsellor, therapist or storyteller. Whatever the people needed.

How does a doctor heal someone? They don’t – and the good ones will tell you that. Their job is to stabilise the situation so the body can heal itself.

The bad ones think that because they know about an organ, they understand it and can ‘fix’ it. Their patients tend to have ‘mysterious’ illnesses that defy treatment, or they suffer from crazy side effects from the treatments.

Shamans are like the good doctors. Sure, they have some medicine on hand. The plants aren’t the answer, though – not by themselves. The real healing happens in the organ, the person, the community.

The shaman knows people can heal themselves. Their role is to help them do that.

Moving on from medicine…

How does the modern education teach? With a lot of rote memorisation and standardised testing – because those are easiest to measure.

How do shamans teach? Through stories – one of the few ways to impart wisdom without making someone live through something.

And how do they know what to say to help someone heal, learn or overcome an obstacle?

The details differ, but it all boils down to entering an altered state of consciousness.

Without all the advantages of science and specialisation, all these problems have the same solution:

Tap into your unconscious wisdom, because there are too many variables for your thinking mind to track.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how modern hypnosis works. You use altered states of consciousness to access unconscious wisdom, to help someone overcome their challenges.

There are oh, so many things you could accuse me of here.

Like colonialism – by claiming all shamanism is hypnosis, it’s like I’m putting their whole culture in a Western-friendly box.

If that’s your thinking, I’m happy to reverse it. Maybe all hypnosis is applied shamanism, not the other way round. I’m drawing on a small part of their wisdom, without claiming ownership of it.

And that means science accepts the truth and value of many shamanic traditions. Rather than dismissing them, science sees the wisdom in them.

The more likely complaint you’ll make?

I’m drawing parallels that aren’t there.

Sure, there are some superficial similarities between hypnosis and shamanism… but that doesn’t mean they’re the same.

Allow me to rebut that.

For one thing, these ain’t superficial – the similarities run right to the core of how both practices work.

For another… shamans are incredibly hypnotic. See a great one in action and you will go into a trance.

There are all sort of differences in the culture, conditioning and cosmetics. At their heart, though? Shamanism is hypnosis and hypnosis is shamanism.

Why Trade School Is A Good Alternative To College

There was a time, not so long ago, when a high school diploma was all you needed in order to obtain a decent job. For several reasons, that standard has been raised. In modern America, a college education is now required for most entry-level positions. The only problem with that proviso is that higher education is no longer affordable for the masses.

College Costs

According to data from Bloomberg, a leading financial news company, the cost of a college degree in America has increased a whopping 1,120 percent in the past three decades. Now rising two and a half times faster than the rate of inflation, only about 10 percent of students can afford their tuition. The other 90 percent must take out student loans that saddle them with bills that can take years, even decades, to pay. At last count, the average college graduate left school with $28,000 of student debt. What’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many. Without a college education, many workers are doomed to a lifetime of low-wage employment. These positions offer little in the way of benefits or job security; not to mention that the stagnant wages that are a hallmark of these jobs often makes saving impossible. Even so, about 25 percent of Americans work these dead-end jobs. There is, however, one viable option many have not explored.

Why Trade School?

As incredible as it may sound, there are more than three million jobs openings in the skilled trades. According to employers, a good number of those high-paying positions cannot be filled because they can’t find qualified workers. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, and other tradesmen are in such high demand that their salaries are rising much faster than inflation. This is great news for the average high school grad who does not have the money or the desire to pursue a college degree.

The Benefits

Not everyone was meant to go to college. But, because parents and educators often push young people in that direction, many of them take classes just to avoid conflict. Not surprisingly, few of these reluctant students graduate. In fact, about 40 percent of all college and university students drop out before earning their degree. Most waste thousands of dollars on an education they will never use. If they had only been encouraged to attend trade school instead, things may have gone better for them for the following reasons:

Less Schooling

Because students are able to focus on a single subject or trade, instead of on a full course load, they can complete their training in only a year or two. They can then start working immediately without the extra years of education they would have needed at a four-year institution.

Less Expensive

Even an excellent trade school will only charge a fraction of the price of the average institution of higher learning. Expect to spend a bit more than you would on a new car, but not as much as you would on a new house, which is what you’d have to fork off if you pursued your four-year degree.

More Hands-On

Instead of learning theories and hypotheticals, aspiring tradesmen are prepared for the real world from day one. By the time they graduate, students have the training and experience they need to ply their respective trade.

For all of these reasons and more, trade school is a viable alternative to higher education for millions of Americans.