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Home > Tamilnation library > Literature > Rising Through The Wheels - Rajah Viknarasah
TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Literature
[see also Thirukural of Thiruvalluvar]
"A work of supreme wisdom and guidance for mankind brought out in the most concise, and practical manner". This is how I would describe Tirukkural, the ancient Tamil literature (widely accepted to be more than 2000 years old) that provides the most effective guidance to the success of man on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of consciousness. The key differentiating factor which distinguishes this literature from rest known to the world, is that it brings out great wisdom in the most concise manner and it's essence is practical and directly applicable to people from all walks of life. In short, it is a reservoir of timeless wisdom that transcends all boundaries created by man.
Success has been the eternal and earnest quest of man ever since he came into being. Every man is in search of ways to succeed in his own selected course of action on a day-to-day basis. Even the paupers and the homeless have their own dreams of success. In fact, the entire universe is in a continuous flux of growth. It is evolving eternally and is in search of better ways of survival. Hence, one could conclude that striving for growth and success, is perhaps the key driving principle of the whole universe.
An old Chinese saying states, "the reason behind birth is desire; and the primary goal of desire is to succeed". Being a voracious reader, I have sought the clues to factors of success through books on philosophy, religion, psychology, self-help and biographies of successful men and women in various fields of life from politics to science and art. My reading includes books of the ancient worlds with religious connotations such as the ones on Hinduism including the Vedas and Upanishads, and a variety of books on Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam etc.
Some of these books, though categorised as "religious", address much more than merely spiritual matters. They also deal directly with the art of effective and successful living. In fact, the spiritual state of consciousness is a consequence of effective living. One would feel amazed at the immense practical value a person can derive from these books which the common man may have stayed away from due to his misconceptions about their direct applicability in life.
Being interested in knowing the ways of the "masters" who have been successful in their own fields, I always wanted to find the "success formula' which has made them what they are. It is in this search that I re-visited the ancient book of Tirukkural. I say, "re-visited" because, being a Tamil by origin, I had already been introduced to Tirukkural from the academic perspective during my school days. However, it is only recently, that I started realising how much practical value it adds to the life of a person striving for success. Further, the Tirukural brings out all the key messages of modern books on successful living in the most precise and descriptive yet concise manner.
My decision to write this book came from an urge to share the values I derived from this re-visit to Tirukkural with all those who are seeking answers to their own quest for success in their respective fields. Tirukkural is one of the very few books I would regard, as encompassing the wisdom for all levels of human consciousness. It brings out the best of global wisdom in a very practical manner. If there is one book I would not like to part with at any stage of my life, it would have to be the Tirukkural. I say this truly from the bottom of my heart!
Tirukkural has been translated into more than 60 languages including English, German, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, French Latin and many others. It is regarded as one of the most precious literature of all times by the highest echelons of both Eastern and Western societies. It is said that some of the great personalities of past centuries, such as Mahatma Gandhi, the Nobel prizewinner (C.V. Raman and Albert Schweitzer, derived great wisdom and guidance from the Tirukkural for their day-to-day affairs and decision making.
Presently, each translation of the Tirukkural has been reproduced into a vast number of commentaries. Unfortunately, from my personal experience, not all commentaries have captured the practical substance of the Tirukkural. This apparent failure by some commentaries may be partly due to the very nature of the holy literature itself � the Tirukkural is also called by another name � "Marai Mozhi" meaning, "Hidden message" in Tamil. Unless that "hidden message" is realised and expressed appropriately, any noble attempts by the commentators may end up as an "academic exercise" merely giving literal meaning to it.
For example, one section of the Tirukkural, which directly translates as "boon from the sky," deals, in fact with the concept of Divine Grace. Some scholars have ventured to praise the author of the Tirukkural, Saint Valluvar, for having explained the "need for rain for the grass to grow!" My only question to these commentators is that, if this ancient text of wisdom that has survived for more than 2000 years merely revealed that rain is required for grass to grow, then what is so "great" about it and what is the difference between this literature and an ordinary preschool text book?
It is not my intention in this book to slander anyone's noble efforts at interpreting this Holy Scripture. Nor is it my aim to prove the superiority of my "visions" of the Kural over those of the pundits. It is also not my intention to produce through this book yet another translation of Tirukkural. For neither am I a Tamil literary expert nor an authority on the Holy verses of Tirukkural. This book is merely an outcome of my deep desire to share with you, the profound wisdom I saw in selected parts of this great literature to guide one's quest for success in life.
For the purpose of presenting my selection of Tirukkural in the most effective manner, I have made use of another ancient but very popular system of the Chakras, the well-known New concept dealing with the human energy centres, as a idle" to carry my message. I have given brief description of Tirukkural and the Chakra system in the Introduction section this book so that the readers who may not be familiar with the lure and these concepts will get a reasonable appreciation of them.
I have consciously kept away from making this book into a translation of the Tirukkural or into a literature on the Chakra system. Rather, it is my presentation of seven key success factors, which I found revealed in my reading of Tirukkural and authenticated by other ancient and modern literature on the art of successful living. In presenting the Kurals which I have selected the purpose of this book, I have followed the consistent approach of first presenting the Kural as it appears in Tamil (in bold letters), then its transliteration using well-accepted characters preserving the Tamil phonetics followed by my translation of its essence (in italics) and finally my interpretation of the Kural's relevance to successful living.
In order to capture the Kural text in English with the same phonics as it would have in Tamil language, I have made use of the formal academic standards.
I have identified each of the selected Kurals with a unique reference number according to their logical classification. Further, I have also given the numbers of each Kural from the traditional version of the Tirukkural, for the readers who may wish to refer to them.
In this book, I will share with you my selected couplets of seventy Kurals from the Tirukkural, dealing with the seven success factors, which I call the seven "Wheels of Success". In presenting these couplets I have deliberately chosen to avoid fitting them into any rigid structure. Instead I have left the reader with the full freedom to mix, match and build his own structure appropriate to his state of mind. I made this decision because the message of this book is not "objective", where one needs "geometric models" to get it across. Rather, it is a "subjective" message, which if forced into a rigid framework, would lose its spirit.
As mentioned in the preface section, it is not the purpose of this book to present translations on the entire Tirukkural or the Chakra system. I believe there is enough material already available on these subjects. However, the way this book is structured, requires the readers to know the basics of both these subjects in order to clearly understand, appreciate and apply its essence in their lives. Hence, I have given summaries of each of these topics for the benefit of those readers who may not be aware of them. In the last section of the introduction, I have presented to you the manner in which I have associated the Tirukkural with the Chakra system in order to bring out the message of this book: the seven key factors for successful living.
Success � An Interpretation
In modern times, when one talk of success, very often it is taken to be referring to the 'outcomes' of successful living e.g. wealth, fame etc., rather than the 'manner' in which one conducts his life in order to achieve these outcomes. If we were to focus only the outcomes of one's life and judge whether he has been successful, then we would end up in a very awkward situation of regarding drug lords and dictators as successful people. I believe, one's life could be regarded as successful only if he has lived so, in various aspects of life e.g morality, effectiveness, achievement of his goals etc., not just on making money at any cost.
Furthermore, I have given brief examples of more than 100 leading personalities of the past and present times, in order to substantiate the essences of each Kural. However, I have consciously related these examples only to elucidate specific aspects of success, rather than to success itself. For example, I have quoted some instances of Soviet leader, Lenin's life, in order to explain a Kural. But my message is that Lenin showed certain key aspects of success in his life. However, it should not be taken as a direct qualification on all the success factors brought out in this book.
In order to prevent this obvious pitfall, I request the readers to read all references to success in this book as to mean the holistic process, not just the outcome of effective living. In this book I have strongly adhered to the notion that, "Success is a journey, not a destination."
Tamil Language and Literature
Tamil is one of the most ancient classical languages of the world. However is still spoken young and flourishing. Hence, it is fondly called " Kanni Tamil" � "Tamil ever young". In fact it is the oldest spoken and written language of ancient India. Sanskrit, the other classical language of ancient India was never a spoken language. It was only a written language used primarily to preserve the Hindu Vedic wisdom.
The history of the Tamil language starts well before 3000 Years. There are epigraphical evidences to these assertions. Tamil history has also been documented in the works and poems of Tamil writers, not necessarily in any structured continuity.
Even though the records of the Indus Valley Civilization have not been fully deciphered, various materials have been interpreted by archaeologists. In the 1950s, Father Heras argued for the Tamil identity of the Indus Valley people. In the 1960s, the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies issued many announcements, trying to establish this identity. It is noteworthy that this hypothesis is still defended seriously by Japanese Professor Noboru Karashima, President of the International Association for Tamil Research in 1994.
In the same time when North India was dominated by the Mauryan empire and other medieval dynasties, the South Indian history was being carved by the three great Tamil dynasties, namely, Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava dynasties. The Pandyas and the Cheras dominating from pre Christian era to about the 3rd century CE, the Pallavas from the 5th to the 8th and the Cholas between 9th and 12th century. The grandest of them all was the Chola kingdom, reaching their zenith in the 10th Century, with perhaps the first Naval fleet of any Indian king, reaching as far as modern Japan in the East and the Middle East in the West.
The earliest detailed literature of the Tamils is called Sangam (an academic gathering for the poets and the writers) literature and it is dated between 500 BC. and 200 A.D. Though a significant Part of the early Tamil poetry has been lost, some of the bards and patrons decided to preserve apart of it in certain anthologies (approximately 4th century A.D.). These are the Ten Idylls (Pathuppattu) and the Eight Anthologies (Ettuthohai). Four hundred and seventy three poets, of whom thirty are women, have been identified. These are mainly classified into two. Akam or esoteric dealing with empathy and Puram or exoteric dealing with governance.
The post-Sangam period (200-600 AD) is notable for the composition of five great Tamil epics -- Silappadikaram, Manimekalai, Jivaka-cintamani, Valaiyapati and Kundalakesi. Silappadikaram is considered to be the brightest gem of early Tamil literature.
Saint Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural, which is the backbone of this book, is acclaimed to be the greatest Tamil classic. It expresses the most profound thoughts on effective living. Written as a collection of 1330 couplets and divided into three sections, The 'Kural' can be viewed as a code of ethics, that is secular in nature. (see the section blow on Tirukkural for more details.)
The immense and far-reaching contribution made by the Tamil language and culture to the Asian civilisation has yet to be fully fathomed. Suffice to state that it was the Tamil maritime and commercial expansion in Asia which constituted the vehicle to carry the wealth of the Hindu-Buddhist culture to Asia. No other people of India shared the maritime prowess of the Tamils.
The ruined remains of the Hindu temples in Asia, like Angkhorwat and the yet living Hindu-Buddhist traditions of South Eastern and far Eastern Asia are indicators of the reach of Tamil influence in Asia. In fact, even Japan was affected by Tamil influence. Many interesting research papers have been published by modern Japanese linguistic scholars on the influence of Tamil on the Japanese language.
Tirukkural and Tiruvalluvar
Tirukkural is one of the finest contributions of Tamil language to world wisdom. It is considered as the "Crown Jewel" of Tamil Literature. In Tamil "Tiru" means holy or sacred, and "Kural" means aphorism, a brief or succinct collection of valuable dictates. The entire Tirukkural consists of a total of 1,330 couplets each being extremely short, containing only two lines of 7 words. In fact, it is the shortest form of stanza in the Tamil language. These couplets are similar to the Sanskrit sutras, which are also very brief "sayings" containing invaluable wisdom and guidance.
The entire Tirukkural is divided into three main divisions each focussing on one of the following three human endeavours addressed by the holy Vedas of Hinduism:
n Aram (Tamil) � Dharma (Sanskrit) � living successfully with Justice
n Porul (Tamil) � Artha (Sanskrit) �with Resources
n Inpam (Tamil) � Kama (Sanskrit) � living successfully with Love
The fourth great aim in life and the culmination of all the previous three is the last human endeavour � Veedu (Tamil) or Moksha (Sanskrit). It is the ultimate spiritual realisation or enlightenment of man. But before reaching the state of perfection, man must fulfil his earthly purpose by living the first three endeavours successfully. Under these categories, the Kurals bring out to the reader, valuable wisdom on various practical aspects on successful living such as,
n Faith in God
n Effective communication
n Action orientation
n Family welfare etc.
According to Albert Schweitzer's analysis in his book, * Indian Thought and Its DevelopmentConstantine Beschi, who lived in India for 50 years, translated the first two parts of the works into Latin. The Rev. G.U. Pope, who hailed Tiruvalluvar as "The Bard of Universal Man" released the printed copy of this translation. Dr. Graul used the manuscript of Beschi for his translation of Tirukkural into German as well as Latin. A number of writers, including F.W.Ellis, W.H.Drew, E.J Robinson, and J. Lazarus, have made translations in English between 1820 and 1886. M.Ariel and M. de Dumast have made translations of Tirukkural in French. Tirukkural has now been translated into more than 60 languages.
Tirukkural is a Guiding Light to humanity. It leads humanity to live, as it ought to live in moral purity, spiritual knowledge, eternal wisdom, perfect health, wealth and prosperity. The whole of human aspiration is epitomised in this immortal book, a book for all ages. Tirukkural is placed in the highest level of reverence in India alongside the Holy Vedic scriptures that have been regarded by the historians across the world as one of the foremost books on ancient wisdom presented to mankind. In fact another name for Tirukkural is "Uttrara Veda" which means, "end of the holy Vedas", thereby elevating it to the levels of the Upanishads, the essence of the ancient Vedic wisdom.
How I have made my selections from the Tirukkural
Tirukkural is a collection of 1330 aphorisms. In order to make them readable for academic purposes, most of the earlier commentators have formulated a categorisation of 133 topics of 10 couplets each. However, upon reading the subject matter of the Tirukkural, one may find that this grouping is not the only logical categorisation of the 1330 Kurals.
I have moved away from the academic system of categorisation and selected specific couplets of the Kural based on their nature and essence and grouped them into the seven success factors in this book for the benefit of all the readers. Hence, the couplets of the Kural in my selection may appear as a mixture when compared with the academic version of the readily available commentaries. However, I would like to assure the reader that my selection will maintain the uniformity in essence and address the success factors, which form the essence of this book.
For the purpose of consistency and effectiveness of the key messages in this book, I have limited myself to a maximum of 10 couplets of the Kural for each of the 7 success factors. To help those who may wish to refer back to the academic edition, under each Kural, I have also given the references as per the traditional editions.
My approach in moving away from the academic commentaries is purely for the purpose of effectively presenting the messages of this book to the readers. My approach in this book, however, should not be taken as attributing any discredit to the traditional commentaries that have been done by the scholars.
I will now attempt to give a brief explanation of the Chakra system which I am using as the vehicle to carry my selected sayings from the Tirukkural to address the seven success factors.
The Chakra System
The Chakra system is a very ancient method of association of energy centres with levels of consciousness in living beings. Recently, it has been revived as a favourite New Age/ Self-help topic in the Western and Eastern worlds. It is associated with the authentic yogic system that originated from ancient India.
Within every living body, on the subtle level rather than the gross or physical level, there are said to be a series of energy fields or centres of consciousness, which in traditional yogic teachings are called Chakras ("energy wheels" or "energy padmas" - lotuses). They are believed to be located either along, or just in front of the backbone, even though they may express themselves externally at points along the front of the body (heart, throat, navel etc). Associated with these Chakras is a latent subtle energy, called kundalini in yoga.
According to the Chakra system, man can, through various yogic and meditative techniques and practices, "raise" this potential subtle energy from the "Root" Chakra around the bottom of the spinal cord to various higher Chakras and finally to the crown of the head, resulting in his attainment of perfection. The movement of this energy is considered as being analogous to the silent but definitive movement of the serpent.
Based on the Chakra system, as the energy is focussed and channelled through these wheels or Chakras, man gradually goes through the transformation into a more evolved being before achieving the final perfection resulting in eternal success.
Speculations and teachings concerning the Chakras have occurred independently in the religious, spiritual, yogic, and occult traditions of India, China, and the West. In basic essence they share the same messages.
The Chakra system primarily revolves around seven main Chakras or wheels. These are called the Muladhara or "Root", the Swadhisthana or "Own Abode", the Manipura or "Fullness of Jewels", the Anahata or "Unstruck Melody", the Visuddhi or "Complete Purity", the Ajna or "Guru's Command" and finally the Sahasra or "Thousand Petalled Lotus". Each Chakra is revered by religions of the east as representing a deity.
In Hinduism, a pantheon of deities is associated with the Chakras to reflect the levels of consciousness that would be achieved when man channels his energy through each Chakra. These seven key Chakras are said to be situated in the human body as shown below:
The following table shows the physical location of each Chakra in the human body:
As mentioned before it is not the purpose of this book to validate the Chakra system or educate the readers about its supernatural powers. However, I have used this system as an effective mode to bring to you the subject matter of this book: Essential factors for successful living.
Mapping selected sayings on the "success factors" from Tirukural to the Chakra system
I have mapped seven groups of selected couplets from the I irukkural to the seven Chakras of human body. The grouping of my selection from the Tirukkural is based on, a) essential ingredients to success and b) correlation between the meaning of the selection with the "nature" of the Chakras.
According to the Chakra system, each Chakra, and therefore each level of consciousness is associated with a "guna" or quality. In order to capture these qualities, various associations and representations have been made by those who developed this system. Some of these associations include Deities, mental states, colours, elements, animals, shapes etc.
My mapping of the Tirukkural, Chakras and the Seven Success Factors is meticulously done to ensure that the key qualities of each Chakra have been represented by a practical correspondence with the success factors spelt out by selected couplets from the Tirukkural. My mapping is as follows:
Those of you who are readers of management and/ or human psychology will see that my mapping above has a similarity with the hierarchic approach adopted in the famous " Pyramid of Hierarchy of Needs" presented by Abraham Maslow (1908 �1970). Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs states that there are a standard set of needs that must be satisfied before man can attain perfection. He called these needs "deficiency needs." As long as one is motivated to satisfy these needs, he is moving towards growth, which culminates in self-actualisation. Satisfying these needs is healthy, depriving them causes man to degenerate into lower levels of consciousness.
According to Maslow, when the "lower" level needs are met, at once "higher" level needs emerge, and these, then dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again still higher needs emerge, and so on. My mapping of the success factors follows this hierarchic approach.
Readers of Buddhism will see that my mapping also resembles the transcendental approach underlying the four "anupassanas" or "bodies of consciousness" explained in the famous Buddhist text, Maha Satipattana Sutta.
In this world-famous literature, Lord Buddha has analysed and categorised human consciousness into four levels. According to the theory of this analysis, man should fulfil each lower level of consciousness prior to moving into a higher one.
For example, preaching the wonders of religion and God to a man starving of extreme hunger will be of no use because his "bodily" requirements will dominate his soul and until they can be met, any amount of philosophy or self help advice will only earn his anger and disgust. However, requirements being met should not be confused with indulgence. Hence, as man satisfies his requirements at each plane, his needs evolve into one of a higher plane, until the subtlest desire of the mind is satiated. It is only then, that man reaches the state of "perfection".
I wanted the title of this book to capture its message whilst highlighting to the reader, the mechanism used to carry this message. The objective of this book is to aid modern man to break out of his dormancy, lack of self-confidence and all the hindrances to success and to actualise his hidden powers to become an effective being capable of performing his role with utmost perfection and efficiency. In other words, his path to perfection should be like the focussed meditation of the great yogis to awaken the hidden energy through the "Wheels" of the Chakra system. Hence, I have given this book the title, "Rising Through The Wheels � The Tirukural Way - Ancient Tamil Wisdom for Success."
From the 3rd Wheel of Success: Action (at pages 78-80)
A cardinal principle in statesmanship or leadership is never to leave an enmity with another person or entity not addressed. An affected relationship with someone will remain sore and the affected party will await his turn to "get back" at you. In the same manner, the ill effects of an unfinished action will also "get back" and affect the progress of a person aspiring for success.
As long as an action remains incomplete even on the smallest scale, it will find room in the mind to keep on reminding you until it is finished. It is like a worm inside the body, eating away the internal organs bit by bit, only to be discovered when it has grown too large to handle.
The analogy given here to unfinished action and un-addressed enmity is the fire that has not been extinguished. When fire is not fully extinguished, it may not be visible to the eyes, but it remains active and burns away everything around it and grows bigger and more powerful.
Most of us have read about time management and task management with respect to our lives. We have sometimes struggled with it in both our professional life and at home. When things may seem unimportant at a particular moment, we put it off for another day assuming that we can do it later. But "another day" never comes. And as time passes its importance grows bigger and finally it shifts from the unimportant and not urgent activity to an important and very urgent one. It is at this time that we stay past midnight, sacrificing our health and compromising our family lives by cancelling important events with the family and so on. Worst of all is the lead up to the task getting uncontrollable.
When we postpone a seemingly unimportant event (whilst knowing that it will become important later), we have started a slow process of losing the comfort at the back of our minds. We have all experienced this at many times. The answer to addressing this issue is first to recognise it.
What needs to be done, should be done immediately if possible to do so. There are volumes of books on time management and quality management techniques. I will not attempt to develop a new technique here. But the main message of this Kural is that recognition of the consequences of unfinished actions and executing those actions solve most of the future problems.
In the international best selling book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, that sold millions of copies, its author Richard Bach describes how his imaginary hero � Jonathan Livingston, the seagull, seeks total perfection in his actions as follows:
"But way off alone, out by himself beyond boat and shore, Jonathan Livingston Seagull was practicing. A hundred feet in the sky he lowered his webbed feet, lifted his beak, and strained to hold a painful, hard, twisted curve through his wings. The curve meant that he would fly slowly, and now he slowed until the wind was a whisper in his face, until the ocean stood still beneath him. lie narrowed his eyes in fierce concentration, held his breath, (breed one ... single ... more ... inch ... of ... curve .... Then his feathers ruffled, he stalled and fell. Seagulls, as you know, never falter, never stall. To stall in the air is for them disgraced and it is dishonor. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull, unashamed, stretching his wings again in that trembling hard curve - slowing, slowing, and stalling once more - was no ordinary bird. Most gulls didn't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight -how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight."
We all have our own "seagull spirits" within ourselves seeking perfection through total action. It is up to us to bring them "out to life" whilst being mindful of the pitfalls described by the Kural."
My humblest gratitude to the Caring Force that guides this Universe, for giving me the insight, ability, perseverance and most of all, the great opportunity to produce this book.
Lastly, I would consider this book as having achieved its objective if at least one of you would feel persuaded to attempt to apply what is stated in its pages to help you in your quest for a more effective and successful life.
This book was made possible by the enthusiasm and support of many people too. Thanks to,
My father, for inciting interest from my childhood and introducing me to the ancient literature of major religions and philosophies, as a way to effective and successful living.
My mother, for being a great reservoir of love and motivation.
My wife for being there for me as a source of love, patience and aspiration every step of the way and specifically for her staking efforts in going through the typescript of the book carrying out corrections of typographical errors.
My parents-in-law, my brother and sisters, their families and my -in-law for the joy and love that made this book a reality.
Special thanks to,
Dr. Avvai Natarajan for writing the foreword of this book. Dr. Kandiah for his appreciative comments and for helping me with painstaking effort of expressing the Tamil scripts in English whilst maintaining the relevant phonics in accordance with the standards. Prof. Pon Poologasingham and Mr. E.V.S Singan for their support and appreciative comments.
I also extend my thanks to all the others who have directly and/or indirectly played a role in making this book a reality.