Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil Language & Literature > Thirukural >Thirukural - English Translation: Himalayan Academy - Introduction > Index  > Couplets 1-100 > Couplets 101-200 > Couplets 201-400 > Couplets 401 - 600 > Couplets 601-810 > Couplets 811-950  > Couplets 951-1080

The Thiru Kural
Couplets 401 - 600

The Neglect of Learning | Listening to the Learned | Possession of Wisdom | Guarding Against Faults | Gaining Support from the Great | Avoidance of Base Company | Deliberation Before Action | Understanding Strength | Understanding Timeliness | Understanding the Right Place | Testing and Trusting Men | Testing and Employing Men | Fellowship of Kindred | Avoidance of Unmindfulness | Just Reign | Unjust Reign | Avoidance of Tyranny | The Kindly Look | Espionage 

The Neglect of Learning

Verse 401 Speaking to a learned gathering without full knowledge, Is like playing a dice game without the board.

Verse 402 An unlearned man desiring to be eloquent, Is like a breastless women longing to be feminine.

Verse 403 Even the ignorant will be deemed wise If they refrain from speaking in the presence of the learned.

Verse 404 However excellent an unlearned man's knowledge may be, Knowledgeable men will never take it.

Verse 405 An unlearned man's self-conceit will shrivel The moment he speaks to an assembly.

Verse 406 Like unproductive barren land is the man who has neglected learning. All that can be said about him is that he exists.

Verse 407 The goodness and beauty of him whose knowledge Is neither subtle nor penetrating are like that of a painted clay doll.

Verse 408 Even more wretched than a learned man's poverty Is the unlearned man's wealth.

Verse 409 Though humbly born, a learned man's nobility Transcends that of the unlearned noble man.

Verse 410 As men are to feral beasts, so are the luminaries Of knowledge compared to unlearned men.

Listening to the Learned

Verse 411 The most precious wealth is the wealth acquired by the ear Indeed, of all wealth that wealth is the crown.

Verse 412 Only when no nourishment exists for the ear Is it time to offer the stomach a morsel.

Verse 413 There are men who find listening a feast for there ears. On earth they resemble deities who feast from sacrificial fires

Verse 414 Even though he has no learning, if a man but listens to the learned That will be his staff of strength in adversity.

Verse 415 Words for the lips of upright men Are like a steadying staff in a slippery place.

Verse 416 However little, let a man to good things Even that little will enhance his greatness.

Verse 417 Those who have studied deeply and listened diligently will never speak Foolish words, even when they have wrongly understood a matter.

Verse 418 Ears may hear and yet remain deaf If not pierced by sharp listening.

Verse 419 For a man to speak with humility is indeed rare, Unless he has listened to learning's subtlety.

Verse 420 There are men whose tongues can taste but whose ears never savor. What does it matter that they live or die.

Possession of Wisdom

Verse 421 Wisdom is a weapon with which a man may ward off destruction; It is an inner fortress which no enemy can assail.

Verse 422 Wisdom will harness the mind, diverting it From wrong and directing it toward right.

Verse 423 In whatever matter and from whomever heard, Wisdom will witness its true meaning.

Verse 424 Wisdom speaks well, conveying each meaning clearly, And listens for the subtlest sense in others' speech.

Verse 425 Men of wisdom befriend the wise and keep that friendship constant, Not opening and closing like the petaled lotus.

Verse 426 It is wisdom to live in the world As the world lives.

Verse 427 Those who know, know what it is to be. The unknowing know this not.

Verse 428 It is folly not to fear what ought to be feared. Therefore, the wise dread what ought to be dreaded.

Verse 429 Fearsome sufferings shall never happen To the wise who guard against future happenings.

Verse 430 Those who possess wisdom possess everything. Whatever others possess, without wisdom they have nothing.

Guarding Against Faults

Verse 431 Those who are free from arrogance, anger, and lust Will prosper in great dignity.

Verse 432 Avarice, arrogance and crude amusements are flaws In the characters of an unfit king.

Verse 433 Though their fault is as small as a millet seed, To those who dread disgrace it will appear as large as a palm tree.

Verse 434 His own faults are a man's mortal enemies. Therefore, to guard against them is life's gravest concern.

Verse 435 The fortune of a man who does not guard against failings before they Manifest will perish like a stack of straw before a flaming fire.

Verse 436 What fault exists in a king who eradicates his own faults Before examining the faults in others?

Verse 437 The wealth of one who, out of avarice, fails to do what should be done Will vanish without the slightest vestige.

Verse 438 When faults are reckoned, one remains apart- The greedy grasping known as avariciousness.

Verse 439 Never indulge in admiring yourself. Never desire deeds that do not benefit others.

Verse 440 Delighting in life's pleasures privately Nullifies the conspiring schemes of foes.

Gaining Support from the Great

Verse 441 Those who ponder the value of friends whose wisdom and goodness Are mature, will plan the means, then acquire such friendships.

Verse 442 There are men who allay today's trials and avert tomorrow's troubles. Befriend and look after them.

Verse 443 To cherish and befriend men of greatness Is the rarest of all rare things.

Verse 444 To live among advising friends who are greater than himself Is foremost among a man's strength.

Verse 445 Knowing that ministers function as a monarch's eyes, A king looks at ministers meticulously before engaging them.

Verse 446 A man's foes are rendered ineffective If he can live in fellowship among the worthy.

Verse 447 Who can destroy the man who has the friendship Of helpful advisors who will not hesitate to admonish him?

Verse 448 With no one to reprove and thus protect him, A king will be destroyed, though no one seeks his destruction.

Verse 449 Profit is not for those who have no capital, nor is stability For those who lack the support of faithful friends.

Verse 450 It is harmful to make a multitude of foes, but it is ten times worse To give up the friendship of the worthy.

Avoidance of Base Company

Verse 451 Men of greatness dread base company, But the low-minded consider them kinsmen.

Verse 452 As water changes according to the soil through which it flows, So does a man assimilate the character of his associates.

Verse 453 By knowing his thoughts, a man's mind is discovered. By knowing his associates, his character is revealed.

Verse 454 Wisdom, appearing to originate in a man's mind, Has its source in his companions.

Verse 455 Purity of mind and purity of conduct-these two Depend upon the purity of a man's companions.

Verse 456 Good progeny comes to a pure-minded men. Their pure companions keep pure deeds away.

Verse 457 Wealth will be given to good-minded men, And all glory granted by good company.

Verse 458 Even perfect men, possessing the mind's full goodness, Are fortified by good fellowship.

Verse 459 Goodness of mind leads to bliss in the next world, And even this is secured by the company of good men.

Verse 460 There exists no greater aid then good fellowship, And no greater affliction than evil fraternity.

Deliberation Before Action

Verse 461 Before undertaking a project, ponder what will be gained, Lost and ultimately achieved.

Verse 462 There is nothing too difficult for a man who, before he acts, Deliberates with chosen friends and reflects privately.

Verse 463 The wise never undertake an enterprise Which rashly risks existing capitol to reach for potential profits.

Verse 464 Those who dread derision and disgrace Will not commence a task that is unclear.

Verse 465 To strike out without a well-pondered plan Is one way to cultivate an enemies' strength.

Verse 466 To do that which ought not to be done will bring ruin, And not to do that which ought to be done will also bring ruin.

Verse 467 Embark upon an action after careful thought. It is folly to say, "Let us begin the task now and think about it later."

Verse 468 Unless painstakingly performed, a task will not succeed Even if men in multitudes support it.

Verse 469 Even in the performance of good deeds a man may error, If he does not consider the recipient's unique nature.

Verse 470 Having reflected, let a man's actions lie above blame. The world will never approve of acts which lie beneath him.

Understanding Strength

Verse 471 The prudent act after weighing the strength a deed demands, One's own strength and the strengths of allies and opposition.

Verse 472 Nothing is impossible for those who perceive the nature and the means Of their task and proceed with determination.

Verse 473 Ignorant of their strengths, many plunge zealously Into projects, only to miscarry midway.

Verse 474 How swiftly men perish who praise themselves, unappraised of Their real measure and unable to live peacefully with others.

Verse 475 Load too many of them and even peacock feathers Would break the cart's axle.

Verse 476 He who has climbed out to the tip of a tree branch And attempts to climb further will forfeit his life.

Verse 477 Know The measure of your capacity to give, then give accordingly- Such clarity is the way wealth is preserved.

Verse 478 A small income is no cause for failure, Provided expenditures do not exceed it.

Verse 479 The wealth of a man who lives unaware of his own measure, Appears to exist, then disappears without a trace.

Verse 480 Unless weighed with prudence, a philanthropist's wealth Will promptly perish, measure by measure.

Understanding Timeliness

Verse 481 A crow can overcome a powerful owl in the daytime. A king desiring to defeat his enemy must pick the proper time.

Verse 482 A man may firmly bind himself to prosperity By the cord called timely action.

Verse 483 Is there any task too difficult for the man who acts At the right time and employs the proper means?

Verse 484 One may aim to acquire the whole world and succeed, If actions are aimed at the right time and place.

Verse 485 Those who aim to own the world Must wait, unruffled, for the fitting hour.

Verse 486 The patient restraint of the powerful man is like the drawing back Of the fighting ram before it smites the stunning blow.

Verse 487 When angered, men of understanding never show it outwardly then and There. Holding it inside, they watch for an opportune moment.

Verse 488 Bow humbly when greeting an enemy. His own head will bow humiliated when in time he greets defeat.

Verse 489 When a rare opportunity comes, do not hesitate, But swiftly accomplish tasks that are otherwise impossible.

Verse 490 There are times to stay still as a stalking heron. There are times to move swiftly as a heron's strike.

Understanding the Right Place

Verse 491 Neither deride the opposition nor initiate a campaign Until you possess the strategic place from which to strike.

Verse 492 In battle a fortified place yields numerous advantages, Even to those possessing power and prowess.

Verse 493 Even the weak may powerfully prevail if they choose the right Field of action, establish good defenses and then fight well.

Verse 494 When an attacker attacks from a strategic location His enemies' thoughts of conquest become unthinkable.

Verse 495 In the river's depths the crocodile is unconquerable, But others may defeat it if it departs those waters.

Verse 496 The massive chariot with mighty wheels cannot sail the sea, Nor can the ocean-going ship traverse the land.

Verse 497 Fearlessness is the only friend one needs, If ceaselessly he ponders from which place to pounce.

Verse 498 If a large army assails a well-entrenched small army, Its power will be repelled and it will retreat.

Verse 499 Even if they have neither potent resources nor strong fortresses, It is difficult to conquer a people on their own soil.

Verse 500 The fearless elephant may slaughter a multitude of warriors Yet be slain by a single jackal if his legs sink in muddy marsh.

Testing and Trusting Men

Verse 501 A man should be chosen after passing the four-fold test Of virtue, wealth, pleasure and fear of death.

Verse 502 Place trust in a man of good family, free from faults Of a modest nature that dreads reproach.

Verse 503 Even faultless and deeply learned men, when closely examined, Are rarely found to be entirely free from ignorance.

Verse 504 Weigh a man's merits and weigh his faults Then judge him according to the greater.

Verse 505 The touchstone which discloses a man's greatness Or smallness is simply this-his deeds.

Verse 506 Beware of trusting men who have no kin, Being attached to people, they are unashamed of peccancy.

Verse 507 When one employs a know-nothing out of affection, He engages all kinds of foolishness.

Verse 508 To trust a stranger without investigation Invite troubles so endless even descendants must endure.

Verse 509 Lacking investigation, lend your trust to no one. Having investigated Entrust a man with matters for which he has proven trustworthy.

Verse 510 To trust a man who has not been tested and to suspect a man Who has proven trustworthy lead to endless ills.

Testing and Employing Men

Verse 511 Employ those men who discern the good and the bad effects In every undertaking and choose the good.

Verse 512 Let him do the work who can supplement revenues, Spread prosperity and search out problems.

Verse 513 Let him alone be trusted who fully possesses these four: Kindness, intelligence, assurance and freedom from greed.

Verse 514 Though tested fully under simulated conditions, Many men function differently under working conditions.

Verse 515 Work should be entrusted to men on the basis of their knowledge And diligence and not merely on the bonds of affection.

Verse 516 Consider the work, choose the workman, Conceive the timing with care, then commence.

Verse 517 Having decided, "This man is qualified to do this work in this way," Entrust him to his task.

Verse 518 After ascertaining what work befits a man, Assign him to a fitting task.

Verse 519 Wealth withdraws from the man who won't understand The natural friendliness his workers wish to share with him.

Verse 520 Let the king scrutinize his staff's conduct daily. If they do not go astray, the world will not go astray.

Fellowship of Kindred

Verse 521 When a man's wealth has disappeared, his kinsmen alone Will maintain their customary kindness.

Verse 522 If a man's kindred cleave to him with unfailing love, His fortunes will never fail to flourish.

Verse 523 Pursuing a happy life without mixing with kinsmen Is like pouring water into a barrel which has no staves.

Verse 524 The real profit gained by giving riches Is as one may then live surrounded by kindred.

Verse 525 Multitudes of kinsmen will gather around the man Who gives generously and speaks sweetly.

Verse 526 In this wide world none enjoys a more faithful family Than he who hands out large gifts and holds back anger.

Verse 527 The crow does not conceal its food but calls its kind to share it; Prosperity will abide with men of such a nature.

Verse 528 The multitudes thrive when they perceive their monarch Perceiving each one's merits, not seeing mere sameness in all.

Verse 529 Close kinsmen who have become estranged Will come back when the cause of disagreement goes away.

Verse 530 When one who left him returns with good reason, The king may, after careful reflection, receive him back.

Avoidance of Unmindfulness

Verse 531 Excessive anger is a great harm, but greater still is The unmindfulness born of excessive pleasure.

Verse 532 Just as perpetual poverty slowly slays one's knowledge, So does frequent forgetfulness destroy one's prestige.

Verse 533 Unmindful men will never know renown. This is the verdict of every virtuous text in the world.

Verse 534 There is nothing that will provide defense for the cowardly, And there is nothing that will produce good for the incautious.

Verse 535 The unmindful man who fails to guard beforehand Against impending threats will afterwards regret his negligence.

Verse 536 Nothing can compare to unforgetfulness. Extended unfailingly to all people at all times.

Verse 537 There is nothing too difficult for the man who Consciously conceives and carefully executes his work.

Verse 538 One should do that which men extol as praiseworthy. Forgetting This and failing to perform brings deprivation lasting seven births.

Verse 539 Whenever the mind is engrossed in pleasant infatuations, One may remember men ruined by forgetfulness.

Verse 540 It is easy to get what you think of, If you can get yourself to think of it.

Just Reign

Verse 541 Investigate well, show favor to none, maintain impartiality, Consult the law, then give judgment-that is the way of justice.

Verse 542 All the world looks to the rain cloud for sustenance. All the people look to the king's scepter for protection.

Verse 543 Even the priest's scriptures and all virtues therein Rely on the king's scepter for sustenance.

Verse 544 The world will enduringly embrace the feet of a great kingdom's monarch Who lovingly embraces subjects under his justice-wielding scepter.

Verse 545 Rain and rich harvests arise together. In a country whose sovereign swing his scepter lawfully.

Verse 546 Victory is not won by the lance, But by the king's scepter, provided it is not unjust.

Verse 547 A potentate protests all earthly realms. Will undoubtedly fall from power and perish.

Verse 548 A ruler who remains inaccessible, neither listening nor judging Attentively will undoubtedly fall from power and perish.

Verse 549 No fault befalls the king, who, in guarding and caring for his Subjects, punishes wrongdoers-for that is his duty.

Verse 550 A king punishing cruel criminals by execution Is like a farmer removing weeds from cultivated fields.

Unjust Reign

Verse 551 More malicious than a professional murderer is the king Who rules his people with injustice and oppressiveness.

Verse 552 The scepter-wielding king who requests a gift is like The lance-bearing robber who demands, "Give me all you have."

Verse 553 Unless the king day-to-day seeks out and punishes unlawful acts, His country will day-by-day fall to ruin.

Verse 554 The unthinking king who rules crookedly Forfeits both his subjects' fealty and his own fortune.

Verse 555 Are not the tears of a people who cannot endure an oppressive reign The instrument that wears away their king's prosperity?

Verse 556 Ruling rightly, a monarch may long endure. Without that, his majesty is rightly unenduring.

Verse 557 As the earth fares under a rainless sky, So do a people languish under an unkind king.

Verse 558 Possessions are less pleasant than poverty To the oppressed living under an unjust king.

Verse 559 If the king acts contrary to justice, contrary seasons will befall And rain-laden will not come forth.

Verse 560 If the people's protector fails to protect, Priests will forget the Vedas and cows' milk will dry up.

Avoidance of Tyranny

Verse 561 He is a true king who impartially investigates And then duly punishes so that the offense will not reoccur.

Verse 562 He who wishes his prosperity to long remain Will raise the rod severely, but let it fall softly.

Verse 563 The tyrant who causes terror to his people Will perish quickly and certainly.

Verse 564 "The king is cruel." Should these bitter words be spoken, The monarch's life is shortened and he soon dies.

Verse 565 If his countenance is harsh and access to him is hard, A man's wealth, however vast, might as well belong to a demon.

Verse 566 If he is unkind and speaks cruelly, A man's lofty wealth cannot last long-it ends right there.

Verse 567 Virulent language and overly severe punishment, Like a keen file, grind down a king's conquering powers.

Verse 568 The king's wealth will waste away if, without thoughtful involvement, he lets Ministers work, then works himself into anger, raging at their performance.

Verse 569 The sovereign who does not secure defenses will be seized by fear When war time comes and promptly perish.

Verse 570 The earth bears no greater burden than the unlearned counselors Whom the cruel-sceptered king binds to himself.

The Kindly Look

Verse 571 The world thrives when that great beauty Called the kindly look flourishes.

Verse 572 The world's existence is sustained by kindliness. The very existence of those bereft of it burdens the earth.

Verse 573 What use is a melody in an unmusical song? What use are eyes which express no kindness?

Verse 574 Other than a facial appearance, what do eyes With no quality of kindness really do?

Verse 575 A kindly look is the ornament of the eyes. Without kindness the eyes are two unsightly sores.

Verse 576 Eyes may be fixed in their face, but those without A kindly look might as well be tree stumps fixed in dirt.

Verse 577 Those who lack a kindly look are indeed without eyes, And those who truly have eyes never lack a gracious look.

Verse 578 The world belongs to men who can behold others benevolently, Without being distracted from their duty.

Verse 579 To grant forbearing kindness even to those Who grieve us is the foremost of virtues.

Verse 580 Those desiring gracious goodness above all else could accept with Friendliness poison they watched their host prepare and serve.


Verse 581 Competent spies and the esteemed codes of law- Consider these two as the eyes of a king.

Verse 582 It is the duty of the monarch to acquire at once Knowledge of all that happens each day among all men.

Verse 583 Without assessing the intelligence reports of spies A king cannot enjoy conquests.

Verse 584 The working staff, close kindred and known enemies- All such men are the investigation of spies.

Verse 585 An able spy is he who can assume an unsuspicious disguise, Is fearless when caught and never betrays his secrets.

Verse 586 Disguised as a monk or a mendicant, the worthy spy moves about Investigating all, never growing careless, whatever may be done.

Verse 587 A spy must ferret out hidden facts, Assuring himself that knowledge found is beyond doubt.

Verse 588 Before believing a spy's espionage, Have another spy espy the information.

Verse 589 See that spies do not know each other, and accept their findings Only when three reports agree.

Verse 590 One must not openly honor spies. To do so is to divulge one's own secrets. Possession of Industriousness

Verse 591 Possessing belongs only to the industrious. Do those Who lack such energy really possess their possessions?

Verse 592 Those who own an inner ardor possess a thing of worth. Material Wealth is an unenduring possession that takes leave and departs.

Verse 593 Those who possess persevering industry Will never say in despair, "We have lost our wealth."

Verse 594 Good Fortune of its own accord ferrets out and Finds the man of unfailing industry.

Verse 595 The length of the lotus stalk depends on the water's depth. Even so, a man's greatness is proportionate to his mind's energy.

Verse 596 Let all thoughts be thoughts of nobel progress, For then even failing cannot be called a failure.

Verse 597 The elephant stands firm even when wounded by a barrage of arrows. The strong-willed are not discouraged when they encounter disaster.

Verse 598 Without a zealous spirit, one will never enjoy The proud exhilaration of earthly generosity.

Verse 599 The enormous elephant with his tapered tusks Still shrinks in fear when the tiger attacks.

Verse 600 A strong-willed mind is a mans true estate. Those who lack it are mere vegetables in the form of men.



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