Verses from the Tirukkurul (Batu Caves)

high-definition creative commons photographs from a famous Hindu pilgrimage centre, illustrating this ancient Tamil classic Tirukkurul.

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About Tirukkural

Tirukkural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature with the highest and purest expressions of human thought. It is written in the form of couplets (two line poems) expounding various aspects of life. It contains 1330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of 10 couplets each

Tirukkural has three major parts. The first part deals with Aram (Virtue), the moral value of human life. It has 38 chapters. The second part is on Porul (Wealth), the socio economic values of men in a civilized society. It has 70 chapters. The third part is on Kamam or Inbam (Love), the psychological values of life. It has 25 chapters.

Tirukkural was written by Thiruvalluvar, who is believed to have born 30 years before Jesus Christ. The Tamil Calendar is dated from that period and referred as Thiruvalluvar Aandu (Year). We find Thiruvalluvar as a moral philosopher, political scientist and master of public administration in the first two parts of thirukural. We find him to be a creative artist in the third part, depicting the fascinating aspects of lovers.

Tirukkural's immortality and universality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all religions, countries and time. It has been translated in over 60 languages of the world.


Tirukkural is a work of 1330 couplets each of which conforms to the structure of "Kural Venba", a grammatical construction with two lines of four and three words respectively. The work is arranged in 133 Adhikarams, each with 10 couplets. The 133 Adhikarams are divided into three major groups known as "Aram", "Porul" and "Inbam". Aram represents Virtue, Porul defines the principles of Life for common people as well as the State. The last section deals with aspects of Love. The overall organization of Tirukkural is as follows, based on seven ideals prescribed for people followed by observations on Love.

40 couplets on God, Rain, Virtue and Ascetics.
200 couplets on Domestic Virtue
140 couplets on Higher Virtue based on Grace
250 couplets on Royalty
100 couplets on Ministers of State
220 couplets on the Essential requirements of Administration
130 couples on Morality, both positive and negative
250 couplets on Human Love and Passion


Tirukkural is structured into 133 chapters, each containing 10 couplets, thus a total of 1330 couplets. The 133 chapters are grouped into three sections:

Aram - righteousness
Porul - wealth and
Inbam or Kamam - pleasure

Aram containes 380 verses, Porul with 700 and Inbam with 250. While Aram and Inbam discuss about ethical living in private life, Porul deals with public matters.

Text from thirukural (for the Tamil text of the whole work)

8th October, 2008 & 10th October 2009

Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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