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Acharakovai: A Tamil Classic on Ethics and Morals
Acharakovai (Tamil: ஆசரக்கவ) is a poetic work of didactic nature belonging to the Eighteen Lesser Texts (Pathinenkilkanakku) anthology of Tamil literature. This work is attributed to the poet Peruvaayin Mulliyaar, who lived in the post-Sangam period between 600 and 900 CE. Acharakovai contains 100 poems written in the Venpa meter, which deal with various aspects of ethics and morals for a virtuous life. The title of the work means "the garland of right conduct" and reflects the Saiva influence of the author.
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Acharakovai is one of the rare Tamil works that has been translated into several languages, including English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Sinhala. The work is highly regarded for its literary merit and moral wisdom. It covers topics such as respect for elders, parents, teachers and kings, proper eating habits, personal hygiene, social etiquette, religious observances, sexual morality, charity, honesty, humility and self-control. The poems are rich in imagery and similes, and often use examples from nature and everyday life to illustrate the moral points.
If you are interested in reading this classic Tamil work, you can download it for free from the following link: [Acharakovai PDF]. This is an English translation by K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, who was a renowned scholar of Tamil literature and culture. He has also provided an introduction and notes to explain the historical and cultural context of the work. You can also read the original Tamil text online at [Acharakovai - Wikipedia] or [Acharakovai - ChennaiLibrary.com]. These websites also provide some information about the author, the structure and the themes of the work.
Acharakovai is a treasure trove of wisdom and beauty that can enrich your mind and soul. It is a work that transcends time and space, and speaks to the universal human values that are essential for a harmonious and happy life. We hope you enjoy reading this masterpiece of Tamil literature. In this article, we will explore some of the main themes and messages of Acharakovai, and how they are relevant to our modern life. We will also look at some of the poetic devices and techniques used by the author to convey his ideas effectively and elegantly.
The Themes and Messages of Acharakovai
Acharakovai is a work that deals with the ethical and moral principles that guide human life. The author draws inspiration from the Saiva tradition of Hinduism, which emphasizes the importance of devotion to Lord Siva, the supreme deity, and the attainment of liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The author also incorporates elements from other schools of thought, such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Tamil culture, to present a comprehensive and universal view of morality.
Some of the main themes and messages of Acharakovai are:
Respect for elders, parents, teachers and kings: The author stresses the need to respect and obey those who are older, wiser, or more powerful than oneself. He says that elders are like lamps that dispel the darkness of ignorance, parents are like gods who give life and nurture, teachers are like guides who show the path to knowledge, and kings are like protectors who ensure justice and peace. He warns against disrespecting or disobeying them, as it will lead to misfortune and misery.
Proper eating habits, personal hygiene, social etiquette: The author advises the reader to follow certain rules and regulations regarding food, cleanliness, and manners. He says that food should be taken in moderation, avoiding excess or indulgence. He also says that food should be pure, wholesome, and suitable for one's health and constitution. He emphasizes the importance of keeping one's body and surroundings clean and tidy, as it reflects one's character and dignity. He also instructs the reader to behave politely and courteously with others, avoiding harsh words or actions that may hurt or offend them.
Religious observances: The author encourages the reader to perform various religious duties and rituals that will help them attain spiritual growth and salvation. He says that one should worship Lord Siva with devotion and sincerity, offering flowers, incense, water, and other offerings. He also says that one should observe fasts, vows, festivals, pilgrimages, and other auspicious occasions that are prescribed by the scriptures. He also says that one should recite the sacred names of Siva, such as Namasivaya or Omkara, as they have the power to destroy sins and grant blessings.
Sexual morality: The author cautions the reader against falling prey to lust and sexual desire, which he considers as one of the greatest enemies of human life. He says that lust is like a fire that burns everything in its path, leaving behind only ashes and sorrow. He says that lust leads to adultery, infidelity, jealousy, quarrels, diseases, violence, and even death. He advises the reader to control their senses and mind, and remain faithful to their spouse or partner. He also says that one should avoid associating with immoral or corrupt people who may tempt or influence them to commit sins.
Charity: The author praises the virtue of charity, which he defines as giving without expecting anything in return. He says that charity is like a rain that nourishes the earth and makes it fertile. He says that charity benefits both the giver and the receiver, as it increases their wealth and happiness. He says that charity should be done with compassion and generosity, without discrimination or hesitation. He also says that charity should be done according to one's capacity and ability, without causing harm or inconvenience to oneself or others.
Honesty: The author commends the quality of honesty, which he considers as the foundation of all virtues. He says that honesty is like a jewel that shines brightly in any situation. He says that honesty wins the trust and respect of others, as well as one's own conscience. He says that honesty brings success and prosperity in all endeavors. He advises the reader to speak the truth always, even if it is unpleasant or difficult. He warns the reader against lying, cheating, stealing, or deceiving others, as it will lead to disgrace and ruin.
Humility: The author extols the value of humility, which he regards as the mark of a true scholar and a noble person. He says that humility is like a flower that spreads its fragrance without boasting. He says that humility attracts the grace and favor of Siva, as well as the admiration and friendship of others. He says that humility enables one to learn from others and improve oneself. He advises the reader to avoid pride, arrogance, vanity, or conceit, as they will make one blind and foolish.
Self-control: The author emphasizes the importance of self-control, which he defines as the mastery of one's body, senses, mind, and emotions. He says that self-control is like a shield that protects one from all dangers and temptations. He says that self-control leads to peace and happiness, as well as spiritual progress and liberation. He advises the reader to restrain their anger, greed, envy, hatred, and other negative feelings that may disturb their equilibrium and harmony. He also advises the reader to practice meditation, yoga, and other disciplines that will help them calm and focus their mind.
The Poetic Devices and Techniques of Acharakovai
Acharakovai is a work that showcases the beauty and richness of the Tamil language and literature. The author uses various poetic devices and techniques to enhance his expression and convey his message effectively and elegantly. Some of the poetic devices and techniques used by the author are:
Venpa meter: The author writes in the Venpa meter, which is one of the most popular and versatile meters in Tamil poetry. Venpa consists of four lines, each having four feet (or units) of varying syllables. The first three lines have either five or six syllables each, while the fourth line has either seven or eight syllables. The rhyme scheme is usually abba or abab. Venpa is suitable for both short and long poems, and can express various emotions and themes.
Alliteration: The author uses alliteration, which is the repetition of the same or similar sounds at the beginning of words or syllables in a line or a verse. Alliteration creates a musical effect and draws attention to certain words or ideas. For example, in poem 9, the author uses alliteration with the letter 'v' (வ) to describe the qualities of a good king: வள்ளம் பல வளங்கம் வள்ளம் பல வரயம் வள்ளம் பல வரம்பம் வள்ளம் பல வரந்த (He shines like water; he expands like water; he desires like water; he is hospitable like water).
Simile: The author uses simile, which is a figure of speech that compares two things that are different but have some similarity. Simile usually uses words such as 'like' or 'as' to make the comparison. Simile creates a vivid image and illustrates the point more clearly. For example, in poem 17, the author uses simile to compare a person who does not respect his parents to a dog: தய் தந்த கறப்பன் தன் கறயத என்ற நக்கன் நய் பல் நக்க (If he does not heed his mother's father's words; he looks like a dog when he looks).
Metaphor: The author uses metaphor, which is a figure of speech that identifies one thing with another thing that is different but has some resemblance. Metaphor does not use words such as 'like' or 'as' to make the comparison, but implies it directly. Metaphor creates a strong impression and conveys a deeper meaning. For example, in poem 25, the author uses metaphor to compare ange