Kural 740 which occurs in chapter 74 emphasises the importance of the ruler for the smooth functioning of the state. A country may have all the essential attributes like abundant food production, learned people, water resources and wealth but if it lacks a capable ruler the full benefit of these advantages will not accrue to it. The ruler is the driving factor that keeps the country as a well functioning entity.

Further Kural 547 goes on to say that the ruler is the protector of the world, which means the lands and their citizens. He deals justice in proportion to the crime or offence committed.

If he orders an execution of a criminal it is like removing the weeds in a paddy field says Kural 540.

Kural 520 casts a heavy burden on the ruler when it states that the ruler should carry out self – examination and introspection on daily a basis.

Confucian thought emphasised personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Confucian principles had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. Among the Confucian thoughts strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by the children of the family and also respect of the wife to the husband are uppermost.

By extension respect and loyalty to the head of the family represents the respect, loyalty and obedience to the ruler. In modern times it had led to the system of benevolent autocracy, one party government and totalitarianism. Four Asian countries are identified as confucian states – Singapore, Vietnam, Korea and China. In this context it is proper to view the content of Kural 388.

For infants and young children the caring parent is divine. Likewise the just ruler who provides food to his citizens, protection from the enemy and gives peace and prosperity is God to his people. He was called ‘Iraivan’ and his consecration made him one with the Gods. – Chapter 39, Kural 388.

The high point of confucian thought is in the Master’s saying, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”. This is the essence of good conduct. Although Confucianism is followed in a religious way by the Chinese its is not a religion on its own. Confucius discusses questions like after-life but omits any thoughts about souls which is the main concern of most religious. His idea of heaven is in his description, “Purposeful Supreme Being as well as Nature with its fixed circles and patterns”.

Photo : Rob Web (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Flickr 

Confucius lived in the period between 551 BC – 479 BC. He was a teacher, philosopher, editor and politician. He was not a poet like author of the Kural. His teachings emphasised morality, good government and the cultivation of the arts, Chinese language and culture. The matter of morality is most important of them all.

Confucian ethics are entered on virtues to the self, sincerity and the cultivation of knowledge. its moral system is based on empathy and understanding rather than on divine rules. Confucian says that he is not an originator of principles but a conveyor of what is already there. His interpretation, comments and the departures from the original make him what he is today.

His teachings are preserved in the Lun Yu or Analects which forms the foundation of Chinese thought and the comportment of the individual in the society. He speaks about education and the role of the ideal man, how he should live and about the government and the society of which he is a component. The individual’s interaction with others is also a subject matter of the philosophy.

Lunyu 15:2 says “A superior man remain steadfast in the face of poverty, the small man when impoverished loses all restraint”. But the Lunyu collection is a problematic and controversial work having being compiled in various versions by his dislikes who emerged long after the death of Confucius. There are principles that do not belong to Confucius but the true grain of Confucian philosophy is identifiable.

The Lunyu got its present form in the second century BC. It holds his teachings, conversations and dialogues with his disciples. Confucian ethics maybe considered a type of virtue ethics which reiterated moral exemplars and skilled judgement rather than knowledge of rules.

Child raring is central to the Confucian of creating and reproducing humanity and the benevolence of society. The Lunyu says “Therefore an enlightened ruler will regulate his people’s livelihood so as to ensure that, above they have enough to serve their parents and below they have enough to support their wives and children”. Compare this with Kural Chapter 7 – Bearing Children.

A point to remember in the Confucian system is – The ruler is the guardian of his subjects, the husband is the guardian of the family, the wife is the guardian of the husband’s home. The child’s environment in the home directly influences his growth. A negative home retards his development. The child is a precursor of the future adult and children make the next generation.

Categories: Kural

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