Originally there was only one Veda, the Rig Veda. According to the scholars who made an in-depth study it was in an unwritten form and was preserved only by those who committed it to memory. The language of the Rig Veda was not in the Sanskrit, we know today. It had words from ancient Iran, Greece and West Asia. Scholars have identified a good number of early Tamil words in the Rig Veda. The researcher Racozni, in his Vedic India page 114 says that were only 1028 mantras in it.

Parts of the Rig Veda which dealt with rituals and sacrifices were taken out and made into a separate Veda under the name Yasur (Yajur). Similarly those that could be recited with a musical cadence were made into a separate Veda called Sama. In the days that followed much later a separate Veda called Atharvana which dealt with super natural elements like magic was created, thus bringing the concept of the four Vedas. One-sixth of the systems of magic recited in the Atharvana are found in the Rig Veda.

The man responsible for creating the fourfold vedas is Vyasa and is called Vedavyasa. The Tholkapiyam in its Preamble (Payiram) refers to Nanmarai. This reference is not to the four Vedas but to a set of holy scriptures of the Tamil which are no more. During the time of the of the Tolkapiyam, the 5th century BC there was only one Veda, the Rig Veda.

In any ancient civilization, the first literature to emerge concerns itself with ethics, morality and the cardinal virtues.  The root of the word Veda is ‘vid’ which means to know. The Tolkapiyam, Purathinai iyal. Nootpa, 44 speaks about ‘Moonran Pakhuthi’. Moonran Pakhuti in Tamil means Aram, Porul and Inbam. The Kural follows this threefold classification. Ancient Tamils made it into four, Aram, Porul, Inbam & Veedu. Aram subdivides into householder’s life (Illaram) and Asceticism (Thuravaram).

The first four chapters of the Kural are called the Preamble and chapters 5 to 24 are called ‘Illaraviyal ‘ (Householders life) and chapters 25 to 37 are called ‘Thuravara Iyal’ (Ascetic life). It is pointed out that one could achieve deliverance by these two paths. A life of asceticism is not a prime requisite to seek deliverance according to the Kural, see Kural 280. The Kural speaks about deliverance from the mortal coil in general terms without reference to any particular religion, thus proofing its universality.

It is pointed out that the Kural does not speak about ‘Veedu’, the final abode of a liberated soul. Those who had entered that state have not come back to earth to relate their experiences. But the path to deliverance is stated in Chapter 1 and Chapter 5. If Valluvar had ventured to describe the life and style of an inmate of ‘Veedu’ he could have indulged in fiction.

The laws of Manu also called Manava Dharma Shastra is one of the supplementary arms of the Vedas. It is a standard canon of Hinduism. The verses contained in it consist of 2690 verses divided into twelve chapters. Hindu apologists consider this sastra as the divine code of conduct. It renders in detail the structure of the ancient vedic society which places the Brahmin class at the top.

Sir William Jones, President of the Asiatic Society assigned the Manava Dharma Shastra to the period 1200 BC – 500 BC but recent research places it in the period between first and second century AD. It created the rigidity of the caste system which is the shame of Indian society and gives an exalted status to the Brahmins. The reverence to the Brahmin is a idea developed by the Vedas and the smirtis.

The Kural takes a stand that is diametrically opposed to the Vedas and the Manava Dharma Shastra. It proposes that no man is superior to another, all are born equal and nobody is subject to caste distinction. The professions we pursue go to make the social distinctions. Upward mobility is available to everyone of us by virtue of individual effort.

Categories: Kural

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