Weaver’s Wisdom

EVERY SEATED PARLIAMENTARIAN, PRESIDENT AND HIS STAFF CAN READILY RELATE TO THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THIS SECTION, DESCRIBING THE MERITS OF A country in stanzas such as these: “Where unfailing fertile fields, worthy men and wealthy merchants come together—that is a country.” “Rain waters, underground waters and rivers shed from well-situated mountains, plus strong fortresses, are features of a fine country.” “Five ornaments adorn a country: good health, abundant harvests, wealth, happiness and safety from invasions.” The wise old weaver urges good relations between politicians and those they serve, saying, “Even if a country acquires all these blessings, it is worth nothing if it lacks harmony between the ruler and the ruled.”§

We all can strongly relate to the above, now in the twenty-first century, having seen countries come and go, or endure and thrive. Conflict between leaders and their countrymen usually was at the core of those that failed. After explaining about fortresses and the way to attain wealth and protect it, the weaver speaks on the merits of military force, just as important in his day as in ours. In the long, long ago battles were fought over a bargaining table, with lofty bands of well-armed men standing at attention behind each monarch. If it looked as if a bloody battle would cause one side to win and the other to lose, then and there a deal was made. With a standoff occurring between two well-armed citizens on each side, both leaders exchanged gifts, had tea and departed back to their realms peacefully. But nearly always a stronger country overtook a weaker one that could not manage its affairs properly. This was considered to be a duty.§

Then the weaver explains what makes up and holds together a country and its government, a family and its elders, a state, county or any group—the essentials of friendship. He says friendship must be cultivated and continue to be cultivated, and false friends, those who are with you when life is good, but when calamity or a problem comes up, are nowhere to be seen or heard from, must be guarded against. They distance themselves to protect whatever they think they have, rather than come forward in the time of need. Good advice, I would say, then as today, for everyone wishing to move forward, is the weaver’s wisdom on the testing of friendships. Many suffer today who have joined gangs and found themselves in deep trouble by listening to and being guided by harmful friendships. They should read chapter 82 over and over so when the cycle of exploring new acquaintances comes around again they make the right choices. §

The weaver speaks of hatred in a way that would be a credit to any modern psychologist, and he advises how to handle troubled feelings within oneself and among others. Such valuable insights are rarely spoken about today, unless, of course, in technical manuals of the well-informed, such as professional analysts. There is much more of the issues of his time of which he speaks that applies to our time. It is heartening to note that this advice has sustained a nation and a culture in now South India for well over 2,200 years. Tamil Nadu, the land of the Tamil-speaking Dravidian people, an ancient Caucasian branch, is now and has always been their homeland. Now a state of India with a population of sixty million, but formerly an independent empire, it survived, sustained itself and thrived on these 108 chapters of its Tirukural throughout the ups and downs, century after century after century.§

To this day, the Tamil people are still reading and memorizing this treatise, which is sworn on in their courts of law and permanently enshrined in Chennai’s Valluvar Kottam, where every verse is carved in granite in a great hall for all to read, appreciate, learn from and endeavor to live up to. §