A saint of Tamil Nadu (ca 200 BCE), a contemporary of Saint Tiruvalluvar, devotee of Lord Ganesha and Karttikeya and one of the greatest literary figures in ancient India. As a young girl, she prayed to have her beauty removed so she would not be forced into marriage and could devote her full life to God. She was a great bhakta who wrote exquisite ethical works, some in aphoristic style and some in four-line verse. Among the most famous are Atti Chudi, Konrai Ventan, Ulaka Niti, Muturai, and Nalvali. Her Tamil primer is studied by children to this day. Another Saint Auvaiyar may have lived in the ninth century.
In this famed poem of the second century bce saint Auvaiyar she offers terse advice for youngsters, one topic for each letter of the Tamil alphabet, beginning with A.
In Praise of God
Let us always respectfully praise the Lord (Ganesha) Who is sitting on the lap of the Lord (Siva) who is wearing a garland of Thiruvaatti flowers.
1. Desire to fulfill dharma.
2. Cool off anger.
3. Do not refuse to give what is possible to give away.
4. Do not prevent acts of charity.
5. Do not boast about your possessions.
6. Do not give up industriousness.
7. Do not despise mathematics and writing.
8. Accepting alms is shameful.
9. Share with the poor before you eat.
10. Live in harmony with the world.
11. Do not discontinue recitation.
12. Do not speak envious words.
13. Do not short-sell the amount of grain given.
14. Do not speak about what you did not see.
15. Bend like the letter “nga” to do physical labor.
16. Take an oil bath on Saturdays.
17. Speak pleasantly.
18. Do not build a house that is too spacious.
19. Befriend after ascertaining compatibility.
20. Protect your father and mother.
21. Do not forget gratitude.
22. Plant a crop during the proper season.
23. Do not make a living by grabbing others’ land.
24. Do not act in an improper way.
25. Do not play with snakes.
26. Sleep on a silk cotton bed.
27. Do not speak deceitful words.
28. Do not do disrespectful things.
29. Learn when young.
30. Do not forget dharma.
31. Do not oversleep.
32. Give up harsh words.
33. Protecting others is a sacred commitment.
34. Strive to achieve greatness.
35. Give up that which is mean.
36. Do not give up that which is high-minded.
37. Do not become estranged from good friends.
38. Stop disrupting others’ lives.
39. Make ongoing efforts to listen to words of wisdom.
40. Do not hold back in teaching a handicraft.
41. Do not desire to rob.
42. Stop playing hoaxes.
43. Give up vilifying others.
44. Follow the laws of the country.
45. Stay in the company of the wise.
46. Do not speak hyberbole.
47. Do not forget to strive for renown.
48. Do not speak angrily.
49. Do not desire to gamble.
50. Everything you do, do it well.
51. Approach a person, ascertain his or her nature and then befriend.
52. Do not wander with insults.
53. Do not be careless when speaking.
54. Do not move through life in an apathetic manner.
55. Move through life so that you are a worthy person.
56. Desire to be charitable.
57. Devotedly serve Lord Vishnu.
58. Give up wrongful actions.
59. Do not bring suffering on yourself.
60. Weigh every action.
61. Do not disrespect God.
62. Live in harmony with your countrymen.
63. Do not listen to women’s conversations.
64. Do not forget ancient times.
65. Do not pursue if sure of defeat.
66. Hold firmly to goodness.
67. Act in ways that are acceptable to the country.
68. Do not depart from a good position.
69. Do not play in dangerous waters.
70. Do not eat tidbits that are unhealthy.
71. Study many books.
72. Plant rice fields.
73. Follow good morals.
74. Do not become involved in destructive actions.
75. Do not speak insulting words.
76. Do not bring illness on yourself.
77. Do not utter vulgarities.
78. Do not associate with people who are like snakes.
79. Do not speak of misdeeds.
80. Follow the path that brings honor.
81. Protect and cherish your supporters and prosper.
82. Plough the land and cultivate crops.
83. Procure the support of great men.
84. Eradicate ignorance.
85. Do not associate with the immature.
86. Protect your wealth and prosper.
87. Do not cause quarreling to occur.
88. Do not waver in your mind.
89. Do not accommodate your enemy.
90. Do not speak excessively.
91. Do not desire to eat too much.
92. Do not tarry where warfare has broken out.
93. Do not associate with obstinate people.
94. Hug your wife of tender nature and good character.
95. Listen to the words of high-minded people.
96. Keep away from a house of immoral women.
97. Speak virtuous words.
98. Give up infatuation for that which is impermanent.
99. Do not boast about your prowess.
100. Do not argue with elderly, wise people.
101. Desire to learn.
102. Follow the path that leads to moksha.
103. Be a person of integrity.
104. Live amicably with the people around you.
105. Do not speak harsh words.
106. Do not do bad deeds willingly.
107. Rise from sleep before daybreak.
108. Do not trust enemies.
109. Do not speak biased words.
In Praise of God
Let us worship ever the Feet of the son of the Lord (Siva) who is wearing the konrai garland.
1. Father and mother are one’s first known God.
2. Temple worship is immensely good.
3. Householder dharma is the only excellent dharma.
4. The wealth of misers will be taken by dishonest men.
5. Eating less is an excellence in women.
6. Dislike of those around you destroys long-established ties.
7. Numbers and letters are mankind’s eyes.
8. Children who obey without instructions are parents’ amrita.
9. Do your duties even if you have to engage in begging.
10. Marry one and carry on with that person.
11. For a brahmin good conduct is more important than skill in recitation.
12. Speaking with envy will lead to destruction.
13. Tenaciously accumulate grains and gold.
14. Virtue means not dishonoring one’s words.
15. The excellence of a woman is in protecting her virtue.
16. Forget that which is unattainable.
17. Speak in humility even to one who is low in social status.
18. No friends and relations for fault finders.
19. Do not brag about bravery even though you have arrows in hand.
20. Desist from doing actions that bring ruin.
21. Endurance against adversity secures added wealth.
22. True wealth is that of education and not the wealth that you have on hand.
23. Friendship with the king is help when in need.
24. Backbitings told to a fond listener will spread like fire fanned by the wind.
25. A vilifier becomes a foe to everyone.
26. Excellence for the continuation of descendants is to avoid family planning.
27. Excellence for parents is to hear their progeny acclaimed wise.
28. Excellence in austerity is to worship Lord Siva.
29. If you seek to acquire wealth seek to acquire a plough.
30. Excellence for friends and family is to stand by one in prosperity and adversity.
31. To gamble and argue causes vexation.
32. Cease performing austerities and falsehood takes over.
33. Even if shut up in prison get nighttime sleep.
34. As your wealth permits share with the poor and then eat.
35. The pure will acquire wealth.
36. The lazy move through life growing thin.
37. No mantra is better than one’s father’s advice.
38. No temple is greater than one’s mother.
39. Pursue wealth even if it means going overseas.
40. Sustained anger ends in unending feuds.
41. Overbearing women are like embers hidden in the abdomen.
42. Slandering women are like demonic Lord Yama.
43. If God is angered the practice of austerity is fruitless.
44. Spending without earning ends in ruin.
45. Sleep under a thatched roof in Thai and Maasi months.
46. To plough and eat is sweeter than to fawn and eat.
47. Do not speak of your ignorance even with friends.
48. Disagreement causes great misery.
49. As the entire nation prospers, evil is dispelled.
50. The merit of perfect learning is to refrain from going back on one’s words.
51. Live in a town where there is water.
52. Even on trivial matters act only after careful deliberation.
53. Learn the accepted course of conduct and then live it well.
54. No cunning thoughts can pass without mind’s awareness.
55. No good are austerities not done properly.
56. Though one may refrain from injuring, do not speak insulting words.
57. Even those whose achievements are insignificant deserve praise.
58. Austerity is not killing and eating the meat.
59. The merit of one’s good deeds can be seen in the stored grain from growing a crop.
60. Though it is food mixed with milk, eat at the right time.
61. It is a virtue not to covet another’s wife.
62. A brave person , maintaining strength, can shoulder greater responsibilities.
63. Avoid eating meat, killing and stealing.
64. The low-bred have no cultured conduct.
65. The wise have neither wrath nor foes.
66. Feigning ignorance is an ornament to women.
67. Take measured steps and the world will hold you up.
68. Avoid all things declared evil.
69. Food is that which comes through one’s ploughing the fields.
70. Even if it is elixir of life share it with guests.
71. No rains no gains.
72. Every lightning brings rain in its wake.
73. A ship without a pilot will not sail.
74. Evil done in the morn begets the evil reward in the evening.
75. Words spoken by wise elders are ambrosia.
76. Excellence in sleep is to sleep on a mattress.
77. Wealth made by ploughing never gets reduced.
78. Keep away from a house of immoral women.
79. Ignore the words of the wise and your efforts will get ruined.
80. Silence is the brim of wisdom.
81. Though a farmer, assess your harvest and live accordingly.
82. When rain shrinks charity also shrinks.
83. A house without guests is lacking in proper virtues.
84. Friendship of the brave is like having a sharp arrow.
85. The respectable do not beg even in misery.
86. To be energetic is excellence in acquiring wealth.
87. There is no cunning for those whose thoughts are pure.
88. None can help when the king is angered.
89. Pray to God in every part of the world.
90. Sleep in a suitable place.
91. Those without proper learning lack proper conduct and knowledge.