About the Author:
CHAKRAVARTI RAJAGOPALACHARI, popularly known as "Rajaji" or "C. R.", was a great patriot astute politician, incisive thinker, and one of the greatest of Indians. As a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, as an ardent freedom-fighter, as Chief Minister of Madras, as Governor of West Bengal, as Home Minister of India and as the first Indian Governor-General of India he has rendered yeoman service to India and has left an indelible impress on our contemporary life.
Rajaji's books on Marcus Aurelius, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads are popular. In Mahabharata and Ramayana he displays his inimitable flair for story-telling and applying the moral of stories to the needs of modern times. In the present book Kural are given selections from living verses of the immortal Tamil Poet-Saint Tiru-Valluvar. The selections are made with the acumen native to Rajaji and are explained in English, which is his own. They are sure to enrich the reader's mind.
Rajaji passed away in 1972 at the age of 94.
The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan- that Institute of Indian Culture in Bombay- needed a Book University, a series of books which, if read, would serve the purpose of providing higher education. Particular emphasis, however, was to be put on such literature as revealed the deeper impulsions of India. As a first step, it was decided to bring out in English 100 books, 50 of which were to be taken in hand almost at once.
It is our intention to publish the books we select, not only in English, but also in the following Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, but also in the following Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
This scheme, involving the publication of 900 volumes, requires ample funds and an all-India organization. The Bhavan is exerting its utmost to supply them.
The objectives for which the Bhavan stands are the reintegration of Indian culture in the light of modern knowledge and to suit our present-day needs and the resuscitation of its fundamental values in their pristine vigour.
Let me make our goal more explicit:
We seek the dignity of man, which necessarily implies the creation of social conditions which would allow him freedom to evolve along the lines of his own temperament and capacities; we seek the harmony of individual efforts and social relations, not in any makeshift way, but within the frame-work of the Moral Order; we seek the creative art of life, by the alchemy of which human limitations are progressively transmuted, so that man may become the instrument of God, and is able to see Him in all and in Him.
The world, we feel, is too much with us. Nothing would uplift or inspire us so much as beauty and aspiration which such books can teach.
In this series, therefore, the literature of India, ancient and modern, will be published in a form easily accessible to all. Books in other literatures of the world, if they illustrate the principles we stand for, will also be included.
This common pool of literature, it is hoped, will enable the reader, eastern or western, to understand and appreciate currents of world thought, as also the movement of the mind in India, which, though they flow through different linguistic channels, have a common urge and aspiration.
Fittingly, the Book University’s first venture is the Mahabharata, summarized by one of the greatest Indians, C. Rajagopalachari; the second work is on a section of it, the Gita, by H. V. Divatia, an eminent jurist and a student of philosophy. Centuries ago it was proclaimed of the Mahabharata: “What is not in it, is nowhere”. After twenty-five centuries, we can use the same words about it. He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of the soul; he misses the trial and tragedy and the beauty and grandeur of life.
The Mahabharata is not a mere epic; it is a romance, telling the tale of heroic men and women and of some who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative thought on human problems that is hard to rival; but, above all, it has for its core the Gita, which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest of scriptures and the grandest of sagas in which the climax is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the Eleventh Canto.
Through such books alone the harmonies underlying true culture, I am convinced, will one day reconcile the disorders of modern life.
I thank all those who have helped to make this new branch of the Bhavan’s activity successful.
Tirukkural is a poetic composition of great antiquity in the Tamil literature. Many great minds have shed their powerful, radiant light on this gem and justly famous classic of Tamil literature.
In its essence Tirukkural is a treatise par excellence on the art of living. Tiru-valluvar, the author, diagnoses the intricacies of human nature with such penetrating insight, perfect mastery and consummate skill absorbing the most subtle concepts of modern psychology, that one is left wondering at his sweep and depth. His prescriptions, leavened by godliness, ethics, morality and humaneness are sagacious and practical to the core. They cut across castes, creeds, climes and ages and have a freshness which makes one feel as if they are meant for the present times.
No wonder that the Kural has continued to attract the best minds of the world down the ages. In our own time, apart from the many great savants and statesman of Tamilnad, Gandhiji is known to have delved deep into its wisdom; Vinobaji is an acknowledged student of this classic. It is, therefore, appropriate that the Bhavan should publish a book of selections, with translations and notes, from Kural written by Rajaji.
This volume consists of selections from the first and second books of Kural with text in Tamil and translations and notes in English. The reader will find for himself that Rajaji, who has made “the sages of our land to speak to us” in his incomparable summaries of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and translations and interpretations of the Gita, the Upanishads and other repositories of India’s ageless wisdom, has laid us all under deep debt of gratitude-even those who know Tamil-with his clear and instructive Vidya Bhavan is grateful to Messrs Rochouse publishers for giving it the privilege of issuing the revised edition of Rajaji’s book.
Let us hope that some among the young and old all over the world who read these pages will assimilate and practice in their daily life at least some of the wise advices given in these pages, originally by a great saint and now re-stated by a foreseeing statesman, one of the greatest of living men.
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