Sunday 30 November 2014


2014-48 ThirukkuraL  -  On Wealth [பொருள் Porul]

ThirukkuraL - Wealth
The saint poet Thiruvalluvar emphasizes the importance of unshaken enthusiasm and energy, earnest effort and perseverance in the Section on Wealth [Porulpaal] of the ThirukkuraL. Here are the choice couplets gleaned from that great book of wisdom:

Wealth will enquire the way to and reach the abode of
the person with unshaken enthusiasm and energy.   
ஆக்கம் அதர் வினாய் செல்லும் அசைவு இலா 
ஊக்கம் உடையான் உழை.   [தி 594] 
Aakkam athar vinaai sellum asaivu ilaa
Ookkam udaiyaan uzhai.   [T 594]

Right effort with perseverance produces prosperity,
Lack of it drives one to poverty.     
முயற்சி திருவினை ஆக்கும் முயன்றின்மை 
இன்மை புகுத்தி விடும்.  [தி 616]
Muyarchi thiruvinai aakkum muyandrinmai
Inmai pukuthi vidum.   [T 616]

Those who strive with tireless exertion and remain undaunted
Will force even the most powerful fate to retreat.   
ஊழையும் உப்பக்கம் காண்பர் உலைவு இன்றி 
தாழாது உஞற்று பவர்.   [தி 620]
Oozhaiyum uppakkam kaanpar ulaivu indri
Thaazhaadu ugnattrupavar.   [T 620]

Is there any task too difficult to do for the man who acts
At the right time and employs the right means?      
அருவினை என்ப உளவோ கருவியால் 
காலம் அறிந்து செயின்.   [தி 483]
Aruvinai enba ulavo karuviyaal
Kaalam arindu seyin.   [T 483]

One may aim to acquire the whole world and succeed,
If actions are aimed at the right time and the right place.   
ஞாலம் கருதினும் கைகூடும் காலம் 
கருதி இடத்தால் செயின்.   [தி. 484]
Gnaalam karudinum kaikoodum kaalam
Karudi idathaal seyin.   [T 484]


ThirukkuraL - English Translation: [Click Here]

Sunday 23 November 2014


2014-47 ThirukuraL  -  On Virtue [அறம் Aram]

ThirukkuraL Arathuppaal

What does the great book of wisdom ThirukkuraL say of Virtue [அறம் Aram]? 
Keep the mind free of impurity. That alone is the practice of Virtue.
All else is nothing but empty display [T 34]. 

What are the impurities of the mind?  
The main impurities of the mind are Envy, Greed, Anger and Harsh words [T 35].

How do we stay away from these impurities?  
Practice Truthfulness. Purity of the mind is realized by Truthfulness [T 298]. 

What is Truthfulness? 
Truthfulness is the speaking of words which do not cause any harm whatsoever  to any one [T 291].  

How do virtues wax and vices wane?
When a man always seeks the good and speaks sweet words, 
his virtues wax and vices wane [T 96].

What are the basic pillars of the edifice of Virtue?
Love, Modesty,  Beneficence, Compassion and Truthfulness 
are the five pillars of the edifice of Virtue [T 983].


Here are the 5 choice couplets from the ThirukkuraL:

Keep the mind free of impurity. That alone is the practice of Virtue.
All else is nothing but empty display.    
மனத்துக்கண் மாசு இலன் ஆதல் அனைத்து அறன் 
ஆகுல நீர பிற.      [தி 34]
Manathukkan maasu ilan aadal anaithu aran
Aakula neera pira.   [T 34]

The main impurities of the mind are Envy, Greed, Anger and Harsh-Words.
Avoidance of these impurities is Virtue.  
அழுக்காறு அவா வெகுளி இன்னாச் சொல் நான்கும் 
இழுக்கா இயன்றது அறம்.      [தி. 35]
Azhukkaaru avaa vekuli innachol naankum
Izhukka iyandarathu aram.   [T 35]

Purity of the external body is achieved through water.
Purity of the mind and heart is realized by truthfulness.   
புறம் தூய்மை நீரான் அமையும் அகம் தூய்மை 
வாய்மையால்  காணப் படும்.   [தி. 298]
Puram thooymai neeran amaiyum akam thooymai
Vaaimaiyal kaanappadum.   [T 298]

What is Truthfulness? It is the speaking of words which
do not cause any harm whatsoever  to any one.   
வாய்மை  எனப்படுவது  யாது எனின்  யாது ஒன்றும் 
தீமை இலாத சொலல்.   [தி. 291]
Vaaimai enappaduvathu yaadu enin yaadu ondrum
Theemai ilada solal.   [T 291]

If a man seeks the good and speaks sweet words,
His virtues will wax and his vices wane.   
அல்லவை தேய அறம் பெருகும் நல்லவை 
நாடி இனிய சொலின்.    [தி. 96]
Allavai theya aram perugum nallavai
Naadi iniya solin.   [T 96]

Love, Modesty,  Beneficence, Compassion and Truthfulness 
are the five pillars of the edifice of Virtue    
அன்பு நாண் ஒப்புரவு கண்ணோட்டம் வாய்மையொடு 
ஐந்து சால்பு ஊன்றிய தூண். [தி 983]
Anbu Naan Oppuravu Kannottam Vaimaiyodu 
Iyndu saalboondriya thooN.   [T 983]


ThirukkuraL - English Translation: [Click Here]

Sunday 16 November 2014


2014-46  Oscar Wilde: The Selfish Giant

Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]
The Selfish Giant

                                                        THE SELFISH GIANT

     Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden. It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. 'How happy we are here!' they cried to each other.

    One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden. 'What are you doing here?' he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

     'My own garden is my own garden,' said the Giant; 'any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.' So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice: TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. He was a very selfish Giant. The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside.     'How happy we were there,' they said to each other.

     Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still Winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. 

     The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. 'Spring has forgotten this garden,' they cried, 'so we will live here all the year round.' The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden. 'This is a delightful spot,' he said, 'we must ask the Hail on a visit.' So the Hail came. 

     'I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,' said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden. But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. 'He is too selfish,' she said. So it was always Winter there.

     One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring. A delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. 

'I believe the Spring has come at last,' said the Giant; and looked out. What did he see?  He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in. They were sitting in the branches of the trees. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads.

The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still Winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. 

   And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. 'How selfish I have been!' he said; 'now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever.' He was really very sorry for what he had done.

   So he went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became Winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he died not see the Giant coming. And the Giant took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it.

   The little boy stretched out his two arms, flung them round the Giant's neck and kissed him. And the other children, came running back, and with them came the Spring. 'It is your garden now, little children,' said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were gong to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.


Sunday 9 November 2014


2014-45 Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince

Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]
Oscar Wilde  was an Irish playwright and poet. His rich and dramatic portrayals of the human condition came at the height of the prosperity that swept through London in the late 19th century. 

Wilde wrote many short stories, plays and poems that continue to inspire millions around the world. We shall see two of his best fairy tales: "The Happy Prince" in this post and "The Selfish Giant" in the next.


High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt. One night there flew over the city a little Swallow. His friends had gone away to Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed behind.
All day long he flew, and at night-time he arrived at the city. "Where shall I put up?" he said; "I hope the town has made preparations." Then he saw the statue on the tall column. "I will put up there," he cried; "it is a fine position, with plenty of fresh air." So he alighted just between the feet of the Happy Prince.
"I have a golden bedroom," he said softly to himself as he looked round, and he prepared to go to sleep; but just as he was putting his head under his wing a large drop of water fell on him. "What a curious thing!" he cried; "there is not a single cloud in the sky, the stars are quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining." Then he looked up, and saw - Ah! what did he see?
The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears, and tears were running down his golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in the moonlight that the little Swallow was filled with pity. "Who are you?" he said. "I am the Happy Prince." "Why are you weeping then?" asked the Swallow; "you have quite drenched me."
"When I was alive and had a human heart," answered the statue, "I did not know what tears were. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I lived, and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the misery of my city, and I cannot chose but weep."
"Far away in a little street there is a poor house. I can see a woman seated at a table. In a bed her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is crying. His mother has nothing to give him but river water. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her the ruby out of my sword-hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move."
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad." The Happy Prince looked so sad that the little Swallow was sorry. So the Swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince's sword, and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.
At last he came to the poor house. In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on the table. Then he flew gently round the bed, fanning the boy's forehead with his wings. Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince, and told him what he had done. "It is curious," he remarked, "but I feel quite warm now, although it is so cold."  "That is because you have done a good action," said the Prince. 
When day broke he flew down to the river and had a bath. "To-night I go to Egypt," said the Swallow, and he was in high spirits at the prospect. Wherever he went the Sparrows chirruped, and said to each other, "What a distinguished stranger!" so he enjoyed himself very much. When the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince. "Have you any commissions for Egypt?" he cried; "I am just starting."
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "far away across the city I see a young man in a garret. His hair is brown and crisp, and he has large and dreamy eyes. He is trying to finish a play for the Director of the Theatre, but he is too cold to write any more. There is no fire in the grate, and hunger has made him faint."
"I will wait with you one night longer," said the Swallow, who really had a good heart. "Shall I take him another ruby?" "Alas! I have no ruby now," said the Prince; "my eyes are all that I have left. They are made of rare sapphires. Pluck out one of them and take it to him. He will sell it to the jeweller, and buy food and firewood, and finish his play."
So the Swallow plucked out the Prince's eye, and flew away to the student's garret. The young man did not hear the flutter of the bird's wings, and when he looked up he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the withered violets. "I am beginning to be appreciated," he cried; "this is from some great admirer. Now I can finish my play," and he looked quite happy.
The next day the Swallow flew down to the harbour. He sat on the mast of a large vessel. "I am going to Egypt"! cried the Swallow, but nobody minded, and when the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince. "I am come to bid you good-bye," he cried. "Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "will you not stay with me one night longer?"
"It is winter," answered the Swallow, "and the chill snow will soon be here. In Egypt the sun is warm on the green palm-trees. Dear Prince, I must leave you, and next spring I will bring you back two beautiful jewels in place of those you have given away. The ruby shall be redder than a red rose, and the sapphire shall be as blue as the great sea."
"In the square below," said the Happy Prince, "there stands a little match-girl. She has let her matches fall in the gutter, and they are all spoiled. Her father will beat her if she does not bring home some money, and she is crying. She has no shoes or stockings, and her little head is bare. Pluck out my other eye, and give it to her, and her father will not beat her."
"I will stay with you one night longer," said the Swallow, "but I cannot pluck out your eye. You would be quite blind then." "Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "do as I command you."  So he plucked out the Prince's other eye, and darted down with it. He swooped past the match-girl, and slipped the jewel into the palm of her hand. 
Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. "You are blind now," he said, "so I will stay with you always." "No, little Swallow," said the poor Prince, "you must go away to Egypt." "I will stay with you always," said the Swallow, and he slept at the Prince's feet.
All the next day he sat on the Prince's shoulder, and told him stories of what he had seen in strange lands. He told him of the Sphinx, who is as old as the world itself, and lives in the desert, and knows everything; of the merchants, who walk slowly by the side of their camels, and of the King of the Mountains of the Moon.
"Dear little Swallow," said the Prince, "you tell me of marvellous things, but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and of women. There is no Mystery so great as Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there."
So the Swallow flew into dark lanes, and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets. Then he flew back and told the Prince what he had seen. "I am covered with fine gold," said the Prince, "you must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it to my poor; the living always think that gold can make them happy."
Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the Swallow picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite dull and grey. Leaf after leaf of the fine gold he brought to the poor, and the children's faces grew rosier, and they laughed and played games in the street. "We have bread now!" they cried.
Then the snow came, and after the snow came the frost. The streets looked as if they were made of silver, they were so bright and glistening; long icicles like crystal daggers hung down from the eaves of the houses, everybody went about in furs, and the little boys wore scarlet caps and skated on the ice.
The poor little Swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well. He picked up crumbs outside the baker's door when the baker was not looking and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.
But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just strength to fly up to the Prince's shoulder once more. "Good-bye, dear Prince!" he murmured, "will you let me kiss your hand?" "I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow," said the Prince, "you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you." "It is not to Egypt that I am going," said the Swallow. "I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?" And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet. 

"Bring me the two most precious things in the city," said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird. "You have rightly chosen," said God, "for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me."

Sunday 2 November 2014


2014-44 Henry Drummond:  Lessons from the "Angelus"

   Henry Drummond [1851-1897]
Drummond was a scientist, a world traveller, and a great communicator of the Christian faith in five continents especially to students. Henry made his own personal commitment to Christ at an early age, and never wavered from it. His visiting the slums of the Edinburgh of those days might have given him his first experience of urban poverty and spiritual need of society. He burned to bring an answer, both to individuals and to society, for he was convinced that Christ is the answer on a world scale.

Lessons from the Angelus is taken from his book "The Greatest Thing in the World and Other Addresses."

                                    LESSONS FROM "THE ANGELUS"

God often speaks to men's souls through music; He also speaks to us through art. Millet's famous painting entitled "The Angelus" is an illuminated text, upon which I am going to say a few words to you to-night.
There are three things in this picture—a potato field, a country lad and a country girl standing in the middle of it, and on the far horizon the spire of a village church. That is all there is to it—no great scenery and no picturesque people. In Roman Catholic countries at the evening hour the church bell rings out to remind the people to pray. Some go into the church, while those that are in the fields bow their heads for a few moments in silent prayer. That picture contains the three great elements which go to make up a perfectly rounded Christian life. It is not enough to have the "root of the matter" in us, but that we must be whole and entire, lacking nothing. The Angelus may bring to us suggestions as to what constitutes a complete life.

"Angelus" by Jean Francois Millet [1859]

The first element in a symmetrical life is work.

Three-fourths of our time is probably spent in work. Of course the meaning of it is that our work should be just as religious as our worship, and unless we can work for the glory of God three-fourths of life remains unsanctified.
It is by constant and conscientious attention to daily duties that thoroughness and conscientiousness and honorableness are imbedded in our beings. Character is THE MUSIC OF THE SOUL, and is developed by exercise. 
Our work is not only to be done thoroughly, but it is to be done honestly. A man is not only to be honorable in his academic relations, but he must be honest with himself and in his attitude toward the truth. When we come to difficulties, let us not jump lightly over them, but let us be honest as seekers after truth.


Another element in life, which of course is first in importance, is God.
The Angelus is perhaps the most religious picture painted this century. You cannot look at it and see that young man standing in the field with his hat off, and the girl opposite him with her hands clasped and her head bowed on her breast, without feeling a sense of God.
Do we carry about with us the thought of God wherever we go? If not, we have missed the greatest part of life. Do we have a conviction of God's abiding presence wherever we are? There is nothing more needed in this generation than a larger and more Scriptural idea of God. 


The third element in life [about which I wish to speak] is love.
In this picture we notice the delicate sense of companionship, brought out by the young man and the young woman. It matters not whether they are brother and sister, or lover and loved; there you have the idea of friendship, the final ingredient in our life, after the two I have named. If the man or the woman had been standing in that field alone it would have been incomplete.
Love is the divine element in life, because "God is love." Let us cultivate the spirit of friendship, and let the love of Christ develop it into a great love, not only for our friends, but for all humanity. Wherever you go and whatever you do, your work will be a failure unless you have this element in your life.
These three things go far toward forming a well-rounded life. Some of us may not have these ingredients in their right proportion, but if you are lacking in one or the other of them, then pray for it and work for it that your life may be rounded and complete as God intended it should be.

Full text of Henry Drummond's "Lessons from the Angelus": [Click here]

Henry Drummond Online Books: [Click Here]

Jean Francois Millet - Complete Works: [Click Here]
Jean Francois Millet [1814-1875] Self Portrait