RURAL, a celebrated poetical production in Tamil, treating of morals, by Tiruvalluvar, re garded by all Tamilians as the finest composition of which the Tamil can boast. It appears to be not only the best but the oldest Tamil work of any extent which is now in existence. Its date seems not later than the 9th century A.D. There is no trace in the Kural of the mysticism of the modern Puranic system ; of Bhakti, or exclusive enthusiastic faith in any one deity of the Hindu pantheon ; of exclusive attachment to any of the sects into which Hinduism has been divided since the era of Sankara ; or even of acquaintance with the existence of any such sects. From the indistinctness and undeveloped character of the Jaina element which is contained in it, it seems probable that in Tiruvalluvar's age and country Jainism was rather an esoteric ethical school, than an independent objective system of religion, and was only in the process of development out of the older Hinduism. Certain poetical composi tions are attributed to Anvaiyar, the matron, a reputed sister of Tiruvalluvar, of which some at least do not belong to so early a period. It teaches a monotheism, and the later Buddhists or Jainas acknowledged an Adibuddha or Adi vara, called sometimes Adidevan or primordial god. Its form is exquisitely poetic.
Tiruvalluvar means divine soothsayer. Kural signifies short or condensed. It is divided into three parts, treating of virtue, wealth, and pleasure. It contains 133 chapters of ten distichs each, resembling the Sanskrit Sutras, the first line containing four feet, and the second line three. Ten commentaries have been written by native scholars upon the Rural, of which that by the Brahman Parimelalaga is considered the best. The Rev. H. Bower says, The work is superior to the Institutes of Menu; and is worthy of the divine Plato himself.' Beschi translated
it into Latin, and Dr. Graul into German ; T. W. Ellis, Esq., translated portions of it into English. The Rev. W. H. Drew translated 63 chapters, with occasional notes and an index verborum. The following is the first chapter as translated by Mr. Ellis :— ' As ranked in every alphabet, the first, The self-same vowel, stands, so in all worlds Th' eternal God is chief.
What is the fruit that human knowledge gives, If at the feet of him who is pure knowledge Due reverence be not paid ? They who adore his sacred feet, whose grace Gladdens with sudden thrill the fervent heart, High o'er the earth shall soar to endless joy.
To bins whom no affection moves nor hate, Those constant in obedience, from all ill, In this world and the next, are free.
Those who delight with fervent mind to praise The true and only Lord of heaven and earth, No false ideas of right and wrong can cloud.
Those who pursue the path of his true law, .
Who is of sensual organs void, in heaven Shall dwell in never-ending bliss.
The anxious mind against corroding thought , No refuge bath, save at the sacred feet Of him to whom no likeness is.
Hard is the transit of this sea of vice, Save by that Being's gracious aid, who is Himself a sea of virtue.
Of virtue void, as is the palsied sense, The head must be, that bows not at his feet Whose eight-fold attributes pervade the world.
Of those who swim the wide extended sea , Of mortal birth, none ever can escape, But they who to the feet of God adhere.' —21furdoeh's. Catalogue. See Tiruvallavar. KURALEA. KARN. A shepherd race, who manufacture coarse woollens.