Human beings have always liked to adorn themselves. While early man adorned himself with flowers, and with the bones of animals, later he took to adorning himself with gold and silver jewellery.
A love for adornment seems to be inborn in us. But the jewels we buy could get stolen, and as we age, even jewels cannot make us attractive any more. But even in old age there are some ornaments, which, if we possess, will still make us attractive to look at. Thiruvalluvar speaks of ornaments that do not lose their sheen, ornaments that cannot be stolen from us.
He talks about qualities that serve as better adornments than any physical ornament that we possess. One such ornament is the quality of humility. Couple this with gentle speech, and we have two ornaments that every person must possess. And these are not difficult to obtain. We do not have to spend money to acquire them; nor do we have to go out to shop for them. They are qualities we can aspire for and attain, if we try hard enough, said Malayaman, in a discourse.
Thiruvalluvar also speaks of generosity as an ornament. If a man is humble, gentle in speech and also generous, then his relatives will never distance themselves from him. A sense of justice is yet another ornament. A person should be capable of being like a balance, which only tilts towards the heavier side. In the same way, one should weigh the pros and cons of any action and always take the side of the morally correct. Thiruvalluvar also speaks of ornaments for the eyes! He says that a gentle, pleasing look, full of love, is an adornment for the eyes.
He speaks of ornaments not just for human beings, but even for trees! He says that the quality of giving shade is the best quality a tree can have. A king may have an army at his disposal, but when he is tired after a battle, the shade of a tree is what will be most welcome to him. The ornaments a country can have are healthy citizens, wealth, bumper harvests, and safety, according to Thiruvalluvar.
There is an ornament for this world too. A man who can guess another man’s thoughts and feelings, just by looking at him, is a great asset to this world, says the poet.