Faith

Beyond philosophy

Vallalar, the 19th century saint of Tamil Nadu, gave the world a simple and practical philosophy. He advocated compassion towards all living things. He said love is God. The general perception of education is that it helps us find jobs and that by doing so, it ensures our material welfare. But Vallalar had a different description of education, elaborated Malayaman in a discourse. Vallalar said that only learning which is not time bound is true education. Thus only spiritual learning qualifies to be called education. Jnana is the realisation that God is One. Understanding oneself is also jnana. Vallalar saw God as an eternal light.

He did not restrict himself to philosophical observations. He examined day-to-day life in all its aspects. He said the medium of instruction in schools must always be the mother tongue. In an article in a monthly titled Siddhanta Deepika, he said that learning in Tamil would help students analyse what they studied. Besides, it was easy to learn in Tamil, he pointed out. He said that a society which did not shun learning in the mother tongue would prosper. At the same time, one should also learn other languages, and if a society learnt to treat other languages with respect and learnt them, it would reach great heights. He spoke of the antiquity of the Tamil language. He said that it was one of the oldest languages in the world. He popularised Thirukkural. He was the first to organise Thirukkural lessons, through his student Thozhuvur Velayudha Mudaliar. He spoke against British rule, describing it as governance without mercy.

Vallalar was multi-faceted. He was not only a philosopher and reformer, but also had deep knowledge of Siddha medicine, the traditional method of treating ailments.


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Printable version | May 18, 2022 7:13:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/beyond-philosophy/article65425951.ece