Faith

Faith | What is wealth?

What is wealth? It would seem this question is easy to answer, but Tamil poets have not gone by the conventional definition of the word. Thiruvalluvar says that the only indestructible wealth a man can possess is education. Instead of viewing wealth as material wealth alone, Thiruvalluvar saw good actions and a virtuous way of life as constituting wealth, said Malayaman in a discourse.

Thiruvalluvar shows us the importance of education in four sections. Listening to the speech of scholars and morally upright men adds to one’s wealth of knowledge, and this is clearly shown by Thiruvalluvar in a verse, where he says that of all possible forms of wealth, that which we acquire through listening is the best.

The Tamil work Vivekachintamani explains why education is the best wealth one can have. It says that education is not lost in a flood; it cannot be destroyed by fire; it is not diminished if you impart knowledge to others; it cannot be stolen by thieves.

Apart from education, Thiruvalluvar also includes humility in the category of wealth. If one has material possessions in plenty, then humility becomes an additional wealth, said Thiruvalluvar. Treating others with kindness, viewing their problems with concern and extending a helping hand to others — these are qualities that distinguish a good man. A wicked man may be rich, but only he who cares for others is truly rich, says Thiruvalluvar. To be without desires of any sort is also a form of wealth, says Thiruvalluvar. Many undesirable acts are a result of our greed. To live without desiring anything gives a man peace of mind and can there be anything more desirable than this? That is why Thiruvalluvar puts the lack of desire also in the category of wealth.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 6:25:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/faith-what-is-wealth/article30927002.ece

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