Tamil literature on virtues

November 29, 2022 04:25 am | Updated 04:25 am IST

The Tamil word ‘aram’ means doing the proper things and performing good deeds, said Malayaman, in a discourse. Avvaiyar says that aram means providing food to the hungry and money to the poor. Providing food, shelter and clothing is aram, says Seethalai Sathanar, the author of Manimekalai. Kanimedaviyar emphasises the same idea in his work Eladi. Vilambi Naganar, author of Naanmanikkadigai, says discipline and good conduct are essential in life. According to him, living an honest and upright life is aram. Poet Kaari Asan, in his Siru Panchamoolam, says serving food to others in one’s own home, giving water to a thirsty man and establishing roads with shade giving trees can be called aram.

The Jain work Naladiyar, while defining aram, shows us how we should conduct ourselves in life. Naladiyar says that if a man does not listen to gossip about other people’s private affairs, if he does not see another man’s wife with wrong intentions and if he abstains from speaking ill of a person behind his back, then you don’t have to teach him what aram means. In other words, such qualities constitute aram.

Thirukkural says that having a pure heart is aram. So, what are the qualities we must shun, to have such purity? We must not be prone to jealousy, greed, anger or the tendency to use harsh words. Not coveting another man’s wife is aram, Thiruvalluvar says in yet another verse. When someone visits us, we must welcome them with a smiling countenance, and with sweet words, says Thiruvalluvar. This too is classified by him as aram. If we care about the welfare of others and speak pleasantly to people, then our sins fade away and aram (virtues) increases. Thus Tamil literature gives us many valuable moral lessons through the word ‘aram.’

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