279 – Deceptive Appearance

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Deceptive Appearance

As human beings, we tend to judge people by their appearances. If we form a positive opinion about a person based on his appearance, we tend to blindly believe and follow them. On the contrary, if we form a negative opinion, it becomes a barrier for further interaction with that individual. Ironically, such individual can be an interesting, well-educated and talented person with whom one might have a lot of in common. But, more often, we distance ourselves from them.  People find it very difficult to revise opinions after their first impression.

Due to the influence of Western culture, we tend to consider people who are exceptionally polite, refined and well mannered as models of virtue.  Unfortunately, in a majority of such cases, beneath their public disposition, they are full of negative thoughts. Their public behaviour and their inner thoughts are totally incongruous. On the other hand, people tend to equate a simple and an unassuming person as rustic and uncultured.

In recent times, we see increasing instances of public personalities like Actors, Politicians, Media Persons and Businessmen working overtime in building a positive image about them. India is a country, where majority of the population is either illiterate or semi-literate, and regard public personalities as Demi-Gods.  Some public personalities, taking advantage of this inherent nature of Indians, use this as an opportunity to push through their thoughts and ideologies which are alien to India’s native culture and traditions.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 279 cautions about making any conclusions about a person from their appearance. He advises that people should never be judged by appearances, as they can be deceptive.

கணைகொடிது யாழ்கோடு செவ்விதுஆங்கு அன்ன
வினைபடு பாலால் கொளல் 

Kanaikodidhu Yaazhkodu Sevvidhu-aangu anna
Vinaipadu Paalaal Kolal

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

கணை கொடிது யாழ் கோடு செவ்விது – அம்பு வடிவால் செவ்விதாயினும், செயலால் கொடிது, யாழ் கோட்டால் வளைந்ததாயினும் செயலால் செவ்விது. ஆங்கு அன்ன வினைபடு பாலால் கொளல் – அவ்வகையே தவம் செய்வோரையும் கொடியர் செவ்வியர் என்பது வடிவால் கொள்ளாது அவர்செயல்பட்ட கூற்றானே அறிந்து கொள்க. (கணைக்குச்செயல் கொலை, யாழுக்குச் செயல் இசையால் இன்பம் பயத்தல். அவ்வகையே செயல் பாவமாயின் கொடியர் எனவும், அறமாயின் செவ்வியர் எனவுங் கொள்க என்பதாம். இதனால் அவரை அறியும் ஆறு கூறப்பட்டது.).

A straight and a smooth arrow is used for cruel killing whereas a crookedly shaped musical instrument (yaazh) gives out melodious music. The real nature of an individual should be determined by this conduct and not his appearance.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

காடி²ன்ய மார்த³வே பா³ண வீணயோ: கர்மணா யதா² |
முனாவபி ததா² ஜ்ஞேயம் ந வேஷஸ்தத்ர காரணம் ||