415 – Listening to Ancestors

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Follow Ancestors’ Advice

A man in search of a treasure, suddenly found himself lost in the middle of a forest. He had exhausted all his food which he had brought along with him. He was desperate to come out of the forest, before sun-set, as being a new moon day, it would become pitch dark thereafter. Adding to his desperation was the movement of wild animals. He got on top of a tree and was desperately waiting for some saviour.

At a distance, he saw a spec of light. He yelled loudly and was delighted to see the light turnaround and approach him. Closer to him, he saw a very old man carrying a lantern with him.  He jumped from the tree and introduced himself to the old man and requested him for help. The old man readily obliged and asked him to hold on to the walking stick, that he was carrying with him.  Since the terrain was uneven and marshy, the old man gave him instructions on how to manage them.  Couple of times, he ignored the old man’s advise and instead trusted his athletic skills to jump over them. On every such occasion, he slipped down and was helped by the old man. Thereafter, he decided to blindly follow his instructions. They talked through the entire distance spanning four hours and they reached a hut. On seeing the hut, he heaved a sigh of relief. The old man’s wife offered him some fruits. He ate them and since he was very tired, he slept immediately.

Next day morning, he woke up and wanted to thank the old man for his help. When he approached him, he was shocked to find that, the old man was totally blind. He could not believe his eyes, as he never had any hint of the old man’s blindness, when they walked together yesterday. His admiration for the old man grew many times and he thanked him profusely for the help. Unable to control his inquisitiveness, he asked the old man “Why do you carry a light, when you cannot see? “. The old man smiled and said, “True, as I am blind, I do not require a light. But, without the light, you could not have spotted me. There are many people like you who have lost their way in this forest and this light has helped them to spot me and approach me for help. This light is more for people like you than for myself”.

Enlightened with the experience the man left the forest.

Moral of the story

Our life is analogous to the above story. One day we suddenly find ourselves lost in our journey. Our quest for material satisfaction is more like chasing a mirage. In the evening of one’s life, when one turns back, it seems a wasted life-time. Worse still, one does not have a clue of how to get out of it.

It is then, the savior in the form of spiritual texts, replete with experiences of people who have lived a dharmic life, come to our rescue. If we hold on to them, we can navigate the future without hassles. Intermittently,  confidence in our own judgement propels us to adventures only to fall down and be rescued again.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 415 emphasizes the same. Words uttered by the learned with disciplined good conduct in life are as helpful as a steady staff to a person walking on slippery ground.

இழுக்கல் உடைஉழி ஊற்றுக்கோல் அற்றே 
ஒழுக்கம் உடையார்வாய்ச் சொல் 

Izhukkal Udaiyuzhi Ootrukkol Atre
Ozhukkam udaiyaar-vaaich Chol

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

இழுக்கல் உடை உழி ஊற்றுக்கோல் அற்று = வழுக்குதலையுடைய சேற்று நிலத்து இயங்குவார்க்கு ஊன்றுகோல் போல உதவும்; ஒழுக்கம் உடையார் வாய்ச்சொல் – காவற்சாகாடு உகைப்பார்க்கு ஒழுக்கமுடையார் வாயிற் சொற்கள். (அவாய்நிலையான் வந்த உவமையடையால் பொருள் அடைவருவிக்கப்பட்டது. ஊற்றாகிய கோல் போல உதவுதல் – தளர்ந்துழி அதனை நீக்குதல். கல்வியுடையரேனும் ஒழுக்கம் இல்லாதார் அறிவிலராகலின், அவர் வாய்ச்சொல் கேட்கப்படாது என்பதுதோன்ற, ‘ஒழுக்கமுடையார் வாய்ச்சொல்’ ‘வாய்’ என்பது தீச்சொல். அறியாமையாகிய சிறப்புணர நின்றது. ‘அவற்றைக் கேட்க’ என்பது குறிப்பெச்சம்.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

வசாம்ஸ்யாசார ஸீ²லானாம் ஸாஹ்யதா³னி ஸதா³ ந்ருணாம் |
பங்கதே³ஸே² விசரதோ ஹஸ்தாலம்ப³ன த³ண்ட³வத் ||