You are here

A Study of the Kural: Concepts and Themes

P. K. Gautam was a Consultant at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Monograph No. 70

    India has a live, longstanding, and multiple traditions of secular texts and treatise on statecraft, not only in Sanskrit but also in Dravidian traditions in Tamil. For a total picture of Indian civilization and culture there is need to explore texts other than just Sanskrit. In this category there is a powerful and compact text in Tamil from south India called the Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar, also known as the Kural. The unique character of this text is that it deals with the three concepts which in Tamil are: aram (virtue), porul (wealth) and kaman or inbam (love/desire). Sanskrit words denoting the concepts are dharma, artha and kama. The poetic work consists of 1,330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of 10 couplets each. The special feature of the Kural is its powerful and contemporary message and relevance both at individual and state level on the importance of virtue, aram and dharma. Yet it does not ignore the essential of porul or artha. It has some valuable advice on statecraft, warcraft, diplomacy, management, governance, and communications.

    In modern Indian history, great thinkers and doers such as Mahatma Gandhi were influenced by it. Today, the world seems to be getting fragmented by power politics and under great planetary stress by human abuse of nature. A new paradigm is needed in such disastrous times. Humanity needs this didactic and normative text saturated with common sense, humanism and virtue. The study and revival of relevant political wisdom, virtue and statecraft in the Kural will be an important contribution for contemporary and futuristic times, not only for India but for the entire world for peace and harmony.

    About the Author

    Colonel Pradeep Kumar Gautam (Retired) was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi from August 2005 to April 2018 and a Consultant from September 2018 to July 2019 to the IDSA project 'Indigenous Historical Knowledge'. He has authored a number of articles, edited chapters, three monographs on Kautilya and one monograph on Kamandaka's Nitishastra. He is also the co-editor of the trilogy Indigenous Historical Knowledge: Kautilya and His Vocabulary, Volumes I, II and III (2015/2016). His current interest is a study of The Sukraniti. Since October 2019 he is an Honorary Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Military History and Conflict Studies, United Service Institution of India (USI), New Delhi.

    Download Complete [PDF]660.23 KB