In an earlier blog, we had discussed the lessons we learn early on as children, at home or at school. These “rules of the road” serve as excellent guide to manage most aspects of the rest of our life!
One poem of ancient origin is called Aathichudi, composed by poet Auvaiyar. She is a poet from the eleventh century AD. Her poems and her tales are well-known in every household in rural Tamil Nadu, India. Even today, in the remote villages of India, you can hear elementary school children reciting this poem of twelve verses at school or as part of their home work! You can Google Auvaiyar for more details.
Aathichudi is a poem of twelve verses. There are twelve vowels of Tamil language. They conjugate with eighteen consonants to create a total of 218 alphabets. The Tamil language (written and spoken) is expressed through these alphabets. At the very early stages of learning, children are taught the twelve vowels first, through this poem of twelve verses, each verse in one line, each verse starting with one vowel, which are: A, Aa, E, Ee, Vu, Voo, Ye, Yea, I, O, Oh, Au.
- Always be eager to engage in good and virtuous activities — Aram Seiya Virumbu
- Be vigilant to control your temper (anger) — Aaruvadhu Sinam
- Commit yourself to do all that you can, and to the best of your ability — Eyalvadhu Karavel
- Do not limit your charitable acts or interfere in such noble acts of others — Eevadhu Vilakkel
- Extolling about your belongings is not a virtue — Vudaiyadhu Velambel)
- Focus on your enthusiasm and perseverance — Vookamadhu Kaividale
- Give due respect for the power of Numbers and Letters — Yenn, Yezhuthu Igalel
- Honor only the favors that are truly earned — Yearpadhu Igazhchi
- Indulge in your consumption only after sharing with the needy — Iyam ittu Unn
- Join hands with others — Oppuravu Ozhugu
- Knowledge and the study habits are unending — Ohdhuvadhu Ozhiyel
- Let there be no idle conversation (such as speaking ill of others) — Ouviyam Pesale)
Each of these lines also serves as a code of conduct – the “dos and don’ts” – for citizenship in any society. These codes of conduct are non-denominational, but full of philosophic content. One can simply internalize these rules and practice them as guidelines for normal living, because they are the right and proper rules of the road (Karma Yoga). One can also practice them implicitly, with faith, since they are handed down by elders and the society over generations and are necessary for the harmony and a larger order in the community we live in (Bhakthi Yoga). One can also study each verse and their meaning in-depth and the implications and the necessity for such rules. Such learning in turn translates into action appropriate with the meaning and content of these rules (Gnana Yoga).
For reason of complete reporting: There is another vowel, which is rarely used: Akkh. According to some literarature, the following is the verse for this alphabet.
Miserliness is not a good character — Akkhanjurukale
Aathichudi is as relevant today as it was then.
Very nice…loved the one that asks to focus on your enthusiasm and perseverance. I guess what we feel spontaneously enthusiastic about is a guide to the direction we should be striving in.
what a profound poem!!! I wish these principles are taught to all the children in the world from very early age.
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the earlier poets were really wise, philosophical and pragmatic in their worldview…