This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
We have already pointed out that the peculiar feature in the Kural of dealing with only the first three of the four objects of life is not altogether so peculiar, having regard to the notion exhibited in Manu in regard to trvarga in Chapter II (Brahmanism In The Tamil Land), Sloka 224. The author of the Kural apparently adopted the same principle as the sloka of Manu above referred to. That that was the principle adopted, and the actual details of the division of the whole work on those particular lines, taking into consideration even the Vaidic four stages of life are found explained in an old manuscript which contains an introduction to the commentary by Parimel Alahar. This authority considers the first four sections, namely, invocation, celebration of rain, celebration of those that renounce the world and the celebration of conduct as purely introductory, and the following chapters take up, one after the other, conduct in household, in forest life and lastly in renunciation, thus taking up 34 of the chapters. Then follow the 70 chapters dealing with politics in the widest sense of the term being synonymous with all that constitutes earthly prosperity. Then follows the chapter bearing on the kind of life dealing with the relation between man and woman. In this he adopts to a far more prominent degree the customary divisions of land in Tamil along with much that may be found in the northern lore. To show how far this didactic work, the professed purpose of which is to enforce moral conduct of an eclectic kind so as to provide a general rule of conduct for all, whatever their religion, is indebted to the Artha Sastra, we have only to refer in some little detail to chapter 51 of the work dealing with the selection of ministers by the king. The first verse of this chapter contains an expression which indicates unmistakable affinity with Kautilya's Artha Sastra. The substance of the verse is that a man before being selected for admission into the body of ministers should be tested by the four ways of righteousness, wealth, love and fear of life. This is subjecting the man to temptation in the various ways to which a minister is peculiarly liable. In these four items the first three are common enough, but the last one is an expression which according to the commentator was misunderstood and altered into a wrong reading for lack of knowledge of the original source of inspiration, that source being Book 1, Ch. 10 of the Artha Sastra (translation) or Chapter 6, page 16 of the text, referring to what Chanakya calls upada. The last expression in Tamil is uyir achcham literally fear for life. The second of these two words has been altered into "ech-cham" meaning "that which remains." These are the four upadas that Chanakya refers to. That the commentator is not drawing from his imagination is fully in evidence in the following eight out of nine verses constituting this chapter. Each one of them refers directly to the various objections of schools of politicians referred to in the Artha Sastra, Chapter VIII (Early History Of The Pallavas) of the translation or Chapter IV (South India, The Seat Of Orthodox Hinduism) of the original. Except for the difference in the name of two of those quoted, which may be after all alternative names, the whole chapter agrees point for point with Chapter VIII of the Artha Sastra. The last verse winds up the discussion by agreeing with the conviction arrived at by Kautilya. The only pity of the whole is that these authors are not so named in the text itself. We have no right to expect it having regard to the fact that the whole of this work is thrown into the form of aphorisms which have necessarily to be very brief, and, as was pointed out already, each one of these verses could contain only 7 feet, four and three each, in two lines. But to any dispassionate reader the similarity of idea is quite clear, detail for detail, so that there is no reasonable doubt left that the author of the Kural had full knowledge of the Artha Sastra and adopted several of its conclusions strangely enough. It is to the credit of Tamil scholarship of an elder age that this similarity had already been pointed out by a commentator who preceded Parimel Alahar in this work.1 It is possible to refer to a number of other verses in which the relation between the Kural and the Niti Sastra of Kamandaka appears very plainly, and it is a well-known fact that the Kamandaka is only an abridgment of the Artha Sastra of Chanakya, and the author acknowledges his indebtedness to this latter work and its author. We shall indicate the similarity, only in respect of just a few other Sanskrit works.
1 Quoted by Pandit R. Raghava Aiyangar in Sen-Tamil, Vol. 1, pp. 46.48.
Kural 259 where the author savs"It is better by far not to kill for eating than celebrate a thousand sacrifices" may be compared with Manu. Chapter V (The School Of Bhakti), Sloka 53. "He who during a hundred years annually offers a horse sacrifice, and he who entirely abstains from meat obtain the same reward for their meritorious ' conduct.'" Kural 166 which says that he that grows jealous of another's making gifts will himself with all his relatives suffer without food and clothing is found in the Dana Chandrika. Kural 256 which says if there were no people in the world that would kill for eating there would be none in the world to kill at all is an idea embedded in the Bhlshmaparva of the Mahabharata. Kural 58 again: "If women only conducted them-selves faithfully and dutifully they would lead a much respected life in heaven." This may be compared to Chapter V, Sloka 155 or 156 of Manu " no sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart (from their husbands); it a wife obeys her husband she will for that (reason alone) be exalted in heaven. A faithful wife who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand whether he was alive or dead." It is hardly necessary to multiply quotations. Surprising as it may seem at first sight that there is such an intimate connection between the two cultures the Aryan 17 and the Dravidian in Kural, we would be no less surprised if it had been otherwise having regard to the historical circumstances under which this remarkable work had been produced in the Tamil land. A close study of the work in intimate connection with Sanskrit literature goes to heighten our admiration of the extraordinary learning of the commentator Parimel Alakar, who in many of these matters exhibited these features most accurately. That his judgment that the author of the Kural set before himself a work which would give to everybody a practical rule of conduct in life irrespective of his peculiar religion, and therefore it is a work eclectic in character and liable to be claimed by the various sections of people as belonging peculiarly to themselves is fully justified. The work has reference to the Hindu society of South India and that the author had much respect for Brahmans and Brahmanism as an integral part of the social order is unmistakably in evidence in the following three verses: Kural 134 states briefly that the Veda if forgotten could be learnt again, but the Brahman loses his character if he falls oft' from conduct peculiar to his station. Kural 543 lays down that the righteous rule of a monarch stands as the main support of the learning of the Brahman and righteousness; and Kural 560 similarly states that if the king ceases to render protection cows will cease to yield and Brahmans who have to do their sixfold duty will forget their learning, the Veda. In each one of these cases the consequences are regarded as nothing short of calamitous to society. It may not he possible positively to assert that the author was of the Brahmanical persuasion, as other than Brahmans, even Buddhist and Jain authors often speak in the same strain of the Brahman as a member of Hindu society; but on a dispassionate examination of the work there seems justification for the assumption that the author of the Kural though undoubtedly belonging to a lower caste was Brahmanical in religion.