Monday, April 8, 2019


Kedum perukkamum illalla nenjatthu kodaamai saanrorkkani - Tirukkural

Losses and gain come and go; to remain steadfast in principles is the hallmark of the wise - Loose Translation

Of all the things that Tiru said, this one must rank very high as being totally impractical. I mean, come on, the chap really thinks that my own value systems should be unchanged regardless of what happens to me in life? Really?

But, then, what exactly are principles? That, of itself, is a big question. AND, being analytical, I have always managed to find that principles are as elastic as I need them to be. Like, say, this honesty thing. I mean, come on, if I made a muck-up of a computation by mistyping some figures, and the decision turns wrong thanks to that, who does it injure if I merely blame the change in some circumstances instead of admitting my error? Well, even if I DO blame the guy who gave me the figures, what of it? HE can always blame the telephone system for my mishearing him.

Or, take compassion. I mean, this neighbor of mine created such a ruckus when I parked my car in his spot by mistake. Why the hell should I drive him down to hospital in the middle of the night, because he had a heart attack. Am I my brother's keeper? It is not as though I am the only neighbor, there are others. So why is it my responsibility?

You get the point. Principles are easier to alter to suit, somewhat like sizing down clothing. To keep steadfast in them, regardless of loss or THAT is like trying to size UP clothing. You run out of material sooner or later.

Tiru, though, would want you to disregard the cost to you and remain steadfast. He also probably means that you should not use the losses or gains in life as an excuse to abandon your principles OR to blame your principles for those losses and gains. Somewhat like the devotee blaming God for not ensuring that his life is a path of roses, despite his devotion.

In one way, Tiru's advice can make things easy. You do not have the stress of identifying what your current principles are, every now and then. Somewhat like the way you feel when you get back to math after a day of trying to figure out how to use your new mobile. You know the feeling of 'Thank God there is something I do not have to relearn every time. 2+2 is still 4!'

But the real comfort of Tiru's advice comes when everyone around you is 'wise' in his terms. THEN you can be sure of them for their principles would be unchanging, making it easy to trust them.

To paraphrase Julius Caesar

'Let me have about me men and women who are wise in the way Tiru defines it!'

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