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- Ceyarkariya ceyvaar periyar ciriyar
Those who accomplish rare things are considered great;
While those who cannot, remain small.
Among equals, those who seek out the more difficult assignments, in preference to the easier ones, are well on their way to greatness. But those who just content themselves with small jobs, will continue to stay on at meaner levels. In this context, it is appropriate to recall what the late President John Kennedy had said, 'Great causes make great men' (Profiles in courage). In fact, our own Panditji (the late Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru) would say, referring to the part played by many like himself in India's freedom struggle, that 'a part of the greatness of the cause attaches itself to the man who is devotedly working at it, and he himself becomes in some measure great, in due course'.
I had occasion to read a special interpretation of this Kural by Thiru KA P Viswanatham of Thiruchirapalli. His view is that it is not fair to characterize as small men, all those who do not accomplish great things. He would contend that this Kural should originally have been, in its second line as follows, 'ceyarkariya ceykala thaar'. This would mean that those who do not carry out even that, which it is their duty to perform, are small men. Such an interpretation would certainly be more balanced and correct.
In Venba Nilai (Venba Nilai) the explanation of the eight rare things for sages, such as 'keeping long under water', are listed out; but all that is really far-fetched material, to understand the implications of this simple Kural.