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Thirukkural-On Wealth-On Kingship-Kural 389

Cevikaippachch sorporukkum panbudai vaendhan

Kavikaik keelthangum ulahu

A king of quality, who accepts well-meant, though bitter criticism, with patience and forbearance,

Will find all the world rallying to his banner.

Most rulers resent criticism. They only like to hear pleasing falsehoods and flattery. In fact, this is the bane of most intelligence services of all countries of the world at all times. They feed their masters with only things, which they want to hear and not with the unpleasant truths. A good king should accept, in the larger interests of his realm, the home truths, which will enable him to set matters right, even before things go wrong with his administration.

Parimel Azhagar mentions that such criticisms may be made by the king"s wise advisers, when he does wrong, but Parithi goes one step further and envisages even the public telling the king what is going wrong, in his Durbars or public interviews. This kind of thing was obviously practiced by the Tamils, centuries before Magna Carta (1215 AD).

One such classic example happened when Kannagi appeared before the Pandyam king Nedunchezhiyan, who had the quality envisioned in this Kural of Valluvar to a supreme degree.

“Maeyir podium virindha karungulalum

Kaiyirsilambum kanneerum

Kandalavae thoatraan"

He is believed to have realized his fatal mistake of sentencing Kovalan to death with a shock at once and fallen down dead on the spot.

A biblical parallel to this Kural, we have in Proverbs, which says,

“He is the way of life that keepeth instruction

But he that refuses reproof erreth"

Proverbs (10:17)

Story first published: Monday, May 10, 2010, 11:59 [IST]
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