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Thirukkural-On Wealth-On Kingship-Kural 390

Kodaiyali senkoal kudiyoambal naangum

Udaiyaanaam vaendhark koli.

The leading light among kings has the four attributes of generosity, graciousness,

Justice and concern for the citizen"s welfare.

Obviously, Valluvar would consider liberality, gracious behaviour, uprightness in metting out justice and genuine concern for the protection and welfare of his subjects, as 'king-becoming" graces.

I do not think that Thiru K M Balasubramanian"s view that the word 'Udaiyaan' (utaiyan) which means any one who possesses these attributes, is purposely used to cover the Chief Executive or President of a Republican form of Government. Actually the presence of the words 'Senkoal' meaning scepter and 'Vaendhar' meaning king would rule out such a possibility. The word 'Udaiyaan' should, therefore, be interpreted only to mean the king, who has these attributes. Anything more is wishful thinking.

Again, K M Balasubramanian has quoted at length from Machiavelli"s prince to show that Valluvar"s view of liberality, as a king-becoming grace, is opposed by the pragmatic political philosophy of Machiavelli, who holds that it would be unwise for a king to practise liberality, in such a way as would ultimately harm him economically. K M Balasubramanian has not given his own view about this. I personally hold that all liberality, here propounded as a kingly attribute is within the bounds prescribed in Kural 385. only within the budget parameters of production and distribution, envisaged as the good king"s policy for handling public finance, the king would be expected to be generous.

The word 'Oli' would also lend itself to different interpretations. It may just mean a 'beacon light". Or it would be taken to mean a 'divine light". A third possible interpretation is that a king, who has all these four attributes, would naturally develop an innate and built-in light within his own personality, which will be recognised in its brilliance by all those who encounter him a kind of 'Tejas' I recollect having encountered as a student, Mahatma Gandhi in his loin cloth standing at the entrance of his third class compartment in Trichy Junction; he did have this light emanating from all over his frail body!

Story first published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 11:44 [IST]
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