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Thoatkap padaadha sevi
Ears that have not been penetrated by words of instruction from the learned,
Will be effectively deaf, even if functionally in order.
K M Balasubramaniam, in his commentary on Thirukural, says with reference to this Kural that the prevalent practice in Tamil Nadu, of piercing the ear at the time of putting a child to school, probably had a symbolic meaning relating to the penetration of the ears, by words of wisdom from the wise. May be it is so.
K V Jaganathan in his Research edition of Thirukkural cites a relevant passage from Kambaramayanam in the context.
“Kaelviyaar saevikal mutrum
Thoatavar unarvin unnum
Amudhathin suvaiyaai ninraan" (Kambaramayanam: Savari 7)