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Thirukural-On Choice Of Right Time-Kural-488

Cerunaraik kaanin sumakka iruvarai
Kaanin kilakkaam thalai

Be courteous and even obsequious before your enemy,

When the time comes, he will bow before you.

V V S Iyer interprets this quite elaborately when he says:

“Bend down before thy adversary when they are more powerful than thyself; they can be easily over-thrown when thou attackest them, at the moment when their power is on the decline."

All this borders just a bit on Machiavellian tactics, quite different from the many ethical guidelines laid down by Thiruvalluvar in Arathupal. But it must be remembered that this occurs in Porutpal, and the context is one of advice to a ruler, on the selection of the right time for aggressive operations against the enemy.

At the same time, it must be remembered that even where Valluvar generally follows ideas of counsel to the king, on lines similar to those couched in Arthasashtra, he follows the old robust Tamil culture and attempts to give it an ethical slant where appropriate.

Story first published: Friday, November 12, 2010, 17:06 [IST]