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Chapter 19 : Avoiding backbiting

27 Nov
Even someone, who is a sinner and does not speak of virtue,
will benefit from never slandering anyone in his absence.
181
One, who does good deeds much beyond what books on virtue prescribe,
will benefit more from never backbiting anyone.
181 V2
Do not slander another in his absence, even if that person
does not speak virtuously and has committed heinous deeds.
181 V3
To wear a deceitful smile in one’s presence but to slander him in his absence slaughtering his reputation,
is more harmful than refuting all that is virtuous and doing unrighteous deeds.
182
It is better to die than to live by backbiting and then being hypocritical; so dying,
may yield the benefits spoken of by moral scriptures.
183
It is passable to speak impolitely to someone face to face,
but never utter an imprudent word behind the back.
184
One, who extols righteousness but is insincere at heart,
is exposed when he is devious enough to backbite.
185
One who smears another behind his back, opens himself up
to similar smear when he falters.
186
Through slander behind the back, one who gets estranged from friends,
is incapable of indulging in pleasant talk and gaining friends.
187
If one is known to habitually sully his friends for their faults,
what damage would he do unto others?
188
Out of its commitment to its virtue of patience, the earth tolerates
the presence of a slanderer on it.
189
If one looks at his faults in the same light as others’ faults,
will any harm befell the lingering human lives?
190

Kural #181 is deceptively simple but lends itself to multiple interpretations.
I have come across 3 interpretations and can think of 2 more.

.# 181 – Even someone, who doesn’t need to be told of virtue and does only good deeds, will benefit more from never backbiting anyone. [181] V4

# 181 – Even someone, who doesn’t preach virtue but practices it, will benefit more from never backbiting anyone. [181] V5

Kural #186 can have multiple interpretations as well:

One who smears another behind his back, should think critically of his own misdeeds, prior to that. [186] V2

These two versions have the person who smears as the subject. I find that the kural can also easily be interpreted to have the ‘listener’ of the smear as the subject:

“If one talks ill about another to you, he could also smear you, behind your back, when you falter.” [186] V3.

————————————————————————–

புறங்கூறாமை

அறங்கூறா னல்ல செயினு மொருவன்
புறங்கூறா னென்ற லினிது.
181
அறனழீஇ யல்லவை செய்தலிற் றீதே
புறனழீஇப் பொய்த்து நகை.
182
புறங்கூறிப் பொய்த்துயிர் வாழ்தலிற் சாத
லறங்கூறு மாக்கந் தரும்.
183
கண்ணின்று கண்ணறச் சொல்லினுஞ் சொல்லற்க
முன்னின்று பின்னோக்காச் சொல்.
184
அறஞ்சொல்லு நெஞ்சத்தா னன்மை புறஞ்சொல்லும்
புன்மையாற் காணப் படும்.
185
பிறன்பழி கூறுவான் றன்பழி யுள்ளுந்
திறன்றெரிந்து கூறப் படும்.
186
பிறன்பழி கூறுவான் றன்பழி யுள்ளுந்
திறன்றெரிந்து கூறப் படும்.
187
பகச்சொல்லிக் கேளிர்ப் பிரிப்பர் நகச்சொல்லி
நட்பாட றேற்றா தவர்
188
அறனோக்கி யாற்றுங்கொல் வையம் புறனோக்கிப்
புன்சொ லுரைப்பான் பொறை.
189
ஏதிலார் குற்றம்போற் றன்குற்றங் காண்கிற்பிற்
றீதுண்டோ மன்னு முயிர்க்கு.
190
 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Aram, Thirukkural

 

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