Indian Government Ignores Tamil Poet Thiruvalluvar

(Statue in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2013 (ID. 2013-04-01)
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(Alternate spellings: Thiruvalluvar - Tiruvalluvar, Thirukural - Tirukural)

Indian Government Tourism Ministry announced on July 2, 2003 that Mamallapuram, Kancheepuram and Kanyakumari (in Tamil Nadu State, India) would be developed as "hubs of culture, tourism and clean civic life". People of Tamil Nadu were elated that these three places, which were already tourist attractions with funding from the state government, would get a fillip now from the Indian government. 

When details of how the Indian Government Tourism Ministry would promote Kanyakumari as a tourist attraction came out, the sweet taste of Indian government involvement turned sour in some people's mouth. Indian government would develop the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and put a "sound and light show" with emphasis revolving around "Vivekananda, Sankara and Gandhi" (The Hindu; July 3, 2003). Since Gandhi's name is mentioned here, we assumed that the Gandhi Memorial (Gandhi Mandapam) in Kanyakumari would also get some mention in the sound and light show. There is no mention of the monumental 133-feet Thiruvalluvar statue erected on the tiny island adjacent to Vivekananda Rock. Thiru Valluvar (or Valluvan) is one of the greatest poets in the world. His book of Tamil verses (couplets) "Thirukural" (or Thiru Kural) was written about 2000 years ago and has been translated into many languages around the world. It gained the respect of many great scholars and philosophers from around the world. The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said that he had taken the concept of non-violence from a German translation of Thiru Kural. India's Mahatma Gandhi said of Kural: "A textbook of indispensable authority on moral life. The maxims of Valluvar have touched my soul. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him." Dr. Albert Schwaitzer said: "There hardly exists in the literature of the world a collection of maxims in which we find so much of wisdom." Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature says: ""Sacred Couplets (that is Thirukural) is considered a masterpiece of human thought, compared in India and abroad to the Bible, John Milton's Paradise Lost, and the works of Plato."

In short, Thiru Valluvar is just no ordinary Tamil poet, he was one of the greatest poets in the world. Yet this poet would not find any significant place in Indian Government's tourism agenda. Vivekananda, Sankara and Gandhi --great men that they are-- are in no way superior to Thiruvalluvar and their philosophies are no better than that of Thiruvalluvar's Thirukural. Indian Government Tourism Department should bring to the attention of Indian and foreign tourists local history, personalities and culture too. Indian Government seems to be determined to promote Vivekananda, Sankara and Gandhi (none of them from Tamilnadu) but ignore the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvan who is by no means a lightweight compared to Vivekananda, Sankara and Gandhi.

Indian government hiding the great personalities of Tamil Nadu from Indian and foreign tourists is not new. It refused to install a statue of one of the greatest kings of South Asia, the Tamil king Raja Raja Cholan, within the compound of the over one-thousand years old Thanjai Big Temple (that he built); we are not asking for the installation of the statue inside the temple but only within the temple compound where tourists would see it [Reference 1].

There is a pattern of Indian Government ignoring or "hiding" Tamil history and culture in its projects while highlighting the culture and history of Hindi region. Indian government projects Indian history as the north-Hindi regional history in its history books, and projects the north-Hindi regional culture as Indian culture wherever it can. A summary of some of these activities may be found in Reference 2.


1. Why is King Raja Raja Cholan Standing outside the Thanjai Big Temple? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2001 (16 KB)

2. Health of the Tamil language: A French Perspective (by Nathalie Dedella), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2004 (17 KB)

Thanjai Nalangkilli

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