Gratitude is one of the most important virtues to possess among several other good qualities. There are so many subtle things that we often take for granted and forget to acknowledge. We often think we are self-reliant, self-sustained and feel self-confident when everything seems to go good in our life. We tend to ignore so many things, so many people who have worked behind the scenes for us to make things happen in our lives. From our parents, siblings, neighbours, teachers/mentors, well-wishers whom we are in constant touch to the farmers who work in the fields, the weavers who weave clothes, the labourers who builds the house, the maid who cleans the house, the workers who work in the factories to produce goods that make our lives easier, the list is endless. We may pay the price to “procure” their services but it is very insignificant when compared to the labour of love and interest they show in producing these “goods” for us.

That’s why the importance of gratitude has been stressed since time immemorial.

Today I am going to present a couple of stanzas to stress this fact from  Moodhurai (மூதுரை)  penned by the grand old poetess Avvaiyaar (Tamil: ஔவையார்; literally means ‘Respectable Woman’)


a couple of couplets from saint poet Thiruvalluvar from his classic Thirukural (திருக்குறள்): which is considered as “உலக பொது மறை” or “The universal scripture” since it covers all the essential aspects of “அறம் பொருள் இன்பம்” or “Virtue, Wealth and Love” necessary to lead a complete life.

Thirukural has been translated into as many as 40 languages by 2014 and is a prime candidate to be nominated as the national book of India, for which a declaration was passed at the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 2006 along with Bhagavad Gita.

First let’s consider two stanzas from Moodhurai. These are the first two stanzas from the poem:

நன்றி ஒருவர்க்குச் செய்தக்கால் அந்நன்றி

என்று தருங்கொல்?’ எனவேண்டாம்நின்று

தளரா வளர்தெங்கு தாளுண்ட நீரைத்

தலையாலே தான்தருத லால்.

Which translates to:

“It is really not necessary to expect gratitude for the help rendered to the needy, since it will be automatically expressed in a future period by them when we least expect it, just like a coconut palm that draws water into its roots during its period of growth and automatically delivers it in the form of sweet nourishing coconut water above its trunk in future.”

The second stanza stresses the effects of help rendered to opposite categories of people, good and bad.

நல்லார் ஒருவர்க்குச் செய்த உபகாரம்

கல்மேல் எழுத்துப்போல் காணுமேஅல்லாத

ஈரமிலா நெஞ்சத்தார்க் கீந்த உபகாரம்

நீர் மேல் எழுத்துக்கு நேர்

Which translates to:

“Help rendered to virtuous people in times of need will be remembered by them forever, just like words etched into a stone or a sculpture that is embossed on a stone, that does not fade away in time, but help done to unethical/dishonest people is just like writing something on the surface of the water, it just vanishes as soon as it is written.”

Now, let’s consider a couple of couplets or Kurals from the classic:  Thirukural:

Chapter 11/133: Gratitude – Kural  /Verse: 108/1330

நன்றி மறப்பது நன்றன்று நன்றல்லது

அன்றே மறப்பது நன்று.

Which translates to:

“Help rendered should not be forgotten at any cost, but harm done should be forgiven and forgotten at the very moment.”

Chapter 11/133: Gratitude – Kural /Verse: 110/1330

எந்நன்றி கொன்றார்க்கும் உய்வுண்டாம் உய்வில்லை

செய்ந்நன்றி கொன்ற மகற்கு

Which translates to:

“There is atonement for every vice/sin, but there is no atonement for ingratitude.”

The above statement just nails the concept of gratitude into our head and heart!

I find it also quite important to mention the concept of gratitude ingrained to us by great writers/poets of modern times.

A typical example, i can quote is from a classic Tamil movie, “படிக்காத மேதை” (“Padikkadha medhai” – 1960) which translates to “unlearned intellectual*, , enacted  by another legendary actor of yore, Doctor “Chevalier” Sivaji Ganesan in a song, penned by Kaviyarasu (King of Poets) Kannadasan ( Servient to Lord Shri Krishna) , mentioned by me in one of my earlier posts.

The song goes like this:
ஒரே ஒரு ஊரிலே ஒரே ஒரு ராஜா

ஒரே ஒரு ராஜாவுக்கு ஒரே ஒரு ராணி

ஒரே ஒரு ராணி பெற்றாள் ஒன்பது பிள்ளை

அந்த ஒன்பதிலே ஒன்று கூட உருபடியில்லை

படிச்சிருந்தும் தந்தை தாயை மதிக்க மறந்தான்

ஒருவன் படுக்கையிலே முள்ளைவச்சி பார்த்து மகிழ்ந்தான்

பிடிச்ச முயல் அத்தனைக்கும் மூன்று காலென்றான்

ஒருவன் பெண்டாட்டியின் கால்களுக்கு காவலிருந்தான்…….

பிள்ளை பெற்ற ராஜா ஒரு நாயை வளர்த்தார்

அதை பிள்ளைக்குமேல் கண்களைப்போல் காத்து வளர்த்தார்

உண்மை அன்பு சேவை என்ற மூன்றும் கொடுத்தார்

அதன் உள்ளத்திலே வீடு கட்டி தானும் இருந்தார்

சொந்தம் என்று வந்ததெல்லாம் சொந்தமும் இல்லை

ஒரு துணையில்லாமல் வந்ததெல்லாம் பாரமும் இல்லை

நன்றியுள்ள உயிர்கலெல்லாம் பிள்ளைதானடா

தம்பி நன்றிக்கெட்ட மகனை விட நாய்கள் மேலடா!

Which translates to something like this:
“There was a single kingdom and there was a single king…

There was only a single queen to this single king…

That single queen bore nine sons…

But there was not even a single worthy son among the nine sons…

One forgot to respect his parents, even when learned,

Another made them lie in a bed of thorns and rejoiced,

Another caught a rabbit and insisted it has only three legs, and

Another lied under the feet of his wife and lived like her watchdog (disrespecting his own parents)…

After bringing up his nine sons, the king brought up a dog (meaning, a faithful orphan in this context)

He brought him up and protected him like his eyes , and even better than his own nine sons,

Teaching him truthfulness, love and service,

And built a house for him in his heart, and also dwelled in it…

Whatever that comes as relations/relationships are not actual relationships,

Whatever that comes without hindrances are not actual burden,

All beings that shows gratitude are like our own sons,

Little Brother, remember, grateful dogs are much better than ingratitude sons!!!”

Walk the Talk

Words from people of high integrity who live the way they talk and talk the way they live are of high ingenuity to people around them. In other words, we must “we must walk the talk/talk the walk” so that we do not become an object of ridicule and condemnation. If a person does not “walk the talk”, no matter how wealthy he may become, no matter how high the status he may attain in society or no matter how much respect he may command at the moment, everything will be blown to dust within the fraction of a second by the will of God or his own accumulated bad karma. There are a lot of examples in our practical life, in history, and in our scriptures that prove this point.

The rewards may seem attractive at first when one get into acquaintance with these sort of people, but when time passes and when one become a victim of their “games”, he will realise his own mistakes for falling into the trap. However, he is still not the victim because he will utilize the opportunity to correct himself by learning from mistakes and evolve into a better, a more mature and a thoughtful person.

On the other hand, the downfall is near for those who act with vindication for one’s own self-interests. They don’t realise their mistakes but the laws of nature is never kind to those who violate it. In other words, It’s like the fire that does not show benevolence when a small kid touches it or a cobra that stings when anyone crosses its path.

Again, stressing the importance of good “company” and bad “company” (we all know the word company has multiple meanings, whichever meaning one takes is apt here 🙂 ), I would like to quote two more stanzas from Moodhurai (மூதுரை) that I was mentioning yesterday.

 The stanzas are exact opposites to each other – one says the benefits gained in association with good company and the other says the harm gained in associating with bad company.

Though it is quite uncertain to predict the company one would be associated with during the course of one’s life, it is important that one understand the signs and take remedial actions accordingly to live a life of peace with moral values.

Here it is:

Stanza 8:

நல்லாரைக் காண்பதுவும் நன்றே; நலம் மிக்க

நல்லார் சொல் கேட்பதுவும் நன்றேநல்லார்

குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் நன்றே

அவரோடு இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் நன்று

Which translated to

It is always good to meet people of integrity,

It is always good to hear the choicest words spoken by people of integrity,

It is always good to talk about the deeds done by people of integrity,

and it is always good to be associated as friends, with people of integrity.

In this same stanza, the word good has been replaced with bad by the poet in the next stanza to bring out the detrimental effects of association with bad company.

Stanza 9:

தீயாரைக் காண்பதுவும் தீதே; திரு அற்ற

தீயார் சொல் கேட்பதுவும் தீதேதீயார்

குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் தீதே;

அவரோடு இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் தீது

It is always detrimental to meet people of deceit,

It is always detrimental to hear the sarcastic words spoken by people of deceit,

It is always detrimental to talk about the character of deceitful people,

and it is always detrimental to have them as friends, the people of deceit.

The same aspect is mentioned by saint poet Thiruvalluvar in his couplets known as Thirukural in:

Chapter 51/133: Selection and Confidence Verse 4 or Kural 504/1330:

குணம்நாடிக் குற்றமும் நாடி அவற்றுள்

மிகைநாடி மிக்க கொளல்

Which translates to:

We should consider a person’s good qualities as well as the person’s faults and then judge the person’s character based on which one outweighs the other.

Related Post(s):

1.       True Friends Vs Fair Weather Friends

True Friends Vs Fair Weather Friends

Earlier, I mentioned the malaise of association with bad “company”, the fair weather friends and its impact on our mental health and day to day dealings – the dealings with Toxic People.

Also, the impact of good company – true friends, well-wishers, who stand with us in good stead, good times or bad.

As I was thinking about it, I was recollecting a series of poems called Moodhurai (மூதுரை) that i learnt in my early childhood from the legendary poetess Avvaiyaar (Tamil: ஔவையார்; literally means ‘Respectable Woman’).

Avvaiyaar Statue, Marina Beach, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

In it contained a gem, the fourth stanza, that beautifully explains whom to make friends and whom not to! What is true friendship and what is not! Here it is:

It is so poetic and rhythmic that it cannot be translated in any other language to convey the exact meaning. Only equivalent meaning can be made out of it. It goes like this:

  1. How much ever one interacts with people of low moral values and try to befriend them, they will never become friends.
  2. People of good ethics and moral values always behave in a dignified manner even when their status/position goes down or suffer from extreme poverty.
  3. Like the milk that never loses its taste even after boiling it continuously.
  4. Like the conch shell that becomes more and more whiter even continuously burnt by fire, true friendship stands the test of time.
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