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Chapter: 11th Political Science : Tamil Nadu Political Thought

Ancient Political Ideas Thiruvalluvar

In Arathupal of Thirukkural, Valluvar was a great enunciator of morals; In Inbathupal, he has become a poet and in Porutpal, he is known to be a political philosopher.

Ancient Political Ideas Thiruvalluvar

In Arathupal of Thirukkural, Valluvar was a great enunciator of morals; In Inbathupal, he has become a poet and in Porutpal, he is known to be a political philosopher. The political philosophy of Thiruvalluvar is applicable across times even today.


Seven Parts in Porutpal

Porutpal consists of 7 parts, further it has 70 verses / couplets. They are Politics-25, Ministry-10, Defence-2, Wealth-1, Army-2, Friendship-17, and citizens-13 respectively.


“An army, people, wealth, a minister, friends, fort; six things Who owns them all, a lion lives amid the kings” (Kural: 381)

Thus, in porutpal, at the first verse itself valluvar differentiated the six categories essential for a state. Thus, different parts of government are ministry, army, wealth, people, friendship and citizens, which determines the rule of a king. Moreover, these components are categorized for king in a separate way, thus contributing a lot of ideas regarding administration of a state and assets for a king.

Nature of a king – 25 Chapters

In porutpal, Valluvar mentioned about nature of a king in detailed manner in 25 chapters starting from Qualities of ruler (Iraimatchi – chapter 39) to idukkan azhaiyaamai (Unfazed in the face of trouble – chapter 63) in 25 chapters, in the name of “Arasar”, “Vender”, “Nilan Aandavar” “Mannavar” he has indicated 46 times about the king.

The King must possess the leadership qualities such as, Education (40), Listening Ability (42), Wisdom (43), Fending off Faults (44), Seeking the company of great men (45), Avoiding mean–minded (46) Rationality (47), Priority for time for action (51), Assessing and Assigning tasks (52), Embracing the Kin (53), Doing duty without forgetting (54), Justice (55), Knowing the right place (50), Refraining from Terrifying Deeds (57), Compassion (58), Espionage (59), Spirit (60), To avoid laziness (61), Perseverance (62) and Determination (63) which should be the requisites of a king. These above-mentioned qualities may also be possessed by good people.

Ideas on Democracy

Valluvar lived in the period of monarchy. However, his ideas and ideals are also applicable for the present leaders of democracy. He also indicated the nature of state and government in the king’s rule. The words of Valluvar regarding government and state is applicable and suitable to all over the period as well as every organization in the world.

Welfare state and King

To put it in simple words, Valluvar’s political system is based on welfare state. For instance, in Iraimatchi (Qualities of a ruler), he says

முறைசெய்து காப்பற்றும் மன்னவன மக்ட்கு இறையெனறு வைக்க படும். (குறள்: 388)

Who guards the realm and justice strict maintains, That king as god over subject people reigns. (Kural: 388)

If a king delivered justice by doing the duties honestly, he may be regarded as a God. Ideal path and welfare – arrived kings can be respected and kept on par with divine. This kind of view is not only applicable to monarchical period but it also applicable to present democratic period.

Features of State

The characteristics of a state is to maintain ethics, the eradication of wrong doing activity, mandating impartiality of justice and protection of honour.


அறனிழுக்க ா தல்லவை நீககி மறனிழுக்க மானனம் உடைய தரசு (குறள்: 384)

Kingship, in virtue failing not, all vice restrains, In courage failing not, it honour’s grace maintains. (Kural: 384)

King’s path is the peoples’ path, king should act as a guide for his subjects, if he does harm or evil activities, it may influence all. It is because of his position as a leader, his discipline and private life will spread to all in the kingdom. Moral and ethical life is quite essential for the ruling kings. Indicating “Respect” in a broad manner relating it with nation, Valluvar gave priority for great honour which may be equated with the courage. He stressed that king must be loyal to the nation, it is the honour of nation.

Ideal State and Welfare of people

In the monarchical rule, the integrity and ideal governance for all periods were advocated by Valluvar. People of all regions expect rain for their growth; likewise, citizens of a nation expect integrity and ideal rule of the king.


All earth looks up to heaven where raindrops fall; All subjects look to king that ruleth all. (Kural: 542)

In this couplet Valluvar indicates “Kol” as ideal rule which not only applies for monarchy but also for democracy.

Whose heart embraces subjects all, lord over mighty land Who rules, the world his feet embracing stands. (Kural: 544)

This means that for a King, who protects his citizens with love and affection, his feet will be embraced by his subjects with love. This is an everlasting phrase propounded by Valluvar related to good governance.

Against Tyranny

In the chapter “Kodungonmai”, (Cruel Scepter) Valluvar explained it in negative words. The suppressive and exploitative rule of evil king may kindle unknown and indefinite agonies among the people. Those tears are most powerful and may annihilate the entire kingdom.


His people’s tears of sorrow past endurance, are not they Sharp instrument to wear the marches wealth away. (Kural: 555)

Sad tears of suffering citizens may dethrone and destroy the entire government, says Thiruvalluvar. Tears were equated with army, thus Valluvar’s visualization stands unique among others.

Autocrats and Dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Czar were the negative players for whom, Thirukkural served as a funeral sound.

Government’s Budget

A king should be an able handed administrator in increasing the income of government. Further he should be an expert in handling the budget.

In Iraimatchi, he said,


இயற்றலும் ஈட்டலும் காத்லும் காத் 

வகுத்லும் வல்ல தரசு. (குறள் 385)

A king is be who treasure gains, stores up, defends, 

And duly for his kingdom’s weal expends. (Kural: 385)

At first point, a king should search for the different sources of income. For this, he calls it as “Iyatral”. Then, the second point is that, all such resources should be put together, which is called as “Ettal”. Third, the resources thus collected must be protected with all precautionary measures which is called as “Kaathal”

Fourth one, is most important (i.e) allotting the resources to various sectors for the welfare of the people, this he called it as “Vagutthal”. Thus iyatral, eetall, kaathal and vaguthal are the four ways of utilizing the income to be expertise by the king of nation. It is a primary duty of the king.

These innovative and practical ideas were accepted by political and as well as economic exponents as the basic idea of socialistic society.

Relevance of Thiruvalluvar

The Educational qualities that are indicated by Valluvar for a king may also apply to the citizens. Thus, he used the words “Idukkan Ariyamai”, “Kalvi” for “Vazhum Uyirku”, “Maandharkku” which is for all the people.

The political ideas advocated by Valluvar in porutpal highly circumvent around morals and noble principles.

“People’s-welfare” is the basic foundation of his contribution.

To put it in a different way, Valluvar’s contribution to politics is applicable to the present democratic governance for the welfare of all the people.

The qualities that were indicated by Valluvar for a king may also apply to the citizens. Thus, he used the words “Idukkan Ariyamai”, “Kalvi” for “Vazhum Uyirku”, “Maandharkku” which is for all the people.

The political ideas advocated by Valluvar in porutpal highly circumvent around morals and noble principles. “People’s-welfare” is the basic foundation of his contribution.

To put it in a different way Valluvar’s contribution to politics is majorly applicable to the present democratic governance for the great welfare of all the people.

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