Here is Valluvar’s Voice

Following is the translation of Thirukkural, a discourse on ethics, its author is Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar who lived around 3rd Century. It’s translation is done by Mr. NV Subbaraman, he lives in Chennai.



செல்வத்துள் செல்வம் செவிச்செல்வம்;அச்செல்வம்

செல்வத்துள் எல்லாம் தலை.


SelvaththuL selvam sevichchelvam; accchelvam

SelvaththuL ellAm thalai.


Listening is wealth

Wealth of wealth – gives one great force

Nothing gives that strength!


Wealth of wealth is listening to others which give a lot of strength.


செவிக்குணவு இல்லாத போழ்து சிறிது

வயிற்றுக்கும் ஈயப் படும்.


SevikkuNavu illaadha poazthu ciridhu

Vayitrukkum eeyap padum.


When there is no food

For thought through listening- some

Stomach gets for good!


Only when there is no food for thought through listening, a little food can be given to the stomach for quenching the physical hunger.



செவிஉணவிற் கேள்வி உடையார் அவிஉணவின்

ஆன்றாரோடு ஒப்பர் நிலத்து.


SeviuNavir kaeLvi udaiyaar aviuNavin

Aandraaroadu oppar niloaththu.


Where wisdom gets fed

The wise deemed Gods who get food

As offerings made!


Those who have the knowledge and wisdom acquired through listening are deemed to be the Gods and nobles who are fed with the nectar.


கற்றிலன் ஆயினும் கேட்க! அஃதொருவற்கு

ஒற்கத்தின் ஊற்றாம் துணை.


Katrilan aayinum kaetka; ahudhoruvarkku

Orkaththin uutrraam thuNai.


Though not learnt, listen

To the voice of the noble

Helps as staff, in need!


Though one is not learned, let him listen to the voice of the noble that will stand in good stead like a staff on hand when he grows up.


இழுக்கல் உடையுழி ஊற்றுக்கோல் அற்றே

ஒழுக்கம் உடையார் வாய்ச்சொல்.


Izhukkal udaiyuzhi ootrukkoal atrae

Ozhukkam udaiyaar vaaychchol.


In slippery ground

The staff helps – so the noble’s words

When in troubles found!


Just as a staff on hand helps when one walks on a slippery ground, the knowledge that one acquires through listening when confronted with problems  and challenges in life.



எனைத்தானும் நல்லவை கேட்க! அனைத்தானும்

ஆன்ற பெருமை தரும்.


Enaiththaanum nallavai kaetka! Anaiththaanum

Aandra perumai tharum.


Though a little heard

Let it be good and noble

That makes one learned!


Whatever one listens let it be from the wise and the noble; that indeed will make him a learned person and gets him glory.


பிழைத்துணர்ந்தும் பேதைமை சொல்லார்; இழைத்துணர்ந்து

ஈண்டிய கேள்வி யவர்.


PizhaiththNarndhum paedhaimai sollaar; izhaiththuNarndhu

EeNdiya kaeLvi yavar.


Learnt by listening

Falters not with foolish words

Gain with hearing!


Those who have knowledge acquired through listening fail to understand the criticality of the issue, will not falter by speaking with foolish words.


கேட்பினும் கேளாத் தகையவே! கேள்வியால்

தோட்கப் படாத செவி.


Kaetpinum kaeLaath thagaiyavae! kaeLviyaal

Kaetkap padaadha sevi.


Noble’s voice not heard

He is deaf indeed and lost

The world deems him dead!


The ears that do not listen to the words of the noble are deemed to be deaf though they have ears and hearing faculty is good.



நுணங்கிய கேள்வியர் அல்லார் வணங்கிய

வாயினர் ஆதல் அரிது.


ThuNangkiya kaeLviyar allaar vaNanggiya

Vaayinar aadhal aridhu.


Sans words of the wise

Heard and followed, modesty

Eludes, cuts to size!


Those who are not equipped with the wealth of knowledge acquired through listening, they cannot speak with humility and modesty.


செவியின் சுவையுணரா வாயுணர்வின் மாக்கள்

அவியினும்என் வாழினும்  என்?


Seviyin suvaiyuNaraa vaayuNarvin maakkaL

Aviyinumen vaazinum en?


One who has no taste

For ears, but has for tongue

His life is a waste!


Those who do not find taste in the wise words of the noble, and find taste only in the food they take whether they are dead or alive it makes no difference.



  1. R VENUGOPAL says:

    It is highly gratifying that Mr NVS is spreading the great pearls of Thiruvalluvar among the Non- Tamil people too by his translation. May his service continue for ever.

  2. H.K. Chaudhary. says:

    excellent translation for one who does not understand Tamil. The importance of good listening comes through the couplets clearly. After reading the comments the translation becomes more understandable. It is a great introduction to the renowned poet. looking forward to more such translations from sh. Subbaraman.

  3. திரு சுப்பராமன் அவர்களின் திருக்குறள் மொழிபெயற்பு அருமை, எளிமை. உங்களின் தமிழ்த்தொண்டிற்கு தலைவணங்கி வாழ்த்துகிறேன். இரா.ஆறுமுகம், மதுரை.

  4. N V Subbaraman says:

    Thanks Venugopal.

  5. Elizabeth Kurian "Mona" says:

    The inspiring words of Thiruvallavur- so simple yet so profound and universal is reaching readers across the world thanks to the translations and blogs of Mr.NVS. All best wishes in this noble labour of love.

  6. I wholeheartedly apriciate Thiru N.V.Subbaraman Sir, for his noble service to Tamil by his translation of Thirukkural. It is brief, simple and with meaningful. May his service continue. R.Arumugam, Madurai

  7. A direct, simple and lucid work on a subject not handled frequently. Bala

  8. N V Subbaraman says:

    Thanks for the responses of HK choudhary, Elezabeth Mona,R. Arumugam, Bala.
    In Indian Periodical you will find 4 parts so far. Thirukkural parts 39, 40, 41,and 42 அதிகாரங்கள். -பொருட்பால். With the support of Sri Sidharth Sehgal, Editor of Indian Periodical, and the God’s grace I hope to complete all the 108 parts (39 to 108) week by week. 38 parts of VIRTUE you can read in my ENVIUS THOUGHTS in
    Thanks again for your inspiring responses.

  9. O K R Sivagnanam says:

    Importance of listening to the wise and the noble well brought out by Shri.NVS as found in Thirukkural!
    It’s a great virtue by itself, and make one humble and modest.
    Even illiterates stand to gain through the words of wisdom sprinkled by the wise.
    One becomes learned and glorious ,and falters not among the foolish.
    Listening is so important that food for thought takes precedence to food for the stomach.
    Our ears and hearing faculty lose their value if we are not true listeners.
    As listening is capable of being a rescuer to face problems and challenges, listening is an attribute well followed in our own interest.

    The translation by Shri.NVS caters well to the needs of those not well versed in Tamil.
    May his literary service benefit the humanity!

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