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. Its translation and comments are done by N V Subbaraman who lives in Chennai.

 

Chapter 59

Espionage

அதிகாரம் 59.

ஒற்றாடல்

(ஒற்றர்களின் திறமை)

 

                                                                              ~*~

 

Original

ஒற்றும் உரைசான்ற நூலும் இவைஇரண்டும்

தெற்றென்க மன்னவன் கண்.

Pronunciation

Otrum uraisaanra noolum ivaiiraNdum

Thetrenga mannavan kaN.

Translation

A king’s eyes are two

The code of laws is one sure

And careful spies next.

Comment

The secrets obtained from official spies and the advices from the noble learned are deemed as two eyes of the king/ruler.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

எல்லார்க்கும் எல்லாம் நிகழ்பவை எஞ்ஞான்றும்

அனைவரையும் ஆராய்வது ஒற்று.

Pronunciation

Ellaarkkum ellaam nigazhbavai enjnjaanrum

Anaivaraiyum aaraayvadhu otru.

Translation

All happen, always,

To all; the king should know all

In detail from spies.

Comment

It is the duty of the king/ruler to immediately know what is happening around through his spies.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

ஒற்றினான் ஒற்றிப் பொருள்தெரியா மன்னவன்

கொற்றம் கொளக்கிடந்தது இல்.

Pronunciation

Otrinaan otrip poruLtheriyaa mannavan

Kotram koLakkidandhadhu il.

Translation

The king who cares not

For the wise remarks of spies

Sure conquests are not.

Comment

There are no means to achieve anything unless the king/ruler is able to get all the details of happenings around through his spies, analyze the rights and wrongs, good and bad and take remedial actions wherever called for.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

வினைசெய்வார் தன்சுற்றம் வேண்டாதார் என்றாங்கு

அனைவரையும் ஆராய்வது ஒற்று.

Pronunciation

Vinaiseyvaar thansutram vaeNdaadhaar endraangu

Anaivaraiyum aaraayvadhu otru.

Translation

He who watches kings

Officers, kinsmen and foes

True  are worthy spies

Comment

Genuine spy is the one who observes all the working people, king’s relatives and enemies, analyzes the information collected and reports to the king/ruler correctly.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

கடாஅ உருவொடு கண்அஞ்சாது யாண்டும்

உகாஅமை வல்லதே ஒற்று.

Pronunciation

Kadaauruvodu kaN anjaadhu yaaNdum

Ugaamai valladhae otru.

Translation

They indeed are spies

Fearless gaze, suspect less guys

Guarding secrets nice.

Comment

Indeed a competent spy is the one, who never gives raise to doubt him on the basis of his appearance, without any fear and never discloses anything in his mind to others under any circumstances.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

 

துறந்தார் படிவத்தார் ஆகி இறந்துஆராய்ந்து

என்செயினும் சோர்வுஇலது ஒற்று.

Pronunciation

Thurandhaar padivaththaar agi irandhu aaraayndhu

Enseyinum soarvu iladhu otru.

Translation

Guised as monks he gets

Secrets- analyze, report

Betray not under threats.

Comment

He indeed is the competent spy who under any guise is able to go anywhere at any time where others cannot enter and overcomes whatever hurdles he comes across bravely and wisely and reports to the king/ruler.

 

                                                                              ~*~

 

Original

மறைந்தவை கேட்கவற்று ஆகி அறிந்தவை

ஐயப்பாடு இல்லதே ஒற்று.

Pronunciation

Maraindhavai kaetkavatru agi arindhavai

Aiyappaadu illadhae otru.

Translation

Spy draws out secrets

From others beyond a doubt

He clears his facts.

Comment

He indeed is a competent spy who gathers all secrets from all sources, analyzes and presents the facts bereft of any doubts.

 

                                                                              ~*~

 

Original

ஒற்றுஒற்றித் தந்த பொருளையும் மற்றுமோர்

ஒற்றினால் ஒற்றிக் கொளல்.

Pronunciation

Otruotrith thandha poruLaiyum matrumoar

Otrinaal otrik koLal.

Translation

The report given

By one should be verified

By another spy.

Comment

It is right that the findings of one spy should be verified by another now and then.

 

                                                                              ~*~

 

Original

ஒற்றுஒற்று உணராமை ஆள்க; உடன்மூவர்

சொல்தொக்க தேறப் படும்.

Pronunciation

Otruotru uNaraamai aaLka udan moovar

Solthokka thaerap padum.

Translation

Engage spy alone

With three of them get confirmed

To accept and act on it.

Comment

Engage three spies independently; find out how much are in agreement and then accept and act.

 

                                                                              ~*~

Original

சிறப்புஅறிய ஒற்றின்கண் செய்யற்க; செய்யின்

புறப்படுத்தான் ஆகும் மறை.

Pronunciation

Sirappu ariya otrinkaN seyyarka; seyyin

Purappaduththaan aakum marai.

Translation

Award not the spy

Openly as it would divulge

And the secrets heard.

Comment

King should not honor and award the spies in open as it would lead to the divulgence of the secrets gathered.

4 Comments

  1. Thupakula ramamurthi says:

    Indeed great and practical the message of thirvallivar is. This we can apply to modern times also with equal ease. Today the media is like spies of kings of olden era. We have to get the information from various sources, check out them , analyse properly and with awareness formulate decisions.

  2. Interesting! Machiavelli must have learnt something from this philosophical text.

  3. O K R Sivagnanam says:

    What Thiruvalluvar wrote years ago on ESPIONAGE is applicabe today,and will be applicable tomorrow too!
    The presence of the learned around a ruler is a prerequisite to proper conduct of administration.
    The wisdom of the ruler lies not only in the appointment of a reliable spy to observe what’s happening around, analyze them objectively, and report correctly to him.
    He essentially needs the services of another spy or two to check the credibility of the original spy in maintaining the official secrets without revealing them to none!

  4. N V Subbaraman says:

    Thanks Ramamurthi, Hari and OKRS for your response.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *