ahome.gif (2842 bytes)

atkual.gif (3174 bytes)

atamil.gif (2974 bytes)

ahotlinks.gif (3361 bytes)

ahumor.gif (2910 bytes)

1 .An attempt is made in this article to analyze and list a few of the philosophic concepts that prevailed among the ancient Tamils. It is gratifying that the Tamils were aware of and conversant with philosophic concepts from the ancient phase of their cultural history. EttutokaiPattuppaattu,Tirukkural andCilappatikaaram contain the information about the concepts and ideals that were commonly accepted and adhered to by ancient Tamils. The scope of the article is limited: it deals only with a few of the concepts and hence it is not a comprehensive analysis.

2.In our analysis of the philosophic concepts and motifs, we have to remember the fact, that the ancient Tamils were practical in their outlook. Theoretical speculations seem to have had no place in their everyday life. As such, their philosophic concepts also developed in accordance with their mode of life. They varied from materialism to transmigration and the karma theory. 

3.Righteousness or a Ram was the basis of their activities. Hospitality and generosity were considered as the guidelines of their daily life. Their ideal was righteousness was stressed not. Only in leading a sumptuous life, but also in auguring the means to lead such a life

It is assured that one should lead a righteous life, but at the same time he should restrain himself from approaching others for wealth. He should earn wealth by his own efforts. In other words, self-respect and self-reliance should be observed by all. The gist of this Akamverse is that the means employed to achieve noble ends should also be noble. The verses of the paalai region contain information to distant lands in search of fortune. But in each case, stress was made on righteousness. Righteousness was stressed not only in the sphere of social activities, but also in the sphere of political activities like administration, management of war and conduct of peace. 

4.The ancient Tamils were generous and hospitable. They entertained guests and gift-seekers without hesitation. The gift-seekers also were not idle; and they received gifts from their patrons, only after making them happy and gay by their skill in the arts of music and dance.

So much so, it can be concluded that the materialistic motif of ancient Tamils was based on their determination to lead a righteous life. 

5.The ancient Tamils had belief in transmigration of soul or metempsychosis. This concept was in vogue among most of the ancient peoples. The Greeks believed in this concept and Plato mentions this in his “Republic”. Most of the religious orders also believed in this concept and considers that Buddha had many births before his avatar as the Buddha. Jainism also accepts this concept .The ancient Tamils did believe in transmigration of the soul. Verses in Ettuttokai mention the life after death. If a belief about the life after death is to exist, then it should presuppose the transmigration of the soul from one body to another. So it can be inferred that ancient Tamils were aware of this doctrine.

In contrast to the doctrine of transmigration, nihilism also was in existence. Though there were people who believed in fate and destiny, there were some who considered that the future could never be predicted. Fate or uvl was considered as the force, which destined the life of persons. The incidents in the Epic of the Anklet are explained as examples to substantiate this view 

6.Transmigration and fate are metaphysical concepts that form the basis for the development of the theory of karma. This theory in scientific language is that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. A few verses in PuRanaanuuRu indicate that the nature of the life after death is determined by the deeds done in this world: those who did beneficial deeds could secure a place in heaven and those who did evil would enter hell.    

            Kaniyan PummkumRanara’sverse (192) in PuRanaanuuRu is a laudable piece, which can be used to explain the belief of the ancient Tamils in the theory of karma. He considers ‘all places are ours and all our kith and kins’. He continues, “ good and evil come, not caused by others; pain and relief are brought likewise, not by others’. He goes on to explain that happiness and sorrow, pain and relief, disease and death are determined by one’s destiny and not by others. Here we come across the doctrine of ‘pre-destination’. This is the keynote of the doctrine of karma theory.

       Tiruvalluvar puts it in simple and clear terms when he says,

      perumaikku meenaic ciRumaikkum tattam

     Karumamee kattatalaik kal’                                           KuRal: 505       

The touch-stonefor evaluating the good and evil aspects in a person is his own activities and nothing else. Here we find the gist of the doctronine of karma, in simple but effective terms. 

7. In the foregoing paragraphs, an attempt is made to show that the ancient Tamils were conversant with some philosphic concepts, which are generally considered as Aryan and Buddhistic traditions. It is hopped that a comprehensive analysis of the early Tamil verses could throw more light on the subject and will help us to distinguish the Tamilian elements from the non-Tamilian ones. Such a study\y may help us to decide the connecting link between the two elements