Translation and notes by
Sri Chakravarti. Rajagopalachari
There is no great wealth one can acquire than Dharma and no misfortune greater than the forgetting of it.
Forgetting Dharma is failing to perform one’s duties according to Dharma.
[Note: Aram is the Tamil equivalent of the Sanskrit word Dharma, for which there is no single word- equivalent in English. Duty, virtue and other such words do not really cover the full import of either Aram or Dharma.]
Go as far as your strength and resources permit without swerving from the path of Dharma.
[Note: This is Tiru-Valluvar’s characteristic way of bringing everything down to the level of practicability without losing hold of the ideal.]
Keep the mind from evil thoughts. This is the whole of Dharma. The rest is only of the nature of sound and show.
The key to purity of action is purity of thought. The attainment of a mind free from evil thoughts is the aim of a religious life, and this is a silent process. External observances are sound and show.
[Note: The Tamil word Aakulam is sound and show.]
True religious life consists in the avoidance of four things: envy, the craving for pleasure, anger and harsh speech.
Do not say to yourself ‘Let me see about it later when I shall be better fitted.’ Live the true religious life now. It will be the one unfailing support when all else will disappear and become of no use.
Only the joy that comes from right conduct is true happiness. Other pleasures are really sources of pain and causes of shame.
Pleasure will soon become shame and pain, if the act that procured it was unrighteous. Right conduct is therefore not only right but also wise.