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by Swami Sivananda

In Mylapore, Madras, there lived about two thousand years ago a born Siddha and born poet by the name of Valluvar, or, as he is more commonly known, Tiruvalluvar. He is regarded as an Avatara of Brahma. He married Vasuki and led the life of a householder to show people the way of leading a divine life, a life of purity and sanctity, while living in the world. All his wise sayings and teachings are now in book-form and is known as Tirukural.

These sayings and teachings are in couplets. Here are some of them:

Just as the alphabet ‘A’ is the beginning of all letters, so also God is the beginning for this universe.

Learn the Sastras completely and then act according to their injunctions.

The Anicha flower will fade by smelling but guests are more sensitive if the hosts turn their faces a bit.

Death is like sleeping in the burial ground, birth is like waking in the morning.

These couplets are 1330 in number. They contain the essence of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the six Darshanas. Tirukural is regarded as a universal Bible. It is another Gita, Koran or Zend Avesta.

Some aspirants repaired to Tiruvalluvar and enquired: “O sage, which Ashrama of life is better — Grihastha or Sannyasa?” The sage did not give any answer. He simply kept quiet. He wanted to teach them the glory of Grihastha Ashrama by example. His wife was an ideal, chaste and devoted lady who would never disobey his orders, but would implicitly carry them out. Once Tiruvalluvar was taking cold rice in the morning. He said to her: “O Vasuki, the rice is very hot, bring a fan to cool it.” She was at the time drawing water from the well when he called her. She at once left the rope and ran to him with a fan to cool down the rice. She did not say to her husband: “How can cool rice be hot? Why do you want a fan now?” She simply obeyed his commands. The vessel that contained water was hanging half way in the well fearful of her Pativrata Dharma Sakti. The aspirants noticed this strange phenomenon and the noble conduct of Vasuki, and were struck with amazement.

On another occasion, Valluvar called his wife at 1 p.m. and said: “Bring a lamp immediately, O Vasuki. I am stitching a piece of cloth. I cannot see the eye of the needle. I cannot pass the thread properly.” She did not say: “It is broad daylight now. Why do you want a lamp? You can see the needle properly.” But she implicitly obeyed his word. The aspirants were much inspired by the ideal life of sage Tiruvalluvar and the exalted conduct of his wife. They did not speak a word to the saint. They quietly left the place with profound satisfaction. They were deeply impressed by the practical and exemplary life led by the sage and his wife. They learnt a lesson that the life of an ideal householder is in no way inferior to that of an ideal Sannyasin who is treading the path of Nivritti and austerity in the Himalayan caves, and that each is great in his own place.

Dear reader! Can you find a single devoted wife like Vasuki in these days of modern civilisation and scientific advancement? If the husbands of the present-day behave like Tiruvalluvar, the wives will say: “My husband has become senseless. He wants to fan the rice when it is cold. He wants a light when there is broad daylight.” The wives will rebuke their husbands and fight with them. They will seek separation.

That house wherein the wife serves the husband with sincere devotion and observes Pativrata Dharma, is heaven on earth. That house wherein the wife fights with the husband and disobeys his orders, is a veritable hell on earth. Ladies who practise Pativrata Dharma need not go to temples. They need not practise any Vrata or penance. Service of husband becomes worship. They can realise God through service of their husbands. Husbands also should be ideal persons with noble qualities. Husbands are the Gurus for their wives. Wives need not get any initiation from any Acharya. Glory to such exalted ladies who practise Pativrata Dharma!