Tirukkural – In praise of rain

Tiruvalluvar – the composer of the Tirukkural

துப்பார்க்குத் துப்பாய துப்பாக்கித் துப்பார்க்குத்
துப்பாய தூஉம் மழை. 

Thuppaarkkuth Thuppaaya Thuppaakkith Thuppaarkkuth
Thuppaaya Thooum Mazhai (12)

All food is produced because of rain, which itself is food again.

आहारापेक्षलोकस्य भोज्यं धान्यादिकं बहु ।
उत्पाथ पेयतामेति स्वयं वर्षे जलात्मना ॥ (१२)

आहारी को अति रुचिर‍, अन्नरूप आहार ।
वृष्ति सृष्टि कर फिर स्वयं, बनती है आहार ॥ (१२)

ಉಣ್ಣುವವರಿಗೆ ತಕ್ಕ ಉಣಿಸನ್ನು ಬೆಳೆಯೆಲು ನೆರವಾಗುವುದು ಮಳೆ ; ನೀರಡಿಕೆಯಿಂದ ಬಳಲಿದವರಿಗೆ ತಾನೇ ಉಣಿಸಾಗುವುದು ಮಳೆ. (೧೨)

Den Essenden lässt der Regen Nahrung wachsen und ist ihnen Wasser zugleich.

நீர்இன்று அமையாது உலகெனின் யார்யார்க்கும்
வான்இன்று அமையாது ஒழுக்கு. 

Neerindru Amaiyaadhu Ulakenin Yaaryaarkkum
Vaanindru Amaiyaadhu Ozhukku (20)

Even as life on earth cannot sustain without water, virtue too depends ultimately on rain..

जलाभावे लोकयात्रा सर्वेषामेव देहिनाम् ।
न स्यात्; वर्ष विना नैतत्; सदाचारादिकं तथा ॥ (२०)

नीर बिना भूलोक का, ज्यों न चले व्यापार ।
कभी किसी में नहिं टिके, वर्षा बिन आचार ॥ (२०)

ನೀರಿನಿಂದಲೇ ಲೋಕಾಚಾರ ಎಲ್ಲ; ಮಳೆ ಬಾರದಿದ್ದರೆ, ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಆಚಾರ ನಡವಳಿಕೆಗಳೂ ನೆಲೆಯಾಗಿ ನಿಲ್ಲುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. (೨೦)

Ohne Wasser kann die Welt nicht überleben – ohne Regen kann keiner ein rechtschaffenes Leben führen.

The chapter on rain follows the chapter on God. Water sustains life as we know it – without water, life would cease to exist. All holy scriptures speak of the importance of water in our lives, something that we take for granted in many parts of the world. We are blessed if we have enough water for our daily needs, but the tendency for wastefulness has led to water becoming a scarce commodity in some regions. Only when you lack access to water, will you know how critical it is for survival.

And so, the rains are worshipped, for anything that is worshipped, is considered sacred, and if we consider anything sacred, then we are very careful about how we treat it. Our perspective changes. A photo is a piece of paper, but a photo of someone we love is sacred to us. A statue may be a piece of metal, but if it takes the shape of a deity, we pray to it.

Tiruvalluvar speaks of the importance of rain in the wonderfully worded couplet no. 12. We are able to grow food because of rain, and rain itself is food, because it satisfies our thirst in the form of water. The word ‘thupu‘ is used five times in succession, each meaning something different. Thuppaarkkuth – for those who eat, Thuppaaya – good food, Thuppaakkith – raises as food, Thuppaarkkuth – for those who have food
Thuppaaya Thooum – it becomes food itself.

Tiruvalluvar goes on to say that life doesn’t sustain without water, and nor does virtue, or virtuous living. The wealth of a nation in those times was closely linked to agriculture, and this kural refers to rain being a critical factor in the prosperity of a region. It is still relevant in the 21st century – thinkers have stressed that the next major war will be fought for water.

The essence of these kurals is not in their praises about rain, it is in the awareness that they bring about in us. Conserve water, rainwater harvesting – recent years have shown how important these messages are.

It is only natural that the first landmark bill on rainwater harvesting was passed in Tamil Nadu – the land of the Tirukkural.

अन्नाद्भ‍वन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः ।
यज्ञा‍द्भ‍‍वति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भ‍वः ॥ १४ ॥

annād bhavanti bhūtāni parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ
yajñād bhavati parjanyo yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ

All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajña [sacrifice], and yajña is born of prescribed duties.

Srimad Bhagvad Gita 3.14