The Mother Divine
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By Thiruvalluvar

Even someone, who is a sinner and does not speak of virtue,
will benefit from never slandering anyone in his absence.

One, who does good deeds much beyond what books on virtue prescribe,
will benefit more from never backbiting anyone.

Do not slander another in his absence, even if that person
does not speak virtuously and has committed heinous deeds.

To wear a deceitful smile in one’s presence but to slander him in his absence slaughtering his
reputation, is more harmful than refuting all that is virtuous and doing unrighteous deeds.

It is better to die than to live by backbiting and then being hypocritical; so, dying,
may yield the benefits spoken of by moral scriptures.

It is passable to speak impolitely to someone face to face,
but never utter an imprudent word behind the back.
One, who extols righteousness but is insincere at heart,
is exposed when he is devious enough to backbite.

One who smears another behind his back, opens himself up
to similar smear when he falters.

Through slander behind the back, one who gets estranged from friends,
is incapable of indulging in pleasant talk and gaining friends.

If one is known to habitually sully his friends for their faults,
what damage would he do unto others?

Out of its commitment to its virtue of patience, the earth tolerates
the presence of a slanderer on it.

If one looks at his faults in the same light as others’ faults,
will any harm befall the lingering human lives?


Those who make vain discourses, detested by many wise,
will be disparaged by all.

It is more harmful to speak vain words in front of many,
than to do contemptible deeds to your friends.

One’s gracelessness is exposed by
his elaborate hollow speeches.

Vain words spoken without dignity to a group, are
ungainly, unrighteous and yield no gains.

Reputation and respect will be lost,
when an affable person speaks worthless words.

Call him not a man, one who speaks
vain words; he is a scum.

A noble scholar may speak ungraciously, if he has to;
but he must refrain from speaking vain words.

The wise, who seek to understand deeper significance of things,
will not utter words with no substantial worth.

Those who are flawlessly wise, and have overcome all delusion,
will desist from speaking worthless words, even unconsciously.

This modern rendering is by Kannan. A small farmer, founder of Seer7 Timeless Solutions (, a doting father, a self-professed Tamil poet, bilingual blogger, translator, currently obsessed with translating and popularizing, Thirukkural.