Avvaiyar’s pearls of wisdom - 7
Moothurai – 7
இல்லாள் அகத்திருக்க இல்லாதது ஒன்றில்லை
இல்லாளும் இல்லாளே ஆமாயின் - இல்லாள்
வலிகிடந்த மாற்றம் உரைக்குமேல் அவ்வில்
புலிகிடந்த தூறாய் விடும். 21
iLLAL agaththirukka illAthathu ondrillai
illALum illALE AmAyin – illAL
valikidantha mAttram uraikku mEl avvil
pulikidantha thUrAy vidum 21
A house which has a (good natured) wife, lacks nothing. But if the house has no woman (a good wife) or if she speaks harsh words (ill-tempered), then the house is similar to the shrubs and bushes where a tiger resides.
A house becomes a good home because of home-makers and the greatest contribution comes from a good wife. Such a house might not have all the amenities and the riches but is said to have everything that a house should have. An ill-mannered woman will have a telling bad effect on the nature and character of people in the house. The house will then harbour unwelcome, animalistic ambience.
Our scriptures reflect similar thoughts…
When a (good) wife sits under a tree, it becomes the good home for the husband. But without such a wife, even a palace becomes a forest.
A discussion may turn into a debate considering the modern outlook on feminine freedom, gender equality, etc., but the underlined truth of these words cannot be neutralised.
One should not view only the quantitative responsibilities of a man and woman in raising a family. One should look at whose contributions will have a greater effect. In home making and rearing children, a wife has a stronger effect in nurturing values. The psychological reason for this could be due to the inherent nature of woman. A woman usually is more conscious of the security/safety of her home. We can take this idea for discussion at a later point of time.
A bad wife may lead one to destruction. This is well illustrated by the famous Shakespearean story of ‘Macbeth’.
Duncan is the King of Scotland and for bravery in a battle, he gives the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth (one of his generals). Macbeth meets three witches who prophesy that he shall become the King of Scotland. The seeds of treachery are planted in his mind.
When he returns, his ideas to kill the King are strengthened by his wife, Lady Macbeth.
When the King plans a visit to Macbeth’s home, she invokes supernatural powers to get rid of her feminine softness and schemes to kill him. She plans the details of the killing. She taunts Macbeth to kill Duncan while he is asleep. She plans to create evidence that will shift the crime on to the bodyguards, after getting them drunk.
While Macbeth completes the killing, she waits and arranges the rest of the evidence. Macbeth, in fact, kills the guards, acting in a fit of rage. He is then crowned the King. But the peace in his life is lost forever. Yet, intoxicated with power, he plans more killings and murders his confederates. Lady Macbeth, too, suffers from guilt and dies almost insane. Macbeth has now gone in too far and his end comes after a lot of bloodshed.
A brave warrior is led to ruin by evil designs cast and given shape by his spouse.
(The actual history of Macbeth tells a very different story. Here, the popular Shakespearean version is depicted).
Our own history and legends have many stories that may be examples of how a woman can save or destroy a family. We all might know of living examples of women who rear families, single-handed. The spirit of a woman can make or break the fabric of a family.
எழுதியவா றேகாண இரங்கு மடநெஞ்சே
கருதியவா றாமே கருமம் - கருதிப்போய்க்
கற்பகத்தைச் சேர்ந்தார்க்குக் காஞ்சிரங்காய் ஈந்ததேல்
முற்பவத்தில் செய்த வினை. 22
ezhuthiyavArE kANa irangu madanenjE
karuthiyavArAmE karumam – karudhippOy
karpagaththai chErndhArkku kAnjirangAy InthathEl
murpavaththil saidha vinai 22
O foolish, despondent heart! One approaches the karpaga tree (kalpataru, karpaga vriksham: a tree which fulfils one’s wishes) to beget some good. But if the tree gives a bitter, raw fruit, it is because of the actions of the previous birth. So be it understood that fruits of one’s actions are in accordance with what destiny has written.
While juxtaposing the context of destiny with the verses, these lines should have appeared earlier. But in the Moothurai writings, the poetess has chosen to repeat the idea of destiny here. The poetess is definite in her words that destiny decides the course of one’s life and that in turn depends on one’s past deeds. Probably, AvvaiyAr tries to pacify a man who may lament about his spouse... that it is destiny that has given him such a wife and he should resign himself to that fate! But in seriousness, we may assume that man has freedom to act according to his will. The fruits of actions might not be to his expectations.
One strong idea emerges from here: The karmic theory and similar ideas are repeatedly advocated by AvvaiyAr. Further discussions will be redundant.
Let us move away from the destiny dialogues and ponder over other damsels who have defied destiny… our mothers, sisters and other strong-willed women who are worthy of this spirit…
Revised from earlier version published in ‘Nandini Voice for the Deprived’