Sunday, February 06, 2005

Maxim # 24: இயல்பலா தனசெயேல் -- Never perform deeds that are opposed to Natural Law.

ஆத்திச்சூடி # 24: யல்பலா தனசெயேல் (iyal-bu alAA-dha-na se-yEl)

Translation: Never perform deeds that are opposed to Natural Law.

Rumination: This maxim reflects the zeitgeist of Auvaiyar's times. My respect for Hinduism is very profound for its celebration of nature. Our ancestors were people who adored and lived in accordance with nature. Naturally Auvaiyar stresses the need for one to not be an iconoclast to keep burying the very foundations of nature. True, all tradition need not be universal truth and every tradition craves for reformation, which always comes in the form of a revolution. Caste is one such evil that prevailed and still prevails for centuries. Even the Christian world, which had treated slavery to be natural for aeons, nixed it out of their annals as an effete, unnatural blemish degrading the dignity of mankind, in the modern times. This maxim has to be split as follows to make sense out of it: "இயல்பு" means "natural," "அலாதன," means "that which is apart," and "செயேல்" means "never do." Therefore, it is literally translated as "never do things that are against nature." Take the example of Leo Tolstoy who considered military might as inherently flawed against Natural Law. Or consider Bapu Mahatma Gandhi, who took to Satyagraha in order to protest the British laws that were inherently flawed and stacked against Natural Law. These are great men who challenged ordinary men and women to question their consciences whenever they had to subscribe to man-made law that was intrinsically opposed to natural law. However, these are days where vulgar activism makes a mockery of the very concept of Satyagraha, non-violence, and non-cooperation. It is against these tendencies that Auvaiyar gives this caution: never do activistic foofaraws just so you get publicity to elevate yourself to a celebrity status. In other words, don't be flamboyantly chimerical. Just be natural. I mean, your own natural self.

"It is so far from being natural for a man and woman to live in a state of marriage, that we find all the motives which they have for remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilized society imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to keep them together." -- James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), 31 March 1772. (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 6th Ed.)

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