I REFER to the column by Datuk Johan Jaaffar, "Classical Tamil literature can teach us a thing or two" (NST, Nov 17).
Many of the present third and fourth generation Tamils, not only in Malaysia but even in Tamil Nadu, do not know that such excellent ancient Tamil literature exists. I understand that it is the non-Tamils, such as Americans, Europeans and even the mainland Chinese, who marvel at the Tirukkural's unique verses and content.
The 1,330 couplets have seven words (four in the first line and three in the second) respectively in rhyme.
The couplets are universal in nature, that is, they are meant for the wellbeing of mankind as a whole and touch on all matters, from the art of tilling a barren land to ruling a country.
Simplicity and moderation in all of mankind's dealings are the cornerstone of the Tirukkural's teaching.
I am sure Johan's piece will encourage many to look for the translations which are currently available only in Indian bookshops.
It should be made available in all bookstores, including those located in shopping complexes.
Kudos to Johan, a scholar who is a non-Tamil, for opening the eyes of uninformed Tamils to their classical heritage and others who would benefit from a reading of the Tirukkural.
R. Mahendra Raj, Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 20 November 2012