Significance of Numbers in Thirukural by great legend Thiruvalluvar.

This article has focussed on the greatness of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil Poet and main focus on the basis of significance of numbers in his literature Thirukkural. The number theory and mathematics scientifically proven/discovered later has a place in this literature beyond imagination in those years and hence an attempt.

In Tamil, the great poet Thiruvalluvar has a significant place in literature as he is the author of the great Thirukkural which is also called Ulaga Podhu Marai(universal veda) as Marai is an equivalent word of Vedha in Tamil.

The Thirukkural has a credit of many translation in different languages next to Bible, Quran but religious versions claims Gita of India has maximum translations next to Bible and Tao Te Ching of China has maximum translations next to Bible and Gita. But these clearly proved that it has more translations in many languages as well as many times in same language by different authors. Also there are commentaries to this work has been done by many and popular among them is Parimelagar in Tamil. And a recent one if released by son of V.O.Chidambaranar, independence activist in 2008. The first translated version in English is by GU Pope in 1886 which had taken Thirukkural to western world.

Since the poet is from Tamil Nadu, he and his work Thirukkural has been honoured in Tamil Nadu many ways. 1. Valluvar Kottam has been built in Chennai. 2. Statue has been erected in Kanniyakumari in the midst of water. 3. State government transport vehicles will have a display with one Thirukural on it. Recently, the honour has been extended by Central Government by taking it into the School with a start of competition and there may be introduction of the same in the syllabus. Already the honours are there in other lands like, in France where in a Railway station, the French version of Thirukural has been displayed in a train. Also statue at UK in University of London Campus and Statue in the neighbourhood state Karnataka in Bangalore are some more honours to specify.

As there are many controversies with his birth details like when he has born and mostly declared as between 1st A.D and 3rd A.D. and also place of birth between Chennai and Kanyakumari in TN. Also claims of Shaivites and Bhuddists of their own has proved about the controversy of the great poet with his biography details but his Thirukkural has place in Universe. To add, recent controversies in Tamil Nadu that from the year 1973 on the basis of Scholars met in 1921 and subsequent happenings in 1954, Thai 2 (that is it may be January 15 or 16, next day of Makara Sankaranthi) as a birth date and from that year onwards, Tamil Nadu has another Calendar with Thiruvalluvar Year, accounting 31 years before Christ. But before this, his birth day was celebrated according to the tradition of star celebration on Vaikashi Anusham every year. There are some more work in Tamil literature in later years and people have two versions, it may be from the same author or from different author with same name.

Significance of Numbers in Thirukkural

The ancient work of Tamil literature has 4 divisions called, Padhinen Mel Kanakku (transliteration in English is 18 upper sums inclusive of two (Patthu Pattu(transliteration in English is 10 songs+ ettu Thogai(transliteration in English 8 groups), Pathinen Keel Kanakku(transliteration in English is 18 lower sums), Imperumkappiyangal(transliteration in English is 5 bigger epics), Imsirukappiyangal (transliteration in English is 5 smaller epics) where every division has a significance with numbers, first and second being 18 and third and fourth being 5 and Thirukkural has been accommodated in the second Pathinen Keel Kanakku.

The celebrating thing in Kural is Rhythm and it has structured in the format of Venba and this is the only one in the entire Tamil Literature and also written as couplet(two lines). In any other translation, the rhythm is absent except one by P.S. Sundaram, he has maintained the same tempo of original rhyme in many places of his transliterated version.

I wanted to portray this article on the basis of numbers presents in Thirukural, in the olden days itself.

To start with, he himself portrays the mathematics in his Kural,

Ennenba enai ezhuthenba ivirandum
Kanenba Vazhum uyirku.


Mathematics and Literature are the two eyes for human beings and there are different places where the numbers has significance in his literature Thirukural.

English transliteration as given by scholars is

Men who learning gain have eyes, men say;
Blockheads' faces pairs of sores display

Also one commentary proves another significance to number 7 with his vast ocean of knowledge in his work as

Kadukaith thulaiththu Ezh kadalaip puguththi
KuRukath thariththa kuRal


Contemporary poet have compared each couplet to a tiny mustard seed which has seven seas of knowledge in it. The book is in the form of couplets follows venba(metric) pattern.

Structure of couplets

The couplets has seven cirs(which is a single or combination of tamil word which may be seen from the title as Thirukural=Thiru+kural where Thiru is amalgamated with the word kural), with four in the first line and three in the second line . It contains 133 chapters, which is a product of 7 and 19 and each chapter contains 10 couplets with a total of 1330 couplets. Again the number 1330 is equal to 7 x 19 x 10.

The whole 1330 is divided by 3 sections(which is called 'muppal' in tamil, which is called trvarga in Sanskrit) naming arathupaal (righteousness), porutpaal (wealth), kamathupaal (love). These are further divided into subdivisions called 'Iyal' in tamil and there are 7 iyals after Kadavul Valthu (for God). Each Iyal is further subdivided into smaller divisions called 'Adhikarangal'. Hence, there are 7 iyals, 133 Adhikarams and 10 couplets in each Adhikaram amounting to 1330 couplets. We can the significance of 7 his work, that is 133 being (1+3+3=7), 1330 being (1+3+3+0).

There are 40 couplets on God which is inclusive of nature like rain. Virtue and ascetics.

200 couplets on domestic virtue,140 couplets on grace, 100 couplets on Ministers,220 couplets on administration, 250 couplets on love and passion, 130 couplets on moral values in all the three sections together and if we take three sections separately we have 380 couplets in arathupaal( righteousness/law), 700 couplets in porutpaal (wealth/politics), and 250 couplets in kamathupaal (desire/love).

Numbers found in the couplets

  • 1 is in the couplet 1196 along with 2

  • 2 is in couplets 581, 662,1091

  • 3 is in 589,684,941,952

  • 4 in 35th couplet and 513

  • 5 in 25, 343, 675, 939, 983

  • 6 in 560th couplet

  • 7 in 62, 107, 398, 835, 1269

  • 8 in 9th couplet

  • 10 in 450th couplet

The number crore too available in some of the couplets 816,954,1005 and 1061, Ten crore is in 817 and seventy crore is in 639.

Other numeric names in Thirukkural

The thirukkural which has a measure height in the couplet

Vellathanaya malar neetam maandhartham
Ullathanaya vuyarvu


The height of the stem is determined by the water level.
Likewise attitude makes one`s altitude.

English transliteration as given by scholars is

With rising flood the rising lotus flower its stem unwinds;
The dignity of men is measured by their minds

Thus the great literature Thirukkural can be portrayed as a significance of numbers too and here is a small attempt to pay a tribute. We can also say every Adhikaram(each of 10 couplets) and each couplet has 7 cirs which may be represented as 7 x 10 metric feet also, and thus all 1330 couplets has 9310 metric feet again with a significance of 7 x 7 x 19 x 10.

The significance of 7 is present almost in his work and the number of Adhikarams 133 which is 7 x 19 which may be compared with the same miracle of 7 along with 19 shown in Bible and quran which are always portrays as 19 x 7 as a combination of two prime numbers.

The same 133 is arrived in his amalgamated name Thiruvalluvar (Thiru+valluvar), Thiru being a word equivalent of Shri for respect in Sanskrit, and numerical equivalent for this name Thiruvalluvar according to the numerical values assigned to Tamil alphabet being (24(Thi)+28(ru)+26(va)+0(l)+32(lu)+26(va)+0(r)=133). The numerical value chart is presented at the bottom.


He is son of Adhi(Mother) and Bhagavan(Father) and has a wife (Vasuki) and he has given his tribute to his mother and father in his first couplet itself

Agara mudhala ezhuthellam aadhi
bhagavan mudhatrey ulagu


The first letter is agaram(A) which is the beginning of language and so it equates like this: one can not speak or write without this first letter, and similarly the sun god (Aadhi Bhagavan) plays an important role in the survival of life on the earth.

English transliteration given by scholars

A, as its first of letters, every speech maintains;
The "Primal Deity" is first through all the world's domains

There are number of stories for Vasuki (his wife) for her respect to Thiruvalluvar and one among them is very popular when he has ordered Vasuki to come while she was taking water from well left the coir thread as it is and the vessel has not fallen down shows her respect.



Guest Author: P.Thirumalaikolundus19 Apr 2022

Informative article. Different meaningful look. It makes me to think differently. Let me read and read again and will be back to you.

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