Patient like the earth

The earth supports every form of life, whether plant, animal or human, and sustains all life, and so it becomes a point of comparison for those who want to speak about the virtues of patience and forbearance. A patient man is compared to Goddess Earth, said Malayaman, in a discourse.

Thiruvalluvar says in verse 151 that to quietly bear criticism is to be like the earth. We dig the earth with sharp instruments. But does the earth retaliate? No, she continues to support us. Thiruvalluvar says a person who is charitable towards those who hurt him with their words is like the earth, which supports even those who hurt her. A commonly heard saying in Tamil is that a person who uselessly whiles away his time is a burden to the earth.

Thiruvalluvar also talks about those who burden the earth by their mere presence, in verse 570. Here, he talks about a ruthless ruler and his unscrupulous, uneducated ministers. Different commentators have interpreted this verse differently. Parimelazhagar says the uneducated ministers who advise the ruler are a burden to the earth. Another commentator, Pari Perumal, has a different take. He says the ruler who has chosen uneducated ministers to advise him is the one who burdens the earth.

Another commentator, called Paridhiyar, gives a detailed explanation of this verse. It is said that the earth has eight mountains and seven oceans. These are not burdensome to the earth. But the king who chooses unintelligent minsters is burdensome to the earth. In verse 572, Thiruvalluvar says that those without sympathy towards others are a burden to the earth. In verse 1003, Thiruvalluvar says that those who are keen to amass wealth, but are not interested in acquiring fame, are a burden to the earth.