Thirukkural in Latin (Latina)

       Latin was the first European language into which the Kural was translated. Father C.J. Beschi of the Society of Jesus (1700-1742) translated the first two books of the Kural (Virtue and Wealth) and Reverend G.U. Pope edited this only manuscript found in the India Office Library, London and published it as ‘notes’ at the end of his famous English translation “The Sacred Kurral” in 1886. Thanks to Pope for doing so, for otherwise the manuscript would have been lost in the oblivion. There are at least two more translations of the Kural into Latin (either in full or in parts). Dr. Karl Graul in 1856 published the Kural in German and selected couplets in Latin. In 1865, an unknown author translated the Kural into Latin (Tiruvalluvar Kural Versione Lationa).

       Latin is a classical language of the ancient Rome and is no longer a spoken language. However, amongst linguists it enjoys the same status as Sanskrit in India. Italian, Spanish and Portuguese have evolved from Latin, but I am aware of only a translation in Italian language. The Kural must have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese as well.

       The translation presented here is that of Father Beschi Joseph, taken from G.U. Pope’s book “The Sacred Kurral of Tiruvalluva Nayanar”. My son N.V. Junaid took the responsibility of typesetting the entire translation. Any language that employs either Roman or Devnagiri script is ideed easy to handle.


No translation can reflect the true nature of the Kural. Added to this inherent difficulty is the attempt of some scholars to either read their own ideas into the Kural or deliberately misinterpret the message to make it conform to their preconceived notions. Father Beshi, whose translation has been presented here, contains many such mistranslations. V. Ramasamy writes: "Beschi is purposely distorting the message of the original when he renders பிறவாழி as ‘the sea of miserable life’ and the phrase பிறவிப்பெருங்கடல as ‘sea of this birth’ which has been translated by others as ‘the sea of many births’. Beschi means thus ‘those who swim the vast sea of miseries’. The concept of rebirth or many births for the same soul is contrary to Christian principle and belief". 


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Articles of special interest

An introduction to the translations of Tirukkural (in English)


An introduction to the Kural and its author (in English)


Pope, G.U. 1886. The Sacred Kurral of Tiruvalluva Nayanar. Asian Education Services, New Delhi. P iv.

Department of Tamil Development, 2000. திருக்குறள நூல்கள. Thirukkural Books. International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai. Pp 15

Ramasamy, V. 2001. On translating Tirukkural. International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai. Pp 33.