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Tamil treatise Thirukkural goes digital

By R Satyanarayana in Chennai
June 09, 2009 12:40 IST
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Thirukkural, the famous ancient Tamil treatise which embodies values that are ever relevant and unchanging, is now available in a digitised audio format. All 1,330 couplets, authored by sage-poet Thiruvalluvar about 2,000 years ago, can now be played in audio form along with commentary on comprehensive interpretation using an electronic gadget resembling a DVD player, thanks to an initiative by a Chennai-based woman entrepreneur.

The recording of the couplets has been loaded on a micro chip in the gadget and formated in a manner so as to help a user choose any particular verse and listen to it, Mutharasi Ravi, the brain behind the initiative, told PTI in Chennai. "The couplets have been sung by Sirkazhi G Sivachidambaram, son of renowned late Tamil vocalist Sirkazhi Govindarajan while the commentary is narrated by Tamil scholar Saradha Nambiaruran," she said.

Ravi, who was inspired to develop the gadget by the digital version of the Bible, said interpretations authored by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi had been used for the commentary. The Tamil classic, which has been accepted as a universal code of life, earning the sobriquet "Ulaga podumarai" (the common knowledge for world), is a work on philosophy and life in general.

Thirukkural is organised in three major heads -- aram (virtue), porul (realities of life) and inbam (pleasure) -- with 133 chapters comprising ten couplets each. "I got special permission from the CM to use his writings," Ravi said. 133 ragas were used to render the couplets and the technical support was provided by a city-based software firm. Talking about the development of the gadget, she said "Since the duration of the couplets and the explanation came to about 9.5 hours, we found it difficult to load that in the chip."

Explaining the functions of the device, Ravi said it can work in both 230 v and 110 v AC supply. It can play the couplets in order or allow the user to select a particular chapter or a particular couplet, she said. Currently seven to ten such devices were being manufactured at a unit owned by her family in Chennai. She said she wanted to install the digital device in all schools so that the younger generation could learn the Thirukkural easily. "If the state government encourages, the device can be installed in all schools."

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R Satyanarayana in Chennai
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