Avvaiyar (Tamil: ஔவையார்) was a Tamil poet who lived during the period of Kambar and Ottakoothar during the reign of the Chola dynasty in the twelfth century.[1] She is often imagined as an old and intelligent lady by Tamil people. Many poems and the Avvai Kural, comprising 310 kurals in 31 chapters, belong to this period. She is most widely known for her 'Aathichoodi', 'Kondrai Vendhan', 'Nalvazhi' and 'Moodhurai'.[2][3] The name Avvaiyar means a 'respectable good woman', hence a generic title; her personal name is not known.[4]


Avvaiyar was the court poet of the Chola monarch and was a contemporary of Kambar and Ottakkuttar.[5] She found great happiness in the life of small children. Her works, Ātticcūṭi and Konraiventhan, written for young children, are even now generally read and enjoyed by them.

Her two other works, Mooturai and Nalvali were written for older children. All the four works are didactic in character—they explain the basic wisdom that should govern mundane life.


The following quotes from Aathichoodi illustrate the simplicity of her style and profoundness of the messages:

Uyir Ezhuthu ஆத்திசூடி English translation
அறம் செய விரும்பு Intend to do right things
ஆறுவது சினம் Anger is momentary; do not take decisions during times of anger (in haste)
இயல்வது கரவேல் Help others based on your capacity
ஈவது விலக்கேல் Never stop aiding
உடையது விளம்பேல் Never boast possessions (wealth, skills, or knowledge)
ஊக்கமது கைவிடேல் Never lose hope or motivation
எண் எழுத்து இகழேல் Never degrade learning
ஏற்பது இகழ்ச்சி Begging is shameful
ஐயமிட்டு உண் Share what you eat
ஒப்புர வொழுகு Be virtuous
ஓதுவது ஒழியேல் Never stop learning or reading
ஒள ஒளவியம் பேசேல் Never gossip
அஃகஞ் சுருக்கேல் Never compromise in food grains
'anuvai thulaithezh kadalai pugatti Kuruga tharitha kural' Thirukkural is as powerful as the energy of the seven large oceans compressed into a divided atom.

"Thol Ulagil Nallaar Oruvar Ularael Avar Poruttu Ellarkum Peiyum Mazhai" – The rain falls on behalf of the virtuous, benefitting everyone in the world.

"Nandri Oruvarukku Seithakkal An Nandri Endru tharum kol ena vaenda nindru Thalara valar thengu Thaanunda Neerai Thalaiyaalae Thaan Tharuthalal" -Don't wait for a return benefit as to when a good deed done will pay back, but be just like that tall and erect coconut tree that drank water from its feet gives the benefit of giving that sweet water by its head."

Translation into English

In 2009, Red Hen Press published a selection of Avvaiyar's poetry from the twelfth century, entitled Give, Eat, and Live: Poems by Avviyar. The poems were selected and translated into English by Thomas Pruiksma,[6] a poet and translator who discovered Avviyar's work while on a Fulbright scholarship at The American College in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ Dalal, Roshen (18 April 2014). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin UK. p. 242. ISBN 978-81-8475-277-9.
  2. ^ [B. Ramadevi]
  3. ^ Ramadevi, B. (3 March 2014). "The saint of the masses". The Hindu.
  4. ^ Mukherjee, Sujit (1999). A dictionary of Indian literature. India: Orient Blackswan. p. 32. ISBN 978-81-250-1453-9.
  5. ^ Amaresh (2006). The Encyclopaedia of Hindu literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 295. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1.
  6. ^ "Biography « The Poet's Magic". Archived from the original on 27 March 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2023.