Words for Youth 

Part one of Saint Auvaiyar’s poignant counsel for children 

Below are the first 64 of 109 verses from Atti Chudi, a poem by second century bce saint Auvaiyar. Here she offers terse advice for youth, one topic for each letter of the Tamil alphabet. 

Let us always respectfully praise the Lord [Ganesha] Who is sitting on the lap of the Lord [Siva] who is wearing a garland of Thiruvaatti flowers.

1. Desire to fulfill dharma.

2. Cool off anger.

3. Do not refuse to give what is possible to give away.

4. Do not prevent acts of charity.

5. Do not boast about your possessions.

6. Do not give up industriousness.

7. Do not despise mathematics and writing.

8. Accepting alms is shameful.

9. Share with the poor before you eat.

10. Live in harmony with the world.

11. Do not discontinue recitation.

12. Do not speak envious words.

13. Do not short-sell the amount of grain given.

14. Do not speak about what you did not see.

15. Bend like the letter “nga” []to do physical labor.

16. Take an oil bath on Saturdays.

17. Speak pleasantly.

18. Do not build a house that is too spacious.

19. Befriend after ascertaining compatibility.

20. Protect your father and mother.

21. Do not forget gratitude.

22. Plant a crop during the proper season.

23. Do not make a living by grabbing others’ land.

24. Do not act in an improper way.

25. Do not play with snakes.

26. Sleep on a silk-cotton bed.

27. Do not speak deceitful words.

28. Do not do disrespectful things.

29. Learn when young.

30. Do not forget dharma.

31. Do not oversleep.

32. Give up harsh words.

33. Protecting others is a sacred commitment.

34. Strive to achieve greatness.

35. Give up that which is mean.

36. Do not give up that which is high-minded.

37. Do not become estranged from good friends.

38. Stop disrupting others’ lives.

39. Make ongoing efforts to listen to words of wisdom.

40. Do not hold back in teaching a handicraft.

41. Do not desire to rob.

42. Stop playing hoaxes.

43. Give up vilifying others.

44. Follow the laws of the country.

45. Stay in the company of the wise.

46. Do not speak hyperbole.

47. Do not forget to strive for renown.

48. Do not speak angrily.

49. Do not desire to gamble.

50. Everything you do, do it well.

51. Approach a person, ascertain his or her nature and then befriend.

52. Do not wander with insults.

53. Do not be careless when speaking.

54. Do not move through life in an apathetic manner.

55. Move through life so that you are a worthy person.

56. Desire to be charitable.

57. Devotedly serve Lord Vishnu.

58. Give up wrongful actions.

59. Do not bring suffering on yourself.

60. Weigh every action.

61. Do not disrespect God.

62. Live in harmony with your countrymen.

63. Do not eavesdrop on  women’s conversations.

64. Do not forget ancient times.