Punjabi by birth, Tamil by heart, Jashwant loves ‘Thirukkural’

Jaswant Singh

Thiruvalluvar is alive. He lives in Mugappair, wears a turban and speaks Tamil with a Punjabi accent. This is the impression you get when you hear Jaswant Singh talk in Tamil about his love for the two-line kurals.

As an expression of his affection, he has carved out the popular image of the Tamil-saint on a mango tree and a smaller version of it on one of the many red sandalwood trees in his house.

“But why?” we ask the 56-year-old civil engineer and naturist who has the best-maintained garden in the city with over 1000 varieties of plants including fruit-bearing ones and 350 varieties of rare herbs.

Jaswant Singh replies,”Had I been a painter, I would have expressed my love for Thiuvalluvar with colours. A poet would have chosen to sing praises of his work. But I’m a builder who loves nature. This is how I express my love for Thirukural and Thiruvalluvar.”

One of Jaswanth Singh’s favourite kural is, in fact, the tongue-twister that praises rain – Thupparku Thuppaya’ – which he recites without any mistake. “Valluvar beautifully talks about how rainwater nourishes the soil to produce the food we consume. And how in the end we drink the same water along with the food. It is important to not just know the kural, but also learn the meaning,” Jaswant says.

What made a Punjabi man, who runs a successful construction firm, love Thiruvalluvar so much and learn Tamil was the question on our minds and Jaswant was happy to explain.

“I have read a lot of books of various religions. They will leave you with at least one ugly mark where they talk only about one particular community. But it’s not the case with Thirukkural. Valluvar has not written it for the people of one particular religion, region or even language.”

“Though it has been written in Tamil, nowhere has Thiruvalluvar even praised the language he has written his great work in. Thirukkural has been written to benefit humanity and it is for the people of the world,” says Jaswant.

“People say Thiruvalluvar is from Kanyakumari and some say he is from Mylapore. I say it shouldn’t matter at all even if he is from Mugappair. All that matters is that he is from Tamilnadu and that should make us proud,” he says.

It’s a coincidence that Jaswant Singh is a resident of Thiruvalluvar Nagar in Mugappair. Though a Punjabi by birth, he was born and brought up here and has been a Mugappair resident since 1979.

You can reach him at 9840045621.

Rare for sure
Jaswant Singh is known throughout India among the nature enthusiasts for his collection of rare plants in his urban garden and its impressive self-sustaining ecosystem. To give an example, Singh also rears honeybees that promote cross-pollination and fruiting, besides supplying him with pure organic honey. His entire house is solar powered and he also has a biogas plant.

Naturists from far-and-wide, including a professor from Tamilnadu Agriculture University visit his garden to gain practical knowledge. He won the ‘Best House Garden Award’ in 2014 from the Tamilnadu government.


A Harsha Vardhan