Shun any actions that will diminish honor,
even if they are vital for the preservation of life.
Those who honorably pursue glory never act ingloriously,
even if glorious fame is to be gained.
Cultivate modesty in the midst of good fortune,
but in times of adversity preserve your dignity.
Honorable men fallen from high status
are like useless hair fallen from the head.
Unworthy acts, though mustard-seed small, will bring down
a man, though he towers like a mountain.
It offers neither Earth's renown nor Heaven's refuge,
so why do men run after and stand by those who revile them?
Better to die right where you stand, the saying goes,
than to live running after those who despise you.
Will any medicine preserve the body of the high-born man
whose honor has already perished?
Shorn of its hair, the yak will refuse to live.
Such men do exist who prefer death to the loss of honor.
The world will extol and exalt honorable men
who exult in death rather than endure dishonor.
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These daily couplets are drawn from Saint Tiruvalluvar's Tirukural, an ethical masterpiece written over 2,200 years ago in South India. This American English translation, known as Weaver's Wisdom, is available at our Minimela online store.