Poet taking a classical Tamil masterpiece online

“The Kural is truly a work for our time.”

Island poet and translator Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma is launching an online course on May 18 with eight renowned guest teachers, including Andrew Harvey, Bob Thurman, Perumal Murugan, and Suchitra Ramachandran.

The course, entitled “Taller Than a Mountain,” is an in-depth introduction to the classical Tamil masterpiece on ethics, power, and love, “The Kural: Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural,” which Pruiksma has translated into English.

“I have found myself in the unusual situation of having become a kind of ambassador for this work,” he said. “I’d thought my work was over when Beacon Press published my translation last year, but that has proved to be only the beginning.”

That ongoing work has already taken Pruiksma to speak across the country and beyond. He just returned from being a keynote presenter for the Tamil Language Festival in Singapore and will be speaking in June at the Tamil Literary Garden’s annual awards ceremony in Toronto.

“The attention has been a bit overwhelming,” he said. “What I’m particularly grateful for, though, is the opportunity to introduce the book to people who may never have heard of it before.”

Among Pruiksma’s guest teachers are Harvey, the internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, translator, mystical scholar, and spiritual teacher; Thurman, the first Westerner Tibetan Buddhist monk ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Murugan, one of India’s most well-known literary writers, who writes in Tamil and who was recently long-listed for the International Booker Prize; and Ramachandran, an award-winning emerging translator between Tamil and English.

“The Kural is truly a work for our time. It speaks directly to how we practice compassion, goodness, and good sense in the nitty-gritty of daily life with openness and ecological wisdom,” Pruiksma said.

The online course, held in May and June, is being offered on a “pay what fits” basis based on one of the Kural’s key teachings, which is honoring what fits each person, place, and situation. Learn more at thomaspruiksma.com/mountain.