Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Naaladiyaar – 35

Those who crushed cane and made cubes out of it early in the day,
won’t lament when it turns to pulp and is set ablaze;-
those who worked hard and used their life to do good,
won’t grieve when death appears.

கரும்பு ஆட்டி, கட்டி சிறுகாலைக் கொண்டார்
துரும்பு எழுந்து வேங்கால் துயர் ஆண்டு உழவார்;-
வருந்தி உடம்பின் பயன் கொண்டார், கூற்றம்
வருங்கால் பரிவது இலர்

Once you have got the sugar out of the cane, you won’t grieve if the pulpy residue is consigned to fire. You have got the best out of it. Similarly one who has used his body/life to the best of his abilities to do good deeds won’t grieve when death appears.  Because the purpose of their life is fully achieved and what is left is just the residue. Early morning is to denote that one should start doing good deeds early in life instead of postponing it.

The literal translation of the third line is “those who have strained to get the maximum out of their body”. The literal translation might give a completely different meaning from what was intended by the Jain monks who wrote poems in this anthology. This poem after all appears  in the chapter of “Reinforcing Morality” – அறன் வலியுறுத்தல். Hence I took the liberty to replace ‘body’ with ‘life’, to be true to the meaning of the poem.

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