Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “September, 2016”

Kambaramayanam – 14

பம்பி மேகம் பரந்தது, ‘பானுவால்
நம்பன் மாதுலன் வெம்மையை நண்ணினான்;
அம்பின் ஆற்றதும்’ என்று அகன்குன்றின்மேல்
இம்பர் வாரி எழுந்தது போன்றதே.

Clouds crowding to spread over the peak
was like seas rising atop the mountain
saying, “our father-in-law suffers from heat
because of the sun; let’s cool him down”.

In the epics the river was considered as wife and the ocean as husband. Since the river is born in the mountains, the mountains became father in law for the ocean. The poet imagines that the clouds spreading over the mountain are but sea water that has come in aid of its father in law.

Thirukkural – 1100

When our eyes meet together in love,
words we utter are useless anyhow.

கண்ணொடு கண் இணை நோக்கு ஒக்கின், வாய்ச் சொற்கள்
என்ன பயனும் இல.

When the lovers eyes meet together in love, their eyes convey their feelings for each other. The words uttered are useless as the words come just from their lips. What their hearts think about is conveyed by their eyes.

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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