Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 4

Like a cat trying to lick dry
the glorious milky ocean*,
did I desire to tell this story
of blemish less King Rama.

ஓசை பெற்று உயர் பால் கடல் உற்று ஒரு
பூசை முற்றவும் நக்குபு புக்கு என
ஆசை பற்றி அறையல் உற்றேன்; மற்று இக்
காசு இல் கொற்றத்து அத்து இராமன் கதை அரோ.

*Ocean of milk that was churned by Devas and Asuras together to obtain the nectar of immortality.

Kamban in his foreword to Kambaramayanam says that the task before him is vast. He is trying to write the glorious story of King Rama, which is already a popular myth.

He compares himself to a small cat which on seeing the milky ocean (பாற்கடல், which contains the nectar of immortality) tries to lick it dry. It knows it cannot drink the ocean completely, yet attempts to do so. “The task before me is vast,as it is not possible for a human being to completely extol the virtues of Rama. Yet I have set out to do this because of my love for Rama. So please bear with my mistakes” he says.

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