Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Naaladiyaar – 140

Of all available knowledge, if one learns
just worldly books and not books of wisdom-
it makes meaningless noise but is of no use
in removing confusion.

அலகுசால் கற்பின் அறிவுநூல் கல்லா(து)
உலகநூ லோதுவ தெல்லாங் – கலகல
கூஉந் துணையல்லாற் கொண்டு தடுமாற்றம்
போஒந் துணையறிவா ரில்.

This Naaladiyaar poem talks about learning for wisdom and not just for worldly purposes. Those worldly books will make much noise but are of no use in setting one on the path of righteousness and removing confusion. Since Naaladiyaar is an anthology by Jain monks after the Sangam period, it is tempting to think that they were dissing the earthliness of the previous era.

அலகு – limit, சால் – full. This phrase has been treated either as boundless knowledge or limited knowledge and the previous commentaries are all over the place. I have decided to go with ‘boundless’ – hence used ‘all’.

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