Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Puranaanooru – 184

If mature rice is harvested and consumed,
a ma’s* yield will last many days;
even a hundred sei** (goes waste)
if a single elephant enters it to eat,
as its legs trample more than what it eats;
if a judicious ruler collects as per rule,
his country yields a lot and prospers;
if ruler becomes weak, surrounded
by fawning ignoble kith and kin,
hankers after wealth mercilessly,  
like an elephant overrun field,
neither does he consume,
but his country is ruined too.

*Ma – a measure of land, roughly 1/3 of an acre
** Sei – a measure of land, roughly 1 3/4 of an acre

காய் நெல் அறுத்துக் கவளம் கொளினே,
மா நிறைவு இல்லதும், பல் நாட்கு ஆகும்;
நூறு செறு ஆயினும், தமித்துப் புக்கு உணினே,
வாய் புகுவதனினும் கால் பெரிது கெடுக்கும்;
அறிவுடை வேந்தன் நெறி அறிந்து கொளினே,
கோடி யாத்து, நாடு பெரிது நந்தும்;
மெல்லியன் கிழவன் ஆகி, வைகலும்
வரிசை அறியாக் கல்லென் சுற்றமொடு,
பரிவு தப எடுக்கும் பிண்டம் நச்சின்,
யானை புக்க புலம் போல,
தானும் உண்ணான், உலகமும் கெடுமே.

This poem by Pisiranthaiyaar advises the Pandya king to collect taxes judiciously. If rice is harvested carefully and consumed, yield of a Ma (1 Ma = roughly 1/3 of an acre) will last for many days. But yield of even a 100 Sei (1 Sei = roughly 1 3/4 of an acre) will be wasted if an elephant enters it, because it tramples much more with its legs than what it eats. Similarly, if a ruler collects taxes as per rule, his country will yield a lot to him and it will prosper too. However, if he becomes weak and on the advice of fawning relatives he collects taxes without any mercy on the populace, his country will become like an elephant entered field. He won’t get what he wishes for, but his country too will be ruined.

It is a sage advice to rulers. Collect taxes carefully. If you put too much pressure on the populace, you won’t get what you wish and your country will be ruined. Keep your relatives and yes men off the government.

யானை புக்க புலம் போல,
தானும் உண்ணான், உலகமும் கெடுமே.
I could not match the brevity of these lines. All I could muster was

Like an elephant overrun field,
neither does he consume,
but his country is ruined too.

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2 thoughts on “Puranaanooru – 184

  1. பிண்டம் நச்சும் மெல்லியன் கிழவன் – நல்லவேளை தமிழாப்போச்சு. பக்தர்களுக்குப் புரியாது.

    அட்வான்ஸ் டாக்ஸ் கட்டிட்டீங்களா?

    Like

    • எல்லாம் கட்டியாச்சு. நான் சத்தியமா ஜெட்லியார நினைக்கல. அவர் வேற இப்ப மெலிஞ்சுட்டாரு 🙂

      Like

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