Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 619

Not his sapphire like dark hued mane,
full moon face, long arms,
or beautiful dark boulder like shoulders – but,
it was his smile that first seized my heart.

இந்திர நீலம் ஒத்து இருண்ட குஞ்சியும்
சந்திர வதனமும் தாழ்ந்த கைகளும்
சுந்தர மணி வரைத் தோளுமே அல
முந்தி என் உயிரை அம் முறுவல் உண்டதே.

After Sita and Rama eye each other for the first time, he goes away. She is struck by love at first sight and pines for him. She loses her composure and is overcome by her emotions. She says, “His hair is dark like the blue sapphire. His face is round and bright like the full moon. His arms are long and hang low. His dark shoulders are like mountains. But it wasn’t all these features that captivated me first. Before all these, I lost my heart looking at his smile.”

Long arms – arms that hang below the knees were considered as a sign of well formed man.
Dark mountain like shoulders – Though the current day TV serials show Rama almost as white as a caucasian, in the epic he is a dark hued person. Hence dark shoulders.

இந்திர நீலம் – Blue sapphire
குஞ்சி – hair
வதனம் – face
சுந்தர – beautiful
மணி – sapphire (dark)
வரை – mountain (I’ve used boulder)
அல – not
முறுவல் – smile

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3 thoughts on “Kambaramayanam – 619

  1. > Though the current day TV serials show Rama almost as white as a caucasian, in the epic he is a dark hued person.

    He seems to have been dark by the prevailing standard of people. I dont think you can infer how dark he was from this. Also, the current day tv serials show him as a fair person by north Indian standards. btw, you might find it strange but the fairness as a beauty barometer is strictly from the Muslim period. The Muslims of the Turan region (the erstwhile Soviet Asian republics) were the elite during the Muslim period and they were really fair.

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  2. My objection was to ‘almost white as a caucasian’ . Rama is usually portrayed by a typical north Indian. He might have been dark by that standard. He still may not have been the color of a person considered dark by e.., Tamil standards. It’s just as the English consider Italians and Spaniards to be swarthy but by our standards they’re fair enough.

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