Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Thirukkural – 573

Of what use is a tune, if it is not harmonious to sing?
Of what use is an eye, that lacks a kind sight?

பண் என் ஆம், பாடற்கு இயைபு இன்றேல்?-கண் என் ஆம்,
கண்ணோட்டம் இல்லாத கண்?

A tune that is not harmonious to sing is of no use. It provides no pleasure to the listener. Similarly an eye that lacks compassion is of no use. Though one may see with those eyes, it is as good as not seeing. ‘Use’ is not explicit in the original verse. I have made it explicit in translation.

The Tamil word கண்ணோட்டம் means kindly / benign / compassion, with the root word கண் – eye; ‘looking kindly at the other person.’.

‘பாடற்கு – பாடுவதற்கு – to sing’. Both Parimel Alagar and Devaneya Paavaaanar interpret it this way. However Mu Va and others treat it as ‘பாடலுக்கு – to the song’. G.U.Pope too in his translation interprets it as ‘to the song’ . Hence my translation differs from his.

பண் – Tune
இயைபு – suitable / harmonious
கண்ணோட்டம் – kindness / compassion

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