Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “January, 2018”

Thirukkural – 439

Never ever marvel at one’s own self!
Never wish to do a deed that yields no good!

வியவற்க, எஞ்ஞான்றும் தன்னை! நயவற்க,
நன்றி பயவா வினை!

Thiruvalluvar’s advice to Rulers. Never think too highly of oneself. Never even wish to do things that do not result in public good. வியத்தல் – wonder / marvel எஞ்ஞான்று – any day நயத்தல் – wish

Thirukkural – 672

Delay doing things that need to be delayed;
delay not those that are not to be delayed.

தூங்குக தூங்கிச் செயற்பால தூங்கற்க
தூங்காது செய்யும் வினை.

Nature of some jobs need them to done in gradual fashion. One shouldn’t rush to do them. Some other jobs needs to be done without delay. They should be done at the earliest.
தூங்கு – delay

Kambaramayanam – 9370

When day by day like a waxing moon you grew,
I undertook an austere vow 
to see Indra defeated by the bow you drew;
What vow did I undertake now 
to see your beheaded body, what did I do!
Will I, an abject soul, still desire this impermanent life?

கலையினால் திங்கள் என்ன   
    வளர்கின்ற காலத்தே உன்,
சிலையினால் அரியை வெல்லக்   
    காண்பதோர் தவம்முன் செய்தேன்;
தலை இலா ஆக்கை காண   
    எத் தவம் செய்தேன்! அந்தோ!
‘நிலை இலா வாழ்வை இன்னும்   
    நினைவெனோ, நினைவு இலாதேன்?

Indrajit (one who defeated Indra) has been defeated in the battle with Rama and beheaded. A grief stricken Ravana goes to the battlefield and brings his son’s headless body back. On seeing Indrajit’s body, his mother Mandodari laments and castigates herself in pity. This is one of the verses in that chapter.

“When you were growing up as an young man like a growing moon, I prayed to God to see you defeat Indra and undertook austere vows. What austere vow did I undertake to see your headless body, my son? Should I, a thoughtless woman and an abject soul, still desire to live this impermanent life. Won’t it be better if I die now”

The last line ‘நிலை இலா வாழ்வை இன்னும்  நினைவெனோ’  – ‘Will I still desire this impermanent life’ is a perfect example of alliteration and meaning coming together in Kamban’s poetry.

கலை – with skills
திங்கள் – moon
சிலை – bow
அரி – Indra
ஆக்கை – யாக்கை – body

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