Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Siddhar – SivaVakkiyar – 80

When a clay vessel falls , they still save the shards;
When a bronze vessel falls, they save it for future;
When this mortal vessel falls, they discard it saying it smells;
In such a worthless body that measures just eight hand spans, 
what an illusion of life you created, my Lord!

மண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது வைத்து வைத்து அடுக்குவார்
வெண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது வேணும் என்று பேணுவார்
நண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது நாறும் என்று போடுவார்
எண்கலந்து நின்ற மாயம்என்ன மாயம் ஈசனே.

In this poem Siva Vakkiyar talks about the impermanence of human body. When a clay vessel falls and breaks, people still save the shards saying it might be useful some day. When a bronze vessel falls and is dented, they save it carefully for the future. But when this human body falls and dies, they immediately discard it saying it smells. In such a worthless body that measures just eight hand spans, what an illusion of life you created, My lord.

In the fourth line he uses just ‘எண் – eight’ to mean this body that measures eight spans. Each human body measures eight hand spans of its own hand. In Tamil this word எண் சாண் – eight hand spans is understood easily. But in English translation I had to make it a separate sentence to explain.

மண்கலம் – mud vessel
வெண்கலம் – bronze
நண்கலம் – நன் கலம் – good vessel / human body (This is no dictionary meaning. I’m extrapolating)
எண் – eight (for eight hand spans)

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2 thoughts on “Siddhar – SivaVakkiyar – 80

  1. antonyfrank on said:

    manitha vaalvai evalavu alagaka entha elakkiyam eduthu sollum…

    Like

  2. Suresh Palpanaban on said:

    The explanation is not complete.
    Sivavakkiyar Siddhar is saying, when the vessel made of clay topples, people want it to use back, when the bronze vessel topples, people still want it for its value. But the the vessel or our body topples (when we die), people don’t want it, saying ‘it will smell’.
    He is trying to show the greatness of the God is willing to stay in this worthless vessel which is our body. Another way to ask us to be thankful to the God inside us.

    Like

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