Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “May, 2018”

Siddhar – Sivavakkiyar – 133

Are there two Gods, yours and mine?
Will there be two Gods, here and there?
Primordial God, who is everywhere, isn’t he one?
Those who say otherwise, will die of rotting mouth.

எங்கள்தேவர் உங்கள்தேவர் என்றிரண்டு தேவரோ
இங்குமங்கு மாய் இரண்டு தேவரே இருப்பரோ
அங்குமிங்கு மாகிநின்ற ஆதிமூர்த்தி ஒன்றலோ
வங்கவாரஞ் சொன்னபேர்கள் வாய்புழுத்து மாள்வரே.

Sivavakkiyar, in this verse, curses those who try to split people in the name of God. He doesn’t pull back his punches. He says “If God is all powerful how can there be two Gods, yours and mine. He who was at the beginning, is one. Those who say otherwise, their tongues will rot and they’d die.”

Siddhar Sivavakkiyar, dated to around 10th Century CE (?) was one of the leading rebel poets in Tamil literature. Siddhars were iconoclastic rebels whose thoughts were against the organised Vedic religion. Their main idea was one had to find God within oneself and not rely on temples and rituals.

I’m not able to find the meaning of வங்கவாரம் . From the context of the verse, I assume it is “otherwise” or “divisive tales”

Pazhamozhi 400 – 321

Wise men analyse their strength, their allies strength,
consequence of the act, and then decide; instead,
if one decides without a plan, and acts without a plan,
results too will be unplanned.

தன்-தூக்கி, தன் துணையும் தூக்கி, பயன் தூக்கி,
மற்று அது கொள்வ, மதி வல்லார்; அற்று அன்றி,
யாதானும் ஒன்று கொண்டு, யாதானும் செய்தக்கால்,
யாதானும் ஆகிவிடும்.

Before acting upon something, wise men analyse their own strength, strength of their allies and what are the consequences of their act. Only after that will they act. Instead of that, if one decides randomly without a plan and acts without a plan, the results too will be unexpected.

தூக்கி – analyse
துணை – ally
மதி வல்லார் –  those with brains – wise men
அற்று அன்றி – அது இல்லாமல் – instead
யாதானும் – just like that / random / unplanned

Thirukkural – 878

Know what’s to be done. prepare and guard yourself,;
thus will the foe’s arrogance be felled.

வகையறிந்து தற்செய்து தற்காப்ப மாயும் 
பகைவர்கட் பட்ட செருக்கு.

When fighting an enemy, analyse the situation and understand what needs to be done. Do it and protect yourself. If you do so, the arrogance of the enemy will be felled.

தற்செய்து – தன் + செய்து – do / prepare self
மாய்தல் – killed / brought down
செருக்கு – pride / arrogance

Pazhamozhi 400 – 130

You’re graceless my heart! you tell me to act harmfully;
but payback won’t take long; Do realize,
One who causes harm to others in forenoon,
Will face harm himself by afternoon.

நெடியது காண்கலாய்; நீ அளியை;-நெஞ்சே!-
கொடியது கூறினாய் மன்ற;- அடியுளே,
முற்பகல் கண்டான் பிறன் கேடு, தன் கேடு
பிற்பகல் கண்டுவிடும்.

When one’s heart asks him to act maliciously and harm others, he tells that it is stupid. Payback for evil deeds won’t take long. If one hurts others in the forenoon, he will be hurt himself in the afternoon.

This takes off on Thirukkural 319,
பிறர்க்கின்னா முற்பகல் செய்யின் தமக்கின்னா
பிற்பகல் தாமே வரும்.

நெடியது –  long
அளி – civil / graceful அளியை – graceless
கொடியது – harmful

Naan Manik Kadigai – 58

Forever will there be stars and two great lights*;
Forever will there be ailments and toil;
Forever will there be alms givers and seekers;
Forever will there be newborns and the departed.

*Two great lights – Sun and Moon

என்றும் உளவாகும், நாளும், இரு சுடரும்;
என்றும், பிணியும், தொழில், ஒக்கும்; என்றும்
கொடுப்பாரும் கொள்வாரும் அன்னர்; பிறப்பாரும்
சாவாரும் என்றும் உளர்.

This verse is about the unceasing continuity of the world. Each generation thinks it is something new, but the march of time goes on forever. The sun, moon and the stars were there yesterday, are today, will be there in future too. So are the toils of the people and maladies that prevent them from toil. Patrons and alms seekers are always there. So are new borns and the dead.

Keep in mind these poems were written 1500-1800 years ago, before we found black holes.

Thirikadugam – 58

Wealth of one who doesn’t help his kin,
Cultivation of one who doesn’t nurture his green shoots growing,
Lineage of one who spends his youth drinking –
These three appear stable, but are headed to ruin.

கிளைஞர்க்கு உதவாதான் செல்வமும், பைங் கூழ்
விளைவின் கண் போற்றான் உழவும், இளையனாய்க்
கள் உண்டு வாழ்வான் குடிமையும்,-இம் மூன்றும்
உள்ளன போலக் கெடும்.

This is poem no. 58 from Thirikadugam (திரிகடுகம்) written by poet Nalladhanar (நல்லாதனார்) about 1800 years ago. He says the wealth you don’t share with others, the crops that you don’t tend to because you are lazy, youth spent drinking – these three might look to be stable but will definitely be ruined. So take care and not embark on a path to ruin.

கிளைஞர் – Relatives

பைங் கூழ் – growing crops (green shoots)

குடிமை – Lineage

Thirukkural – 397


(For the learned) any country is his; any town is his;
Then why be unlearned till one’s death?

யாதானும் நாடு ஆமால்; ஊர் ஆமால்; என், ஒருவன்
சாம் துணையும் கல்லாதவாறு?

In this Kural Thiruvalluvar talks about importance of learning.

A learned person will be respected wherever he goes. So why do people waste their entire life without learning?

Thirukkural 196

One who uses words of inanity
isn’t called a man but chaff of humanity.

பயனில்சொற் பாராட்டு வானை மகனெனல் 
மக்கட் பதடி யெனல்.


Kurunthokai – 57

Magandril* birds entwined together
grieve as if separated for years
even if a flower comes in between;
Like them, if we, destined to be a couple,
are separated and become single,
only way to escape that pain
is to lose our lives together,
as our love’s strong and inseparable.

பூ இடைப்படினும் யாண்டு கழிந்தன்ன
நீர் உறை மகன்றிற் புணர்ச்சி போலப்
பிரிவு அரிது ஆகிய தண்டாக் காமமொடு,
உடன் உயிர் போகுகதில்ல – கடன் அறிந்து,
இருவேம் ஆகிய உலகத்து,
ஒருவேம் ஆகிய புன்மை நாம் உயற்கே.

*Magandril – Ibis(?) like bird that lives near water bodies and rests on flowers

Their affair hase become public and she is forbidden to go out of her home by her parents. She says to her friend “I have been in love with him for long. Now my parents have separated us. This is causing me untold grief. Magandril birds that live in water grieve as if separated for years even in their embrace is interrupted for a short while by a flower coming between them. They give up their life if they are separated. Since we two are inseparable at heart and our love is getting stronger, the only way to escape this grief is for us to lose our lives together”

Tamil Wikipedia says Magandril is King Penguin, which doesn’t make sense considering the geography of Tamil country. Andril is Ibis bird. So I assume Magandril too is a species of Ibis.

P.S.A. Suicide is stupid, even if poets romanticize it. Don’t harbor such ideas.

யாண்டு – year
புணர்ச்சி – embrace
பிரிவு அரிது – hardly separated (inseparable)
தண்டா – not reducing (strong)
காமம் – love
கடன் அறிந்து – know what is to be done (destiny)
இருவேம் – two (couple)
ஒருவேம் – become one (single)
புன்மை – pain
உய் – to be saved / escape

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