Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kulasekara Alwar – 693

Even if a fiery blaze singes and makes its life hell,
Lotus doesn’t bloom but to the warm intimacy of the Sun;
O lord of Vittuvacode, even if you do not save me from my burning ordeal,
My heart will yield to no one else but to your infinite essence.

செந்தழலே வந்தழலைச் செய்திடினும் செங்கமலம்
அந்தரஞ்சேர்வெங்கதிரோற் கல்லா லலராவால்
வெந்துயர்வீட் டாவிடினும் விற்றுவக்கோட் டம்மாஉன்
அந்தமில்சீர்க் கல்லா லகங்குழைய மாட்டேனே.

In this poem Kulasekara Alwar sings to Lord of Thiruvittuvacode (present day Thirumittacode in Kerala). Though a fire singes it and causes it grief, a lotus does not bloom to its heat but only to the warmth of the sun it is intimate with. Likewise, even if you do not relieve my suffering (that is in my destiny), my heart won’t yield to any other God but only to your limitless presence, you who is forever in my heart.

This is a motif seen in many devotional poems. “I will pray to no God but you”. We find it in Buddhist , Jain, Saivite and Vaishnavite Tamil poems. But each poet expresses it differently, with different metaphors and similes. This particular poem stood out to me because of the “Lotus blooming only to Sun” metaphor. Also the phrase அந்தரஞ்சேர் செங்கதிரோன் – Warmth of the Sun that percolates intimately. If you can read Tamil, roll your tongue around that phrase.

செந்தழல் – Fiery blaze
அழல் – grief
செங்கமலம் – Red Lotus
அந்தரம் – initmate
செங்கதிரோன் – Sun
அலராவால் – அலரமாட்டாதால் – won’t bloom
வெந்துயர் – வெம்மை + துயர் – burning ordeal
வீட்டாவிடினும் – even if not saved
அந்தமில் – அந்தம் + இல் – endless /infinite
சீர் – nature / essence
அகம் – heart
குழைய – soften / yield

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4 thoughts on “Kulasekara Alwar – 693

  1. A few minor points.

    1. This verse is by Kulasekara Azhwar. It’s part of perumal thirumozhi.

    2. Also, it’s traditional to cite verse number by its occurrence in the author’s work, rather than as verse number in the running compendium i.e., the 4000. Thus this verse should be cited as perumal thirumozhi 5.4 , rather than as 693. Likewise, the verse ‘maiyaar kaDalum’ that you translated some time back should be cited as peria thirumozhi 11.7.5 rather than as 2016. I’m okay with the post title carrying the author’s name but under the verse in the body of the post, you must carry the verse number in the format as hundred.decad.verse#. This is how Tamil authors cite tevaram verses too.

    On the other hand, the running number is used by Indology authors who work off of one bound volume of collected works with running numbers, without much understanding that these are living verses and there’s a living tradition of refering to them. ‘maiyaar kaDalum’ would be refered to by Tamil people as ’11-ம் பத்து, 7-ம் திருமொழி, 5-வது பாசுரம் or பாட்டு’.

    If you follow this numbering scheme, it would be easier for everyone to follow you and your blog wouldn’t look like it came from Connecticut 🙂

    3. அந்தரம், I believe, would be space or sky, not ‘intimate’.

    4. A side note. 20th century Tamil scholars have identified ‘vittuvakkodu’ as a street in 8th century Karur-Vanji. See BV Ramanujan or R Raghava Ayyangar (ஆராய்ச்சித் தொகுதி).

    Thanks and Regards.



    • 1. That was a big mistake. Apologies. I had posted Thirumangai Alwar earlier (Thirumayam) and by mistake posted this too under him.
      2. I thought about it, and since I wasn’t sure what numbering to follow I used dravidaveda.org numbering system.
      3. I will check again.
      4. A friend had been to Tirumittacode last week and had posted the “VaaLaal aruthuch chudinum..” pasuram put up in the temple. That led me to this. I didn’t know about Karur Vanji theory.


  2. அந்தரம்னா வானம். ஒருவேளை ‘உள்வெளி’ அப்படிங்க்ற மாதிரி அந்தரங்கம்ங்க்றதை மொழிபெயர்த்துட்டீங்களோ.

    ஆனா இங்க நேர்ப்பொருள்தான் சரிவரதா தோணுது: வானத்து சூரியனுக்குத் தான் தாமரை மலரும்.


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