Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “December, 2018”

Thiruppavai – 16

O’ sentinel of our Lord Nandagopan’s mansion!
O’ guard of the festooned gateway where flags fly high!
Please open the gem embedded doors;
He will gift throbbing drums to us, pastoral maidens,
The dark hued magician promised yeserday;
We’ve come cleansed and pure, to wake him up with our song;
Don’t utter words of denial now, please;
Unlatch the divine doors, O’ Swami!

நாயக னாய்நின்ற நந்தகோ பன்உடைய
கோயில்காப் பானே கொடித்தோன்றும்
தோரண வாயில்காப் பானே மணிக்கதவம் தாள்திறவாய்
ஆயர் சிறுமிய ரோமுக்கு அறைபறை
மாயன் மணிவண்ணன் நென்னலே வாய்நேர்ந்தான்
தூயோமாய் வந்தோம் துயில்எழப் பாடுவ
வாயால்முன் னம்முன்னம் மாற்றாதே அம்மாநீ
நேய நிலைக்கதவம் நீக்கேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

After finally gathering all their friends, the girls go to the temple. They call it the mansion of Nandagopan, Krishna’s father. Krishna is residing in that mansion. The doors are yet to open. They request the guard to open the festooned, gem adorned doors.

“We are young maidens from cowherds clan. Krishna, the dark hued magician promised us yesterday that he will give us drums for us to complete our vows. So we have come here today after cleansing ourselves. We are here to wake him up with our songs. O’ guard please don’t deny us. Please open the divine doors, O’ swami”

Thiruppavai – 15

“Hey, young parrot! Are you still asleep?”
“Cut down your chit-chat girls! I will join you now”
“Oh’ smart one! We know your sharp words and nimble tongue well”
“You girls are the smart ones! But if you insist, let it be me”
“Wake up and get ready soon! What else holds you in thrall?”
“Is every one here?” “All of us are here, come out and count;
He who killed the mighty tusker shaped demon,
He who destroys the strength of his enemies,
come out and sing the praise of that magician, my friend!”

எல்லே இளம்கிளியே இன்னம் உறங்குதியோ
சில்என்று அழையேன்மின் நங்கையீர் போதருகின்றேன்
வல்லைஉன் கட்டுரைகள் பண்டேஉன் வாய்அறிதும்
வல்லீர்கள் நீங்களே நானேதான் ஆயிடுக
ஒல்லைநீ போதாய் உனக்கென்ன வேறுடையை
எல்லாரும் போந்தாரோ போந்தார்போந்து எண்ணிக்கொள்
வல்ஆனை கொன்றானை மாற்றாரை மாற்றழிக்க
வல்லானை மாயனைப் பாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

Another girl is still asleep when her friends call her to join them. The girls mock her “Are you till asleep, you pretty parrot like young girl?”. She replies “Stop yakking at my doorstep. I am not asleep. I am awake and am getting ready to join you”. The girls know her better. They reply “Oh, smart one. Don’t try to fool us. We have listened to your harsh words earlier also.We won’t be put off by your nimble tongue. Get up”.

She says “You girls are the real smart ones. But if you say that I am smart, let it be me”. They tell her “All that is fine. Get ready quick. What else is holding you in its thrall now?” She is trying to delay getting up. So she asks “Is everyone of our friends here?” They reply “Everyone is here. You come out yourselves and count. Krishna, the magician who killed the elephant shaped demon and is strong to destroy the strengths of his enemies, come let us sing his praise together.”

Thiruvempavai – 14

With ear rings dangling, golden jewels swaying,
Flowers separating from braided hair, swarm of bees buzzing
Let’s bathe in the cold pond, sing the praise of Chidambaram*,
sing the essence of Vedas, extol him who personifies it,
golrify Paranjothi the infinite flame, hail the yellow flowers on his head,
sing his nature of being the origin and the end;
Bangle wearing Goddess Uma, who reveals Him to us step by step
And foster us to fulfillment, let’s sing her praise and take a dip, my friend!

*Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram

காதார் குழையாடப் பைம்பூண் கலனாடக்
    கோதை குழலாட வண்டின் குழாமாடச்
சீதப் புனலாடிச் சிற்றம் பலம்பாடி
    வேதப் பொருள்பாடி அப்பொருளா மாபாடிச்
சோதி திறம்பாடிச் சூழ்கொன்றைத் தார்பாடி
    ஆதி திறம்பாடி அந்தமா மாபாடிப்
பேதித்து நம்மை வளர்த்தெடுத்த பெய்வளைதன்
    பாதத் திறம்பாடி ஆடேலோர் எம்பாவாய் 

In this poem the girls sing the praise of Lord Siva and his consort Goddess Uma while taking a dip in the temple pond. The girls’ ear rings are dangling as the enter the pond, their golden jewelery is swaying, their flower adorned hair braids come loose and the flowers float away, a swarm of bees buzz over those flowers. They say “Let’s enter this cold pond, take a dip and sing the praise of the Lord of Chidambaram. He is the essence of Vedas. He personifies it. Let’s sing that too.

Let’s sing the praise of Paranjothi, the infinite flame (Of the temples that personify Lord Siva as five elements ,Thiruvannamalai, the temple on which Thiruvempavai is written, is the Fire element). Let’s sing the blessed yellow flowers (Golden Rain flowers) that he wears in his head. Lets’s sing the praise of him who is at the beginning of creation and the end of it. His consort, bangle wearing Goddess Uma, let’s us realize him gradually step by step. She fosters us and helps us attain fulfillment. Let’s sing her divine feet and take a dip in this pond”

Thiruppavai – 14

Look at the garden pond in your backyard;
Red Lotus smiles while Night Lily purses its lips close;
Red brick color clothed, white toothed ascetics
Are on their way to blow Conch in their temples;
You said you’ll wake us up before anyone does;
You wake up now shameless, big talking girl! 
He who carries the Conch and Chakra in his mighty hands,
Our Lotus eyed Lord, come, sing his praise my friend!

உங்கள் புழக்கடைத் தோட்டத்து வாவியுள்
செங்கழுனீர் வாய்நெகிழ்ந்து ஆம்பல்வாய் கூம்பினகாண்
செங்கற் பொடிக்கூரை வெண்பல் தவத்தவர்
தங்கள் திருக்கோயில் சங்கிடுவான் போதன்றார்
எங்களை முன்னம் எழுப்புவான் வாய்பேசும்
நங்காய் எழுந்திராய் நாணாதாய் நாவுடையாய்
சங்கோடு சக்கரம் ஏந்தும் தடக்கையன்
பங்கயக் கண்ணானைப் பாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

Another girl is still asleep. When her friends call for her to wake up, she replies “How do I know it is dawn?” The girls reply back “Look at the garden pond in your own backyard. Red Lotus are blooming. Night lily petals are closing down. It shows that the daybreak is here. Look outside. Red brick color clothed ascetics with white teeth are on their way to their temples to blow the conch and start their morning worship.

You  promised us yesterday that you will wake us up before everyone wakes up. But you are still asleep now. You shameless, big talking girl. Wake up and join us in singing the praise of our Lotus eyed Lord, who carries a conch and chakra in his mighty hands”

Thiruvempavai – 13

Because of the dark blue lily and brilliant red lotus,
Because of chirping birds and entwined snakes,
Because of those who come to wash off their sins here,
This gushing pond is like our God and Goddess together;
Let’ss enter and frolic in this pond with our bangles jingling,
and along with them our anklets tinkling;
Let’s enter these waters making our bosoms swell
And bathe in this lotus filled pond, my friend!

பைங்குவளைக் கார்மலரால் செங்கமலப் பைம்போதால்
    அங்கங் குருகினத்தால் பின்னும் அரவத்தால்
தங்கள் மலங்கழுவு வார்வந்து சார்தலினால்
    எங்கள் பிராட்டியும் எங்கோனும் போன்றிசைந்த
பொங்கு மடுவிற் புகப்பாய்ந்து பாய்ந்துநம்
    சங்கஞ் சிலம்பச் சிலம்பு கலந்தார்ப்பக்
கொங்கைகள் பொங்கக் குடையும் புனல்பொங்கப்
    பங்கயப் பூம்புனல்பாய்ந் தாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய் 

In this poem, the girls  equate the temple tank to the God (Siva) and Goddess (Sakthi) united in form. “One part of the tank is filled with dark blue lily flowers , like Sakthi. The other part is full of bright red lotus flowers, like the fiery form of Siva. Birds chirping is like the noise of Sakthi’s bangles. (The Tamil word குருகு stands for bird as well as bangle). The slithering snakes in the pond is like the snake in Siva’s neck. People  coming to the pond to cleanse themselves are like devotees who come to Siva and Sakthi to wash their sins off.

So this pond is Siva – Sakthi incarnate. Let us jump into this and frolic joyously, with our bangles and anklets tinkling noisily. As we dip into these waters the water gushes out. Our breasts too swell. Let us bathe in this lotus filled pond, my friend!”

Thiruppavai – 13

He tore open the beak of the demon in bird form;
He battled and removed the barborous demon;
Singing his glory, all young girls have assembled for the rituals;
Morning star is up, midnight’s Jupiter has gone to sleep;
Birds too have started chirping, O’ flower like eyed girl!
Instead of plunging into the cold pond waters and bathing,
You lie asleep like a doll! Give up your pretense
And join us in singing his praise, my friend!

புள்ளின்வாய் கீண்டானைப் பொல்லா அரக்கனைக்
கிள்ளிக் களைந்தானைக் கீர்த்திமை பாடிப்போய்ப்
பிள்ளைகள் எல்லாரும் பாவைக் களம்புக்கார்
வெள்ளி எழுந்து வியாழம் உறங்கிற்று
புள்ளும் சிலம்பினகாண் போதரிக் கண்ணினாய்
குள்ளக் குளிரக் குடைந்துநீ ராடாதே
பள்ளிக் கிடத்தியோ பாவாய்நீ நன்நாளால்
கள்ளம் தவிர்ந்து கலந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

“Our Lord killed the bird shaped demon Bakasura and tore open its beak. He battled the barborous Ravana and felled him in the battle field. Singing the praise of our Lord, all the young girls have assembled at the designated spot for the rituals.

The morning star (Venus) shines in the early morning sky. Midnight’s Jupiter has gone to sleep. All the birds are awake and chirping. O’ Girl, whose eyes are superior to flowers! You are not joining us to enter the pond and take a dip in the cold waters of morning. You are still in your bed, thinking of our Lord all by yourself. Drop this pretense, wake up and join us in singing his praise, my friend!”

Thirukkural – 1116

Unable to tell the moon and this girl’s face apart,
Stars up in the sky dart about.

மதியும் மடந்தை முகனு மறியா
பதியிற் கலங்கிய மீன்.

They’re meeting at night. The stars flicker and move. He says the stars are confused between her bright face and the moon , hence are moving about.

மதி – Moon
பதி – place of residence (sky)
கலங்கிய – agitated / flustered
மீன் – விண்மீன் – stars

Thiruvempavai – 12

He is the fount we dip in, to free ourselves
from miseries of life that shackle us;
He is the dancer who dances with fire
in the divine hall of holy Chidambaram;
This sky and earth and everything else
He playfully creates, protects and destroys;
Let’s praise him, plunge into the temple’s floral pond
– with our bangles tinkling, waist chains jingling, 
and over our flowered tresses bees buzzing – 
Hail his golden feet and then bathe in the mountain spring, my friend!

ஆர்த்த பிறவித் துயர்கெடநாம் ஆர்த்தாடும்
    தீர்த்தன்நற் றில்லைச்சிற் றம்பலத்தே தீயாடும்
கூத்தன்இவ் வானும் குவலயமும் எல்லோமும்
    காத்தும் படைத்தம் கரந்தும் விளையாடி
வார்த்தையும் பேசி வளைசிலம்ப வார்கலைகள்
    ஆர்ப்பரவஞ் செய்ய அணிகுழல்மேல் வண்டார்ப்பப்
பூத்திகழும் பொய்கை குடைந்துடையான் பொற்பாதம்
    ஏத்தி இருஞ்சுனைநீ ராடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

Poems from 11-15 are the girls singing the praise of Lord Siva while taking a dip in the temple tank. “Our Lord is the holy fount of waters we dip in to free ourselves from the miseries of life that fetter us. He is the dancer in the divine hall of holy Chidambaram. He is the creator, protector and destroyer of this world which he does playfully.

Let us praise him and take a plunge in his temple’s pond filled with flowers. As we take a dip our bangles tinkle, our waist chains jingle and bees buzz over our flowered tresses. Let us hail his golden feet and bathe in the mountain spring, my friend”

Thiruppavai – 12

Young buffalo grunts and thinks of its calf warmly;
The mere thought makes its udders gush with milk
And muddy the cowshed;
O’ girl, Sister of such fortunate cowherd! 
We stand at your doorstep with dew falling on  our head,
Singing the praise of the Lord dear to our heart, who in fitful rage 
destroyed the King of Lanka; yet you don’t reply back;
Wake up now at least; what’s this lingering sleep?
All the neighbours hear us, my friend!

கனைத்துஇளம் கற்றெருமை கன்றுக்கு இரங்கி
நினைத்து முலைவழியே நின்றுபால் சோர
நனைத்துஇல்லம் சேறாக்கும் நற்செல்வன் தங்காய்
பனித்தலை வீழநின் வாசற் கடைபற்றிச்
சினத்தினால் தென்இலங்கைக் கோமானைச் செற்ற
மனத்துக்கு இனியானைப் பாடவும்நீ வாய்திறவாய்
இனித்தான் எழுந்திராய் ஈதென்ன பேர்உறக்கம்
அனைத்துஇல்லத் தாரும் அறிந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

Now the girls are in front of the house of a wealthy cowherd’s sister. Andal sings ‘Your brother has buffaloes with overflowing udders. These buffaloes think of their calves and the mere thought makes their udders gush with milk, muddying the cowshed. Such a wealthy cowherd’s sister are you.

We are at your doorstep, trying to wake you up. It is early morning and the dew is slowly dropping on our head. We sing the praise of our favorite Lord, who in his anger destroyed Ravana, the king of Lanka. You hear us, yet you don’t reply back. Wake up atleast now. What sort of long sleep is this? The whole neighbourhood hears us and knows that you are still asleep. Wake up and join us, my friend!”

Thiruppavai – 11

From faultless cowherd clan – that milks hordes
of young cows and destroys enemies in battles –
are you, O’ golden creeper like slender girl;
Come join us, O’ stylish peacock like girl
with waist curved like a snake’s hood;
While all your friends have come to your courtyard
and are singing the praise of dark hued Kannan,
you, a wealthy girl, lie unmoved and silent;
What’s the meaning of this sleep, my friend?

கற்றுக் கறவைக் கணங்கள் பலகறந்து
செற்றார் திறலழியச் சென்று செருச்செய்யும்
குற்றம்ஒன் றில்லாத கோவலர்த்தம் பொற்கொடியே
புற்றுஅரவு அல்குல் புனமயிலே போதராய்
சுற்றத்து தோழிமார் எல்லாரும் வந்துநின்
முற்றம் புகுந்து முகில்வண்ணன் பேர்பாட
சிற்றாதே பேசாதே செல்வபெண் டாட்டிநீ
எற்றுக்கு உறங்கும் பொருளேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

One of her friends is still asleep, not waking up. Andal tells her, “You are from the proud cowherd clan that milks hordes of cows tirelessly, and when it comes to battles, destroys its enemies fearlessly. O’ you slender golden creeper like girl from such a great clan; O’ you stylish beauty like a preening peacock. Your waist is curved like a snake’s hood.

We, your frieds are at your courtyard singing the praise of our dark hued Kannan. But you, a wealthy girl, are lying unmoving and silent. What is the meaning of such a sleep, my friend?”

அல்குல் is a contentious word in Tamil, due to its two different meanings. It is either ‘waist’ or ‘pudendum’ based on context. In this poem, it is interpreted as waist.

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