Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “January, 2019”

Thiruppavai – 19

My Lord, in the room lit by oil lamps,
Atop a soft mattress on an ivory legged cot,
You’re asleep with flower braided Nappinnai,
whose breasts rest on your flower strewn chest;
Please respond to us!
O’ eyelined Nappinnai!
You aren’t letting Him leave the bed, even for a moment;
You can’t bear to be away from him, even for a second;
Honestly, this isn’t fair on your part!

குத்து விளக்கெரிய கோட்டுக்கால் கட்டில்மேல்
மெத்தென்ற பஞ்ச சயனத்தின் மேல்ஏறிக்
கொத்தலர் பூங்குழல் நப்பினை கொங்கைமேல்
வைத்துக் கிடந்த மலர்மார்பா வாய்திறவாய்
மைத்தடம் கண்ணினாய் நீஉன் மணாளனை
எத்தனை போதும் துயிலெழ ஒட்டாய்காண்
எத்தனையேலும் பிரிவுஆற்ற கில்லாயால்
தத்துவம் அன்று தகவேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

The girls ask Krishna to open the door and bless them with his presence. They stand outside the  doors of his room and hail him. “Oh Krishna, the room you are sleeping is well lit with oil lamps. On the ornate cot with ivory legs, on top of a soft and fluffy mattress, you lie sleeping with Nappinnai who is wearing a bunch of flowers in her braid. Her breasts rest on your chest that is strewn with flowers from her braid. Please wake up and talk to us even if you can’t see us. Your word is enough for us”

Then they accuse Nappinnai of holding her husband back. “O Nappinnai, of long and lined eyes! You are not letting your husband get up from the bed, even for a moment. Can’t you bear to be away from him even for a second? You want to keep Him, the Lord of this world, for yourself all the time. Honestly, this isn’t fair on your part.”

நப்பினை கொங்கைமேல் வைத்துக் கிடந்த மலர்மார்பா  can be interpreted in two ways. Either as “Nappinnai, whose breasts rest on your flower strewn chest” or “Nappinnai, on whose breasts rests your flower strewn chest”. I have gone with the former interpretation.

Thiruppavai – 18

Like a rampaging elephant is he,
the resolute warrior Nandagopala;

O’ Nappinnai*, his daughter in law,
Fragrant tressed Lady, Open the door;
Look, everywhere the roosters are crowing;
Cuckoos atop spring flower thickets are chirping;
Milady with a ball of flower in your hand! Open the door,
With fine bangles in your lotus hands tinkling,
For us to joyously sing the praise of your husband!

*Nappinnai – consort of Krishna; a character unique to Southern Vaishnavite tradition

உந்து மதகளிற்றன் ஓடாத தோள்வலியன்
நந்தகோ பாலன் மருமகளே நப்பின்னாய்
கந்தம் கமழும் குழலி கடைதிறவாய்
வந்துஎங்கும் கோழி அழைத்தனகாண் மாதவிப்
பந்தல்மேல் பல்கால் குயிலினங்கள் கூவினகாண்
பந்துஆர் விரலிஉன் மைத்துனன் பேர்பாடச்
செந்தா மரைக்கையால் சீரார் வளைஒலிப்ப
வந்து திறவாய் மகிழ்ந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

The girls now hail Nappinnai, Krishna’s consort, to open the doors for them to sing his praise. First they praise Nandagopalan, Krishna’s father, who is like a rampaging elephant in battle field and a resolute warrior who never flinches. Then they say, “O’ Nappinnai, daugher in law of fierce Nandagopalan, please open your door. We know you are inside with Krishna, fragrant flowers in your tresses tell us that.

It has dawned already. We aren’t bluffing. Look, roosters are crowing all over the village. Cuckoos sleeping comfortably atop spring flower thickets too are awake and have chirped many times. Milady, who carries a ball of flower to play with Krishna, please come and open the doors with bangles in your lotus like hands tinkling. Let us sing the praise of your husband joyously”

உந்து – moving forcefully / rampaging
மத களிற்றன் – like an elephant in rut
கந்தம் – fragrant powder
கமழும் – smelling
குழலி – haired girl
கடை – door
திறவாய் – open
மாதவிப் பந்தல் – Spring flower (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiptage_benghalensis) shrub / thicket
பல்கால்- many times
பந்து ஆர் விரலி – girl carrying (flower) ball in hand
மைத்துனன் – husband
சீரார் வளை – சீர் ஆர் வளை – சீர் மிகுந்த வளையல் – fine bangle

Thirukkural – 751

 

To make even the unworthy into men of worth,
Is possible only for wealth and nothing else.

பொருள் அல்லவரைப் பொருளாகச் செய்யும்
பொருள் அல்லது, இல்லை பொருள்.

Even the unworthy& uncouth will be considered as men of worth as long as they are wealthy. Other than wealth there is nothing in this world that can make this happen.

There’s a wordplay in this couplet. பொருள் = Wealth,Thing or Worth. It’s impossible to bring that in translation.

Thiruppavai – 17

Our Lord who grants us clothes, water and food,
O’ Nandagopala, please wake up!
Foremost of all gentle womenfolk,the light of our clan,
O’ our Lady Yasoda, rouse yourself!
O’ Lord of Lords, you rose so big to measure the world
That the sky was just your waist high,
Give up your sleep and wake up!
O’ golden anklet wearing Baladeva,
You and your brother please let go of your sleep!

அம்பரமே தண்ணீரே சோறே அறம்செய்யும்
எம்பெருமான் நந்தகோ பாலா எழுந்திராய்
கொம்பனார்க்கு எல்லாம் கொழுந்தே குலவிளக்கே
எம்பெரு மாட்டி யசோதாய் அறிவுறாய்
அம்பரம் ஊடஅறுத்து ஓங்கி உளகுஅளந்த
உம்பர்கோ மானே உறங்காது எழுந்திராய்
செம்பொற் கழலடிச் செல்வா பலதேவா
உம்பியும் நீயுன் உறங்கேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

In this poem, the girls have gained entrance to the mansion (temple) and waking up the family of Krishna. First they hail Nandagopalan, Krishna’s father. “You grant us all that we need in this world – clothes, food and water. We thank you for that. O’ Nandagopala, please wake up”. Next they sing the praise of Yasoda, Krishna’s mother. “O’ our Lady Yasoda, you are the foremost of all gentle womenfolk. You are the light of our clan. Please open your eyes and rouse yourself.”

Next they hail Krishna. “In Vamana Avatar, you grew so big to measure the world that the sky was just your waist high, Krishna. Give up your sleep and wake up to bless us, your devotees”. Finally they hail Baladeva, Krishna’s elder brother. “O’ golden anklet wearing Baladeva, is it fair for you and your brother to be still asleep when we are here to worship you. Please let go of your sleep”

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