Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Nattrinai – 34

(When the faith healer says she is afflicted with the spirit of Murugan, her friend who knows the real reason scolds Murugan)

Near the brook where Goddess resides,
His lofty mountain slopes are ablaze
With leafy blossoms of blue lilies
And a sprinkling of red flame lilies;
Divine Maidens sway in trance
To the clamor of waterfalls;
Embracing the chest of the lord of those hills
Is the cause of her malady, Not you, you know;
Yet, because this Kadamba flower wearing faith healer
Looked up and invoked you, you’ve descended on her;
Though you may be a God,
You are surely stupid, Blessed Muruga!

கடவுட் கற்சுனை அடை இறந்து அவிழ்ந்த
பறியாக் குவளை மலரொடு காந்தள்
குருதி ஒண் பூ உரு கெழக் கட்டி,
பெரு வரை அடுக்கம் பொற்பச் சூர்மகள்
அருவி இன் இயத்து ஆடும் நாடன்
மார்பு தர வந்த படர் மலி அரு நோய்
நின் அணங்கு அன்மை அறிந்தும், அண்ணாந்து,
கார் நறுங் கடம்பின் கண்ணி சூடி,
வேலன் வேண்ட, வெறி மனை வந்தோய்!
கடவுள் ஆயினும் ஆக,
மடவை மன்ற, வாழிய முருகே!

Irreverence is the hall mark of Tamils. No one is immune to it, even Murugan, the foremost God of Tamils. Take this 2000 year old poem from Nattrinai for example. She has fallen in love with the man from the hills. Now that she is away from him, she pines for him and is lovesick. Her mother, unaware of this, calls the faith healer to cure her. The healer says she is afflicted with the spirit of Murugan, God of the Hills. Her friend knows the real reason castigates Murugan and hints to her mother about the love affair.

“It is said that near the brook in his hills Goddess resides. Next to that the hill rises loftily. The hill slopes are ablaze with leafy blue lilies interspersed with blood red flame lilies. Divine maidens, who worship the Goddess, sway in trance to the clamor of water falls from the hills. Such is his splendid hill country. Embracing his chest and then being separated from him is the cause for her sickness. You very well know that you are not the reason for her sickness Muruga! Yet, because this Kadamba flower wearing faith healer looked up to the skies and invoked you, you have descended on her and afflicting her. Though you may be a God, you are still stupid, Muruga!”

Through this poem her friend sends message to the man from the hills also. The practice was to promise marriage in front of the Goddess statue and convince the girl. Her friend hints “You promised in front of the goddess. She trusted your word and embraced your chest. Now that you have not kept your word, she is afflicted with this sickness. Though you know the reason, you are yet to formalise your union. You are stupid, Lord of the hills”

கடவுள் – Goddess
கற்சுனை – hilly brook
அடை இறந்து – surrounded by leaves
அவிழ்ந்த – blossomed
பறியாக் குவளை – unplucked / fresh blue lily
காந்தள் – flame lily
குருதி ஒண் பூ – blood red flower
உரு கெழக் கட்டி – beautifully woven garland
பெரு வரை – lofty hills
பொற்ப – shining
சூர்மகளிர் – divine maidens (kind of vestal virgins, in service of Goddess)
படர் மலி  – spreading wide
அரு நோய் – incurable sickness
அணங்கு – affliction
அன்மை – not
அறிந்தும் – (even though) you know
கார் நறுங் கடம்பின் கண்ணி – rainy season’s fragrant Kadamba flower garland
வேலன் – faith healer
வெறி மனை – to afflict
வந்தோய் – you came
மடவை மன்ற – Surely stupid

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