Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the month “June, 2021”

Kambaramayanam – 4279

Dazzling gem like colourful bees swarm and adorn
The beautiful Red Flame Lily that sheds honey and wilts;
It’s like Lady Earth folding her fingers in wonder
At how monsoon has conquered the summer.

நாநிறச் சுரும்பும் வண்டு நவமணி யணியிற் சாரத்
தேனுக மலர்ந்து சாய்ந்த சேயிதழ்க் காந்தட் செம்பூ
வேனிலை வென்ற தம்மா காரென வியந்து நோக்கி
மாநிலக் கிழத்தி கைகள் மறித்தன போன்ற மன்னோ

It is monsoon season and red coloured flame lily flower has bloomed. Flame Lily (Gloriosa Superba) is generally used as a simile for long fingers of a girl. Multiple coloured beetles and bees swarm about it, looking like gem adorned jewellery on a girl’s hands. As they suck the honey from the flower, the petals wilt and the flower folds in. It is like Lady Earth looking at change of season,  wondering  how monsoon has won over summer and folding her fingers.

This verse is part of Kishkinta Kandam , after the slaying of Vali and coronation of Sugriva.

நாநிற – நால் + நிற – multiple coloured
சுரும்பு , வண்டு – bee
நவமணி – nine gems
அணி – adorn
சார – swarm
தேன் – honey
உக – overflow
சேயிதழ் – beautiful petal
காந்தள் – Flame Lily / Gloriosa Superba
செம்பூ – Red Flower
வேனில் – Summer
கார் – monsoon / rainy season
வியந்து – wonder
மாநிலம் – Majestic Earth
கிழத்தி – Woman
மறித்தன – Fold

Thirukkural – 1252

This passion is merciless; without any respite
It controls my heart even at midnight.

காம மெனவொன்று கண்ணின்றென் னெஞ்சத்தை
யாமத்து மாளுந் தொழில்.

She decries her passion. She says that it lacks compassion for her. It gives her no respite, and dominates her heart even at midnight hour.

காமம் – passion
கண் – கண்ணோட்டம் – compassion
இன்று – not
யாமம் – midnight
ஆளும் – rule
தொழில் – job

Thiruvasagam – 8.33.6

You know what everyone needs,
You bestow everything to those who seek;
Brahma and Vishnu who sought to behold thy form
Found it hard to do so, but
On your own you enthralled me,
And showered your grace on me,
Whatever you gave is what I sought too;
Beyond that if there’s a gift I seek,
It’s only the gift of thy love.

வேண்டத் தக்க தறிவோய்நீ வேண்ட முழுதும் தருவோய்நீ
வேண்டும் அயன்மாற் கரியோய்நீ வேண்டி என்னைப் பணிகொண்டாய்
வேண்டி நீயா தருள்செய்தாய் யானும் அதுவே வேண்டினல்லால்
வேண்டும் பரிசொன் றுண்டென்னில் அதுவும் உன்றன் விருப்பன்றே.

In this Thiruvasagam poem, Manikkavasagar praises Lord Shiva as an omniscient being. He says “You are aware of what every being in this world needs. To those who pray to you, you give them all that the seek. Brahma and Vishnu tried to find the head and toe of your form to prove which one of them is superior. But they couldn’t behold your full form. Such a God like you took pity on me and took over my being fully. On your own you showered your grace on me. Whatever you gave is what I asked for. If at all there’s any other gift that I seek on my own, it is only your love My lord”

The wordplay with வேண்ட – seek, wish, desire, pray – that repeats in the verse makes it beautiful. It is hard to bring that word play in translation. வேண்டத் தக்கது – what is suitable, what one needs. It is not what one wants. As the Supreme God, you know what I need even if it may be something I do not want. Brahma & Vishnu wanted to prove their superiority, so you made it difficult for them to get the measure of you. But I’m a simple devotee who has given myself up to you. So, on your own, you took over my being and showered your grace on me. I don’t seek anything other than what you give me as you know better what I need.

அறி – know
மால் – Vishnu
அயன் – Brahma
அரிது – Difficult
பணி கொண்டாய் – captivated, enthralled
அருள் – grace
அல்லால் – other than
விருப்பு – affection / love

Post Navigation