Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kapilar Agaval – Lines 25-33

Wealth is like a swiftly flowing swollen river;
Youth is like the eroding bank of that river;
Lifetime is like a tree perched on that river bank;
So, do your duty; and do that duty well;
And what you do well, do it today;
And what you have to do today, do now itself;
If you put it off saying I will do it tomorrow,
You never know if it’s your turn or Death’s turn tomorrow.

பெருக்காறொத்ததுசெல்வம்
            பெருக்காற்றிடிகரை
யொத்ததிளமை
            இடிகரைவாழ்மரமொத்ததுவாழ்நாள்
ஆதலால்
            ஒன்றேசெய்யவும்வேண்டும்
அவ்வொன்றும்
            நன்றேசெய்யவும்வேண்டும்
அந்நன்றும்
             இன்றேசெய்யவும்வேண்டும்
அவ்வின்றும்
            இன்னேசெய்யவும்வேண்டும்
அவ்வின்னும்
            நாளைநாளைஎன்பீராகில்
நாளைநம்முடைமுறைநாள்
            ஆவதுமறியீர் நமனுடைமுறைநாள்
            ஆவதுமறியீர்

These lines are from 15th century long poem கபிலர் அகவல். It is a 142 line long moral aphoristic poem.

Wealth doesn’t stay for long. It swiftly flows through like a river. One’s youth is like the river bank of that river, which is eroded quickly. And one’s lifetime is like a tree growing in that river bank. Once the river bank is completely eroded, the tree loses its roots and falls down. Likewise one’s life span also vanishes quickly.

As life is so fickle, you should not put off doing your duty. And you have to do it to the best of your ability. Do it today and do it now. If you put it off saying you will do it tomorrow, one never knows if tomorrow might be your turn or God of death’s turn

பெருக்காறு – பெருக்கு + ஆறு – swollen river
ஒத்தது – like
இடிகரை – eroding river bank
ஒன்றே – one thing (duty)
நன்று – well
இன்று – today
இன்னே – now itself
என்பீர் ஆகில் – if you say so
முறை நாள் – (your) turn நமன் – எமன் – God of Death

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One thought on “Kapilar Agaval – Lines 25-33

  1. Long time since I read these lines. Thank you for posting. I have a question and this comes from recent exploration of the sanskrit word “Dharma”. Would “do your thing” be a better expression that “do your duty”? After all Kapilar says. “ஒன்றே”, not “கடமை”.
    It may not be poetic… But interested to know how you see the word.

    Liked by 1 person

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