Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Thevaaram – 6.062.1

How affectionate our mother, father, kith and kin are;
Which of them will be with us?
Which wealth we accrue will support us?
There is none to help us once we die;
They will just light the pyre and walk away;
Oh
Lord of Thiruvanaikaa where perennial Ponni river flows!
Embodiment of Wisdom! My father!
Will I ever suffer from grief
If I attain a place at your Golden feet!

எத்தாயர் எத்தந்தை எச்சுற்றத்தார்
  எம்மாடு சும்மாடாம் ஏவர் நல்லார்
செத்தால்வந் துதவுவார் ஒருவ ரில்லை
  சிறுவிறகால் தீமூட்டிச் செல்லா நிற்பர்
சித்தாய வேடத்தாய் நீடு பொன்னித்
  திருவானைக் காவுடைய செல்வா என்றன்
அத்தாவுன் பொற்பாதம் அடையப் பெற்றால்
  அல்லகண்டங் கொண்டடியேன் என்செய் கேனே.

In this poem from Thevaaram (part of Saivite Canon, hymns praising Lord Shiva) Appar the poet prays to Lord Shiva at the town of Thirvanaikaa, a town at the banks of Ponni (Cauvery) River. He pleads to the lord saying “All relation ships in this world, however affectionate they are to us, who really is for us? Father, mother, relatives – can any of them really be with us? The wealth we accrue in our life time, will it be able to support us? No. Once we die, there is no one for us. They will light our pyre and walk away even before it burns down. So the only person for me is you My lord. You are the embodiment of all wisdom. You are my father. If I attain a place at your golden fee, will I ever suffer from grief ever”

In Tamil just the word எ stands for – ”எத்தனை (சிறந்த) – how much” . Bringing that brevity into English was tough.

எ – எத்தனை – how much
தாயர் – Mothers (including birth mother and nannies)
சுற்றத்தார் – relatives
மாடு – செல்வம் – wealth
சும்மாடு – support
ஏவர் – who
நல்லார் – good for us
செல்லா நிற்பர் – சென்று விடுவர் – will walk away
சித்து – wisdom / Knowledge
வேடத்தாய – வேடம் பூண்ட – Playing the role of / Embodiment
நீடு பொன்னி – flowing Ponni river (Cauvery River)
அத்தா – தந்தை – father
அல்லகண்டம் – grief / misery
என் செய்கேனே – what will I do (I won’t suffer)

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2 thoughts on “Thevaaram – 6.062.1

  1. சும்மாடு – it’s always lovely to see a colloquial term in classics isn’t it?
    I don’t know if it is a generic word for support-structure, I’ve only known it being used for the cloth covered, or cloth-rolled-into base that the labourer places on his bead to supports the load which he will place on top of it and carry.

    சோழியன் குடுமி சும்மாடு ஆகாது – the frontal tuft (purva-shikha) of the chozhiyan is no summAdu. It may look the part, it can’t do the job!

    Which has apparently morphed into the snarky சொலவடை: சோழியன் குடுமி சும்மா ஆடாது 🙂

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    • It is a cloth pad only as per Lexicon. But அப்பர் (or the உரைக்காரர்) uses it as a load bearing support. Was pleasantly surprised to see it here.

      Didn’t know of this etymology of சோழியன் குடுமி சும்மா ஆடாது 🙂

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