Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the category “Padhinen Keel Kanakku”

Naaladiyaar – 195

Good clan or Bad clan are just words,
no meaning do they have;
Hereditary fame and wealth alone are not enough;
Self-discipline, learning and spirit define one’s clan.

நல்ல குலம் என்றும், தீய குலம் என்றும்,
சொல் அளவு அல்லால் பொருள் இல்லை; தொல் சிறப்பின்
ஒண் பொருள் ஒன்றோ? தவம், கல்வி, ஆள்வினை,
என்று இவற்றான் ஆகும், குலம்.

Being born in a particular clan doesn’t make one good or bad. There is no good clan or bad clan. These are just words, they have no real meaning. Inherited clan pride and wealth alone are not enough to define oneself. Their self-discipline, learning and spiritedness define whether one is superior or inferior.

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.

Thirukkural – 1116

 

Unable to tell apart the moon and this girl’s face,
Stars are flustered up in the sky.

மதியும் மடந்தை முகனு மறியா 
பதியிற் கலங்கிய மீன்.

They’re meeting at night. The stars flicker and move. He says the stars are confused between her bright face and the moon , hence are moving about.

மதி – Moon
பதி – place of residence (sky)
கலங்கிய – agitated / flustered
மீன் – விண்மீன் – stars

Thirukkural – 591

 

One who is motivated, is said to have it all; Without it,
whatever else one has, does he have it at all?

உடையர் எனப்படுவது ஊக்கம்; அஃது இல்லார்
உடையது உடையரோ, மற்று?

Motivation is the most important possession one can have. One who has it is said to have it all. People might have obtained wealth and position by inheritance or circumstances. But if they lack the spirit, then it is as good as not possessing any.

Thirukkural – 337

 

Whether they’ll be alive the next moment they don’t know,
Yet they fret over a million things and more.

ஒருபொழுதும் வாழ்வ தறியார் கருதுப
கோடியு மல்ல பல.

People don’t know whether they will be alive for the next moment. Yet they think and worry over a million things and more.

The Tamil verse says கோடி – crore (10 million), I’ve use million for better reading in English.

பொழுது – day. So Parimel Azhagar interprets it as ‘end of the day’. Devaneya Paavaanar interprets it as ‘நொடிப் பொழுது’ – a moment. I have gone with his interpretation.

Ainthinai 50 – 42

Oh’ crooked legged crab! We request thee;
Let us feast our eyes on the chariot tracks of our lover,
who’s from the shore where waves crash ceaselessly;
Please don’t walk over them and erase!

கொடுந் தாள் அலவ! குறை யாம் இரப்பேம்;
ஒடுங்கா ஒலி கடற் சேர்ப்பன் நெடுந் தேர்
கடந்த வழியை எம் கண் ஆரக் காண,
நடந்து சிதையாதி, நீ!

He hasn’t come to meet her. She’s waiting for him in the sea shore. She laments to the crab, saying “Let me at least look at the wheel marks created by his chariot when he was here. I request you to please not walk over the marks and erase. If I can’t see him, I will see the wheel marks and assuage myself that he will come back.”

கொடும் தாள் -bent leg / crooked leg
அலவம் – crab
குறை – request
இரப்பேம் – I plead
ஒடுங்கா ஒலி – ceaseless noise (of the waves)
கடல் சேர்ப்பன் – man from the shore
நெடுந்தேர் – majestic chariot
ஆரக் காண – to see fully / behold
சிதையாதி – சிதைக்காதே – don’t destroy / erase

Thirukkural – 608

 

If laziness takes residence in a noble clan,
It will enslave them to their foes.

மடிமை குடிமைக்கண் தங்கின், தன் ஒன்னார்க்கு
அடிமை புகுத்திவிடும்.

If a ruler born in a noble clan lets laziness enter, he will lose control and become a slave to his enemies.

மடிமை – laziness
குடிமை – clan
ஒனானார் – those against / enemies
அடிமை – slave

Thirukkural – 1206

 

Thinking of days when I was one with him do I live;
How else can I still be alive?

மற்று யான் என் உளேன் மன்னோ! அவரொடு யான்
உற்ற நாள் உள்ள, உளேன்.

He has been away a long time.Her friend asks her to forget him and the affair. She replies, “How can I forget? The only way I’m alive is by remembering those days of bliss when we were in embrace. What else keeps me alive?”

Naaladiyaar – 101

Even if let loose among a herd of cows,
a calf is able to find its mother with ease ;
So is bad karma, in attaching itself
to the man who begot it.

பல் ஆவுள் உய்த்துவிடினும், குழக் கன்று
வல்லது ஆம், தாய் நாடிக் கோடலை; தொல்லைப்
பழவினையும் அன்ன தகைத்தே, தற் செய்த
கிழவனை நாடிக் கொளற்கு.

One cannot escape the consequences of his action. Wherever he hides, his bad karma will catch up with him. Like a calf that is let loose among a herd of cows. Though there are many cows, the calf will zero in on its mother easily. Like that bad karma will find and attach itself to the man who is responsible for it.

பல் ஆவுள் – among many cows
உய்த்துவிடினும் – even if let loose
குழக் கன்று – young calf
வல்லது – capable
நாடிக் கோடலை – find and join
தொல்லைப் பழவினை – bad karma
அன்ன தகைத்தே – is like that
தற் செய்த கிழவன் – one who created it / responsible for it
நாடிக் கொளற்கு – to find and attach

Thirukkural – 68

To have their children wiser than themselves,

is pleasurable for everyone in this world.

தம்மின், தம் மக்கள் அறிவுடைமை மா நிலத்து
மன் உயிர்க்கு எல்லாம் இனிது.

When a child is wiser than its parents, it is pleasing not only to parents but to the whole world.

I have gone with Devaneya Paavaanar’s commentary. Parimel Azhagar interprets it as “Wisdom of children is pleasurable to the world, more than what it is to parents”

தம்மில் – more than themselves
தம் மக்கள் – their children
மா நிலம் – world
மன் உயிர் – humans

#ChildrensDay

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