Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the category “Padhinen Keel Kanakku”

Thirukkural 819

Friendship of those whose words and deeds differ
Is an agony even in one’s dream.

கனவினு மின்னாது மன்னோ வினைவேறு
சொல்வேறு பட்டார் தொடர்பு.

Friendship of people who say something and do something else is an agony,not only when one is awake but even when asleep.

Thirukkural – 950

Patient, Doctor, Medicine and Caretaker –
Constitute four components of the cure.

உற்றவன் தீர்ப்பான் மருந்துஉழைச் செல்வானென்று
அப்பானாற் கூற்றே மருந்து.

Thiruvalluvar talks of holistic approach to medicine. Cure for a disease is based on the type of patient, the treating doctor, medicine and one who gives medicine (nurse / caretaker). These four components constitute a cure.

உற்றான் – One who suffers
தீர்ப்பான் – one who cures
மருந்து – medicine
உழைச் செல்வான் – one who gives medicine / nurse / care taker
அப்பால் – these
நாற் கூற்று – four components

Thirukkural – 627

Realising that human body is a target for suffering,
Wise ones will not be distressed by distress.

இலக்கம், உடம்பு இடும்பைக்கு’ என்று, கலக்கத்தைக்
கையாறாக் கொள்ளாதாம், மேல்.

Wise people realise that the human body is a target for grief and suffering. Hence they will not be distressed when suffering affects them.

இலக்கம் – target
இடும்பை – suffering
கலக்கம் – distress
கையாறு – affliction / distress
கொள்ளாது – will not
மேல் –  high people / Wise ones

Thirukkural 496

Majestic chariot with strong wheels cannot traverse the sea;
Likewise, seafaring boat too will not travel in land.

கடல் ஓடா, கால் வல் நெடுந் தேர்; கடல் ஓடும்
நாவாயும் ஓடா, நிலத்து.

This couplet is under the chapter ‘Knowing the (right) place’ – இடனறிதல். Though a chariot might have string wheels it cannot travel in sea. It will sink. Similarly a boat that travels in sea cannot travel in land. It will run aground. Each is meant to be used in its place. Out of its place, it will become a liability.

Thirukkural – 661

Strength needed for a job is one’s mental strength;
All else is secondary to that.

வினைத் திட்பம் என்பது ஒருவன் மனத் திட்பம்;
மற்றைய எல்லாம் பிற.

Manpower, equipment and all other strengths needed to do a job are secondary to one’s mental strength in completing it.


வினை – job / work
திட்பம் – strength

Thirukkural – 1036

If hands of those who till their lands turn inactive,
Even those who renounced worldly pleasure, suffer.

உழவினார் கைம்மடங்கி னில்லை விழைவதூஉம்
விட்டேமென் பார்க்கும் நிலை.

If farmers stop tilling their lands and rest their hands idly, it will disturb everyone. Even monks who claim to have renounced worldly pleasures will find it difficult to carryout their duties in the absence of food.

உழவினார் – those who plough the land

கைம் மடங்கி – hands turn inactive

விழைவது – yearning / pleasure

விட்டேம் – gave up

என்பார்க்கும் – who say

நிலை இல்லை – can’t do their duty

Thirukkural – 1238

As I relaxed my embracing arms a bit,
Golden bangled lass’s forehead grew pale.

முயங்கிய கைகளை யூக்கப் பசந்தது
பைந்தொடிப் பேதை நுதல்.

He was hugging her tight, and thought it might hurt her. So he relaxed his arms. When his embrace loosened a bit, she thought he is going to take leave of her. That thought pained her immensely, and her forehead grew pale.

முயக்கம் – embrace / hug
ஊக்குதல் – loosen
பசந்தது – grew pale
பைந் தொடி – golden bangle (wearing girl)
நுதல் – forehead

Thirukkural – 1128

As my lover resides in my heart, I dread
eating hot food, lest it singe him.

நெஞ்சத்தார் காத லவராக வெய்துண்ட
லஞ்சுதும் வேபாக் கறிந்து.

Her friend asks her why she isn’t eating properly. She says my lover resides in my heart, so I avoid hot food as it might burn him.

What to say, Love is stupid.

வெய்து – hot

உண்டல் – to eat

அஞ்சுதும் – I fear / dread

வேபாக்கு – burn / singe

அறிந்து – I know

Thirukkural – 400

Learning is the superior wealth that doesn’t decay;
Other forms of wealth are not equal to it.

கேடில் விழுச்செல்வங் கல்வி யொருவற்கு
மாடல்ல மற்றை யவை.

Education is one superior wealth for a person, as it doesn’t decay. All other forms of wealth will decay over time or can be taken away. Hence nothing is equal to learning.

கேடு – decay
இல் – இல்லாத – not
விழு – superior / excellent
செல்வம் – wealth
ஒருவற்கு – to a person
மாடு – wealth
அல்ல – not (equal)
மற்றையவை – others

Naaladiyaar – 64

When unqualified people malign them,
Wise men don’t get hot under the collar;
Lowly people though take it to heart,
repeat it all over town, get furious,
and slam themselves into a pillar in anger.

நேர்த்து நிகரல்லார் நீரல்ல சொல்லியக்கால்
வேர்த்து வெகுளார் விழுமியோர் – ஓர்த்தனை
உள்ளத்தான் உள்ளி உரைத்துராய் ஊர்கேட்பத்
துள்ளித்தூண் முட்டுமாம் கீழ்.

When some one who in unqualified thinks of himself as an equal and maligns, wise men don’t get angry and hot under the collar. They just ignore the words. But lowly people keep thinking of the slur uttered against them. They take the words to heart, keep repeating it all over the town, build up their anger and in their rage slam themselves into a nearby pillar. There is no point in taking the slurs uttered by unequal people to heart. To keep thinking of it only harms the person who was slurred against. It is wise to just ignore and move on.

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