Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the category “Padhinen Keel Kanakku”

Thirukkural – 439

Never ever marvel at one’s own self!
Never wish to do a deed that yields no good!

வியவற்க, எஞ்ஞான்றும் தன்னை! நயவற்க,
நன்றி பயவா வினை!

Thiruvalluvar’s advice to Rulers. Never think too highly of oneself. Never even wish to do things that do not result in public good. வியத்தல் – wonder / marvel எஞ்ஞான்று – any day நயத்தல் – wish

Thirukkural – 672

Delay doing things that need to be delayed;
delay not those that are not to be delayed.

தூங்குக தூங்கிச் செயற்பால தூங்கற்க
தூங்காது செய்யும் வினை.

Nature of some jobs need them to done in gradual fashion. One shouldn’t rush to do them. Some other jobs needs to be done without delay. They should be done at the earliest.
தூங்கு – delay

Thirukkural – 115

Loss or gain is nothing new; to not lose evenness of mind
is the adornment of the learned.

கேடும் பெருக்கமும் இல்லல்ல நெஞ்சத்துக்
கோடாமை சான்றோர்க் கணி.

To lose one’s possessions or to gain the same is not something new. It is natural in the course of life. So the learned scholars do not lose their mind and deviate from fairness in both cases. That evenness is what defines them.

கேடு – loss
பெருக்கம் – gain
இல் அல்ல – இல்லாதவை அல்ல – not something new
கோடு – deviation
அணி  – adornment

Thirukkural – 573

Of what use is a tune, if it is not harmonious to sing?
Of what use is an eye, that lacks a kind sight?

பண் என் ஆம், பாடற்கு இயைபு இன்றேல்?-கண் என் ஆம்,
கண்ணோட்டம் இல்லாத கண்?

A tune that is not harmonious to sing is of no use. It provides no pleasure to the listener. Similarly an eye that lacks compassion is of no use. Though one may see with those eyes, it is as good as not seeing. ‘Use’ is not explicit in the original verse. I have made it explicit in translation.

The Tamil word கண்ணோட்டம் means kindly / benign / compassion, with the root word கண் – eye; ‘looking kindly at the other person.’.

‘பாடற்கு – பாடுவதற்கு – to sing’. Both Parimel Alagar and Devaneya Paavaaanar interpret it this way. However Mu Va and others treat it as ‘பாடலுக்கு – to the song’. G.U.Pope too in his translation interprets it as ‘to the song’ . Hence my translation differs from his.

பண் – Tune
இயைபு – suitable / harmonious
கண்ணோட்டம் – kindness / compassion

Thirukkural – 305

To guard oneself, one should guard against anger!
If not guarded, anger will kill the angry person himself.

தன்னைத் தான் காக்கின், சினம் காக்க! காவாக்கால்,
தன்னையே கொல்லும், சினம்.

Thirukkural – 1266

My husband will come back one day; when he does,
I’ll relish him 
and get rid of this miserable sickness.

வருகமன் கொண்கன் ஒருநாள் பருகுவன்
பைதல்நோய் எல்லாம் கெட.

Her husband has been away for long and she is wasting away, pining for him. She says to herself, “One day or the other he will come back. And when he does, I’ll relish and savor his intimacy completely and get rid of this love sickness afflicting me”

கொண்கன் – Husband
பருகுவன் – will consume / relish
பைதல் – sorrowful / miserable

Thirukkural – 592

Possessing a will to achieve is real posession;

material possessions are transient and will depart.

உள்ள முடைமை உடைமை பொருளுடைமை

நில்லாது நீங்கி விடும்.

Thirukkural – 120

Fair trade for a trader is to care
for other’s interest too like his own share.

வாணிகம் செய்வார்க்கு வாணிகம்-பேணிப்
பிறவும் தமபோல் செயின்.

Don’t treat a trade as a zero sum game. Play for a win win situation. Care for the other party as much as your own.

Pazha Mozhi 400 – 249

Keeping mouth shut in an assembly of scholars
but boasting in an assembly of naive lackeys –
is like one who, afraid of enemy’s valour in battle,
strings a bow inside his house and shoots arrows amidst vessels.

நல்லவை கண்டக்கால் நாச்சுருட்டி நன்றுணராப்
புல்லவையுள் தம்மைப் புகழ்ந்துரைத்தல் – புல்லார்
புடைத்தறுகண் அஞ்சுவான் இல்லுள்வில் லேற்றி
இடைக்கலத்து எய்து விடல்.

Pazha Mozhi Naanooru ( 400 Old Sayings) is one of the 18 post Sangam anthologies. Each verse explains a proverb. In this verse the poet says “Some people keep their mouth shut in an assembly of scholars. But when they are in front of naive lackeys, they boast about themselves. They are like a man who afraid of enemy’s valour, doesn’t go to the battlefield; instead he strings his bow inside his house and shoots arrow amidst vessels in the house.”

The proverb here is இல்லுள் வில்லேற்றி இடைக்கலத்து எய்து விடல் – “String a bow inside house and shoot arrows amidst vessels”

நாச்சுருட்டி – நா + சுருட்டி – tongue + rolled tight – mouth shut
நன்றுணரா – நன்று + உணரா – not knowledgeable / dumb / naive
புல்லவை – புல் + அவை – lowly assembly
புல்லார் – enemy
புடை – battle
தறுகண் -valour / bravery
இல் – இல்லம் -house

Thirukkural – 66

‘Flute is sweet, Harp is sweet’ they say,
who haven’t heard their child babble away.

குழல்இனிது யாழ்இனிது என்பதம் மக்கள் 
மழலைச்சொல் கேளா தவர்.

Post Navigation