Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Naanmanik Kadigai – 41

At the time of birth life doesn’t turn back even if ordered
At the time of death it doesn’t stay back even if ordered;
If Goddess of wealth wills, wealth will multiply on its own
When she leaves, things will vanish

பிறக்குங்கால் பேரெனவும் பேரா இறக்குங்கால்
நில்லெனவும் நில்லா உயிரெனைத்தும் – நல்லாள்
உடம்படின் தானே பெருகுங் – கெடும்பொழுதில்
கண்டனவுங் காணாக் கெடும்.

In this verse the poet brings a fatalistic attitude towards life and wealth. When a life is born, even if orders it to turn back it will still be born. Nothing in this world can stop life. Similarly at the time of death, when one orders life to stay back, it will not. Nothing in this world can stop death. Similarly, if Goddess of wealth looks favourably at a person, their wealth will multiply on its own even without them doing anything. But when she leaves, all things that were in front of their eyes too will leave. In essence, what is to happen will happen. No one can stop it.

பேரா – will not go back
நல்லாள் – good lady – Goddess of wealth
உடம்படின் – if she is amenable
கெடும் – leave

Thirukkural 546

Spear isn’t what gives victory; it is Ruler’s sceptre,
That too only if it’s upright.

வேல் அன்று, வென்றி தருவது; மன்னவன்
கோல்; அதூஉம், கோடாது எனின்

A Ruler’s victory is not dependent on the strength of his arms but the fairness of his justice.

வேல் – spear

வென்றி – வெற்றி – victory

கோல் – செங்கோல் – sceptre

கோடு – bent / கோடாது – unbent / upright

Thirukkural – 1217

The cruel one doesn’t bestow his affection in reality,
Then why in my dreams does he torment me?

நனவினா னல்காக் கொடியார் கனவினான்
என்னெம்மைப் பீழிப் பது.

He has been away for a while and she is pining for him. When she is awake his absence makes her sick. When she sleeps, he appears in her dreams and torments her further. This is her lament.

நனவு – reality
நல்குதல் – to bestow
கொடியர் – cruel one
கனவு – dream
பீழித்தல் – to torment

Thirukkural – 628

He who doesn’t seek pleasure but knows distress is normal,
Will not be afflicted with grief.

இன்பம் விழையான், ‘இடும்பை இயல்பு’ என்பான்,
துன்பம் உறுதல் இலன்.

A man who does not seek pleasure in life knows sorrow is natural human condition. Since he know this, he will not be bogged down by grief.

விழை – desire, விழையான் – he who does not desire
இடும்பை – distress / sorrow
இயல்பு – natural / normal
உறுதல் – feel

Kar Naarpathu – 24

Hilly forest smells of musth elephant now;
Dark clouds are raining at night time too;
Long dark haired girl won’t bear it anymore;
Leave all work aside and go to her, my heart!

எல்லா வினையும் கிடப்ப, எழு, நெஞ்சே!
கல் ஓங்கு கானம் களிற்றின் மதம் நாறும்;
பல் இருங் கூந்தல் பணி நோனாள்; கார் வானம்
எல்லியும் தோன்றும், பெயல்.

He has gone away in search of wealth, promising her that he will be back by winter season. It is winter now. He tells his heart “Elephants are in musth period and the hilly forest smells of their temporal secretion. Dark clouds are raining even at night time now. All these signs mean winter is here. My dark haired lover who held on to my words of assurance won’t be able to bear the separation anymore. So, my heart, leave aside whatever work you are doing, and go to her”

கல் ஓங்கு – rising hill

கானம் – forest

களிறு – elephant

மதம் – musth secretion

நாறும் – smells

பல் இருங் கூந்தல் – long black haired

பணி – word (promise)

நோனாள் – won’t suffer / bear (anymore)

கார் வானம் – dark rain clouds

எல்லி – night

பெயல் – rain

Thirumurugaattrup Padai – Thanip Paadal

I put my trust in no one but you,
I’d never follow someone else in future too;
O’ twelve armed handsome God!O’Spear wielding Lord!
O’ Resident of Tiruchendur!
You clear grievous obstacles faced by celestials too!

உன்னை யொழிய வொருவரையு நம்புகிலேன்
பின்னை யொருவரையான் பின் செல்லேன் – பன்னிருகைக்
கோலப்பா வானோர் கொடியவினை தீர்த்தருளும்
வேலப்பா செந்திவாழ் வே.

This is a latter day addition to Thirumurugaattrup Padai, a Sangam era work that praises Murugan, the Supreme Tamil God. The poet says “I trust only you Muruga. I won’t go behind any other God, not now, not in the future. You are a twelve armed handsome God. Even the celestials beseech you when they face obstacles and you save them with your spear. O’ Resident of Tiruchendur, You are my saviour”

செந்தி – திருச்செந்தூர் – Tiruchendur , an important Murugan Temple

Thirukkural – 1227

Budding at dawn and blossoming through the day,
By evening fully blooms this malady.

காலை யரும்பிப் பகலெல்லாம் போதாகி
மாலை மலருமிந் நோய்.

When her friend asks her why she is sick, she says “As I got up in the morning I started missing him. This love sickness was just a bud then. But through out the day it started gnawing my heart, blossoming like a flower from the bud. By the time evening arrived it is in full bloom and I’m completely consumed by this love sickness”

அரும்பு – bud

போது – blossom / floret

மலரும் – bloom

இந் நோய் – this sickness / malady

Thirukkural – 485

Thirukkural 485

They wait for the right time, unruffled,
Those who plan to conquer the world.

காலங் கருதி இருப்பர் கலங்காது
ஞாலங் கருது பவர்.

Those who plan to conquer the world will wait for the opportune time. They are confident of their strength,so are unruffled by waiting.

காலம் – time (right time)
கருதி – think / calculate / plan
இருப்பர் – wait
கலங்காது – undisturbed
ஞாலம் – world

If you are a Tamil, note the use of word ங், how it gives a rhythm to the couplet.

Naaladiyaar – 152

Whether it is achievable or not,
Wise men aim to do admirable deeds;
Is a spear that missed a lion lesser
to an arrow that pierced a fox’s heart?

இசையும் எனினும், இசையாதுஎனினும்,
வசை தீர எண்ணுவர், சான்றோர்;-விசையின்
நரிமா உளம் கிழித்த அம்பினின் தீதோ,
அரிமாப் பிழைப்ப எய்த கோல்?

Learned people aim to do deeds that are admirable and difficult to do. They are not worried about whether it is achievable or not. They put in their best efforts and aim high. A spear that missed killing a lion is no way lesser to an arrow that struck a fox’s heart. Aim high, even if there is a possibility of failure.

This verse is similar to Thirukkural – 772

கான முயலெய்த வம்பினில் யானை
பிழைத்தவே லேந்த லினிது.

இசை – possible (to achieve) / achievable
வசை தீர – blameless / exemplary
எண்ணுதல் – intend / aim
நரி மா – fox (animal)
உளம் – Heart
அரிமா – Lion
பிழைப்ப – let it survive / missed (killing)
கோல் – spear


Thirukkural – 828

Thirukkural – 828.

In folded hands of foes, lie concealed arms too;
Likewise, in their tears too.

தொழுத கையுள்ளும் படை ஒடுங்கும்; ஒன்னார்
அழுத கண்ணீரும், அனைத்து.

When an enemy comes with folded hands , be careful. He might conceal weapons in his hands. Similarly be careful of their tears too. Behind it will lie danger.

தொழுத – folded hands
படை – weapons / arms
ஒடுங்கும் – hidden
ஒன்னார் – enemy
அனைத்து – similarly

Post Navigation