Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Naaladiyaar”

Naaladiyaar – 214

Though they live nearby for days together,
one doesn’t warm to those not close to heart;
though they live apart for days together,
does one forego a soul mate’s bond?

பல நாளும் பக்கத்தார் ஆயினும், நெஞ்சில்
சில நாளும் ஒட்டாரோடு ஒட்டார்; பல நாளும்
நீத்தார் என, கைவிடல் உண்டோ-தம் நெஞ்சத்து
யாத்தாரோடு யாத்த தொடர்பு.

Friendship depends not on distance but on understanding.

Naaladiyaar – 219

Enmity is better than friendship of the fickle;
death is better than incurable sickness;
killing is better than cruel ridicule;
criticism is better than false praise.

தெளிவு இலார் நட்பின் பகை நன்று; சாதல்
விளியா அரு நோயின் நன்றால்; அளிய
இகழ்தலின் கோறல் இனிதே; மற்று இல்ல
புகழ்தலின் வைதலே நன்று.

This poem in Naaladiyaar (anthology of poems by Jain monks, dated around 2nd Century CE) is under the chapter “Choosing friends”. Enmity of the fickle minded person is better than their friendship. The next three lines imply why it is so, without explicitly stating it. My interpretation is as follows. A fickle minded friendship is like an incurable sickness. Death is preferable to that. A friend who ridicules heartlessly is worse than one who kills you. A friend who heaps false praise is worse than one who criticises.

Naaladiyaar – 161

Oh ruler of hills where waterfalls roar!
Thinking ‘he’ll bear it’, one shouldn’t upset
flawless men among us; once they’re upset,
it’s hard for anyone to set it right.

‘பொறுப்பர்’ என்று எண்ணி, புரை தீர்ந்தார் மாட்டும்
வெறுப்பன செய்யாமை வேண்டும்; வெறுத்தபின்,-
ஆர்க்கும் அருவி அணி மலை நல் நாட!-
பேர்க்குதல் யார்க்கும் அரிது.

This poem is under the chapter பெரியாரைப் பிழையாமை – ‘Not finding fault with Great men’. Just because a genius / great man bears with it, people shouldn’t upset him by their actions. Once a great man is upset, it is difficult for any one to clear the harm caused by it. Upsetting great men will cause much grief to the country. So the ruler and people should be considerate and not hurt them.

Naaladiyaar – 140

Of all available knowledge, if one learns
just worldly books and not books of wisdom-
it makes meaningless noise but is of no use
in removing confusion.

அலகுசால் கற்பின் அறிவுநூல் கல்லா(து)
உலகநூ லோதுவ தெல்லாங் – கலகல
கூஉந் துணையல்லாற் கொண்டு தடுமாற்றம்
போஒந் துணையறிவா ரில்.

This Naaladiyaar poem talks about learning for wisdom and not just for worldly purposes. Those worldly books will make much noise but are of no use in setting one on the path of righteousness and removing confusion. Since Naaladiyaar is an anthology by Jain monks after the Sangam period, it is tempting to think that they were dissing the earthliness of the previous era.

அலகு – limit, சால் – full. This phrase has been treated either as boundless knowledge or limited knowledge and the previous commentaries are all over the place. I have decided to go with ‘boundless’ – hence used ‘all’.

Naaladiyar – 356

Tribes remember abundance of the hills;
farmers remember riches of fertile fields;
Wise men remember kindness shown to them;
Base men remember scorn heaped on them.

மலைநலம் உள்ளும் குறவன்; பயந்த
விளைநிலம் உள்ளும் உழவன்; சிறந்தொருவர்
செய்தநன் றுள்ளுவர் சான்றோர் : கயந்தன்னை
வைததை உள்ளி விடும்.

The hill tribes remember the bounty provided by the hills and praise them. Farmers remember the riches provided by fertile fields and praise them. Similarly Wise men always remember the kindness shown to them and praise their benefactors. Lowly men only remember the scorn heaped on them and will try to take vengeance.

Naaladiyaar – 2

If your rightfully earned bounty materializes,
share the porridge of plowed grains with multitudes;
wealth never stays steadfast with anyone,
but rolls like wagon wheel on a run.

துகள்தீர் பெருஞ்செல்வம் தோன்றியக்கால் தொட்டுப்
பகடு நடந்தகூழ் பல்லாரோ டுண்க ;
அகடுற யார்மாட்டும் நில்லாது செல்வம்
சகடக்கால் போல வரும்.

This poem in Naaladiyaar talks about the impermanence of wealth. If you earn wealth that is justly due to you, share it with everyone. Because wealth never stays with one person but keeps moving like a wagon wheel. Even if you try to hoard it, you will lose it. So it is better spent sharing with others.

Naaladiyaar – 12

Friendships unraveled, wise men moved away
people’s affection too waned;- think about it;
What did you gain by youthful pleasure? pain
awaits you, like a sinking ship.

நட்புநார் அற்றன நல்லாரும் அஃகினார்
அற்புத் தளையும் அவிழ்ந்தன ;- உட்காணாய் ;
வாழ்தலின் ஊதியம் என்னுண்டாம் ? வந்ததே
ஆழ்கலத் தன்ன கலி.

This poem is about the ephemeral nature of youth. Since you put your pleasures first, your friendships unraveled, wise men moved away from you, affection of your relatives too weakened. Think about it. What did you gain by the so called pleasure. Like a sinking ship, your youthfulness will be lost suddenly and all you will be left with is pain.

Naaladiyaar – 35

Those who crushed cane and made cubes out of it early in the day,
won’t lament when it turns to pulp and is set ablaze;-
those who worked hard and used their life to do good,
won’t grieve when death appears.

கரும்பு ஆட்டி, கட்டி சிறுகாலைக் கொண்டார்
துரும்பு எழுந்து வேங்கால் துயர் ஆண்டு உழவார்;-
வருந்தி உடம்பின் பயன் கொண்டார், கூற்றம்
வருங்கால் பரிவது இலர்

Once you have got the sugar out of the cane, you won’t grieve if the pulpy residue is consigned to fire. You have got the best out of it. Similarly one who has used his body/life to the best of his abilities to do good deeds won’t grieve when death appears.  Because the purpose of their life is fully achieved and what is left is just the residue. Early morning is to denote that one should start doing good deeds early in life instead of postponing it.

The literal translation of the third line is “those who have strained to get the maximum out of their body”. The literal translation might give a completely different meaning from what was intended by the Jain monks who wrote poems in this anthology. This poem after all appears  in the chapter of “Reinforcing Morality” – அறன் வலியுறுத்தல். Hence I took the liberty to replace ‘body’ with ‘life’, to be true to the meaning of the poem.

Naaladiyaar -15

She who was my mother, died and left me here
to go to her own mother; one who was her mother,
too did the same; mother going to mother,
that’s all there to this world.

எனக்குத் தாய் ஆகியாள் என்னை ஈங்கு இட்டு,
தனக்குத் தாய் நாடியே சென்றாள்; தனக்குத் தாய்
ஆகியவளும் அதுஆனால், தாய்த் தாய்க்கொண்டு,
ஏகும் அளித்து, இவ் உலகு.

This Naaladiyaar poem explains the impermanence of youth and life. The young mother who gave birth to me is now dead and has gone where her own mother went. Previously her mother too did the same. Mothers dying and going away to where their mothers went, that’s all there to this world. No one’s youth or life is permanent.

Naaladiyaar – 83

Fear while going in; fear while returning;
fear during intimacy; fear while guarding secrecy;
as it begets fear all the time, why does one
unwisely covet other man’s wife?

புக்க இடத்து அச்சம்; போதரும் போது அச்சம்;
துய்க்கும் இடத்து அச்சம்; தோன்றாமைக் காப்பு அச்சம்;
எக் காலும் அச்சம் தருமால்; எவன்கொலோ,
உட்கான், பிறன் இல் புகல்?

This Naaladiyaar poem is straight forward. Naaladiyaar is an anthology of poems by Jain monks, compiled around 3rd Century AD. Coveting other man’s wife makes one fearful all the time. There’s no pleasure in it.

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