Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Nammalvaar”

Nammalwar – Thiruvai Mozhi – 3381

Oh Gods, what shall I do? This night stands like seven aeons
in front of me and weakens my soul;
My Kannan, with chakra* in his hands, hasn’t come too;
Caressing cool breeze singes me, hotter than a fiery blaze.

தெய்வங்காள் என்செய்கேன்? ஓர்இரவு ஏழ்ஊழியாய்
மெய்வந்து நின்று எனதாவி மெலிவிக்கும்
கைவந்த சக்கரத்துஎன் கண்ணனும் வாரானால்
தைவந்த தண்தென்றல் வெம்சுடரில் தான்அடுமே.

This is a verse from Nammalwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi. Nammalwar is the most prolific of the 12 Alwars (Vaishnavite Saints) and has penned 1352 of the 4000 verses in Vaishnavite canon.

In this set of verses he imagines himself as a woman in love with Krishna. She says “Oh Gods! What shall I do now. This night stretches like seven aeons in front of me. This night weakens my soul as Krishna, with Chakra in his hand, hasn’t come to meet me. Because of his absence, even this cool breeze singes me much hotter than a fiery blaze.”

தைவந்த – is interpreted as ‘caressing’ in Vaishnavite commentaries, though I can’t find that meaning in Tamil lexicon. My instict was to interpret it as ‘cool breeze in the month of Thai’. But I’ve gone with the standard commentaries.

ஊழி – aeon
ஆவி – soul / spirit
மெலிவிக்கும் – மெலிவு செய்யும் – weakens
தண்தென்றல் – cool breeze
வெஞ்சுடர் – fiery blaze
அடும் – burns

Nammalvaar – 2654

One with a Golden crown, one with a thousand names,
one whose dazzling disc dims the stars- him
I kept in my heart as protective mom and dad;
henceforth, whatever happens does it matter?

அடர்ப்பொன் முடியானை யாயிரம்பே ரானை,
சுடர்கொள் சுடராழி யானை,-இடர்கடியும்
மாதா பிதுவாக வைத்தேன் எனதுள்ளே
யாதாகில் யாதே இனி

This verse is from Nammalvar’s pasurams. Nammalvar is considered the greatest amongst twelve Alwars (Vaishnavite saints) and has written 1352 of the 4000 verses in Naalaayira Divya Prabandham. His period is generally dated to 8th Century AD. The Vaishnavite philosophy of Alwars is qualified non-dualism (Vishishtadvaita), simply put – total surrender to the One. (I am not qualified to talk about nuances of philosophy. This is just my understanding.)

In this poem Nammalvar says “I have placed him – who wears a dazzling golden crown, who has a thousand name, whose disc dims the brightness of all the sun and stars in this earth – in my heart like my mother and father, who remove all obstacles in my path.Hence forth, whatever happens doesn’t bother me. Because I have totally surrendered to him, whatever happens is his wish”

If you can read Tamil, do read it for the cadence and simplicity of the verse. Nammalvar’s verses are known for their innate rhythm and are a pleasure to read out loud. I haven’t read all his verses. Chose this particular verse for its simplicity and universal theme. In this 1200 year old verse, except ஆழி, all other words are simple Tamil words still in use.

சுடர் + கொள் – stars + subsume
சுடர் ஆழி – bright disc
இடர் கடியும் – peril + removing (protective)
பிது – பித்ரு – father
எனதுள்ளே – எனது + உள்ளத்திலே – in my heart
யாது – whatever / anything

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