Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Pattinaththaar”

Siddhar – Pattinaththaar – Thiruvekamba Malai – 7

When we’re born we bring nothing,
When we die we take nothing;
Wealth made in between is a gift of Shiva
They don’t realise, and hoard it till they die;
What shall I tell these misers, Kanchi Ekambara?

பிறக்கும்பொழுது கொடுவந்ததில்லைப் பிறந்துமண்மேல் 
இறக்கும்பொழுது கொடுபோவதில்லை இடைநடுவில் 
குறிக்கும்இச் செல்வம் சிவன்தந்த தென்று கொடுக்கறியாது 
இறக்குங் குலாமருக்கென் சொல்லுவேன்கச்சி ஏகம்பனே.

This Pattinaththaar poem is part of a collection sung in praise of the deity of Kanchi Ekambara Nathar temple. He says “We bring nothing when we are born. We take nothing when we die. All that we make in between is a gift of Lord Shiva. But these misers don’t realise and do not give their wealth away. What shall I tell them?”

குலாமர் – Miser (slave to wealth, probably from Arabic word Gulam – Slave)

கச்சி – காஞ்சிபுரம் – Kanchipuram

ஏகம்பன் – ஏகாம்பர நாதர் – Ekambara Nathar (Name of Shiva in Kanchipuram temple)

Pattinaththaar – 12

Wife and kids and fame and wealth will come only till your doorway;
clansmen and kin upto cremation ground; Who’ll come further?
Even if grain sized or seed sized, good that you did earlier
will accompany and ensure your heavenly abode, I swear.

மனையாளும் மக்களும் வாழ்வும் தனமும் தன் வாயில்மட்டே
இனமான சுற்றம் மயானம் மட்டே வழிக்கேது துணை?
தினையா மளவு எள்ளளவாகிலும் முன்பு செய்ததவம்
தனையாள என்றும் பரலோகம் சித்திக்கும் சத்தியமே.

This Pattinaththaar (14th century?) poem talks about the futility of worldly attachments. Your wife, kids, fame and wealth will come only upto your doorstep when you die. Your clansmen and kin will take your body upto the crematorium. Who will accompany you on further journey? No one. Only the good that you did earlier, even if it was negligible, will accompany you and ensure that you reach your heavenly abode. This is the truth. So do good deeds and don’t hanker after fame and wealth.

Pattinathaar is amongst the most popular Siddhars (religious iconoclasts) in Tamil literature. His poems are commonly quoted even today. This particular poem received further fillip when Lyricist Kannadasan reworked the first two lines into a film song.

“வீடு வரை உறவு, வீதி வரை மனைவி, காடு வரை பிள்ளை, கடைசி வரை யாரோ, கடைசி வரை யாரோ~

மனையாள் – wife
மக்கள் – kids
வாழ்வு – life (fame)
தனம் – wealth
சுற்றம் – relatives
தினை – millet (grain)
எள் – sesame seed

Siddhar – Pattinaththaar – 17

Life’s false, death is real; so don’t wish
anyone harm, my heart! – while we think
our paunch is ours, dogs,foxes, ghouls and vultures
wait thinking it’s theirs.

இருப்பதுபொய் போவதுமெய் என்றெண்ணி நெஞ்சே
ஒருத்தருக்கும் தீங்கினை உன்னாதே – பருத்ததொந்தி
நம்மதென்று நாமிருப்ப நாய்நரிகள் பேய்கழுகு
தம்மதென்று தாமிருக்கும் தான் !

“Life in this world is false, death is the only constant. Keep this in mind my hear and do not think of harming others. Because we think our paunch is ours. But the dogs, foxes, ghouls and vultures in the graveyard wait for us thinking that it is to be food for them after we die.”

Pattinathaar was one of the prominent Siddhars (ascetic rebels) in Tamil nadu. There have been atleast 3 people named Pattinathaar, living in 10th, 14th and 17th centuries. This poem is thought to have been written by the second one, from 14th Century. I have not been able to conclusively decide which one of the three wrote the above poem. All their poems are clubbed together as Pattinathaar Paadal in texts. The leitmotif of all their poems is despairing of human life and praying to become one with God. The poems range from self flagellations to pleading to Lord Shiva. A set of soulful poems sung by Pattinathaar the first while cremating his mother is still recited by some communities during cremation.

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