Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thirukkural”

Thirukkural – 620

They see even fate retreat –
those who strive hard resolutely.

ஊழையும் உப்பக்கம் காண்பர்-உலைவு இன்றித்
தாழாது உஞற்றுபவர்.

Those who put in their best efforts steadfastly, can even conquer their fate.

ஊழ் – destiny /fate
உப்பக்கம் – முதுகு – back
உலைவு – tremble / hesitant
உஞற்று – effort

Thirukkural – 752.

 

Have-nots are ridiculed by one and all;
Wealthy are heaped with praise by all.

இல்லாரை எல்லாரும் எள்ளுவர்; செல்வரை
எல்லாரும் செய்வர், சிறப்பு.

One’s wealth decides how he is looked upon by the world. Those who are wealthy are praised by everyone while those who are not well off are ridiculed by everyone.

எள்ளுதல் – ridicule
சிறப்பு – respect / praise

Thirukkural – 445

As governance depends on ministers acting as his eyes,
A ruler should surround himself with ministers wise.

சூழ்வார்கண் ணாக வொழுகலான் மன்னவன் 
சூழ்வாரைச் சூழ்ந்து கொளல்.

Governance of a country depends on the ministers who act as a Ruler’s eyes. They take information to him and advice him in people’s mood. So a ruler should surround himself with the wisest if ministers.

சூழ் – advice.

சூழ்வார் – advisor / minister.

Thirukkural – 338

Like a bird flying away discarding its eggshell
Is the relationship between body and soul.

குடம்பை தனித்து ஒழியப் புள் பறந்தற்றே –
உடம்பொடு உயிரிடை நட்பு

This Kural is under the chapter நிலையாமை – Impermanence. Valluvar equates a soul like a bird that discards its shell and flies away. This physical body is nothing but a shell.

For those who can read Tamil – The word குடம்பை can mean either ‘nest’ or ‘shell’. Devaneya Paavaanar explains here why he treats it as shell while some commentators treat it as nest. https://t.co/jgxSH2dS9s

குடம்பை – egg shell
புள் – bird

Thirukkural – 629

One who doesn’t delight in times of delight
Isn’t distressed in times of distress.

இன்பத்துள் இன்பம் விழையாதான், துன்பத்துள்
துன்பம் உறுதல் இலன்.

One who doesn’t get overjoyed and take joy to heart in times of joyousness, will not take the sorrow to heart too in times of suffering. He knows that these are but illusionary and he will be balanced at all times. Valluvar repeats the words twice in the first line and second. I have tried to bring the same in translation too, using them as both verb and noun.

While reading this Kural, I was reminded of the famous lines of Rudyard Kipling from the poem ‘If’, are written on the wall of the players’ entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”

இன்பம் – joy / delight
விழையாதான் – one who doesn’t covet
துன்பம் – grief / distress
உறுதல் – feel

Thirukkural – 332

 

Accrual of riches is like crowds thronging theater halls;
It departs too the same way once screen falls.

கூத்தாட்டு அவைக்குழாத் தற்றே பெருஞ்செல்வம் 
போக்கும் அதுவிளிந் தற்று.

This Kural is under the chapter Impermanence. Great wealth accrues to a person like crowds thronging a theater hall. But the crowd is not permanent. It departs once the show is over. Similarly wealth doesn’t stay with one person forever.

கூத்து – drama / theater
அவை – hall
குழாம் – crowd
பெரும் செல்வம் – great wealth
போக்கு – goes away / departs
விளி – over / (screen falls)

Thirukkural – 1196

 

One sided love is misery; if matched evenly
On both sides, like kavadi*, it is blessed.

ஒருதலையான் இன்னாது, காமம்; காப் போல
இருதலையானும் இனிது.

*Kavadi – pole carried on shoulder by devotees with sacrificial offerings on both ends. (Hindi – Kanvar?)

He has gone away to earn wealth. She pines for him. She says “Only I pine for him. He doesn’t think about me. One sided love is nothing but misery. Love is blessed when it is matched evenly on both sides, like the kavadi”

இன்னாது – painful
கா – kavadi

 

 

Thirukkural – 151

Like Earth that bears with those who dig her up,
To bear with the scornful is the best of virtue. 

அகழ்வாரைத் தாங்கும் நிலம் போல, தம்மை
இகழ்வார்ப் பொறுத்தல் தலை.

Though people dig earth up, yet earth carries them with patience. Similarly to bear with those who are scornful towards one is the topmost virtue. It is not easy though.

அகழ் – to dig / excavate
தாங்கும் – supports, carries / bear
நிலம் – earth
இகழ் – mock / scorn
பொறுத்தல் – bear

Thirukkural – 1118

 

If you can shine as bright as this girl’s face,
You too shall be my beloved, O’ moon.

மாதர் முகம்போலொளிவிட வல்லையேல்
காதலை வாழி மதி.

O’ Moon, You wax and wane, have spots in your face. If you’re able to shine as bright as this girl’s face, then you too shall become my love. But you can’t. So she’s my only love.

வல் – able

வல்லையேல் – if you’re able

Thirukkural – 896

Even if engulfed in a fire, one may escape;
But those who cause grief to noble men, cannot escape.

எரியான் சுடப்படினும், உய்வு உண்டாம்; உய்யார்,
பெரியார்ப் பிழைத்து ஒழுகுவார்.

Even if one is caught in a fire and singed, there is a chance for him to escape and survive. But causing grief to noble men is a sin from which there is no escape. One who indulges in it will have to suffer the consequences.

எரி – flame
சுடப் படினும் – even if burned
உய்வு – escape
உய்யார் – உய்ய மாட்டார் – 2will not escape
பிழைத்து – cause grief
ஒழுகுவார் – to do / act

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