Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thirukkural”

Thirukkural – 337

 

Whether they’ll be alive the next moment they don’t know,
Yet they fret over a million things and more.

ஒருபொழுதும் வாழ்வ தறியார் கருதுப
கோடியு மல்ல பல.

People don’t know whether they will be alive for the next moment. Yet they think and worry over a million things and more.

The Tamil verse says கோடி – crore (10 million), I’ve use million for better reading in English.

பொழுது – day. So Parimel Azhagar interprets it as ‘end of the day’. Devaneya Paavaanar interprets it as ‘நொடிப் பொழுது’ – a moment. I have gone with his interpretation.

Thirukkural – 608

 

If laziness takes residence in a noble clan,
It will enslave them to their foes.

மடிமை குடிமைக்கண் தங்கின், தன் ஒன்னார்க்கு
அடிமை புகுத்திவிடும்.

If a ruler born in a noble clan lets laziness enter, he will lose control and become a slave to his enemies.

மடிமை – laziness
குடிமை – clan
ஒனானார் – those against / enemies
அடிமை – slave

Thirukkural – 1206

 

Thinking of days when I was one with him do I live;
How else can I still be alive?

மற்று யான் என் உளேன் மன்னோ! அவரொடு யான்
உற்ற நாள் உள்ள, உளேன்.

He has been away a long time.Her friend asks her to forget him and the affair. She replies, “How can I forget? The only way I’m alive is by remembering those days of bliss when we were in embrace. What else keeps me alive?”

Thirukkural – 68

To have their children wiser than themselves,

is pleasurable for everyone in this world.

தம்மின், தம் மக்கள் அறிவுடைமை மா நிலத்து
மன் உயிர்க்கு எல்லாம் இனிது.

When a child is wiser than its parents, it is pleasing not only to parents but to the whole world.

I have gone with Devaneya Paavaanar’s commentary. Parimel Azhagar interprets it as “Wisdom of children is pleasurable to the world, more than what it is to parents”

தம்மில் – more than themselves
தம் மக்கள் – their children
மா நிலம் – world
மன் உயிர் – humans

#ChildrensDay

Thirukkural – 997

Though their intellect is sharp like a file*, just like a tree are they,
those who lack virtue and grace.

*file – filing tool

அரம்போலும் கூர்மைய ரேனும் மரம்போல்வர்
மக்கட்பண்பு இல்லா தவர்.

Some people might be highly knowledgeable in their area of expertise. Their wit might be sharp like a file (tool). However if they lack characteristics (virtue / courtesy) that differentiate humans from other beings, they are dumb, just like a tree. Their sharpness is of no use.

மக்கட் பண்பு – நன் மக்கள் + பண்பு – characteristics of good human beings. I have taken some liberty to translate it as virtue and grace. Dr. G.U. Pope translated it as ‘humane courtesy’. Intellect is not explicit in original couplet. Literally it reads ‘Though they are sharp like a file’

அரம் – file (tool)
கூர்மை – sharp
மக்கட் மக்கட் பண்பு – நன் மக்கள் + பண்பு – characteristics of good human beings

Thirukkural – 483

Is there any work that’s impossible to do  – 
if done at the right time with right tools.

அருவினை யென்ப வுளவோ கருவியாற் 
கால மறிந்து செயின்.

No work is impossible to do if it is done at the right time with the right tools.

அரு வினை – அருமை + வினை – hard / impossible work
என்ப உளவோ – என்று கூறப்படுவது எதுவும் உள்ளதோ – is there anything called
கருவி – (right) tools
காலம் – (right) time
செயின் – செய்தோமென்றால் – if done

Thirukkural – 202

Since evil deeds beget evil, evil deeds
are feared more than a fiery blaze.

தீயவை தீய பயத்தலான், தீயவை
தீயினும் அஞ்சப்படும்.

An evil deed never goes unpunished. It will bring evil to one who did it. So it is to be feared more than a fiery blaze. A fire will burn a person then and there. But even if a person escapes retribution after doing an evil deed, it will follow them and will take its toll. Hence it is feared more than a fire.

பயத்தல் – beget / bring about

Thirukkural -277

Though outwardly (bright red) like the body of crab’s eye seed,
there are people, whose heart is black like its nose.

புறம் குன்றி கண்டனையரேனும், அகம் குன்றி
மூக்கில் கரியார் உடைத்து.

This verse is under the chapter கூடா ஒழுக்கம் – Pretense of Virtue. Thiruvalluvar says, there are people in this world who externally are virtuous like the bright red of crab’s eye seed (குன்றி மணி) body.  But their heart is black like the black nose of the seed. One should be pure externally and internally to be virtuous.

Crabs-Eye-seed

Crab’s eye seed – குன்றி மணி source : https://www.grow-trees.com/blog/social/facebook/crabs-eye-seed/

Bright Red is implied but not explicit in the original verse. I have added it to make the point clear.

புறம் – external
குன்றி – குன்றி மணி – Crab’s eye seed
கண்டு – looks
அனையர் – (people) like that
அகம் – internal / heart
கரியார் – black
உடைத்து – உடையது – (World) has

Thirukkural – 985

Ability of able men is humility; that’s also the tool
of learned men to turn foes to friends.

ஆற்றுவார் ஆற்றல் பணிதல்; அது சான்றோர்
மாற்றாரை மாற்றும் படை.

The real ability of able men is the humility with which they are able to build a team and work together. That humility is also the tool used by wise men to turn their foes into friends.

Friends is not explicit in the original couplet. It literally means ‘convert foes’. I have added the implied meaning to make it easier to read.

ஆற்றல் – prowess / ability
சான்றோர் – learned / wise
மாற்றார் – those who are against us / foes
மாற்றும் – convert / change / turn
படை – கருவி – tool

Thirukkural – 341

Whatever whatever one renounces, from those
from those he suffers no more.

யாதனின் யாதனின் நீங்கியான், நோதல்
அதனின் அதனின் இலன்.

If one renounces something, then that loses its power to make him suffer. Giving up something frees one from its power.

நீங்கி – to remove / give up
நோதல் – suffer

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