Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thirukkural”

Thirukkural – 400

Learning is the superior wealth that doesn’t decay;
Other forms of wealth are not equal to it.

கேடில் விழுச்செல்வங் கல்வி யொருவற்கு
மாடல்ல மற்றை யவை.

Education is one superior wealth for a person, as it doesn’t decay. All other forms of wealth will decay over time or can be taken away. Hence nothing is equal to learning.

கேடு – decay
இல் – இல்லாத – not
விழு – superior / excellent
செல்வம் – wealth
ஒருவற்கு – to a person
மாடு – wealth
அல்ல – not (equal)
மற்றையவை – others

Thirukkural – 339

Like falling asleep, is Death;
Like waking up from sleep, is Birth.

உறங்கு வதுபோலுஞ் சாக்காடு உறங்கி 
விழிப்பது போலும் பிறப்பு

Birth and death happen regularly in this world. They are inevitable. They are just like falling asleep and waking up. So don’t think that one will be here for ever.

உறங்குவது – To sleep
சாக்காடு – Death
விழிப்பது – To wake up
பிறப்பு – Birth

Thirukkural – 333

Of impermanent nature, is wealth; when one acquires it,
Do good that is permanent, right away.

அற்கா இயல்பிற்றுச் செல்வம்; அது பெற்றால்,
அற்குப ஆங்கே செயல்
.

Wealth is fickle by nature and will not stay with one person for long. So whenever one acquired it, they should immediately do good deeds that are permanent.

அல்குதல் – to stay / permanent
இயல்பு – nature
ஆங்கே – then itself / right away
செயல் – do

Thirukkural – 74

From love springs forth interest in fellow humans;
That effortlessly begets the gift of friendship of all.

அன்பு ஈனும் ஆர்வம் உடைமை; அது ஈனும்,
‘நண்பு’ என்னும் நாடாச் சிறப்பு.

When one’s heart is filled with love, one takes keen interest in others and empathises with them. This interest shown begets the friendship of all , without one consciously working towards it.

சிறப்பு can mean honour / esteem / special / gift. I have interpreted as gift, based on Devaneya Paavanar ‘s commentary.

அன்பு – love

ஈனும் – gives birth to

ஆர்வம் – interest

நாடா – unsought / effortless

சிறப்பு – gift

Thirukkural – 766

Valour, Honour, Marching on the path of virtue, Ruler’s confidence,
These four are the army’s defence.

மறமான மாண்ட வழிச்செலவுதேற்றம்
எனநான்கே யேமம் படைக்கு.

An army is protected by these four qualities – Valour of its troops, Honourable conduct, Following the virtuous path of its predecessors and being completely trusted by the ruler.

மறம் – bravery / valour
மானம் – honour
மாண்ட வழி – glorious path (of predecessors)
செலவு – to go / march
தேற்றம் – assurance / trust
ஏமம் – protection / defence
படை – Army

Thirukkural – 567

Thirukkural – 567.

Harsh words and punishment far exceeding the crime
Are files that wear down the Ruler’s conquering might.

கடு மொழியும், கையிகந்த தண்டமும், வேந்தன்
அடு முரண் தேய்க்கும் அரம்
.

A Ruler should not use harsh words nor give punishments that far exceed the crime. These are like metal files that wear down toughened steels. Citizens anger will similarly wear down the all conquering strength of the ruler.

கை – fault / crime
இக – beyond
தண்டம் – punishment
அடு – conquering
முரண் – strength / might
தேய்க்கும் – wear down
அரம் – file

Thirukkural – 1211

To this dream that brought my lover’s message,
What feast shall I treat it to?

காதலர் தூதொடு வந்த கனவினுக்
கியாதுசெய் வேன்கொல் விருந்து.

He has gone away to earn wealth and she is pining for him. She hasn’t heard from him for long. She dreams that he has sent a message. This makes her happy and she wonders what feast to prepare for the dream that acted as a messenger.

Thirukkural – 788

Like swift hands of one whose dress slips,
Rushing to relieve (friend’s) misery is friendship.

உடுக்கை இழந்தவன் கை போல, ஆங்கே
இடுக்கண் களைவது ஆம்-நட்பு.

When one’s dress slips, his hands instinctively rush to rectify it. One should act with the same swiftness to relieve a friend’s misery. That’s what friendship is.

உடுக்கை – dress
இடுக்கண் – misery
களைவது – to remove

Thirukkural – 370

If one gives up insatiable desire, that itself
Will give him a state of eternal bliss.

ஆரா இயற்கை அவா நீப்பின், அந் நிலையே
பேரா இயற்கை தரும்.

Desire by nature is insatiable. If one gives it up, the act of giving up desire will lead him to a state of unchanging bliss in this life itself.

This couplet is under the chapter “Giving up desire”.

ஆர் – fill ஆரா – unfillable / insatiable
இயற்கை – nature
அவா – desire
நீத்தல் – give up
பேர் – to change பேரா – unchanging / eternal

Thirukkural – 1177

Grieving, grieving, let tears dry up now
In eyes that longingly looked at him in love.

உழந்துழந் துண்ணீ ரறுக விழைந்திழைந்து
வேண்டி யவர்கண்ட கண்.

She hasn’t seen him in a long time and is crying. She curses her eyes that cry saying “You were the one that looked at him longingly and fell in love. You deserve all the pain. May you shed so many tears in grief that your tears dry up”

உழந்து உழந்து உள்நீர் அறுக-விழைந்து இழைந்து
வேண்டி அவர்க் கண்ட கண்!

உழத்தல் – to suffer / grieve
உள்நீர்  – inner water / tears
அறுக – let dry
விழைதல் – to wish / long
இழை – be intimate / love
வேண்டி  – wanting

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