Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thirukkural”

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

Thirukkural – 1140

They laugh at me in front of my eyes, these dolts –
Since what I suffer, they don’t.

யாம் கண்ணின் காண நகுப, அறிவு இல்லார்-
யாம் பட்ட தாம் படாவாறு.

She tells to herself these idiots (her friends) laugh at me because they don’t suffer the pangs of love as I do

கண்ணின் காண – in front of my eyes
நகு – to laugh
படா – don’t feel

Thirukkural 619

 

Though fate renders one’s work futile,
Efforts of toil will get its fair due still.

தெய்வத்தான் ஆகாதுஎனினும், முயற்சி தன்
மெய் வருத்தக் கூலி தரும்.

Sometimes one may not be able to complete a work because fate destined otherwise. But the effort of labor to do the work will not go unpaid. It will get fair rewards to the toiler.

தெய்வத்தான்- because of God
ஆகாது- cannot be done
மெய் வருத்தம்- physical labor

Thirukkural – 158

Those who arrogantly harm you,
thou shall win over with thy virtue.

மிகுதியான் மிக்கவை செய்தாரைத் தாம் தம்
தகுதியான் வென்று விடல்.

When an adversary arrogantly harms you, you should bear it with patience and win him over with your righteous ways.

மிகுதி – excess (arrogance)
மிக்கவை – harm
தகுதி – righteousness / virtue
வென்று விடல் – win over

 

Thirukkural – 864

One who is always angry and agitated is easy prey
For any one at any place on any day.

நீங்கான் வெகுளி; நிறை இலன்;- எஞ்ஞான்றும்,
யாங்கணும், யார்க்கும், எளிது.

A person who is always boiling with rage and lacks composure is not in his senses. He can be easily defeated any day any place by anybody. Those who want to succeed should learn to control their anger and be composed at all times.

நீங்கான் வெகுளி நிறையில னெஞ்ஞான்றும்
யாங்கணும் யார்க்கு மெளிது.

 

நீங்கான் – Never gives up (Always)
வெகுளி – Anger
நிறை Reserve / composed
இலன் – One who does not
எஞ்ஞான்று – any day
யாங்கண் – any place
யார்க்கும் – for anyone
எளிது – easy

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