Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Thiruvempavai”

Thiruvempavai – 14

With ear rings dangling, golden jewels swaying,
Flowers separating from braided hair, swarm of bees buzzing
Let’s bathe in the cold pond, sing the praise of Chidambaram*,
sing the essence of Vedas, extol him who personifies it,
golrify Paranjothi the infinite flame, hail the yellow flowers on his head,
sing his nature of being the origin and the end;
Bangle wearing Goddess Uma, who reveals Him to us step by step
And foster us to fulfillment, let’s sing her praise and take a dip, my friend!

*Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram

காதார் குழையாடப் பைம்பூண் கலனாடக்
    கோதை குழலாட வண்டின் குழாமாடச்
சீதப் புனலாடிச் சிற்றம் பலம்பாடி
    வேதப் பொருள்பாடி அப்பொருளா மாபாடிச்
சோதி திறம்பாடிச் சூழ்கொன்றைத் தார்பாடி
    ஆதி திறம்பாடி அந்தமா மாபாடிப்
பேதித்து நம்மை வளர்த்தெடுத்த பெய்வளைதன்
    பாதத் திறம்பாடி ஆடேலோர் எம்பாவாய் 

In this poem the girls sing the praise of Lord Siva and his consort Goddess Uma while taking a dip in the temple pond. The girls’ ear rings are dangling as the enter the pond, their golden jewelery is swaying, their flower adorned hair braids come loose and the flowers float away, a swarm of bees buzz over those flowers. They say “Let’s enter this cold pond, take a dip and sing the praise of the Lord of Chidambaram. He is the essence of Vedas. He personifies it. Let’s sing that too.

Let’s sing the praise of Paranjothi, the infinite flame (Of the temples that personify Lord Siva as five elements ,Thiruvannamalai, the temple on which Thiruvempavai is written, is the Fire element). Let’s sing the blessed yellow flowers (Golden Rain flowers) that he wears in his head. Lets’s sing the praise of him who is at the beginning of creation and the end of it. His consort, bangle wearing Goddess Uma, let’s us realize him gradually step by step. She fosters us and helps us attain fulfillment. Let’s sing her divine feet and take a dip in this pond”

Thiruvempavai – 13

Because of the dark blue lily and brilliant red lotus,
Because of chirping birds and entwined snakes,
Because of those who come to wash off their sins here,
This gushing pond is like our God and Goddess together;
Let’ss enter and frolic in this pond with our bangles jingling,
and along with them our anklets tinkling;
Let’s enter these waters making our bosoms swell
And bathe in this lotus filled pond, my friend!

பைங்குவளைக் கார்மலரால் செங்கமலப் பைம்போதால்
    அங்கங் குருகினத்தால் பின்னும் அரவத்தால்
தங்கள் மலங்கழுவு வார்வந்து சார்தலினால்
    எங்கள் பிராட்டியும் எங்கோனும் போன்றிசைந்த
பொங்கு மடுவிற் புகப்பாய்ந்து பாய்ந்துநம்
    சங்கஞ் சிலம்பச் சிலம்பு கலந்தார்ப்பக்
கொங்கைகள் பொங்கக் குடையும் புனல்பொங்கப்
    பங்கயப் பூம்புனல்பாய்ந் தாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய் 

In this poem, the girls  equate the temple tank to the God (Siva) and Goddess (Sakthi) united in form. “One part of the tank is filled with dark blue lily flowers , like Sakthi. The other part is full of bright red lotus flowers, like the fiery form of Siva. Birds chirping is like the noise of Sakthi’s bangles. (The Tamil word குருகு stands for bird as well as bangle). The slithering snakes in the pond is like the snake in Siva’s neck. People  coming to the pond to cleanse themselves are like devotees who come to Siva and Sakthi to wash their sins off.

So this pond is Siva – Sakthi incarnate. Let us jump into this and frolic joyously, with our bangles and anklets tinkling noisily. As we dip into these waters the water gushes out. Our breasts too swell. Let us bathe in this lotus filled pond, my friend!”

Thiruvempavai – 12

He is the fount we dip in, to free ourselves
from miseries of life that shackle us;
He is the dancer who dances with fire
in the divine hall of holy Chidambaram;
This sky and earth and everything else
He playfully creates, protects and destroys;
Let’s praise him, plunge into the temple’s floral pond
– with our bangles tinkling, waist chains jingling, 
and over our flowered tresses bees buzzing – 
Hail his golden feet and then bathe in the mountain spring, my friend!

ஆர்த்த பிறவித் துயர்கெடநாம் ஆர்த்தாடும்
    தீர்த்தன்நற் றில்லைச்சிற் றம்பலத்தே தீயாடும்
கூத்தன்இவ் வானும் குவலயமும் எல்லோமும்
    காத்தும் படைத்தம் கரந்தும் விளையாடி
வார்த்தையும் பேசி வளைசிலம்ப வார்கலைகள்
    ஆர்ப்பரவஞ் செய்ய அணிகுழல்மேல் வண்டார்ப்பப்
பூத்திகழும் பொய்கை குடைந்துடையான் பொற்பாதம்
    ஏத்தி இருஞ்சுனைநீ ராடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

Poems from 11-15 are the girls singing the praise of Lord Siva while taking a dip in the temple tank. “Our Lord is the holy fount of waters we dip in to free ourselves from the miseries of life that fetter us. He is the dancer in the divine hall of holy Chidambaram. He is the creator, protector and destroyer of this world which he does playfully.

Let us praise him and take a plunge in his temple’s pond filled with flowers. As we take a dip our bangles tinkle, our waist chains jingle and bees buzz over our flowered tresses. Let us hail his golden feet and bathe in the mountain spring, my friend”

Thiruvempavai – 11

Into the wide pond swarmed by bees, we entered,
parting the water noisily, praised your divine feet,
and lived for generations as your servitors;
O’ fiery red hued Lord, covered in white ash;
O’ consort of narrow waisted, long eyed Goddess;
O’ Lord, we, as part of your sport of enthralling your servitors,
have been redeemed in all ways possible;
Save us from further tangles, my Lord!

மொய்யார் தடம்பொய்கை புக்கு முகேரென்னக்
கையாற் குடைந்து குடைந்துன் கழல்பாடி
ஐயா வழியடியோம் வாழ்ந்தோங்காண் ஆரழல்போற்
செய்யாவெண் ணீறாடீ செல்வா சிறுமருங்குல்
மையார் தடங்கண் மடந்தை மணவாளா
ஐயாநீ ஆட்கொண் டருளும் விளையாட்டின்
உய்வார்கள் உய்யும் வகையெல்லாம் உய்ந்தொழிந்தோம்
எய்யாமற் காப்பாய் எமையேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

The girls enter the temple tank, take a dip and pray to Lord Siva, before going into the temple. “Oh, Siva, you are fiery red in color, like a blazing flame. Your body is completely covered in holy white ash. O’ Lord, you are the consort of the Goddess with narrow waist and long , lined eyes.

We enter your wide temple tank, part the water noisily, take a dip and sing the praise of  your divine feet. We have lived for generations as your servitors. We have been part of the game you play in this universe, enthralling your servitors. And by your grace, we have been redeemed in all ways possible. Save us from further tangles, my Lord. Free us from this cycle of birth and death.”

Thiruvempavai – 10

Far below the nether world, beyond words, is his feet;
Far above all the peaks is his flower adorned crown;
He is not of just one form, has his Lady as part of him;
He’s the source of Vedas; Though Celestials and humans praise him,
Words aren’t enough; He’s a friend, resides in hearts of his disciples;
Oh’ girls from unsullied clans doing service in his temple,
Which is his town, what is his name; Who are his kin, who are not;
What’s the way to sing his praise? Please tell us!

பாதாளம் ஏழினுங்கீழ் சொற்கழிவு பாதமலர்
போதார் புனைமுடியும் எல்லாப் பொருள்முடிவே
பேதை ஒருபால் திருமேனி ஒன்றல்லன்
வேதமுதல் விண்ணோரும் மண்ணும் துதித்தாலும்
ஓத உலவா ஒருதோழன் தொண்டருளன்
கோதில் குலத்தரன்றன் கோயிற் பிணாப்பிள்ளைகாள்
ஏதவன்ஊர் ஏதவன்பேர் ஆருற்றார் ஆரயலார்
ஏதவனைப் பாடும் பரிசேலோர் எம்பாவாய்

The girls have now reached the temple of Lord Siva in Thiruvannamalai. They sing his praise and ask those who serve the temple what is the right way to praise him.

“Lord Siva is of immense form. His blessed feet are far beneath the nether worlds, beyond the reach of words. His flower adorned crown is far above all the peaks of the world. (This can be read as his crown is far above the end of all things. முடி in Tamil means crown as well as end. The word play is hard to bring in English) He is not of the same form through out. He has his Lady (Goddess Shakthi) in one part of his body. He is the source of all Vedas. Though celestials and human sing his glory, words are not enough to praise him. He is a friend, resides in the heart of his disciples. (In some commentaries, this phrase ஒரு தோழந்தொண்டர் உளன் is interpreted as he has innumerable devotees. Again word play with the word உளன் –  has / in heart).

Oh’ girls doing service in his temple. You are from unsullied clans. Please enlighten us. Which is his town? What is his name? Who are his kith and kin? Who are not? What is the right way to sing his praise? Please let us know!”

Thiruvempavai – 9

Oh, Ancient being older than the most ancient being;
One who can be more modern than future modernity;
We ,your honored slaves, who have you as our Lord,
Will bow at the feet of your adherents, be their aides;
We will choose only them as our husbands;
We will take their orders to heart and serve them;
If this wish of ours you grant us, my Lord,
There’s nothing else we lack for!

முன்னைப் பழம்பொருட்கும் முன்னைப் பழம்பொருளே
பின்னைப் புதுமைக்கும் பேர்த்துமப் பெற்றியனே
உன்னைப் பிரானாகப் பெற்றஉன் சீரடியோம்
உன்னடியார் தாள்பணிவோம் ஆங்கவர்க்கே பாங்காவோம்
அன்னவரே எம்கணவ ராவார் அவர்உகந்து
சொன்ன பரிசே தொழும்பாய்ப் பணிசெய்வோம்
இன்ன வகையே எமக்கெங்கோன் நல்குதியேல்
என்ன குறையும் இலோமேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

In the first eight poems, the girls were waking up their friends to go to Thiruvannamalai temple early morning and sing the praise of Lord Siva. In this verse they have reached the temple and pray to him, asking him to gran their wish.

“Oh Lord, you were there when this world formed. You are ancient than the most ancient being.  At the same time, you are one who has the ability to transform yourself into being more modern that even future modernity. You are eternal. We are blessed to have you as our Lord. We are your ardent devotees. We will prostrate ourselves at the feet of your servitors. Be their companions as they serve you. We will choose only those who follow you as our husbands. Whatever they wish for, we will take it to our heart and serve them.

To serve those who serve you, that’s all we ask for. If you grant  us this wish my Lord, there is nothing else in this world we lack”

Thiruvempavai – 8

As Rooster starts crowing, other birds too join the chorus song;
As the seven notes glorify him, white conch too booms along;
Peerless Paranjothi, his peerless mercy to all those far and near,
Peerless superior being, we sing his praise, don’t you hear?
May you be blessed! What sort of sleep is this? Open your doors;
Is this the blessing that ocean reclining Lord Vishnu bestows?
Lord Siva – the Eternal Being  at the end of Eons,
who’s one part woman – Sing his praise is what we ask, my friend!

கோழி சிலம்பச் சிலம்புங் குருகெங்கும்
ஏழில் இயம்ப இயம்பும்வெண் சங்கெங்கும்
கேழில் பரஞ்சோதி கேழில் பரங்கருணை
கேழில் விழுப்பொருள்கள் பாடினோம் கேட்டிலையோ
வாழிஈ தென்ன உறக்கமோ வாய்திறவாய்
ஆழியான் அன்புடைமை ஆமாறும் இவ்வாறோ
ஊழி முதல்வனாய் நின்ற ஒருவனை
ஏழைபங் காளனையே பாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

“It is dawn now. The rooster has started crowing. Hearing that all other birds too join the chorus and start chirping. Songs sung in seven notes proclaim the praise of our Lord Siva. The booming sound of the white conch accompanies those songs. Siva, in the form of infinite flame, is peerless. His mercy on his devotees is limitless. He is the superior being, matchless among the Gods. We sing his praise, don’t you hear that?

What sort of sleep is this sleep of yours? Even after hearing us you are still asleep. Come and open your door. Lord Vishnu is asleep in the milky ocean. We think he took pity on you and bestowed that sleep to you too. Is it so. Siva is the eternal being, who remains at the end of Eons. He shares a part of his body with the Goddess. Sing his praise is what we ask my friend!”

Thiruvempavai – 7

Oh’ Mamma! Is this sleep too a trait of yours?
Our peerless Lord, whom even celestials can’t fathom –
When you heard his temple music,
your mouth intoned Siva Siva;
As he was serenaded as the Southern Lord,
you melted like wax embracing fire;
But now, when we are at your doorstep,
praising him as our lord, our elixir, you’re still asleep;
You lay unmoving like a stubborn idiot;
how powerful is the hold of sleep, my friend!

அன்னே இவையுஞ் சிலவோ பலஅமரர்
உன்னற் கரியான் ஒருவன் இருஞ்சீரான்
சின்னங்கள் கேட்பச் சிவனென்றே வாய்திறப்பாய்
தென்னாஎன் னாமுன்னம் தீசேர் மெழுகொப்பாய்
என்னானை என்னரையன் இன்னமுதென் றெல்லோமுஞ்
சொன்னோங்கேள் வெவ்வேறாய் இன்னந் துயிலுதியோ
வன்னெஞ்சப் பேதையர்போல் வாளா கிடத்தியால்
என்னே துயிலின் பரிசேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

The girls still have not succeeded in waking up their friend. They exclaim “Oh, Mamma. We didn’t know that such a sleep too was a trait of yours. Our Lord Siva is beyond the understanding of even Celestial beings. He stands alone, peerless.

When you heard the music from his temple, your mouth reflexively chanted Siva, Siva. As soon as the servitors started serenading him as the Lord of Southern Country, you melted like wax embracing a fire. But today, when we are at your doorstep singing his praise as Our Lord, Our Elixir, you are still asleep. Like a stubborn idiot you lay unmoving. How powerful is the hold of sleep so powerful, my friend!”

Thiruvempavai – 6

O’ doe like girl! Yesterday you told us
“Tomorrow I’ll wake you up myself”
Where has your promise vanished now shamelessly?
Hasn’t it dawned yet?
Celestials, human beings, others – beyond their grasp is he;
He himself takes us into his fold and shows us mercy;
We are here singing the glory of his ankleted feet,
yet you don’t open your doors for us;
Nor do you melt hearing his name;
Only you can be like this;
But for us and others he’s our Supreme Lord
Come and sing his praise, my friend!

மானேநீ நென்னலை நாளைவந் துங்களை
நானே யெழுப்புவன் என்றலும் நாணாமே
போன திசைபகராய் இன்னம் புலர்ந்தின்றோ
வானே நிலனே பிறவே அறிவரியான்
தானேவந் தெம்மைத் தலையளித்தாட் கொண்டருளும்
வான்வார் கழல்பாடி வந்தோர்க்குன் வாய்திறவாய்
ஊனே உருகாய் உனக்கே உறும்எமக்கும்
ஏனோர்க்குந் தங்கோனைப் பாடேலோர் எம்பாவாய்

She has still not waken up. The girls chide her saying “yesterday you promised us you will wake us all. But you are still asleep. Hasn’t it dawned yet for you? We are here singing the praise of him who is beyond the grasp of even celestials. All our words haven’t moved you. You don’t melt hearing his name. This kind of attitude is possible only for you. But for us and others, he is the Supreme Lord. Come, join us and sing his praise”

Thiruvempavai – 5

Annamalai, whom Vishnu couldn’t fathom and Brahma couldn’t glimpse,
We can get to know, you lied through your teeth,
you milk and honey tongued trickster! Open your door;
Humans, celestials, others – beyond their grasp is he;
Even when we praise his beautiful form
and grace that enthralls us and soothes us,
and intone loudly ‘Siva, Siva’, You still don’t wake up;
Is this your nature, O’ our fragrant tressed friend?

மாலறியா நான்முகனும் காணா மலையினைநாம்
போலறிவோம் என்றுள்ள பொக்கங்க ளேபேசும்
பாலூறு தேன்வாய்ப் படிறீ கடைதிறவாய்
ஞாலமே விண்ணே பிறவே அறிவரியான்
கோலமும் நம்மைஆட் கொண்டருளிக் கோதாட்டும்
சீலமும் பாடிச் சிவனே சிவனேயென்று
ஓலம் இடினும் உணராய் உணராய்காண்
ஏலக் குழலி பரிசேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

She is still sleeping when her friends come to wake her up to go to the temple. They mock her words the previous day when she had said they can go and get to know Annamalai (which is the name of the hill as well as Lord Siva residing in the temple in foothills), whom even Vishnu could not grasp fully and Brahma couldn’t glimpse completely. But now she is still sleeping, all her sweet words uttered prove to be false. Siva is beyond understanding and perception of either humans or celestial or any others.The girls say we are praising such an omnipotent lord and intoning loudly at the top of our voice Siva, Siva. Yet you don’t wake up, is this your true nature?

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