Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the tag “Valaiyaapathi”

Valaiyaapathi – 41

Youth isn’t permanent; pleasure isn’t long lasting;
Wealth too is like that; everyday is a flood of misery;
don’t think these are forever; prepare daily for salvation
like the farmer who produces seeds for next season.

இளமையும் நிலையாவால்; இன்பமும் நின்ற அல்ல;
வளமையும் அஃதேபோல் வைகலும் துன்ப வெள்ளம்
உளஎன நினையாதே செல்கதிக்கு என்றும் என்றும்
விளைநிலம் உழுவார் போல் வித்துநீர் செய்து கொண்மின்.

Youth is not permanent. It will be over in a jiffy. The pleasure you chase in youth isn’t long lasting. So is the wealth you think you have. Life is but a flood of misery. So don’t think these (youth, pleasure and wealth) are forever. Only the good deeds you do in this birth will help you achieve salvation. So be like the farmer who works hard but doesn’t consume everything he produces. He saves seeds for the next season from this year’s harvest.

This poem is from Valaiyapathi, dated to 9th Century AD. Valaiyapathi is a Jain epic and buttresses their religious view about salvation and rebirth. As with most Tamil works, all the words in this poem are still in daily use (except வைகல்).

செல்கதி – dictionary says “salvation”. Po.Ve.Somasundaranar in his commentary interprets it as “next birth”. I decided to stick to the dictionary meaning.

நிலை – permanent
வைகல் – daily
உள – there (foerever)
செல்கதி – salvation
விளைநிலம் – farmland
வித்து – seed

Valaiyaapathi – 3

You adore the dark hued, glossy, flower decked,
beautified tresses of women, my heart!
Beautified tresses and shaped hair buns
will burn in funeral pyres one day, my heart!
Though you’ve seen them burn in funeral pyres
why do you still hanker after them, my heart!

நீல நிறத்தனவாய் நெய்கனிந்து போதவிழ்ந்து
கோலம் குயின்ற குழல்வாழி நெஞ்சே
கோலங் குயின்ற குழலுங் கொழுஞ் சிகையுங்
காலக் கனலெரியின் வேம்வாழி நெஞ்சே
காலக் கனலெரியின் வேவன கண்டாலுஞ்
சால மயங்குவ தென்வாழி நெஞ்சே.

Valaiyaapathi, written in 9th Century AD is one of the five great epics in Tamil Literature. Only 72 verses of Valaiyaapathi are available now and from these it is difficult to ascertain the story of the epic. Based on the content of these verses, it has been concluded that this a Tamil Jain literature. Tamil Nadu had dominant Jain presence for nearly thousand years from 4th Century BC to 8th Century AD. It declined with the revival of Shaivism in 8th C AD.

This verse talks about temporary nature of worldly pleasures. Jain monks naturally advocated an ascetic lifestyle.

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