Thursday, 12 April 2012

An attempt at translation

 I have made an attempt to translate the great Thirukkural, a collection of two line verses by Thiruvalluvar on more than hundred different topics. 133 to be specific.It is divided into three parts broadly. ARATHUPPAAL—regarding the duties of human beings. PORUTPAAL---related to economics and money aspects. KAAMATHUPPAAL----regarding a person's relationship with the opposite sex.
Here is a random selection of the verses. No specific order has been followed. Nor do I claim it to be any where near an authentic translation. Simply for the purpose of Yaam petra inbam peruga ivvaiyagam.
Here is the first set.

Idanai idanal ivanmudippan enraindu
adanai avankann vidal
--Find out with a good reasoning who can do a particular job well and
entrust the work to that person.
--Perhaps the best possible management dictum.

Thumminen vazhuthinalaga thiruthi azhuthal
Yarulli thummineer enru
--(There is a prevalent custom that when someone sneezes one who is nearby would utter a blessing word. There is also a prevalent custom that someone sneezes when another person who is far away thinks of this person). Here a man sneezes and his friend utters a blessing word by habit. But immediately she corrects herself and asks when I am here who is thinking of you to make you sneeze.
--(Arguably a good portrait of a possessive woman's nature.)

Iniya ulavaga innada kooral kaniyiruppa
kaai kavarn dattru
When there are pleasant words available, to utter unpleasnt words is like plucking raw, unripe fruits when there are ripe and sweet fruits available in the same tree.

Ellarkum nanram panithal avarullum
selvarke selvam thakaithu
Humility is good for all. It is all the more required for the rich to retain their richness. (Here richness has a wider meaning-- richness of not only wealth, but that of all virtues.)

Thanthai makarkatrum udavi avayathu
Munthi yiruppa cheyal
Parents' duty to children is to help them be among the firsts in any forum.

Makan thanthaikkatrum nanri ivan thanthai
ennotran kol enum sol
Children should reciprocate by making others wonder how fortunate his/her parents are.
(One might have noticed that I have used the neutral gender- parent, children in place of father, son in the original. Well I earnestly believe that would have been Thiruvalluvar's intention too. Atleast let me have some solace that way.)

Anyway here is one exclusively for mothers.

Eandra pozhudil periduvarkum than makanai(makalai?)
chandron ena ketta thaai

A mother would be happier when she hears her ward's achievements praised by others than when she gave birth to him/her


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Simply awesome. It is a wonderful attempt to translate and to give a beautiful interpretation to a great literary work. Undoubtedly Thirukkural portrays the virtues of a great Tamil legacy. I just loved your own interpretation; it's tinged with philosophical wisdom. Waiting 4 more to come.

    1. Thank u for the encouraging comments. Have u read Thirukkural?

  3. Aunty, Amamzing keep translating for the benefit of people like us who cant read Tamil.
    Always heard my amma say thats there is just one duty for us as children - "Makan thandaikku kattrum nandri ivan thandai ennotran kol yennum soll"
    Each of those kurals are pearls of wisdom. Looking forward for a part - 2 of this edition.

    Rema Raghavan

  4. தமிழ் எழுத்துருவில்லாமல் ஆங்கிலத்தில் குடுத்தது,
    "கனியிருப்ப காய் கவர்ந்தற்று"