Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 101 to 108

Tirukkural: Getting close to the original
In Spirit, Content and Style
The 'choicest' of all translations in English


This Tirukkural translation in English is drawn from a comparative study of 25 different translations. Sixteen of these were either complete or partial translations and the remaining nine were translations that appeared in articles, monographs and books authored by different people on Tirukkural and Tiruvalluvar. The choicest translation that is close to the original - in spirit, content and style - has been chosen for presentation. Preference has been given for brevity, simplicity and clarity. Emphasize was also laid on translations that manage to reflect, as much as possible, every word found in the original.  Sometimes translations of two authors were combined to produce the best reflection of the original. The translator or translators of every couplet have been acknowledged with their initials (eg. PS, SS, SB, VS etc.) in a separate column. The initials have been expanded with the full names of these translators at the end of this page. When no translation was found particularly satisfactory, I chose to render them myself. These have been marked by initial NVAn astrix (*) at the end of a translation indicate that the rendering has been improved upon, either by adding/replacing words or deleting words found to be unnecessary. To know more on the process of this comparison and criteria of selection, click here: ComparingTirukkural translations to unfold the best

Division II. Wealth (Continuation) 

101
Useless wealth
Translators
Notes
1001
A miser makes of his pile of vast wealth,
No more use than a corpse. *
PS

1002
Believing wealth is everything, yet giving nothing,
The miser is ensnared in the misery of birth. *
SS

1003
Their very sight is a burden to earth
Who hoard wealth and not renown. *
SS

1004
What legacy can one, who is loved by none,
Think of leaving behind?
SB, NV

1005
Wealth, though millions manifold, amounts to nothing
If one neither gives nor enjoys it.
NV

1006
Riches are a curse when neither enjoyed,
Nor given to the worthy.
PS

1007
Wealth not given to the needy goes waste
Like a lovely spinster growing old. *
PS

1008
The wealth of the unloved is like a poisonous tree
That ripens in the heart of a village.*
PS, SS
Yes
1009
Strangers shall possess that wealth
Amassed without love, comfort or scruples.
PS

1010
The brief want of the benign rich
Is like the monsoon clouds just shed its moisture.
SB, NV
Yes

Notes:
1008. Compare with 216.When wealth comes to the large-hearted, it is like the village tree coming to fruit” * - CR
1010. Compare with 219. “The poverty of a generous man is nothing but his inability to exercise his generosity” * - DL

102
Being ashamed
Translators
Notes
1011
Real shyness is to shy away from shameful acts.
The rest are like shyness of pretty women.
 NV
Yes
1012
Food, clothing and the rest are common to all.
Distinction comes from sensitivity to shame. *
 PS

1013
All souls abide in the body
And the goodness called modesty in perfection.
 NV

1014
Is not modesty the jewel of the great,
And without it a curse for their pride and demeanor? *
 SS, NV

1015
To the world, the sense of shame resides in them
Who blush for their and others’ blame. *
 SB

1016
The great would rather defend with modesty's barricade
Than breach it to acquire the vast world. *
 SS

1017
Men of honour give up life for honour’s sake,
But never abandon honour to save life. *
 CR
Yes
1018
Virtue will shy away from one who does not shy away
From what others shy from.
 NV

1019
Lapse in manners injures the family,
But every good is lost by lack of shame. *
 SB, PS

1020
The moves of those devoid of conscience
Are like those of puppets moved by a string. *
 KK
Yes

Notes:
1011. An alternate translation given by JN will explain this better: “Sense of shame to harmful acts and the blushing of pretty faces in modesty, are not the same”.
1017. Compare with 962. “Those who desire fame with honour will not sacrifice honour for fame” – PS
1020. Compare with 1058. “Without beggars this vast scenic world would be a stage of puppets that come and go” - NV
103
Social service
Translators
Notes
1021
There is nothing more glorious than to persist
In the advance of the community.
PS

1022
Manly exertion and sound knowledge:
A community progresses with these two. *
VS, NV

1023
The Lord himself will wrap his robes
And lead the one bent on social service. *
SS, PS
Yes
1024
Success will come by itself to the one
Who tirelessly strives for his society.
NV

1025
The world will flock round the one
Leading a blameless life doing social service. *
PS

1026
True valour lies in raising the community
One is born into. *
CR, VS

1027
As in the battlefield, the burden of social work
Also falls on the capable. *
PS

1028
There is no set time for social service.
To put off is to ruin repute. *
PS

1029
Is the body that protects one’s family against hurdles
A receptacle for hardships alone? *
VS

1030
Society will crash axed by misfortune
Without good men to support it.
PS


Notes:
1023. The phrase மடி தற்று means “tightening one’s loin clothes”. Does this in any way refer to the Jaina deities that are always depicted naked? 

104
Agriculture
Translators
Notes
1031
Wherever it whirls, the world must follow the farmer.
Thus despite hardships, farming is the best. *
SS

1032
Farmers are the linchpin of the world
For they support all others who cannot till. *
SM

1033
They only live who live by the plough.
The rest must stoop and trail behind. *
PS, NV

1034
The reign of many kingdoms comes under
The reign of those with abundant grain. *
PS, KK

1035
Those who eat what their hands produce
Neither beg nor refuse a beggar.
PS

1036
Even the desire-free hermits will lose their state
If ploughmen fold their hands. *
PS, KV

1037
If ploughed and dried to quarter its size,
The soil yields plenty sans even handful manure. *
JN, MS

1038
Manuring is crucial than ploughing. After weeding,
Protection is crucial than watering. *
DL

1039
If the landlord neglects his field visits,
The angry land will sulk like a neglected wife. *
SS

1040
Mother Earth laughs at the sight of those
Who remain idle pleading poverty. *
DL


105
Poverty
Translators
Notes
1041
What is more painful than poverty?
The pain of poverty itself!
 NV

1042
The demon of poverty takes away
The joys of this life and the next.
 KV, DZ

1043
That cancer called poverty destroys at once
The honor of ancient descent and clout.
 SI, SS

1044
Even in those of high birth, poverty will produce
The fault of uttering mean words.
 DL

1045
That misery called poverty brings with it
A diversity of sufferings.
 NV

1046
A poor man's words carry no weight,
However meaningful and profound. *
 PS

1047
Poverty, destitute of all virtues, alienates a man
Even from the mother who bore him.
 SS

1048
Will that hunger which almost killed me yesterday,
Pester me even today? *
 PS, SB

1049
One may sleep even in the midst of fire,
But by no means in the midst of poverty. *
 DL

1050
The poverty stricken has a chance to renounce,
Lest he hang around for salt and gruel. *
 KK
Yes

Notes:
1049. Compare with 896 for the use of same simile: “One may survive even if burnt in the fire, but no survival for those who offend the great” * - SS, PS
1050. Explanation: The poor might as well renounce and follow the path of asceticism, instead of depending on others for survival. Valluvar says in couplet 378 that “fate” is the reason why the poverty stricken have failed to renounce.
106
Begging
Translators
Notes
1051
Beg if you meet men of means.
If they refuse, the fault is theirs, not yours. *
SS

1052
Begging is a pleasure if what is asked
Comes without pain.
PS

1053
There is beauty even in begging
If it is before dutiful men with generous heart. *
PS, SS

1054
Begging from men who do not refuse even in their dreams
Is as honorable as bestowing.
NV, VS

1055
Men stand expectant only because
The world has a few who won't refuse.
PS

1056
All ills of begging will flee at the sight of those
Who are free from the ills of refusal. *
SS

1057
The glad heart rejoices within
When it sees one who gives without scorn.
PS

1058
Without beggars this vast scenic world
Would be a stage of puppets that come and go.
NV

1059
What fame can givers achieve
If there is none to beg and receive?
PS, NV

1060
The denied suppliant should not chafe.
His own want is proof enough. *
PS
Yes

Notes:
1060. i.e. proof enough to gauge the miserable condition of the one who refused. JN’s translation will help understand the import of the verse explicitly: “Seekers should disdain anger; the givers with good intent may also be in dire straits”. 

107
Dread of begging
Translators
Notes
1061
It is worth millions not to beg
Even from the precious ones who delight in giving.
JN, NV

1062
If some must beg and live, let the Creator of the world
Himself roam and perish!
PS, SI

1063
No greater folly than the hope that
Begging will rid the misery of poverty. *
PS

1064
No place can hold the greatness of those
Who don’t beg even during troubled times.
NV

1065
There is nothing sweeter than even the watery gruel
Earned by one's own labour. *
PS

1066
No greater disgrace for the tongue than to beg
Even if only water for a cow.
PS

1067
This I beg of all beggars,
"If beg you must, beg not from misers."
SS

1068
The hapless ship of begging will split
The moment it strikes the rock of refusal. *
VS

1069
The heart melts at the thought of begging
And dies at the thought of denial.
PS

1070
Where will the niggard’s life seek refuge
When the beggar’s life is taken by refusal?
MS, SB


108
Wickedness 
Translators
Notes
1071
The wicked look utterly like men!
Such close mimics we have never seen! *
SM

1072
More blessed than the good are the base,
For they have no scruples.
PS

1073
The base are like the gods.
They also do whatever they like.
PS

1074
The base are proud when they find men
Meaner than themselves.
PS

1075
Fear is the base man's only code;
Sometimes, greed a little. *
PS, GU

1076
The base are like drum, for they sound off to others
Every secret they hear. *
SS

1077
The base won’t even shake their wet hands
Unless their jaws are shaken with clenched fists. *
SB, SS
Yes
1078
A word will move the noble;
While the base, like sugarcane, must be crushed.
PS

1079
The base excel in finding faults of others
When they see them well clothed and fed.
NV, SS

1080
What use are the base in a crisis,
Save to rush and sell themselves?
PS


Notes:
1077. This couplet is well explained in this translation by SS: “The wretched are too inhospitable to even shake the moisture from their just-washed hands, unless the visitor can shatter their jaw with clenched fist”.
 


Key to the initials of different translators:
CR - C. Rajagopalachari
KS - Kasthuri Sreenivasan
SI - K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar
DL -W.H. Drew and  J. Lazarus
KV - K. Krishnaswamy & Vijaya Ramkumar
SM -S. Maharajan
DZ - S.M. Diaz
MS - M.S. Poornalingam Pillai
SS - Satguru  Subramuniyaswami
EL - F.W. Ellis
NC - Norman Cutler
TD - S. Thandapani Desikar
GU - G.U. Pope
NV - N.V.K. Ashraf
TK - T.K. Chidambaranatha Mudaliar
GV - G. Vanmikanathan
PS - P.S. Sundaram
VC - V.C. Kulandai Swamy
JN - J. Narayanaswamy
SB - Shuddhananda Bharatiar
VR  - V. Ramasamy
KK - K. Kannan
SD - S.D. Rajendran
VS - V.V.S. Aiyar
KN - K.N. Subramanyam
SG - G. Siromoney, S. Govindaraju & M. Chandrasekaran,


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