Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 109 to 120

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 NV. An 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 III. Love
109
Fascination
Translators
Notes
1081
"A goddess, a rare peahen or a woman
Decked with jewels?" My heart is amazed! *
PS

1082
She returns my look with looks that strike
Like darts of an armed angel.
NV, KV

1083
I never knew yama before, but now I realize
That it is feminine and has warring eyes. *
KK

1084
She may have that feminine grace
But her look sucks life out of men who gaze. *
NV, SB

1085
Is it death's dart, or eye's beams, or fawn's glance?
Her look has all these three. *
GU

1086
It’s only when her callous eyebrows bend and veil her eyes
That my heart’s flutters cease. *
SI

1087
Like the veil over the face of a rutting elephant
Is the vest that veils her buxom breasts.
SB, NV

1088
Ah, there goes all my might which foes dread in fight,
When I face her brows beaming bright!
KV, GU

1089
What use are jewels to a damsel
Adorned with modesty and meek looks of a hind? *
DL

1090
Wine delights only when imbibed,
But never at mere look like love! *
VS, PS
Yes

Notes:
1090. Compare with 1201: “Love is sweeter than wine; its mere thought intoxicates” - PS and with also 1281: “To please with the thought and delight with the sight, belongs not to liquor but love” - PS
110
Reading hints
Translators
Notes
1091
Her painted eyes have a double effect:
One glance brings pain and the other cures.
NV

1092
A single sneaky glance of her eyes
Is more than half the pleasure of love. *
DL

1093
She looked, and dropped her head,
And so watered the plant of love.
PS

1094
When I look, she looks to the ground.
When I don't, she looks and gently smiles! *
PS

1095
Without looking straight,
She passes a slanting glance and smiles. *
KK

1096
They may speak like strangers, but the words
Will soon reveal their intimacy.
NV
Yes
1097
Words that look unfriendly and looks that look offending
Are signs of love in disguise.
DZ, MS

1098
Her gentle smile to my pleading look
Adds beauty to her gentle nature. *
PS, MS

1099
To look at each other as if they were strangers
Belongs to lovers alone.
PS

1100
When eyes with eyes commingle,
What do words avail?
PS


Notes:
1096. Compare with 1099 for similar ideas. 

111
Bliss of union
Translators
Notes
1101
In her alone, my jewel, can I find the five senses of
Sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. *
PS

1102
The cure for a disease is always different.
But this jewel is both disease and cure.
DL, PS
Yes
1103
Is heaven sweeter than slumbering
On the soft shoulders of the women you love?
SM

1104
Whence did she get the fire
Which burns when far, and cools when near?
PS
Yes
1105
Her flower-decked shoulders
Give me whatever I need, then and there.
MS, PS

1106
Her shoulders must verily be nectar
For they refresh my life whenever I touch. *
KV

1107
Like sharing one’s food at one’s own home
Is the embrace of this fair maid. *
KK

1108
Sweet indeed is that embrace
Wherein not a breath comes between.
PS

1109
To fall out, make up, and unite again are the gains
Reaped by those obsessed with love. *
PS, DL

1110
The more you indulge, the more you realize your ignorance.
Be it love or learning.
NV


Notes:
1102. Compare with 1275. “The trickery caused by the braceleted one carries the medicine to cure my ills as well” * - KV
1104. Compare with 1159. “Can fire, which hurts when touched, hurt like the passion of love even untouched?” - NV

112
Expressing her charms
Translators
Notes
1111
Hail thee, aniccham, the soft flower!
The damsel I dote is softer than thee! *
JN

1112
O heart, why get distracted seeing common flowers
And match them with her eyes! *
PS, VS

1113
She has a slender frame, pearly smile, fragrant breath,
Lancet eyes and bamboo shoulders. *
KK, JN

1114
Unable to match the eyes of this jewel,
Lilies droop down earthwards in shame.
KK, KV

1115
The solemn drums will blare if her waist is crushed
By the aniccham she wore with its stalk. *
JN
Yes
1116
The perplexed stars are all over the place,
Unable to tell the moon from her face.
NV, PS

1117
Are there spots on my love’s face
Like the spots on the shining moon?
NV, SB
Yes
1118
Hail O moon! If you could also shine as my love’s face,
You too I shall love. *
PS

1119
O moon, if you imitate my flower-eyed jewel’s face,
Stop revealing thyself to all.
NV

1120
Even aniccham flower and swan's down
Are as nerunji fruit to my maidens’ feet. *
 VS
Yes

Notes:
1115. aniccham – a flower known for its delicate nature. The idea here is that a woman’s waist is so delicate that it can’t even bear the weight of a delicate flower like aniccham if it is worn without removing its stalk.
1117. This couplet may look simple but has been translated differently. The word “
அறுவாய்” has been usually taken to mean “variable, changing or inconstant” [PS, SB] and thereby interpreted by many as “waning and waxing moon” [JN, KK, GU, MS]. However, the very next word “நிறைந்த” [which means “filled with”] clearly implies that this word means the ‘spots or craters’ on the moon [“அறு can mean “break, crack, split” and “வாய்” “mouth”].  Though the couplets in Kural are usually discrete and independent of each other, there are occasions – especially in division “LOVE” – where the succeeding ones appear in sequence [chapter 132 is a fine example]. Here it appears that the preceding couplet 1116 compares the lady’s face to the moon, with even the stars being unable to differentiate the two. This couplet takes the love’s face a step further and attempts to differentiate the two. Perhaps this is what is implied here: “Even the shining moon has spots of craters, but none on my love’s face”.  Commentator Manakkudavar’s gives a fitting explanation. He says:இவள் முகத்து மறுவில்லை யாதலான், அது மதியோடு ஒவ்வாது என்று கூறியது”.
1120. Simply, it means: “Even flower petals and down feathers are prickly to my damsel’s feet”. Flower aniccham is known for its softness and the fruit nerunji for its thorns.

113
Excellence of love
Translators
Notes
He



1121
Like a mixture of milk and honey,
Is the drool that drips through her pearly teeth.
NV

1122
The bond between me and this damsel
Is like the union of body and soul. *
DL

1123
O pupil of my eye! Be gone,
For there is no place for the maiden I love. *
MS

1124
Life is lively when she is around,
But dreadful when she leaves.
NV
Yes
1125
Recollection is needed if only I forget.
How can I forget her dazzling warring eyes!
NV

She



1126
So subtle is my lover’s form that he neither leaves my eyes
Nor is he hurt when I wink. *
SB, VS

1127
I will not paint my eyes and so lose
Even for a trice the sight of my love.
PS

1128
I dare not swallow anything hot
Lest it hurt my lover within me!
PS

1129
My eyes don’t close for fear of losing him.
Seeing this, folks blame him for desertion.
NV

1130
He dwells gladly forever in my heart.
And the folks say he is loveless and has left me. *
PS


Notes:
1124. Other ways of translating this couplet: “She brings life to my life when together, but death when she leaves” – NV. “Being with my love is life, separation from her death” * - PS

114
Abandonment of reserve
Translators
Notes
1131
Those that enjoyed love and now mourn in affliction
Have nothing but the madal for strength.
 GU, PS

1132
Away with shame! Soul and body can bear no more,
And will mount the madal.
 PS

1133
Modesty and manliness once I owned,
But now only the madal ridden by the lustful. *
 DL

1134
Alas, the raft of modesty and manliness is swept away
By the rushing tide of lust!
 DL, GU

1135
The maiden with her armlets of garland
Gave me the madal and the pangs of eventide. *
 MS, SB

1136
Even at midnight I think of riding the madal,
Unable to close my eyes because of her. *
 PS, NV

1137
Nothing grandeur than women! Their love may rage like sea,
Yet don’t mount the madal!
 NV

1138
Pitiless love with no regard for modesty,
Betrays itself to reveal the secrets public. *
 SM, PS

1139
Perplexed is my passion that it roves in public
With complaints of being unnoticed. *
 JN, NV

1140
Fools laugh so as to be seen by us,
Not having endured what we have.
 DL, PS


Notes:
1131, 1132, 1133, 1135, 1136, 1137. madal [
மடல்]: In the Tamil literary convention, a disappointed lover mounts a hobby horse made of dried palmyra leaves and has it dragged along the streets while he proclaims his intention to die if his lady-love continues to disappoint him. 

115
Spreading romours
Translators
Notes
1141
Rumours revive hope; Those that spread them
Luckily don't know this.
PS

1142
Rumours have gifted me this flowery-eyed belle;
The public know not her preciousness. *
JN

1143
Should I not welcome their rumours
Which give that feel of owning whom I own not?
PS, NV

1144
Rumours enhance my love which might have
Otherwise waned losing its power. *
KV

1145
Wine delights with every sip.
So does love with every disclosure.
NV

1146
Our meeting was but for a day, but the outcry is
As if a serpent has swallowed the moon. *
VS
Yes
1147
The village gossip manures my love,
And my mother's reproaches water it.
PS

1148
To suppress love with scandal
Is to put fire out with ghee!
PS

1149
He who said “fear not” has flared up rumour.
Why then should I blush for this outcry? *
SB

1150
This village gossip is what we desire,
For it serves the desire of my lover. *
NV, PS


Notes:
1146. In ancient India, a lunar eclipse was considered the outcome of a serpent swallowing the moon. An alternate translation would be: “An eclipse is much noised however brief. So my one day's meeting with my love” - PS. We see this belief being mentioned in other texts. For instance by Chanakya in Rajaniti-Sastra: “Brave men do not become sad when they beget trouble. Does not the moon which enters the dragon’s mouth come out again?” Tirumoolar uses this belief to good effect to depict upsurge of Kundalini: “The Kundalini serpent consumes kalas of Moon, the Fire consumes kalas of Sun……” [Tirumandiram 871].

116
Sufferings of separation
Translators
Notes
1151
Tell me if you are not leaving. Bid farewell to those
Who can survive to see your return.
NV
Yes
1152
His mere look was once a delight; but now
Even his embrace saddens, fearing separation. *
VS

1153
How hard it is to trust when even he who knows
Breaks his word and goes!
PS

1154
How can I be blamed for trusting one
Who left me after assuring “fear not”? *
KK

1155
If you would serve me, stop him going.
Gone we shall not meet again.
PS

1156
When he is stubborn to announce separation,
It is futile to hope for reunion. *
JN

1157
Do not the bangles sliding down my arms
Forebode the departure of my lord? *
DL
Yes
1158
It is bitter to live among strangers.
Bitter still is to part with one's love. *
PS

1159
Can fire, which hurts when touched,
Hurt like the passion of love even untouched?
NV
Yes
1160
Strange how many can bear separation,
Survive sorrow, and live!
PS


Notes:
1151. Another way of putting it: “What use is telling me of your departure? Inform that to those who survive to see your return”- NV]
1157. A convention in ancient Tamil poetry was that separation from her lover makes a woman’s hands thin and her bangles loose [Sundaram, 1989]. The idea is repeated in couplet 1277.
1159. Compare with 1104. “Whence did she get the fire which burns when far, and cools when near?” - PS

117
Love sickness
Translators
Notes
1161
I would hide this sickness, but it wells up
Like water drawn from a spring. *
PS

1162
Hide this sickness, I cannot.
To tell him who caused it, I am ashamed.
PS

1163
Love and shame hang poised on my life.
My body unable to bear them.
PS

1164
There is indeed a flood of lust;
But no safe raft to swim across it. *
DL

1165
If his friendship can bring so much misery,
How will it be in enmity? *
GV, PS
Yes
1166
The pleasure of love is as vast as the sea.
Vaster still is the sorrow of its hurt.
NV

1167
Whirling in the stormy sea of love, I find no shore;
Even at midnight I am alone.
KK, PS

1168
Poor night, putting all things to sleep,
Has only me for company.
PS

1169
Even crueler than my cruel lord
Are the long nights of these days. *
PS

1170
If eyes could also reach him like the heart,
They won’t be swimming in a flood of tears.
NV
Yes

Notes:
1165: An explanatory translation: “If in friendship he can hurt so much, imagine the fate when there is trouble?” - KK. Also compare with 1207:  “What will happen if I forget him, when his memory itself burns my heart?” * - SB
1170. Compare with 1244. “Rid me of these eyes, O my heart! For they, longing to see him, wear my life away” - GU

118
Languishing eyes
Translators
Notes
1171
Why the same eyes that showed him to me
And caused this fever, now cry in anguish?
NV
Yes
1172
Why do these eyes, once thoughtlessly looked at him,
Now not repent but grieve?
PS, NV

1173
Funny the very same eyes that once
Eagerly looked at him are now in tears!
NV

1174
Having driven me to this incurable fever,
My eyes have dried up, drained of all tears. *
SI

1175
My eyes plunged me in a raging sea of love
And for this must suffer sleepless pain. *
PS

1176
How nice! The eyes that caused this torment
Are themselves tormented. *
PS

1177
Let tears dry up pining and pining in the eyes
That eyed him longing and longing.
SB

1178
He made love with words, not with heart.
Yet my eyes pine, seeing him not. *
SB, PS

1179
Sleepless when he is not here, sleepless when he is,
Either way my eyes never rest.
PS
Yes
1180
With eyes that drum up and declare my grief,
It is hard to conceal secrets from these folks! *
JN


Notes:
1171. An interesting alternate translation, but not close to the original: “My eyes only showed him and filled me with passion. Why now filled with tears?” * - KV
1178. Compare with 1283. Five of the seven seers (metrical feet) between these two couplets are same! “Let him neglect me and do what he will. My eyes will not rest till they see him”
1179. Compare with 1295 for style and word play. “Anxious of not getting and of losing when got, either way my heart is always anxious” - NV, PS

119
The hues of pallor
Translators
Notes
1181
Having agreed to part my love,
How can I complain of my pallor to others? *
SB, SI
Yes
1182
Claiming that it begot through him,
Pallor creeps over my body with pride. *
SB

1183
He robbed me first of my beauty and shame,
And gave in exchange sickness and pallor.
PS

1184
His words I recollect and prowess I chant.
Yet, how does pallor sneak in?
DZ, PS

1185
There goes my lover and here comes the pallor
To creep over my body. *
KV

1186
Darkness lies in wait for the lamp to go out,
And pallor for the embrace to break.
PS

1187
Locked in embrace, I turned a little.
Seizing that moment, pallor seized me in full. *
PS, JN

1188
"Pallid has she become” blame everyone,
But none say “He parted her”.
NV

1189
If my lord who left me remains free of guilt,
My pallor is worth all the grief. *
DL, DZ

1190
I don’t mind being called pallid, so long as
They don’t blame him for causing it. *
SI, SB


Notes:
1181. An alternate translation, but not close to the original is given by PS. “I agreed to part and so have lost the right to complain of my pallor”.
120
Torture of loneliness
Translators
Notes
1191
Only those blessed with the love of being loved
Are blessed with the seedless fruit of love. *
JN, SI

1192
Like the heavenly showers to living men
Is the blessing of grace by lovers to their beloved. *
GU

1193
They alone can have the pride of living together
Who are loved by their beloved. *
VS

1194
Even if loved by others, they are luckless
Unless loved by those they love. *
PS

1195
What more can I expect of my lord
If he does not love me as much as I love him?
KV

1196
One-sided love pains like lopsided kavadi.
It is sweet only when shared by both sides.
NV
Yes
1197
Can't the god of Love, lodged in me alone
Causing distress, see my pallor and pain? *
PS

1198
Hard is the heart that can survive this world
Without a word of love from the beloved. *
PS

1199
Though my beloved bestows nothing,
Still any news about him is sweet to my ears. *
DL

1200
O heart, why pour your concerns to the unconcerned?
As well dump into the sea! *
SI, NV
Yes

Notes:
1196. The word “kaavadi” [
காவடி, appearing as “கா” in Kural] refers to the shoulder pole used to carry heavy articles on either side.
1200. There are differing renderings of this couplet. The word “
உறார்க்கு” is sometimes taken to mean “strangers or people” and the word “செறாய்” to mean “not to be angry or furious”.  

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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