Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 11 to 20

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 I. Virtue (Continued.....)

011
Realizing gratitude
Translators
Notes
0101
Neither earth nor heaven can truly repay
Spontaneous aid.
PS

0102
A timely help, though small,
Is of greater value than all the earth.
DZ

0103
The help given without weighing the return,
When weighed, outweighs the sea.
SB, NV

0104
To the discerning even millet of aid
Is as big as a palm tree. *
PS

0105
Not according to the aid but its receiver
Is its recompense determined.
PS
Yes
0106
Forget not the friendship of the pure,
Nor forsake friends who supported in trouble. *
VS

0107
The good remember through all seven births
The friends who wiped their tears.
PS

0108
To forget a good turn is not good, and good it is
To forget at once what isn't good.
PS

0109
Even a deadly hurt is soon effaced,
If one recollects a past good turn.
DZ

0110
One may slain every goodness and yet escape,
But no escape for one who slain gratitude.
SS
Yes

Notes:
104. Compare with couplets 433 & 1282 for the use of same similes “Millet” and “Palm tree”. “To those ashamed of wrong doings, even millet of fault is as big as a palm-tree” and “Where love is as large as a palm tree, even millet of sulk is misplaced”.
105. Compare with 87. "The gains of hospitality cannot be reckoned. Their worth depends on the guest" - PS
110. Crisp alternate translation, but not close to original: "All other sins may be redeemed, except ingratitude" - PS 

012
Impartiality
Translators
Notes
0111
Justice may be called good only when it acts impartially
Regardless of the class of men. *
SS, DL
Yes
0112
The wealth of a just man, without decline,
Passes intact to his posterity. *
PS

0113
Though profitable, turn away
From unjust gains without delay.
SB

0114
The just and unjust shall be known
By what they leave behind.
PS

0115
Adversity and prosperity come and go,
But an unbiased heart adorns the noble.
NV

0116
If your thoughts show signs of doing injustice,
Know that misfortune awaits you. *
CR

0117
The world will not deem as poverty
The low estate of virtuous men who dwell in equity. *
DL

0118
To be unbiased like an unswerving weighing scale
Is an ornament for the great. *
PS, SI

0119
Equity is words without bias
And it comes from a firm, unbiased mind. *
PS

0120
A merchant's best merchandise
Is tending other's goods as his own.
PS


Notes:
111. The three class or divisions of men are said to enemies, strangers and friends. 

013
Possession of self control
Translators
Notes
0121
Self-control takes one to the gods;
Want of it will push one into utter darkness.
CR

0122
Guard self-control as a treasure;
There is nothing more precious in life.
PS

0123
Those who follow the wise path of self-restraint
Are conferred with virtuous fame.
NV

0124
More imposing than a mountain
Is the stature of the steadfast and self-controlled. *
SS, PS

0125
Humility is good for all
But is an added richness to the rich.
PS

0126
Like a tortoise, withdraw your five senses in one birth,
To protect you in the next seven.
NV  

0127
Guard your tongue if nothing else;
For words unguarded cause distress.
PS

0128
A bitter word, even if said once,
Can undo all the good intended.
NV

0129
The wound caused by fire will heal within,
But not the scar left by the tongue.
PS

0130
Virtue waits for a timely entry on the path of one
Who curbs wrath and learns self restraint.
NV


014
Possession of decorum
Translators
Notes
0131
Discipline is more precious than life itself,
For it is discipline that confers eminence. *
CR, GV

0132
Strive and preserve good conduct;
By any reckoning, you will find it your sole companion. *
JN

0133
Propriety of conduct is great birth,
And impropriety will sink into a mean birth. *
DL

0134
Scriptures forgot can be recapitulated;
Bad conduct debases a Brahmin and his birth. *
PS, JN

0135
Just as jealousy can’t lead to prosperity,
So also impropriety to greatness. *
KV

0136
The strong-willed do not shrink from right conduct;
They know its breach will spell ruin. *
DZ

0137
Right conduct exalts one, while a bad name
Exposes one to undeserved disgrace.
PS

0138
Good conduct sows good,
And from bad springs eternal trouble.
PS

0139
Men of good conduct cannot speak ill
Even by a slip of tongue.
PS, JN

0140
Those are fools, however learned,
Who have not learnt to walk with the world.
PS
Yes

Notes:

140. Compare with 426. "It is a part of wisdom to conform to the ways of the world" - VS

015
Not coveting another's Wife
Translators
Notes
141
Those who realize the benefit of virtue
Don't commit the folly of desiring another's wife.
JN, NV

0142
No sinner so foolish as he who lurks
At the door of another's wife.
PS

0143
No different from the dead are those
Who wickedly desire the wife of a friend.
SS

0144
What does greatness avail if one without even least guilt
Goes into another's home? *
DL, PS

0145
Erring with another's wife may seem easy,
But disgrace will be irredeemable for all time.*
CR

0146
The adulterer has no respite from these four:
Hatred, sin, fear and disgrace. *
VS

0147
He is a virtuous householder
Who does not covet another's wife. *
PS

0148
The manliness that scorns adultery
Is both virtue and propriety for the great. *
PS

0149
Who deserves all the good in this world?
He who clasps not the arms of another's wife! *
VS, SB

0150
You may trespass the bounds of other virtues,
But not the bounds of another's wife.
NV


016
Forbearance
Translators
Notes
0151
To bear insults is best, like the earth
Which bears and maintains its diggers.
PS

0152
Forgive transgressions always,
Better still forget them.
PS

0153
The want of wants is to be inhospitable,
The might of might to suffer fools.
PS

0154
If you desire that greatness should never leave,
Foster the conduct of forbearance.
DL, SS

0155
Avengers are despised as worthless,
Forbearers are prized as gold.
PS, GU

0156
Retaliation gives but a day's joy;
Forbearance brings glory for all time.
CR

0157
Though unjustly afflicted by others, pity them
And refrain from unrighteous response. *
SS

0158
Let a man conquer by his forbearance
Those who wrong him with arrogance. *
SS
Yes
0159
More pure than ascetics are they
Who bear the insult of transgressors. *
SB

0160
Fasting and penance of the great
Come next only to bearing insults of others.
PS, NV


Notes:
158: Alternate translation but not close to original: "Conquer with forbearance the excess of insolence" - PS

017
Not envying
Translators
Notes
0161
Deem virtuous that heart of men
Who by nature are not jealous. *
SB

0162
No blessing is so great as a nature
That is free from all envy.
VS

0163
One who eyes the growth of others with envy
Forfeits the wealth of virtue.
JN

0164
Those who know the woes of evil deeds,
Dare not do wrong out of envy. *
JN

0165
The envious need no other foes;
Their envy is more than enough. *
PS

0166
A man who envies charitable deeds
Will see his folk perish - naked and starving. *
PS

0167
The goddess of fortune departs the envious,
Introducing him to her elder sister. *
DL
Notes
0168
That sin called envy slays fortune
And leads one to the swirl pool of evil. *
GU, JN

0169
The prosperity of the envious
And the poverty of the righteous will be pondered. *
DL

0170
None has gained through envy,
Nor have the un-envious ever lost. *
PS


Notes:
167. The elder sister is the goddess of misfortune. KV's translation is crisp though not literal. "Fortune disapproves the envious and will leave giving way to misfortune" 

018
Not coveting
Translators
Notes
0171
Unjust desire to covet others’ honest wealth
At once ruins home and begets evil. *
GU, SB

0172
Those who deem injustice a shame,
Refrain from covetousness that brings blame.
SS, NV

0173
They will not sin for fleeting pleasures
Who seek eternal joy.
PS

0174
Their senses conquered,
The clear-eyed cite not their poverty to covet. *
PS
Yes
0175
Of what avail is a keen and sharp intellect,
If greed seizes one to covet? *
DZ

0176
Even he whom grace beckons, if beckoned by greed,
Will perish beckoned with evil. *
PS

0177
Avoid wealth though greed.
Out of it comes no good.
PS

0178
Do not covet another's wealth
If you would keep your own un-shrunk.
PS

0179
Fortune finds the worth and draws near to those
Who know the worth of non-coveting. *
SS

0180
Mindless coveting brings ruin.
The pride of freedom from desire yields success.
JN


Notes:
174. Compare with 205: "Plead not poverty for doing ill, whereby you will become poorer still" - PS

019
Avoiding slander
Translators
Notes
0181
One may not preach or practice virtue,
But not being called a slanderer is pleasing. *
KK, MS
Notes
0182
Viler than violating virtue for committing vile,
Is to smile before and vilify behind.
SS, VS

0183
Better die in virtue than live a life of slanderer
Under false pretences.
DZ

0184
Better heartless words to man's face
Than thoughtless ones at his back.
PS
Notes
0185
The meanness in the heart of one posing virtuous,
Shall be known by his slanderous tongue.
NV

0186
His failings will be found and shown,
If one makes another's failings known.
SB

0187
Those who cannot laugh and make friends
Can only slander and make foes.
PS

0188
What won't they do to strangers
Who broadcast their friends' faults?
PS

0189
The earth bears the weights of scandalmongers
Only for the sake of duty.
PS, SS

0190
Will any evil befall mankind if we can see,
Like others' faults, ours as well?
NV


Notes: 
181. It is Valluvar's style to emphasize on a particular quality by exalting it over other virtues. In 297 he says: "If one speaks the truth and only truth, he need not seek other virtues" [DZ]. In 150 he says: "You may trespass the bounds of other virtues, but not the bounds of another's wife" [NV]
184. An equally valid, but different translation is given by VS:
"Slander not a man behind his back even if he has insulted thee in thy very face"

020
Avoiding vain speech
Translators
Notes
0191
To disgust people with empty words 
I
s to be despised by all.
PS

0192
Vain speech in public is worse
Than a wrong done to a friend.
PS

0193
He that multiplies empty words
Declares loud his want of worth.
VS

0194
Vain words of inconsequence in an assembly
Rob one of any gain or goodness.
JN

0195
Men of worth, speaking nonsense,
Will lose greatness and esteem.
PS

0196
Call him not a man who loves idle words.
Call him rather chaff among men.
VS

0197
Even unpleasant words may be spoken,
But the wise should avoid idle speech. *
PS

0198
The wise who weigh their worth
Refrain from words that have no grain of worth. *
SB

0199
The clear-eyed and spotless never even forgetfully
Say things that are meaningless. *
PS

0200
Should you speak, speak useful words.
Never indulge in vain speech.
NV



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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