Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 21 to 30

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….)

021
Dread of evil deeds
Translators
Notes
0201
The sinful will not dread; the great will dread
The wanton pride of sinful action.
MS
Yes
0202
Evil begets evil and hence
Fear evil more than fire. *
KK, SI

0203
The height of wisdom, it is said,
Is not to return ill even to foes. *
PS

0204
Plot not thy neighbour's fall, even forgetfully;
Else, justice will plot the plotter's fall. *
GU, NV

0205
Plead not poverty for doing ill,
Whereby you will become poorer still.
PS

0206
Let him, who seeks to be free from suffering,
Not be a cause of suffering to others.
KV

0207
Escape from other enemies is likely,
But not from the relentless pursuit of evil deeds. *
CR

0208
The consequences of evil deeds leave not
Like the persistent shadow under the feet.
NV

0209
If you love yourself,
Refrain from causing ill of any degree. *
PS

0210
Know that no harm shall ever befall the one
Who never strays into evil. *
PS


Notes:
201. Compare with 428. "It is folly not to fear what ought to be feared. The wise dread what ought to be dreaded" * - SS
203. Compare with 312. “The code of the pure in heart is not to hurt in return any hurt caused in hate” * - PS

022
Knowledge of obligation
Translators
Notes
0211
Duty is not for reward.
Does the world recompense the rain-cloud?
PS

0212
All the wealth earned by toils
Is meant to serve those who deserve. *
SB
Yes
0213
Rare it is to find another good equal to benevolence,
Either here or in the heaven. *
DL

0214
He who realizes what is oneness, lives;
The rest will be placed among the dead.
GV

0215
The wealth of a wise philanthropist
Is a village pool ever full.
PS

0216
When wealth comes to the generous,
It is like the village tree coming to fruit. *
CR

0217
When wealth comes to the large-hearted,
It is like an unfailing medicine tree. *
PS

0218
Those known for their duty will not slacken to help
Even during times of poverty.
NV

0219
The poverty of a generous man is nothing but
His inability to exercise his generosity. *
DL
Yes
0220
If poverty comes of doing good,
One's self may be sold to do it.
PS


Notes:
212. Compare with 81. "It is to exercise the benevolence of hospitality that people earn a living and establish homes" -DL, NV.
The word "தக்கார்க்கு" in this couplet can be translated as "deserving" or "worthy". Using the latter meaning, PS and VS translate this couplet as: "The worthy work and earn their wealth in order to help others" – PS.
215. Compare with 523. “The life of an unattached man is like a boundless pond flowing unbound” - PS, NV
219. Compare with 1010. "The brief want of the benign rich is like the monsoon clouds just shed its moisture" - SB, NV

023
Charity
Translators
Notes
0221
To give to the needy alone is charity;
All the rest is investment for a return.
DZ

0222
To receive is bad, even for good cause;
And to give is good even if there is no heaven.
NV, PS

0223
The mark of the well-born is to give
Without uttering the wretched excuse, "I have nothing."
PS, SS

0224
To be begged is agonizing, till you give
And see the smiling face of the beggar. *
SM

0225
Strong is the strength of enduring hunger,
But stronger still is the strength of relieving it.
NV

0226
Wiping out the hunger of the have-nots,
Is the treasury the haves have deposited their wealth. *
SM

0227
That dreaded disease called hunger touches not the one
Who shares his food by habit.
NV

0228
Unaware of the joys of giving,
The hard-hearted waste their wealth hoarding it. *
SS

0229
To eat alone what one has hoarded
Is worse than begging.
PS

0230
Nothing is worse than death; but even death is sweet
If one can't help the poor. *
PS


024
Fame
Translators
Notes
0231
No greater income in life than to live with fame
That comes out of charity.
NV

0232
The fame of men who give to those in need
Will live for ever in the words of all. *
KS

0233
Nothing imperishable lasts long in this world
Than glorious fame beyond compare.
NV

0234
Even celestials will cease praising saints
When you gain world-wide lasting fame. *
SS, VS

0235
None other than the wise can have
Some gain in loss and fame in death.
NV

0236
Be born, if you must, for fame;
Or else better not to be born at all.
PS

0237
Why blame those who blame the shame of those
Who cannot live in fame? *
SB

0238
The whole world will blame, they say,
If you fail to earn that renown called fame.
NV

0239
The land that bears inglorious bodies
Will shrink in its glory of yield.
PS, SB

0240
Life without blame alone blooms.
The one without fame fades.
NV
Yes

Notes:
240. There are many interesting ways of translating this couplet. 
"To live without blame is life; without fame death" - * PS
"They only live who live without blame. And not those who live without fame" – NV
"A life without blame lasts for ever; a life without fame lasts never" - NV.
 
025
Kindness
Translators
Notes
0241
The wealth of wealth is the wealth of grace.
Material wealth, even the mean possess. *
SB, PS

0242
Obtain grace by seeking the path of goodness.
That is the aid cited in all paths.
NV

0243
Those who are kind-hearted enter not
Into the terrible world of darkness.
NV

0244
Those who protect other life with kindness
Need not fear for their own lives.
NV

0245
This great earth and its biosphere declare
That sorrows are not for the merciful.
NV

0246
Those who do ill forsaking kindness, they say,
Must be oblivious of forsaking morality.
PS, SS

0247
This world is not for the poor,
Nor the next for the unkind.
PS

0248
The poor may be rich one day,
But the graceless will always lack grace.
PS

0249
The good acts of the graceless, if examined,
Resemble the muddled head seeing Truth.
NV, PS
Yes
0250
When you threaten one weaker than yourself,
Think of yourself before a bully.
PS


Notes:
249. A good explanatory translation is given by SS. "Practicing charity without compassion is as inconceivable as realizing Truth without clarity of mind".

250. Compare with 894 where Valluvar says “For the weak to challenge the mighty is to summon yama with the hand. (PS, SS)
 
026
Shunning meat
Translators
Notes
0251
How can one command grace
Who eats the flesh of others to swell his own flesh?
NV

0252
No scope for wealth with a spendthrift.
So too compassion with a meat eater.
NV

0253
No mercy in the hearts of those armed to kill
And those who feast on flesh.
NV
Yes
0254
What is grace? It is not killing; To kill, disgrace.
And senseless to eat that meat. *
PS

0255
Abstain from meat to save life.
The clenched jaws of hell hold those who don't. *
SS, NV

0256
The world may say: "Meat we eat, but don't kill'.
But no one will sell if there is none to buy. *
KS
Yes
0257
Abstain from eating flesh realizing it
As the wound of another  *
KS

0258
Those visionaries freed of ignorance
Will not feed on a flesh freed of its life.
NV

0259
Better than a thousand burnt offerings
Is one life un-killed, un-eaten.
PS

0260
All living things will fold their hands
And bow to one who refuses to kill or eat meat. *
PS

Notes: 
253. This basically implies that both soldiers armed to kill enemies and hunters armed to kill animals are the same.
256. This couplet seems to have obvious reference to Buddhists who do not kill, but are not required to be vegetarian.  
027
Penance
Translators
Notes
0261
The characteristic of penance lies in
Enduring hardships and harming no life.
NV
Yes
0262
Penance is for the capable.
It is futile for others to attempt it.
PS, NV

0263
Is it to support those who do penance
That others have forgotten it?
NV
Yes
0264
In penance lies the power
To save friends and foil foes. *
SB

0265
Men do penance in this world
For the fulfillment of their desired desires. *
SS

0266
While the austere are engaged in their duties,
Others toil in vain ensnared by desire. *
NV, GU

0267
As the intense fire makes gold shine,
So does the burning austerities relieve pain.
SS, NV

0268
All souls will worship him who, losing his ego,
Gets control of his own soul.
SM

0269
Those who have achieved the strength of penance
Could defeat even the Lord of Death.
DZ

0270
The have-nots outnumber the haves
Because penance is not for the many.
PS


Notes:
261. Compare with 984: "The characteristic of penance is non-killing, and that of goodness not speaking others' faults" - NV
263. "Supports" include food, clothing and water. "Others" here mean householders. 

028
Imposture
Translators
Notes
0271
The five elements will laugh within
At a hypocrite's lying conduct.
PS
Yes
0272
What use is a sky-high pose to one 
Wh
o knowingly does wrong?
PS

0273
A weakling posing a giant form
Is an ox grazing in a tiger's skin. *
PS

0274
A posing ascetic who sins secretly
Is like a fowler hiding in bush to trap birds. *
KV

0275
The deceitful acts of those claiming dispassion
Will make them exclaim in pain, "Alas! Alas!" *
SS

0276
None so cruel as the posing ascetic
Who lives by deceit without renouncing by heart. *
NV, PS

0277
Like the kunri - red to view but black on top
Are many, ochre-robed but black within.
PS
Yes
0278
Many spotted minds bathe in holy streams
And lead a double life.
PS

0279
The lute is bent, the arrow straight:
Judge men not by their looks but acts.
PS

0280
No need of tonsure or long hair,
If one avoids what the world condemns.
PS


Notes:
211. Five elements [pancha bhuta] are earth, water, fire, air and ether.
277. Konri is the seeds of Abrus precatorius, a tree not uncommon in South India.

279.  Compare with 667. “Despise not by looks! Even linchpins hold in place the wheels of mighty chariots!” – PS, NV

029
Avoiding fraud
Translators
Notes
0281
Let him guard against every thought of fraud
If he wishes not to be scorned.
VS, SS

0282
Even to harbour in mind
The idea of defrauding another's wealth is sin.
MS

0283
Stolen wealth may seem to swell
But in the end will burst.
PS

0284
The excessive love for fraudulent gain
Leads to everlasting pain. *
KS

0285
Love and grace are alien virtues to one
Who plots for innocent's wealth. *
JN

0286
Those who love stealing
Can never be content with what they have.
NV

0287
Those gifted with the faculty of contentment
Never have that shady skill called fraud.
NV

0288
As virtue in the hearts of the righteous,
Deceit dwells in the hearts of thieves. *
SS

0289
Discontented men who know nothing but fraud
Perish as and when they corrupt.
NV

0290
Even life abandons him who defrauds others,
But heaven never forsakes the honest. *
SS


030
Truthfulness
Translators
Notes
0291
What is truthfulness? It is nothing but utterance
Wholly devoid of ill.
VS, PS

0292
Even a lie would take the place of truth,
If it brings blameless benefit.
NV, VR

0293
Lie not against your conscience,
Lest your own conscience burn you. *
PS

0294
He who lives truly in his own heart,
Truly lives in the hearts of all people.
SS

0295
Truthfulness in thought and word 
O
utweighs penance and charity.
PS

0296
Nothing but the fame of truthfulness
Can give all other virtues effortlessly. *
PS, SS

0297
If one speaks the truth and only truth,
He need not seek other virtues.
DZ
Yes
0298
Water ensures external purity
And truthfulness shows the internal.
PS

0299
Not all lights cause illumination; For the wise,
Only the light of truth is illuminant.
NV

0300
Amidst all that we have seen as real,
There is nothing as good as truthfulness.
DL


Notes:
297. A short crisp translation: "To be unfailingly true is to be unfailing in other virtues" - PS

 

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