Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 31 to 38

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…..)

031
Avoiding wrath
Translators
Notes
0301
Curb wrath in places where it matters. In other places,
What matters if curbed or uncurbed? *
NV, PS

0302
Even where it cannot hurt others, anger is bad;
But where it does, there is nothing worse.
DZ

0303
From anger is born all evil.
Forget provocation given by anyone. *
CR

0304
Can there be a greater foe than anger
Which kills laughter and joy? *
CR

0305
If you want to guard yourself, guard against anger;
If unguarded, anger will kill you. *
DZ

0306
The fire of anger which kills kinsmen
Burns the life-saving boat of kith and kin.
NV, JN

0307
He who holds anger worthy will be hurt
Like the hands that smash the earth. *
CR, KK

0308
Better curb one's wrath even if tortured
Like being forced into blazing fire.
PS, NV

0309
All wishes are realized at once
If they keep away wrath from their mind.
NV
Yes
0310
Deem those given to anger dead
And those renounced it on par with saints.
NV
Yes

Notes:
309. Compare with 540 and 666 for similar idea. "What is aimed is easy to achieve, if only the mind is set on what is aimed" – NV and "What is sought will be got as desired if only the seeker is determined" - NV
310. A different but equally valid translation is given by SS:
"As men who have died resemble the dead, so men who have renounced anger resemble renunciates" 

032
Not hurting
Translators
Notes
0311
The pure in heart will never hurt others
Even for wealth that confers renown. *
PS

0312
The code of the pure in heart
Is not to hurt in return any hurt caused in hate. *
PS
Yes
0313
Vengeance even against a wanton insult
Brings unbearable woes. *
PS

0314
Punish an evil-doer
By shaming him with a good deed.*
PS

0315
What does a man gain from his wisdom
If he pines not at others' pain as his own? *
SB

0316
Do not do to others what you know
Has hurt yourself.
PS

0317
It is best to refrain from willfully hurting
Anyone, anytime, anyway.
PS

0318
Why does one hurt others
Knowing what it is to be hurt?
PS
Yes
0319
The pain you inflict on others in the morn,
Will come back at you on its own by eve.
NV

0320
Hurt comes to the hurtful; hence it is those
Who don't want to be hurt cause no hurt. *
PS


Notes:
312. Compare with 203: "The height of wisdom, it is said, is not to return ill for ill" - PS
314. Compare with 987: "What good is that goodness if it does not return good even to those who cause evil?" * - PS
318. Compare with 99. "How can anyone speak harsh words, having seen what kind words do?" - NV

033
Not killing
Translators
Notes
0321
What is virtue? It is not to kill,
For killing causes every ill.
SB

0322
The chief of all codes ever written
Is to share your food and protect all life.
NV

0323
The first and foremost good is 'Non killing'.
Next to it in rank comes 'Not lying'.
NV

0324
What is the perfect path?
It is the path of avoiding killing anything.
NV

0325
Of all who renounce fearing instability, the foremost is he
Who avoids killing fearing murder. *
MS

0326
Death that eats up life spares the breath of him
Who puts no life to death.
PS, SB

0327
Avoid removing the dear life of another
Even when your own life is under threat.
NV

0328
However great its gains,
The wise despise the profits of slaughter.
PS

0329
Men who practice slaughter as a profession
Are placed amongst men of disgrace. *
DZ

0330
A deprived life of diseased bodies, they say,
Comes from depriving the life of another. *
SS, DL


034
Impermanence
Translators
Notes
0331
No baser folly than the infatuation
That takes the fleeting for the permanent.
SS, PS

0332
Great wealth, like a crowd at a concert,
Gathers and melts.
PS

0333
Perishable is the nature of wealth; if you obtain it,
Forthwith do something not perishable.*
SM

0334
A day in reality is nothing but
A relentless slicing of a saw through one's life. *
DZ

0335
Better commit some good acts before the tongue
Benumbs and deadly hiccup descends. *
KK, SB

0336
The one who existed yesterday is no more today.
That is the glory of earthly life.
SM

0337
Men unsure of living the next moment,
Make more than a million plans. *
PS

0338
The soul's link to the body
Is like the bird that flies away from the nest.
KK, PS
Yes
0339
Death is like sleep,
And birth an awakening from it.
DZ

0340
Is there no permanent refuge for the soul,
Which takes a temporary shelter in the body?
SM


Notes:
338. Most translators render the word "
குடம்பை" as "egg-shell" [PS, JN, SB, VS, DL, KV, SS, SI], while KK and GU take it as "nest". VR discusses the drawback in translating the word as "egg-shell" at length and says this meaning came to be associated with the word only after Parimelazhagar's time [Ramasamy, 2001]. Mamakkudavar and Kalingar, whose commentaries appeared before Parimelazhagar, mention that the meaning of "குடம்பை" is nest. VR adds that no fledging flies when it comes out of the egg-shell and only to an intact nest could be compared to the human body, which remains intact even after the soul has left. Pertinent to bring here a reference to the same from the Semitic world: "Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper" [Psalm, 124:7].

035
Renunciation
Translators
Notes
0341
'Whatever thing of whatever kind' a man relinquishes,
Suffering 'there from, there from' he has none.
GV, MS

0342
Renounce early if you seek joy;
For many are the delights in store after renouncing.
PS, VS

0343
To be controlled are the senses five
And to be given up at once are all cravings.
NV

0344
Nature of penance is giving up everything.
Else, it is a return to snares once given up.
NV

0345
When the body itself is a burden on the way to liberation,
Why carry other attachments? *
PS

0346
His is the world beyond heaven
Who is free of the delusion of "I" and "Mine".
PS

0347
Sorrows will never give up its hold on those
Who never give up their hold of desire. *
DL

0348
Those who give up all are saved.
The rest are caught in the snare of delusion. *
PS

0349
Detachment alone severs rebirth.
All else will be found transient.
NV, MS

0350
Cling to the one who clings to nothing;
And so clinging, cease to cling.
PS


350. Moreover, “To one who does not cling realizing what to cling, clinging ills will not cling. * - PS - Kural 359  

036
Truth realization
Translators
Notes
0351
The misery of birth arises out of the delusion
Which takes the unreal for the Real. *
PS

0352
Darkness disappears and bliss descends
Upon men of clear vision and free of delusion. *
SM

0353
To those enlightened souls freed of doubt,
More than earth is heaven near.
NV, SB

0354
Where a sense of the Real is lacking,
The other five senses are useless.
PS

0355
Wisdom is to ascertain the reality
In whatever way things are presented.
KK
Yes
0356
Those who have learnt to see the reality here
Will have learnt not to come back here.
PS

0357
Reality once searched and seized,
No need to think of rebirth.
PS

0358
Wisdom lies in realizing that unique Reality
To remove the folly of rebirth.
KV, PS

0359
To one who does not cling, realizing what to cling,
Clinging ills will not cling. *
PS
Yes
0360
Lust, wrath and delusion: Where these three are unknown,
Sorrows shall not be. *
PS


Notes:
355. Alternate translations, but not close to original: 'The mark of wisdom is to see the reality 
behind each appearance' - PS. Compare with 423. "The mark of wisdom is to discern the truth from whatever source it is heard" - NV
359. i.e. those who cling [to God] but does not cling [to the world]. Compare with 350 for similar word play. “Cling to the one who clings to nothing; and so clinging, cease to cling” - PS

037
Eradicating desire
Translators
Notes
0361
Desire, they say, is the seed of ceaseless birth
For all things living at all times.
PS

0362
Must you desire, desire freedom from birth.
That comes only by desiring desirelessness.
SS

0363
No greater fortune here than not to yearn, 
A
nd none to excel it hereafter too!
PS

0364
Purity is freedom from yearning
And that comes of seeking Truth. *
PS

0365
Those are free who are free of yearning.
Others, of all else free, remain un-free. *
PS

0366
If you love virtue, flee from desire;
For desire is a great betrayer.
VS, PS

0367
When all deeds of desire are uprooted,
Liberation comes as and when desired.
NV

0368
Where there is no desire, there is no sorrow.
Where there is, it comes over and above.
NV

0369
When the misery of miseries called desire ends,
The result is never-ending joy.
NV

0370
The state of eternal bliss will result
When desire that is insatiable is conquered.
KV


038
Fate
Translators
Notes
0371
The gains of labour, and loss due to languor,
Are both outcomes of fate.
NV, KV

0372
Adverse fate befools, and when time serves
A harmless fate expands knowledge. *
PS, SS

0373
A man may have studied many subtle works,
But what survives is his innate wisdom.
PS

0374
The world ordains two different ways:
Acquiring wealth is one, attaining wisdom another. *
SS

0375
In business dealings, fate can turn
All good things bad and even bad good.
NV

0376
What is not naturally ours cannot be got,
Nor what is natural, ejected. *
PS
Yes
0377
Except as disposed by the Disposer,
Even millions amassed may not be enjoyed. *
PS
Yes
0378
That the destitute have not renounced
Is because fate has not relieved them of their share. *
PS, NV

0379
Why do those who take good luck in their stride,
Struggle when encountered with bad?
PS, NV

0380
What is there mightier than fate? For it overtakes us
In spite of our plans to overcome it. *
SS, NV


Notes:
376. Compare with 609 under Avoiding Sloth. "Inherent flaws that are natural can be overcome by getting rid of indolence" – NV
377. The word "
வகுத்தான்" [Disposer] here is invariably taken to mean God. Most translators have obviously followed Parimelalagar's interpretation of the word "வகுத்தான்" as "தெய்வம்".  Chakravarti [1953] translates the word as "destiny". Relevant here is the translation of a similar passage from Naladiyar – a Jaina classic beyond doubt. "Though fortune forsake him and fate frown on him......" Translator S. Anavaratavinayakam Pillai here has chosen to render the word "தெய்வம்" as "fate". 
378. Valluvar says in couplet 1050: “The poverty stricken has a chance to renounce, lest he hang around for salt and gruel”. * (KK). Here in couplet 378 he cites fate as the reason why the destitute have not renounced in spite of their poverty.
380. The same Valluvar says under “Manliness” in couplet 620: “Those who never get tired of striving undauntedly shall leave even Fate behind”. (SB, PS)

References:
Chakravarti, A. 1953. Tirukkural. Deccan Press, Vepery, Madras. Pp 1-22 
Ramasamy, V. 2001. On Translating Tirukkural. International Institute of Tamil Studies. Chennai. Pp 139-140


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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