Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 51 to 60

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 II. Wealth (Continued…..)


051
Testing and choosing
Translators
Notes
0501
Before you trust, test people's attitude to these four:
Virtue, wealth, love and survival. *
JN

0502
Noble heritage, freedom from faults and shame of blame
Are some norms to choose.
JN

0503
Even the widely-read and faultless, when scrutinized,
Are rarely found free of ignorance.
PS, SS

0504
Weigh a man's merits and also his defects.
Whichever weighs more is his nature.
VS, PS

0505
A man's deeds are the touchstone of his
Greatness and littleness.
DL

0506
Choose not men who have no kindred.
With no bonds to restrain, they dread no shame. *
PS, GU

0507
To favour and select the incompetent out of love,
Leads to folly in all forms. *
PS, SB

0508
To choose a stranger untried
Will trouble one's line without end.
PS

0509
Trust none untried, and after trial
Entrust him with the trusted job.
PS, NV

0510
Trusting those untested and suspecting those tested,
Both lead to endless trouble. *
SI
Yes


Notes:
510. If this verse is taken out of this context of "Testing and choosing", and placed under "Realization" [Chapter 36:
மெய்யுணர்தல்], the words "தேரான்" could mean 'muddled', தெளிந்தான்" could mean "Clarified/realized" and "ஐயுறவும்" could be taken to mean 'doubts'. The couplet then could well mean "The clarity claimed by a muddled-head and the doubts of a Realized, both cause endless trouble". The idea is that the realized souls should have no doubts and the unrealized cannot claim to be free of doubts.

052
Testing and deployment
Translators
Notes
0511
Employ those who prefer to do the good
After scanning both good and bad.
NV

0512
Entrust the job to one who can augment revenue,
Foster wealth and find out hurdles. *
JN

0513
The qualified possess these four:
Affection, wisdom, clarity and contentment.
NV

0514
Put into many tests, they pass.
Yet when subjected to different tasks, many fail.
NV

0515
Where knowledge and diligence are required,
Don't entrust tasks on personal loyalty.
KV, PS

0516
Weigh well the agent, the task
And the time before you act.
PS

0517
Assured this man will do this task this way,
Leave it to him.
PS
Yes
0518
After ascertaining what work befits a man,
Assign him the responsibility. *
SS

0519
Fortune deserts him who doubts
The liberties taken by a devout worker. *
PS, VSS

0520
Nothing goes wrong in the state of a king
Who often checks his officials for any wrong.
NV


Notes:
517. In other words, "Delegation is best made to the one who's decidedly well equipped to perform well" -
SDR

053
Cherishing the kindred
Translators
Notes
0521
Only the kindred, because of their old contact,
Show attachment even in adversity.
NV, PS

0522
When kindred show unfailing love,
Wealth of all kinds never fail to flow. *
SS, NV

0523
The life of an unattached man
Is like a boundless pond flowing unbound.
PS, NV
Yes
0524
To be circled by circles of kin is the benefit
One gains by gaining wealth.
NV, PS

0525
Generosity and sweet words enable a man
To be circled by circles of kin. *
PS

0526
None in this world has a larger kinship than he
Who is liberal and curbs his wrath. *
PS

0527
Crows trumpet their finds and share them.
Prosperity also abides with such men.
PS, SS

0528
Many thrive seeing a king who sees case by case,
Not seeing mere sameness in all.
SS, NV

0529
Associates who left will return,
Once the cause of dissociation is removed.
NV

0530
The king should ascertain the motive of the deserters
Who wish to come back.
NV


Notes:
523. Compare with 215. “The wealth of a wise philanthropist is a village pool ever full” - PS
 
054
Avoiding slackness
Translators
Notes
0531
Worse than too much wrath is the laxity
Due to too much exultation.
PS

0532
Just as constant want crushes the intellect,
Negligence kills repute. *
KV

0533
All writings of the world conclude the same
That fame is not for the lax. *
PS

0534
There is no refuge for the coward,
Nor is there anything good for the lax.
NV, PS

0535
The negligent unmindful of threats beforehand
Will repent for the mistakes later on.
NV, SS

0536
Nothing can equal never being lax
With anyone at any time without fail. *
PS

0537
There is nothing too difficult for a man
Armed with vigilance.
PS, DL

0538
Cherish and perform praiseworthy acts.
To neglect and put off deprives one in seven births. *
SS, MS

0539
When the mind is elated with joy,
Think of those who were ruined by neglect. *
DL

0540
What is aimed is easy to achieve,
If only the mind is set on what is aimed.
NV
Yes

Notes:
540. Compare with couplets 666 and 309. "What is sought will be got as desired if only the seeker is determined" – NV and "All wishes are realized at once if they keep away wrath from their mind" - NV

055
Right governance
Translators
Notes
0541
The way is to launch an enquiry, investigate with impartiality,
And dispense as per norms.
NV

0542
All the world looks up to heaven for rain
And the subjects to their king for justice. *
PS

0543
The scepter of the king furnishes the basic support
To virtue and scriptures.
SM

0544
A great kingdom's monarch who rules embracing his subjects
Has the world embrace his feet. *
SS

0545
The king who rules according to the law
Never lacks rain and corn.
PS

0546
Not his spear but a straight scepter
Is what gives a monarch his triumph.
PS

0547
The king guards all the land, and his own rule
Will guard him if he is straight.
PS

0548
An indifferent unjust king beyond the reach of his subjects
Will sink beyond and perish.
NV

0549
For a king who would guard and cherish his people,
To punish crimes is a duty, not defect.
PS

0550
A king punishing criminals by execution
Is like a farmer removing weeds from his fields.*
SS


Notes:
545. Relationship between King and Rain has been emphasized by Valluvar in at least three places in Kural. Very similar ideas are conveyed in two couplets of the next chapter on “Misrule”. In 557, Valluvar says “How fares the earth without rain? So fares life under a ruthless king” and in 559 he says “If a king acts contrary to justice, monsoons fail and clouds shed no rain”.

056
Misrule
Translators
Notes
0551
More malicious than a murderer is the king
Who rules with injustice and oppression.*
SS

0552
A tyrant taxing his subjects
Is like an armed dacoit extorting money. *
KK

0553
A king who fails in his day today affairs
Loses his kingdom day by day.
KK

0554
A thoughtless king who abuses his scepter
Will lose at once his wealth and subjects.
PS, SB

0555
It is the tears of those groaning under oppression
That wear out the prosperity of the king.
VS
Yes
0556
Just rule stabilizes a king.
Lacking it his glory fades.
PS

0557
How fares the earth without rain?
So fares life under a ruthless king.
PS

0558
Possessions are worse than poverty
Under the scepter of an unjust king.
NV, PS

0559
If a king acts contrary to justice,
Monsoons fail and clouds shed no rain.
DL, NV

0560
Cows yield less and priests forget their hymns
If the protector fails to protect. *
PS
Yes

Notes:
555. The couplet is sometimes shown ending with a question mark. The phrase is "
கண்ணீரன்றே" and not "கண்ணீரன்றோ". A good abridgment of the verse is given by KV: "The tears resulting from suffering caused by the king will be the cause of his undoing"
557. Relationship between King and Rain has been emphasized by Valluvar in at least three places in Kural. In the very next verse 559 Valluvar says “If a king acts contrary to justice, monsoons fail and clouds shed no rain”. Only in the previous chapter on "Just Government" had he stated that "The king who rules according to the law never lacks rain and corn".
560. "
அறுதொழிலோர்" here has been taken to mean priests. "Brahmins are they who perform the six duties" says Tirumandiram [224]. While commenting on this mantra, translator B. Natarajan mentions that the six duties of a Brahmin are: To learn, to instruct, to give alms, to receive gifts, to perform sacrifice and to persuade other to perform sacrifices. 

057
Avoiding tyranny
Translators
Notes
0561
Call him king who probes and whose punishment
Is deterrent and proportionate.
PS

0562
Raise your hand forcibly but bring it lightly
To have a lasting effect.
SDR
Yes
0563
A dictator causing oppression
Will have a speedy and certain end.
NV

0564
When a king is decried a tyrant,
His life is shortened and end becomes imminent.
NV, PS

0565
The great wealth of one inaccessible and sour-faced
Is no better than a demon's. *
PS

0566
If he is unkind and speaks harsh,
His lofty wealth ends there without lasting long. *
SS

0567
Harsh words and excessive punishments
Are files that grind down a king's might. *
PS

0568
The king who rages but not reflect on his counsel,
Will soon see his wealth shrink. *
KK

0569
A king who neglects his defences,
Will die of fright at the time of war. *
PS

0570
The earth bears no heavier burden
Than a tyrant surrounded by ignorant men. *
PS


Notes:
562. What is meant by this statement is this: "Pretend to be harsh, but act mildly if you want long lasting effect" - KK

058
Compassion
Translators
Notes
0571
What truly moves this world
Is that ravishing beauty called compassion.
NV, VS

0572
Compassion sustains the world.
Without it men are but a burden on earth. *
KV

0573
What use is a rāgā that cannot be sung?
Or eyes without sympathy?
PS
Yes
0574
What use are eyes that look like eyes
But lack boundless sympathy?
PS

0575
Compassion is an ornament of the eyes.
Without it eyes are deemed sores. *
SS
Yes
0576
Like trees earth-bound which cannot move
Are eyes unmoved by pity.
PS

0577
Men without sympathy have no eyes;
Nor those who have eyes lack sympathy.
NV

0578
This world is theirs who compassionately perform
Their duties without fail.
NV

0579
That quality of forbearance and sympathy is the best,
Even to those who hurt us.
NV
Yes
0580
Those desirous of refinement will drink with smile
Even hemlock when offered. *
PS


Notes:
573. The word "
rāgā" means tune or melody.
575. Not only compassion, but also learning is must says Valluvar employing the same idea in couplet 393: “Only the learned have eyes. The unlearned have two sores on their face!” (PS).
579. Compare with 158. "Let a man conquer by his forbearance those who wrong him with arrogance" * -SS

059
Espionage
Translators
Notes
0581
Spies and classics on statecraft:
These two are a king's pair of eyes. *
PS

0582
A king's job is to know in time everything
That happens to everyone every day. *
PS

0583
No king has ever succeeded
Without considering the news of the spies.
NV

0584
Employees, kinsmen and enemies
Are the people a spy should cover.
PS

0585
Able spies are always elusive
With perfect guise and fearless eyes.
NV

0586
Disguised as a monk a spy should probe all places
Unperturbed despite hardships. *
NV, SS

0587
A spy should ferret out hidden facts
And get them verified beyond doubt.
SS, KV

0588
Even what one spy has spied
Must be spied through another. *
PS

0589
Let not one spy know another.
And act when three spies agree.
PS

0590
Never honour a spy in public
Lest your secret should be out.
PS


060
Possessing vigour
Translators
Notes
0591
What is one's own is one's vigour.
Without it what does one own?
PS
Yes
0592
Real asset is the asset of a resolute mind.
Material assets stay not but flee.  *
PS

0593
Those who have vigour will not lament saying:
"We have suffered loss".
PS, NV

0594
To a man of unshaken vigour,
Wealth will ask and find its way.
PS

0595
Water level determines the lotus height.
A man's stature by the level of his mind.
NV

0596
Let all thy aims be high.
Failure then is as good as success. *
PS
Yes
0597
An elephant pierced by arrows stands unperturbed.
The courageous relent not in adversities. *
JN

0598
The poor in spirit can never attain the pride of being
The generous patrons of the world.
KS, NV

0599
Though huge and sharp-tusked,
An elephant fears a tiger when attacked. *
PS

0600
Energy is a man's strength: the immobile are
Trees in human form. *
PS


Notes:
591. Compare with 53 and 591 for similar style: "With a good wife, what is lacking? And when she is lacking, what is good?" – PS and "What is one's own is one's vigour. Without it what does one own?" - PS
596. Compare with 540 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


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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