Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 61 to 70

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 (Continuation)


061
Avoiding sloth
Translators
Notes
0601
The eternal flame of a family vanishes
When eclipsed by that dark cloud called laziness.
SS

0602
Sloth is dismissed as sloth by those
Who wish to retain their family repute.
NV

0603
A fool, who holds on to sloth,
Will ruin his household before he gets ruined.
NV

0604
The society that broods in sloth without striving,
Decays and steeps in crime. *
JN

0605
The pleasure-junks of destruction are four:
Procrastination, forgetfulness, sloth and sleep.
PS

0606
Seldom do men possessed by sloth achieve anything great
Even if they possess worldly wealth. *
SS

0607
The lazy ones, inept in noble exertion,
Must endure scolding and scorn. *
SS

0608
If sloth inhabits a family,
The family will soon be enslaved to its foes. *
VS
Yes
0609
Even inherent flaws in a family can be overcome
By getting rid of indolence.
NV

0610
A king freed of sloth can get at once
All that the Lord had measured by his feet. *
PS, KV
Yes

Notes:
608. Ahort crisp translations, but not close to original: "Sloth enslaves a house to its enemies" - PS
610. The word "
அடி அளந்தான்" [who measured by his feet] refers to the belief that Lord Vishnu's measured the whole universe in three strides.

062
Manliness
Translators
Notes
0611
Do not give up saying "It is impossible".
Effort will overcome.
PS
Yes
0612
Leave no task incomplete,
For the world gives up those who give up. *
PS

0613
The pride of being a philanthropist belongs to those
Who have that quality called perseverance. * 
GV

0614
The liberality of the indolent man will not endure,
Like a sword in eunuch's hand.*
VS

0615
A pillar of comfort to his friends is he
Who scorns delight and loves labour. *
PS

0616
Exertion leads to wealth;
Lack of it brings forth poverty. *
PS

0617
The black ogress 'misfortune' lurks in laziness,
While goddess 'fortune' lingers in active men. *
SS

0618
Ill-luck is never blamed. What is blamed
Is knowledge without exertion.
PS

0619
Even though God be against,
Effort is bound to pay the wages of labour. *
VS
Yes
0620
Those who never get tired of striving undauntedly
Shall leave even Fate behind.
SB, PS
Yes

Notes:
614. Valluvar has used this simile of “sword in eunuch’s hand” at least thrice in the Kural. In 726 he asks “What use is a sword to cowards and books to those who fear assembly?” * (PS, NV). And in 727, he says “As a sword to a eunuch before his foes, is the learning to one who fears assembly.” * (GU, VS)
617. JN provides an interesting translation, though not close to the original: "Where sloth resides total darkness prevails; where industry thrives, brightness radiates like lotus". The meaning of the couplet is best summed by KV: "Misfortune will befall the indolent, while the goddess of wealth will attend the hardworking".
619. The word "
தெய்வம்" has also been translated sometimes as "fate" as in the case of "வகுத்தான்" in couplet 377. 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".
620. Compare with 380 "What is there mightier than fate? For it overtakes us in spite of our plans to overcome it" * - SS, NV

063
Courage in trouble
Translators
Notes
0621
Laugh at misfortune. There is nothing so able,
To triumph over it. *
PS

0622
Misfortune may rise like a flood,
But the wise counter it by firm thoughts.*
PS, SB

0623
Those whom grief cannot grieve
Can grieve grief itself. *
PS

0624
Trouble is troubled by him who like a bull
Drags his cart through every hurdle.
PS

0625
The resolute can put their troubles to trouble
Even if it comes relentlessly.
NV

0626
Will they whine "We have nothing",
Who never crowed "We have much?"
PS
Yes
0627
Knowing body a target of miseries,
The great are not troubled in calamities. *
SS, VS

0628
He will never be sad who scorns delight
And takes sorrow in his stride.
PS

0629
He who never exulted in joy
Will not be depressed by sorrow.
PS

0630
To take pain as pleasure
Is to gain your foe's esteem.
PS


Notes:
626. Compare with couplets 628 and 629 in this same chapter. All convey the same idea.
064
Ministers
Translators
Notes
0631
Call him minister who best contrives the means,
The time, the mode and the deed.
PS

0632
A minister excels in firmness, protection,
Learning and perseverance, besides the five tactics. *
VR
Yes
0633
An able minister can disunite allies,
Cherish friends and reunite enemies. *
VS

0634
Call him a minister who comprehends things,
Executes them and directs others. *
SS

0635
A helpful counsellor knows the codes,
Is learned in discourse and ever resourceful.
PS

0636
What is there too subtle to stand before men
Who add learning to their intelligence? *
VS
Yes
0637
Even if well-versed in theory,
Act as per the ways of the world. *
CR
Yes
0638
It is a minister's duty to advise aright
Though the ruler in ignorance may refute wisdom.
PS, JN

0639
Better seventy million open foes
Than one treacherous minister inside. *
PS

0640
The inefficient will leave undone
Even well-planned schemes.
PS


Notes:
632.  VR considers that the phrase "
ஐந்துடன்" in this Kural has made this couplet a difficult one to translate. It is not clear if these five tactics are amongst those mentioned in other couplets in this chapter.
636. A short and crisp translations of these couplets [but not close to original]: "What can oppose a keen intelligence combined with learning?" - PS
637. Another abstract translation: "However well-versed in books, be practical" - PS

065
Persuasiveness
Translators
Notes
0641
Real asset is the gift of speech.
That gift is a class apart from all other gifts.
NV

0642
Speech can both make and mar,
And hence guard it from negligence. *
PS

0643
A speech should hold fast the convinced
And be pleasing even to the unconvinced.
CR

0644
Speak to the capacity of the audience.
Nothing more virtuous or valuable than this. *
SS, CR

0645
Utter not a word without making sure
There is no other word to beat it.
SM
Yes
0646
To speak as desired and gain from what others say
Is the hallmark of spotless men. *
PS, NV

0647
An eloquent, tireless and fearless speaker
Can rarely be prevailed upon by any one.
NV

0648
The world will rush and listen to those
Who can to speak orderly and pleasingly.
PS, NV
Yes
0649
Those fond of talking much
Cannot be brief and faultless.
PS

0650
Those who can't express what they have learnt
Are a bunch of flowers without scent. *
SB


Notes:
645. A short and crisp translation but not close to original: "One must speak only after considering possible counter arguments" - KV
648. An interesting alternate translation: "Swiftly will the world gather around men who can speak weighty themes in lighter vein" - GU, NV

066
Honest dealing
Translators
Notes
0651
Good alliance brings success;
And good deeds all one needs. *
MS, PS

0652
Avoid always deeds that do not lead to
Lasting good and fame. *
PS

0653
Those who seek greatness must avoid
What will stain their name.
PS

0654
Men of clear understanding
Will not do mean acts even in distress.
NV, PS

0655
Do not do what you will regret; and if you do,
Better not repeat the same.
PS, NV

0656
Do not do what the wise condemn
Even to save your starving mother.
PS

0657
Better the pinching poverty of the wise
Than the pile of wealth hoarded by vice.
SB, PS

0658
Ends achieved without any regard to the means
Will bring grief..
NV

0659
What's gained with other's tears will go in tears;
What's won fair, though lost, will surge again. *
PS, SI

0660
Stocking ill-got wealth is like storing
Water in an unbaked pot. *
PS, SI


067
Efficiency
Translators
Notes
0661
Efficiency consists in a resolute mind.
Other things come thereafter.
CR

0662
To avoid failures and not to give up despite failures
Are the two traits scholars emphasize.
NV

0663
Reveal thy means in the end. Premature disclosure
Can cause irrevocable damage.
NV, KV

0664
It is easy for anyone to speak,
But difficult to execute what has been spoken. *
SS

0665
Dynamic deeds of brave souls
Will reach the king to win his praise.
SB, NV

0666
What is sought will be got as desired
If only the seeker is determined.
NV
Yes
0667
Despise not by looks! Even linchpins hold in place
The wheels of mighty chariots! *
PS, NV

0668
Acts resolved without ambiguity
Should be unwaveringly carried out without delay.
NV
Yes
0669
However great the hardship,
Pursue with firmness the act that yields bliss.
PS, DL

0670
The world has no place for those who,
Despite other strengths, have no strength of firmness.
PS, NV


Notes:
666. Compare with couplets 540 and 309.  "What is aimed is easy to achieve, if only the mind is set on what is aimed" – NV and "All wishes are realized at once if they keep away wrath from their mind" – NV.
667. Compare with 279. “The lute is bent, the arrow straight: judge men not by their looks but acts” – PS 668. Compare with 671. "The end of deliberation is decision. To decide and dawdle is bad" – PS

068
Mode of execution
Translators
Notes
0671
The end of deliberation is decision.
To decide and dawdle is bad.
PS
Yes
0672
Delay where delay is needed,
But do not delay when you must act.
PS

0673
Better strike wherever possible;
Elsewhere, consider other feasible means. *
PS

0674
Both tasks and foes, if left unfinished,
Will destroy like fire left un-extinguished. *
SS, SB

0675
Five things should be pondered before you act:
Resources, weapons, time, place and deed.
PS

0676
Weigh well before you plunge:
The inputs, impediments and gain.
PS
Yes
0677
Experts have the expertise.
Get that expertise by knowing him inside out.
DZ, NV
Yes
0678
Let one target be achieved through one's action,
Like an elephant through another. *
SDR

0679
More urgent than rewarding friends,
Is to befriend enemies. *
KV

0680
If you are weak and fear internal trouble,
Seize conciliation with the strong. *
PS


Notes:
671. Compare with 668. "Acts resolved without ambiguity should be unwaveringly carried out without delay" - NV
676. Compare with 461. Act after taking into account the cost, the benefit and the net. - PS
677. Different renderings, though not literal: [i] "The way to do a thing is to get inside an insider" - PS [ii] "In considering how to accomplish a task, one must go by the experience of others" - KV 

069
Envoys
Translators
Notes
0681
Kindliness, high birth, and a nature pleasing to kings
Are the qualities of an envoy. *
SS

0682
An envoy's three essentials
Are loyalty, intelligence and sagacious speech.
PS

0683
An envoy should be a scholar among the learned
To succeed among the powerful.
PS, NV

0684
Let him go on a mission who has these three:
Wisdom, personality and scholarship. *
SS, PS

0685
An envoy's words should be compact,
Unoffending, pleasant and useful.
PS

0686
An envoy should be well-read, fearless, persuasive,
And know what fits the occasion. *
PS, MS

0687
The best know their mission, bide their time,
Wait for the occasion and think before speaking.
NV

0688
A truthful messenger should have these three qualities:
Goodness, friendliness and boldness.
NV

0689
A king's herald will not even negligently
Utter words that leave a stain.
PS

0690
A brave envoy braves his life to safeguard
The ruler's interests at any cost. *
JN


070
Moving with kings
Translators
Notes
0691
Courtiers round a king, like men before a fire,
Should be neither too far nor too near.
PS

0692
The way to gain gifts from a king
Is not to covet what he covets.
PS

0693
Beware and ward off faults.
Suspicion once aroused is hard to clear. *
PS

0694
Whisper not, nor exchange smiles,
Amidst illustrious august men. *
SB

0695
Don't eavesdrop or pursue a king's secret.
Rather listen when secrets are revealed. *
PS, SS

0696
Know his mood, consider the moment,
Avoid the unpleasant and speak the needful.
NV

0697
Tell the useful and even when asked
Avoid always the useless.
PS

0698
Don't treat him lightly as young or kin
But act as befits his splendour.
PS

0699
Those with unwavering vision
Do not misuse their privileges and do wrong.
NV, JN

0700
Unworthy acts under the trust of old friendship
Lead to ruinous woes.
JN
Yes

Notes:
700. In couplet 805 Valluvar says "When friends hurt, attribute it to either ignorance or privileges of friendship" * - SS

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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