Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 71 to 80

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)

071
Mind reading
Translators
Notes
0701
He is a jewel on this sea-girt earth
Who can read a thought without being told.
 PS

0702
Deem that man on par with God
Who can divine with conviction what is in the heart.
 NV, VS

0703
He is worth any price who by intuition
can read another's thought.
 PS

0704
A thought reader may resemble other men
But is a class apart.
 PS, NV

0705
What use are the eyes among senses,
If they cannot read a man's thoughts on his face? *
 PS

0706
Like a mirror that shows what is in front,
The face reveals the affairs of the mind. *
 PS, NV

0707
What can be more expressive than the face
To reveal the mind's pleasure and pain?
 NV

0708
Just standing in front would suffice
For those who can read the mind on face.
 SB

0709
Those familiar with the language of eyes
Can read from eyes both love and hatred. *
 SS, JN

0710
You will find smart people use nothing but eyes
As a yardstick for measure.
 NV


072
Knowing an assembly
Translators
Notes
0711
Meticulous masters of words
Must judge the council before they speak.
PS, NV

0712
Should skilled orators wish to speak,
Let them study the occasion with care. *
PS
Yes
0713
Only poor orators, good for nothing, speak at length
Without knowing the audience. *
PS

0714
Before the bright, be brilliant light.
Before the dull, assume mortar white. *
SB
Yes
0715
The best amongst all good qualities
Is the modesty to holdback before elders. *
PS, DL

0716
To slip before men of wide learning
Is like slipping from the path of righteousness. *
SB
Yes
0717
The scholarship of a scholar shines
In an assembly of meticulous scholars. *
PS

0718
Speaking before a receptive audience
Is like watering a nursery of growing plants.
NV

0719
Don't tell an assembly of fools even forgetfully
Things meant for the wise.
PS

0720
To deliberate with people of dissimilar interests
Is like spilling nectar in the drain. *
KK


Notes:
712. KV's translation is a fitting explanation: "The style and content of a speech should be in tune with the mood and atmosphere of the assembly"
714. "Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise" – Gray.
716. This is yet another couplet in Tirukkural where the interpretation of a single word could change the simile [like couplet 20].  Here the word "ஆற்றின்" could mean either "path" or "river". The phrase could be read as "ஆற்றில்" or "ஆற்றின்" நிலை தளர்ந்து அற்றே. Parimelazhagar interprets this as "spiritual path", Kalingar, Manakkudavar and Pariperumal as "righteous path" and Parithiyar alone as "river".
073
Fearlessness in assembly
Translators
Notes
0721
The pure skillful orators, knowing the council's strength,
Never fail in their speech. *
SB, NV

0722
Most learned among the learned is he
Whose learning the learned accept.
PS

0723
Many are ready to even die in battle,
But few can face an assembly without nerves.
NV

0724
Let the learned learn from you,
And you from one more learned.
PS

0725
Study the science of logic so that you may
Fearlessly reply in any assembly.
SS

0726
What use is a sword to cowards
And books to those who fear assembly? *
PS, NV

0727
As a sword to a eunuch before his foes,
Is the learning to one who fears assembly. *
GU, VS
Yes
0728
They are useless however learned
Who cannot impress a learned assembly. *
PS

0729
Scholars dread of facing an assembly of good men
Are ranked lower than the ignorant.
NV

0730
Those stage-fearing who keep their learning to themselves,
Though living, are dead. *
PS 

Notes:
727: Compare with 726. Very similar import but words employed by Valluvar for composition are different. Also with 614: “The liberality of the indolent man will not endure, like a sword in eunuch’s hand”.* (VS)
074
Country
Translators
Notes
0731
Unfailing harvests, learned men and honest traders
Constitute a country. *
PS

0732
A land is known for its great wealth
Of abundant produce that never declines.
NV

0733
An ideal land bears all burdens that befall
And yet pays all taxes to the king. *
PS

0734
That is a land which is free of much hunger,
Incessant plagues and ravaging enemies.
NV

0735
That is a land free from factions,
Ruinous traitors and terrorists harassing kings.
MS, JN

0736
Call that a leading land that knows no evil days,
And whose yields don't cease even if they come. *
PS

0737
A land's limbs are waters from rains,
Springs and well placed hills, and strong fortress. *
PS
Yes
0738
A country's jewels are these five: Unfailing health,
Fertility, joy, security and wealth. *
GU

0739
Call that a land which yields without toil.
That is no land where toil precedes yield. *
PS

0740
Even if endowed with all blessings, a country is no worth
If not blessed with a ruler. *
VS


Notes:
737. Compare with 742. "Blue water, open space, hills and thick forests constitute a fortress. - PS
075
Fortress
Translators
Notes
0741
A fortress is an asset to the offender
As well as to those who seek refuge in defence.
NV

0742
Blue water, open space, hills and thick forests
Constitute a fortress.
PS
Yes
0743
Books declare that a fort should have these four:
Height, breadth, strength and difficult access. *
GU

0744
A fortress, ample in space and easy to defend,
Spoils the might of the foe. *
JN

0745
A good fortress is hard to seize, well-supplied
And suited to those within.
PS

0746
With all materials stocked inside,
A fort should have brave soldiers as well. *
KV, PS

0747
Hard to capture a fort that withstands
Besieging, artillery and treachery.
NV, SS

0748
Even if encircled by besieging foes,
A fortress enables the besieged to win.
NV

0749
A good fort gains fame frustrating its siege
At the outset of the battle. *
PS

0750
A fortress, however grand, amounts to nothing
If its defenders are meek.
NV


Notes:
742. Compare with 737. "A land's limbs are waters from rains, springs and well placed hills, and strong fortress" * - PS
076
Acquiring wealth
Translators
Notes
0751
There is nothing like wealth
To make the worthless worthy.
PS

0752
Everyone despises the poor
While the rich are exalted by all.
PS, SS

0753
The unfailing light called wealth can dispel darkness
Even in far reaching lands.
NV

0754
Wealth acquired sinless and well,
Yields both virtue and happiness.
PS

0755
Discard and let go the wealth
Obtained without love and grace.
NV
Yes
0756
Unclaimed wealth, spoils of war and wealth from taxes
Are all rulers' wealth. *
DL, SS

0757
The offspring of love 'graciousness' is nursed
By that generous foster-mother 'wealth'.
JN, NV

0758
A wealthy man's undertakings
Are like elephant-fights witnessed from a hill.
PS

0759
Stock wealth: no steel sharper than that
To cut down your foe's pride.
PS

0760
He who makes glorious wealth in plenty,
Gains the other two treasures together. *
 MS
Yes
Notes:
755: A short and crisp translations, but not close to original: "Wealth unblessed by giver and taker should not be touched" – PS
760. The other two of Trivarga: i.e. Virtue and Love.
077
Excellence of an army
Translators
Notes
0761
A well organized army unafraid of obstacles
Is a ruler's greatest of all possessions.
NV

0762
Only seasoned armies show courage in dire straits,
To stand fearless despite decimation.
PS, KK
Yes
0763
So what if an army of rats roar like the sea?
The hiss of a cobra will silence it.
SS, PS

0764
A true army has a long tradition of valour
And knows neither defeat nor desertion. *
SS

0765
A capable army stands together and defies
Even if yama attacks in fury. *
PS, DL

0766
Valour, honour, tradition of chivalry and credibility;
These four alone are an army's safeguards. *
DL
Yes
0767
An army should withstand and confound
The foe's tactics, and advance.
PS

0768
Even if lacking in virtue of offence and defence,
An army can gain fame by virtue of its size
NV

0769
An army can triumph if it is free from diminution,
Irrevocable aversion and poverty. *
DL

0770
However many and solid the soldiers,
An army without a chief will lose its way. *
PS

Notes:
762. SI gives an abstract translation: "When things go wrong, only veterans can stem the rot and turn the tide"
976. yama = God of Death.
 
078
Pride of an army
Translators
Notes
0771
"Foes! Don't stand before my chief.
Many who stood now stand as stones!" *
PS

0772
Better collect the spear that missed an elephant
Than the arrow that killed a hare. *
PS

0773
Fierce courage is what they call valour,
But to help a foe in distress cuts deeper. *
SS, PS

0774
Losing his spear hurled at a tusker,
A hero grabs happily the one that pierced him. *
PS
Yes
0775
Is it not shameful for a hero to even let his
Watchful eyes wink when a spear is hurled?
NV

0776
The brave shall deem all the days devoid of battle wounds
As days gone waste.
SB, PS

0777
That hero, who gives up his life for fame,
Is worthy of being adorned with the anklet. *
PS

0778
Even a king's wrath cannot hold back heroes
Who do not fear their lives in battle. *
PS, SS

0779
Who dares to despise a man for not fulfilling
A pledge he died to fulfill?
PS

0780
If death lies in glory that draws tears from the ruler,
It is worth seeking even in alms. *
JN


Notes:
774. i.e. having wounded an approaching elephant with his spike, the soldier looks around for another. Soon spots the one stuck to his body and happily pull it out.
079
Friendship
Translators
Notes
0781
What greater security exists than a secure friendship
As a protection against foes? *
SS

0782
Wise men's friendship waxes like the crescent
And fools', like the full moon, wanes.
PS

0783
Being with good friends is like reading good books.
More time you spend, more the delight.
NV

0784
Friendship is not for merriment
But for stern reproach when friends go astray.
NV
Yes
0785
Identity of feelings makes friendship.
No need for friends to meet and long together. *
CR

0786
A smiling face alone makes no friendship,
But the heart should also smile with the face. *
VR

0787
Friendship saves from ruin, guides towards right,
And shares the pain of distress. *
PS, GU

0788
Swift as the hand seizing a slipping garment,
Friendship acts to assuage a friend in distress. *
SS

0789
What is the throne of friendship? It is that resolve
Of unfailing support given at all time.
NV

0790
To boast, "He means so much to me and I to him,"
Merely demeans a friendship.
SS
Yes

Notes:
784. Compare with 447 and 795. "Who can ruin the man who commands the friendship of those who can reprove him?" –VS. "Seek a friend who will make you cry, rail and rate when you go astray" – PS
786. Compare with 824. "Beware of those deceits who, with a smiling face, conceal bitterness in their hearts." - NV. Also with 786. Also with 93: “This alone is charity: A welcome with a smiling face and sweet words from the heart” PS, NV
790. In other words: "Where competing claims are boastfully made, that friendship is demeaning" * - SI
080
Choosing friends
Translators
Notes
0791
Nothing worse than befriending one untried,
For friends once made should last forever.
NV, KS

0792
Friendship made without enquiries
Can cause lifetime trouble. *
SI
Yes
0793
Make one a friend after knowing his nature,
Family, fellows and flaws.
PS

0794
A man of birth and scrupulous honour
Is worth seeking even at a price.
PS

0795
Seek a friend who will make you cry,
Rail and rate when you go astray.
PS
Yes
0796
Is there any yardstick better than adversity,
To spread out and measure friends? *
PS

0797
It is a gain by itself if one gets away
From the friendship of fools.
CR

0798
Dwell not in thoughts that dim your spirit
And befriend not those who desert in affliction. *
SS

0799
The thought of friend's betrayal in need
Rankles even on the deathbed. *
PS

0800
Seek the friendship of the pure, and shake off
The worthless even at a price.
PS


Notes:
792. Short and crisp translation of this couplet [but not close to original]: "Make friends in haste and repent at leisure" – PS
795. Compare with 784: "Friendship is not for merriment but for stern reproach when friends go astray" - NV
800. Compare with 794 for similar ideas.  Seek the worthy and shake off the worthless, even at a price.

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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