Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 81 to 90

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)

081
Familiarity
Translators
Notes
0801
Call that an old friendship
Where liberties are not resented.
PS

0802
True friendship permits liberties and to concede to it
Is the duty of the wise. *
KK

0803
What is that intimacy which does not approve
And reciprocate liberties?
PS

0804
The wise take in good spirit if friends, by right of familiarity,
Do things without asking. *
SS, DL

0805
When friends hurt, attribute it to either ignorance
Or privileges of friendship. *
SS
Yes
0806
Those bound by intimacy never desert their old pals
Even if they bring loss. *
SS

0807
In a friendship built on love, friends do not cease to love
Even when there is betrayal. *
GU, NV

0808
Close friends who won't listen to friend's faults,
Hail in silence the day they offend. *
SS, PS

0809
The world will cherish those friends
Who never forsake old, unbroken friendships.
SS

0810
Even adversaries admire the character of old friends
Who don't part.
NV, JN


Notes:
805. Compare with 700. "Unworthy acts under the trust of old friendship lead to ruinous woes" - JN
082
Bad friendship
Translators
Notes
0811
The hypocrite's flattering friendship pleases more
As it wanes than as it grows. *
SI

0812
What matters if one gain or lose that unsettling friendship
Which sticks and ends at will?
NV, PS
Yes
0813
Those who weigh friendship for gain
Are no different from whores and frauds.
NV

0814
Better to be alone than befriend those,
Who, like a broken horse, throw you down.
NV

0815
Better to forfeit than seek the friendship of the base
Who betray at need. *
PS, SS

0816
A wise man's enmity is a million of times better
Than a fool's fast friendship. *
PS

0817
Ten million times better the enmity of foes
Than the friendship of jesters and fools. *
PS

0818
Drop silently the friends who pose
And won't help when they can.
PS

0819
Friends whose words differ from their deeds
Distress even in dreams.
PS

0820
Keep them far off who are friends at home
And foes in public.
PS


Notes:
812: A short and crisp translation, but not close to original:  "What matters if one gain or lose a motivated friendship?" – PS

083
False friendship
Translators
Notes
0821
Posing friends treat you like an anvil
To strike you at the opportune time. *
 DZ, KV

0822
Fickle as a woman's heart is the friendship of those
Who act like friends.
 PS, NV

0823
Hard for the ignoble to be good-hearted,
No matter how well educated they are. *
 MS

0824
Beware of those deceits who, with a smiling face,
Conceal bitterness in their hearts.
 NV

0825
Trust not the mere words of those
Whose minds don't agree with us. *
 PS
Yes
0826
A foe's words though seem friendly and good
Can be read at once. *
 PS

0827
Trust not the bowing speech of your foe.
A bending bow is a sign of imminent danger.
 PS, NV

0828
Like a dagger concealed in folded hands
Is the mourning tears of foes. *
 PS, NV

0829
Cajole and crush with friendly guise
Those who flatter you but despise within. *
 SB, PS

0830
While playing a friend to foes, keep a friendly face
But banish them from thy heart.
  JN, SS


Notes:
824. Compare with 786. "A smiling face alone makes no friendship, but the heart should also smile with the face." * - VR
825: A short and crisp translation but not close to original: "When minds do not agree don't trust mere words" - PS
084
Folly
Translators
Notes
0831
If there is a thing called folly,
It is seizing what brings ill and letting the good slip. *
PS

0832
Folly among follies is the fondness for doing things
Beyond one's reach. *
JN, CR
Yes
0833
Shamelessness, aimlessness, callousness and listlessness
Are marks of foolishness. *
SB

0834
There is no greater fool than he
Who has studied and taught, but lacks control.
PS

0835
A fool does deeds in a single birth
That will plunge him in hell in the succeeding seven.
PS

0836
When a half-baked fool takes on a task,
The task is undone, and so is he! *
PS

0837
Should a fool get hold of a great fortune,
Strangers will feast while his kindred starve. *
VS

0838
A fool getting hold of wealth
Is like a lunatic getting drunk.
PS

0839
Sweet indeed is a fool's friendship,
For when it breaks there is no pain.
PS

0840
A fool's entry into a learned assembly
Is like entering a shrine with unclean legs.
NV, PS
Yes

Notes:
832. The interpretation of this couplet could vary depending on how the words in the second line are combined and read. One way is to split as: "
கை அல்லதன்கண் செயல்".  The other way is: "கைஅல்ல தன்கண் செயல்." The translation given above is based on the second method of word combination. If we are to follow the first, an equally valid translation is "The folly of all follies is to enjoy doing what one is forbidden to do" – SS.
840. The word "
பள்ளி" here is usually taken by almost all translators as "bed". If we are to translate "கழாக் கால் பள்ளியுள் வைத்தற்றால்" as "placing a dirty foot on a clean bed" – as it is usually done – then the phrase employed by Valluvar should have been "பள்ளிமேல்" and not "பள்ளியுள்" as is the case here. The monasteries of the Jains and Buddhist monks were called "பள்ளி" in the ancient Tamil country [Varadarajan, 1988]. Following the near total disappearance of Buddhism and Jainism from Southern India, this word has now been used to denote the places of worship of Muslims and Christians. Hindu temples were always called by the names கோயில், ஆலயம், அம்பலம் and never by the word பள்ளி

085
Inflated ignorance
Translators
Notes
0841
The lack of lacks is the lack of knowledge.
Other lacks are not deemed such by the world.
PS

0842
Should a fool gift a thing heartily, it is nothing but
Due to the penance of the recipient. *
SM

0843
The harm fools do to themselves
Is beyond anything their foes do to them.
PS

0844
What is stupidity? It is that vanity
Which dares to declare, "I am wise."
SS

0845
Pretence to learning not learnt,
Calls in question the learning learnt.
PS

0846
Can a fool be said to be clothed
When his faults lie exposed?
PS

0847
A fool who can't hold on to rare secrets
Does great harm to himself.
NV, PS

0848
Heeds no advice; knows nothing wise;
His life is an illness till he dies.
KS

0849
He is a fool, who tries to open the eyes of a fool,
For a fool sees things only his own way. *
VS

0850
He who denies what the world affirms
Will be thought a demon on earth. *
 PS


086
Hostility
Translators
Notes
0851
Hatred, they say, is the disease
That spreads the plague of discord among all life. *
SS

0852
Even if disagreeable things are done to cause rift,
Better do nothing painful to avoid conflict. *
DL, NV

0853
If that dire disease called hostility is discarded,
What yields is undying everlasting fame. *
MS

0854
When the misery of miseries called malice ceases,
There comes the joy of joys. *
PS

0855
Who can ever overcome the one,
Who refuses to give in to feelings of hatred?
KV

0856
Want and ruin will soon befall the life of one
Who delights in excess hostility. *
KS, NV
Yes
0857
Those learned rapt up in destructive hate
Will never see the triumphant nature of truth. *
PS, DL

0858
To resist hatred is a gain.
Yielding to it, one is overcome by ruin. *
PS, KV

0859
Destined to prosper one will not look at hatred.
Destined for ruin, one will see it all the time.
PS

0860
From hatred comes all evil.
And from friendship the pride of goodness.
PS, NV


Notes:
856. An alternate translation, though not close to original: "He who revels in discord will soon be overtaken by suffering" – KV.
087
Might of enemies
Translators
Notes
0861
Avoid opposing the strong.
Cherish your desire of enmity with the weak. *
DL, NV

0862
No love, great support, or own strength has he!
How can he survive a strong enemy? *
MS, SB

0863
A coward, ignorant, unsocial and mean
Is an easy prey to his enemy.
PS

0864
The unrestrained and angry are an easy prey
To anyone, anytime, anywhere.
PS

0865
Foes prefer the tactless and shameless one
Who cares not for codes and scorns.
NV

0866
Those with blind fury and inordinate lust
Are vulnerable enemies to be nursed with.
NV

0867
He is a foe worth purchasing
Who starts a fight and does all wrong.
PS

0868
Enemies will rejoice the one
With no virtues, many vices, and no allies. *
VS

0869
Enemies' joy has no bounds
When they get a fool and coward as a foe. *
PS, SB

0870
No glory or gain can ever come to one
Who cannot overcome an ignorant foe. *
KV
Yes

Notes:
870. A couplet that has been translated differently by different authors: SS puts it as: "Fame will escape the grasp of those who fail to grasp the wealth of fools who failed to learn". Manakkudavar, one of the great ancient commentators of Kural, takes these words "
கல்லான், வெகுளும், சிறுபொருள்" to mean "ignorant, angry and deficient" as attributes of an enemy [Diaz, 2000]. Other interesting translation is: "Fame will escape him who lets escape an easy victory over a fool" – PS. 

088
Knowing enemy's strength
Translators
Notes
0871
One should never wish for the accursed thing
Called enmity, even in jest.
SS
Yes
0872
Make foes, if you must, with bowmen
And never of men whose weapon is their tongue. *
PS, VS

0873
It is worse than madness for one who has no allies,
To make numerous enemies.
CR

0874
The world is secure under one
Whose nature can make friends of foes.
PS

0875
While facing two foes, unaided and alone,
Make one your friend. *
PS

0876
In times of crisis, be wary of joining or opposing any,
Whether tested or untested. *
KV, NV

0877
Keep your sorrows from strangers
And your weakness from foes. *
PS

0878
Engineer, execute and defend.
Thus keep the pride of your foes at bay.
SS, JN

0879
Cut a thorny shrub when young.
Allowed to grow, it injures the hand that cuts.
NV

0880
Those who can't crush the pride of defying foes
Will cease to breathe long. *
VS


Notes:
871. Compare with 995. "Mockery hurts even in jest, and hence the considerate are courteous even to their foes" * - PS

089
Foe within
Translators
Notes
0881
Even shade and water unwholesome can harm
Likewise one’s kinsmen if they hurt. * (PS)
PS

0882
No need to fear an enemy wielding a sword.
Beware of enemies posing as friends. *
KV

0883
Guard against the foe within, lest he strike you
In times of peril like the potter's knife. *
KK, PS

0884
When hidden hatreds lurk in the mind,
Myriad miseries manifest among kin. *
SS

0885
Hidden hatred amongst kinsman
Can cause all sorts of deadly sorrows. *
SS, KV

0886
Unanimity will disappear for ever
Once disunity arises within a union.
NV

0887
A house that harbours hatred, like a vial and its lid,
Seems one but comes apart. *
PS, SS

0888
A family with internal frictions wears out
And loses its strength like gold being filed. *
DL

0889
Even a dissent as small as a seed,
Can trigger that destructive internal hatred.
NV

0890
To partner one with a hidden hate
Is to share a hut with a cobra.
PS


090
Not offending the great
Translators
Notes
0891
The best way to guard oneself is to not spite
The powers of the prowess. *
SS, PS

0892
Irreverence to the great will lead
To endless trouble through them.
PS

0893
If destruction you desire, provoke those
Who in turn can destroy as they desire. *
SS
Yes
0894
For the weak to challenge the mighty
Is to summon yama with the hand.
PS, SS
Yes
0895
Where can he go and how can he thrive,
Who falls foul of a powerful king?
SB, PS

0896
One may survive even if burnt in fire
But no survival for those who offend the great. *
SS, PS

0897
What avails glorious life and great wealth
If one incurs the wrath of the virtuous great? *
SS

0898
If you underestimate the eminent,
You will be shaken off the earth of all your ties. *
MS, JN

0899
Even the mightiest of kings can perish midway
If men of high repute burst in rage. *
DL, KV

0900
Even men with all their might and aid
Cannot be saved if great sages frown. *
NV, VS


Notes:
893. The import of the couplet can be summed up this way: “To offend the powerful wantonly is to ask for trouble” - PS
894. yama is ‘god of death’.  Compare with couplet 250 where Valluvar says “When you threaten one weaker than yourself, think of yourself before a bully”. (PS)
896. Compare with 1049 for similar idea: “One may sleep even in the midst of fire, but by no means in the midst of poverty” * - DL

References:
Diaz, S.M. 2000. [Translator]. Tirukkural. Ramanandha Adigalar Foundation, Coimbatore. Pp 878
Varadarajan, Mu. 1988.
Translated from Tamil by E. Sa. Visswanathan. A history of Tamil literature. Sahitya Akademi. Pp 75.


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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