Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Chapters 91 to 100

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) 

091
Uxoriousness
Translators
Notes
0901
Wives unduly exalted impede greatness.
Ambitious men avoid that very thing. *
PS, SS

0902
The affluence of a careless uxorious man
Will buy him only shameful shame. *
SS, PS

0903
Habitual submission to one’s wife
Will always bring disrepute among the good.
NV

0904
The deeds of one who dreads his wife
Merits little in this life or the next. *
SS, GU

0905
A man who fears his wife will always fear
To do good things to good people. *
GV

0906
Those who fear their wives' slender shoulders
May live like gods but are not men.
PS

0907
Modest womanhood is greater than the manhood
Which thrives on obeisance to wife. *
DZ

0908
Men governed by their fair ladies cannot address
The needs of friends nor do any good.
VS, NV
Yes
0909
Virtuous deeds, exalted wealth and other deeds
Are not for the henpecked. *
PS

0910
The thoughtful and firm-willed never indulge
In the folly of doting on their wives. *
SS, PS


Notes:
908. A short and crisp translations of this couplet [but not close to original]: “A doting husband will have no time for friends or virtuous deeds” - PS

092
Public women
Translators
Notes
0911
Fraught with disgrace are the sweet words
Of jeweled women who desire wealth, not love. *
PS

0912
See through and avoid the immoral women
Who talk of morals with a purpose.
PS

0913
A harlot’s false embrace for money is like one hired
To clasp an alien corpse in a dark room. *
PS, GV
Yes
0914
The wise who treasure grace desire not the false charms
Of those who treasure wealth. *
DL, SS

0915
Sensible men of lofty wisdom will find no joy
In the cheap delight of public women. *
PS, GU

0916
Those who would spread their own good will not touch
Others who spread their charms for money. *
PS

0917
The empty-hearted alone will embrace
The hearts that go not with their bodies.
PS

0918
Only those who can’t see through a false woman’s embrace
Consider her to be an angel. *
NV, PS

0919
The soft arms of those who sell their charm
Are a hell that plunge the base. *
PS, DL

0920
Fortune leaves those whose associates are
Treacherous women, wine and dice. *
PS


Notes:
913. There existed, according to French writer Abbe J.A. Dubois of the 18th century A.D. [Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, page 17 and Edgar Thurston, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume V, page 107], a practice amongst the Nambudris of Kerala to hire someone to embrace the dead corpse of girls who die as virgins [Padmanabhan, 2003]. Valluvar could be referring to this custom. Though two of the five traditional commentators of Tirukkural, namely Manakkudavar and Pariperumal, interpret this way [
பிணத்தை கூலிக்கு தழுவியது போலும்…..], they do not refer to this as a practice amongst Nambudris.
093
Avoiding alcohol
Translators
Notes
0921
Those who always love wine
Will neither inspire fear in others nor retain their fame. *
DL

0922
Drink no wine, or let them drink
Who do not care what wise men think.
PS

0923
When a drunkard's glee hurts his own mother,
Why speak of the wise?
PS

0924
The good lady Shame turns her back to men
Addicted to the grave vice drunkenness. *
PS, DZ

0925
It is sheer ignorance to spend one’s substance
And obtain in return only insensibility. *
VS

0926
Slumbers are no different from the dead.
Nor alcoholics from consumers of poison.
NV

0927
Those who often get drunk in private
Will soon become a laughing stock in public.
KV

0928
Drop saying, "I never drank":
Hidden secrets will be out when drunk. *
PS

0929
To reason with one drowned in drink is like
Searching with a candle for a man drowned in water. *
PS
Yes
0930
When a drunkard sober sees another drunk,
Why does he not note his own damage?
PS


Notes:
930. Compare with 99 and 318 for the typical style of Valluvar: “How can anyone speak harsh words, having seen what kind words do?” - NV and “Why does one hurt others knowing what it is to be hurt?” - PS

094
Gambling
Translators
Notes
0931
Don’t gamble even if you win for it draws you in
Like fishes drawn to shining baits.
PS, NV
Yes
0932
Can gamblers gain anything good in life
Who gain one and lose a hundred? *
PS

0933
To be lost all the time in the rolling dice
Is to lose your hoarded wealth to others.
PS

0934
There is nothing like gambling to bring
Poverty, sorrow and disgrace.
PS

0935
They lose all who will not give up the dice,
The board and the throw.
PS

0936
Those blindfolded by the dark ogress called dice
Will starve and suffer in distress. *
NV, DZ

0937
Time wasted in a gambling house
Will end one’s ancestral wealth and worth. *
PS

0938
Dicing loses wealth, imposes lies,
Kills grace and causes sorrow.
PS

0939
Gambling will make one lose these five:
Riches, food, fame, learning and clothes.
NV

0940
Like the attachment to life despite sufferings
Is the love for gambling despite loss. *
KK
Yes

Notes:
931. Padmanabhan [2003] refers to the practice amongst fishermen of Kanyakumari [Muttom area] to use glittering golden lace as bait for fishing. However, none of the 20 translations from different sources compared in this exercise has interpreted this way. However Kālingar, one of the five traditional commentators of Kural interpret the phrase “
தூண்டில் பொன்as “bait of gold”. On the contrary, the phrase has been invariably taken to mean “metal hook” with the word “பொன்” once actually being used as a reference to any “metal”. The type of metal implied has to be inferred from the context [Sethu Pillai, 1974].

940. PS would say: "Life goes on in spite of loss and stakes in spite of loss!"

095
Medicine
Translators
Notes
0941
Three things beginning with wind, say the experts,
In excess or lacking cause disease.
PS
Yes
0942
The body needs no drugs if what is eaten
Is digested before the next meal.
NV

0943
Once digested, eat with moderation.
That prolongs the life of one embodied. *
DL

0944
Assured of digestion and real hunger,
Eat with care what is agreeable. *
PS

0945
No harm to life if what is eaten
Does not include disagreeable food.
NV

0946
As pleasure dwells with a moderate eater,
So is disease with a voracious glutton. *
DL

0947
Unlimited eating beyond one’s measure
Leads to unlimited number of ills.
NV

0948
Diagnose the illness, trace its cause,
Seek the proper remedy and apply it with skill.
SS

0949
A doctor should have the measure of the patient,
Disease and its stage, and treat.
NV
Yes
0950
Any treatment involves these four orders:
The patient, doctor, medicine and the nurse.
NV, SB


Notes:
941. The other two are considered to be bile and phlegm.
949. These three could be: condition of the patient [stable, unstable], nature of the disease [infectious, non-infectious or chronic/acute] and stage of illness [early/terminal].

096
Lineage
Translators
Notes
0951
None except the well-born
Have that natural sense of integrity and shame. *
PS

0952
Men of birth will never deviate from these three:
Good manners, truthfulness and modesty. *
DL

0953
A smiling face, a generous heart, sweet words and no scorn;
These four are said to mark the well-born. *
PS

0954
Men of birth will not indulge in mean acts
Even if offered millions manifold.
PS, NV

0955
An ancient family may default in charity,
But never in their conduct. *
PS

0956
Those wedded to their spotless heritage
Will do nothing deceitful and ignoble. *
PS

0957
Defects in people of noble descent
Appear prominently as spots on the moon.
JN
Yes
0958
Want of affection from one of good family
Calls in question his descent from it. *
DL

0959
Nature of sprout indicates the quality of soil;
So does the quality of speech one’s descent.
NV

0960
There is no good without a sense of shame,
Nor high birth without politeness.
PS


Notes:
957. Compare with 1117. “Are there spots on my love’s face like the spots on the shining moon?” – NV, SB

959. Compare with 452. Nature of soil governs the quality of water; one’s wisdom by the nature of company. (NV)

097
Honour
Translators
Notes
0961
Reject base actions even if such rejection
Makes life impossible.
PS

0962
Those who desire fame with honour
Will not sacrifice honour for fame.
PS
Yes
0963
In prosperity, bend low.
In adversity, stand straight.
PS

0964
Men fallen from high stature
Are like hair fallen from the head. *
PS

0965
Even a hill-like eminence can be brought low
By deeds as small as a speck. *
PS
Yes
0966
Why go behind those who scorn when it yields
Neither fame nor place in heaven? *
KS

0967
Better said doomed that state of life
Spent clinging on to those who scorn.
NV

0968
Is body as precious as ambrosia that men desire to save it
Even at the cost of honour?
MS, VS
Yes
0969
The yak, sheared of its hair, does not survive.
The noble, stripped of their honour, prefer death.
NV
Yes
0970
The world will admire and worship the glory of men
Who prefer death to dishonour. *
CR


Notes:
962. Compare with 1017. “Men of honour give up life for honour’s sake, but never abandon honour to save life” * - CR
965. 965. That’s why in Kural 433, the author says: “To those ashamed of wrong doings, even millet of fault is as big as a palm-tree” * - VR, PS
968. A difficult verse to translate. The word “
ஊன்” has been taken by different translators as “life”, “skin”, “body” and the word “மருந்தோ” to mean “nectar” or “medicine”. VS provides an interesting but daring translation: “Is the skin forsooth immortality that men desire to save it at the cost of honour?” Another interesting translation, but not close to original: “Does life saved at the cost of honour, put off death for ever?” - PS
969. The exact meaning of the word “
கவரிமா” has not been established for this context. Since Valluvar is referring to the advantage of a wooly coat for surviving cold climates in high altitudes and polar regions, the word has been translated as “yak” here, as many translators do. 

098
Pride/Greatness
Translators
Notes
0971
Honour is to crave for excellence.
Dishonor is to say: “I shall live without it”.
NV

0972
By birth all men are equal. Differences in their action
Render their worth unequal.
SM

0973
Neither the high-born who act low are high,
Nor the low-born who act high, low. *
PS

0974
Even greatness, like a woman’s chastity,
Belongs only to him who guards himself.
DL

0975
If the great achieve anything,
It will be deeds rare in achievement. *
PS

0976
It is not in the nature of the small to have
That outlook of emulating the great. *
DZ

0977
If any distinction falls on the little minded,
Their insolence will know no bounds. *
VS

0978
The great are always humble,
And the small lost in self-admiration.
PS

0979
The great are never puffed up,
While the small are inordinately proud. *
PS

0980
The great hide others' faults.
Only the small talk of nothing else.
PS


099
Goodness
Translators
Notes
0981
All virtues are said to be natural to those
Who acquire character as a duty.
PS

0982
No other goodness than good character
Is deemed good by the noble.
NV

0983
The pillars of excellence are five:
Love, modesty, altruism, compassion, truthfulness.
PS

0984
The characteristic of penance is non-killing,
And that of goodness not speaking others’ faults.
NV
Yes
0985
Humility is the strength of the strong and the weapon
The wise use to conquer their foes.
SS

0986
The touchstone of goodness is to own
One's defeat even to inferiors.
PS

0987
What good is that goodness if it does not return good
Even to those who cause evil? *
PS
Yes
0988
Poverty is no disgrace to one
Who has the strength called character.
PS, VS

0989
The depth of goodness is said to be the never changing attitude
In spite of ever changing fortunes.
NV
Yes
0990
The earth will cease to bear its burden
If perfect men fall short of perfection.
SM, GV


Notes:
984. Compare with 261: “The characteristic of penance lies in enduring hardships and harming no life” - NV
987. Compare with 314. Punish an evil-doer by shaming him with a good deed.* - PS
989: A difficult couplet to translate. Most translations follow Parimelazhagar’s view of taking ‘
ஆழி’ as sea shore and ‘ஊழி பெயரினும்’ as ‘even if a whelming sea breaks its bounds”. PS, therefore, translates this verse as “Seas may whelm, but men of character will stand like the shore”.  However, the word ‘ஊழி in general refers to ‘fate’ or ‘fortune’ and the word ‘ஆழி’ to either ‘sea’ or ‘depth’. I have used these direct meanings to translate this couplet. Kalingar takes this interpretation. From Parimelazhagar’s standpoint, Sundaram’s translation may be improved like this: “Fortunes like seas may whelm, but men of character will remain unperturbed like the shore”.

100
Courtesy
Translators
Notes
0991
The demeanor called courtesy, they say,
Comes easily to those easily accessible to all.
NV, SS

0992
Kindness and exalted birth: these two
Constitute the demeanor called courtesy.
NV

0993
What binds humanity together is not physical proximity,
But that binding of courteousness.
NV

0994
The world applauds the conduct of those
Who help with impartiality and generosity. *
DL, NV

0995
Mockery hurts even in jest, and hence the considerate
Are courteous even to their foes. *
PS
Yes
0996
The world goes on because of civilized men.
Without them it would collapse into dust. *
SS

0997
Men without character, despite their sharp minds,
Are no better than blocks of wood.
NV, DZ

0998
It is disgraceful to be discourteous,
Even towards the unfriendly who treat you unjustly.
SS

0999
To those who cannot laugh,
This big world is all darkness even during the day.
CR

1000
The great wealth kept by the uncultured
Is clean milk gone sour in a can unclean.
NV


Notes:
995. Compare with 871. One should never wish for the accursed thing called enmity, even in jest. SS

References:

Padmanabhan, S. 2003. Thiruvalluvar. Kanyakumari Historical and Cultural Research Centre, Nagercoil. Pp 42 
Sethu Pillai, R.P. 1974. Words and their Significance: Tamil – Literary and Colloquial. University of Madras. Pp 37


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,

No comments:

Post a Comment