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New Tamil Poems

Don't stop! The most popular and best Tamil poems are below this new poems list.

Limerick crochetes: Once Tamil Promotion Director by Wignesan, T
A Money Order to Tamil Nadu by M V, FABIYAS
Poem by Kasiananthan on the Tamil Diaspora and Eelam, trans by T Wignesan by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Six by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Five by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Four by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Three by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part Two by Wignesan, T
Master Valluvan, the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor - Part One by Wignesan, T
MY TAMIL POET by spice, senthu

View all new Tamil Poems

The Best Tamil Poems

Details | Tamil Poem | Create an image from this poem.

My city

I live in a city of  a Indian state
where you can discern refreshing greeneries, that accommodate
the kingfishers,Rollers,peacocks,snakes and white cranes
Although rice is the major crop,black lentils,sugar canes
corns,sunflowers and groundnuts are the seasonal crops
Since it is a rainfed area,the agriculture rely on rain drops

Pongal,the three days festival is celebrated in mid-January
for the year harvest,as a thank giving ceremony
The Brihadeeswara temple,inscribed on list of world heritage
along with airavateswara temple,surviving 1000 ages
have convoluted stone carvings and intricate sculptures
reveal our ancient cultures and they are our treasures 

I am talking about the beautiful city 
Even though it is a city,people's behavior
pretend you to feel like an unrivaled village
The people are more generous and obliging
No religious gap among us,Christians go to mosques
Hindus to churches,Muslims to temples,we are unique

People came from different regions and communities
Nayaks,sauarashtras,marathas savvy the value of unity
and we are living examples of unity in diversity
we follow all the traditions without ambiguity
Tamil is our official language,the name
of city reveals the unvarnished fame

Copyright © Supraja Kannan | Year Posted 2016

Details | Tamil Poem | Create an image from this poem.

with shoes on feet

a grab-and-run pack
a small survival sack
with one set of clothes for spouse and self
passports, a file with just few mails
an old diary with addresses to contact
in England, Finland, and Switzerland

and some currency notes
couple of thousands
in rupees that does not stretch
like the American dollars
they were what i needed most

as the pogrom was in progress
in my Tamil homeland
while i always went to bed
with shoes on my feet

Copyright © Henry Victor | Year Posted 2014

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To what profound penance owe you this boon, O YashOthA

To what profound penance owe you this boon, O! Yashotha! Translation of Oothukkadu Venkata Subbha Iyer’s enna thavam seithanai – yashOthA by T. Wignesan

To what profound penance owe you this boon, O! YashOthA! ®

That He – the ParaBrahmman – who bestrides the Universe
Should call you “Mother!”

To what profound penance owe you this boon, O! YashOthA!

He who created the two times seven worlds
Whom you may lift up breast-feed and cradle in your arms 
Such as to drive even Brahmman and Indhiran to stark envy

(Yes) He whom you tied to the large stone mortar
Muffled and reduced to utter beggary, O! Mother!

To what profound penance owe you this boon, O! YashOthA!

What Sanakkadi Saints attained through self-mortifying  
You obtained that purity with ease just by being made His 

To what profound penance owe you this boon, O! YashOthA!


enna thavam seithanai – YashOthA (Refrain)
enkum nirai parabrahmman amma enralaikka
enna thavam seithanai – YashOthA
IrElu pUvanangkal padaitthavanai
Kaiyil Enthi cIr Addi pAlUddi talAdda
brahmmanum inthirannum manathil porAmai kola
uralil kaddi vAy potthik kenja vaitthAy tAyE
enna thaval seithanai - yashOthA
sanakkAthiyarthavayOkam seithu varunthi
sAthitthadai punitha mAthE eluthil pera
enna thavam seithanai - yashOthA


We are back again to celebrate Krishna in the words of the poet,
and thus to evoke the penchant for « playfulness » in the Hindu mind which cannot be dissociated from the profoundly respectful pre-occupation with anything religious whenever Krishna, the avatar/ embodiment of Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu Trinity, is the subject of one’s thoughts. The Hindu Pantheon is filled with some 33 million « gods », by some counts, but Krishna outshines them all.
In the Hindu religious tradition, the real and the mythological confound themselves, or rather the poet enhances the real through
his imagination, with the result we are made to believe that the
Supreme Being has a worldly life in which his worshippers may
interact with Him. This poem is yet another example. YashOthA
of the herdsman caste is entrusted with the infant Krishna, and as His foster-mother, she is the object of envy even by gods.

The poem has been set to music in the Carnatic mode (with ragas
and thalas) and sung by several able exponents of the art. Check out versions by Sudha Ragunathan or by Karthik and a good many others on the Internet (Abirami).

 ©  T. Wignesan – Paris, 2015.



Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2015

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Show your love

It was an tiny eye that pour a plenty of..
The innocent young boy in the street of war. 
ever since before
Yes, I am not aware about Universe
reality of infinity.
But I am a foolish scientist,
Searching for a long,
Researching under the microscope in vain,
Solutions for the difficulties singe to the sinew.
While looking around where I could go to escape.

The rotations of thoughts are like the particles of milk way..


Since the glance of loving eye has poured in me everything.

Reality very near to me..
The dimension of love is infinity
Where the everlasting peace is being dwelling.
Now I am looking only the eyes of you..
Show your love give the daily bread.

Copyright © Nadarajah Kannappu | Year Posted 2014

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Suburbia Revisisted

Electric Bleeps and bloops
Powerlines buzzing as the

Sunset going behind the roofs

O’lovely neighborhood lost
Facades of families
And degeneration
Of cultural paradigm
No crime
Just a hollow 
husk town
Consuming the lives o’the poor folks
Sigh sigh
but alas
The community 

highway burning over the hill

and man I’ve got way too much 


to kill

Copyright © Brock Gates | Year Posted 2014

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Buoyancy burden

While I was searching a book to read in my old school
Today maybe changed somehow modernized,
There were lot of rooms,
With many of the destitute instant of books.
Anyway, however, I was swerved..
This is my own school why should I hesitate…
The swot ..like swingle …
You’re my SCHOOL.. Swivelled on you
Who could have changed you like this…?
I am completely distracted..
At least the basement may be kept..
I went on to search into, the basement
My goodness, my school, everything distorted…
.. recasted ..
My sweet heaven you distorted, I am distracted..
I want to see the smile of the portia’s yellow flower..
Where is the doorway? And door steps of margosa?
The premises, the sun kissing ground..
All for me unseen world?

There is suddenly landslide:
Divination , there is my teacher pulling me out, digging
The landslide that covered me, the teacher with a mammoty
I identified first teacher ever remembering.
Now the light, my teacher…!
Pursuit smile ..national uniform in white,
How sweet he is…

Copyright © Nadarajah Kannappu | Year Posted 2014

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The Anatomy of a Kural: Maxim 245 of the Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar

The Anatomy of a Kural: Maxim Number 245 (taken at random) of the Thirukkural, the Tamil Classic on Ethics by Thiruvalluvar 

allal arulaalvaarkku illai valivalangum

mallalmaa naalam kari (K245)

“The teeming earth's vast realm, round which the wild winds blow,
Is witness, men of 'grace' no woeful want shall know.” (Tr. G.W.Pope)

“This great rich earth over which the wind blows, is a witness that sorrow never comes upon the kind-hearted.” (Tr. W.H.Drew and John Lazarus)

“Misfortune the good-natured spares, the wind-tossed
Great cornucopian world bears ever testimony.” (Tr. T. Wignesan) 

allal=privation or affliction

arul=kindliness, benevolence

aalvaar(kku)=to those who manage or exercise; (ukku)=here denotes the dative case ending

illai=negation (no/not)


valangkum=passing round



naalam=the pendant globe of earth


Now the task here for the poet is to put these senses of the words together in an arrangement of seven metrical feet to comply with the classical Tamil prosodic rules while incorporating certain rhetorical features, such as, initial rhyme (ethukai), alliteration (monai), exceptionally end-rhyme (iyaippu), typical to a particular metre called "venba".

Example of "ethukai": allal/mallal. The rules require that the rhyme must fall on the second syllable, here: "ll" or as pronounced “il”.

Example of "monai": line one = a/a/aa/i/ (according to the rules "a" and "i" (or as pronounced “e”) for the sake of alliteration are phonetic equivalents.

Feet: There are seven metrical feet in each "kural" or couplet or distique, four in the first line and three in the second, though now and then this pattern may be reversed.

The feet are represented by both the short syllable: "-" and the long: "_". This distique (given the lack of adequate diacritical signs on my computer) could be transcribed as follows:

-- --    -_ _ _ - -    --_    ----_

--_ _    _ --    --*

* lines above are short, lines below long.

In order to respect the brevity of these pithy sayings, the author has also to constrict the grammatical structure of the sentence (often a complex sentence with a main and a subordinate clause) by the adroit use of ellipses through omitting case endings or post-positional morphemes, etc., and by the use of substantives to take the place of verbs and by juggling the words in groups through meaningful juxtapositions.

To illustrate this device, see how he uses the negative particle "illai" placed further away from the noun "allal" which it qualifies; or see how he separates the epithet: "valivalangkum" from the "noun" it qualifies in the next line while interposing yet another two epithets in between. The last word, the seventh is almost always only made up of two short syllables.

Thiruvalluvar has had to cope with all these poetical and prosodic devices and literary embellishments, such as, the use of imagery, metaphor or simile, and even ambiguity, all through 1330 couplets, arranged according to thematic chapters of ten distiques apiece. This exercise in itself is a veritable achievement, not to mention the overall philosophic treatment of his thesis which is the admonishment of a way of life for a people in all the aspects of the domestic, amorous, social and political spheres of their existence.

Little wonder then why the Thirukkural has enjoyed the highest place of praise and pride in the hearts of an entire Tamil population which can boast of having engendered a totally unrelated/isolated family of languages in South India (including Brahui in present-day Pakistan) with a continuous corpus of literary masterpieces lasting over at least two-thousand three hundred years.  

  © T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Heal and Mend

My wish for you is happiness, may your smiles always be true.
My hope for you is freedom, to always see your hopes and dreams through.
My want for you is to believe, that you are important to yourself and others.
My dream for you is to feel no fear or sadness, lean on each other like sisters or brothers.
My need for you is to know your strength, it will always guide you on.
My belief for you is in true courage, even in the dark hold out your hands and each other lean on.
My vision for you is healing, the power is often in your hands.
My understanding for you is love, just call out when you feel yourself sinking in the sands.
These are my wishes for you, in me you will always find a friend... Just lets take care of each other and together, we can truly begin to heal and mend.

Copyright © Becki Douglas | Year Posted 2015

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Mnemonic Devices: Rhyme and Alliteration in the THIRUKKURAL, Canto 4, K35

Mnemonic Devices: Rhyme and Alliteration in the THIRUKKURAL, a random example: Canto 4, K35 by T. Wignesan

alukkaaru avaavekuli innaacchol naangkum
ilukkaa iyanrathu aram (refined, shorn of connective particles)
The way of vileness, self-congratulatory aid, ire and foul-mouthing - these four attitudes will cause the charity-giver to slip from the natural path of virtue into ignominy. (Tr. T. Wignesan) 

I - Rhyme (ethukai: there are SIX kinds) in the Venba metre of classical Tamil poetry:
(a) Initial Rhyme (idaiyaasethukai): where the second letter/syllable of the first words in successive lines have to rhyme, e.g.
Here the syllable "lu" (with a macron underneath the "l" to distinguish it from two other "l"s in the Tamil alphabet) occurs in both the identical slots.
(b) End-Rhyme (iyappu): naankum/aram

II - Besides, two other forms of rhyme can also be found: 
a) thalaiyaasethukai: the entire first feet in the two lines are identical, even if and because "a" and "i" are phonetic equivalents (of the same genre):
b) moonraamelutthonrethukai: the third letters/syllables of the first words in both the lines are in consonance - "ka" and "ka".     

II- Alliteration (monai: here, too, there are SIX kinds):   
For this feature to be valid, it is enough that the first letters of two or more words be either the same or one of its class, i.e., their phonetic equivalents:
Here, 1) the first letters of the first and second words are "a" in the first line;
2) the first letters of the first and second words are "i" in the second line.
The above two examples of alliteration are known as "inaimonai", i.e., where two successive words are in alliteration.

Commentary: It's quite obvious the poet was writing at a time when widespread dissemination of his work was not available to him (and to others of his ilk), and so poetry having been the principal form of expression for the Tamils throughout the ages, they developed the art of making learning by rote as simple as possible. If you knew that a kural consisted of seven feet in two lines, and that the initial rhymes fell on the second letter/syllable of the first word in each line, and that alliteration was an adornment Tamil poets could not do without, not to mention the special character of the seventh foot (cf. previous posts on the Thirukkural), these features in themselves would be sufficient to aid constant and total recall.

© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Additional advice to those would be King from the THIRUK-KURAL with Commentary

Additional free advice to those* who would be King from the THIRUK-KURAL with Commentary
[*like presidents, prime ministers, dictators of declining (falling or fallen) nations or even empires]

K442: urranOy niikki uraa amai munkaakkum
            petriyaarp peenik kolal

Cherish the all-accomplished men as friends,
Whose skill the present ill removes, from coming ills defends. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Let (a king) procure and kindly care for men who can overcome difficulties when they occur, and guard against them before they happen. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Pope here makes a comment on Beschi's latin rendering of the maxim which we cannot attribute to him, for he adds the words: "See Pancatantra":
"Evils come from gods [read this word here as"Nature" - my interpolation] (malaiinmai/droughts, mikumalai/excessive rains, kaartru/winds, thii/fire, pini/disease); or from men (pakaivar/enemies, kalvar/thieves, chuttraththaar/kindred, tholilseyvoor/servants).
To remove the former, atonements (saanthigal) must be used. For the latter, the four methods (saamapeethathaanathandangkal) of pacification, disruption, gift, and punishment must be used." 

Commentary: Atonements? Can a whole nation, where collective responsibility is the case, atone for its misdeeds? For instance, for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hardly likely. Most unlikely, so let Nature wreak its ravages: let loose typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis and the like, taking into consideration President Trump's refusal to commit the USA to climate change rescue in Paris. 
As for the latter where individuals or groups of individuals are the perpetrators, THIRU-VALLUVAR's advice can make much sense even in our hotch-potch day and splintered age.  Let's take just one aspect of the issues at stake: IMMIGRATION and resort to just one form of remedy: PUNISHMENT.
First, massive immigration destabilizes society at large, engenders wherever sizeable minorities gather and take root, differences of opinion, ways and aims of life which produce conflictual situations that do not contribute to harmonious relations, on the one hand, among the diverse immigrant populations, and on the other, with the host communities whether or not their inter-personal perceptions, faiths, attitudes, customs, sense of respect for one anothers' practice of conventions,  and ingrained methods of abiding or not by the laws of the country of reception differ or are even partially similar. The illegal immigrant is by necessity and definition a "criminal" who has little to lose but his soul. He is an interloper in a society where - according to all previous aspirations - his hoped-for higher economic condition must be made to prevail over all others who pose by necessity a threat to his safety. In such a conflictual situation the battle is waged first and foremost against his rival - the other immigrant serving another "god". And here, the battle is a free-for-all where the villain is whoever who can take, pluck, steal, dupe, con, batter and even kill. The host merely shuts a conniving eye. When the immigrant populations achieve their aims, and rise above their initial menial circumstances, then they turn on their hosts, passports and citizenship papers in hand, that is, when they feel comfortable enough to sleep with the host's spouses and sire future presidents with the host's daughters; so what's the solution?

1. Instead of the WALL, construct a high-powered ELECTRIC CORRIDOR; if need be, even in the north. Patrol the shores: this is  done normally anyway. (Demonstrate what would happen on tv to those who would want to "scale" the corridor: "Poulet roti" à la française* could serve as a good convincing example.)
2. Impose heavy fines on those who fly, railroad or ship illegal immigrants as a first offence. Especially on foreign airlines and travel agencies.
3. Second offenders must be crippled with payments they cannot afford.
4. Thereafter, prison sentences must be handed out without fail.
5. Next, deportation must be resorted to wherever and whenver possible, if it does not inhumanely split up families - children from parents.
6. All guilty of illegal entry must be made to pay off their "crime" by working on farms and "outsourcing" installations in a COLONY to be created within the States, under supervision by the authorities. This is not a PRISON, and if anyone chooses to leave* the "premises", he or she should be invited to work for his or her passage to wherever the person came from, in the first place.
7. Jordon and Turkey have absorbed masses of Syrian refugees. Why can't oil-rich nations: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States be persuaded to lay out the red carpet to their brethren? Likewise with other rich Afro- Asian nations with others who flee their own tortuous shores?
* Just to give you an idea of how the Socialist French (who will be ousted in tomorrow's confirmation general elections) grill their chicken, sample this: 
In 1983 and 1984, I appealed to the Socialist President François MITTERAND for a "sauf conduit" (safe conduct pass) for me and my handicapped son out of the country. On the second appeal, I received an invitation from the president's Human Rights Counsellor, Mme Cécile SPORTIS to the Elysée Palace (read as the "White House"). After listening to me for over an hour, she asked for the proof which I provided in a dossier surpassing some 500 pages of documents and letters, etc. Appalled, she promised to shake heaven and earth to set things right. She asked me to call back "in a month". I did. Her secretary said that there was no trace of my file, except for a letter to a lawyer Me Jean-Jacques de Félice.
I wanted to know the decision of the President. She said there was none. André Fontaine, then the Chief Editor of the Le Monde paper called to check with the president. His reply was that, as I was not a "diplomat", he could not issue me a "sauf conduit" out of the country. 

©  T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Villanelle: Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon

Villanelle: Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon
 for the author - male or female, prince or pauper, playboy or priest - of the
   THIRUKKURAL*, the reputed "bible" of the Tamils, the principal Dravidian race  credited with having engendered the first literary heritage of the Indian sub-continent. Only one thing might be said of him with certitude:
he tamed the language like none other and was more alive to his "times" and his literary, inter-personal, romantic, religio-philosophical  and political  environment than any prince, philosopher or priest ever since. In my view, whoever he may have been, he was an unjustifiably oppressed individual like King Wen who wrote the judgments on the hexagrams and provided the explanations of their images and the Later Heaven arrangement of the Yi Jing, the Canon of Change.

Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon
  Words come asunder blown on road side-table
Debris of wanton collisions intone

Long-gone ages singe the stylo his work shone
   Who knows what diamond crumbs spill disable
Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon

Sans case-endings morphemes participial pun
   Regimented feet in seven steps enable
Debris of wanton collisions intone

Who confined meaning in drumbeat phoneme moan
   Lest envy upper-caste knowledge expose enable
Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon

None know who he was nor what age saw he sun
   Savants pat cheeks his lines to render readable
Debris of wanton collisions intone

While lordly conferees seek to feather nests own
   His sculpted riddles tease meaning and jumble
Whose terse lines lie entangled in the colophon
Debris of wanton collisions intone

* Thiru=Sacred; KURAL, meaning "short" or epigrammatic composition in the form of couplets (1330: ten kurals allotted to each topic in three books with a short introduction), composed and ordered according to the rules of a strict classical prosodical pattern: the "venba" metre while adhering to complex rhetorical features, such as, alliteration, assonance, initial-rhymes and ellipses. The author was known as Thiru-VALLUVAR. One of the earliest commentaries on the Kural, still extant, was made by a Tamil scholar PARIMELALAKAR during the 13th century. 
(c) T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017 

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Unquotable quotes: EVIL PEOPLE - VIIIL

Unquotable quotes : EVIL PEOPLE – VIIIL (42)

Animals (amphibians, reptiles),  birds, insects, dinosaurs and even imaginary beasts kill to eat. Humans for pleasure, pain and profit.

Evil people never think of Evil lest they feel remorse over whether the extent, duration and intensity of their acts wrought the mostest and the damnedest on the object(s) of their wilful designs.

Evil people never inflict harm on others unless it is to placate their gods. And their gods are always right, so say their prophets and their preachers. 

Crusades, conquests and colonizations are always under-written by the sacred commandments of holy texts rained down from above for the benefit of heathens only, for they are invariably the most devout.

Evil people never understand why the evil they wreak is not always successful nor productive –from their point of view – for they fear to step out into the open from out of the grip of their conditioned reflexes they were bound into from babyhood. They rather not – they will not – believe their gods can be less than the plenipotentiaries of the multi-verse pantheon, even if the revelations of present-day astrophysics and quantum mechanics were unknown to their gods and prophets at the time of the composition of the holy texts taken right out of the mouths of their gods. 

Evil people always feel invulnerable when they lay their lives down for their beliefs and convictions: god before country, country before caste, race before religion, religion before rights, club before cause, sperm before spouse, money before madness, airs before achievement, avidity before nudity, the party before parents, the House before home, profit before principle, the prophet before poet, violation before violence, the President before peasant, His Holiness before humanity…

Evil people always find happiness for the happy are those who are protected here-in and here-after by the powers that be.

Evil people know they are always right for don’t their leaders always remind them of their might.

The Seal of the Saviours always sits well on evil people provided they further his/their side every time they have fun at the expense of those born with less in their pockets or much less grey-matter behind eye-sockets.

Evil people always manage to stay afloat: watch how they gloat even in a leaking boat in the moat around their fortresses, far from the final departing coast.

Evil people earn merit by trampling on those who swear by no holy spirit.

Evil people all hate to be told they make no haste to read the texts of their ingrained faiths, nor that they take no vows to vie with other fellow louts. 

Evil people all dream of the day when their captains will call it a day to put an end to the melting mountains of ice by pulling the foolscap over their eyes.

Evil people all drink and belch in the faces of those without the wherewithal to be merry for they know they can sell their souls as a last resort for a thimble-full of sherry.

Evil people all put the blame on the nation for their trials and fibrillations of their  fabrications owing to the wheezing bag of bones in the name of the people prone to a measly existence.

The ancient Chinese classic of Change, the Yi Jing says: Retreat into yourself when you see evil people approach: they will go away by themselves.

But maxim 1073 of the classical Tamil treatise on Ethics, the Thirukkural, says: 

theevar anaivar kayavar avarumthaam
meevana seitholuga laan.

Evil people resemble the gods in that
They too may do as they please.

© T. Wignesan – Paris, 2017   

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Limerick crochetes: Once Tamil Promotion Director

Limerick crochetés: Once Tamil Promotion Director

Once Tamil Promotion Director
Excised wise Japanese co-founder
Called him names like rogue thief
Set himself up as Chief
All Dravidian Tamil Editor

He posed as the Royal Ancestor
Even of the Chola* Emperor
Slave-drove workers in fief
Used savants make belief
Such the Tamil Highness Publisher

He caged talents the Money-Maker
Poised as Conference Organiser
Preyed on Buddhist belief
On Chan and Zen mischief
To lard his own family bunker

Ideas he plucked from the Other
Made as if he put up with bother
Tamils to lead as Chief
No matter what the grief
None see his pen as plagiariser

All helpers rough-rode he the Miser
Shed them shorn one after the other
Damn not this common thief
Just his penchant for Chief
For Tamil knowledge made he Server

[* The Chola dynasty (among other South-Indian reigns) of the 10th to 12th centuries C.E. extended Tamil culture and civilization over the better part of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia without having recourse primarily to conquests and/or of maintaining colonies.]
© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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More appropriate advice from the THIRUK-KURAL for those who would be King

More appropriate advice from the THIRUK-KURAL to those* who would be King: VALIARITHAL - Understanding the Wielding of Power
[*like presidents, prime and chief ministers, dictators or even modern-day "emperors" under the guise of revolutionary leaders of oppressed peoples]

Note: In this the 48th Canto, Valluvar is back - from the purely literary point of view, given his ultimate reasons for maintaining the decadal format for each topic - to composing his epigrams some of which merely serve to "fill in", as I have repeatedly reminded the reader, the decade. 
Here, the first two distiques are of a general introductory nature; the next two, the key statements contain his pronouncements on the theme of "how to wield power" in politics; the following two re-capture in imagic form the teaching in the previous couple, and the last four - no less literary gems in prosodic exercises - mere repetitious variations of the main premise enunciated in 473 and 474.] T. Wignesan

K471: vinaivaliyum thanvaliyum maatraan valiyum
           thunaivaliyum thuukkich cheyal

The force the strife demands, the force he owns, the force of foes,
The force of friends: these should he weigh ere to the war he goes. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Let (one) weigh well the strength of the deed (he purposes to do), his own strength, the strength of his enemy, and the strength of the allies (of both), and then let him act. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

In all belligerent activity* consider well one's own strength, the might of the enemy, and those of helpers on either side before setting forth. (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[*vinai has four senses: 1. action in general; 2. retributive action; 3. warlike operations: and 4. hostility.]

K472:  olvathu arivathu arinthathan kanthanggich
            chelvaarkkuch chellaathathu il

Who know what can be wrought, with knowledge of the means, on this,
Their mind firm set, go forth, nought goes with them amiss. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
There is nothing which may not be accomplished by those who, before they attack (an enemy), make themselves acquainted with their own ability, and with whatever else is (needful) to be known, and apply themselves wholly to their object. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

If one knows what is possible*, without letting any unknown aspect or facet to cloud his mind, then no failure will await him in his undertaking. (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[* olvathu = what is possible]
                                                         (to be continued)
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Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Metre in the THIRUKKURAL: Kural 35 of Canto 4, a random example

Metre in the THIRUKKURAL: Kural 35 of Canto 4, a random example.

alukkaa ravaavekuli yinnaacchon naangku
milukkaa viyanra tharam (unrefined, given in the original state of  
                                    the connective particles of  punarcchi rules)
alukkaaru avaavekuli innaacchol naankum
ilukkaa iyanrathu aram (refined, shorn of the connective particles)
Tis virtue when, his footsteps sliding not through envy, wrath,
Lust, evil speech - these four, man onwards moves in ordered path. (Tr. G.U.POPE)
That conduct is virtue which is free from these four things, viz., malice, desire, anger and bitter speech. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)

The way of vileness, self-congratulatory aid, ire and foul-mouthing - these four attitudes will cause the charity-giver to slip from the natural path of virtue into ignominy. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

Breakdown of the words and their individual meanings:
alukku = foulness; aaru= way; avaa= desire, lust; vekuli= wrath, anger; innaa= unpleasant; chol= words, speech; naangkum= (the latter) four; [ili= slip down, fall down, become vile;] ilukkam= ignominy; iyanrathu= that which has proceeded naturally; aram= virtue. 

Scansion: The classical VENBA metre with which the poet has to contend in order to compose a mere two lines - not to mention (I will treat of other prosodical and literary features in the next post) the elements of occasional ambiguity and ambivalence/multivalence with regard to the whole; allusions and symbolism, etc.

First, there are in the Thirukkural 1330 couplets, i.e., 2660 lines, each word or groupings of words making up a foot. Each kural is made up of SEVEN feet. In other words, there are in all 18,620 feet which the poet had to assemble in a particular order according to very strict prosodic rules. This in itself is a formidable and trying task.

In the VENBA metre, there are TEN feet, some have equivalents in the European tradition, like the iambus, trochee, pyrrhic, spondee, anaepest and dactyl, etc. 
1) Now, the strict rule is that certain feet ending in a long syllable (THEEMA= spondee and PULIMAA=anaepest) must not be followed by one beginning in a long syllable.
2) Likewise, feet ending in short syllables (KUUVILAM= dactyl and KARUVILAM= proceleusmatic) must be followed by feet beginning with a long syllable.
3) The same rule applies to four other feet (THEEMANGKAI, PULIMAANGKAI, KUUVILANGKAI and KARUVILANGKAI) as in (2) above.

The short syllable can be designated by "u" and the long by "__". Hence, the above kural can be transposed as
uu__ /  u__ /uu__ /  __ __ __ /  __uu /
uu__ /  uuu__ /  uuU /

The last foot in the kural has its own particularisms, often ending in the phoneme "u", and in the present case, known as PIRAPPU.  

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On the need to avoid being envious: CANTO XVII, K161, K162 of the THIRUK-KURAL

On the need to avoid being envious: Canto XVII, K161, K162 of the THIRUK-KURAL, Translation with Commentary

[ ENVY, of course, knows no racial nor ethnic boundaries, but I wouldn't be wrong, I dare say,  in thinking or assuming that being envious in an inveterate manner could be considered one of the principal Tamil character traits. How else may one explain the total lack of verifiable information on Thiru-VALLUVAR's life and times? What we know and have of him is a dismal kyrielle of hearsay and myth, together with some linguistic evidence culled from his work linking him to the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, but this isn't evidence which sheds light on his personality or educational background or, for that matter, his professional or personal circumstances without which - since he has not given us any clue or aperture to his self in his work - we cannot with certainty pronounce on the influences he was subject to, nor whether he was amenable to such influences either. It is quite obvious he was the object of much "envy" on the part of his peers. My hunch is that his enormous capabilities, knowledge and energy might have invited "oppression" from all quarters. Envy, as we all know, plays no great part once the period of his/one's generation or two comes to an end. And somehow the Thiru-Kural was preserved and handed down by successive generations who were not plagued by the presence of the author. One possibility of suppression owing to envy may have been his social caste status. Upper caste Tamils of his time - if he belonged to a lower or the lowest caste such as it was presumed in his case - might not want a priest of the Valluvar caste to outshine them. Normal reaction among Tamils!
I have said elsewhere he "deliberately" - knowing the situation he was in - left us some clues in his work which would ensure its perennity. Sooner or later, I'll deal with this topic: Stay tuned in!

Just a word on THIRUKKURAL publications and conferences: To say the least, these are so numerous and breast-beating (now that the poet is absent), and like all money-raking shenanigans, the book is sure-fire attraction the moment some publisher or institution of learning decides to do one or the other, often with the backing of the Tamil Nadu Government or some Tamil diaspora authority. The Thirukkural has long attained the status of a "bible" among the Tamil populations, so much so that nothing rakes in the cash as the celebration of a bard of incontestable honour and reign which translates as something as close to the deification of the author through his work. As everybody knows, ask in the name of the giver's god and none will withhold even their last penny!  In every decade, the number of publications or conferences tend to become ever so redundant that there is grave danger the contents of the treatise on ethics by our "unknowable" poet might become so debased and mammon-ised (to coin a word) that Tamilian ethics may need to be recast by a second-coming of the poet, himself.  
Two recent readily-available paperback publications require singling out:
1. Thirukkural Tamil-English Version. Translations by Rev. G.U.Pope, Rev. W.H. Drew and Rev. John Lazarus. Chennai: Kumaran Pathippagam, 2015, 288p. Price Rs 140.
(This version appears in clear print, and the translators hardly need to be introduced, for they number among the few who have rendered Tamils and foreigners interested in Tamil studies great service.)
2. Thirukkural. English Transliteration & Translation with CD. Chennai: The Wisdom World Publication, 2016, 276p. Price Rs 475. 
(Selections from eleven translators' efforts are proffered, among them Pope, Drew & Lazarus, with a totally muddled-up "appreciation" by the Tamil Nadu government cultural affairs official in five short paragraphs and an obfuscating preface about the origins of the selections by V. Ramamurthy, both of whom quite frankly judging by their texts cannot possibly be knowledgeable in English. One would do well to discard the book pullulating in grammatical and printer's errors. The CD, only in Tamil, is worth keeping, though.)

According to G.U. Pope, the Thirukkural, written in the venba metre lends itself to "ceppalOsai", that is, the recitative or didactic tone, and this is further extended, according to the quantity of the feet in each couplet, into the "balanced recitative", the "grave recitative" (K397 is the only case) and the " mixed recitative". The great majority of the couplets are in the last category, giving rise to a variety of rhythms.

K161: olukku aaraak kolka oruvanthan nencatthu
             alukkaaru ilaatha iyalpu

As 'strict decorum's' laws, that all men bind,
Let each regard unenvying grace of mind. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Let a man esteem that disposition which is free from envy in the same manner as propriety of conduct. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

One should in one's heart cherish the state of being devoid of envy and make that a cardinal principle of virtue. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

K162:  viluppeetrin ahthuoppathu illayaar maadtum
             alukkaatrin anmai perin

If man can learn to envy none on earth,
'Tis richest gift, -- beyond compare its worth. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Amongst all attainable excellences there is none equal to that of being free from envy towards others. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Of all the most cherishable qualities one may strive to possess, nothing compares to that state of being where envy has no place. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

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Niitthaar Perumai, the Fundamental Role of the Ascetic, Canto 3 of the Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar

Niithaar Perumai, the Fundamental Role of Ascetics, Canto 26 of the Thirukkural, the Tamil Classical Treatise on Ethics, Translation and Commentary by T. Wignesan 

[Given the scarcity of information (mostly conflicting even then) on the origins and times of the author of this classical Tamil literary masterpiece, I have selected the above decadal canto for treatent in order to ease some of the contention over the author’s weltanschaaung. The decade here also best illustrates some of his literary strengths and weaknesses, for not all his distiques stand up well to impartial scrutiny. His choice of elaborating on a topic through composing ten couplets a piece may perhaps have had other more elusive aims (on which I too have my own verifiable notions), but this canto should serve to illustrate both his ingenuity as well as his forte at spinning out an idea –at moments – simply, it would seem, for the sake of it. The question is why only ten maxims per topic? Why not twelve? Or even twenty?

Is the Judeo-Christian "ten commandments" a possible influence in the form and/or content? Christian Tamils would be the first to rally to this hypothesis, even if Europeans like Pope and Zvelebil would less grudgingly decline such an honour. In some cantos/chapters, one gets the feeling he is merely exercising his talents by approaching a topic from various angles without, in reality, having added fundamentally to the perceptions some few couplets had already convincingly contributed to the élaboration of the case. Only the overall picture is being served here, that is, the author like most of his counterparts in the South Asian continent has had the main religio-philosophic PURUSHA aims of ultimate spiritual development in life in view: aram (virtue), artha (wealth), kama(m) (pre-marital love, sexual and wedded co-habitation) and vidu or moksha (release from re-birth through renunciation), according to the purusha concept of the mainly Hindu aims and phases of development in life. Yet, even if a specifically entitled fourth book devoted to « moksha » is absent from the Thirukkural, there are many couplets which treat of the subject such as this section under discussion.

The poet, himself, has come to be described as an « eclectic » thinker, a label first mooted by G.U.Pope in the nineteenth century and echoed by others like Kamil Zvelebil and a host of others in the twentieth. The Jains claim him as their own, not without reason, but, on the same score, perhaps the Christians ought to delve deep into the Dead Sea Scrolls to see how the Buddha’s teachings seeped into their own.]

Canto 3 : « niithaar perumai » and a few translations to highlight the manner in which the poet Thiruvalluvar ensconced meaning in order to serve both literary and didactic

K21: olukkatthu niithaar perumai viluppatthu
         veendum panuvar runivu 

The settled rule of every code requires, as highest good,
Their greatness who, renouncing all, true to their rule have stood. (Tr. G.U.Pope)

The end and aim of all treatise is to extol beyond all other excellence, the greatness of those who, while abiding in the rule of conduct peculiar to their state, have abandoned all desire. (Tr. W.H.Drew and J.Lazarus)

The true worth of moral works ought to be judged by whether their teaching directs one to renounce all forms of possession through inner detachment. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

K22: thuratthaar perumai thunaikkoorin vaiyatthu
          thiranthaarai yennikkon darru

As counting those that from the earth have passed away,
‘Tis vain attempt the might of holy men to say. (Tr. G.U.Pope)

To describe the measure of the greatness of those who have forsaken the two-fold desire, is like counting the dead. (Tr. W.H.Drew and J.Lazarus)

If one were to measure the greatness of those who have renounced the world, it would be tantamount to totalling up the number of deaths on earth. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

K23: irumai vakaitherinthu iinduaram poondaar
         perumai pirangkirru ulaku

Their greatness earth transcends, who, way of both worlds weighed,
In this world take their stand, in virtue's robe arrayed. (Tr. G.U.Pope)

The greatness of those who have discovered the properties of both states of being, and clothed themselves in virtue, shines forth in this world (beyond all others. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)

The highest attainment resides (in pondering and) rejecting both birth and re-birth [samsara], the ultimate achievement open to man on earth. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

                                                                     (to be continued)
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K373 and K374 of the THIRUKKURAL Translated with Commentary

K373 and K374 of the THIRUKKURAL: Translated with Commentary

The poet's name, THIRUVALLUVAR [Thiru = Sacred and Valluvar = the name of the priesthood caste of the « Pariah » (whom Mahatma Gandhi prefered to call "Harijans", "the children of God"), is very probably a misnomer. His name is sometimes followed by the collective title of « Nayanar », a term signifying religious Siva Bhakti poets and whose work had been anthologised first in the collection : TEVARAM by Nambi Andar Nambi of the Xth to XIth century CE. No one knows his real name nor his origins, whereabouts and birth circumstances.  G.U.Pope, one of the few great foreign scholars of Tamil, began his missionary work in the enclave of Mayilapur (meaning "the township/bourgade of peacocks" in the city of Madras/Chennai, during the nineteenth century) . The term « pariah » denotes something most derogatory, for in the Hindu caste hierarchical system these members of the lowest non-caste were treated as "defiled", not worthy of being seen or being found in their company, due to their having to handle corpses, serving  as "night soil men", employed in the tanning of animal skins and in other extreme menial duties and functions -- all considered "un-holy" by the upper castes]. Pope follows the claims of the popular tradition in thinking the poet lived and grew up there for there is to be found a temple consecrated to the poet in Mayilapur. Others like S. Padmanabhan and the Tamil Nadu authorities associate his name with Kanyakumari, the southernmost district of the Tamil peninsula on the strength of certain words in the Thirukkural which were in usage in the area during the first millenium of our era. Yet, others - Tamil Christians in the majority - wish him to have imbibed Christian doctrines and teachngs at the feet of the martyred apostle St. Thomas who was assassinated in Mayilapur, obviously in the first century of the Christ's existence. Pope and the great missionary translators and interpretors of the kurals, such as, D. H. Drew, John Lazarus, F. W. Ellis, the ilustrious Italian Beschi, the German Graul and the Frenchman Ariel -- all pay him their profoundest respect and admiration while drawing attention to the tradition of ethical maxims in other literary cultures to which Thiruvalluvar may or may not have had cognisance. As usual, as in all such cases, a good deal of myth also willingly gets spun, absorbed and perpetuated like the story of how he was the illegitimate issue of caste-miscegenation, that is, between a Brahmin father and a "Pariah" mother. 
I have already in my previous posts shown how complicatedly arduous it is to compose a "kural"in the venba metre, the most difficult of the Tamil prosodic structures. Add to this the plan and structure of the whole composition, and it will become evident that no one who had not enjoyed the highest literary and mental capacities could have authored this oeuvre. 
Even the language the poet used was free of "sankriticisms", the principal linguistic influence over other languages in the sub-continent. According to Pope, himself, the language of the kural is a product of pure high Tamil. For instance, Tamils everywhere today would use innumerable words of Sanskrit or of other origins in their spoken or written forms like "kobam" for "anger" or "sadtchi" for "witness", but in the kural the poet employs "vekuli" and "kari" respectively, words of Tamil concoction. 
I, for myself, am convinced he was, as I said earlier on,  "unjustifiably oppressed". In that case, how has his work survived the ages. That is because he outsmarted them all. I have my own « theory » or conjecture or deduction about it all. (T. Wignesan)
K373: nunniya noolpala katpinum marrunthen
           unmai arivee mikum

In subtle learning manifold though versed men be,
The wisdom, truly his, will gain supremacy. (Transl. G.U.Pope)
Although a man may study the most polished treatises, the knowledge
which fate has decreed to him will still prevail. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Even if one imbibes works from the most learned sources, knowledge that
is inherent* in him owing to fate will triumph (over the rest). 
[*in the sense of the inherited genetic code.]
(Transl. T. Wignesan) 

K374: iruveeru ulakatthu iyatkai
           thiruveeru thelliyar aathalum veeru

Two-fold the fashion of the world: some live in fortune's light;
While other some have souls in wisdom's radiance light. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
There are (through fate) two different natures in the world; hence the difference 
(observable in men) in (their acquisition of) wealth, and in their attainment of knowledge. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

The nature of the world is such that fate provides some with the ability to acquire wealth and others knowledge. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

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Thiru-Valluvar on Praising Ladies of their qualities: Canto 112 - Nalam Punainthu Uraiththal

Thiru-Valluvar on Praising the Good Qualiities of Ladies: Canto 112 - Nalam Pinainththu Uraiththal

[The poet devotes the third part of his treatise, the Thiruk-Kural to INBATHTHUPPAAL, the amorous relationship between the sexes, i.e.,  cantos 109 to 133. of which the first seven concerns itself with "concealed love" (the Gandharva marriage) while the last seventeen has to do with "wedded life".
Even if the place of the Hindu woman was at home, at the service of the man of the house, the mother's position in the family constellation was the holiest of all. The Tamil poetess, AVVAIYAAR (often linked to Thiru-Valluvar for her catechistic aphorisms) has this well-known dictum on the spiritual inviolability of the "Mother" in her didactic work, KONRAI VEENTHAN: "Thaayit siranthu oru  koyilum illai" (There is no greater temple than the mother.)
When it comes to the fairer sex, Thiru-Valluvar waxes romantically poetic in exquisite verses on love and beauty and pleasurable feelings; yet, on the other hand, he was quite obviously writing at a time when his society entertained no notion of "women's rights".  The woman was wife and child-bearer, required to be absolutely sub-servient and devoted to her husband - even worshiping him as her only God - while maintaining her position often under dire circumstances as the mainstay of domestic life. In most homes, she was cook, house-cleaner, washer-woman, servant, principal draper, slave to her husband, child-raiser and even the first teacher to her children, and she accomplished all this without setting foot out of the house, un-accompanied. She was the last in the family to bed herself down, and the first to be up before dawn. By the time she reached thirty, she was hard-put to retain her innate charms. Note also that she was forced to wed her husband, chosen by parents, while still in her early teens. 
Loose women, prostitutes and the unchaste wife were held to be the lowliest and vilest of beings; hence the bearing of sons conferred merit on her. Until the British administration abolished the practice of SUTTEE, widows were still - as late as in the nineteenth century - required to jump into the flaming fires of their husbands' pyres. What's worse, not until 1957, divorce in Hindu marriage was recognized by law: husbands could visit brothels or maintain mistresses, but the wife délaissée simply had to take it all - or nothing - lying down. In a certain incremental number of cases, very young girls, including orphans, were offered/sacrificed to the local temple to serve as "temple dancers", an euphemism for pedophily on the part of priests and the propertied classes/castes. Polygamy was not unknown to the rich, while the princely WARRIOR-caste (kshastriya) maintained "harems" at will. Often the latter caste of rajas/princes would wage against one another large sums to see who could "de-flower" the greatest number of virgins in any given year. No wonder the Muslim invaders found it easy to over-run (and split-up) the sub-continent with their superior fleet-footed cavalry as opposed to the clumsy slow-moving armada of elephants and peasant foot-soldiers with scant military training. 
It is therefore not surprising that the THIRUK-KURAL re-inforces the inferior social status of the fairer sex, though the dalliances of chaste love-play receive in our poet's eyes all the respect and jouissance the liana-like damsel deserves.] T. Wignesan

K1111: nalniirai vaali anichcham* ninninum
             melniiral yaamviil paval
[*anichcham = according to Pope, "an imaginary (?) flower, the poet's commonplace for anything peculiarly delicate and sensitive"]

O flower of the sensitive plant! than thee
More tender's the maiden beloved by me. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
May you flourish, O Anicham! you have a delicate nature. But my beloved is more delicate than you. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

All Hail! to your exquisite nature, Anichcham!* By comparison
infinitely more tender is the one I love! (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[* the mythic anichcham flower is supposed to fade once it's smelt. Note the sexual connotations.]

K1113:  murimeeni muththam muruval verinaatram
             veelunkan veeyththO lavaddu

As tender shoot her frame; teeth pearls; around her odours blend;
Darts are the eyes of her whose shoulders like the bambu bend. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
The complexion of this bamboo-shouldered one is that of a shoot; her teeth are pearls;  her breath, fragrance; and her dyed eyes, lances. (Transl Drew & Lazarus)

Slender with pearls for teeth, enveloped in sweet-scented aura,
Her eyes lances darting over pliant bamboo shoulders - [‘that's my gal’, says the poet!] (Transl. T. Wignesan)

(to be continued)
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On Praising Ladies on their Qualities in the THIRUK-KURAL: Canto 112, K1114 and K1120

On Praising Ladies on their Qualities in the THIRUK-KURAL: Canto 112, Nalam Punainthu Uraiththal, K1114 and K1120

[Please see "introduction on the plight of young girls" in the previous post on this Canto 112: K1111 and K1113, and please note that they were (and are still from all accounts though less frequently) given in marriage by parents who pay DOWRY in the form of cash and property to the bridegroom, despite the fact that the law frowns on such practices since Independence.]

K1114:  kaanin kuvalai kavilnthu nilan nOkkum
               maanilai kanovvEm enru

The lotus*, seeing her, with head demiss, the ground would eye,
And say: ' With eyes of her, rich gems who wears, we cannot vie.' (Transl. G.U. Pope)
If the blue lotus* could see, it would stoop and look at the ground saying, 'I can never resemble the eyes of this excellent jewelled one.' (Transl Drew & Lazarus)

Should the water-lily* be confronted by the resplendent gem-decked maiden, it would droop down, eyes downcast, thinking the comparison futile. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

K1120: anichcham* annaththin thuuviyam* maathar
             adikku neruñchip* palam

The flower of the sensitive plant, and the down of the swan's white breast, 
As the thorn are harsh, by the delicate feet of this maiden pressed. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
The anichcham and the feathers of the swan are to the feet of females, like the fruit of the (thorny) Nerunji*. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

(Such the beauteous form of the maiden) that even the anichcham* and the swan's downy fur* are but caltrope thistle* thorns pressed on her feet. (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[* Here the use of imagery drawn from nature (flower, bird, plant, fruit), supposed to be ethereally delicate evoke poetic effusion (to the Tamils of yore), offset by their relegation to thorns by comparison to the maiden's feet.] T. Wignesan

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Niitthaar Perumai, The Fundamental Role of the Ascetic: Canto 3, K29 and K30 of the Thirukkural

Niitthaar Perumai, The Fundamental Role of the Ascetic: Canto 3, K29 and K30 of the Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar
(In these kurals, I give both the "unrefined" versions using connective particles and modified post-positions (in Tamil: according to the rules of "punarcchi", etc.) of the seven groups of words and, subsequently, the "refined" versions where the alliterative phonemes are clearly apparent.)
K29: anthana renpoo raravoormar revvuyirkkunc
         senthanmai poondoluga laan (unrefined)
         anthanar enpoor aravoormarru evvuyirkum
         senthanmai poondoluga laan (refined)
Towards all that breathe, with seemly graciousness adorned they live;
And thus to virtue's sons the name of 'Anthanar' men  give. (Tr. G.U.Pope)*
The virtuous are truly called Andanar; because in their conduct towards all creatures they are clothed in kindness. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J. Lazarus)*
   (*In both the above works, this kural is #30.)

The Virtuous are deemed "Anthanar"*, those who towards all creatures,
being imbued with love, show respect, these will be so acclaimed. (Tr. T. Wignesan)
     *(meaning "ascetics" or "sages";  Anthanan= The Supreme Being)

K30: urannennunth thooddiyaa noorainthung kaappaan
         varanennum vaippukkoor vitthu (unrefined)
         urannennum thooddiyaan ooraintthum kaappaan
         varanennum vaippirkuoor vitthu (refined)
He, who with firmness curb the five restrains,
Is seed for soil of yonder happy plains. (Tr. G.U.Pope)*
He who guides his five senses by the book of wisdom, will be a seed in the world of excellence. (Tr. G.W. Drew & J. Lazarus)*
   (*This kural occupies the fourth place, i.e., #24 in the above translated works. The order of the couplets, as far as I can judge is of no great moment.)  

The man who persists in controling all the five senses from going astray
His is the seed that will propagate in Elysian fields. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

[It should be evident to the reader of these couplets in this Canto 3 of the Thirukkural that the poet had some other design in mind when he set himself the task of having to elaborate on one given and self-chosen topic or theme in a fixed decade for all 133 chapters, that is,  his monumental task of having to encapsulate an entire philosophical perspective of the Hindu PURUSHA aims in life. 
The question is why would the author choose the extremely difficult and concise venba metre to restrict and confine his thoughts in? The answer should be evident to all. He was writing at a time when there was obviously no printing paper nor printing press. He had a code of ethics to impart, and he had to find a means to make quotation and repetition possible for all - the learned and the ignorant, so something that approximates the proverb would fall within his choice; and hence the reliance on mnemonics: alliteration and initial rhyme, the riddle in the form of the complex clause with the key word falling  often on the fourth word or feet, not to mention the last foot in the form of a long syllable (neer) or two or three short syllables (nirai) and often ending in the phoneme "u".
And as for the reason why the poet insisted on expatiating the kernel of an idea in a topic into TEN couplets, I do not think, however, it has anything to do with the Judeo-Christian penchant for the Ten Commandments by way of an influence. T. Wignesan).
© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017.

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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On men of high birth or station, the THIRUK-KURAL admonishes

On men* of high birth or station, the THIRUK-KURAL admonishes
   [*on modern-day Kings, Emperors, Dictators and the like leading nations declining as powers through faults of their own ]

K963: perukkaththu veendum panithal  siriya
            surukkaththu veendum uyaavu

Bow down thy soul, with increase blest, in happy hour;
Lift up thy heart, when stript of all by fortune's power. (Transl. G.U.Pope)
In great prosperity humility is becoming; dignity, in great adversity. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)-

When life bestows upon you fortune, be humble;
when life by-passes you, maintain still your dignity.*  (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[* boast not of your fertile "imagination" nor of your vaunted "original idea" for ideas are – as you know - dime a dozen, Mr. President, for most even at that rate can get to be richer than you if they were not blocked by the likes of you]-

K964: thalaiyin ilinththa mayir anaiyaa maanthar
            nilaiyin ilinththak kadai

Like hairs from off the head that fall to earth,
When fall'n from high estate are men of noble birth. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
They who have fallen from their (high) position are like the hair which has fallen from the head. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Just as strands from the scalp wilt, so do those from exalted positions fall to the lowliest depths. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

 K969: mayirniippin vaalaak kavarimaa annaar
            uyirniippar maanam varin

Like the wild ox that, of  its tuft bereft, will pine away,
Are those who, of their honour shorn, will quit the light of day. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Those who give up (their) life when (their) honour is at stake are like the yark [sic] which kills itself at the loss of (even one of) its hairs. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

Much as the kavarimaan* would lay its life down for good should one strand of its hair be shed, so should the high-minded whose honour is called into question. (Transl. T. Wignesan)
[* kavarimaan: a mythic animal in literature]

© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Ambiguity and Ambivalence in the THIRUKKURAL: Canto 4, K35, a random example

Ambiguity and Ambivalence in the THIRUKKURAL: Canto 4, K35, a random example

alukkaa ravaavekuli yinnaacchon naangku
milukkaa viyanra tharam (unrefined, given in the original state of  
                 the connective/combination particles of "punarcchi" rules)
alukkaaru avaavekuli innaacchol naankum
ilukkaa iyanrathu aram (refined, shorn of the connective particles)

Tis virtue when, his footsteps sliding not through envy, wrath,
Lust, evil speech - these four, man onwards moves in ordered path. (Tr. G.U.POPE)
That conduct is virtue which is free from these four things, viz., malice, desire, anger and bitter speech. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)

The way of vileness, self-congratulatory aid, ire and foul-mouthing - these four attitudes will cause the alms-giver to slip from the natural path of virtue into ignominy. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

Breakdown of the words and their individual meanings:
alukku = foulness; aaru= way; avaa= desire, lust; vekuli= wrath, anger; innaa= unpleasant; chol= speech, words; naangkum= (the latter) four; [ili= slip down, fall down, become vile;] ilukkam= ignominy; iyanrathu= that which has proceeded naturally; aram= virtue. 


I - Both G.U. Pope and Drew & Lazarus translate "alukkaaru" as "envy", and they are not wrong, but I have opted for an etymological separation of its semantic constituents and have come up with: 'the way of vileness', i.e., "alukku" = foulness and "aaru" = way, so that ambiguity emerges (becomes apparent) from both the valid translations. Yet, it must observed that the Pope and the Drew-Lazarus' translations appear to deliberately avoid having to relate their versions specifically to the topic of the decade, i.e., the giving of alms and make/intend their versions (to) conform to the general theme of the section in which the kural occurs; in other words, they rather draw attention to the general theme of VIRTUE at large and not VIRTUE as related to ALMS-GIVING.

II - In my translation, I keep close to the topic (though I give nothing or only a little away by way of nuance) under discussion: Alms-Giving.

III - Evidently, both versions are valid (though one or the other may be prefered by the reader at any given moment depending upon his/her participatory performance), and hence it could be said the KURAL in question is AMBIVALENT, giving it an additional dimension in the reading.

IV -It would serve to note that the indigenous exegetes like Parimelalargal and others opt for the individual topic explication. What this exceptional poet intended in the first place matters, of course, even if one cannot refuse disowning or accepting concepts such as "intentional fallacy" or "total intention", especially in a case where the whole is in the detail and the detail will/must not detract or displace art from the ultimate purposes of living life itself. The artful way of living the art of life is no less a life worth living. Does the one enhance and enrich the other without in any way detracting from the other? (I’m well aware of the tautological expressions in the above argument.) 

© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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Niitthaar Perumai, The Fundamental Role of the Ascetic: Canto 3, K27 and 28 of the Thirukkural

Niitthaar Perumai: The Fundamental Role of the Ascetic, Canto 3 of the Thirukkural-K27 and 28. Translations and Commentary.

K27: kunamenung kunreeri ninraar veguli
         kanameeyung kaatthal larithu.
The wrath 'tis hard e'en for an instant to endure
Of those who virtue's hill have scaled, and stand secure. (Tr. G.U.Pope)*
The anger of those who have ascended the mountain of goodness, though it 
continues but for a moment, cannot be resisted. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)* 
   (*In Pope's book et al, n° K29)

Resist not the visitations of ire of the ascetic who secures his powers by the requisite discipline won only after equivalent efforts at scaling mountain heights (for the consequences will turn out dire). (Tr. T.Wignesan)
K28: ainthavitthaa naarra lakalvisumbu laarkoomaa
         ninthiranee saalung kari
Their might who have destroyed 'the five', shall soothly tell
Indra, the lord of those in heaven's wide realms that dwell. (Tr. G.U.Pope)*
Indra himself, the king of the inhabitants of the spacious heaven, is a sufficient proof of the strength of him who has subdued his five senses. (Tr. W.H.Drew & J.Lazarus)*
   (*In the respective books of the translators, n° K25)

The very existence of Indra, the King of the gods who rules the endless heavenly spheres, bears testimony to the powers of the ascetic. (Tr. T. Wignesan)

(Here again, there's some wayward proof that Valluvar, the presumptive author of the Thirukkural, was first a Hindu and then perhaps - by adoption - a Jain or a Buddhist ; both these latter religions having flourished - even nation-wide - since the great Maurya emperor Asoka's rule in the sub-continent. See my poem on the poet: "Master Valluvan the long-misunderstood Tamil Mentor" in Rama and Ravana at the Altar of Hanuman: on Tamils, Tamil Literature and Tamil Culture. Allahabad: Cyberwit.net, 2008, 750p. First published by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chennai, 2006, xiii-439p. Also available at PoetrySoup, PoemHunter or OccupyPoetry and in BLIND MAN's LANTERN: Poems that lash out, mock and rip into the dark. Allahabad: Cyberwit.net, 2015, 886p.)
© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017

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K169 and K170 of CANTO XVII of the THIRUK-KURAL with Translations and Commentary

K169 and K170 of CANTO XVII of the THIRUK-KURAL with Translations and Commentary

[If one could put together all that has been said, written and published on the Thiruk-Kural and on its progenitor Thiru-Valluvar, it could easily, I'd wager, exceed the volumes of the heftiest encyclopaedias, and yet one gets the feeling nothing really new, enlightening or elucidating appears to be added to our knowledge of the subject every time a new book of translation or criticism or academic research surfaces. Recently, I was asked to edit the  papers in English contributed to yet another major conference on the book in India, and I must admit some few showed remarkable ability in their scholarship, but the callousness and avidity – and even downright trickery - of the organiser I was in touch with make me wonder if there can be any virtue in getting together savants in the language for yet another effort to propagate the greatness of the author when the wisdom couched in the maxims is quite evidently overlooked. Each contributor - as well as the organizing body - appears to be imbued with the idea of being elevated high above their humdrum or lofty status merely by pronouncing on some aspect of pet notions on either the book or its author or both.
The real worth of the book's aims seems to be ignored. Or else it is nonchalantly taken for granted. I couldn't help detecting the role of vanity and self-arrogation to a rather high degree in a certain number of those concerned. But then, even "great minds" over the ages kept making statements on the book which seem to shed "greater light" on their own egos and on their own level of sagacity than on the specificity of Thiru-Valluvar's expositions on the motivations, say, of human behaviour at large, such as, the observations by the author on the topic of this chapter.
Everybody seems to take for granted the unchanging nature of the polity as delineated by Thiru-Valluvar in Book Two on "Wealth" (Artha/Porudpaal), and the dalliances of flirtatious feelings and emotions in the questionable invariability of mores in Book Three on "Love" (Kama or Inbam) par rapport of succeeding ages. 
Even the inviolable tenets and principles of Book One on "Virtue" have over the ages undergone much wear and tear to make them less than wholly viable these days, so much so that the book cries out for re-evaluation, though the only constant factor in Thiruk-Kural studies is the personality of the author, himself. No one can, even if they wanted to, dispute his literary genius. As an admiring student of the book, myself (I certainly am no expert in the language of the Kural nor of Tamil literature at large), I have put myself to some pains through study of the works of experts in the field to demonstrate the complexity and archi-difficulty in composing the Thiruk-Kural and this in several sites devoted to poetry on the Internet. 
 As such, I do hope the leaders of the Tamil intelligentsia and their political backers would not parade their emotions in conference after conference for the sake of the so-called greater glory of Tamil populations all over the world, but would rather deploy their efforts in the strict exegesis of the text itself. Much work needs to be undertaken in this regard in times to come, and it will serve to fence in and circumvent organisers of conferences who are determined petty peddlars of their own image and glory. And it might also turn out that the book's true value may lie elsewhere than in the predictable consequences of posturing academic practices.] T. Wignesan, June 6, 2017

K169: avviya neñcatthaan aakkamum cevviyaan 
            keedum ninaikkap padum

To men of envious heart, when comes increase of joy,
Or loss to blameless men, the 'why' will thoughtful hearts employ. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
The wealth of a man of envious mind and the poverty of an upright man will be pondered. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

The envious-minded person's wealth and the sorry plight of those who know no envy - just think on this! (Transl. T. Wignesan) 

K170:  alukkartru akanraalum illai ahthillaar
             perukkatthil thiirtthaarum il

No envious men to large and full felicity attain; 
No men from envy free have failed a sure increase to gain. (Transl. G.U. Pope)
Never have the envious become great, never have those who are free from envy been without greatness. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)

No envious person has attained to greatness, nor have those who envy not fallen from grace. (Transl. T. Wignesan)

© T. Wignesan - Paris, 2017

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2017