Friday, August 10, 2012

Thirukural displayed in France railways

Here is a photo of Thirukural couplet  displayed in French in a train in France. It also mentions Thiruvalluvar's name .We  know Thirukural Tamil couplets are displayed in the Tamil Nadu state buses. Now a French Translation of the couplet is found in a train in France .This is yet another honour for Tamil. The following is the original Tamil couplet that is translated to French and displayed in the train .

 மாதர் முகம்போல் ஒளிவிட வல்லையேல்
  காதலை வாழி மதி

The English translation for the above Kural by Sudhananda Bharati is as follows

Like my lady's face if you shine
All my love to you; hail O moon!

I don't know how far the French translation is correct. Many people have translated Thirukural in to English and most of the major languages in the world and many Indian languages. It is still being translated by many in to many languages. Thirukural is not a sacred text like Bible, Quran , Baghavad Gita ,Ramayan or the Chinese  classic Tao Te Ching. Thirukural is a masterpiece work on human thoughts. It is an eternal epic by Thiruvalluar. It is an universal moral code. All his couplets are words of profound wisdom, noble thoughts and great moral lessons. All his couplets are wisecracks with a mystic note. His work is known as 'poyya mozhi " in Tamil ,which means "The book that never lies" . This explains why Thirukural is the most translated non religious text in the world.

Greats like Sri Aurbindo, Rev.G.U.Pope, Yogi Sudhananda  Bharati and P.S.Sundaram have translated Thirukural in to English. But it must be admitted that none of the translations are close to the original in Tamil. It is because of Thiruvalluvar's mastery and command over Tamil. Another reason could be the rich vocabulary of Tamil. Thiruvalluvar's style is also inimitable. Although we call kural as couplet,the original Tamil verse doesn't  have even two lines. It is just one and three fourth lines in each verse. Translating Thirukural in to any language will be a challenging task. Because each couplet is a short pithy statement. The fact is, no translation can do justice to the poetic brevity of Thiruvalluvar. It is brief ,terse ,rhymed and fleeting. All the translators have succeeded in translating the gist of each couplet. But the charm in the original Tamil couplet is lost. Look at the English translation of the Tamil original couplet .

. துப்பார்க்குத் துப்பாய துப்பாக்கித் துப்பார்க்குத்
துப்பாய தூஉம் மழை.

The rain begets the food we eat
And forms a food and drink concrete.

But P.S.Sundaram has attempted to follow Valluvar's style in translation of some of the couplets in English. Few samples are given below.

பற்றுக பற்றற்றான் பற்றினை யப்பற்றைப்

பற்றுக பற்று விடற்கு

Cling to the One who clings to nothing
And so clinging cease to cling

கற்றாருட் கற்றா ரெனப்படுவர் கற்றார்முற்

கற்ற செலச்செல்லு வார்

Most learned among the learned is he
Whose learning the learned accept

Wherever possible P.S.Sundaram has attempted Valluvar's style of  repetitive rhymic syllables,which is reasonably close to the original. But he could not do this for the entire translation. Many scholars are still translating Kural in to many world languages and Indian languages. So far Thirukural has been translated in to French, Latin, Polish, Russian, Swedish, German, Japanese, Dutch, Czech Finnish, Malayan, Burmese, Korean, Chinese, Sinhalese, Italian, Urdu, Fiji, Arabic, Norwegian Spanish, Hungarian, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Oriya, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi Rajasthan,i Sanskrit, Saurashtra and Telugu .It needs to be translated to all languages in the world,however fallible the translation could be ,because these couplets guide people from a spiritual perspective over a wide range of topics, on the virtues of life, materialistic life and pleasures of life. The Tamil posterity can indeed feel proud about their rich cultural heritage.


  1. Interesting and there are 8 French translations of Thirukural which have been done and printed wayback from 1767 to 1889.Its good to note French Government implementing the translations after 100 years.

  2. Thank you for your input .It is interesting to note Thirukural was translated in French 100 years ago.

  3. Avvaiyar'a quote கற்றது கை அளவு ,கல்லாதது உலகு அளவு is also translated in English as "What you have learned is a mere handful; What you haven't learned is the size of the world" and exhibited at NASA.What she wrote in Tamil in 1st century CE is still relevant and is displayed at the prestigious NASA .This explains about the richness of the language and its literary giants.

  4. Incidentally I read an article written by former VC of Madras University on "Deficiency in Translation of Thirukural in other languages " .I thought I should share with you the link .Please find below the link

  5. Indeed Thiruvalluvar's magnum opus - Thirukkural has to be translated in all languages possible for humanity to prevail forever.


  6. ஒரு தமிழன்.

    திருவள்ளுவர் மற்றும் திருக்குறள் பற்றிய இந்த பதிவு பாராட்டப்படவேண்டியது.உங்களது

    பதிவுகளை தனி தமிழ் தளத்தில் வெளியிடலாம்.தமிழ் மட்டும் தெரிந்தவர்கள் படித்து


  7. நான் பாரிஸ் பார்த்துள்ளேன் .அங்கு மூன்று மாதங்கள் இருந்தேன் .
    நீங்கள் தந்துள்ள கட்டுரை மிகவும் சிறப்பானது .வாழ்த்துகள்

    He who does not travel does not know the value of men." -- Moorish proverb

    "Love is the only flower that grows and blossoms Without the aid of the seasons." - Kahlil Gibran quotes

    "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu

    "Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." -- Seneca

    "A wise traveler never despises his own country." -- Carlo Goldoni

    You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons , or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of." Jim Rohn

    The day you decide to do it is your lucky day.
    -Japanese proverbs

    "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Thu

    Happiness comes when you focus on seeing the light at the end of every tunnel and being the light for those you love ~ Karen Salmansohn

    By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.

    Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know ~ Pema Chodron

    Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining ~ Anne Lamott

    The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world ~ Marianne Williamson

    S.E.A. Mohamed Ali Jinnah,Nidur.
    S.E.A.முகம்மது அலி ஜின்னா,
    JazakAllah Khayr : جزاك اللهُ خيراً‎
    "Allah will reward you [with] goodness."

  8. Selvanathan SangeeleeNovember 24, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    French translation by Mootoocomaren Sangeelee a copy of which is held at Sorbonne University in France.

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