A POETIC ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THIRUKURRAL-II
In these columns day on Saturday, 2-1-2010, I had presented the first part of my review of Dr Rajaram’s work of English translation of Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural. The dynamics of Thirukkural has been richly complemented by various scholars from all parts of the world. Dr Albert Schwaitzer says: ‘There hardly exists in the literature of the world a collection of Maxims in which we find so much of wisdom.’ Mahatma Gandhi calls it: ‘A textbook of indispensible authority on moral life. The maxims of Valluvar have touched my soul. There is none who has given such a treasure of wisdom like him.’ Mahatma Gandhi has said that he came to know about Thirukkural from Leo Tolstoy. Leo Tolstoy has openly admitted that he has taken the concept of non-violence from a German translation of the Kural. Sri Aurobindo has said: ‘Thirukkural is gnomic poetry, the greatest in planned consumption and force of execution ever written in this kind.’ Rajaji says: ‘It is a Gospel of Love and a Code of Soul-Luminous life. The whole of human aspiration is epitomized in this immortal book, a book for all ages.’ K M Munshi, the founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and a great man of letters has said: ‘Thirukkural is a treatise par excellance on the art of living.’
Photo caption: Dr Abdul Kalam receiving a copy of Dr M Rajaram’s book of Thirukkural English translation at a function at New Delhi on 13-May-2009. Dr Rajaram is on the right of Dr Abdul Kalam.
Dr Rajaram’s English verse translation of 1330 verses of Thirukkural is marked by great fidelity to the letter and spirit of the original. It can easily be proved that Thiruvalluvar and Shakespeare are intellectual companions of equal merit and mettle. This is the view of Thiruvachakamani K.M Balasubramaniam. Thiruvachakamani also translated Thirukkural into English verse.
Let me give a few instances to illustrate this point of literaterary parity between Thiruvalluvar and Shakespeare.
In Verse 1091 of Thirukkural, Valluvar speaks of a maid’s two eyes one of which he says causes pain in the onlooker, namely the pain of love. This verse No: 1091 of Thirukkural has been translated by Dr Rajaram as follows:
The same verse 1091 has been translated by Thiruvachakamani K.M Balasubramaniam as follows: ‘One look doth cause the pain for which the other’s a balm so nice’.
We can see the parallel from Shakespeare for this verse 1091. To quote the words of Shakespeare: ‘What an eye, she has! Me thinks it seems a parley of provocation’.
Dr Rajaram has translated verse No: 1099 of Thirukkural as follows:
As a literary genre, translation has a mode of its own. Therefore the task of the translator is quite distinct and different from that of the poet. The main task of the translator consists in finding out that intended effect (Intention) upon the language into which he is translating which produces in it THE ECHO OF THE ORIGINAL. This is the cardinal feature of any soulful translation which basically differentiates it from the poet’s work. Having read Dr Rajaram’s work of translation, I can say with certainty that his English verses succeed in broadcasting the ECHO OF THE ORIGINAL THIRUKKURAL.