Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 2829

Adorning this earth, giving veiled wealth, being of use,
containing many a front, coursing through five landscapes,
crystal clear, pleasantly flowing the right way – scholars’
verse like Godavari the warriors saw.

புவியினுக்கு அணிஆய், ஆன்ற பொருள்தந்து, புலத்திற்று ஆகி
அவி அகத் துறைகள் தாங்கி,  ஐந்திணை நெறி அளாவி,
சவி உறத் தெளிந்து, தண்ணென்  ஒழுக்கமும் தழுவி, சான்றோர்
கவி எனக் கிடந்த கோதாவரியினை வீரர் கண்டார்.

This is Kamban describing Godavari river. This poem comes under Surpanakai vadhai padalam (Killing of Surpanaka). After Rama, Sita and Lakshmana enter the Dandakaranya (Chattisgarh today), they cross Godavari River.

Kamban, born in the banks of Cauvery , can’t just say they crossed the river. He has to talk about the majesty of the river. The simile he uses for Godavari river is the Scholar’s verse. On the face of it, it isn’t a straight comparison.Kamban’s mastery of Tamil lets him to compare the river to the verse.

The river is a jewel adorning the earth, it carries lot of hidden wealth, it is of much use to those who have settled in its banks, it has many river fronts for people to access it, it courses through five landscapes – hills, arid lands, meadows, farmland and coast, its waters are crystal clear, and it flows pleasantly along its path.

The scholar’s verse adorns this earth, it has many hidden meanings, beyond sensory pleasures it is also of use, captures various facets of life, contains poems written for all five landscapes, it is clear to understand and flows flawlessly.

Hence Godavari is like a Scholar’s verse.

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