Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 6427

Objects of the world differ from you,
are to their nature true, differ from each other too,
yet, do they differ from you –
do golden ornaments differ from Gold?

நின்னின் பிறிதாய் நிலையின் திரியா
தன்னின் பிறிது ஆயினதாம் எனினும்
உன்னின் பிறிது ஆயினவோ உலகம்?
பொன்னின் பிறிது ஆகில பொற்கலனே.

In Kambaramayanam, just before the battle between Rama and Ravana starts, Kamban places the story Hiranyan Vadhai Padalam (Slaying of Hiranya).  Hiranyan, whose powers make him believe that he is above all the Gods, wants his son Prahaladan to chant his name instead of God’s. Prahaladan refuses and an enraged Hiranyan orders Prahaladan to be killed.

This poem is Prahaladan praying to Lord Vishnu, as he is tied to a stone and thrown into the ocean. Prahaladan asks Vishnu, though all objects of this world are different from you, aren’t they all manifestations of you? Though  golden ornaments are of different shapes and sizes, aren’t they all still Gold?

This poem is one of the many gems in Kambaramayanam. With stunning brevity, Kamban brings out the drama and the philosophy while still adhering to the rules of poetry metre.

The commentaries call this as the Visishtadvaitha principle of Sarira Sariri bhava (body/in-dweller principle). I don’t know enough to explain this principle.

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