"If it is true that liberal education should "liberate" by demonstrating the cultural values and norms foreign to us, by revealing the relativity of our own values, then the "discovery" and enjoyment of Tamil literature, and even its teaching should find its place in the systems of Western training and instruction in the humanities." - Kamil Zvelebil in his book, The Smile of Murugan , The Tamil literature of South India

Monday, July 7, 2014

Burrow with cool interior

Aingurunooru 27 Sung by Poet Orampogiyar
It is  a song from Marutham thinai set as the words spoken by the heroine's friend to the heroine.
Your man will return home with his earnings, don't you worry my friend!

"sennel am seruvil kadhir kondu kalvan
thann aga mann alaich sellum oorarku
el valai negizha saa-ai 
allal uzhappadhu evankol annai"

For original Tamil poem and explanation in Tamil click here.

Poem Meaning: In the beautiful red paddy fields, the crab will take a ear of paddy and go to its cool burrow under the soil. For a man from such a town, why do you worry such that the bangles loosen and fall off, my mother?

Words Meaning: sennel - red paddy, seruvil - in the field, kadhir - ear of paddy, kondu - take, kalvan - crab, thann - cool, aga - inside, mann alai - soil burrow, sellum - will go, oorarku - for a man from that town, el valai - shining bangles, negizha - loosen, saa-ai - fall off, allal - sorrow, uzhappadhu - worrying, evankol - why, annai - mother

Description: The hero has gone to earn wealth. The heroine awaiting his return yearns for his arrival such that she becomes weak and her bangles get loosened up and come of her hands. At that juncture the heroine's friend consoles her friend, the heroine by saying that the hero will return with his earnings sooner. She uses the crab's action as a simile to express this. The crab in the red paddy fields takes an ear of paddy and goes to its cooler soil burrow. Likewise the hero too will return home with his earnings.Thus the friend says the heroine that there is no reason to be worried. It was common to address the friend as mother out of close affection.

My English Version:
"In  the beautiful paddy fields, taking an ear
The crab goes to its burrow with cool interior
For a man from such a town, why do you worry
Such that shining bangles loosen, my mother?"


  1. Linking back to Tamil version was helpful to read the poem Grace! Continue doing your good work to spread our beautiful sangam literature.

    1. Thanks Dhiyana. I used to include the Tamil version here until the previous post, but am wondering if its enough to keep only English here..Let me see

  2. Nice Grace... continue ur good work..

  3. Very nice translation. and the tamil link is also good idea. Pls. continue. And one clarification - in Tamil Virtual University and some other books I saw the word 'KALAVAN' and not KALVAN. pls. verify this link - http://www.tamilvu.org/library/libindex.htm. pls. correct it and continue. First of all, sorry for late coming due to unavoidable tours.

    1. Vvanakkam anna. Thanks for your comment.
      Yes anna, I too ahve seen the word KALAVAN, but KALVAN is used in UVS Aingunooru urai and Vaidehi's book too. So I too had the confusion. Will find out if KALVAN is wrong or if both could be used.
      If you know more details, please let me know anna. Thanks

    2. this is forwarded to Mr.Joseph Viju Trichy, who is well versed than me in wordings of sangam literature (even though he is an English teacher) Thank you grace.

    3. Sure anna, thanks for the help in clarifying this.

    4. வணக்கம்.
      First and foremost, the literary artistry went into translating this poem is highly commendable.
      I am just a humble reader of this blog and, clearly not an erudite arbiter of Sangam literature as Pulavar.Na.Muthunilavan claims.
      Since I am being dragged to explain my stand on this, I bound to share my perspectives.
      It is not a contemporary quandary, the uncertainties shrouded in identifying the correct word form while expounding Sangam poetry has provoked a serious debate among the authorities of Sangam literature a long before and still continues to haunt us.
      Premise 1: The palm leaf inscriptions are devoid of dots. So, the word Kalavana (களவன) can be perceived as Kalvan (கள்வன்) or kalavan (களவன்) or in this case both.
      Premise 2: later sangam accepts the usage of both the word interchangeably to mean crab.
      That being said, the synonymous trait shared by the two aforementioned seemingly identical words further exacerbates the obscurity and makes it difficult to identify the exact form (i.e. text) of word that was really intended.
      In my opinion the traditional learning of Sangam text had been curtailed in the course of time and led us to confront these obscurities. Even Vu.Ve.Sa has acknowledged this in his memoirs named “En Sarithiram” (My legacies). From my acquaintance with Sangam literature, Kalavan (களவன்) could be the more appropriate word form in this context.
      There are few other hypothetical ways to substantiate my claim, for instance, when this particular Word were constructed by following the stipulations of “Venba” or “Kattalai Kalithurai. It could have been much easier for us now to decode the text. Unfortunately, these are post sangam tools to compose a less ambiguous poetry.
      While going through this never-ending turmoil, Prof.B.Mathivanan offered me a simple solution to look up for these words (or seemingly close words) in Dravidian languages or at least in the slang of Tamil fishermen.
      I am apologetic for replying such late, I hope this seminal issue will lead us to a healthy debate.

    5. வணக்கம் ஐயா. My heartfelt thanks for your comment detailing the ambiguities and the considerable reasons for the same. Even I was thinking to use 'Kalavan' preferably over 'Kalvan', henceforth. Now that you have said the same, I will follow it more gladly. I have bought "En Sarithiram" only a couple of weeks back and am happy I did that. I will get to learn more. And Prof.B.Mathivanan's solution seems to be helpful, thanks for sharing.
      I appreciate taking your time in sharing your thoughts here. Many a thanks from the bottom of my heart sir. And thanks to Mr.Muthinilavan anna for having introduced you to me.

    6. The uncertainty over the usage of 'kalavan' or 'kalvan' has been clearly explained by Mr.Viju Joseph in his post, http://oomaikkanavugal.blogspot.in/2014/07/blog-post_11.html#more. Thanks to him for having put the time into clarifying this doubt. Henceforth I will use the word 'kalavan' for crab.

  4. And my special congrats for the Apt Drawing selected. V.good, Go ahead.

  5. the post has created a ripple...

  6. Great Grace ! WoW sister you are doing a wonderful job! in tamil as well as in English!!!! Hats Off! to you!

    1. Am delighted by your visit here, brother. Thanks a lot for your lovely comment.

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