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  1. #1
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    Poems of Kavi KALamEgham


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    Popular for his poems containing zleSha/silEDai (pun), Kavi KALamEgham is a great Tamil poet of the 15th century, who was an Asukavi, capable of extempore poetry. His name means refers to his capability of pouring forth poems like the grey-black clouds that burst into a torrential rain. His compositions include TiruvAnaikkA ulA, Chittira MaDal and a number of verses full of pun and irony.

    He used his skills of pun and irony to snub his opponents and criticise anyone who took advantage of him. His poems often contain a riddle with an obvious and a deeper meaning. Even his eulogies on the Hindu Gods he adored were full of irony, pun and ridicule on the surface, hiding a deep devotion underneath it.

    I have managed to translate some of his poems, trying to present them closer to their original formats. I shall post them in this thread in instalments. I invite members to add clarity where I have missed the points.

    nindA stuti

    Poem no.3
    Sung in worship of the GaruDa Utsava of Kanchi VaradarAja Swami--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    perumALum ~nalla perumAL! avartam
    tiru~nALum ~nalla tiru~nAL!--perumAL
    iru~ndiDattil chummA irAmaiyAl, aiyO!
    paru~ndeDuttup pOkiRatE pAr!


    பெருமாளும் நல்ல பெருமாள்! அவர்தம்
    திருநாளும் நல்ல திருநாள்!--பெருமாள்
    இருந்திடத்தில் சும்மா இராமையால், ஐயோ!
    பருந்தெடுத்துப் போகிறதே பார்!

    PerumAL is also a good PerumAL! His
    TirunAL is also a good TirunAL! - PerumAL,
    since he didn't sit quiet where he was, alas!
    The Kite takes him away, look!

    PerumAL: ViShNu; TirunAL: his festival day; Kite: GaruDa, PerumAL's vehicle.

    **********

    Poem no.5
    When the poet resented waiting long for food in the VaruNakula Adittan choultry of Nagappattinam KAtthAn and sang a poem on that at KAtthAn's request.

    kattukaDal chUzh~nAgaik kAttAn chattirattil
    attamikkum pOdil arisi varum; kutti
    ulaiyil iDa Ur aD~gkum; Or akappai annam
    ilaiyil iDa veLLi ezhum.


    கத்துகடல் சூழ்நாகைக் காத்தான் சத்திரத்தில்
    அத்தமிக்கும் போதில் அரிசி வரும்; குத்தி
    உலையில் இட ஊர் அட்ங்கும்; ஓர் அகப்பை அன்னம்
    இலையில் இட வெள்ளி எழும்.

    Noisy sea surrounded NAgai KAtthAn's choultry--
    where paddy arrives at sunset; when it's pounded
    and cooked in oven, the town's asleep; a ladle of rice
    when placed on the leaf, Venus will rise.

    NAgai kAtthAn: probably a wealthy man who built a choultry in Nagappattinam; Venus: the morning star.

    **********

    Poem no.6
    Sung on the Kanchipuram VinAyaka Utsavam--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    mUppAn mazhuvum, murAritiruch chakkaramum
    pArppAn kadaiyum paRipOchchO?--mAppAr
    valimiku~nda mummadattu vAraNattai, aiyO!
    eli izhutthup pOkinRatE En?


    மூப்பான் மழுவும், முராரிதிருச் சக்கரமும்
    பார்ப்பான் கதையும் பறிபோச்சோ?--மாப்பார்
    வலிமிகுந்த மும்மதத்து வாரணத்தை, ஐயோ!
    எலி இழுத்துப் போகின்றதே ஏன்?

    MUppAn's hand-axe, MurAri's sacred disc,
    PAppAn's legend, all snatched away?--MAppAr
    Macho pachyderm of three-fold madness, alas!
    A rodent takes him away, why?

    MUppAn: Shiva; hand-axe: his weapon; MurAri: VishNu; PAppAn's legend: Brahma's creation legends; three-fold madness: exudations of a must elephant from his three body parts--the ear, trunk and the genital organ; rodent: weasel, vehicle of VinAyaka.

    **********

    Poem no.7
    On having darshan of God Muruga, sung on him--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    appan ira~nduuNNi; AttAL malai~nIli;
    oppaRiya mAman uRitiruDi;--chappaikkAl
    aNNan peruvayiRan; ARumukhattAnukku i~gku
    eNNum perumai ivai.


    அப்பன் இரந்துஉண்ணி; ஆத்தாள் மலைநீலி;
    ஒப்பறிய மாமன் உறிதிருடி;--சப்பைக்கால்
    அண்ணன் பெருவயிறன்; ஆறுமுகத்தானுக்கு இங்கு
    எண்ணும் பெருமை இவை.

    Appan is an alms-getter; AtthAL MalaiNIli;
    matchless MAman uRi-raider;--gaunt-legged
    ANNan has a large belly; here, for the Six-faced,
    his select honours are these.

    Appan: father, Shiva; AtthAL: mother; MalaiNIli: a name for Parvati, resident of the Himavat hill (malai); MAman: maternal uncle, VishNu; uRi: a hoop or network of three ropes suspended from the kitchen ceiling to place pots of curd and butter; Sri KrishNa was fond of raiding these hoops; ANNan: elder brother Ganesha; Six-faced: Muruga has six faces, ShaNmukha.

    **********
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    Poem no.8
    On the festive dance of TiruvArUr God TyAgesha--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    ADArO pinnaiavar anbarelAm pArttirukka
    ~nIDuArUr vIdiyilE ~ninRutAn?--tODuArum
    meykkE parimaLa~gkaL vIsum tiyAkEsar
    kaikkE paNamiru~ntakkAl.


    ஆடாரோ பின்னைஅவர் அன்பரெலாம் பார்த்திருக்க
    நீடுஆரூர் வீதியிலே நின்றுதான்?--தோடுஆரும்
    மெய்க்கே பரிமளங்கள் வீசும் தியாகேசர்
    கைக்கே பணமிருந்தக்கால்.

    Why wouldn't he dance, all his devotees witnessing,
    on the streets of NIDuArUr, ever?--studs in ears
    and perfume-wafting body, TyAgesar,
    when he has all that money on hand.

    NIDuArUr: TiruvArUr with its long-stretched streets; TyAgesar: TygarAja, Shiva's form in TiruvArUr.

    **********

    Poem no.9
    On having darshan of Goddess Madurai Meenakshi coming on procession on her Swan vehicle--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    mAyanAr pORRum madurA purichchokka
    nAyanAr pittiERi nArenRE--~nEyamAm
    kannalmozhi amkayalkaN kArikaiyAL, aiyaiyO!
    annamiRa~g kAmal alaivAL.


    மாயனார் போற்றும் மதுரா புரிச்சொக்க
    நாயனார் பித்திஏறி னாரென்றே--நேயமாம்
    கன்னல்மொழி அம்கயல்கண் காரிகையாள், ஐயையோ!
    அன்னமிறங் காமல் அலைவாள்.

    MAyanAr-adoring MadhurApuri Chokka-
    NAyanAr, as if he scaled a wall--beloved,
    sugarcane-tongued, fish-eyed, the Lady, Oh my dear!
    She never gets down from her Swan!

    MAyanAr: one who indulges in mAyA, a name for Shiva; MadhurApuri: the city of Madurai; 'pitthi': wall; Lady: Meenakshi, the lovely, fish-eyed Goddess.

    **********

    Poem no.12
    Having darshan of Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    ~nallatoru pudumai ~nATTil kaNDEn; atanaich
    chollavA? chollavA? chollavA? tollai
    maduraivikki nEchchuranai mAduumaiyAL peRRAL
    kudiraiviRka va~ndavanaik koNDu.


    நல்லதொரு புதுமை நாட்டில் கண்டேன்; அதனைச்
    சொல்லவா? சொல்லவா? சொல்லவா? தொல்லை
    மதுரைவிக்கி னேச்சுரனை மாதுஉமையாள் பெற்றாள்
    குதிரைவிற்க வந்தவனைக் கொண்டு.

    A good surprise I saw in this country; and that,
    shall I tell you? tell you? tell you?--hurdler
    Madurai VigneshvarA, Mother UmaiyAL gave birth to, through
    Kudirai-selling man who came by.

    hurdler: Lord VigneshvarA causes hurdles and then removes them; UmaiyAL: Uma, Shiva's consort; Kudirai: horse. In the legend of Nayanar ManickavAchaga, Shiva came as a man who sells horse and sold horse to the Pandian king. Later, they became foxes and ran away!

    **********

    Poem no.15
    Having darshan of Thillai NatarAja--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    ~nATTukkuL ATTukku ~nAlukAl, aiyA! ~nin
    ATTukku iraNDukAl AnAlum,--~nATTam uLLa
    sIrmEvu tillaich civanE,iv ATTaiviTTup
    pOmO solvAy! ap puli?


    நாட்டுக்குள் ஆட்டுக்கு நாலுகால், ஐயா! நின்
    ஆட்டுக்கு இரண்டுகால் ஆனாலும்,--நாட்டம் உள்ள
    சீர்மேவு தில்லைச் சிவனே,இவ் ஆட்டைவிட்டுப்
    போமோ சொல்வாய்! அப் புலி?

    Countryside, the 'ADu' has four legs, O Father! Your
    'ADu' has only two; still--keen to watch,
    wealth-endowed, Thillai Shiva, from your 'ADu',
    will that Tiger go away, tell me?

    ADu: goat in Tamil, also means dance; Thillai: Chidambaram; Tiger: VyAghrapAda, the tiger-footed sage. The phrase 'keen to watch' matches with 'that Tiger'.

    **********

    Poem no.27
    On TirumAl (VishNu) at TirukkaNNapuram--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    kannapuram mAlE; kaDavuLilum ~nIadikam;
    unnilumO yAnadikam; onRu kEL!--munnamE
    unpiRappO patthAm; uyarsivanukku onRumillai;
    enpiRappueN NattolaiyA dE!


    கன்னபுரம் மாலே; கடவுளிலும் நீஅதிகம்;
    உன்னிலுமோ யானதிகம்; ஒன்று கேள்!--முன்னமே
    உன்பிறப்போ பத்தாம்; உயர்சிவனுக்கு ஒன்றுமில்லை;
    என்பிறப்புஎண் ணத்தொலையா தே!

    O Kannapuram MAL! Of the gods, you are too much!
    more than even you I am! Hark this!--in yore,
    your births were ten; eminent Shiva has none;
    and my births, they are hopeless to count!

    **********
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    sai,

    when i was in high school, my tamil teacher was praising kalamegam and his ability to bring forth extempore poems.

    once challenged, to produce a poem, with just the sound 'ka', the great kavi instantaneously produced this gem...

    kaakaaikaagaa koogai.... and so forth.

    i forget the rest, and ever so often regret not writing it down when my tamil teacher sounded this off.

    just by chance, would you be familiar with the rest of this poem?
    thanks
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    2 KaLa MEgams? The one who is the author of 'NaLa VenBha', Contemporary of Ottakoothar and who is the cause for the vachanam ' Ottakoothan pattuku irattai thazhpal', and this one?
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    Sorry. I think I am wrong in above statement. The poet I have mistaken as Kala megam is, I think Pugazhendhi pulavar.
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    Namaste Kunjuppu.

    Yes, I have the song, no.85 in the publication Kavi KALamEghap pulavar pADalgaL. Of course, I can't translate it! Even finding out the meaning is tough in many poems. You can download this book and an entire range of Tamil literature in pdf format here:
    http://projectmadurai.tamil.net/tiki...Name=frontpage
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    Namaste Vanavil.

    You have got it right, Pugazhendi.

    Poet Pugazhendi was the author of 'NaLaveNbA'. He was born in PonviLainda KaLattUr and was favoured by King VaraguNa Pandyan. He was also the guru of the king's daughter. When she wanted to marry the king Kulottunga Chozhan, the poet also went to the Chozha's assembly with her. As the Chozha king favoured him too, there began a rivalry with him on the part of the king's court poet OttakkUtthar, who made the King jail Pugazhendi in no time.

    One day the Queen (Pandyan's daughter) locked herself up in her room, demanding her favourite poet's release from the prison. The Chozha king promised it, brought OttakkUtthar and made him sing a song to her, so the Queen might mistake it for her favourite poet's. The Queen find out the trick and double-bolted her door with the words, "OttakkUtthan pATTukku reTTait tALppAL" ('here is a double-bolt for the song of OttakkUtthan!").

    Therefore, I think, there was only one Kavi KALamEgham, the great pun/fun poet.

    Sources:
    http://www.chennailibrary.com/mis/nalavenba.html
    http://karkanirka.wordpress.com/2008...il-proverbs-9/

    **********
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    thank you sai. i will look into this site.

    kaakkai & koogai are supposed to be traditional enemies... kavi kalamegam was playing on the words of these two birds to make a point.. it is a 4 line ditty, with only the variation of 'ka'

    great stuff. and all of that done instantaneous extempore.

    i think, of today's tamil scholars, maybe maa po si can match that. i have heard maa po si, and he was awesome. ..
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    Poem no.31
    Praising the soft earth (anthill dust) offered as medicine at Vaittheeswaran Temple--an eulogy in a tone of mockery:

    maNDalattil ~nALum vaiddhiyarAyt tAmiru~ntu
    kaNDavinai tIrkkinRAr kaNDIrO?--toNDar
    viru~ndaip pArttu uNDuaruLum vElUren ~nAdar
    maru~ndaippArt tAlsutta maN.


    மண்டலத்தில் நாளும் வைத்தியராய்த் தாமிருந்து
    கண்டவினை தீர்க்கின்றார் கண்டீரோ?--தொண்டர்
    விருந்தைப் பார்த்து உண்டுஅருளும் வேலூரென் நாதர்
    மருந்தைப்பார்த் தால்சுத்த மண்.

    In MaNDalam, himself remaining as daily physician,
    all undergone ills he cures, you know? ToNDar
    treats he takes and blesses, my VeLUr Lord--his own
    treats are just pure sand!

    Shiva has the form VaidhyanAtar (divine doctor) at VaitheeswaranKoil, near Chidambaram, Tamilnadu.
    MaNDalam: earth; ToNDar: devotees; VeLUr: another name for VaitheeswaranKoil.

    **********

    Poem no.50
    Sang in honour of TiruvAlangudi Shiva--eulogy:

    Ala~g kuDiyAnai AlAlam uNDAnai
    Alam kuDiyAn enRu Ar chonnAr?--Alam
    kuDiyAne Ayin kuvalayattOr ellAm
    maDiyArO maNmIdilE.

    ஆலங் குடியானை ஆலாலம் உண்டானை
    ஆலம் குடியான் என்று ஆர் சொன்னார்?--ஆலம்
    குடியானெ ஆயின் குவலயத்தோர் எல்லாம்
    மடியாரோ மண்மீதிலே.

    About AlamkuDiyAn, who drank the AlAlam,
    Alam KuDiyAn who said he was?--Alam
    kuDiyAn if he were, people of this world,
    dead, all of them won't be?

    Alam, AlAlam: the poison that Shiva drank, which came up when the Milky Ocean was churned; kuDI: drink; AlamkuDi: the place called TiruvAlamkuDi; AlamkuDiyAn: resident of AlamkuDi; also one who did not drink Alam, the poison.

    **********

    Poem no.67
    Sang calling Shiva 'nanjuNi' (poison-eater) as the end of the verse--eulogy:

    chirittup puramerittAn chi~ndUrattaip paRRi
    urittuudiram pAya uDuttAn--varuttamuDan
    vADumaDi yAruDanE vAnavarum tAnavarum
    ODubhayam tIrttana~jchuNi.


    சிரித்துப் புரமெரித்தான் சிந்தூரத்தைப் பற்றி
    உரித்துஉதிரம் பாய உடுத்தான்--வருத்தமுடன்
    வாடுமடி யாருடனே வானவரும் தானவரும்
    ஓடுபயம் தீர்த்தனஞ்சுணி.

    Peals of laugter he burnt the Puram with, caught a Sinduram and
    peeled its skin to wear it bloody--and for the
    appalled ADiyArs, Devas and Asuras,
    stalled their fear, this 'nanjuNi'.

    Puram: Tripuram, Muppuram; Sinduram: elephant; Shiva wears an elephant's skin; ADiyArs: devotees; nanjuNi: poison-eater, Shiva ate the poison to save the three worlds.

    **********

    Poem no.70
    The brahmins of the Chidambaram temple asked KAlAmEgham why the young deer in Shiva's hand stands raising its face and front legs high, levelled at Shiva's sacred face. The poet sang this song as the answer.

    ponnam chaDaiaRukam pullukkum pUmpunaRkum
    tan~ne~jchu uvakaiyuRat tAvumE!--anna~gkaL
    seykkamalattu uRRulavum tillai ~naTarAsan
    kaikkamalattu uRRamAn kanRu.


    பொன்னம் சடைஅறுகம் புல்லுக்கும் பூம்புனற்கும்
    தன்நெஞ்சு உவகையுறத் தாவுமே!--அன்னங்கள்
    செய்க்கமலத்து உற்றுலவும் தில்லை நடராசன்
    கைக்கமலத்து உற்றமான் கன்று.

    To his golden locks as hirathi grass, and gushing flood,
    would gallop, its heart in joy--swans-roaming,
    lotus-ridden-ponds-surrounded Thillai NatarAjan's
    lotus-hand-located young deer.

    hirathi grass: aRugaMpul; gushing flood: Ganga river on Shiva's head.

    **********
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    Poem no.72
    What is common among SankarA (Shiva), ShanmukhA (Muruga), AingkarA (Ganesha), TirumAl (VishNu), and the ShivA devotees? KAlamegam puns on the Tamil word 'ARutal' (comfort) to link these gods and devotees.

    'ARu' is 'river' in Tamil; 'ARutal' is 'comfort', something that comforts; 'ARu talai' is 'six-headed'; 'mARutal' is 'change', something that is changed; and 'mARu talai' is a 'changed head'. Combining these nuances, the poet sings:

    sa~gkaraRkum ARutalai; saNmukhaRkum ARutalai;
    ai~gkaraRkum mARutalai AnatE;--cha~gkaip
    piDittOrkkum mARutalai; pittA! ~nin pAdam
    paDittOrkkum ARutalai pAr!


    சங்கரற்கும் ஆறுதலை&#0059; சண்முகற்கும் ஆறுதலை&#0059;
    ஐங்கரற்கும் மாறுதலை ஆனதே&#0059;--சங்கைப்
    பிடித்தோர்க்கும் மாறுதலை&#0059; பித்தா! நின் பாதம்
    படித்தோர்க்கும் ஆறுதலை பார்!

    SankarA has 'ARutalai'; ShanmukhA has 'ARutalai'; for
    AingkarA it became 'mARutalai';--for the Shangkha
    holder too it's 'mARutalai'; PitthA! for your feet
    holders, it's 'ARutal', look!

    "SankarA has a river ('ARu') on his head, so his is 'ARu-talai'; ShanmukhA, as his very name indicates, is six-headed, so 'ARu talai'; for AingkarA, the five-handed (four hands plus trunk), his head was changed to an elephant's head, so 'mARu talai'; for VishNu who holds the conch, it was changed heads too, one for each avatar, so 'mARu talai'; and for the devotees of PitthA (Shiva), who hold his feet for salvation, it would be comforting, 'ARutal'.

    **********

    Poem no.73
    Sang with the phrase 'Chidambara deva' set four times (with differing meanings) in one 'veNbA' (verse of four lines in a specific format):

    aragara! tiruchchiR RambalavA NAa~n
    tararU pa!magE sa!chitam-bharadE
    va!chitam baradE va!chitam paradE
    va!chidam baradE vanE!


    அரகர! திருச்சிற் றம்பலவா ணாஅந்
    தரரூ ப!மகே ச!சிதம்-பரதே
    வ!சிதம் பரதே வ!சிதம் பரதே
    வ!சிதம் பரதே வனே!

    Harahara! Tiruch ChitrambalavANA!
    antara-rUpa! mahesha! chittam-bharata-eva!
    chita-ambara-deva! chittam-paradeva!
    Chidambara deva!

    chittam-bharata-eva: chittam: memory, intelligence; bharata: dancer, actor, priest; eva: truly, verily.
    --God who dances in the inner space of memory and intelligence, acts out for us and guides us.

    chita-ambara-deva: chita: inlay; ambara: sky, space, atomosphere.
    --God who is the substratum of our inner space.

    chittam-paradeva: chittam: thinking, intelligence; paradeva: supreme deity.
    --The Supreme Deity reached by the mind and inner faculty (antaH-karaNa).

    Chidambara-deva: deity of the place Chidambaram, a PanchabhUtaSthalam.
    --God who resides in the Chidambaram Shiva temple.

    **********

    Poem no.95

    konRai malartarittAn gOpAlan kOleDuttu
    ~ninRukuzhal UdinAn ~nILchaDaiyan--pontikazhum
    akku aNi~ndAn mAyan aravuaNaiyil kaNvaLar~ndAn
    chikkalilE vAzhum sivan.


    கொன்றை மலர்தரித்தான் கோபாலன் கோலெடுத்து
    நின்றுகுழல் ஊதினான் நீள்சடையன்--பொன்திகழும்
    அக்கு அணிந்தான் மாயன் அரவுஅணையில் கண்வளர்ந்தான்
    சிக்கலிலே வாழும் சிவன்.

    'konRai' flower wore Gopalan, took a reed
    and stood blowing it through; the 'long-haired'--golden
    rudrAkSha he wore; MAyan slept on a bed of snake;
    In snarls lives Shiva.

    'konRai': the Indian labumum; Gopalan: Sri KrishNa; 'long-haired': Shiva with his long, matty hair; MAyan: MahaVishNu;

    The poet says that only Shiva lives a hard life in snarls, creating and solving them, while the other gods KrishNa and VishNu lead a much easier life.

    **********
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