5 Funny Stories behind Tamil Proverbs!

gold necklace

Article Written by London swaminathan

Date: 4 November 2015

Post No:2300

Time uploaded in London :– 13-42

(Thanks  for the pictures) 

(கட்டுரையின் இறுதியில் பழமொழிகளை தமிழில் கொடுத்துள்ளேன்)

1).The pestle which the mother-in-law used and her gold necklace should go to the eldest daughter –in- law.

A certain daughter in law hated her mother in law, and one day being alone with her in the house struck her on the breast with the pestle, so that she fell down speechless. The other women were called in, and the mother in law pointed to the wicked daughter in law, to the pestle (rice pounder) and to her own breast. The women asked the murderess for an explanation of these signs, and she said: Being the eldest of you all, I am to have the pestle and the golden necklace on her breast!

2).Weep for the whole at once and be done!

A bridegroom was found to be lame. During the marriage ceremony many of the close relatives of the bride wept on account of the defect in him. Seeing this, the bridegroom threw off his clothes, exposed all his other defects and shouted, “Now, weep for all the defects at one go”.

This proverb is used by someone who knows all about a third person’s faults to another person who is gradually finding them out.

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3).Prasava vairagya, Smasana Vairagya, Purana vairagya

Three types of temporary vows are ridiculed by true ascetics. The renunciation (vow) of sexual intercourse is made by a woman when suffering the pains of child birth; it is called Prasava Vairagya. The renunciation (vow) of worldly things made after studying the sacred books is called Purana vairagya. The renunciation of worldly things made after seeing the corpses burned in the crematorium is called Smasana vairagya. All the three vows are just reactions to some sufferings and so not true renunciation. When the pain or suffering fades away, they resume their normal activities!

pestle mortar

4).“Like handing over a pestle to another person at Srirangam”

Srirangam is a famous Vaishnavite shrine town in Tamil Nadu. At Srirangam women pound rice for the temple for wages. Those who so must work the whole day and there is a man to se that the work is done. If one of these women, hearing her children crying, persuades a by-stander or a passer-by to take her place for a while to enable her to look after her children, and does not return. The substitute is obliged to stay in her place till the sun sets. The proverb is therefore said of one who undertakes responsibilities which involve more than he expected.

razor

5).Work like a Tirupati Barber!

Tiruppati is the holiest Vaishnavite Shrine in South India. Devotees go there and offer their hair to the god. Since thousands of people come to shave off their head at the same time during festival season, the barbers call every one as if they are free of work. When they rush to him, he takes money from every one of them and shave some hair and go to the next place to get more money through more customers. The people who were half shaven could not leave that place, because people would laugh at them seeing the half shaven head.

So this phrase is used to any half finished job, particularly when a person seeks more money.

Proverbs in Tamil:

1.தான் ஆண்ட உலக்கையும், தங்கப் பூஞ்சரடும் தலை மருமகளுக்கு

2.எல்லாத்துக்கும் சேர்த்து ஒரே அழுகையாய் அழுதுடுங்க

3.சீரங்கதில் உலக்கை கொடுத்தது போல

4.பிரசவ வைராக்கியம், புராண வைராக்கியம், ஸ்மசான வைராக்கியம்

5.இது திருப்பதி அம்பட்டன் கதை போல இருக்கு

Source : Tamil Proverbs, year 1897

–Subham–

ஆண்டியைக் கண்டால் லிங்கன், தாதனைக் கண்டால் ரங்கன்!

Article No.1979

Date: 7 July 2015

Compiled by London swaminathan

Uploaded from London at  11-01 am

 

‘அகத்தின் அழகு முகத்தில் தெரியும்’ என்ற தலைப்பில் மே 28 ஆம் தேதி 50 பழமொழிகளுக்கு இணையான ஆங்கிலப் பழமொழிகள் கொடுத்தேன். இதோ மேலும் 25 பழமொழிகள்:–

51.To dance to everyman’s pipe

ஆண்டியைக் கண்டால் லிங்கன், தாதனைக் கண்டால் ரங்கன்

52.A hasty man never wants woe

ஆத்திரக் காரனுக்கு புத்தி மட்டு

53.ஆபத்தும் சம்பத்தும் ஆருக்கும் உள்ளவை

Sadness and gladness succeed each other

54.Of evil seed no good grain can come

ஆமணக்கு விதைச்சால் ஆச்சா முளைக்குமா?

55.What is pound of butter among kennel of hounds?

ஆயிரம் பாம்புக்குள் அகப்பட்ட தேரை போல

56.Experience is the mother of science

ஆயிரம் பேரைக் கொன்றவன் அரை வைத்தியன்

57.Empty vessels make most sound

ஆயிரம் பணமுடையான் அமர்ந்திருக்கும், அரை பணமுடையான் ஆடி விழும்

நிறைகுடம் தழும்பாது, குறைகுடம் கூத்தாடும்

58.Time will bring out the truth of every transaction

ஆராத்தாள் செத்ததும் பொழுது விடிந்தால் தெரியும்

59.A fool’s tongue is clean enough to cut his own throat

ஆரால் கேடு, வாயால் கேடு

நுணலும் தன் வாயால் கெடும்

யாகாவாராயினும் நா காக்க

60.Among ignorant people, Scoogin is a doctor

ஆலையில்லாத ஊரில் இலுப்பைப்பூ சர்க்கரை

Among the blind, the one eyed is the king

61.Death devours lambs as well as sheep

ஆறிலும் சாவு, நூறிலும் சாவு

62.The street of Bye and Bye leads to the house of Never

ஆறின கஞ்சி பழங்கஞ்சி

63.Vows made in! storms are forgotten in calms

ஆறு கடக்கிற மட்டும் அண்ணன் தம்பி, அப்புறம் நீ யார், நான் யார்?

64.You can afford to be free with another man’s pottage

ஆற்றிலே போற தண்ணீரை அம்மா குடி! அப்பாகுடி!

கடைத்தேங்காயை எடுத்து வழிப்பிள்ளையாருக்கு உடை

ஊரான் வீட்டு நெய்யே, என் பெண்டாட்டி கையே

65.ஆற்றிலே போட்டாலும், அளந்து போடு

Weight and measure take away strife

66.ஆனைக்கும் அடி சறுக்கும்

Great Homer sometimes nods

67.ஆனைக்கொரு காலம், பூனைக்கொரு காலம்

Every dog hath its day, every man has his hour

68.இக்கரை மாட்டிற்கு அக்கரை  பச்சை

Distance lends enchantment to the view

69.இடத்தைக் கொடுத்தால் மடத்தைப் பிடுங்குவான்

Give him an inch he will take an elf

70.இடுவது பிஷை, ஏறுவது மோக்ஷம்

The poor furnish the ladder up which the rich ascends to heaven

71.இட்ட உறவு எட்டு நாளைக்கு, நக்கின உறவு நாலு நாளைக்கு

A friend that you buy with presents will be bought from you

72.இட்டுகெட்டார் எங்குமே இல்லை

Good deeds are never lost

73.இரப்பவனுக்கு பஞ்சம் என்றுமே இல்லை

Beggars can never be bankrupts

74.இரவற் சேலையை நம்பி இடுப்புக் கந்தையை எறியாதே

அரசனை நம்பிப் புருஷனை கைவிடாதே

Quit not certainty for hope

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush

75.ஆனை வரும் பின்னே, மணி ஓசை வரும் முன்னே

Coming events cast their shadows before.

((Pictures are taken from face book and other websites;thanks.))

swami_48@yahoo.com

MORE PROVERBS, MORE STORIES!

lion and fox

Compiled by London swaminathan

Article No.1928

Date :12th June 2015

Time uploaded in London: 15-42

Please read earlier posts for Stories behind Tamil Proverbs:

Queen who bolted the door doubly, posted on 5th June (Post No 1913) and

Stories behind five Tamil Proverbs, posted on 3rd June (Post No 1908)

1.It has come to this that grass is sold in the flower market, that a cat lives in the forest where a tiger lived, a jackal occupies the den where the lion lived, and that who he used to ride on an elephant now herds sheep.

பூ விற்ற கடையிலே புல் விற்கவும், புலி இருந்த காட்டிலே பூனை இருக்கவும், சிங்கம் இருந்த குகையிலே நரி இருக்கவும், ஆனை ஏறினவன் ஆடு மேய்க்கவுமாச்சுதே!

This is about the story of King Nala in Hindu scriptures. He lost all his property and wandered in the forest with his queen Damayanti. After sometime he lost his wife as well. Now quoted about losses of property and fortune.

2.There has been enough of your help in my confinement, and of your embracing my husband!

பிள்ளைப்பேறு பார்த்ததும் போதும், என் ஆம்புடையானைக் கட்டி அணைத்ததும் போதும்

One woman went to help another woman who was pregnant. She went to her house every day under the excuse of helping her, but she had developed intimacy with the husband of pregnant woman. Her real intention was to get access to her husband with whom she was in love. The pregnant lady realised it only after some time. But she could not do anything about it because the delivery day approached.

When she became pregnant for the second time, the next door neighbour went and offered her help. She rebuked her with the above statement.

This proverb is used when someone offered some help with bad intention or a motive.

glass-cosmetic-crystal-perfume-bottle-purple

3.When I entered the home, the smell disappeared!

நானும் வந்தேன், நாற்றமும் போச்சுது!

A young merchant whose father sold salt fish, married the daughter of a dealer in perfumes, and after the wedding the girl came to her father-in-law’s home to live with her husband. At first she could not bear the smell of the fish, but after a while she became used to the odour and ceased to perceive it. She was conceited enough to suppose that her presence her driven it away.

The meaning of the proverb is, that those who live in an atmosphere of sin become blind to the disgrace of sin.

Even if you bathe a dog and leave it in the kitchen of your house it will run out for the leftover food in the streets.

4.He speaks like the nose less man in the story!

மூக்கறையன் கதை போல பேசுகிறான்!

A certain man who had no nose was always ridiculed in the village. To make the other people as badly off as himself, he began at certain times to praise god and to thank him that he had enabled him to see him. When he thus burst out loud praise, people gathered around him, and asked what they should do to see god. His advice was that they should cut off their noses. This they did one after another. And though they could not see god, they pretended that they could out of very shame. Thus wicked people will try to draw good people over to their own wicked ways.

“A hog that is bemired, endeavours to bemire others”

5.Ponnan has become old Ponnan, the vessel has become an old vessel

பழைய பொன்னனே பொன்னன், பழைய கப்பரையே கப்பரை!

There was once a servant, who found a vessel full of gold buried in the earth. He did not remove it, but went daily to look at it. At the same time he became proud and unruly. His master watched him closely and found out about the treasure, which he took secretly. When the servant found out that his treasure was gone, he resumed his usual docility and when asked for the reason of the change in his bearing, he replied as above.

This is said of one who suddenly becomes rich, but as suddenly loses his wealth.

gold-coin-israel-found-

6.If the dancing girl be alive, and her mother dies, there will be beating of drums; but if the dancing girl dies there will be no such display.

தேவடியாள் இருந்து ஆத்தாள் செத்தால் கொட்டு முழக்கம், தேவடியாள் செத்தால் ஒன்றுமில்லை.

To get the favour of the dancing girl, many men will attend her mother’s funeral; but if the dancing girl herself dies, there is nothing to be gained by attending the funeral.

A famous dancing girl’s mother died in a town; there was a big crowd attending the funeral. Each one went to the front row to show his face to the girl, just to register his presence. When the dancing girl died after a few months’ time there were only her close relatives in the funeral.

In like manner:– if somebody die in a rich man’s house, all people will attend the funeral that they may gain his favour; but if the rich man die, no one will care as nothing more is to be had from him in future.

Queen who bolted the Door Doubly against a Tamil Poet’s Song!

Two-Locks-on-Cusco-Door

Compiled by London swaminathan

Article No.1913; Dated 5 June 2015.

Uploaded at London time: 18-33

On the other day I gave you five stories based on Tamil proverbs. Here are six more interesting stories:

1.She bolted the door doubly against Ottakuthan’s song

(Ottakuthan Paattukku Irattaith thaazppal)

The story that illustrates this proverb is found in Vinotharasa manjari. A Choza king had a favourite poet and his name was Ottakuthan. But his queen had another poet as her favourite. The king’s poet was envious of the queen’s poet, and had him imprisoned. The queen hearing this, went into her bed room and bolted the door. At night, the king came to see his queen, she said she would not let him in till her favourite poet had been released from prison.

On hearing this, the king sent his own poet to sing outside the queen’s room, so that the queen might think that her request had been complied with. But the queen knew at once that the song did not come from her favourite and became angrier with the king and bolted the door with another bolt. Thus the king’s stratagem only made matters worse.

The proverb is used when a person is displeased with, or sorry for something that has happened, and somebody tries to sooth him, but only succeeds in irritating him still more.

“As water in a Smith’s forge, that serves rather to kindle than quench”.

ஓட்டக்கூத்தன் பாட்டுக்கு இரட்டைத் தாழ்ப்பாள்

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monkey-drinking

2.If a monkey drinks toddy, is possessed by a devil and stung by a scorpion, what will be its fate?

Kurangu kallum Kudithu, Peyum pidithu, Thelum Kottinal, enna Kathi Akum?

Monkey’s mischiefs are well known. If by chance the monkey drinks liquor and at the same time stung by a scorpion and possessed by a ghost then there is no limit for its destructive actions. No one can control it.

In the same way, If a person gives room for one moral evil after another, how will he end? The three evils referred to are the three evil principles Kama, Krodha Lopa (Lust, Anger and Greediness) or three ‘malas’ – self-will, delusion, and lust often mentioned in Hindu philosophy.

குரங்கு கள்ளும் குடித்து, பேயும் பிடித்து, தேளும் கொட்டினால் என்ன கதி  ஆகும்?

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pots

3.Plenty of pots are uselessly broken, but I never saw a pot put as an ornament round my head. That would be something fresh

(Venaay Udaitha satti Vendiyathu Undu, Punaaram En Thalaiyil Poonda Pudumaiyai Naan Kandathillai)

The story behind this saying is as follows:

A shrewd woman used to break a pot on her husband’s head for every tenth sin he committed. The husband got tired of this and went away to a friend’s house, but here he found the wife breaking a pot on her husband’s head for every fault he did; and she did it so, that the mouth of the pot jumped over and fell down round the visitor’s neck and stuck there like a necklace.

“Home is homely, and too homely sometime, where wives’ footstools to their husbands’ head climb”

வீணாய் உடைத்த சட்டி வேண்டியது உண்டு; பூணாரம் என் தலியில் பூண்ட புதுமையை நான் கண்டதில்லை

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ghee00

4.The ghee belonged to the village, but my wife’s hand distributed it

(UUraar Veettu Neyye, En Pensaathi Kaiye)

A husband and his wife went to a village feast. She was asked to help in distributing the food; as the ghee was not her own, she gave her much more than she would give him at home.

This is used about liberality with others’ goods.

“‘tis good feasting in other men’s houses”

ஊரார் வீட்டு நெய்யே , என் பெண்சாதி கையே

There is another proverb that gives the same message

“A friend in court makes a process short”

If she who serves out the food to the guests be one’s own friend or relation, what matters it whether one has the first seat or last seat.

(Idukiraval Thannavalaanaal Adip panthiyil irunthaal enna ? Kadaip panthiyil irunthaal enna?

இடுகிறவள் தன்னவளானால் அடிப் பந்தியில் இருந்தால் என்ன? கடைசிப் பந்தியில் இருந்தால் என்ன?

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05Varadharaja400X600

5.If the one says, O Kanji Varathappa, the other replies:- where is the gruel?

A certain Vaishnavite at Kancheepuram was praying to the God, Kanchi Varathappa; a beggar who stood nearby asking for alms, heard the name of the God imperfectly and thought that the Vaishnavite said that Kanji Vraukirathappaa i.e. some gruel is coming. Not seeing it, he asked Engkee Varathappa i.e. where is the gruel?

This proverb is really a pun on the two Tamil words Kanji and Varathappa and is used when one appropriates remarks to himself that were uttered with no reference to him.

(Gruel is Kanji in Tamil; Kanchi is the name of the town where the god name is Varathappa; Varathappa also means “is coming” in colloquial Tamil)

கஞ்சி வரதப்பா என்றால் எங்கே வரதப்பா என்கிறான்

I have already given the story in Tamil about another saying:– காஞ்சிக்குப் போனால் காலாட்டிப் பிழைக்கலாம்

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cat-of-mahabalipuram   mamallapuramtomandjerry

Following is from my  2012 post THE HYPOCRITICAL CAT

6.Like a cat putting on a rosary and teaching religion

(Rudraksha Punai Upadesam Panninathu Pola)

Said of a religious teacher who makes his religion a cloak for sin

“Beads about the neck and all the devil in the heart”

“They are not all saints that use holy water”

This is a famous story in the folk tales and literature.

It is a phrase in Indian languages to ridicule the hypocritical saints.

The story of hypocritical cat is in Mahabharata (V-160). Tamil Didactic work Sirupanchamulam (stanza 95) also refers to this ascetic cat on the banks of Ganges. This is a folk tale known in different parts of India. The Mahabalipuram panel of rock cut sculptures show this cat with uplifted arms. The story of the cat is as follows:

With uplifted arms the cat performed severe austerities on the banks of the Ganges; and he was so pious and good that not only the birds worshipped it, but even the mice entrusted themselves to his protection. He declared himself willing to protect them, but said in consequence of his asceticism he was so weak that he couldn’t move. Therefore the mice must carry him to the river—where he devoured them and grew fatter and fatter. A wise mouse by name Killika followed the cat to the Ganges and let the secret out to other mice. They all kept away from the cat from that day and the cat had to move to another place.

There are even two or three Tamil proverbs regarding this hypocritical Rudraksha cat. It was named Rudraksha cat because the cat pretend to do prayer by rolling the Rudraksha beads. It must be a familiar painting in the ancient Tamilnadu. The Pallava architecture of Mahabalipuram belongs to seventh century CE.

One of the Sangam works, Paripatal (19-50), refers to the beautiful paintings in Tirupparankundram near Madurai. It was a painting that existed 2000 years ago. The painting shows Indra running in the guise of a cat after molesting Ahalya. May be this episode was the origin of the Rudraksha cat story.

ருத்ராட்ச பூனை உபதேசம் பண்ணினது போல

–end–

Stories behind Five Tamil Proverbs

pattinathar

Compiled by London swaminathan

Article No.1908; Dated 3 June 2015.

Uploaded at London time: 20-56

 

Tamil language is rich in proverbs. There are more than 20,000 proverbs. Percival, Rev.J.Lazarus and Herman Jensen had compiled and published them hundred years ago. Later lot of books appeared in Tamil; but there are lot of proverbs not included in these volumes. There is scope for lot of research as well. They have to be compiled subject wise and compared with proverbs in other Indian languages.

 

Some of the proverbs have some stories or interesting anecdotes behind them. I have given below only five proverbs with the stories behind them. It can be compared with proverbs in other Indian languages.

1.His own deeds will burn him, and a cake will burn the house

(Tan vinai tannaich chudum, Ottappam veettaich chudum)

Pattainathu Adikal was a great saint and poet. He used to eat with men of all castes. High caste Hindus did not do such thing in his days. So when his sister saw this, she was very angry. She tried to change his ways; but Pattinathar saw every one equal following the Upanishadic dictum Sarvam Brahma Mayam ( God is in everything), tat tvam Asi (You are That) and Isavasyam Idam Sarvam….. (Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord).

But his sister was not convinced with his explanation or behaviour. She thought him better dead and so baked a cake with poison in it and gave it to him. Hindu saints had power to know what was happening around them. Knowing his sister’s bad intention and took the cake and threw it on the roof of her house. And he said the words in the proverb. By a miracle it set the house on fire. Thus the evil woman’s plan was spoiled.

2.The Old Woman finished her Ten miles, and so did the Horse

(Kizaviyum Kadam, Kuthiraiyum Kadam);kadam is ten miles.

The story is that a man having performed the proper religious ceremonies hastily mounted his horse and set off for heaven. At the same time an old woman performed some ceremonies, with all her heart slowly and carefully, and her real piety brought her to heaven before the man on horseback.

There is an equivalent English saying, “God knows well which the best pilgrims are”.

Actually this happened in the case of Avvaiyar and Sundaramurthy Nayanar. When Sundaramurthy Nayanar and Cheraman Perumal Nayanar travelled to heaven using their elephant and horse, Avvaiyar was there before the two devotes who were using the fast track. When they asked how come that old lady was before them, she told them that she prayed to Lord Ganesh (elephant headed God) who lifted her with his trunk and placed her at the entrance of the heaven. This proverb covers that anecdote as well.

cheraman

3.To you Bebe, and to your father Bebe

(Unakkum Bebe, unga Appanukkum Bebe)

A man pressed by his creditors was advised by a friend, to whom also he owned money, to escape from their importunities by feigning madness. The debtor accordingly did so replying to them all like a madman. He just said bebe, which is a nonsense word without any meaning. The plan was successful and the creditors were cheated. Then the friend asked that the debt due to himself should be paid. But he himself received the treatment he had advised the deceitful debtor to use to others. The proverb is also used about children who have no respect for others.

Equivalent English proverbs:

Trickery comes back to its own master

He falls into the pit, who leads another into it.

4.This is the law of my caste, and this is the law of my belly

(Ithu en Kulacharam, Ithu en vayitracharam)

Potters are predominantly Saivaites. But the potters in Sri Rangam were asked by the Vaishnavaites to put the Vaishnava mark on their foreheads; otherwise the Brahmins won’t buy their pots for the temple. One clever potter, having considered this difficulty, after making the Saivaite symbol (Vibhuti/Holy Ash) on his forehead made a big Vaishnava mark on his stomach. When rebuked for so doing by a Brahmin, he replied as above.

tiger_kills_student_

5.Like the jester that was bitten by a snake

(Pakadiyai Pambu Kadithathu Pola)

Applied to one who so often tells lies that if he happen to speak the truth no one will believe him. Or to a child that constantly feign sickness to avoid going to school, and is not believed to be ill when it is really sick. Once the jester was bitten by a snake and he cried for help. No one believed him. They thought he was just joking. It is similar to Crying Wolf Story in Aesop fables.

We have a similar story in India. A boy shouted for help saying that the tiger was coming. When the villagers gathered with all the weapons he was just laughing. He did it a few times and one day he encountered a real tiger. When he cried for help no one came forward thinking that he was trying to fool them once more. The tiger mauled the boy to death.

1.தன் வினை தன்னைச் சுடும், ஓப்ட்டப்பம் வீட்டைச் சுடும்

2.கிழவியும் காதம், குதிரையும் காதம்

3.உனக்கும் பேபே, உங்கப்பனுக்கும் பே பே

4.இது என் குலாசாரம், இது என் வயிற்றாசாரம்

5.பகிடியைப் பாம்பு கடித்தது போல

20,000 Tamil Proverbs

(Tamil version of the post is also available in the blog)    

Tamil is one of the richest languages in the world.  It has a collection of more than 20,000 proverbs. This collection is an Encyclopaedia of Tamil Wisdom. Tamil proverbs touch all the subjects under the sun.  A proverb has been defined as the “wisdom of many and the wit of one”. Tamil word for proverb is Pazamozi, the meaning of which is an old saying.

Tamil people take great delight in quoting them. Women are more familiar with the proverbs. There won’t be any conversation or discussion without a proverb being quoted. Villagers use more proverbs than city dwellers. Illiterates and neo literates use more proverbs than educated Tamils.

Three English people showed great interest in collecting them. They collected Tamil proverbs and published them with English translations 125 years ago. Their collection exceeded 19,000 proverbs. Still there are thousands of proverbs which did not find a place in the collection. Reverend P. Percival published his first collection with less than 2000 proverbs in 1842. When he brought out his third edition in 1877 he had 6156 proverbs. Later John Lazarus published another collection with 9415 proverbs in 1894. The last collection by a foreigner Rev. Herman Jensen came out in 1897. It contained another 1897 proverbs. There may be some repetitions or some new versions of the same proverbs.

But no one should think only foreigners  did the pioneering work in this area. Ancient Tamil literature has many proverbs used in their verses. There is one book called Pazamozi, a collection of 400 verses. Each verse ends with a proverb. This was composed by Mundruraiyanar 1500 years ago. A devotional poet Appar alias Thirunavukkrasu used proverbs even in his devotional poems. This is very unique.

No culture has given so much importance to proverbs like the Tamils. This kind of literature indicates the great antiquity and poetic nature of Tamil people, says Lazarus in his introduction. He adds that the Tamil proverbs are in iambic tetrameter, with a rhyme in the first and third feet E.g. Agattin azagu Mugaththil theriyum; meaning Face is the Index of the mind.

Not all the proverbs are in grammatical language, some are colloquial. Tamil proverbs deal with various subjects. There is a great variety. They deal with god, religion, food, manners, customs, dress, morality, hygiene, animals, plants, inanimate objects, numbers, castes, medicines, mythology, superstitions and science. Name anything, you may find a fewproverbs or may be a hundred on the topic. Nothing worthy of note seems to have escaped the insight or scrutiny of the Tamil observer.

100 Proverbs on Elephant

Tamils are very keen observers of nature. They use most of the animals in proverbs. Over 100 proverbs are there on elephant alone! Even the great may slip (yanaikkum kuta adi sarukkum), A time for everything ( Yanaikku oru Kalam vanthal ,Punaikku oru Kalam varum), Seeking one’s own ruin (Yanai than thalayileye mannaip pottukkollum) and many more.

A great many proverbs are flashes of wit or sarcasm. Indecent haste is ridiculed by the following: Undressing oneself when the river is still ten miles off! One who is extreme in his approach is called a barber who either shaves the head clean or leaves the tuft( Vaithal kudumi, siraithal mottai). Women are either praised for their wisdom or criticized for their shortcomings: a woman can make or mar a person; A house without a wife is a burning ground; a wife is the ornament /lamp of the house; don’t confide your secrets to any woman; never listen to your wife’s counsel. Wife- Mother in Law clash also figure in proverbs: What the mother in law breaks is an earthen vessel, what the daughter in law breaks is a golden vessel.

The ancient Tamils had a genuine admiration for truth and justice, honesty and humility, love and mercy and hated every form of vice and hypocrisy. This is reflected very well in many of the proverbs.

Lazarus says in his introduction to Tamil Proverbs, “Proverbs have a mission of their own. It teaches all the good things in life in pithy words. Four or five words will give the effect of listening to a long sermon. It makes a good impact on everyone.

Proverbs are inexhaustible source for researchers.  One can write a lengthy article on each and every proverb. Some proverbs have both positive and negative meanings. It can be interpreted both ways. Many of the proverbs have lost their original meanings. Some are not all understood nowadays.

Some familiar proverbs are given below:

Where there is love, even the impossible becomes possible

The meek shall rule the earth

Waste not even a moment

Though it be a medicine, share it with a guest

The tears of the poor are like a sharp edged sword

Rather die than lose your honour

Though the rain has stopped, the drizzle has not

Desire has no limit

No pains no gains

 

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