I thought for a difference I would present some Tamil proverbs or ancient wisdom ‘பழமொழி’. Though not a written literature of the highly educated , these proverbs very well represent the wisdom of the common people of the Tamil country over the years. I have randomly picked 5 proverbs and presented it along with the english Translations. – Palaniappan Vairam
Translated by Rev. Herman Jensen (Taken from ‘A classified collection of Tamil Proverbs’)
இப்பகுதியில் பழமொழிகளை ஆங்கிலத்தில் வழங்குகின்றார் திரு.பழனியப்பன் வைரம். – [தமிழ் மரபு அறக்கட்டளை]
1. பூ மலர்ந்து கெட்டது , வாய் விரிந்து கெட்டது .
Blossoms open and die, your mouth opens and destroys you.
Blossoms fade away after opening fully , when the mouth opens , it
blurts out things that should not be said, and brings misery.
2. எரிகிற விட்டிலே பிடுங்கிறது லாபம்.
Whatever you are able to secure from a burning house is a gain.
This proverb is typically aimed at people who typically take advantage
of some thing that’s not theirs. A typical example would be the
middlemen who loot things which are donated for the disaster victims.
3.காடுப்பூனைகுச் சிவராத்ரி விரதமா ?
Will a wild cat observe the fast of Sivaratri ?
There is no special occasion for wicked people to strike.
4.உழக்கு மிளகு கொடுப்பானேன் , ஒளிந்திருந்து மிளகு சாரு குடிப்பானேன் ?
Why should he give a measure of pepper and drink the pepperbroth in
A cup of black pepper is huge quantity of pepper which is enough to
prepare a feast and even after supplying so much pepper u get only
pepper water to drink , means after all the hardwork you have done you
have not been recogonized. This can be typically said when one person
does all the work to organize an event and some one else takes credit
5.சாதுரியப்பூனை மீன் இருக்க, புளியங்காயத் திங்கிறதாம்.
The artful cat ate tamarind when there was fish.
The cat in the house ate tamarind when there was fish so that the
owner would leave the fish exposed without suspicion. This proverb is
typically used for people who have some thing in the mind but pretend
to do something else.
6. வெறும் வாய் மெல்லுகிற அம்மையாருக்கு அவல் அகப்பட்டது போல .
It is like a bowl of Aval(Rice obtained from fried paddy by pestling it) given to a woman who has been chewing her empty mouth.
A proverb which describes sarcastically the joy that a woman finds in
” Arthur could not tame a woman s tongue.”
7. பந்தியிலே வேண்டாம் வேண்டாம் என்றாலும் , இலை போத்தல் இலை போத்தல்
Though I repeatedly refuse to take him to place where food was served,
he is constatly saying that there is holes in the Ilai (leaf plate).
This proverb is typically said of people who are not wanted at a
particular place, but they still don’t care when others give a hint he
isn’t wanted and go about criticising things around. Especially in
joint family there would be person who isn’t good at anything but will
show of to every one as if he is a big person in the family to other
visitors in any function. This trend can be seen in lot of movies esp
where the hero’s bother in law or heroines mom’s brother is a good for
nothing character(Most of the times Vadivelu ends up in this role).
8. உழுகிற நாளில் ஊருக்குப் போய், அறுக்கிற நாளில் அரிவாள் கொண்டு வந்தது
During the ploughing season he goes about visiting places, but returns
on time with his sickle for the harvest season.
This experience most of us would have had. Typically when people work
in group, say four people work for a project, there will be two who
work hard, one though he dosent work hard would always be with the
group and help them in any possible way and finally there will be a
person who is never present during the project. But that person would
be knocking the doors of the group members right before the project
submission to learn what he has to present the next day. The people
who dont share the hardwork but share the benifit of the hardwork.
9. கஞ்சி கண்ட இடம் கைலாசம் , சோறு கண்ட இடம் சொர்க்கம் .
Any place which gives him rice-gruel is his Kailash, and whatever
place which gives him rice is his Heaven.
This proverb is directed at people who have no aim in their life.
Kailash or Siva Logam is place people reach after death. It is a great
boon to see Shiva. Heaven or Sorgam is place ruled by Indra and is
filled with pleasures. To attain Kailah or Heaven is a life time goal
or the highest aim of many people. But the lazy people consider its
heaven to get free food and never work hard.
10. சூடு கண்ட பூனை அடுப்பங்கரையில் சேராது .
The cat that has got fire burns will never go near the kitchen.
When you have any bad experience at all cost you will try to avoid
going through it once again.
“A burnt child dreads the Jire.”
“Adversity makes a man wise, not rich.”
11. குமரிக்கு ஒரு பிள்ளை , கோடிக்கு ஒரு வெள்ளை .
One child for a young girl and one white for a clothesline.
It just takes a little time for a change. Young girl is considered
young and innocent till the day she bears a child. From that day she
becomes a responsible mother. Similarly a clothes line with many
clothes will seem to look dull when one white cloth is put on it for
drying. The transient nature of all our lives.
12. வீட்டுக்கு செல்வம் மாடு , தொட்டச் செல்வம் முருங்கை.
The treasure of a house is a cow and treasure of a garden is Murungai
The cow gives milk which is used as milk,curd,ghee. The cow dung is
disinfectent and used to clean the floor. The cow dung was also used
as a combustion material and also for sacred ash. Similarly Murungai
gives Murungakai (drum stick), Murungai Keerai(edible green leaves)
and has various other medicinal properties. It is basically used to
show utilities of various kinds of a single source. Another very good
example is Vaalai maram(banana tree).
13. பெண்ணின் கோணல் , பொன்னிலே நிமிரும்
Unprettiness of a girl will be shielded by her gold ornaments.
Though a dig at most women, the proverb actually means if you dont
have substance it still can be adjusted with other things. In most
cases money is the other thing which sets most things right. The
proverb is set in negative tone meaning that people who have influence
have their way.
14. தேரோட போச்சு திருநாளு , தாயோட போச்சு பிறந்த அகம்
When the procession of Temple car ends the festival ends, the support
from home ends with death of the mother.
Its usually addressed to a daughter in law. Usually Mother in laws
acts tough towards the young daughter in laws and the girl seeks the
solace of her mother often. But this support last nly as long as her
mother lives. So its better to adjust with the hardship rather than
finding solace else where.
15. உயிரோடு இருக்கும்போது ஒரு கரண்டி நெய்க்கு வழி இல்லை, ஓமத்துக்கு ஒன்பது
கரண்டி நெய் விட்டது போல .
While he was alive they couldn’t not afford one spoonful of ghee, now
they spend nine spoons of ghee for the cermonial fire.
Addressed to people who cant afford thing but still do it to please
others. Here a family which couldnt afford a spoon of ghee now spends
nine spoons for the death cermony just to put a show to others and
please others who come for the cermony. Most marraiges in India are
done this way. When family cant afford much money they get loans and
arrange a grand marraige.
16. கைய பிடித்து கள்ளை வார்த்து , மயிரை பிடித்து பணம் வாங்குறதா ?
Kai pidithu kallai varthu, maiyirai pidithu panam vanguratha?
Is it right to offer toddy first in a friendly way and then hold the
hair and take away all the money?
When help comes out of way be aware of it, it might end up in trouble.
Typically like the Nigerian scam where people get mails sayings you
have won lottery please send your bank account so that we can deposit
money. When people give the account number each and every penny from
their bank account is taken away. So id you get tempting offer out of
the way, refuse it!
17. ஆம்புடையான் செத்து அவதி படும் போது, அண்டை வீட்டுக்காரன் அக்குளிலே
Aambudayan sethu avathi padum ppthu, andai veetykkaran akkulile
While the wife was sorrowing seeing her husband in deathbed, her
neighbour thrust his hand into her armpit arm-pit.
The man tries to took advantage of a women in an unprotected state.
Said about persons who take a mean advantage of another’s misfortunes.
18. சீலை இல்லை என்று சித்தி வீட்டுக்கு போனாளாம் , அவள் இச்சம் பாயை
கட்டிகொண்டு எதிரே வந்தாளாம் .
Seelai illai endru sithi veetuku ponalaam, aval icham paaiyai
She went to her aunt’s house since she had no saree but her aunt came
out wearing a rug!
From bad to worse, when you think you are in a bad state and wish to
live from mercy of some other person, you face the harsh reality that
every one is living in a bad state!
19. பள்ளத்திலே இருந்தா பொண்டாட்டி , மேட்டிலே இருந்தா அக்கா !
Palathilae eruntha pondati, metile iruntha akka!
While they are in the valley he treats her as his wife, while on the
hill he treats her as his sister.
Said of People who have no moral values and take advantage of every
situation they can be undetected.
“Do in the hole as thou wouldn’t do in the hall.”
20. ஊரார் வீட்டு நெய்யே , என் பொண்சாதி கையே.
Urar veetu neiye, en pondati kaiye.
Though the ghee belonged to the village, it is my wife’s hand that is
serving the ghee.
A couple went to a village feast. The wife was helping out by serving
the ghee, when she was serving the ghee to her husband she poured more
amount that she has served any one else since its her husband and the
ghee is not theirs! Typically said to people who take advantage of the
power given to them and make most of it.
21. செல்லம் செரூக்குகிறதா ? வாசல் படி வழுக்கிறதா ?
Chellam serukkirathaa ? vaasal padi valukkirathaa?
Was it the unbound affection or the entrance to the house that made you slip?
Addressed to people who usually dont accept their mistake and put the blame on others. Happens typically with everyone, when we try to put blame on some other person so that we can escape from the mistakes we committed.
கடுகு களவும் களவுதான் , கற்புரம் களவும் களவு தான்.
Kadugu kalavum kalavuthaan, Karpooram kalavum kalavu thaan.
Theft is a theft ,be it stealing a mustard or acamphor.
You cannot justify a crime by saying its very small crime.
” Sin is sin whether big or small.”
22. இன்றைக்கு இலை அறுத்தவன் நாளைக்கு குலை அறுக்கமாட்டானா?
Indraikku ilai aruthavan naaliku kulai arukkamaattaanaa?
Won’t the person who cut the leaves today , would cut the fruits tomorrow?
The idea is to cut down a mistake/crime in the beginning stage itself. One crime leads to another.
” He who hath done ill once will do it again.”
23. கூத்தாடி கிழக்கே பார்த்தான் , கூலிக்காரன் மேற்கே பார்த்தான்.
Koothadi kilake parthaan , koolikaran merke parthaan.
The dancer watched the east, the labourer watched the west.
The dancers perform all night long in festivals and wait for the sunrise(east) so that their payments will be made and can return home. The labourer works all day long and see the west all the time since he would get his pay only at the sunset. The whole world works in the direction of money.
24. பாம்பாடிக்குப் பாம்பிலே சாவு , கள்ளனுக்கு களவிலே சாவு .
Paambatikku pambile saavu, kallanukku kalavile saavu.
Death of snake charmer would be caused by his snake, death of a thief will be caused by his theft.
If you do a sin you cannot escape from it, it will follow you. This theme is explored by so many movies these days like Bheema and Pattiyal.
Retribution follows a person from his own wickedness.
25. கொள்ளும் வரைக்கும் கொண்டாட்டம் , கொண்ட பிறகு திண்டாட்டம் .
Kollum varaikkum kondatam, konda piragu thindaatam.
It’s enjoyment till the marriage and its misery from then.
Relationship with girl will look sweet and attractive till marriage but once that happens, everything changes and you end having nothing but misery. Vice versa too!
26. துட்டு வந்து போட்டியிலே விழுந்ததோ , திட்டு வந்து பொடியிலே விழுந்ததோ?
Thuttu vanthu potiyile vilunthatho, thitu vanthu potiyile vilunthatho.
Is it the money or the scoldings , that go into the savings box?
At the end of the day the money earned is more important than the pains you go through to secure the money.
” Account not that work-slavery that brings in penny savory.”
27. திருவாக்குக்கு எதிர்வாக்குக்கு உண்டா?
Thiruvaakkuku ethirvaakku unda?
Are there any words which can go against God’s words.
You cant stand against gods wish. This proverb is usually used to address powerful and influential men, whose word are usually the final one. No body would dare to go against it.
28. ஓட்டை பானையிலும் சர்க்கரை இருக்கும்.
Ottai pannaiyilum sakarai erukkum.
Even a broken pot might contain sugar.
Dont ignore anything without thoroughly understanding it. Even the worst possible thing might have something good in it. Don’t under estimate any one or any thing.
29. அறுப்புக்காலத்தில் எலிக்கு ஐந்து பெண்சாதி .
Arupukalathil elikku aainthu pensathi.
During the harvest time a rat keeps five wives.
When a person who lives in poverty for most of his life , gets money he doesn’t know how to handle it and would extravagantly spend it. In Tamil people usually say ‘Parambarai Panakaran’- man who is wealthy for generations, just say he is born rich and not made rich. So there seems to be a difference between born rich and other rich people! On the other hand this proverb can also be used against people who uses others property. Typically watchmen in guest/holiday house , use the house like their own when the owner is not there.
30. பங்குனி என்று பருக்கிறதுமில்லை, சித்திரை என்றும் சிறுக்கிறுதுமில்லை.
Neither does he expand in March nor does he get lean in April.
Panguni(around March) in Tamil calendar is the month of big harvest.
Sithirai(April ) is a month where there is little profit. The proverb
is used of a man who dont change their behaviour with change in
“A wise man is he who knows that prosperity and adversity are alike”
” He swells not in prosperity, and shrinks not in adversity .”
31. குறையச் சொல்லி , நிறைய அள.
Give more quantity with a lesser price
Typically people who purchase with street vendors will have this
experience. The example I give is of Masala Sundal you get in the
beach. You will ask Sundal for Rs.5 and vendor will measure some
quantity and put it in the paper cone and after doing that before
giving it to you for your statisfaction, he would add very very little
quantity of Sundal in paper cone to show that he has given more than
the customer asked for. So this proverb is to say that what ever you
do, give the quality and quantity right.
” Cheat me in the price, but not in the goods*”
“It is not a sin to sell dear, but it is to make ill measure.”
32. அஞ்சும் மூன்றும் உண்டானால் , அறியாப்பெண்ணும் சமைக்கும்.
If the five and the three are at hand, even an ignorant girl can cook.
It is easy to do a thing when one has all the help required.
The ‘five’ are pepper, salt, mustard, cumin and tamarind. The ‘three’
are water, fire and fuel.
33. அறைக்காசை ஆயிரம் பொன்னக்குகிறவளும் பெண்சாதி , ஆயிரம் பொன்னை அறைக்காசு
ஆக்கு கிறவளும் பெண்சாதி.
The one who is capable of converting half a coin into a thousand gold
coins is a wife, and the one who is capable of reducing a thousand
gold coins to half a coin is also a wife.
This why people say marriage is made in heaven. If you have a good
wife you have agood fortune, if you have a bad one you are doomed.
” All women are good : good for something or good for nothing.”
34. ஒரு நாளும் சிரிக்காதவன் திருநாளில் சிரித்தான் , திருநாளும் வேறு
When one who had never smiled, smiled on a sacred day, even the sacred
day became an ordinary day.
Or better :
ஒரு நாளுமில்லாமல் திருநாளுக்குப் போனால் , திருநாளும் வேரு
When a man, who never attended a festival, attends one, even the
festival day becomes a common day.
This just goes to show how unluckly people are or how last minute
events spoils a long awaited day.