1. On the lofty peak of snow-clad Himavant
-- The hugest of mountains --, thrives the Flag of Tiger;
Of the wide-ranging realms -- the object of Tamil poesy --,
I sing of the Chola country by the Cauvery enriched. (51)
2. From the sacred Kamandalu of Agastya
-- The primal Saint of great tapas --, flowed the Cauvery;
It is like unto a garland of pearls of purest ray serene,
On the golden beasts of the lovely Lady-Earth. (52)
3. It courses down gloriously from the Kudaku Mount;
It is verily a nurse unto the goodly Maiden the Earth;
It is rich in water that daily flows to sustain
And foster all species of lives on earth. (53)
4. As it issues gloriously from flowery eddies
Like Brahma from Vishnu's lotus-calix,
As it fosters many a life
Like Brahma creating them all,
As it emerges from Agastya's Kamandalu
Very like the one of Brahma's
The great river Ponni is like Brahma. (54)
5. As the Cauvery flows down from the mount
Over which shines the moon
Like the Ganga descending from Siva's crown
Decked with the shining moon,
As it gushes forth with foam and spume, like Ganga,
Virgin Cauvery is Ganga herself
Who pours down from the crown of our Lord-God. (55)
6. By reason of its noble birth in the mountain
And its generous fostering of multifoliate dharma
The river is very like the compassionate flow
Of the inly melting grace of the Goddess
Who shares Siva's frame. (56)
7. With its fragrant flowers and water
And with its golden sand, the river of ceaseless flow
Adores the temples of Siva on either side of its bank;
Verily it is like the devotees of the Lord of gods. (57)
8. The river runs as its waves wash away the Kumkum
And the sandal-paste smeared on the breasts
Of women who plunge and bathe in its sweet waters.
Though the river is by nature, pure and bright,
Yet it does lack pellucidity. (58)
9. Bees buzz over it and honey spills into it
As the river flows down the hill carrying fresh flowers;
To enrich the land by feeding its numerous tanks
The river runs through many a channel. (59)
10. In bright fords as the flood runs through sluices
And reaches the fields, farmers greet it
In joyous ovation and this loud greeting
Pierces the skyey realm of gods and passes beyond it too. (60)
11. A few gather the comely seedlings;
A few tie them up in pretty bundles
And send them all to the watery fields.
The farmers till the fields in dinsome joy;
All these are sights to see. (61)
12. The transplanters throng thick in the fields
Enriched by the blemishless Cauvery;
In all the tilled field that are watered
And made miry, they adore Devendra. (62)
13. In the transplanted fields fresh water pours;
The seedlings grow and their first blades uncoil;
Beholding this, farmers say:
"It is time for the weeding operation."
The farmwives amble forth lightly
As pearl-yielding conches upset their gait;
Their hair-do's buzzed over by bees, gently shake,
And they walk slowly toward the ridges. (63)
14. They weed out red-lilies, but wear them on their dark locks;
They try to chase away the bee with their flowery hands
Which but attract other bees galore.
Their moon-like foreheads gently perspire;
Their teeth, like mullai-buds, flash out smiles;
They sip honey from new-blown lotuses. (64)
15. "These are not sugarcanes but only paddy stalks;
These are not areca trees but only sugarcanes."
Thus are the fields by beholders described.
As bees thither pierce the blue lilies
Their dust scatters and make the day night,
"These are not buds but only breasts;
These are not nectar but only nectarean words."
Thus, even thus, are they - the myriad women
That stand thick in the fields. (65)
16. On the banks of tanks where carps thrive, lie the shells
Of dead snails; these serve them as toy-cooking-posts;
Into them they pour as water the nectar of flowers
And also pearls delivered by banks;
Carapaces serve them as cooking-ovens;
For hearing them with fire they use flame-red lotuses.
Thus on the ridges the title farm-girls play-act. (66)
17. Wild grow the sweetcanes like a forest;
Gardens are all full of buds and blooms;
On all sides burgeon the blue lilies;
Conch and chank lie teeming in the fields;
The banks of banks are thick win swans,
And tanks themselves are vast like seas;
No land, aye, by any means, can match the Chola-land. (67)
18. The din of them that ply the sweetcane-press,
The hum of bees that wing in the groves
And the chant of the Vedas (for the world to thrive)
Commingle and far exceed the oceanic roar. (68)
19. In the broad fords where play the swans,
The buffaloes plunge and get immersed.
The leap of Valai to the areca trees
Is like a rainbow-flash in the abiding sky. (69)
20. The bees of groves eke do sip
Honey from blooms in the adjacent pools.
The leaping carps hit the garden trees
And spill their fruits in abundance. (70)
21. They grow lofty, dense and peerless, in the wide fields,
Rich in pure pulp, bright and white;
Eftsoons they become pallid in advanced pregnancy;
Then they uncoil, and like the gracious hearts
Of those that are devoted to Siva,
Beam with light eventually. (71)
22. Serving devotees of the Lord, borne by bhakti
When meeting one another bow low their heads in obeisance;
Even so, the ears of corn, dense and full-grown,
Bow low in long and serried order and yield abundance
Like unto endless godly love that marks holy devotees. (72)
23. Sheaves of corn with stalks are piled into hills;
The sifted grains are heaped into long hill-ranges;
The pearls of whorled conches are gathered
Into huge dazzling mountainous heaps;
Honey from blown flowers is distilled and stored apart. (73)
24. Stalks to which grains remain still attached
Are heaped like a hill with well-formed slopes;
Over them are plied buffaloes, huge and black,
Which go round and round to winnow the sticking grains;
This is like unto nimbi sailing round the slopes
Of the golden Mount in worshipful circumambulation. (74)
25. De-grained hay stalks are gathered apart;
The grains are strewn abroad for the wind
To sift them from the chaff;
Like hills of ruddy gold and ninefold gems
The grain-hills, raised sky-high, dazzle. Lo!
The maruda-realm dight with lotus-pools
Looks like a country rich in hills. (75)
26. Taxes due to the government paid, they perform
The primary dharma with a portion of what is theirs;
They hail the deity in worship due
And foster their parents, names, guests and righteous kin.
Thus flourish the subjects of the realm
Teeming in mansions huge as hills. (76)
27. Is it the fragrant smoke rising from_ovens
Where boils the juice of sweetcanes?
Is it the smoke that chases away the bees from blooms
Worn by women whose wet tresses
Are dried by the smoke of eagle-wood?
Is it the smoke rising from the halls of sacrifice
Where are planted yupa columns?
Or is it the congregation of nimbi on high?
None can say what type of smoke it is
That surrounds the groves and mansions everywhere. (77)
28. Coco palms, Cerunti, citron trees of tragrant blooms
Peepul trees, kadambu, pacchilai and kura trees
Of cool blooms, broad-based palmyrahs, sandal trees,
Kumkum, vanchi of long leaves, kanchi
And konku of abundant blooms thrive everywhere. (78)
29. Mango trees, patiri, sura-punnai rich
With flower-bunches, crocus, picchi creepers
Jasmine lianas, soft-petalled aniccha,
Kurukkatthi, deodar, makizh and champaka,
Fragrant screw-pine, areca and punnai trees
Grow everywhere in this blessed realm. (79)
30. The realm is marked by festal ceremonies
And dinsome jubilee of connubia;
Lotus-faces and melodic voices
Are seen and heard everywhere;
From men and women, jewels dazzle;
Flowery pandals breathe fragrance;
The fields are rich in ruddy carps;
Each place is indeed the abode of lakshmi. (80)
31. One eyes everywhere elephants and rain-clouds;
One hears everywhere the Vedas chanted and cultivated;
Everywhere are yoga and tapas practiced by men;
Swings of damsels too are seen everywhere;
Ubiquitous pervade joy of life and prosperity,
Like the presence of holy saints everywhere. (81)
32. Melodic Vipanchi yazhs are played everywhere;
Crimson foot-prints of women the soles of whose feet
Are dyed with red silk-cotton, feast the eye everywhere;
Bees buzz over tresses everywhere;
Tuneful notes of melodic flutes are heard everywhere;
The Vedas are chanted wherever the devotees abide;
From the gardens wafts-everywhere the fragrance
Of Atthi trees and jack-fruit trees. (82)
33. On all sides are seen elephant cubs;
On blooms are bees everywhere;
In all houses, music resounds, and women play Ammanai;
Flags fly aloft everywhere; ubiquitous are the heaps of wealth;
Garlands of may-petalled blooms are found everywhere;
Wreaths of lovers everywhere are innumerable. (83)
34. Uproarious are the streets with festivities,
Where rousing reception is in love offered to guests;
Castes deviate not from their righteous ways;
House there is none that lacks the wealth of children;
Birds and beasts dwell in peace and harmony;
Divine Lakshmi loves to dwell here;
As all lives chant the Panchakshara
Mortal maladies fear to tread here. (84)
35. Of all the realms embraced by goodly Tamil
The divine realm hailed by us, is ruled impartially,
By the valour of his broad and beauteous shoulders;
He set at naught the dictum that the world
Belongs to all, and made it solely his own;
As the land thrives in peace under the golden shade
Of the parasol of the benign ruler, victorious Anapaya,
Can we at all essay to set forth its glories? (85)
1 1 Himavant : The Himalayas.
cf. ".... the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant."
2 The Flag of Tiger : The Flage of the Chola Kings.
3 1 Kamandalu : The water-jar always carried by a holy man.
4 The pun in the original cannot be spun out with equal ease in the
translation. What is attempted here is but a paraphrase.
7 Ponni : The Cauvery.
6 The river is the daughter of the mountain; so too is Uma, the daughter of
Himavant. The river fosters many a dharma. So too the Goddess. Hence the
cf. "...... it is heavenly Ganga, bless her!
Where she flows, Dharma and gold are yielded."
12 3 Devendra : Lord Indra.
14 5 Mullai : The Navember-flower, Jasminum
19 3 Valai : A fish, Trichiurus Lepturus.
21 This stanza equates the growth of paddy-grains to the devoted hearts of
Siva's seviteurs. The points of comparison are:
a. Like the growing grains, the devotees grow _rom strength to strength
in loftiness and stateliness.
b. The ears of corn are gravid with pure white pulp. The devotees too
are full of the milk of true wisdom.
c. As the grains grow they suffer a change of hue. A similar change
of hue comes over the devotees too, as they mature in devotion.
d. Whatever lay coiled within the husk, uncoils after a time. Even so,
the once-kinky twists in the minds of the devotees get uncoiled in due
e. When the grains are fully ripe, they dazzle with luster. The mellowed
devotees too shine with a godly lustre.
24 6 Golden Mount : Meru : Himavant.
26 Tiruvalluvar says (Tirukkural 43) :
"The manes, God, guests, kindred, self in due degree,
These five to cherish well is chiefest duty."
St. Sekkizhar, the erst-while kindred, chief-minister adds to this list,
the payment of taxes due to government.
30 8 Lakshmi : The Goddess of Wealth.
33 3 Ammanai : A favourite game of Women. See page 117 of
G.U. Pope's 'The Tiruvacagam'.
34 Panchakshara : The mystic pentad of letters.
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, for permitting his English rendering of the holy text periyapurANam be published here