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Under the spell of the Kural

Now Tirukkural will be available in Telugu, Kannada and English.

November 20, 2014 07:46 pm | Updated 07:46 pm IST

Dr. Soibam Rebika Devi from Manipuri.

Dr. Soibam Rebika Devi from Manipuri.

The huge gathering at the Durbar Hall of the Raj Bhavan, Chennai, was proof of how the Tirukkural charms those who come under its spell. The occasion was the release of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil’s (CICT) Tirukkural translations, in Telugu, Kannada and English, and a revised edition of Dr. Iravatham Mahadevan’s book on ‘Early Tamil Epigraphy,’ by the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Dr. K. Rosaiah. This was followed by a recitation of Tirukkural translations in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Punjabi, Manipuri, Sourashtra, French, Arabic and Chinese.

This writer caught up with a few of the translators. Dr. Soibam Rebika Devi, whose Manipuri translation was released in Imphal earlier this year, said what drew her to the Kural was its universality. “Although it gives morals, it doesn’t talk of any particular religion,” she said.“Japanese Haiku poetry might have been influenced by Tirukkural. There is a lot of similarity between the two. Both are spiritual and both draw many examples from Nature,” said Dr. P.C. Kokila, whose Gujarati translation is pending publication. Her theory is that travelling Buddhist monks could have been the conduits for knowledge of the Kural.

Dr. Jayaprakash, the Telugu translator, has won a Sahitya Akademi Award for his translation of ‘Pratapa Mudaliar Charitram’. V. Srinivasan, translator of the Kannada version, is a retired civil engineer, whose translation of Girish Karnad’s ‘Hayavadhana’ was staged at the Delhi Tamil Sangam. V.G. Bhooma, director of CICT, said the institute was now looking into proposals for translation of Tirukkural into Santali, Tulu, Mythili and Avadh. Talking of other measures to popularise the Kural, she said that two Kural apps have been released by CICT. The first is an English translation, where the script appears in English, while a voice over recites the couplet in Tamil. This app, which has a subject wise classification, has already had five thousand hits. Plans are afoot to release it in several languages. Another app, soon to be uploaded, is a collection of 18 translations, with search facilities.

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