Chinese poetry in Tamil

Sridharan Madhusudhanan  

It is a professional requirement for any Indian Foreign Service (IFS) recruit to learn a foreign language and M. Sridharan opted for Chinese. Mastering the tough language became a passion for this 1996 batch officer; and now he has translated Chinese classical poetry into Tamil.

“Vaari Choodinum Paarppavar Illai: Kavi thogai – Chinaavin ‘Sanga Ilakkiyam'.

Arimugamum, neradi thamizhakkamum. (Even if I adorned, there's none to behold: Shi Jing – China's ‘Sangam Literature'. Introduction and Direct Translation), is the collection of his poems from the Chinese Classic Book of Poetry, Shi Jing, pronounced Shizh Ching.

“Like our Iymperum Kaapiyam (five great epics), the Chinese also have Five Classics. Both Sangam and Chinese poetry have many similarities when it comes to poetic sense and imagery. They also have agam and puram classification as we have in Sangam poetry,” explained Mr Sridharan, who is Director of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He has used the pen name Payani to author the poetry collection, which is the first direct rendering of Chinese poetry in Tamil.

He said Shi Jing, first of the Five Classics of China, belonged to a period prior to Confucius (551 BC to 479 BC). The book, in fact, had formed the basis of Confucian philosophy.

Though Shi Jing is a collection of 305 songs, Mr Sridharan has chosen some 35 mostly short poems and translated them into Tamil.

“For me, quality is more important. So, I selected short poems and gave a detailed introduction to Chinese poetry so that a Tamil reader will understand the poems in context,” said the officer who had his schooling and college in Chennai.

Mr Sridharan said all these poems were by anonymous poets, ranging from six lines to a couple of pages.

“Many researchers claim that the book was compiled by Confucius himself. There is no other book that substantially determined the political, cultural and social life of China,” he said.

Besides his official stay in China and learning the language officially, Mr.Sridharan took private lessons in Chinese from two teachers of Beijing University and the Beijing Institute of Economic Management. His previous book is “Chinese Language - an introduction”.

“Writing Chinese is extremely difficult. Reading is somewhat easy. Talking is a little more easy and listening to it was far more easy,” said Mr.Sridharan.

This book, by Kalachuvadu Publishers, also contains a table to help readers pronounce and write the Chinese words, using Tamil script.

It will be released by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon on February 25 in Delhi and will be received by Wang Xuefeng, Minister, Embassy of the People's Republic of China.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 9:26:49 AM |

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