Experiments with Translation

Translating life's journey in poetry, prose and pictures

śatakatrayam 1.88: ayamamṛtanidhānaṃ (he is an ocean of nectar)

अयममृतनिधानं नायकोऽप्योषधीनां
शतभिषगनुयात: शंभुमूर्ध्नोऽवतंस: ।
विरहयति न चैनं राजयक्ष्मा शशाङ्कं
हतविधिपरिपाक: केन वा लङ्घनीय: ।।८८।।

he is an ocean of nectar,
superior to all life-giving medicines,
more gifted than a hundred doctors combined,
he is the moon that adorns śiva’s crown.
yet a deadly disease has paled his sheen.
can anyone abscond their wretched fate? ||88||


śatakatrayam 1.87: yenaivāmbarakhaṇḍena (the fragment of cloth)

येनैवाम्बरखण्डेन संवीतो निशि चन्द्रमा: ।
तेनैव च दिवा भानु्रहो दौर्गत्यमेतयो: ।।८७।।

the fragment of cloth
by which the moon covers
himself at night is the
same one that the sun
uses during the day.
poor guys!
i feel sorry that they have to share! ||87||

* there is a pun in this verse. the word that I have translated as ‘cloth’ in English is the Sanskrit ‘ambaram’ which means both cloth and sky. thus, the verse could also read “the fragment of sky by which…” and you can probably imagine the rest.

śatakatrayam 1.86: sṛjati tāvadaśeṣaguṇākaraṃ (first, the creator god adorns)

सृजति तावदशेषगुणाकरं पुरुषरत्नमलंकरणं भुव: ।
तदपि तत्क्षणभङ्गि करोति चेदहह कष्टमपण्डितता विधे: ।।८६।।

first, the creator god adorns
the earth by creating jewel-like humans
who are bottomless oceans of virtues;
then, in a split second,
he destroys them.
ah! how painful his stupidity!

śatakatrayam 1.85: gajabhujaṇgavihaṇgama (seeing that mighty elephants)

गजभुजंगविहंगमबन्धनं शशिदिवाकरयोर्ग्रहपीडनम् ।
मतिमतां च निरीक्ष्य दरिद्रतां विधिरहो बलवानिति मे मति: ।।८५।।

seeing that mighty elephants,
snakes, and even birds
can be enchained,
that the sun and moon
are periodically eclipsed,
and that wise people
are often impoverished,
I can only conclude
that fate alone reigns supreme! ||85||

śatakatrayam 1.84: khalvāṭo divaseśvarasya (once, a bald man’s head was scorched)

खल्वाटो दिवसेश्वरस्य किरणै: संतापिते मस्तके
गच्छन्देशमनातपं द्रुतगतिस्तालस्य मूले स्थित: ।
तत्राप्यस्य महाफलेन पतता भग्नं सशब्दं शिर:
प्रायो गच्छति यत्र दैवहतकस्तत्रैव यान्त्यापद: ।।८४।।

once, a bald man’s head
was scorched
by the sun’s sharp rays.
so he tried to quickly escape
to a shady place,
and found himself
under a palm tree.
soon enough, with a T-H-U-D!
a giant fruit fell
and cracked his skull.
wherever a cursed person goes,
problems always crop up there. ||84||