Experiments with Translation

Translating life's journey in poetry, prose and pictures

śatakatrayam 1.36: parikṣīṇaḥ kaścitspṛhayati (an impoverished person yearns)

परिक्षीण: कश्चित्स्पृहयति यवानां प्रसृतये
स पश्चात्संपूर्ण: कलयति धरित्रीं तृणसमाम्।
अतश्चानेकान्ता गुरुलघुतयार्थेषु धनिना-
मवस्था वस्तूनि प्रथयति च संकोचयति च।।३६।।

an impoverished person yearns
for a handful of barley.
when satiated,
the earth is but mere grass
for him.
whether objects are
significant or trifle
depends upon the possessor’s situation.
it can equally magnify and lessen them. ||36||

śatakatrayam 1.35: maṇiḥ śāṇollīḍhaḥ (like a gem rubbed by a stone)

मणि: शाणोल्लीढ: समरविजयी हेतिदलितो
मदक्षीणो नाग: शरदि सरिदाश्यानपुलिना ।
कलाशेषश्चन्द्र: सुरतमृदिता बालवनिता
तनिम्रा शोभन्ते गलितविभवाश्चार्थिषु नरा: ।।३५।।

like a gem rubbed by a stone,
like a wounded battle hero,
like an exhausted rutting elephant,
like a parched river in the autumn,
like the pale crescent moon,
like a young woman exhausted by love-play,
men whose treasuries are depleted,
seem emaciated when
surrounded by beggars. ||34||

In this verse, the poet continues with the theme of money / wealth (Sanskrit ‘artha’) that we have seen in the last few. The scene unfolding before us is beggars seeking help from rich men who have lost their wealth. The poet compares this to six other situations: a gem, a battle hero, and so on. Some comparisons are drawn from nature and thus more comprehensible, while others might be more culturally specific to the Sanskrit imaginaire. For instance, the rutting elephant most commonly connotes majesty. Here, however, the elephant is depicted as exhausted.

śatakatrayam 1.34: dānaṃ bhogo nāśaḥ (money’s fate is checked)

दानं भोगो नाशस्तिस्रो गतयो भवन्ति वित्तस्य ।
यो न ददाति न भुङ्क्ते तस्य तृतीया गतिर्भवति ।।३४।।

money’s fate is checked.
one who doesn’t donate it,
or spend it,
can yet lose it. ||34||

śatakatrayam 1.33: daurmantrayānnṛpatirvinaśyati (bad counsel ruins a king)

दौर्मन्त्र्यान्नृपतिर्विनश्यति यति: सङ्गात्सुतो लालना-
द्विप्रो ऽनध्ययनात्कुलं कुतनयाच्छीलं खलोपासनात्।
ह्रीर्मद्यादनवेक्षणादपि कृषि: स्नेह: प्रवासाश्रया-
न्मैत्री चाप्रणयात्समृद्धिरनयात्त्यागात्प्रमादाद्धनम्।।३३।।

bad counsel ruins a king,
companionship ruins an ascetic,
mollycoddling ruins a child,
neglecting studies ruins a brahmin,
a reprobate son ruins a family,
camaraderie with evil ones destroys character,
drunkenness ruins modesty,
inattention ruins the harvest,
distance ruins love for dear ones,
lack of affection ruins friendship,
careless management ruins prosperity,
endless gifts and recklessness ruin wealth. ||33||

śatakatrayam 1.32: yasyāsti vittaṃ sa naraḥ (a man who is wealthy)

यस्यास्ति वित्तं स नर: कुलीन: स पण्डित: स श्रुतवान्गुणज्ञ:।
स एव वक्ता स च दर्शनीय: सर्वे गुणा: काञ्चनमाश्रयन्ति ।।३२।।

a man who is wealthy,
comes from noble descent.
he is an intellectual,
learned in all the holy texts,
and possesses all the virtues.
he is an orator too,
and has dashing good looks.
don’t all these qualities depend upon his gold?