Experiments with Translation

Translating life's journey in poetry, prose and pictures

nītiśataka 1.91: daivena prabhuṇā (whatever is allotted to a person)

दैवेन प्रभुणा स्वयं जगति यद्यस्य प्रमाणीकृतं
तत्तस्योपनमेन्मनागपि महान्नैवाश्रय: कारणम् ।
सर्वाशापरिपूरके जलधरे वर्षत्यपि प्रत्यहं
सूक्ष्मा एव पतन्ति चातकमुखे द्वित्रा: पयोबिन्दव: ।।९१।।

whatever is allotted to a person
by all-powerful fate,
that she will certainly obtain,
whether she desires it, or not.
for, day by day,
rain clouds burst flooding the earth,
but not more than two or three drops
trickle into the thirsty bird’s beak. ||91||


śatakatrayam 1.90: virama viramāyāsādasmāt (o dim-fitted fate!)

विरम विरमायासदस्माद्दुरध्यवसायतो
विपदि महतां धैर्यध्वंसं यदीक्षिुमीहसे ।
अयि जडविधे कल्पापाये व्यपेतनिजक्रमा:
कुलशिखरिण: क्षुद्रा नैते न वा जलराशय: ।।९०।।

o dim-witted fate! you wish
to see the resilience of the resilient
crumble during trying times.
but cease, cease your
malevolent attempt
to destroy them.
do you not know, that
even if the apocalypse comes,
the great mountains and deep oceans
will hold their own? ||90||

śatakatrayam 1.89: priyasakha vipaddaṇḍa (o my dear friend)

प्रियसख विपद्दण्डाघातप्रपातपरंपरा-
परिचयबले चिन्ताचक्रे निधाय विधि: खल:।
मृदमिव बलात्पिण्डीकृत्य प्रगल्भकुलालव-
द्भ्रमयति मनो नो जानीम: किमत्र विधास्यति ।।८९।।

o my dear friend,
like a skilled potter
shapes a clod of earth,
rogue fate places our mind
and makes it revolve on
the wheel of anxiety
that revolves endlessly
through distress as if
struck by a rod of troubles.
who knows what will come next? ||89||

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.