By N. V. Subbaraman from Chennai

In my interview with Indian Periodical, I pointed out the need for translating regional language literary marvels in other languages and in particular English as a method to “bridge the gap”. The magazine’s question and my answer are reproduced here as it is quite relevant to the current posting and the posts to follow:

Different Indian languages have literary works of great cultural and artistic value but regionalism often comes in the way of connecting people with these works. What is the way to bridge this gap in your opinion?

Yes, India is a vast and diverse country with its rich heritage, culture, religions, languages, literature, scholars, writers, poets and so on. They are indeed great treasures beyond values for the present and posterity.

In a multi lingual society and the states on linguistic basis, regionalism of course takes its own toll on many aspects and one important impact is on the literary works of great cultural and artistic value. Due to political and other reasons there is a vast gap in connecting the people.  Rightly you have diagnosed the cause for the gap and that is narrow regionalism leading to parochialism. It should therefore, be the foremost duty of the broad and nationalistic minded patriots to create opportunities for the people of religions and regions, languages and cultures   to move freely and absorb the greatness from others.

Translation of the rich literary works of each language into other languages of India and English is a sure way of bridging the gap.

Emphasizing on the importance of TRANSLATION in bridging the gap great National Poet Subrahmanya Bharathiyar says:

தேமதுரத் தமிழோசை உலகமெலாம்

          பரவும்வகை செய்தல் வேண்டும்.

பிறநாட்டு நல்லறிஞர் சாத்திரங்கள்

          தமிழ்மொழியிற் பெயர்த்தல் வேண்டும்

திறமான புலமையெனில் வெளிநாட்டோர்

          அதைவணக்கம் செய்தல் வேண்டும்.

Thaemadhurath thamizoasai ulagamelaam

          Paravum vagai seythal vaeNdum

Piranaattu nallaringar saaththirangkaL

          Thamizmoziyir peyarththal vaeNdum

Thiramaana  pulamaiyenil veLinaattoar

          Atdhai vaNakkam seythal vaeNtum.

In English

Tamil’s mellifluous sounds

Must reach the world’s utmost bounds.

Translation too we must produce

From foreign classics for our use.

Our genuine greatness and skills and wisdom

The world will recognize and salute hands down.

But then translation is a fine art and science; competent persons for translation from one language to other language/s are to be spotted, sufficient recognition given and motivated to pursue the art of translation. Translation is not simply finding the equivalent words. It is indeed trans- creation; the translator must get into the heart and soul of the original creator and come out with his version presenting the mind of the creator.

It has to be done through print and electronic media. From that angle, I cannot but commend the efforts of Indian Periodical. Educational Institutions should make it a point and policy to prescribe the translated literature in the curriculum at all levels. As extracurricular studies, parents, social service organizations and schools must popularize translated arts and literature. It may not be too much to suggest literary competitions may be floated at many levels on translated literary pieces for all ages, educational standards, rural, urban groups and so on as the competitions have the motivating ability.

Revolutionary Poet Bharathiyar is the great National Poet MAHAKAVI SUBRAHMANYA BHARATHIYAR born and lived in Tamilnadu (Period 1882-1921). At a time it was a taboo, he sang in praise of womanhood, denouncing superstitious beliefs, against the foreign yoke and so on and thus became a revolutionary poet. A great nationalist and patriotic he was, with his patriotic poems he raised the people of Tamilnadu against the foreign rule and joining Mahatma Gandhi, contributed his might to the freedom struggle.

He was indeed a devotional poet who sang in praise of Hindu Gods, Allah and Jesus Christ.

We start the serial with one of his poems in praise of Ganesha known as Vigneshwara.

Bharathi’s verses on Ganesha translated into English by me along with the original in Tamil. We pray for Lord Ganesha’s grace for the global peace and harmony, plenty and prosperity!

Translated verse in English.


Feel that the work you do is Divine.
Grace me please to do perfect twine
Creator of the world and space
All living beings and universe!

Lord! Four faced Creator, my Lord!
Elephant faced Vigneshwara! Goddess
Of Learning protected at thy hands!
Seated in the Lotus seat grand!

Original in Tamil

செய்யுந் தொழிலே தெய்வம்காண்
சீர்பெற் றிடநீ அருள் செய்வாய்,
வையந் தனையும் வெளியினையும்
வானத் தையுமுன் படைத்தவனே!
ஐயா! நான்முகப் பிரமாவே
யானை முகனே! வாணிதனைக்
கையா லணைத்துக் காப்பவனே!!
கமலா சனத்துக் கற்பகமே!


Hail to thee, Karpaga Vinayaga, the great!
Embodiment of Silence thou art hail to thee!
Elephant faced God, we adore Thy flowery feet!
Elephant faced at Thy holy feet we take refuge!
Creator of the world, God of Divine Music
Preceptor Indira dwelling glorious in my heart
Son of our Lord Chandra Mouli the great
We keep in our heart the holy feet of Ganesha!

Virtues several, kindly hear what I say!
Inner ears open, inward eyes brighten
Light will be seen; valor will develop
Can win and hoist the flags of victory in directions all!

You can handle a snake in your hands!
Poison, ailment, hatred and enmity
Can be brushed as dust and won over with ease.
Daily live in peace and joy; live for long
Sans sorrow and suffering.

Fear will be gone, nectar will come
Knowledge and wisdom will develop
Penance will yield immortality will ensue
We get for sure, realize this firm!

Original in Tamil.

கற்பக வினாயகக் கடவுளே போற்றி
சிற்பர மோனத் தேவன் வாழ்க!
வாரண முகத்தான் மலர்த்தாள் வெல்க!
ஆரண முகத்தான் அருட்பதம் வெல்க!

படைப்புக் கிறையவன்; பண்ணவர் நாயகன்,
இந்திர குருஎனது இதயத் தொளிர்வான்
சந்திர மவுலித் தலைவன் வேந்தன்
கணபதித் தாளைக் கருத்திடை வைப்போம்.
குணமதிற் பலவாம்; கூறக் கேளீர்!

அக்கினி தோன்றும்; ஆண்மை வலியுறும்;
திக்கெலாம் சென்று ஜயக்கொடி நாட்டலாம்
உட்செவி திறக்கும்; அகக்கண் ஒளி தரும்
கட்செவி தன்னைக் கையிலே எடுக்கலாம்;

விடத்தையும் நோவையும் வெம்பகை யதனையும்
துச்சமென் றெண்ணித் துயரிலா திங்கு
நிச்சலும் வாழ்ந்துநிலைபெற் றோங்கலாம்;
அச்சந் தீரும், அமுதம் விளையும்;
வித்தை வளரும் வேள்வி ஓங்கும்;

அமரத் தன்மை எய்தவும்
இங்குநாம் பெறலாம்; இஃதுணர் வீரே!

About the Author: Mr. N V Subbaraman from Tamilnadu is a bilingual poet, a Versatile Blogger, writer, scholar, trainer and communicator with thirty seven books to his credit including 16 translated works in prose and verse.


  1. A fine presentation by Shri.NVS on Bharathiyar the national poet!
    Translation per se is a great contributor to the growth of literature in that the tool helps in the spread of linguistic creations in one language to others unfamiliar with that language!
    The author very rightly pointed out to the effect ‘what is intended by the original writer should exactly be reflected in its translation by the translator’, lest the later is doing injustice to the former!
    We have in Bharathiyar many attributes combined together to have created patriotic, and devotional songs, offering food for thought and enjoyment!
    A nice series for the benefit of the readers!

  2. Thanks OKRS.

  3. Thupakula ramamurthi

    Thoughts are thoughts in any language or any corner of the world. This is well brought by nvsr, kavi nilavu. Due to transcreation we are inhaling the noble feelings. His contribution particulaly with regard to the works of thiruvallur and bhararthiyar are guiding us in proper direction. Let noble thoughts further blossom ending the porochial feelings.

  4. Thanks Shri Ramamurthi. I am sure, you will be reading the rest of the installments also to follow.