Mahakavi Bharathiyar on “Lies or Truth”

By N.V. Subbaraman from Chennai

Mahakavi Bharathiyar, great  patriot and national Poet  with his sterling songs in Tamil, roused the peoples conscience towards, Motherland, its freedom, Mother Tongue, its greatness,  Woman’s lib, its need and sanctity, social evils, need to eradicate and so on during the short span of 39 years of his life (11-12-1882 to 11 -9 -1921).

He was proud of his Motherland-India that is Bharath- its hoary culture and civilization, achievements of the ancient land and sang in praise that made everyone take pride and serve the nation.

He is equally conscious of the essential needs of the human beings physically, mentally, intellectually, spiritually and so on. He is nonetheless a fierce critic of superstitious beliefs, illogical and irrational thoughts.

Here is a beautiful poem condemning  questioning superstitious beliefs and firmly asks the world around whether it is truth or lies- “LIES OR TRUTH”  in his original Tamil, its transliteration and translation into English and a comment.


Original in Tamil
பொய்யோ? மெய்யோ?

(உலகத்தை நோக்கி வினவுதல்)

நிற்பதுவே, நடப்பதுவே, பறப்பதுவே, நீங்களெல்லாம்

சொற்பனந்தானோ? – பல தோற்ற மயக்கங்களோ?

கற்பதுவே, கேட்பதுவே, கருதுவதே, நீங்களெல்லாம்

அற்பமாயைகளோ ? உம்முள் ஆழ்ந்த பொருளில்லையோ ?      (1)

வானகமே இளவெயிலே மரச்செறிவே, நீங்க ளெல்லாம்

கானலின் நீரோ ? – வெறுங் காட்சிப் பிழைதானோ?

போனதெல்லாம் கனவினைப்போற் புதைந்தழிந்தே போனதனால்

நானுமோர் கனவோ? – இந்த ஞாலமும் பொய்தானோ?    (2)

காலமென்றே ஒரு நினைவும் காட்சியென்றே பல நினைவும்

கோலமும் பொய்களோ ?அங்குக் குணங்களும் பொய்களோ?

சோலையிலே மரங்களெல்லாம் தோன்றுவதோர் விதையிலென்றால்

சோலை பொய்யாமோ  ? – இதைச் சொல்லொடு சேர்ப்பாரோ?     (3)

காண்பதெல்லாம் மறையுமென்றால் மறைந்ததெல்லாம் காண்பமன்றோ?

வீண்படு பொய்யிலே – நித்தம் விதி தொடர்ந் திடுமோ?

காண்பதுவே உறுதி கொண்டோம் காண்பதல்லால் உறுதியில்லை

காண்பது சத்தியாம் – இந்தக் காட்சி நித்தியமாம்!    (4)




Nirpadhuvae, nadappadhuvae, parappadhuvae neengaLellaam

Sorpanandhaanoa? – pala thoatra mayakkangaloa?

Karpadhuvae, ketpadhuvae, karudhuvadhae, neengaLellaam

ArpamaayaigaLoa? UmmuL aazhndha poruLillaiyoa?   (1)

Vaanagamae, iLaveyilae, marachcherivae  neenga Lellaam

Kaanalin neeroa? – verung kaatchip pizaithaanoa?

Poanadhellaam kanavinaippoal pudhaindhazhindhae poanadhanaal

Naanumoar kanavoa? – indjha ngaalamum poydhaanoa?   (2)

Kaalamenrae oru ninaivum kaatchi yenRae palaninaivum

Koalamum poygaLOa? Anguk kuNagkaLum poykaLoa?

SoalaigaLil maranga Lellaam thjoanruvadhoar vidhaiyilenraal

Soalai poyyaamoa? – idhaich chollodu saerppaaroa?   (3)

KaaNbadhellaam  maraiyumenraal, maraindhgadhellaam kaaNbamanroa?

VeeNpadu poyyilae – niththam vidhi thodarn dhidumoa?

 KaaNbadhuvae uruthi kaNdoam kaaNbadhallaal urudhiyillai

KaaNbadhu saththiyaam – indhak kaatchi niththiyamaam.  (4)




(Questioning the world)

You who stand, walk and fly are all

Only dreams? – or illusions?

You who learn, hear and think are all

Silly illusions? –Is there no meaning deep in you?    (1)

You sky, pleasant sunshine, groves are all

Mirages?- or optic aberrations?

As whatever gone are gone like dream and got interned

Am I also a dream? – Is this world also a dream?    (2)

Time- a thought and reality – many a thought

Are the versions false and lies? – Their nature also lies?

If the trees in the grove come out of the seeds

Can the grove be false and unreal- Can anyone accept this?   (3)

If all that are seen disappear, must not all those disappear seen?

In the falsehood and lies, – can the fate and destiny continue forever?

That we see is reality, what is not seen unreal!

What is seen is Shakthi- power! That indeed is permanent!    (4)


A segment of the noble feels and believes that the entire world is illusion that is maya!

Mahakavi Bharathiyar is a revolutionary in the sense he did not believe in any superstitions. Here in this poem he questions the mayavadhis   whether the hings we see in the world including our own selves are false or lies and are we not real and factual!

We are governed by the great power of the Almighty, which he calls Parashakthi.

 He is very simple, practical, matter of fact, deep thinker and a neo-rationalist who believes that “knowledge alone is God” which we saw in the last week.

(to be continued)

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. 

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