Translation vs. Inspiration

Today I tried to translate a very poetic Malayalam song “Surma Ezhuthiya Mizhikale”. I found that I was in a chakravyuh. I knew how to get in but I had no clue how to get out. The problems of half knowledge. A chakravyuh is a military tactical formation which can be translated as “wheel lock” where you have two aspects of a knowledge, getting in and getting out unharmed.

The story of chakravyuh is that Abhimanyu who knew the way to get in did not know how to get out and as a result ended up dying in the battle field succumbing to wounds as one by one every weapon of his was diffused by the opposition. Though this is told more as a story of valor it is also the story of incomplete knowledge and its aftermaths.

Anand in his beautiful book Vyasanum Vigneshwaranum (Vyas and Vigneshwar) tells about a debate that happens amidst the battle field between Abhimanyu and Ekalavya (who has already been killed). As abhimanyu gets into the chakravyuh and faces imminent death due to his lack of knowledge in getting out Ekalavya appears before him and they debate about Vidya (knowledge).

The debate is explained as the part of an unwritten part of Mahabharata ‘The Nishadapurana’ or the epic of Nishadas which could well be an abstraction of the writer’s concept of knowledge. When Abhimanyu and Ekalavya debate about the helplessness of vidya (knowledge) it also gives you a different concept of what half knowledge and ignorance is, Translation needs a very high level of knowledge on two languages and sadly I found myself less than proficient in both to do true justice to any original writer. The process of translation made me realize that my unawareness of ignorance was much more than a half. So I safely took the help of another word inspiration and wrote something.

That said this is the rendition of the song that I attempted to figure out .

And this was my inspired poem….

Your Beautiful eyes dressed up
in that ancient splendor of kohl
Like Sun flowers they generously spill
their sweet nectar of love

When the dawn unveils the
Shades of night
Your looks lock me in its
Spellbinding mesh
And its sweetest thorns
tenderly pierce
their nectar deep into me

Come to me my dear today
riding on the wings of a dream
I had about you the night before
And slowly pour into me again
That mesmerizing music
of your blue forever beautiful eyes

For the actual Malayalam Lyrics Here they go…..

Surumayezhuthiya mizhikale
Pranaya madhura then thulumbum
Soorya kanthi pookkale

Jalaka thirasseela neekki
Jalameriyuva thenthino(2)
Then purattiya mullukal nee
Karalileriyuva thenthino

Oru kinavin chirakileri
Omalale nee varoo
Neela mizhiyile raga lahari
Nee pakarnnu tharoo tharoo

Categories: Articles, Personal, Poetry

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2 replies

  1. Have you read Nishada Purana? Where can I get a copy of the book?

    • Hi Radhakrishnan….
      The way I came to know about it is through Anand’s book…. and I am not yet clear if there exists something like it and if it was a mention by the writer from his imagination in his book Vyasanum Vigneswaranum….

      I have searched for it but never got… may we should reach out to Anand sir and check the context of mentioning that in his book…

      Do let me know if you find anything

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