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Power of Poetry: Memorable Verses from Tamil Magnum Opus “Tiruvaymoli”

During this difficult time, we tend to turn to powers higher than us. The ancient poet-saint Nammalvar’s magnum opus “Tiruvaymoli”, or “Endless Song”, is a grand 1100-verse Tamil poem in praise of Tirumal—among the many names for Lord Vishnu. On the auspicious occasion of Ram Navami, here are some verses on the devotee’s love and longing for the supreme lord, in Archana Venkatesan’s dazzling translation, that will light you up from within.

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I.1.5 Each knows what they know,

each finds a different path

Each has their god

each reaches his feet

Each of these gods lacks nothing,

everyone is fated

to find their way to the great lord

who’s always there.

II.5.1 In that place he loved me

fused with my breath.

the lord who wears lovely garlands,

a crown conch disc thread jewels:

His large eyes like a pool of lotuses

his lips red lotuses, his feet too lotuses,

his red-gold body glows.

IV.3.8 You’ve entered my breath,

radiant light of wisdom

filling the seven beautiful worlds.

My breath is yours

Your breath is mine

I can’t describe how this is

I can’t describe the way you are.


 

Archana Venkatesan’s Endless Song is a dazzling translation of one of the most revered ancient Bhakti poems.

Ingeniously weaving a garland of words-where each beginning is also an ending-the poet traces his cyclical quest for union with the supreme lord, Visnu. In this magnificent translation, Archana Venkatesan transports the flavour and cadences of Tamil into English, capturing the different voices and range of emotions through which the poet expresses his enduring desire for release.

We are turning to poetry and its power to heal; are you?

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