What if he lies ? – Kurunthokai 25

This is one of the most interesting poems and popular poem of sangam era.  The Talaivi(heroine) is doubtful whether Talaivan would return back and marry her. She has already lost her virginity to the talaivan. She is now very fearful since nobody has ever seen them together and incase if Talaivan decides to cheat on her, she has no proof to show that she had lost her virginity to the talaivan.

25. குறிஞ்சி
யாரும் இல்லை; தானே கள்வன்;
தான் அது பொய்ப்பின், யான் எவன் செய்கோ?
தினை தாள் அன்ன சிறு பசுங் கால
ஒழுகு நீர் ஆரல் பார்க்கும்
குருகும் உண்டு, தான் மணந்த ஞான்றே.


Kurunthokai 25

There was no one there,

only that man

who is like thief.

If he lies, what can I do?

With little green legs like millet stalks,

a heron searched for eels in the running water

when he took me.


(Translated by George L. Hart)

There could be no better explanation from for this poem than Dr.Hart’s explanation, hence I am posting his explantion.

“The Heron,indifferent and selfish , is contrasted with the heroine,who gives herself to the lover.First of all,Heron is mean to be likened by the world. While the heroine gives herself to her lover,the world is concerned only with finding something to eat in order to stay alive.The world’s only concern with heroines love is to gossip about it.The heron is also meant to be likened to hero who shares the selfish attitude of the world. The heron’s eating of the eels from the running water is symbol for sexual gratification:like the heron,the hero is concerned with gratifying himself, not with love and its responsibilities. In the sexual act with her lover and as object of gossip afterwards,the heroine is hapless as a wriggling eel in the beak of the heron.The bird’s leg are like millet stems.The millet stem hold grain,the source of life for others and the fruit of fertility,while the heron’s legs hold a bird that is predatory,that uses others but contributes nothing to their welfare.While it seems that hero’s act might lead to marriage with its fruit(children),it is only a predatory act, and the hero has no intention of marrying his new mistress.”
(Taken from :Poets of the Tamil Anthologies, Ancient poems of love and war, George L.Hart,III , Princeton University Press, pg 9)

From Ambalam.com – Sujatha’s poem and picture


யாருமே இல்லை அவன்மட்டும் இருந்தான் 

அவன் பொய் சொன்னால் நான் என்ன செய்ய முடியும் 

தினைத்தாள் போல ஒல்லியான காலில் நின்று கொண்டு 

ஓடும நீரில் மீன் வருமா எனப் பார்ககும் 

கொக்கு மட்டும் இருந்தது 

நான் அவனைச் சேர்ந்த போது


When I said this poem is one of the most popular of the sangam poem, I really meant it. To show why I made such a statement, I have posted below various translated versions of this poem by different scholars. If any scholar wants to translate a sangam love song this song would be there in their list!

Only the thief was there,no one else
and if he should lie, what can I do?
There was only
a thin legged heron standing
on legs as millet stems
and looking
for lampreys
in the running water
when he took me.
(A.K.Ramanujan,The Interior Landscape)

No one was there but he,
the thief.
If he denies it, what shall we I do?
Only a heron stood by ,
its thin gold legs like millet stalks
eyeing the aral fish,
in the gliding water
on the day
he took me.
(Kamil V Zvelebil,Smile of Murugan)

No one else was there, only he the thief;
should he be false,what shall I do?
And when we met, there was in our sight
Only the stork , with legs as thin as wisp of straw,
That into gliding water peered for prey.
( C and H Jesudasan, A History of Tamil literature)

There were no witness
when he embraced me.
(If he leaves me, now what can I do?)
Only the heron stood by,
its thin gold legs like millet stalks,
eeying the aaral fish
in the flowing water.
(E.Annamaalai – H.Schiffman,Mahfil)



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  1. Dear Vairam

    The works are amazing, I am enjoying the native tamil scripts.
    Karka Nirka is good, but when reading through the english translations, it seems to miss the crucial concept of ‘Kasada arra’, without which Nirka is impossible.

  2. Hi i am gunaseelan. I am an poem lover i really love yours.

    “யாருமே இல்லை அவன்மட்டும் இருந்தான்

    அவன் பொய் சொன்னால் நான் என்ன செய்ய முடியும்

    தினைத்தாள் போல ஒல்லியான காலில் நின்று கொண்டு

    ஓடும நீரில் மீன் வருமா எனப் பார்ககும்

    கொக்கு மட்டும் இருந்தது

    நான் அவனைச் சேர்ந்த போது”

    If you have time means please my blog too. Thank You.

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