The Naladiyar

The Indian Antiquary, A Journal Of Oriental Research

18,838 words

The Naladiyar is one of the few original works we have in Tamil. It contains altogether forty chapters, of ten stanzas each, on moral subjects....

Chapter 39 - Chaste Women

1. Though women be high in reputation and equal to the goddess Ayrani in conjugal fidelity, they must carefully avoid those who love them, and follow them in hopes of gratification, for such caution is the safeguard of the virtue of matrons with perfumed foreheads.

2. If in time of distress, when the meal of the whole family is cooked by the water of a small pot, if a host of relatives sufficient to consume the water of the sea should come all at once, the softly-speaking woman, who shows herself as bounteous as the ocean, is the glory of her house.

3. Though her house be open on the four quarters, though it be exceedingly small, and though the rain pour in on every side, a chaste and virtuous woman will be honoured in the place where she resides, and her habitation respected.

4. She who is pleasing to the eye, who in all things gratifies her husband according to his desire, and at all times stands in awe of him, whose modesty is so conspicuous as to shame her sex, and in all her love-quarrels with him acts with such prudence that reconciliation affords hirn increased delight, this mildly-speaking matron is truly a woman.

5. Whenever our husbands embrace our shoulders, we feel ashamed as if we saw them for the first time. What pleasure, then, can these women enjoy who from the desire of money endure daily the embraces of many?

6. Riches in the possession of a generous man resemble in their effects the learning acquired by a man of great natural ability. The chastity of a modest woman is like a sharp sabre in the hands of a courageous man.

7. As if when we had by us red and black gram at the same rate of six measures for a fanam, his breast, which is like a hill, after having embraced many fair women altogether inferior to me, comes unwashed to embrace me also. My husband comes to embrace me with his unwashed breast like a hill, after having embraced the bosoms of fair-browed ones who are not like me.

8. O poet, speak not harshly to me! for if you so speak I shall be to my husband like the left side of the tambour, which gives no sound. Wherefore lift up thy feet and gently retire from me; speak to those (strange women) who are to him like the right side of the tambour, which gives forth sound.

9. I am she who was afflicted when flies flew around my husband, who possesses the cool field, where the reeds being plucked up, the waters shine. I am she who when sparks of fire fly about him and (courtesans) fight against it with their opposing breasts; still endure life, though I look upon his wide bosom adorned with sandal-powder.

10. O singer, utter not that gross falsehood, saying, He who wears a garland of buds loosely strung together will be kind to me. I am not dear to him, but am like the flower of the sugarcane (which is destitute of sweetness). Speak these words to them who are like the middle joints of the cane and sweet to him.

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