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How many of these Kannada proverbs do you know?

Proverbs never go wrong, but scriptures might.

Proverbs represent the oldest and multigenerational collective wisdom packed in a few words arranged to rhyme, and sometimes poetically, figuratively and some other times quite literally.

Like any other spoken language known to us, Kannada too has a massive collection of proverbs. One would hear these proverbs being used as well as accepted facts by the native speakers, which mostly describe human behaviour and human frailty, thereby keeping the statements concise and insightful. To highlight the weight, such proverbs carry for the native speaker, one need not venture farther than picking an oft-repeated proverb in Kannada -

 

ವೇದ ಸುಳ್ಳಾದರು ಗಾದೆ ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ (veda suḷḷādaru gādĕ suḷḷāguvudilla) which means 'proverbs never go wrong, but scriptures might'!

I have collected some of the commonly used proverbs below. While translating these proverbs I have tried my best to use the equivalent proverb in English and when there was none, I have tried to bring forth the meaning of it.

 

ಕಟ್ಟುವುದು ಕಠಿಣ ಕೆಡಹುವುಡದು  ಸುಲಭ 

kaṭṭuvudu kaṭhiṇa kĕḍahuvuḍadu  sulabha

To construct is difficult, but to destruct is easy.

 

ಅತಿ ಆಸೆ ಗತಿ ಕೆಡಿಸಿತು 

ati āsĕ gati kĕḍisitu

Greed for more never helps.

 

ಊಟಬಲ್ಲವನಿಗೆ ರೋಗವಿಲ್ಲ; ಮಾತು  ಜಗಳವಿಲ್ಲ

ūṭaballavanigĕ rogavilla; mātu  jagaḷavilla

One who knows how to eat is never afflicted by disease; similarly, the one who knows what to speak doesn’t get into a quarrel.

 

ಮಾತೆ ಮೃತ್ಯು-ಮಾತೆ ಮುತ್ತು 

mātĕ mṛtyu-mātĕ muttu

Words have the potential to bring death or wealth.

 

ಸತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸಾವಿಲ್ಲ ಸುಳ್ಳಿಗೆ ಸುಖವಿಲ್ಲ

satyakkĕ sāvilla suḷḷigĕ sukhavilla

Truth never dies, with a lie one never prospers.

 

ಹೆತ್ತತಾಯಿ ಹೊತ್ತನಾಡು ಸ್ವರ್ಗಕ್ಕಿಂತಲೂ ಮಿಗಿಲು  / ಜನನಿ ಜನ್ಮ ಭೂಮಿಶ್ಚ ಸ್ವರ್ಗಾದಪಿ ಗರೀಯಸೀ

hĕttatāyi hŏttanāḍu svargakkintalū migilu  / janani janma bhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī

Mother and motherland are way superior to the heaven above

 

ಉಪ್ಪಿಗಿಂತ ರುಚಿಯಿಲ್ಲ; ತಾಯಿಗಿಂತ ಬಂಧುವಿಲ್ಲ 

uppiginta ruciyilla; tāyiginta bandhuvilla

Nothing tastes good without salt, and no one gives better solace than mother.

 

ಶಕ್ತಿಗಿಂತ ಯುಕ್ತಿ ಮೇಲು

śaktiginta yukti melu

Brains are better than brawn.

 

ಬೆಕ್ಕಿಗೆ ಆಟ ಇಲಿಗೆ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಸಂಕಟ

bĕkkigĕ āṭa iligĕ prāṇa saṅkaṭa

Fun for one might be critical for the other.

 

ಅರಮನೆಗಿಂತಲೂ ನೆರೆಮನೆ ಲೇಸು 

aramanĕgintalū nĕrĕmanĕ lesu

One in hand is better than two in the bush.

 

ಮಾಡಿದ್ದುಣ್ಣೋ ಮಹರಾಯ

māḍidduṇṇo maharāya

What you sow is what you reap.

 

ಗಿಡವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗದ್ದು ಮರವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗೀತೆ

giḍavāgi baggaddu maravāgi baggītĕ

Catch them young.

 

ತುಂಬಿದ ಕೊಡ ತುಳುಕುವುದಿಲ್ಲ

tumbida kŏḍa tuḷukuvudilla

Empty vessels make more noise.

 

ಚಿ೦ತೆ ಇಲ್ಲದವನಿಗೆ ಸ೦ತೆಯಲ್ಲೂ ನಿದ್ದೆ

ci0tĕ illadavanigĕ sa0tĕyallū niddĕ

One who isn’t worried can sleep in the middle of a marketplace.

 

ಹಿತ್ತಲ ಗಿಡ ಮದ್ದಲ್ಲ

hittala giḍa maddalla

The grass is green on the other side of the fence.

 

ಮಂತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾವಿನಕಾಯಿ ಉದುರುತ್ಯೇ

mantrakkĕ māvinakāyi udurutye

Right device gets the right result.

 

ಕೈ ಕೆಸರಾದರೆ ಬಾಯಿ ಮೊಸರು

kai kĕsarādarĕ bāyi mŏsaru

Hard work always pays.

 

ಕುರಿ ಕಾಯೋದಕ್ಕೆ ತೋಳನನ್ನು ಕಳಿಸಿದಂತೆ

kuri kāyodakkĕ toḷanannu kaḷisidantĕ

Like appointing a habitual thief to defend the treasures.

 

ಮುಖ ನೋಡಿ ಮಣೆ ಹಾಕು

mukha noḍi maṇĕ hāku

Treating people differently based on their appearance.

 

ಹಾಸಿಗೆ ಇದ್ದಷ್ತು ಕಾಲು ಚಾಚು

hāsigĕ iddaṣtu kālu cācu

Spend what you have and not what you hope to have.

 

ಜಟ್ಟಿ ಕೆಳಗೆ ಬಿದ್ದರೂ ಮೀಸೆ ಮಣ್ಣಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದ

jaṭṭi kĕḷagĕ biddarū mīsĕ maṇṇāgalilla ĕnda

Claiming moral victory after having lost the argument.

 

ಅ೦ಗೈ ಹುಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡಿ ಬೇಕೆ

a0gai huṇṇigĕ kannaḍi bekĕ

You don’t need anyone to know your own flaws.

 

ಕೊಟ್ಟವನು ಕೋಡಂಗಿ ಇಸ್ಕೊಂಡವನು ಈರಭಧ್ರ

kŏṭṭavanu koḍaṅgi iskŏṇḍavanu īrabhadhra

Lending without knowing the antecedents leads to obvious loss.

 

ಎತ್ತಿಗೆ ಜ್ವರ ಬ೦ದರೆ ಎಮ್ಮೆಗೆ ಬರೆ ಎಳೆದರ೦ತೆ

ĕttigĕ jvara ba0darĕ ĕmmĕgĕ barĕ ĕḷĕdara0tĕ

One pays for the mistakes of the other.

 

ಮನೇಲಿ ಇಲಿ, ಬೀದೀಲಿ ಹುಲಿ 

maneli ili, bīdīli huli

Making tall claims when the audience is favourable.

 

ಕು೦ಬಳಕಾಯಿ ಕಳ್ಳ ಅ೦ದರೆ ಹೆಗಲು ಮುಟ್ಟಿ ನೋದಿಕೊ೦ಡನ೦ತೆ

ku0baḷakāyi kaḷḷa a0darĕ hĕgalu muṭṭi nodikŏ0ḍana0tĕ.

Reacting to statements as if one is specifically blamed.

 

ಕಾರ್ಯಾವಾಸಿ ಕತ್ತೆಕಾಲು ಹಿಡಿ

kāryāvāsi kattĕkālu hiḍi

Getting things by hook or crook.

 

ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಗೆ ಹಿಟ್ಟಿಲ್ಲ, ಜುಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೂವು 

hŏṭṭĕgĕ hiṭṭilla, juṭṭigĕ malligĕ hūvu.

Spending on things only to show-off.

 

ಬೆಟ್ಟ ಅಗೆದು ಇಲಿ ಹಿಡಿದ ಹಾಗೆ

bĕṭṭa agĕdu ili hiḍida hāgĕ

All commotion for nothing.

 

ಅಡಿಕೆಗೆ ಹೋದ ಮಾನ ಆನೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ ಬಾರದು

aḍikĕgĕ hoda māna ānĕ kŏṭṭarū bāradu

Choose your battles wisely.

 

ಅಡ್ಡಗೋಡೆಮೇಲೆ ದೀಪ ಇಟ್ಟ ಹಾಗೆ

aḍḍagoḍĕmelĕ dīpa iṭṭa hāgĕ

To be very indecisive.

 

ಅಕ್ಕಿ ಮೇಲೆ ಆಸೆ, ನೆ೦ಟರ ಮೇಲೂ ಪ್ರೀತಿ

akki melĕ āsĕ, nĕ0ṭara melū prīti

You can’t have the cake and eat it too.

 

ಅಜ್ಜಿಗೆ ಅರಿವೆ ಚಿ೦ತೆ, ಮಗಳಿಗೆ ಗ೦ಡನ ಚಿ೦ತೆ

ajjigĕ arivĕ ci0tĕ, magaḷigĕ ga0ḍana ci0tĕ

Vested interests surpass everything.

 

ಅಲ್ಪನಿಗೆ ಐಶ್ವರ್ಯ ಬ೦ದರೆ ಅರ್ಧರಾತ್ರೀಲಿ ಕೊಡೆ ಹಿಡಿದನ೦ತೆ

alpanigĕ aiśvarya ba0darĕ ardharātrīli kŏḍĕ hiḍidana0tĕ

Nouveau riche are often very kitschy.

 

ಅತ್ತೆಗೊ೦ದು ಕಾಲ ಸೊಸೆಗೊ೦ದು ಕಾಲ

attĕgŏ0du kāla sŏsĕgŏ0du kāla

Every dog has his day.



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