NEETI SHATAKAM OF BHARTHRUHARI

QUOTES FROM SUBHAASHITA TRISHATEE OF RAJA BHARTRIHARI

Neeti Shakatam

The great philosopher-poet, Bharthruhari, was the King of Ujjain. He was the elder step brother of the renowned Vikramaaditya. His life presents to us a living account of a person’s transformation from a pleasure-loving king to an ascetic. It was he who gave us the immortal Subhashita Trishati consisting the trilogy of Neeti Sataka, Sringara Sataka and Vairagya Sataka which truly reflect his life expeiences as a king, as a lover and as an ascetic.

Students of Sanskrit are sure to have read selections from Subhashita Trishati which encompasses almost every experience known to man and pours them forth in beautiful poetry. It provides philosophy to those interested in it. It provides metrical delight to lovers of poetry by the use of common meters such as Indravajra, Upendravajra, Vasantatilaka, Malini, Sikharini, Mandakranta, Sardulavikridita, Sragdhara etc. It teaches morality to those who would llike lead a moral life. It has some thing in it for every one who delves into its pages.

Criticism of fools (moorkhanindaa)
अज्ञः सुखमाराध्यः
सुखतरमाराध्य्ते विशेषज्ञ: ।
ज्ञानलवदुर्विदग्धं
ब्रह्मापि नरं न रञ्जयति ॥
Ajjnah sukhamaaraadhyah
sukhataramaaraadhyate visheshajjnah.
Jnaanalavadurvidagdham
brahmaapi naram na ranjayati 1.2.

The ignorant one is easily convinced. It is easier to convince a really knowledgeable person. But even the Creator himself will not be able to convince a fool who, with his half-baked knowledge, thinks that he is the wisest person in the world.

स्वायत्तमेकान्तगुणं विधात्रा
विनिर्मितं छादनमज्ञतायाः ।
विशेषतः सर्वविदां समाजे
विभूषणं मौनमपण्डितानाम् ॥
Swaayattamekaantagunam vidhaatraa
vinirmitam chchhaadanamajjnataayaah.
Visheshatah sarvavidaam samaaje
vibhooshanam maunamapanditaanaam 1.6.

Brahma has created a unique quality, which is available to any one, for covering one’s ignorance. This quality is silence. Especially in an assembly of all-knowing wise men, silence becomes the adornment of fools since it keeps their ignorance from coming to light.

यदा किञ्चिज्ञोऽहं द्विप इव मदान्धः समभवं
तदा सर्वज्ञोऽस्मीत्यभवदवलिप्तं मम मनः ।
यदा किञ्चित् किञ्चित् बुधजनसकाशादवगतं
तदा मूर्खोऽस्मीति ज्वर इव मदो मे व्यपगतः ॥

Yadaa kimchijjno’ham dwipa iva madaandhah samabhavam
Tadaa sarvajno’smeetyabhavadavaliptam mama manah
Yadaa kimchit kimchit budhajanasakaashaadavagatam,
Tadaa moorkho’smeeti jwara iva mado me vyapagatah 1.7

When I had a little knowledge I was blind with conceit like a rutty elephant. I thought I was all-knowing and my vanity was great. Then, gradually, by virtue of my association with wise men, it dawned on me that knowledge was a vast ocean. My intoxication vanished like a fever and I realized that I was really a fool.

शक्यो वारयितुं जलेन हुतभुक् छत्रेण सूर्यातपो
नागेन्द्रोनिशितांकुशेन समदो दण्डेन गौर्गर्दभः ।
व्याधिर्भेषजसंग्रहैश्च विविधैः मन्त्रप्रयोगैर्विषं
सर्वस्यौषधमस्ति शास्त्रविहितं मूर्खस्य नास्त्यौषधम् ॥
shakyo vaarayitum jalena hutabhuk chchhatrena sooryaatapo
Naagendro nishitaankushena samado dandena gourgardabhah
Vyaadhirbheshajasangrahaishcha vividhaih mantraprayogairvisham
Sarvasyaushadhamasti shaastravihitam moorkhasya naastyaushadham 1.10

Fire can be put out by water. An umbrella can be used as protection from the sun. The rutty elephant can be controlled with an ankush (a weapon with a sharp hook at one end used by a mahout). A cow or donkey can be herded with a stick. A disease can be treated with medicines. Poison can be counteracted by chanting mantras. There is a remedy for everything prescribed in the shaastras. But there is no remedy for the fool.

Praise of the learned and the wise (vidwatprashamsaa)
हर्तुर्याति न गोचरं किमपि शं पुष्णातियस्सर्वदा-
ह्यर्थिभ्यः प्रतिपाद्यमानमनिशं प्राप्नोति वृद्धिं परां ।
कल्पान्तेष्वपि न प्रयाति निधनं विद्याख्यमन्तर्धनं
येषां तान् प्रति मानमुञ्झत नृपाः कस्तैस्सह स्पर्धते ॥
Harturyaati na gocharam kimapi sham pushnaati yatsarvadaa
Hyarthibhyah pratipaadyamaanamanisham praapnoti vriddhim paraam
Kalpaanteshwapi na prayaati nidhanam vidyaakhyamantardhanam
Yeshaam taan prati maanamujjhatha nripaah kastaissaha spardhate 1.14

It is not visible to the thief. It always bestows on the possessor joy and happiness. The more it is imparted to those who want it the more it increases. Even after ages it never perishes. It is vidya (learning, knowledge) which is an internal wealth. O Kings! Do not pride yourselves before those who possess such wealth of knowledge. Who can compete with them?

केयूराणि न भूषयन्ति पुरुषं हारा न चंद्रोज्ज्वला
न स्नानं न विलेपनं न कुसुमं नालंकृताः मूर्धजाः ।
वाण्येका समलंकरोति पुरुषं या संस्कृता धार्यते
क्षीयन्तेऽखिलभूषणानि सततं वाग्भूषणं भूषणम् ॥
Keyooraani na bhooshayanti purusham haaraa na chandrojjwalaa
Na snaanam na vilepanam na kusumam naalamkritaa moordhajaah
Vaanyekaa samalankaroti purusham yaa samskritaa dhaaryate
Ksheeyante’khila bhooshanaani satatam vagbhooshanam bhooshanam 1.18

Glittering gold and diamond ornaments, bathing, sandal wood paste for the body, flowers and adornments for the head do not really embellish a person. The greatest adornment of a person is refined and soft speech. All other articles of adornment pale into insignificance before such speech.

क्षान्तिश्चेत्कवचेनकिं? किमरिभिः क्रोधोऽस्तिचेद्देहिनां
ज्ञातिश्चेदनलेन किं? यदि सुहृत् दिव्यौषधैः किं फलम् ?।
किं सर्पैर्यदिदुर्ज्जनाः किमु धनैर्विद्यानवद्या यदि
व्रीडा चेत्किमुभूषणैः सुकविता यद्यस्ति राज्येन किं ?
Kshaantishchet kavachena kim? Kimaribhih krodhosticheddehinaam
Jnaatishchedanalena kim? Yadi suhrit divyaushadhaih kim phalam
Kim sarpairyadi durjanaah kimu dhanairvidyaanavadyaa yadi
Vreedaa chetkimu bhooshanaih sukaviataa yadyasti raajyena kim 1.20

If one has patience (endurance) what is the use of a shield? If one has anger what if enemies are there, anger being the greatest enemy. If a person has relatives he should not worry about fire because the relatives will generate enough heat for him. If one has a friend that friend will do the work of highly effective medicines. If one is in the company of evil men, such evil men will do the work of a poisonous snake. If one has unblemished learning there is no use of wealth as learning is inexhaustible wealth. If one has shyness (modesty) gold and diamond adornments are of no use. If one has beautiful and ennobling poems and literature, the resultant happiness is more than having a kingdom.

Praise of self-respect and valour (maanashaurya prashamsaa)
दाक्षिण्यं स्वजने दया परिजने शाठ्यं सदा दुर्जने
प्रीतिस्साधुजने नयो नृपजने विद्वज्जनेष्वार्जवम् ।
शौर्यं शत्रुजने क्षमा गुरुजने कान्ताजनॆ धृष्टता
ये चैवं पुरुषाः कलासु कुशलाः तेष्वेव लोकस्थितिः ॥
Daakshinyam swajane dayaa parijane shaathyam sadaa durjane
Preetih saadhujane nayo nripajane vidwajjaneshwaarjavam
Shauryam shatrujane kshamaa gurujane kaantaajane dhrishtataa
Ye chaivam purushaah kalaasu kushalaasteshweva lokasthitih 1.21

Those who are skilled in the art of interpersonal relationships show generosity towards relatives, kindness to servants, severity to evil men, devotion to saintly persons, diplomacy towards kings, straightforwardness where learned persons are concerned, valour towards enemies, patience towards elders and tactfulness with women. The world depends on the skill of such people.

प्रारभ्यते न खलु विघ्नभयेन नीचैः
प्रारभ्य विघ्नविहता विरमन्ति मध्याः ।
विघ्नैः पुनः पुनरपि प्रतिहन्यमानाः
प्रारब्धमुत्तमगुणा न परित्यजन्ति ॥
Prarabhyate na khalu vighnabhayena neechaih
Praarabhya vighnavihataa viramanti madhyaah
Vighnaih punah punarapi pratihanyamaanaah
Prarabdhamuttama janaah na parityajanti 1.26

There are three categories of persons who contemplate an undertaking. At the lowest level are those who never start off for fear of encountering obstacles. Those at the middle level start the project but, at the first sign of obstacles, withdraw themselves from the endeavour. At the top level are those who, in spite of repeated obstacles, persist in their endeavour until they take the undertaking to a successful conclusion.

क्षुत्क्षामोऽपि जराकृशोऽपि शिथिलप्रायोऽपि कष्टांदशा-
मापन्नोऽपि विपन्न दीधितिरपि प्राणेषु नश्यत्स्वपि ।
मत्तेभेन्द्र विभिन्न कुंभ कवळ ग्रासैक बद्धस्पुह:
किं जीर्णं तृणमत्ति मानमहतामग्रेसर केसरी ॥
Kshutkshaamo’pi jaraakrisho’pi shithilapraayo’pi kashtaamdashaa-
Maapanno’pi vipannadeedhitirapi praaneshu nashyatswapi
Mattebhendra-vibhinna-kumbha-kavala-graasaika-baddha-sprihah
Kim jeernam trinamatti maanamahataamagresara kesaree 1.28

The Lion, King of the forest, who breaks the head of the elephant and bites into its flesh to satisfy his hunger, will never stoop to the level of eating dry grass. He may be famished by hunger and weakened by old age. His limbs may have lost their flexibility and his condition may be miserable and even his life may be ebbing out of his body. But he will never do anything which is beneath his dignity and majesty as the King of the forest. Similar is the nature of men of substance and majesty.

स्वल्पस्नायु वसावसेकमलिनं निर्मांसमप्यस्थिकं
श्वा लब्ध्वा परितोषमेति न तु तत्तस्य क्षुधा शान्तये।
सिंहो जम्बुकमंगमागतमपि त्यक्त्वा निहन्ति द्विपं
सर्वः कृच्छ्रगतोऽपि वाञ्झति जनः सत्वानुरूपं फलम् ॥
Swalpa-snaayu-vasaavaseka-malinam nirmamsamapyasthikam
Shwaa labdhwaa paritoshameti na tu tattasya kshudhaa shaantaye
Simho jambukamankamaagatamapi tyaktwaa nihanti dwipam
Sarvah krichchhragato’pi vaajnchchhati janah satwaanuroopam phalam 1.29

The dog is satisfied with a piece of bare bone which is dirty with a little blood and fatty substance on it though it is not sufficient to satisfy its hunger. The lion, on the other hand, ignores the jackal within its reach and kills a mighty elephant for his meal. Men of majesty, though passing through a difficult period of their life, do not want to compromise their dignity and will accept only something befitting their dignity and strength.

परिवर्तिनि संसारे मृतः को वा न जायते।
स जातो येन जातेन याति वंशः समुन्नतिम् ॥
Parivartini samsaare mritah ko vaa na jaayate
Sa jaato yena jaatena yaati vamshah samunnatim 1.31

In this world of constant change who does not take birth after one dies ? But one who takes his clan to greater heights is the one really born.

सिंहश्शिशुरपि निपतति मदमलिनकपोलभित्तिषु गजेषु ।
प्रकृतिरियं सत्त्ववतां न खलु वयस्तेजसो हेतुः॥
Simhashshishurapi nipatati madamalinakapolabhittishu gajeshu
Prakritiriyam sattwavataam na khalu vayastejaso hetuh 1.36

Even a lion cub attacks a rutty elephant and breaks its head. This is the nature of men of strength and majesty. Age does not affect their prowess.

Praise of wealth (Dravya prashamsaa)
जातिर्यातु रसातलं गुणगणास्तस्याप्यधो गच्छतां
शीलं शैलतटात्पतत्वभिजनो संदह्यतां वह्निना ।
शौर्ये वैरिणि वज्रमाशुनिपतत्वर्थोऽस्तु नः केवलं
येनैकेन विना गुणास्तृणलवप्रायास्समस्ता इमे ॥
Jaatiryaatu rasaatalam gunaganastasyaapyadho gachchhataam
Sheelam shailatataatpatatwabhijanaah sandahyataam vahninaa
Shourye vairini vajramaashu nipatatwarthostu na kevalam
Yenaikena vinaa gunaastrinalavapraayaah samastaah ime 1.38

Let the jaati (caste, occupation) sink to the nether world. Let all good qualities go down deeper still. Let good conduct fall from the top of a hill. Let all relatives be burnt in a fire. Let valour against the enemy be struck by thunderbolt. Let us have only wealth (money). Without money all good qualities are nothing more than a bundle of grass.

यस्यास्ति वित्तं स नरः कुलीनः
स पण्डितः स श्रुतवान् गुणज्ञः।
स एव वक्ता स च दर्शनीयः
सर्वेगुणाः काञ्चनमाश्रयन्ति॥
Yasyaasti vittam sa narah kuleenah sa panditah sa shrutavaan gunajnah
Sa eva vaktaa sa cha darshaneeyah, sarve gunaah kaanchanamaashrayanti 1.40

If one has wealth he is considered born of a good family. He is learned, he recognizes good qualities, he is an orator, he is handsome etc. All these qualities are attributed to a man possessing wealth whether or not these qualities actually reside in him.

दानं भोगो नाशस्तिस्रोगतयो भवन्ति वित्तस्य ।
यो न ददाति न भुङ्क्ते तस्य तृतीया गतिर्भवति ॥
Daanam bhogo naashastisrogatayo bhavanti vittasya
Yo na dadaati na bhungkte tasya triteeyaa gatirbhavati. 1.42

Giving to others, enjoying oneself or losing it – these are the only ways for utilising wealth. If one does not give to others or enjoy himself, it will result in the third course i.e. loss of wealth (either by theft, deceit, fire or squandering).

राजन् दुधुक्षसि यदि क्षितिधेनुमेनां
तेनाद्यवत्समिव लोकममुं पुषाण ।
तस्मिंश्च सम्यगनिशं परिपुष्यमाणे
नाना फलं फलति कल्पलतेव भूमिः ॥
Raajan dudhukshasi yadi kshitidhenumenaam,
Tenaadya vatsamiva lokamamum pushaana
Tasmishcha samyaganisham paripushyamaane
Naanaaphalam phalati kalpalateva bhoomih 1.44

O King! The earth (land) over which you rule is like a cow. If you want to milk the cow you should nourish the calf, your subjects, with the milk of the cow. If you do this always diligently the earth will yield you all its resources in abundance like a wish-yielding creeper (kalpalataa)

आज्ञा कीर्तिः पालनं ब्राह्मणानां
दानं भोगो मित्रसंरक्षणम् च ।
येषामेते षड्गुणाः न प्रवृत्ता:
कोऽर्थस्तेषां पार्थिवोपाश्रयेण ॥
Aajnaa keertih paalanam brahmanaanaam
Daanam bhogo mitrasamrakshanam cha
Yeshaamete shadgunaah na pravruttaah
Ko’rthasteshaam paarthivopaashrayena 1.47

Power, fame, care of brahmins, charity, enjoyment of the fruits of wealth and protection of one’s friends – if these six are not in a person serving the king, then what is the use of being in the service of the king?

रे रे चातक! सावधानमनसा मित्र क्षणं श्रूयतां
अंभोदा बहवो हि सन्ति गगने सर्वेऽपि नैतादृशाः ।
केचिद्वृष्टिभिरार्द्रयन्ति वसुधां गर्जन्ति केचित् वृथा
यं यं पश्यसि तस्य तस्य पुरतो मा ब्रूहि दीनं वच: ॥
Re re chataka saavadhaanamanasaa mitra kshanam shrooyataam
Ambhodaa bahavo hi santi gagane sarve’pi naitaadrushaah
Kechit vrishtibhiraardrayanti vasudhaam garjanti kechit vruthaa
Yam yam pashyasi tasya tasya purato maa broohi deenam vachah 1.50

O Friend chaataka! Listen carefully to what I am saying. There are so many clouds in the sky but all of them are not of the same character. Some of them drench the earth with precious rain. Some others do nothing but thundering. They do not yield a drop of water. Therefore do not beg for water before every cloud you seen in the sky.

[ Note: The legenday bird chataka is supposed to quench its thirst only from water from the clouds. Here clouds are the kings. And the chataka birds are those who want to make a living by serving the king. Here is advice to such persons that they should not approach all and sundry. Only a few kings are generous, others only boast of themselves but are stingy.]
Criticism of evil men (durjana Nindaa )
अकरुणत्वमकारणविग्रहः परधने परयोषिति च स्पृहा ।
स्वजबन्धुजनेष्वसहिष्णुता प्रकृतिसिद्धमिदं हि दुरात्मनाम् ॥
Akarunatwamakaaranavigrahah paradhane parayoshiti cha sprihaa
Swajana bandhujaneshwasahishnutaa Prakritisiddhamidam hi duraatmanaam 1.51

Cruelty, fighting with others for no reason whatsoever, desire for others’ wealth and women, jealousy at the prosperity of relatives and other family members – men of evil mind are naturally endowed with these bad qualities.

दुर्जनः परिहर्तव्यो विद्ययाऽलंकृतोऽपि सन् ।
मणिना भूषितः सर्पः किमसौ न भयंकरः ॥
Durjanah parihartavyo vidyayaa’lamkrito’pi san
Maninaa bhooshitah sarpah kimasau na bhayamkarah? 1.52

Evil men should be avoided though they may be learned. Is a serpent adorned with a jewel (naaga maanikya) less frightening? [Note: Legend has it that good serpents have a luminous stone (maanikya) on top of their hood]

लोभश्चेदगुणेन किं पिशुनता यद्यस्ति किं पातकैः
सत्यं चेत्तपसा च किं शुचिमनो यद्यस्ति तीर्थेन किम्।
सौजन्यं यदि किं जनैः सुमहिमा यद्यस्ति किं मण्डनैः
सद्विद्या यदि किं धनैरपयशो यद्यस्ति किं मृत्युना ॥
Lobhashchedagunena kim pishunataa yadyasti kim paatakaih
Satyam chettapasaa cha kim shuchimano ydyasti teerthena kim
Saujanyam yadi kim janaih sumahimaa yadyasti kim mandanaih
Sadvidyaa yadi kim dhanairapayasho yadyasti kim mrityunaa 1.54

If one has greed what is the need for other bad qualities? If one is a backbiter what is the need for evil deeds? If one has Truth what is the need for tapas? If one is pure of mind what is the need for teertha (holy rivers, lakes, sea etc.)? If one is of good conduct what is the need for friends ? If one has fame what is the use of ornaments? If one has right learning why does he need wealth? If one is infamous why does he need death? [ Note: The idea is that for one possessing the quality listed first, the quality listed second is redundant. The first quality is adequate without the second.]

मौनान्मूकः प्रवचनपटुः वाचको जल्पको वा
धृष्टः पार्श्वे वसति च तथा दूरतश्चाप्रगल्भः ।
क्षान्त्या भीरुर्यदि न सहते प्रायशो नाभिजात:
सेवाधर्म परमगहनो योगिनामप्यगम्यः ॥
Maunaanmookah pravachanapatuh vaachako jalpako vaa
Dhrushtah paarshwe vasati cha tathaa dooratashchaapragalbhah
Kshaantyaa bheeruryadi na sahate praayasho naabhijaatah
Sevaadharma paramagahano yoginaamapyagamyah 1.57

Here the poet lists the difficulty of serving the King or other wealthy person. If the person serving is silent he is considered dumb. If he is a good orator he is dubbed a chatterbox or a babbler. If he stays near he is termed impudent. If he stays away he is called a fool. If he forgives he is timid. If he cannot endure he does not come from a good family. The duties of a servant are such that even yogis may find difficult to approach.

आरंभगुर्वी क्षयिणी क्रमेण
लघ्वी पुरा दीर्घमुपैति पश्चात् ।
दिनस्य पूर्वार्धपरार्ध भिन्ना
छायेवे मौत्री खलसज्जनानाम् ॥
Aaarambha gurvee kshayinee kramena
Laghwee puraa deerghamupaiti pashchaat
Dinasya poorvaardha paraardha bhinnaa
Chchhaayeva maitree khalasajjanaanaam 1.59

In the forenoon the shadow of a person is long as the Sun rises. It gradually becomes shorter until the Sun is at the zenith. In the afternoon the shadow is short to begin with but becomes gradually longer until the Sun sets. The friendship of evil men, like the shadow of the forenoon, is long to start with but gradually fizzles out. On the other hand, the friendship of good men is like the shadow of the afternoon. It is short to start with and gradually becomes longer(closer) over a period.

मृगमीनसज्जनानां
तृणजलसंतोष विहित वृत्तीनां ।
लुब्धक धीवर पिशुना
निष्कारणमेव वैरिणो जगति ॥
Mrigameenasajjanaanaam trinajalasantoshavihitavritteenaam
Lubdhaka dheevara pishunaa nishkaaranameva vairino jagati 1.60

Deer, fish and good men live on grass, water and contentment respectively. But the hunter, the fisherman and the backbiter, respectively, are their enemies without any reason. This is the nature of evil men.

Praise of good men (sujanaprashamsa)
संपत्सु महतां चित्तं
भवत्युत्पलकोमलं ।
आपत्सु च महाशैल-
शिलासंघात कर्कशम् ॥
Sampatsu mahataam chittam bhavatyutpalakomalam
Aapatsu cha mahaashaila shilaasanghaata karkasham 1.61

In good times the heart of great men is soft as the petals of the lotus flower. In bad times, however, it becomes as hard as the rocks of the mountain.

वाञ्झा सज्जनसंगतौ परगुणे प्रीतिर्गुरौ नम्रता
विद्यायां व्यसनं स्वयोषिति रतिः लोकापवादात् भयम्।
भक्तिः शूलिनि शक्तिरात्मदमने संसर्गमुक्तिः खले-
ष्वेते येषु वसन्ति निर्मलगुणास्तेभ्यो महद्भ्यो नमः ॥
Vaajnjhaa sajjanasangatau paragune preetirgurau namrataa
Vidyaayaam vyasanam swayoshiti ratih lokaapavaadaat bhayam
Bhaktih shoolini shaktiraatmadamane samsargamuktih khale-
shwete yeshu vasanti nirmalagunaastebhyo mahadbhyo namah 1.62

salutations to those great men in whom reside such sterling qualities as the desire for friendship with the good, appreciation of good qualities in others, humility before the guru, thirst for knowledge, find conjugal pleasure in one’s own wife, fear of scandals about one’s character, devotion to Lord Shiva, power to control one’s mind and avoiding the company of evil men.

विपदिधैर्यमथाभ्युदये क्षमा
सदसि वाक्पटुता युधि विक्रमः ।
यशसिचाभिरुचिर्व्यसनं श्रुतौ
प्रकृतिसिद्धमिदं हि महात्मनाम् ॥
Vipadi dhairyamathaabhyudaye kshamaa
Sadasi vaakpatutaa yudhi vikramah
Yashasi chaabhiruchirvyasanam shrutau
Prakriti siddhamidam hi mahaatmanaam 1.63

Great men are naturally endowed with such qualities as courage in times of misfortune, patience when the times are good, oratory skills in an assembly, valour in battle, desire to earn fame and addiction to acquisition of knowledge.

संतप्तायसि संस्थितस्य पयसो नामापि न श्रूयते
मुक्ताकारतया तदेव नलिनीपत्रस्थितं राजते ।
मध्ये सागरशुक्तिमध्यपतितं तन्मौक्तिकं जायते
प्रायेणाधम मध्यमोत्तमगुनाः संसर्गतो देहिनाम् ॥
Santaptaayasi samsthitasya payaso naamaapi na shrooyate
Muktaakaaratayaa tadeva nalineepatrasthitam raajate
Madhye saagarashuktimadhyapatitam tanmouktikam jaayate
Praayenaadhama madhyamottamagunaah samsargato dehinaam 1.66

A drop of water in contact with hot iron evaporates in no time and is lost. The same drop of water on a lotus leaf shines taking the shape of a pearl. If the drop of water gets into a pearl oyster it becomes pearl itself. This analogy can be applied to humans. The qualities one acquires depend on the quality of the person with whom one associates. The three illustrations given relate to association with people with levels of low, medium and high quality

प्रीणाति यस्सुचरितैः पितरं स पुत्रो
यद्भर्तुरेव हितमिच्छति तत्कलत्रम् ।
तन्मित्रमापदि सुखे च समक्रियं यत्
एतत्त्रयं जगति पुण्यकृतो लभन्ते ॥
Preenaati yah sucharitaih pitaram sa putro
Yadbhartureva hitamichchhati tatkalatram
Tanmitramaapadi sukhe cha samakriyam yat
Etattrayam jagati punyakrito labhante 1.67

A son is one who, by his good conduct and character, pleases one’s father. A wife is one who always thinks of her husband’s good. A friend is one whose behaviour remains constant in misfortune and good fortune. Only people who have earned merit (punya) by doing good deeds will be blessed with such a son, wife and friend.

Praise of helping others (paropakaara stuti)
भवन्ति नम्रास्तरव फलोद्गमैः
नवांबुभिर्भूमिविलंबिनो घनाः ।
अनुद्धता सत्पुरुषाः समृद्धिभिः
स्वभाव एवैष परोपकारिणाम् ॥
Bhavanti namraastarava phalodgamaih
Navaambubhirbhoomivilambino ghanaah
Anuddhataah satpurushaah samriddhibhih
Swabhaava evaisha paropakaarinaam 1.70

Tress laden with fruits bend down (so that people may enjoy the fruits). Clouds laden with water come down (in the form of rain cooling the earth and watering plants and trees). In the same way noble men do not become conceited when fortune embraces them but use their wealth to help others. This is the nature of persons who are always eager to be of help to fellow humans.

पापान्निवारयति योजयते हिताय
गुह्यं निगूहति गुणान् प्रकटीकरोति ।
आपद्गतं च न जहाति ददाति काले
सन्मित्रलक्षणमिदं प्रवदन्ति सन्तः ॥
Paapaannivaarayati yojayate hitaaya
Guhyam nigoohati gunaan prakateekaroti
Aapadgatam cha na jahaati dadaati kaale
Sanmitralakshanamidam pravadanti santah 1.72

Saintly persons say that the mark of a true friend is preventing one from committing sinful actions, putting one on the path that will lead to good only, keeping one’s secrets, bringing out the innate qualities in one, not forsaking when one is in trouble and giving one whatever is required at the appropriate time.

एते सत्पुरुषाः परार्थघटकाः स्वार्थान् परित्यज्य ये
सामान्यास्तु परार्थमुद्यमभृतः स्वार्थाविरोधेन ये ।
तेऽमी मानुषराक्षसा: परहितं स्वार्थाय निघ्नन्ति ये
ये तु घ्नन्ति निरर्थकं परहितं ते के न जानीमहे ॥

Ete satpurushaah pararthaghatakaah swaarthan parityajya ye
Saamaanyaastu paraarthamudyamabhritah swaarthaavirodhena ye
Te’mee maanusha raakshasaah parahitam swaarthaaya nighnanti ye
Ye tu ghnanti nirarthakam parahitam te ke na jaaneemahe 1.74

Those are the greatest souls who, for the sake of helping others, forsake their own interests or comforts. Those are among the ordinary run of people who, without compromising their own interests, engage themselves in helping others. Those are verily demons in the shape of men who, for the sake of their selfish ends, put obstacles in the way of others and spoil their endeavours. What can be said about those who, without any purpose, come in the way of others’ welfare? We do not know.

क्षीरेणात्मगतोदकाय हि गुणाः दत्ताः पुरा तेऽखिलाः
क्षीरोत्तापमवेक्ष्य तेन पयसा स्वात्मा कृशानौ हुतः ।
गन्तुं पावकमुन्मनस्तदभवत् दृष्ट्वा तु मित्रापदं
युक्तं तेन जलेन शाम्यति सतां मैत्री पुनस्त्वीदृशी ॥
Ksheerenaatmagatodakaaya hi gunaah dattaah puraa te’khilaah
Ksheerottapamavekshya tena payasaa swaatmaa krishaanau hutah
Gantum paavakamunmanastadabhavat drishtwaa tu mitraapadam
Yuktam tena jalena shaamyati sataam maitree punastweedrishee 1.77

Milk gave all its qualities to water that was mixed with it. When milk was being heated on a fire water, unable to bear the suffering of its friend, sacrificed itself in the fire (i.e. water in the milk evaporated). Milk, in turn, finding water in trouble, itself comes up in the boiling pot to offer itself to the fire. But, mixed with water again, it settle downs to the previous level. The friendship of good people is like this. Each is prepared to sacrifice himself to save the other.

मनसि वचसि काये पुण्यपीयूषपूर्णाः
त्रिभुवनमुपकारश्रेणिभि: प्रीणयन्तः ।
परगुणपरमाणून् पर्वतीकृत्य नित्यं
निजहृदि विकसन्तः सन्ति सन्तः कियन्तः ॥
Manasi vachasi kaaye punyapeeyooshapoornaa-
stribhuvanamupakaarashrenibhih preenayantah
Paragunaparamaanoon parvateekritya nityam
Nijahridi vikasantah santi santah kiyantah 1.79

There are only a handful of good people in this world who, in thought, word and body (deed) are full of the sweetness of nectar. Such people please the three worlds by their continuous efforts for helping others. Their hearts fill with joy when they find even an iota of good in others and shower high praise on such good qualities.

Praise of courage and determination (dhairya-gunagaana)
रत्नैर्महाब्धेः तुतुषुर्न देवाः
न भेजिरे भीमविषेन भीतिम् ।
सुधाम् विना न प्रययुर्विरामं
न निश्चितार्थाद्विरमन्ति धीराः ॥
Ratnairmahaabdheh tutushurna devaah
Na bhejire bheemavishena bheetim
Sudhaam vinaa na prayayurviraamam
Na nishchitaarthaadwiramanti dheeraah 1.82

The Devas, while churning the milky ocean, got invaluable jewels but they were not content with that. Even poison from the churning could not deter them from their goal. They were determined not to stop until thery obtained the nectar. Those of strong will and determination never stop until they realize their objective.

क्वचित् भूमौ शय्या क्वचिदपि च पर्यङ्कशयनं
क्वचिच्छाकाहारः क्वचिदपि च शाल्यन्नरुचिः ।
क्वचित्कंथाधारी क्वचिदपि च दिव्यांबरधरो
मनस्वी कार्यार्थी न गणयति दु:खं न च सुखम् ॥
Kwachit bhoomau shayyaa kwachidapi cha paryankashayanam
Kwachichchhaakaahaarah kwachidapi cha shaalyodanaruchih
Kwachitkanthaadhaaree kwachidapi cha divyaambaradharo
Manaswee kaaryaarthee na ganayati dukham na cha sukham 1.83

Those of courage and determination may sleep on the hard earth or on a soft bed, may eat a meal of vegetables or enjoy the taste of fine rice, clothe themselves in tatters or put on fine clothes. These diametrically opposite states do not deter them from their objective. They are focused on their goal and do not care for pleasure or pain.

ऐश्वर्यस्य विभूषणं सुजनता शौर्यस्य वाक्संयमो
ज्ञानस्योपशमः श्रुतस्य विनयॊ वित्तस्य पात्रे व्ययः।
अक्रोधस्तपसः क्षमा प्रभवितुर्धर्मस्य निर्व्याजता
सर्वेषामपि सर्वकारणमिदं शीलं परं भूषणम् ॥
Aishwaryasya vibhhooshanam sujanataa shauryasya vaaksamyamo
Jnaanasyopashamah, shrutasya vinayo vittasya paatre vyayah
Akrodhastapasah Kshamaa prabhaviturdharmasya nirvyaajataa
Sarveshaamapi sarvakaaranamidam sheelam param bhooshanam 1.84

Affluence is adorned by goodness, valour by not boasting, knowledge by control of the senses, scholarship by modesty, wealth by giving to the deserving, tapas by the absence of anger, power by forgiveness and dharma by Truth. All good qualities of men are embellished by good conduct.

निन्दन्तु नीतिनिपुणा यदिवा स्तुवन्तु
लक्ष्मीः समाविशातु गच्छतु वा यथेष्टम् ।
अद्यैव वा मरणमस्तु युगान्तरे वा
न्यायात्पथात्प्रविचलन्ति पदं न धीराः ॥
Nindantu neetinipunaa yadi vaa stuvantu
Lakshmeeh samaavishatu gachchhatu vaa yatheshtam
Adyaiva vaa maranamastu yugaantare vaa
Nyaayaatpathah pravichalanti padam na dheeraah 1.85

Those of courage and determination will not ever deviate from the righteous path whether knowers of codes of conduct (neeti nipunaah) praise or blame them , whether Goddess Lakshmi (wealth) comes to them or leaves them, whether death comes immediately or after ages.

.

On Fate (Destiny) (bhaagya, daiva)
भग्नाशस्य करण्डपिण्डिततनोः म्लानेन्द्रियस्य क्षुधा
कृत्वाखुर्विवरं स्वयं निपतितो नक्तं मुखे भोगिनः ।
तृप्तस्तत्पिशितेन सत्वरमसौ तेनैव यातः पथा
लोकाः पश्यत दैवमेव हि नृणाम् वृद्धौ क्षये कारणम् ॥
Bhagnaashasya karandapinditatanoh mlaanendriyasya kshudhaa
Kritwaakhurvivaram swayam nipatito naktam mukhe bhoginah
Triptastatpishitena satwaramasau tenaiva yaata pathaa
Lokaah pashyata daivameva hi nrinaam vriddhau kshaye kaaranam 1.86

A snake, caught by a snake charmer, was put in a round casket made of cane. It was lying inside the casket coiled and afflicted by hunger. All its senses had become weak and it had no hope of getting out. Then, during the night, a rat made a whole in the casket and got into it. The snake caught the rat and satisfied its hunger. It then escaped through the very hole the rat had made. It is clear that only fate (destiny) is behind the fortunes or misfortunes of men.

छिन्नोऽपि रोहति तरुः
क्षीणोप्युपचीयते पुनश्चन्द्र: ।
इति विमृशन्तस्सन्तः
सन्तप्यन्ते न विलुप्ता लोके ॥
Chchhinno’pi rohati taruh ksheeno’pyupacheeyate punashchandrah
Iti vimrishantah santah santapyante na viluptaa loke 1.87

A tree sprouts again after it is cut, the moon waxes again after waning. Contemplating thus and consoling themseleve that is their fate, good men do not grieve in times of misfortune.

नेता यस्य बृहस्पतिः प्रहरणं वज्रं सुराः सैनिकाः
स्वर्गो दुर्गमनुग्रहः किल हरेरैरावतो वारणः।
इत्यैश्वर्यबलान्वितोऽपि बलिभिर्भग्नः परैः संगरे
तद्व्यक्तं वरमेव दैवशरणं धिक् धिक् वृथा पौरुषम् ॥
Netaa yasya brihaspatih praharanam vajram suraah sainikaah
Swargo durgamanugrahah kila harerairaavato vaaranah
Ityaishwaryabalaanwito’pi balibhirbhagnah paraih sangare
Tadvyaktam varameva daivasharanam dhigdhigvrithaa paurusham 1.88

Indra has Brihaspati as his guru, vajraayudha as his weapon, , devas as his army, Heaven as his fort and Airawata as his elephant. He has also the blessings of Hari. In spite of all this he is defeated by the powerful asuras. It is clear that it is better to take refuge in fate (daivam). Fie on human effort.

खर्वाटो दिवसेश्वरस्य किरणैर्संतापिते मस्तके
गच्छन् देशमनातपं द्रुतगतिस्तालस्य मूलं गतः ।
तत्राप्यस्य महाफलेन पतता भग्नं सशब्दं शिरः
प्रायो गच्छति यत्र दैवहतकस्तत्रैव यान्त्यापदः ॥
Kharvaato divaseshwarasya kiranaih santaapite mastake
Gachchhan deshamanaatapam drutagatistalasya moolam gatah
Tatraapyasya mahaaphalena patataa bhagnam sashabdam shirah
Praayo gachchhati yatra daiva hatakah tatraiva yaantyaapadah 1.89

A wayfarer, his bald head exposed to the heat of the sun, hastened to take shelter under a palmyrah tree. No sooner had he come under the shade of the tree, his head was broken with a great sound by the big fruit falling from the tree. Wherever an ill-fated person goes misfortune follows him.

karma
ब्रह्मा येन कुलालवन्नियमितो ब्रह्माण्ड भाण्डोदरे
विष्णुर्येन दशावतार गहने क्षिप्तो महासंकटे ।
रुद्रो येन कपालपाणिपुटके भिक्षाटनं सेवते
सूर्यॊ भ्राम्यति नित्यमेव गगने तस्मै नमः कर्मणे ॥
Bhrahmaa yena kulaalavanniyamito brahmaanda bhaandodare
Vishnuryena dashaavataara gahane kshipto mahaa sankate
Rudro yena kapaalapaaniputake bhikshaatanam sevate
Sooryo bhraamyati nityameva gagane tasmai namah karmane 1.94

Salutations to karma which has made Brahma a potter (creator) in the universe, which has put Vishnu in difficult circumstances through His ten incarnations, which has made Shiva beg for alms with a container made of the human skull and at the bidding of which the Sun wanders in the sky every day.

नैवाकृतिर्फलति नैव कुलं न शीलं
विद्यापि नैव न च यत्नकृतानि सेवा ।
भाग्यानि पूर्वतपसा खलु सञ्चितानि
काले फलन्ति पुरुषस्य यथैव वृक्षाः ॥
Naivaakrutih phalati naiva kulam na sheelam
Vidyaapi naiva na cha yatnakritaani seva
Bhaagyaani poorva tapasaa khalu sanchitaani
Kaale phalanti purushasya yathaiva Vrikshaah 1.95

An attractive form, noble lineage, good conduct, scholarship, efforts made to serve kings or wealthy persons – all these are of no consequence. Only the merit earned and accumulated by the meritorious deeds (tapas) of the previous births will yield the desired results like trees which yield their fruits at the appropriate time.

वने रणे शत्रुजलाग्निमध्ये
महार्णवे पर्वतमस्तके वा ।
सुप्तं प्रमत्तं विषमस्थितं वा
रक्षन्ति पुण्यानि पुरा कृतानि ॥
Vane rane shatru jalaagnimadhye, mahaarnave parvatamastake vaa
Suptam pramattam vishamasthitam vaa rakshanti punaayni puraakritaani

Only the fruits of meritorious acts done in the past can save a person lost in a forest, fighting a battle, facing enemies, engulfed by water or fire, in the vast ocean or on the mountain top while sleeping, inadvertent or facing difficult situations.

भीमं वनं भवति यस्य पुरं प्रधानं
सर्वो जनस्स्वजनतामुपयान्ति तस्य ।
कृत्स्ना च भूर्भवति सन्निधिरत्नपूर्णा
यस्यास्ति पूर्वसुकृतं विपुलं नरस्य ॥
Bheemam vanam bhavati yasya puram pradhaanam
Sarvo janah swajanataamupayaati tasya
Kritsnaa cha bhoorbhavati sannidhiratnapoorna
Yasyaasti poorvasukritam vipulam narasya 1.100

A dense forest becomes the capital city, all people become friends and the whole world becomes full of valuable treasures for the one who has accumulated in previous births fruits of meritorious actions (punya).

को लाभो गुणिसंगमः किमसुखं प्राज्ञेतरैर्संगतिः
का हानिर्समयच्युतिः निपुणता का धर्मतत्त्वे रतिः ।
कः शूरो विजितेन्द्रियः प्रियतमाकाऽनुव्रता किं धनं
विद्या किं सुखमप्रवासगमनं राज्यं किमाज्ञाफलम् ॥
Ko laabho gunisangamah kimasukham praajnetaraih sangatih
Kaa haanih samayachyutih nipunataa kaa dharmatattve ratih
Kah shooro vijitendriyah priyatamaa kaa’nuvrataa kim dhanam
Vidyaa kim sukhamapravaasagamanam raajyam kimaajnaaphalam 1.102

What is gain? Company of good people. What is pain? Company of fools. What is loss? Wastage of time. What is skill? Passion for the principles of dharama. Who is valiant? One who has conquered his senses. Who is dear to the husband? A wife who follows in the footsteps of the husband. What is wealth? Learning. What is happiness? Not being in a far away land. What is kingdom? The power to command people.

कान्ताकटाक्षविशिखा न दहन्ति यस्य
चित्तं न निर्दहति कोपकृशानुतापः ।
कर्षन्ति भूरिविषयाश्च न लोभपाशैः
लोकत्रयं जयति कृत्स्नमिदं स धीरः ॥

Kaantaa kataaksha vishikhaa na dahanti yasya
Chittam na nirdahati kopakrishaanutaapah
Karshanti bhoorivishayaashcha na lobhapaashaih
Lokatrayam jayati kritsnamidam sa dheerah 1.106

One who does not burn in the fire of passion generated by the eye-arrows of beautiful women, who is not subjected to the heat of anger, whom the pleasures of the senses do not drag with ropes of greed – that person of adamantine heart conquers all the three worlds.

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4 Comments on NEETI SHATAKAM OF BHARTHRUHARI

  1. Trilochana Bhatta says:

    All glory to the king of kings – the true Vikrama Aaditya in the true sense, Bhagawan BhartruHari – the poet supreme, the knower supreme of the truth supreme – the confluence of initially a prosperous pleasure mongering king immersed in the pool of pleasures and indulgence rolling and strolling in the garden of senses and their objects and the supreme hero transform finally of the fame of mighty valour of clear contemplation of ripeness of sharp and brilliant intellect and intelligence – happening all in the world inner, of that of the seeking mind! Hail him for the nobility and grand treasures of highest worth he gifted to the world of ferment; Hail his royal order of sage; Hail him in the sanctuary of your heart of hearts! He laid to rest all mysteries and all doubts of humanity by his royal ascetic order of pure, non-vitiated life of serene clarity. Namaste at full length and prostration of deepest emotion to the great Hero, the wondrous son of Mother Supreme Divinity, Saraswati! His works are a feast and embalming touch to the heart hurt by the life racing past aesthetic aspects and sense of sensation of the day. His nuggets are the rarest gems this world in ferment and fragments and sorrow and hell of existence of rot and degeneracy can all boast of! He is a ray of boisterous and dancing jubilation emanating from almighty champion of poetics of deepest and grandest esoteric nuances subtlest, Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya Paramatman who offered a torque to such exalted poetry of beauty and implied message! Hail BhartruHari, the hero of heroes of mighty glorious deeds – the colossus conveying heavenly nectar to this satanic worldly existence of severe noises! He served us sweet music of his verses each of which is a spectacle of idea of Eden in itself! Hail BhartruHari from the heart of heart of your hearts and pour out profusely all your adoring admiration for the noble hero who rose as a rising sun when darkness dared to creep in the minds of this great Bharat!

  2. Brahmanyan says:

    Thanks for the excellent collection.

  3. Great job!superb collection of verses and thanks for the translations!!:)

  4. Abani Kumar says:

    These are eternal. Every person if adopts these principles in day to day life, he/she will never be in his present condition. The present will be improved. If the present improves, the past and future will also improve. O human Being you are the price and princess of the Eternity Absolute. Arise. Adopt these and attain higher goals.

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