1. Greatness of Kalidasa

Kalidasa has been universally acknowledged as the highest star in the firmament of Indian Poetry. Tenderness in the expression of feeling and richness of creative fancy has assigned to him a lofty place among the poets of all nations. Sir Monier Willaims says ‘Of all Indian dramatists and indeed of all Indian poets the most celebrated is Kaladasa, the poetical merit of whose ‘Sakoontala’ is so universally admitted that any remarks on this head would be superfluous’.

That Kalidasa is the foremost of all poets is vividly brought out in the following oft-quoted sloka:

 पुरा कवीनां गणनाप्रसंगे कनिष्ठिकाधिष्ठित कालिदासाः ।
अद्याऽपि तत्तुल्यकवेरभावात् अनामिका सार्थवती बभूव ॥

Puraa kaveenaam gananaa prasamge kanishthhikaadhishthtita Kaalidaasah
Adyaapi tattulya kaverabhaavaat anaamikaa saarthhavatee babhoova

In the Oriental method of counting, kanishthhikaa or the little finger comes first, then anaamikaa the ring finger and so on. In an assembly of learned men every one counted Kalidasa on the little finger. No name was forthcoming for the next finger. Therefore its name anaamikaa became literally true because there was no name to assign to the ring finger. ( This, of course, is a poet’s liberty to fancy a situation which will bring out, in a telling way, the greatness of Kalidasa.)

2. Source of the plot of Sakuntala

The source of the plot is the Sakuntalopaakhyaana in Maha Bharata, Adi Parva, Sambhava parva., Adhyaayaas 68 to 74.
The outline of the story is something like this. King Dushyanta of Puru’s race goes on a hunting expedition to the forests with a large army. Tired of hunting and overcome by hunger and thirst, he reaches a cool tapovan where there are plenty of fruit-bearing tress and sweet water. Having quenched his thirst and satisfied his hunger, he goes alone into the hermitage of sage Kanva to pay his respects. The sage had gone out to gather flowers and fruits. His foster-daughter Sakuntala receives him with courtesy. The king is captivated by the simple rustic loveliness of her personality. From Sakuntala he understands that she was born to Vishwamitra and Menaka; Sage Kanva was her foster father. The King proposes to wed her under gaandharva vivaha legally sanctioned for a kshatriya. Sakuntala consents on condition that the son born of her shall succeed to the throne. All this happened in the interval when Sage Kanva was away. When the sage returned, he knew by his spiritual insight that Sakuntala and Dusyanta were united by gandharva vivaaha and his daughter was pregnant. The sage puts his seal approval on the marriage as divinely ordained and, in due course, Sakuntala is delivered of a male child. When the child was six years old, the sage sent Sakuntala and the boy, under escort, to her husband’s city. Dushyanta refuses to take Sakuntala as his wife, in spite of her entreaties, pretending that he had not met her at all. Sakuntala condemns the king for his treachery and prepares to leave. At that instant a voice from the sky (ashareeri) declares that Sakuntala is the lawfully wedded wife of the king and the boy is his son. Now that the marriage has been testified to by divine agency to the satisfaction of his ministers and subjects, the king gladly accepts her as his wife and her boy as his son.

This skeleton of a Puranic unromantic story has been transformed into one of the most beautiful plays in classical Sanskrit by the poetic genius of Kalidasa. The poet has invented dramatic situations and characters that captivate the hearts and appeal to finer emotions of the readers. Durvasa’s curse followed by the loss of the ring is the pivotal point around which the theme has been made to turn by the genius of Kalidasa. Though the story is recorded in the Epic, the plot is the poet’s own. The two female friends of Sakuntala, the two pupil-sages who escort Sakuntala to the king’s palace, the fisherman’s scene, the king’s sojourn in heaven at the request of Indra, Sage Maaricha and the King’s reunion with Sakuntala under his blessings are all some of the characters and situations which are the exclusive creations of the poet’s imagination. The narration about the birth of Sakuntala by her female friends to the king instead of by herself is certainly an improvement calculated to enhance the dramatic effect and is more in accordance with decorum. The absence of Kanva on a long pilgrimage when the king first comes to the hermitage, instead of the short absence set out in the Maha Bharata story, conduces to the gradual growth of love between the lovers leading to a consummation in due course. Durvasa’s curse conceived by the poet is a dramatic necessity for ennobling the character of the hero. Also, when Sakuntala is sent to the palace of Dushyanta she is still pregnant and not having a son of six years as in the original narration in Mahabharata.

3. Criticism of the Play Abhijaanashaakuntalam

The greatness of this play in the whole range of Sanskrit literature is emphatically set out in the following oft-quoted stanza of criticism:

काव्येषु नाटकं रम्यं तत्र रम्या शकुंतला
तत्रापि च चतुर्थोऽङ्क: तत्र श्लोकचतुष्टयम्
(तत्रापि यास्यत्यद्येति श्लोकः अतीव मनोहरः )

Kaavyeshu naatakam ramyam tatra ramya shankutalaa
Tatraapi chaturthhongkah tatra shloka chatushtayam
(Tatraapi yaasyatyadyeti sloko ateeva manoharah)

Of all poetry, drama is the most delightful, of all drama Shakuntala, of Shakuntala the Fourth Act and of the Fourth Act the four slokas (Of the four slokas the one beginning with ‘yasyatyadya’ is the most beautiful one which captivates your heart. )

The appreciation of Shankutalaa by the great German poet Goethe is embodied in the oft-quoted translation of his words which runs as follows:

Would’st thou the young year’s blossoms
and the fruits of its decline,
And all by which the soul is charmed,
nraptured, feasted, fed.

Would’st thou the Earth and Heaven itself
in one sole name combine?
I name thee, O Sankuntala! and all at once is
said – Goethe

Our great modern poet-critic sees in the above lines not a mere eulogy of poetic rapture but the deliberate judgment of a true critic. Goethe’s words have a special meaning for Tagore. They suggest that Sakuntala contains the history of a development – the development of flower into fruit, of earth into heaven, of matter into spirit. Tagore says,“ There are two unions in Sakuntala and the motif of the play is the progress from the earlier union of the First Act with its earthly unstable beauty and romance to the higher union in the heavenly hermitage of eternal bliss described in the last Act. Love is elevated from the sphere of physical beauty to the eternal heaven of moral beauty. He then refers to the ease with which Kalidasa has effected this junction of earth with heaven. The simplicity of Sakuntala which leads her to a fall into the earthly love and Dusyanta’s conquest of her equally of the earth are naturally drawn. No restraints are sought to be imposed on Nature’s impulses by either of the lovers, and yet Sakuntala develops in her a devoted wife leading a life of rigid religious discipline. Freedom and restraint are marvelously blended in her, and the consequential joys and sorrows find a meeting point in her. Trustfulness was firmly enthroned in her heart, and though for a moment it caused her fall, it also redeemed her for ever.

“In this drama Kalidasa has extinguished the volcanic fire of Dusyanta’s tumultuous passion by means of the tears of the penitent heart.’ The introduction of the curse of Durvasas takes away the extremely cruel and pathetic nature of his desertion of Sakuntala. From the Fourth Act to the Fifth Act there is a sudden change of atmosphere. The ideal world of the hermitage makes way for the royal court with its hard hearts. Then the repudiation comes. Sakuntala is once for all torn away from the simple and beauteous environments of hermitage life and is cast upon the world helpless. ‘With rare poetic insight Kalidasa has declined to restore Sakuntala to Kanva’s hermitage”. The deep silence worthy of the mighty grief of the mourner is not disturbed by the poet by an exposition of the austere life of sorrows led by Sakuntala under new environments in the hermitage of Maricha in the celestial regions to which she has been transported. Now comes the turn of Dushyanta to be stricken with remorse. This remorse itself is tapasya, which purges him of all his sins of the past. ‘So long as Sakuntala was not won by means of this repentance, there was no glory in winning her. One sudden gust of youthful impulse had in a moment given her up to Dushyanta, but that was not the true, the full winning of her. The best means of winning is by devotion, by tapasya. What is easily gained is as easily lost. Therefore, the poet has made the two lovers undergo a long and austere tapasya that they may gain each other truly eternally’ . Fate now plunged Dusyanta into deep grief and thus made him worthy of true love. ‘ Thus has Kalidasa burnt away vice in the eternal fire of the sinner’s heart.’ “ He has made the physical union of Dushyanta and Shakuntala tread the path of sorrow and thereby chastened and sublimated it into a moral union.” ‘Truly in Sakuntala there is one Paradise Lost and another Paradise Regained”

4. The Four slokas:

There is some difference of opinion about the four most beautiful and appealing slokas mentioned in 3.1. Acording to South Indian school of pundits these slokas are 6,9,17 and 18 of Acct IV. According to Kale the four best slokas are 6, 18,19 and 20of the same Act. As per commentator Satavadhana the slokas 17,18,19,20 of the same Act are the best.

The beauty of expression and of meaning cannot be brought out in a translation, however good, that too in a foreign language with a completely different cultural background. However, the text of all the above slokas are reproduced here in Devanagari and Roman scripts with their free rendering in English.

यास्यत्यद्य शकुंतलेति हृदयं संस्पृष्टमुत्कंठया
कंठ: स्तम्भित बाष्पवृत्तिकलुषः चिन्ताजडं दर्शनम् ।
वैक्लव्यं मम तावदीदृशमहो स्नेहादरण्यौकसः
पीड्यन्ते गृहिणः कथं नु तनया विश्लेष दु:खैर्नवैः ॥।

Yaasyatyadya shakuntaleti hridayam samsprishtam utkanthhayaa
Kanthhah stambhita baashpavrittikalushah chintaajadam darshanam
Vaiklayam mama taavadeedrishamaho snehaat aranyaukasah
Peedyante grihinah katham nu tanayaa vishlesha dukhairnavaih IV -6

The sage Kanva describes his emotions when Sakuntala is being sent to her husband’s place. He says:
“The very thought of separation from Sakumtala fills my heart with grief. My throat is choked by the tears I try to hold back. My eyes have become inert as I am deep in thought. If this is the depth of sorrow of a forest-dweller like me because of my attachment, then how much will be the mental agony of those householders at the prospect of separation from their newly wed daughters.?”

पातुं न प्रथमं व्यवस्यति जलं युष्मास्वपीतेषु या
नादत्ते प्रियमण्डनापि भवतां स्नेहेन या पल्लवम् ।
आद्ये वः प्रथमप्रसूतिसमये यस्या भवत्युत्सवः
सेयम् याति शकुन्तला पतिगृहं सर्वैरनुज्ञाप्यताम् ॥

Paatum na prathhamam vyavasyati jalam yushmaaswapeeteshu yaa
Naadatte priyamandanaapi bhavataam snehena yaa pallavam
Aadye vah prathhama prasootisamaye yasyaa bhavatyutsavah
Seyam yaati shakuntalaa patigriham sarvairanujnaapyataam IV -9

Here Sage Kanva is addressing the trees, plants and creepers of the hermit in the following words:
“She who never wanted to drink water without watering you, she who had such love and affection for you that she never plucked your flowers or leaves though she was fond of adorning herself, she for whom your first flowering or bearing fruit was a celebration, that Sakuntala is going to her husband’s palace. May you all bid her farewell and good bye.”

अस्मान् साधु विचिन्त्य संयमधनानुच्चै: कुलं चात्मन-
स्त्वय्यस्या कथमप्यबान्धवकृताम् स्नेहप्रवृत्तिं च ताम् ।
सामान्यप्रतिपत्तिपूर्वकमियं दारेषु दृश्या त्वया
भाग्यायत्तमतःपरं न खलु तद्वाच्यं वधूबन्धुभिः ||

Asmaan saadhu vichintya samyamadhanaanuchchaih kulam chaatmana-
Stwayyasyaah kathamapyabaamdhava kritaam snehapravrittim cha taam
Saamaanyapratipattipoorvakamiyam daareshu drishyaa twayaa
Bhaagyaayattamatah param na khalu tadvaachyam vadhoobandhubhih IV-17

This is the message of Kanva to Dushyanta concerning Sakuntala:
“Considering us hermits whose only wealth is tapasya , your own birth in a noble family, the love of Sakuntala for you in bringing about which her relatives had no role, you, as her husband, should give her an equal status and love among your wives. Anything beyond this will depend on her bhaagya or luck, the relatives of the bride have no say about that. “

शुश्रूषस्व गुरून् कुरु प्रियसखीवृत्तिं सपत्नीजने
भर्तुर्विप्रकृतापि रोषणतया मा स्म प्रतीपं गमः
भूयिष्ठं भव दक्षिणा परिजने भाग्येष्वनुत्सेकिनी
यान्त्येवं गृहिणीपदं युवतयः वामाः कुलस्याधयः

Shushrooshaswa guroon kuru priyasakheevrittim sapatnee jane
Bharturviprakrutaapi roshanatayaa maa sma prateepam gamah
Bhooyishtthham bhava dakshinaa parijane bhaagyeshwanutsekinee
Yaantyevam grihineepadam yuvatayah vaamaah kulasyaadhayah IV-18

This is the advice of Kanva to Sakuntala:
“Listen to your in-laws and elders and serve them, look upon the other wives of the King as your dear friends, even when you get angry with your husband keep your cool and do not act on impulse, be generous with your servants, do not be conceited about your good fortunes. By following these dictums you will acquire the status of a true housewife. Those who do the opposite cause great mental agony to the family.

अभिजनवतो भर्तुः श्लाघ्ये स्थिता गृहिणीपदे
विभवगुरुभिः कृत्यैस्तस्य प्रतिक्षणमाकुला ।
तनयमचिरात् प्राचीवार्कं प्रसूय च पावनं
मम विरहजां न त्वम् वत्से शुचं गणयिष्यसि ॥

Abhijanavato bhartuh shlaaghye sthhitaa grihineepade
Vibhavagurubhih krityaistasya pratikshanamaakulaa
Tanayamachiraat praacheevarkam prasooya cha paavanam
Mama virahajaam na twam vatse shucham ganayishyasi IV-19

Establishing yoursef as the laudable grihini (housewife) of your husband of noble birth, always being excited about the weighty matters of state in wich he is engaged and having given birth to a son before long like the Sun by the East, you shall not, my dear, worry about my pangs of separation from you.

भूत्वा चिराय चतुरन्त महीसपत्नी
दौष्यन्तिमप्रतिरथं तनयं निवेश्य
भर्त्रा तदर्पित कुटुंबभरेणसाकं
शान्ते करिष्यसि पदं पुनराश्र्मेऽस्मिन्

Bhootwaa chiraaya chaturantha mahee sapatnee
Daushyantimapratiratham tanayam niveshya
Bhartraa tadarpita kutmbabharena saardham
Shaante karishyasi padam punaraashramesmin IV-20

Remain long as the sapatnee (co-wife) of Mahee (the whole of earth personified, being figuratively another wife of the King). Give birth to Dushyanta’s son who will later become a king of unmatched valour. Vest in him the responsibilities of the family and the kingdom. Then will you again come back to this peaceful hermitage with your husband.



Ramayana and Mahabharata are the two epics which have so mingled with the collective conscience of our people that,  to this day,  the ideas and values in them continue to influence our lives.  Ramayana is considered the Adi Kavya,, the first ever epic poem written.  Maharshi  Valmiki is known as the Adi Kavi,  the first ever poet in the history of Sanskrit literature, nay, the history of world literature.
Ramayana pictures the whole gamut of life of an individual.  It throws light on his/her duties and responsibilities in various roles as father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, friend, master, servant, teacher and so on.  Valmiki  presents Rama as the ideal man and Sita as the ideal woman. However,  later versions of Ramayana like Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil by poet Kamban, Adhyatma Ramayana in Malayalam by poet Ezuthachan and Ranganatha Ramayana in Telugu present Rama as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The quotes selected and presented here are the words of the different characters of this great epic uttered in different situations.  The ideas and values contained in them form part of what is called sanatana dharma and are eternally true for all ges. In these times of social upheaval it is all the more necessary for us to get back to these fundamental principles of life and living which we have almost forgotten in the rat race for material gains.
आहुः सत्यं हि परमं धर्मं धर्मविदो जनाः
 Aahuh  satyam hi paramam dharmam dharmavido janaah
Those who have knowledge of dharma say that Truth is the highest dharma
[Context:  Dasaratha had promised three boons to Kaikeyi when she saved his life during one of those battles he fought on the side of the Devas.  When the coronation of Rama is announced, Kaikeyi asks for two of the boons from Dasaratha.  She wants Bharata to be installed as the King and Rama to be sent to the forest for fourteen years. When Dasaratha was in a dilemma, Kaikeyi says that Truth is the highest dharma, implying that Dasaratha should keep his promise as otherwise he will be guilty of transgressing dharma.]
दुर्लभं हि सदा सुखं                  
 Durlabham hi sadaa sukham
To be happy always is something which is difficult to achieve.  That is to say,  happiness and sorrow alternate in one’s life and there cannot be uninterrupted happiness alone.
[Context: Rama’s words to Kaikeyi when he saw his father deep in sorrow and in tears at the prospect of Rama going  into the forest for 14 years.]
रामो द्विर्नाभिभाषते
Ramo dwir naabhibhaashate
Once Rama gives his word,  that is final and it is kept at any cost.  There is no question of repetition of the same a second time.
[Context: Rama’s words to Kaikeyi : tat broohi vachanam devi raajno yadabhikaangkshitam   Karishye pratijaane cha ramo dwir naabhibhaashate      “O Devi!  Please tell me what the King wants of me.  I promise that I will carry out whatever is his wish.  What Rama says once he carries out; there is no looking back.”]
गुरोरप्यवलिप्तस्य कार्याकार्यमजानतः ।
उत्पथं प्रतिपन्नस्य कार्यं भवति शासनम्॥।
Gurorapy avaliptasya kaaryaakaaryam ajaanatah
Utpathham pratipannasya kaaryam bhavati shaasanam
One who is haughty, who does not know whether what he does is right or wrong and who has taken to the wrong path is to be disciplined even if he is guru, parent or an elder in age or learning.
[Context: These are words addressed to Rama by Lakshamana who  is angry at the turn of events with Rama preparing himself to live 14 years in the forests because of the boon granted by Dasaratha to Kaikeyi.  By the word ‘guru’ Lakshmana, by implication, is referring to Dasaratha in this context. ]
विक्लवो वीर्यहीनो यः स दैवमनुवर्तते  ।
वीराः सम्भावितात्मानो न दैवं पर्युपासते॥
  Viklavo veeryaheeno yah sa daivamanuvartate
  Veeraah sambhaavitaatmaano na daivam paryupaasate
Only the timid and the weak leave things to  destiny (daivam)  but the strong and the self-confident never bank on destiny or luck (bhagya)
[Context: These are words of Lakshmana addressed to Rama when the latter says that neither Kaikeyee nor his father was responsible for his banishment to the forests.  It was all the play of destiny ( daivam).] .
यो हि दत्वा द्विपश्रेष्ठं कक्ष्यायां कुरुते मनः ।
रज्जुस्नेहेन किं तस्य त्यजतः कुञ्जरोत्तमम्॥।
 Yo hi datwaa dwipashreshthham kakshyaayaam kurute manah
 Rajjusnehena kim tasya tyajatah kunjarottamam
If a  person is gifting away his elephant but his heart is set on the rope used for tying the elephant, of what use is his attachment to the rope when he is giving away the elephant itself.
[Context: Dasaratha wanted to send the royal retinue to follow Rama to the forests.  Kaikeyi objects to this. Rama says that when he is abandoning the kingdom itself what royal paraphernalia to him is. It is like giving away the elephant and setting one’s heart on the rope with which the elephant is tied.]
 नातन्त्री विद्यते वीणा नाचक्रो विद्यते रथः।
नापतिः सुखमेधेत या स्यादपि शतात्मजा ॥
 Naatantree vidyate veenaa naachakro vidyate rathah
 Naapatih sukhamedheta yaa syaadapi shataatmajaa 
A Veena cannot exist without its strings.  A chariot cannot exist without its wheels.  Without her husband a woman can never live happily even though she has a hundred sons.
[Context: Sita’s response to Kausalya’s advice asking her to respect and obey Rama in spite of his being deprived of the kingdom.]
शोको नाशयते  धैर्यं शोको नाशयते श्रुतं।
शोको नाशयते सर्वं नास्ति शोकोसमो रिपुः॥
Shoko naashayate dhairyam shoko naashayate shrutam
Shoko naashayete sarvam nasti shokasamo ripuh
Grief destroys one’s courage.  It destroys one’s learning.  It destroys one’s everything.  There is no enemy greater than grief.
[Context: These are the words of Kausalya.  She had spoken harsh words to Dasratha for sending Rama to the forests.  She repents and says that she spoke thus because of  her intense grief on Rama being sent to the forests]
यदन्नः पुरुषो भवति तदन्नास्तस्य देवताः
Yadannah purusho bhavati tadannaastasya devataah
Whatever is one’s food, the same food shall be offered to one’s gods.
[Context: Rama hears the news of Dasaratha’s death from Bharata.  He performs the obsequies of his father.  He says that one can offer to the departed souls only what one is having for food i.e. fruits and roots which are the only things available in the forest.]
कुलीनमकुलीनं वा वीरं पुरुषमानिनं ।
चारित्रमेव व्याख्याति शुचिम् वा यदि वाऽशुचिम् ॥
Kuleenam akuleenam vaa veeram purushamaaninam
Charitrameva vyaakhyaati shuchim vaa yadi vaashuchim
उद्विजन्ते यथा सर्पात् नरादनृत वादिनः
Udwijante yathaa sarpaat naraadanruta vaadinah
सत्यमेवेश्वरो लोके सत्ये धर्मः समाश्रितः                   
Satyameveshwaro loke satye dharmah samaashritah
Only a person’s  conduct and character proclaim whether he is born in a good family or whether he is boasting about himself or whether he is unblemished (shuchih) or blemished (ashuchih).
Just as people are afraid of serpents they are afraid of persons who  utter lies.
Truth controls this world and dharma is rooted in truth.
[Context: These are words of Rama to Maharshi Jabali who advises him to ignore his father’s wishes and go back to Ayodhya. The Maharshi speaks lika a nastika and makes disparaging remarks about dharma, truth, good conduct, character  etc.  Rama, however, reiterates the values of truth, dharma and character in a man’s life. ]
न सुप्रतिकरं तत्तु मात्रा पित्रा च यत्कृतं     
Na supratikaram tattu maatraa pitraa cha yatkrutam
It is difficult for the children to repay the debt of  what  the mother and the father have done to bring them up.
[Context: Rama’s words  to Vasishtha who accompanies Bharata to the forests for bringing back Rama to Ayodhya]
 लक्ष्मी चन्द्रादपेयाद्वा हिमवान् वा हिमं त्यजेत्
अतीयाद्सागरो वेलां न प्रतिज्ञामहं पितुः
Lakshmee chandrat apeyaadwaa himavaan vaa himam tyajet
Ateeyaat saagaro velaam na pratijnaamaham pituh
Beauty may leave the moon,  Himavaan may become bereft of snow, the ocean may transgress its shores but I will never violate the promise given by my father.
[Context: Rama’s words to Bharata when he requests him to return to Ayodhya and rule the Kingdom.]
धर्मादर्थः प्रभवति धर्मात् प्रभवते सुखं।
धर्मेण लभते सर्वं धर्मसारमिदं जगत् ॥
 Dharmaadarthah prabhavati dharmaat prabhavate sukham
 Dharmena labhate sarvam dharmasaaramidam jagat
आत्मानं नियमैः तैस्तैः कर्शयित्वा प्रयत्नतः ।
प्राप्यते निपुणैर्धर्मो न सुखात्  लभते सुखम् ॥
 Aatmaanam niyamaih taistaih karshayitwaa prayatnatah
 Praapyate nipunair dharmo na sukhaat labhate sukham
Wealth springs from dharma, from dharma comes happiness and one gets everything from dharmaDharma is the essence of this world.
Dharma, which is the source of all happiness, can be attained even by a skilled person, only after observing various disciplines for his own purification and after great effort subjecting himself to great strain and stress.  One cannot attain such dharma by leading a life given to the pleasures of the senses.
[Context: Sita apprehands that Rama, armed always,  as he is,  with his bow and arrows,  may tend  to hurt animals in the forest or hurt those rakshasas  from whom there is no threat. She emphasises the importance  of ahimsa and other virtues and requests Rama to be compassionate, kind and merciful.]
अनागतविधानं तु कर्तव्यं शुभमिच्छता।
आपदाशंकमानेन पुरुषेन विपश्चिता ॥
Anaagata vidhaanam tu kartavyam shubhamichchhataa
Aapadaashankamaanena purushena vipashchitaa
A wise man should foresee tragedy or misfortune and take action to prevent or overcome such tragedy or misfortune well before it strikes.  Thus only he can enjoy a safe and good life.
[Context: There are bad omens in the forest and Rama anticipates trouble from Khara, the terrible raakshasa.   He therefore forewarns Lakshmana in these words and asks him to take Sita to a safe place.]
कर्म लोकविरुद्धं तु कुर्वाणं क्षणदाचर।
तीक्ष्णं सर्वजनो हन्ति सर्पं दुष्टमिवागतम्
Karma lokaviruddham tu kurvaanam kshanadaachara
Teekshnam sarvajano hanti sarpam dushtamivaagatam
न चिरं पापकर्माणः क्रूराः लोकजुगुप्सिताः ।
ऐश्वर्यं प्राप्य तिष्ठन्ति शीर्णमूलाः इव द्रुमाः॥
Na chiram paapakarmaanah kruooraah lokajugupsitaah
Aishwaryam praapya thishthhanti sheernamoolaah iva drumaah
न चिरात् प्राप्यते लोके पापानां कर्मणां फलं।
सविषाणामिवान्नानां भुक्तानां क्षणदाचर॥
 Na chiraat praapyate loke paapaanaam karmanaam phalam
 Savishaanaamivaannaanaam bhuktaanaam kshanadaachara
O Rakshasa! People will kill, as they kill a poisonous snake, a cruel and ferocious person whose actions are against the people and hurt them.
Those cruel persons who, by their sinful actions, inflict physical and mental injury on others are detested by people.   Though such people may amass immense wealth they cannot retain it for long.  They will perish like a tree whose roots have become decayed.
In this world, one will, before long, suffer the consequences of one’s sinful actions in the same way as poisonous food taken by a person kills him within a short time.
[Context: Rama admonishes the rakshasa Khara in these words and warns him that his sins will overtake him and cause him severe physical and mental suffering.]
परदाराभिमर्शात्तु नान्यत् पापतरं महत्
Paradaaraabhimarshaattu naanyat paapataram mahat
There is no greater sin than coveting another man’s wife.
[Context: This is Maaricha’s warning to Ravana who is bent on abducting Sita and solicits the  help of Maaricha in this misadventure.]
स भारः सौम्य भर्तव्यो यो नरं नावसादयेत् ।
तदन्नमपि भोक्तव्यं जीर्यते यदनामयम्
Sa bhaarah saumya bhartavyo yo naram naavasaadayet
Tadannamapi bhoktavyam jeeryate yadanaamayam
यत्कृत्वा न भवेत् धर्मो न कीर्तिर्न यशो ध्रुवं।
शरीरस्य भवेत् खेदः कस्तत्कर्म समाचरेत् ॥
 Yatkrutwaa na bhaveddharmo na keertirna yasho dhruvam
 Shareerasya bhavet khedah kastatkarma samaacharet
One should  lift  only such weight as will not exhaust one beyond a limit.  One should eat only such food as will easily digest.
Who will engage himself in such action as will get him neither dharma nor reputation  nor lasting fame and which will only result in physical exhaustion?
[Context: Jatayu’s advice to Ravana to refrain from abducting Sita.  This is going to cost him dearly, something which he will not be able to bear.]
मुमुर्षूणाम् तु सर्वेषाम् यत्पथ्यं तन्न रोचते
 Mumurshoonaam tu sarveshaam yatpathhyam tanna rochate
 One who is bent on courting his death will not take kindly to sage counsel given by his well-wishers
[Context: Sita admonishes Ravana for his despicable act and says that he will not hear good advice as he is bent on dying at the hands of Rama.]
उत्साहो बलवानार्य नस्त्युत्साहात् परं बलं।
सोत्साहस्यहि लोकेषु न किञ्चिदपि दुर्लभं ॥
 Utsaaho balavaanaarya  naastyutsaahaat param balam
 Sotsaahasya hi lokeshu na kinchidapi durlabham.
Enthusiasm has great strength.  There is no greater strength than enthusiasm.  There is nothing which is not attainable in this world for the enthusiastic.
 [Context: Lakshmana’s words to cheer up Rama who is deep in sorrow at the loss of Sita.  He emphasizes that Rama should come out of his grief and be cheerful and enthusiastic about seeking out Sita’s whereabouts.]
दु:खितः सुखितो वापि सख्युर्नित्यं सखा गतिः
 Dukhitah sukhito vaapi sakhyurnityam sakhaa gatih
 Whether in sorrow or in happiness a friend  is always a friend’s support.
[Context: Sugreeva’s words to Rama after he narrates his sorrowful tale to Rama.]
ज्येष्ठ भ्राता पिता वापि यश्च विद्यां प्रयच्छति ।
त्रयो वै पितरो ज्ञेयाः धर्मे च पथि वर्तिनः ॥
Jyeshthho bhraataa pitaa vaapi yashcha vidyaam prayachchhati
Trayo vai pitaro jneyaah dharme cha pathhi vartinah
One’s elder brother, father and the teacher who gives knowledge –  all these three, treading the path of dharma,  are to be considered as one’s father.
[Context: Rama is justifying his action in killing Vali from behind a tree.  Vali, being the elder brother of Sugreeva should have been like a father to him.  Instead, he had taken away  Sugreeva’s wife causing the latter mental agony.]
अर्थीनाम् उपपनानां पूर्वं चाप्युपकारिणां।
आशाम् सम्श्रुत्य यो हन्ति स  लोके पुरुषाधमः॥
Arthheenaam upapannaanaam poorvam chaapyupakaarinaam
Aashaam samshrutya  yo hanti sa loke purushaadhamah
A person gives hope to another who requests for money or other material thing or to one who had helped that person in the past.   Having given them hope, if that person disappoints them by not keeping his promise, then he is the worst kind of person in this world.
[Context: Rama’s words to Lakshmana whom he sends to Sugreeva to remind him of the need to take urgent measures for searching out Sita.  Sugreeva, having promised help in finding Sita, seemed to be taking it easy.]
गोघ्ने चैव सुरापे च चौरे भग्नव्रते तथा ।
निष्कृतिर्निहिता सद्भिः कृतघ्ने नास्ति निष्कृतिः  ॥
Goghne chaiva suraape cha choure bhagnavrate tathhaa
Nishkritih nihitaa sadbhih kritaghne naasti nishkritih
There is atonement, laid down by men of character,  for one who kills a cow, consumes intoxicating drinks, steals or  breaks one’s promise but there is no atonement for one who  is ungrateful.
[Context: These are words of Lakshmana to Sugreeva who seemed to have forgotten whatever Rama had done for him.  He seemed to be delaying action to find the whereabouts of Sita.]
न कश्चिन्नापराध्यति
 Na kashchinnaaparaadhyati
   To err is human, there is none who has not erred some time or other.
 [Context: Sugreeva apologizes to Lakshmana and says he had erred and he would now send his men in search of Sita.]
अनिर्वेदं च दाक्ष्यं च मनसश्चापराजयं
Anirvedam cha daakshyam cha manasashchaaparaajayam
Not getting dejected or depressed, skill in doing one’s job and not losing heart in the face of difficulties – these are the qualities which enable one to achieve one’s goals.
[Context: These are the words of Angada, son of Sugriva, to his team members who are on the mission of finding  the whereabouts of Sita.  They were beginning to lose heart when, in spite of extensive search,  they could not find Sita.]
न विषादे मनः कार्यं विषादो दोषवत्तरः।
विषादो हन्ति पुरुषं बालं क्रुद्ध इवोरगः॥
 Na  vishaade manah kaaryam vishaado doshavattarah
Vishaado hanti purusham baalam kruddhah ivoragah
One should not let one’s mind to be overcome by melancholy.   Melancholy or moroseness   is  a very bad thing.  It kills (destroys) a man just as an angered serpent  kills a child.
[Context: These are the words of Angada to the Vanaras who were beginning to lose heart looking at the vast expanse of the ocean which had to be crossed to reach Lanka where Sita was kept in captivity]
अनिर्वेदः श्रियो मूलं अनिर्वेदः परं सुखं
Anirvedah shriyo moolam anirvedah param sukham
विनाशे बहवो दोषाः जीवन्नाप्नोति भद्रकं
Vinaashe bahavo doshaah jeevannaapnoti bhadrakam
Not getting depressed, frustrated or dejected is the basis for all prosperity and happiness.
Giving up one’s life produces nothing good, to continue to live is the way to joy and happiness.
[Context: Soliloquy of Hanuman when, in spite of extensive search in the palaces of Ravana, he does not find Sita. He was beginning to lose heart and was even thinking of taking his life.  He then tells himself that he should not think on those lines.]
धिगस्तु परवश्यताम्
Dhigastu paravashyataam
दृश्यमाने भवेत् प्रीतिः सौहृदं नास्त्यदृश्यतः
Drishyamaane bhavet preetih sauhridam naastyadrishyatah
To be under the control of another is to be condemned; it is the worst thing that can befall a person.
Love and affection is possible only when a person is being seen and is not out of sight in a far away place.
[Context: Soliloquies of Sita who is being threatened by the Rakshasis guarding her to accept the advances of Ravana which Sita totally refuses to do.]
कल्याणी बत गाथेयं लौकिकी प्रतिभाति मे ।
एति जीवन्तमानन्दो नरं वर्षशतादपि॥
Kalyaanee bata gaathheyam laukikee prathibhaati me
Ethi jeevantam aanando naram varsha shataadapi
The saying “If one continues to live, happiness and bliss may come even after a gap of a hundred years” seems to me an auspicious one.
[Context: Sita’s words to Hanuman from whom she hears news of Rama and Lakshmana and their efforts to kill Ravana and the Rakshasas and release her from captivity. She had earlier contemplated suicide but now she realizes that living was a good thing because happiness will not elude one for ever.]
आनृशंस्यं परो धर्मः
Aanrushamsyam paro dharmah
To be compassionate, kind, merciful and humane is a great virtue.
 [Context: Sita’s message to Rama through Hanuman entreating Rama to show some mercy one her and rescue her without further delay.]
न साम रक्षस्सु गुणाय कल्पते
न दानमर्थोपचितेषु युज्यते
 Na saama rakshassu gunaaya kalpate
 Na daanamarthopachiteshu yujyate
Words of conciliation to the rakshasas will not bring out any good (Soft words will not have any effect on a rakshasa). In the same way one cannot pacify an immensly wealthy person by offering him material things.
[ Context: Soliloquy of Hanuman before he starts destroying the ashoka vana  of Ravana and thus show his valour which only will have some effect on the Rakshasas, not saama or daana ]
कोपं न गच्छन्ति हि सत्त्ववन्तः  
Kopam na gachchhanti hi sattwantah
The strong of heart do not become angry.
वाच्यावाच्यं प्रकुपितो न विजानाति कर्हिचित्।
नाकार्यमस्ति क्रुद्धस्य नावाच्यं विद्यते क्वचित् ॥
Vaachyaavaachyam prakupito na vijaanaati karhichit
Naakaaryamasti kruddhasya naavaachyam vidyate kwachit   
नाग्निरग्नौ प्रवर्तते
Naagniragnau pravartate
One who is angry does not distinguish between what can be spoken and what is unspeakable. There is nothing which an angry man cannot do meaning he can commit any crime.  There is nothing unspeakable for him.
Fire cannot act on fire.
[Context: Soliloquy of Hanuman when, after burning down the palaces in Lanka from the fire set to his tail, he becomes worried that Sita might have been hurt by the fire.  He chides himself for getting angry and observes that an angry person loses his capacity to think and does not know what the right thing to say or do is.  On further contemplation, Hanuman realizes that a pativrata like Sita herself is like fire.  How can fire act on fire? ]
निरुत्साहस्य दीनस्य शोकपर्याकुलात्मनः
सर्वार्थाः व्यवसीदन्ति व्यसनं चाधिगच्छति
 Nirutsaahasya deenasya shokaparyaakulaatmanah
 Sarvaarthhaah vyavaseedanti vyasanam chaadhigachchhati
The efforts of one who is unenthusiastic, weak and immersed in sorrow cannot bring out any good
and he comes to grief.
[Context:  These are words of Sugreeva to enthuse Rama and lift his spirits. Hanuman has brought   news  of Sita and Rama’s joy knows no bounds.  At the same time he is worried about how he and his army of vanaras will cross the ocean and reach Lanka to fight with the Rakshasas and rescue Sita.]
मन्त्रमूलं च विजयं प्रवदन्ति मनस्विनः
 Mantramoolam cha vijayam pravadanti manaswinah
Wise men say that the root of victory is consultation and discussion with learned and  wise men. .
[Context: These are words of Ravana to his ministers. Rattled by the destruction and devastation committed by Hanuman in Lanka, Ravana convenes an assembly of his ministers and invites their suggestions about the next course of  action.]
जानामि शीलं ज्ञातीनां सर्वलोकेषु राक्षस!
हृष्यन्ति व्यसनेष्वेते ज्ञातीनाम् ज्ञातयस्सदा॥
Jaanaami sheelam jnaateenaam sarvalokeshu raakshasa!
Hrishyanti vyasaneshwete jnaateenaam jnaatayah sadaa
यथा पुष्करपत्रेषु पतितास्तोयबिन्दवः ।
न श्लेषमभिगच्छन्ति तथानार्येषु सौहृदम्॥
 Yathhaa pushkarapatreshu patitaastoyabindavah
Na shleshamabhiganchchanti tathhaanaaryeshu sauhridam
I know the nature of one’s relatives.  Relatives  always  rejoice when their relatives are in trouble.
Just like drops of water on lotus leaves do not stick to the leaves, in the same way is the friendship with people who lack character.
[Context: These are sarcastic remarks made by Ravana against Vibheeshana who had advised Ravana to return Sita to Rama with honour. Ravana is not prepared to accept this sage advice.  On the other hand he was terribly angry with Vibhishana for suggesting such a course of action.]
आकारः छाद्यमनोऽपि न शक्यो विनिगूहितुं।
बलाद्धि विवृणोत्येव भावमन्तर्गतं नृणाम् ॥
Aaakarah chhaadyamaanopi  na shakyo vinigoohitum
Balaaddhi vivrunotyeva bhaavamantargatam nrunaam
One’s innermost thoughts and emotions reflect on one’s physical appearance which it is difficult to cover up however one may try to do it.   Such changes in one’s physical appearance forcefully expose such innermost emotions and thoughts.
[Context:  These are words of Hanuman to Rama who consults the vanara leaders about accepting Vibheeshana who has come to join their side after parting company with Ravana.  Many of the vanara leaders do not want to accept him and some even suggest that he may be a spy of Ravana.  Hanuman, however, cogently argues the case for Vibhashana’s acceptance. He says that Vibheeshana’s body language clearly indicates that he is earnest and does not have evil intentions.]
गर्जन्ति न वृथा शूराः निर्जला इव तोयदा:।
 Garjanti na vruthhaa shooraah nirjalaa iva toyadaah
The thundering of clouds which have spent all their water does not produce any rain.  But the really valiant do not roar in vain;  they show their valor in action also.
[Context:  These are the words of Kumbhakarna addressed to Ravana.   He sets out to  face  Rama, Lakshmana  and the entire army of vanaras. and vows to kill Rama and  thus once for all put an end to  the troubles of Ravana]
यः स्वपक्षं  परित्यज्य परपक्षं निषेवते।
स्वपक्षे च क्षयं याते पश्चात्तैरेय हन्यते॥
Yah swapaksham parityajya parapaksham nishevate
 swapakshe cha kshayam yaate pashchaattaireva hanyate
The one who abandons one’s own camp and joins the enemy’s camp will be killed by the very  men of his former camp after the latter camp is completely destroyed by the former.
[Context: These are the words of Indrajit to Vibhishana when he encounters the latter in the battle field. He implies that Rama and his army will be wiped out and he (Vibheeshana) will be put to death by the rakshasas.]
परस्वानां च हरणं परदाराभिमर्शनं
सुहृदामतिशंका च त्रयो दोषाः क्षयावहाः
 Paraswaanaam cha haranam paradaaraabhimarshanam
 Suhrudaamatishankaa cha trayo doshaah kshayaavahaah
Stealing the wealth of others, coveting another man’s wife and doubting the integrity and character of friends – these three lead to one’s destruction.
[Context: This is Vibheeshana’s reply to the taunts of Indrajit who encounters the former in the battle field and  rebukes  Vibhishana for ditching Ravana.]
देशे देशे कलत्राणि देशे देशे च बांधवाः ।
तं तु देशं न पश्यामि यत्र भ्राता सहोदरः॥
Deshe deshe kalatraani deshe deshe cha baandhavaah
Tam tu desham na pashyaami yatra bhraataa sahodarah
One may have wives and relatives in every country but one cannot have a brother like Lakshmana in every place.
[Context: Rama’s words of sorrow when Lakshmana becomes unconscious in the battle field struck by the spear of Indrajit.]
न हि प्रतिज्ञां कुर्वन्ति वितथां सत्यवादिनः
लक्षणं हि महत्त्वस्य प्रतिज्ञा परिपालनम्
Nahi pratijnaam kurvanti vithathhaam satyavaadinah
Lakshanam hi mahattwasya pratijnaaparipaalanam
Those who always adhere to truth do not make false promises.  Keeping one’s promises is, surely,  the mark of one’s  greatness.
[Context: Rama was plunged into deep sorrow and loses heart  when Lakshamana was struck unconscious by a spear thrown at him by Ravana.  Lakshmana was revived by the sanjeevani  brought by Hanuman.  Seeing Rama’s condition Lakshmana reminds him of Rama’s vow to kill Ravana who had abducted Sita.  Lakshmana  says that the vow made by Rama should never become false. ]
पतिव्रतानां नाकस्मात् पतन्त्यश्रूणि भूतले  
Pativrataanaam naakasmaat patantyashrooni  bhootale
The tears of virtuous women (pativratas) do not fall on the ground in vain, meaning it will destroy those who caused them such anguish of heart causing tears to be shed.
 [Context: These are the words of Mandodari who mourns the death of Ravana. She says Ravana met this fate because of the tears shed by Sita who was a pativrata and whom Ravana anguished by his improper advances]
धारणाद्धर्ममित्याहुः धर्मेण विधृताः प्रजाः
Dhaaranaaddharmamityaahuh dharmena vidhrutaah prajaah
 (7.59  Prakshipta: 2/7)
Dharma is so called because it sustains or supports society (from the root dhri meaning to support). The people of a country are held together and sustained by Dharma.
क्रोधः प्राणहरो शत्रुः क्रोधो मित्रमुखो रिपुः।
क्रोधोह्यसिर्महातीक्ष्णः सर्वम् क्रोधोऽपकर्षति॥   
Krodhah praanaharo shatruh krodho mitramukho ripuh
Krodhohyasirmahaateekshnah sarvam krodhopakarshati
(7.59 prakshipta 2/21)
Anger is the enemy which takes one’s life. Anger is enemy with the face of a friend. Anger is like a very sharp sword.  Anger destroys everything.
न सा सभा यत्र न सन्ति वृद्धाः
वृद्धा न ते ये न वदन्ति धर्मं ।
नासौ धर्मो यत्र न सत्यमस्ति
न तत्सत्यं यच्छलेनानुविद्धम्
 Na saa sabhaa yatra na santi vruddhaah
Vriddhaa na te ye na vadanti dharmam
Naasau dharmo yatra na satyamasti
Na tatsatyam yachchhalenaanuviddham   
That is not an assembly where wise old men are not there.  They are not wise old men who do not preach dharma.  That is not dharma where there is no Truth.  That is not Truth which is covered over with deceit.
तपो हि परमं श्रेयः सम्मोहमितरत्सुखम्
  Tapo hi paramam shreyah sammohamitaratsukham
Tapas is the highest good.  All other pleasures or joys are only  delusions.
 [Context: These are the words of vRRitrAsura(वृत्रासुरः)who wants to do severe tapas. ]