Nitishatakam of Bhartrihari English translation ebook download
1 I bow to God, the self‐enlightened, the peaceful, free from the bonds of space and time, the infinite, the pure consciousness personified and experienced by Self.
2 A fool can be pleased easily, and it is even easier to please the wise. However, even Brahma (the creator) cannot satisfy a conceited person with a bit of knowledge.
3 It may be possible to forcibly retrieve a gem from the fanged jaws of a crocodile; one may even swim across the sea full of turbulent waves, or place an angry serpent on one’s head like a flower, but it is impossible to please a conceited fool.
4 One can, perhaps, extract oil by squeezing sand; a man may be able to quench his thirst by drinking water from a mirage; during travel one may even find the horns of a hare; but it is impossible to please a conceited fool.
5 Wanting to reform the wicked with nectar‐sweet advice, is like trying to control an elephant with the pith of a lotus‐stem, or cutting a diamond with delicate petals of the Shireesh flower, or sweetening the salty ocean with a drop of honey.
6 The creator has provided only one means for hiding one’s ignorance which is always under his own control. It is to keep silent, particularly, in the company of the learned.
7 When my knowledge was limited, I assumed that I was fully proficient. I was blinded by pride like an elephant in frenzy. However, when I started learning in the company of the erudite and realized my short comings, the conceit of mine disappeared like fever.
8 A dog is not afraid even if Indra, the lord of Gods, is standing by its side, so long as it is devouring a donkey’s bone which might be vermin‐infested, loathsome, saliva‐doused, stinking and flesh‐less. Similarly, a wretch will never pay heed to the unworthiness of his acquisitions.
9 The Ganges descended from the heavens upon the head of the Shiva, and thence, to the mountains. From the high mountains, she flowed down the plains to finally lapse into the sea. Thus, the Ganges kept drifting downwards from one level to another. Similarly, those who have lost their sagacity plunge downwards in a hundred ways.
10 With water, a fire can be extinguished; an umbrella protects one from the heat of the sun; a frenzied elephant can be tamed by a mahout’s sharp iron‐goad, and so can a cow and a donkey with a stick; diseases can be cured by an assortment of medicines, and the incantation of various mantras is an antidote to toxicants. The scriptures contain remedies for all, but there is none for a conceited fool.
11 Those who are devoid of Literature, Music, and Art, are veritable animals without tails and horns. It is the great good luck of other beasts that they don’t graze grass, and still survive.
12.Those who are devoid of learning, restraint, charity, knowledge, moral conduct, virtue and righteousness are virtually animals living in the grab of men, and burdening the earth.
13.It is better to wander in the mountain‐caves along with the forest‐dwellers, than to be with conceited fools even in the mansion of Indra, the lord of gods.
14.There are sages who can impart learning to even such disciples whose speech has already become articulate and refined with the tudy of the scriptures. If these eminent men live in poverty, it only shows the folly of the ruler of that kingdom, for the sages remain great even without riches. The real worth of a gem does not decline because of bad evaluation by an incompetent jeweler.
15.Knowledge is one’s own secret treasure. It is imperceptible to a thief; it provides one enduring happiness; it grows ceaselessly while being imparted to soliciting disciples, and it is not destroyed, even with passing of an era. Therefore, with those who possess such unrivalled fortune, O kings ! shun your pride.
16.(O kings !) Do not show disrespect to enlightened savants who have realized the supreme good. The trivial goddess of wealth cannot entice such men even as a wanton elephant whose temples have turned dark with flowing rut cannot be chained with the pith of a lotus‐stem.
17.The Creator, Brahma, in his ire may suddenly deny the swam, the pleasure of abode amidst the cluster of lotuses. However, he cannot deprive it of its well known skill of separating milk from water.
18.Bracelets do not adorn a person. Nor do pearl necklaces shining like the moon, or a cleansing bath; nor anointment of the body, nor flowers, nor decoration for the hair. It is cultured speech alone which embellishes a man. All other ornaments lose their glitter, only the jewel of speech ever remains the jewel of jewels.
19.Knowledge is certainly a man’s greatest beauty. It is a safe and hidden treasure. It provides prosperity, fame and happiness. Knowledge is the guru of all gurus. It acts as one’s friend in a foreign country. Knowledge is the Supreme God. It is the knowledge, not wealth, which is adorned by kings. Without knowledge one remains an animal.
20.Why should he need to wear an armour, if he himself is compassionate and forgiving? What more harm can his enemies do to him, if he is being consumed by his own anger? If his relatives pester him, then a fire is not needed to burn his wealth. Of what need is a medicine chest to him who has good friends by his side? On the other hand, falling in the company of the wicked is like falling in a snake‐pit. What is the importance of material wealth for him who possesses immaculate knowledge? Is there any need for jewelery when a man treasures modesty in his heart? Will the rule of a kingdom hold any charm for a man who has the gift of the Muses?
21.Magnanimous to his kinsfolk, generous to his dependents, crafty with scoundrels, friendly with the righteous, tactful with kings, gentle with scholars, courageous against the enemies, forgiving to the elders and cunning with the women, such men know the art of living. They are the pillars of society.
23.The renowned and supreme poets come out with flying colors in depicting various poetic sentiments in their works. Their fame has an immortal body, without fear of dotage or death.
24.When God, the pivot of the world and the dispenser of all boons, is propitiated, then a man gets a virtuous son, a chaste and loving wife, a pleasant master, an affectionate friend, guileless kinsmen, a tranquil mind, a handsome physique, stable fortune and a countenance refined by knowledge.
25.To abstain from taking life, to refrain from covering the wealth of others, to be truthful in speech, to give charities from time to time within one’s means, to avoid talking about other women, to eschew the rise of avarice, to show humility before the elders and to be kind to all, are the paths of welfare generally mentioned in all the scriptures, and these do not contravene any discipline.
26.Base men do not undertake any work apprehending obstacles. Mediocres make a start, but cease working when they encounter hindrances. The men of excellence, however, after commencing a job do not give up despite recurrence of impediments.
27.To be judicious and amicable, to desist from committing evil even in the face of death, to refrain from soliciting favours from the wicked, to avoid asking for help from a destitute friend, to remain steadfast in adversity and to follow in the footsteps of the great men, who taught these habits to good people which are as difficult as the vow of ‘walking on a sword’?
28.Suffering from pangs of hunger, emaciated by aging, weary, living in distressful condition, having lost all its majesty and breathing its last ‐ will even such a lion ever eat dry grass – the one that is foremost among the venerated and the one which aspires to devour flesh by tearing to pieces the temples of a rogue tusker?
29.A dog gets satisfaction by snatching a flesh‐less bone which has become filthy with a medley of fat and gut. Still its appetite remains unfulfilled. However, a lion would kill only an elephant, forsaking a jackal which may be within its reach. Even in adversity everyone aspires to achieve results according to one’s own prowess.
30.A dog wags its tail and crawls at the feet of its master, and shows him its mouth and belly to get food. However, a mighty elephant looks as its patron with composure, and eats only after a lot of coaxing.
31.In this transitory world who is unborn or immortal? It is only he who is really born, by whose birth the entire family progresses.
32.Like a bunch of flowers, the great thinkers are ordained for only two kinds of existence. Either they are placed over the heads of the people or they perish in the forest.
33.There are five or six revered planets in the sky like Jupiter, but the swash‐buckler Rahu does not contend with them. Look O Brother! Rahu, the lord of demons, which is surviving merely on a truncated head, swallows only the Sun and the Moon watching the appropriate time (i.e. Amavasya and Poornima, the darkest night and the full‐moon night of the month respectively) and none else.
34.Sheshnaga (the thousand‐headed serpent) holds the entire universe on its massive hood. The mythological Tortoise carries them on the plateau of its back, and yet the Ocean cradles all of them in its lap (during the time of Pralaya i.e. the universal destruction). The magnificence of the character in great ones is limitless.
35.It would have been better for Mainaak (the son of Himalaya) to have died, scorched, amidst the fierce sparking fires of the thunder‐bolt hurled by Lord Indra, rather than to have left his father in lurch and hide in the waters of the ocean.
36.When even an inanimate object like a jasper becomes hot with the torch of sun beams, then how can a brilliant man brook any affront from others?
37.A lion’s cub also attacks a frenzied elephant. Valour is inherent in the nature of the powerful, and age, as such, is of no consequence to their prowess.
38.Lineage may go to hell, and the array of attributes may descend even further. Moral conduct may fall from the mountain peak, high family status may burn to ashes, and valour in combat may be struck by lightening. We must, however, have wealth, without which all the accomplishments are no better than straw.
39.Sense organs remain the same, deeds are the same, sharp intellect is also the same, and so is speech. However, without the warmth of wealth, the same man turns into a stranger that very moment.
40.He who is wealthy regarded as of noble descent, a pundit, a scholar of the scriptures, a connoisseur of merits, an orator and handsome man. All the virtues are sheltered in gold.
41.The king is ruined by bad counsels, the yogi by attachment, and the son by pampering. The priest is destroyed by lack of study, the family by evil offspring, and modesty by drunkenness. Crops perish without personal attention, and affection disappears by absence abroad. Without constant display of cordiality, a friendship is lost, prosperity wanes because of imprudence, and the wealth depletes by carelessness or renunciation.
42.There are only three ends of wealth – charity, enjoyment or destruction. One who neither gives, nor enjoys, leaves open only the third course for it.
43.A well chiseled gem, a wounded victor, an elephant languid after rut, a slender river during the autumn, the narrow crescent of the waning moon, a young maiden fatigued after love, and men whose wealth has dwindled because of alms giving; the grace of these lies in their tenuity.
44.When a man is in penury, he pines for a handful of barley. After he becomes abundantly rich, he considers the entire world, no more than straw. There is no consistency in the greatness or smallness of material objects. It is the fluctuating fortune of wealthy men which overrates or underrates the material things.
45.O kings ! Should you desire to milk the cow which is this earth, then as a calf, provide all the support to your people (by tilling the lands). When this earth is tended properly, it yields plenty of fruits like Kalpataru (the mythological tree that grants all desire).
46.At times truthful, at times deceitful; sometimes stern and sometimes pleasing in speech, often violent and often kind, many a time spendthrift and many a time amassing wealth; such are the many faces of politics like that of a strumpet.
47.What is the gain in serving such kings who are devoid of these six virtues; commanding obedience, spreading name and fame, fostering of Brahmins (the learned), giving of charity, enjoying the wealth and protecting the friends.
48.Whatever small or big amount of wealth, the creator has writ in one’s destiny, that man will acquire in full measure whether the dwells in the desert or on Meru, the mountain of gold. Thus, O men ! be patient, and do not bemoan your plight infront of the affluent. Look ! whether you fill a pitcher in the well or in the ocean, it can only hold water according to its capacity.
49.Oh cloud ! who is not aware that you are the support of Chaatak (an Indian bird which is supposed to quench its thirst with the rain drops during the swaati constellation)? Then why you wait for our entreaties.
50.O my friend Chaatak ! Listen carefully to me for a moment. There is many a cloud in the sky, but not all are alike. Some will rain and drench the earth, and some will only give forth peals of thunder. Thus, do not express your woes to everyone whom you see.
51.The self evident signs of the wicked are: cruelty, quarelling without provocation, craving for the wealth and women of others, and intolerance of well‐meaning kinsfolk.
52.It is wise to keep a wicked man at arm’s length even if he is embellished with knowledge. Is it not true that a snake even though crowned with a jewel is yet dreadful?
53.Evil men decry modest person as dull, a fasting pious man as a hypocrite, a holy person as a meek, a bright man as vain, an orator as a glib‐talker and patient man as weak‐willed. Which is the attribute of the virtuous that wicked don’t disparage?
54.If one is possessed by cupidity, then he may have no other vices; if one is in the habit of back‐biting, then there is no need for committing sins. Austerity is not required for him who is truthful. He need not go on pilgrimages who has a clear conscience. If one has a gentle disposition, then he need no other strength. One who possesses dignity, for him there is no use of any ornaments. If one has acquired good knowledge, riches are not necessary for him, and if one has begotten ill‐repute, then death is not necessary for him.
55.A moon paled by daylight, a temptress who is past her youth, a lake without lilies, a handsome but an unlettered man, a master deeply possessive of his wealth, a gentleman doomed to destitution, and a scoundrel having access to a kin’s court‐ these are seven barbs that pierce my heart always.
56.Those kings who suffer from excessive anger, alienate even their own kinsmen. The touch of fire burns even the performer of a fire‐sacrifice (havan).
57.The path of service is formidable. It is difficult even for a yogi to follow. If a man in service remains quiet, then he is called dumb. If he is quick‐witted, then he is described as loquacious. If he stays close by, then he is taken to be audacious, and if he maintains a distance, then is considered as shy. If he is tolerant, then he is regarded as timid, and he is unable to bear indignities, then he is known as ill‐bred.
58.Can anyone ever be happy under the domination of that mean fellow who envies the virtuous, who under the fortuitous gain of prosperity has entirely forgotten his own previous deeds of depravity, one who is unrestrained, and who has raised the stock of the vile?
59.Friendship with the wicked and the virtuous is like the shadow of the forenoon and the afternoon, respectively. The one is long in the beginning and then gradually shrinks. The other is short at the commencement but progressively lengthens with the passage of time.
60.A deer, a fish and a gentleman subsist on grass, water and contentment, yet a hunter, a fisherman and a backbiter are hostile to them respectively without rhyme or reason.
61.Those who are desirous of good company, are pleased with the merits of others, maintain humility before elders, are engrossed in learning, have love for their wives, are scared of public censure, have devotion for the trident‐bearing Lord Shiva, who are self‐disciplined and those men who shun familiarity with the wicked – my salutations to those men who possess these pure qualities.
62.Patience in adversity, magnanimity in ascendancy, eloquence in assembly, bravery in battle, aspiration for eminence and engrossment in the Scriptures are the self‐evident attributes of great men.
63.To give secret charities, to extend hospitality to visitors, to keep silent after doing good to others and to extol publicly the favours received from others, to restrain from pride after acquiring wealth and to avoid contempt while speaking about others – who has taught this difficult practice of ‘walking on a sword’ to good people?
64.Giving of praise‐ worthy alms is an ornament for the hands, bowing at the feet of the guru is that for the head; the ornament of the mouth is truthful speech, that of the arms is invincible bravery; clean conscience is the ornament of one’s heart and the attainment of knowledge is the ornament of the ears. These ornaments belong to men who are great by their own natural tendencies, though they may be without opulence.
65.In opulence the heart of great men is as soft as that of a lotus flower, but in adversity the same hardens like a rock of a big mountain.
66.Water when dropped on a hot iron, evaporates leaving no trace of itself. The drops of water that nestle on lotus‐leaves gleam like pearls. The same when they fall in the oyster shells of the ocean during the swaati, these generate pearls. Base, mediocre and superior attributes are generally cultivated by the different types of company one keeps.
67.Indeed, a son is he who makes his father happy with his good deeds. The woman who is a well‐wisher of her husband is a wife in the real sense. A friend who remains alike in times of happiness and misery, is a true friend. Verily, men obtain these three only as a result of their good deeds.
68.A man aught to worship only one god – either Shiva or Krishna. He should have only one friend – either king or an anchorite, and one abode – either in the city or in the forest. His consort should only be one – whether a beautiful woman or a cave.
69.Is there anyone in the world who will not adore men with such wonderful behaviour – men who display their humility by praising the qualities of others, men who while fulfilling their own tasks, work hard to get the assignments of others also completed, and men who by remaining quiet make foul‐mouthed persons uttering invectives, look guilty?
70.Trees bend down with the emergence of fruits. A cloud full of rain floats low in the sky. Similarly, good people don’t become proud in prosperity. Indeed, such is the nature of those who help others.
71.Ears are to be adorned by listening to the Scriptures and not with ear‐rings; hands by alms‐giving and not with bracelets, and body by benevolence and not with the application of sandal‐paste.
72.He restrains his friend from committing sins, and induces him to do good deeds. He conceals the unseemly secrets of a friend, projecting only his good qualities. He does not desert his friend in difficulties, but gives timely assistance. Saints describe these as the characteristics of a true friend.
73.The sun causes the lotus to bloom, the moon does the same to the cluster of lilies, and a rain cloud pours water without being asked. Saints themselves endeavor to benefit others.
74.The superior men sacrifice their own well‐being for the sake of others; the common people work for the benefit of others when it is not against their own interest. People who harm others for their own gains are like demons in the guise of men. I, however, do not know what to call them who destroy the happiness of others without rhyme or reason.
75.When water is mixed with milk, the latter gifts all its qualities (color, liquidity, sweetish taste etc.) to the water. Subsequently, when it is boiled, the water witnessing the suffering of milk, burns itself first. As soon as the milk finds its friend water immolating itself, it tries to jump out in to the fire with the effervescence. Then drops of water are sprinkled over the boiling milk for it to calm down. Similar is the friendship of good people.
76.This side Lord Vishnu slumbers, on the other the clan of his enemies. Here the mountains have taken refuge (out of the fear of Lord Indra) and there rests the submarine fire along with the clouds of apocalypse. Indeed, the expanse of the ocean is spread wide, is full of power and carries all this great burden.
77.Refrain from cupidity, and cultivate mercy; eschew pride, and not be engrossed in sins; speak the truth, and follow in the footsteps of the saints; serve the learned, and respect the worthy; be courteous even to enemies, and disseminate patronage; maintain a good reputation and be compassionate to men in suffering. These are the characteristics of good men.
78.How many good persons are there in this world whose mind, body and speech are filled with the nectar of piety, who keep all the three worlds gratified by their benevolent acts, who magnify even the minute atoms of virtue in others to mountaineous proportions, and who are always cheerful at heart?
79.The gods did not rest content with the jewels obtained by the churning of the ocean, nor were they stupefied and awed, with getting the deadly poison. They did not seek repose until they had acquired the nectar. Similarly, men of determination do not rest on their laurels until they achieve their objective.
80.Discerning men may slight or laud them, the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, may come or go as she likes, death may occur today or after ages; but strong‐willed men do not deviate from the path of justice.
81.One who possesses a good moral conduct which is dear to all – for him, fire turns in to water, the ocean shrinks to the size of a channel, the mountain, Meru, constricts into a tiny rock, a lion behaves like a deer, a snake transforms into a garland, and poison showers nectar.
82.A tree grows again after pruning, and the moon also waxes after waning. Contemplating this, the righteous men do not grieve in suffering.
83.Civility is the ornament of prosperity, restrained speech of valour, mental tranquility of knowledge, humility of studying the scriptures, charity to the deserving of wealth, control over anger of austerity, forgiveness of power, and sincerity of righteousness. Moral conduct is the root cause of all this – and it is the most precious ornament of all.
84.Of what consequence are Sumeru, the mountain of gold or Kailash. The silvery mountain where the trees remain unchanged for ever. We consider the Malaya mountain (on the western ghats) as greater where even the thorny and bitter (like the neem) trees acquire the fragrance of sandal wood.
85.Sometimes they sleep on the ground, sometimes on beds; some times they survive by eating herbs and vegetables, sometimes they get to eat delicious rice‐dishes, sometimes they barely cover themselves with rags and sometimes they wear beautiful silken cloths. Single‐minded persons striving for their goals are unmindful of interim weal and woe.
86.Just as a ball bounces back after hitting the ground, similarly, the suffering of righteous men is temporary.
87.Indolence, indeed, is like the great enemy inside men’s body; and there is no friend as good as diligence. An industrious man never suffers.
88.A snake, stricken with hunger and despair, lay coiled in a basket. In the night a mouse gnawed a hole in the basket, and on its own fell into the mouth of the snake. The snake gratified its hunger with the flesh of the mouse, and quickly crept out of its captivity through the same hole. O men! Be patient , destiny is the main cause of one’s rise and fall.
89.Indra’s (the chief of gods) counselor was Jupiter, his weapon was the thunder‐bolt and his soldiers the gods; the heaven was Indra’s fort and he always had the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Indra’s vehicle was Airaavat, the white elephant. Yet Indra would quit the battle fields vanquished by his enemies. Alas, unequivocally, it is destiny alone that gives shelter. Fie on futile bravado!
90.The result of men’s efforts depends upon fate. Intelligence is also determined by fate, yet wise men should think before acting.
91.Walking briskly in search of shade, a bald man whose head was scorched by the sun‐rays, by chance took shelter under a palmyra tree. There a large fruit fell on his crown fracturing his skull. Usually, whenever goes an unfortunate man, calamities follow him then and there.
92.Witnessing the eclipse of the sun and the moon, the bondage of an elephant and a snake, and poverty of an intelligent man, I dare say, destiny, indeed, is powerful.
93.Brahma, the architect of the universe, created human beings like a jewel among all species to bedeck the earth. However, he made their lives exceedingly short. Woe, unto Brahma’s frivolity.
94.What false is it of the spring if there are no leaves on the thorny bush? If an owl is unable to see in day time, then what is wrong with the sun? If the rain drop does not fall into the beak of the Chaatak. Why should the cloud be blamed? This only denotes that no one can wipe out whatever God has willed in destiny.
95.My salutation to gods, but they live under the control of the Creator, Brahma. I pray then to Brahma, but he rewards according to one’s actions. If the results depend upon actions alone, then is there any purpose in propitiating the gods or the Creator? Thus, I salute the actions only which even Brahma cannot defy.
96.I salute immutable causation, which made Brahma mould the universe like a potter; which compelled Vishnu to undergo the harrowing experience of ten intricate incarnations; constrained Shiva to beg for alms carrying a human skull in his hand; pushes the sun to traverse the sky eternally.
97.A beautiful body bears no fruit, nor high family or good character, knowledge or diligent service. It is the accumulation of merit through a man’s previous austerities which alone fructify even as the trees in due season.
98.Whether one is in a battlefield or in a forest; whether one is in the midst of enemies, water or fire; in the sea or on a mountain peak; in slumber or in senselessness – in whatever difficult plight a man may be, it is his past meritorious deeds that really, protect him.
99.The virtuous deeds which inspire the vile to behave like saints and groom nincompoops to be learned; turn the envious into well‐wishers and the implicit into the tangible; and which instantly metamorphose venom into nectar – O gentleman, take the shelter of such virtuous deeds to enjoy the fruit you cherish, instead of depending upon other means entailing miseries.
100. Before taking any action, whether good or bad, wise men should carefully ponder Over its consequences. Or else, the result of an act done in haste keeps piercing the heart like an arrow even after death.
101. The unfortunate man who does not practice austerities after taking birth in this field of action, the world, he virtually tries to make oil‐cakes by boiling sesame seeds in a pot of ruby on the fire of sandal‐wood. He tills the soil with golden ploughshare to reap swallow‐wort (madaar). He cuts the camphor trees to grow a fence of kodo (a kind of coarse‐grained plant).
102. Whether one drowns in water, or ascends the peak of Meru; whether he conquers his enemies in battle or takes to commence, agriculture or service; he may learn all the arts and crafts; he may even with a lot of endeavour fly in the sky and he may do anything he likes; but what is not destined will not happen and whatever is fated will definitely occur – it is inevitable.
103. A man who has accumulated a mass of meritorious deeds in his previous life – for him even a dense forest becomes like a metropolis, all its denizens like his own kith and kin, and the whole earth fills up with gems for him.
104. What is gain? It is the companionship of the virtuous. What is grief? It is the company of fools. What is loss? It is the dissipation of time. What is prudence? It is devotion to virtue. What is valour? It is the conquest of the senses. Who is the beloved wife? One who is devoted to her husband. What is wealth? It is knowledge. What is happiness? It is to remain settled in one’s own country. What is rulership? It is to command obedience.
105. High minded men, like flowers of Malti (an Indian creeper) have only two destinies – either they are placed on the head by everybody, or they decay in the forest unseen.
106. The world is ornamented only at a few scattered places with men who refrain from offensive expression, who speak sweetly, who are content with their own spouses, and who are free from the tendency of humiliating others.
107. A man with fortitude may be in anguish, but he cannot be made to give up his steadfastness; even as when a fire is turned upside down, yet its flames rise upwards and never go downwards.
108. He whom the arrow‐like side glances of a beloved have not pierced, he who has not been consumed by his own fire‐like fury, and whom various mundane attachments and avarices have not allured, he , the strong‐willed man conquers the three worlds.
109. Even as the sun by itself illumines the earth with its vast and widely diffused brilliance, similarly, a brave man keeps the world at his feet.
110. Those enlightened men who are deeply attached to truthfulness, are ready to relinquish happiness and life, but they do not renounce their pledge of adhering to truth that gives birth to modesty and other virtues. That vow is like a simple‐hearted and ever amiable mother to them.