Neeti Shakatam

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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.

Criticism of fools (moorkhanindaa)
अज्ञः सुखमाराध्यः
सुखतरमाराध्य्ते विशेषज्ञ: ।
ज्ञानलवदुर्विदग्धं
ब्रह्मापि नरं न रंजयति ॥
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.