Niti-sataka 4: The dependent and the wicked

Trying to divide these up into meaningful sections is a bit difficult, like I said yesterday. There are only a couple of verses describing the ideal servant, or dependent person, but I gave them its own section. The section on the wicked is somewhat short also. Then we will move into a section on the characteristics and behavior of the wicked. I think ideally, the entire sataka should be slightly reorganized for the sake consistency. 

The dependent

yad dhātrā nija-bhāla-paṭṭa-likhitaṁ stokaṁ mahad vā dhanaṁ
tat prāpnoti marusthale'pi nitarāṁ merau tato nādhikam |
tad dhīro bhava vittavatsu kṛpaṇāṁ vṛttiṁ vṛthā mā kṛthāḥ
kūpe paśya payonidhāv api ghaṭo gṛhṇāti tulyaṁ jalam || 49 ||

Everyone is destined to have a certain amount of wealth, great or small;
it has been written on the tableau of your forehead.
You will get what is coming to you even if you live in the desert,
and will not get it by climbing Mount Meru.
So be patient and do not play the beggar with the wealthy.
A jug will get just as full of water
whether you dip it in the ocean or in a well.

tvam eva cātakādhāro'
sīti keṣāṁ na gocaraḥ |
kim ambhoda-varāsmākaṁ
kārpaṇyoktaṁ pratīkṣase ||50||

O best of the clouds!
You are the only shelter of us sparrows

and you pay no attention to anyone else.
So why do you wait to hear our prayers?

The sparrow is said to fly under the cloud to drink water directly as it falls. ḥere, the idea is given that a great person does not wait for those dependent on him to beg for help, but comes to their aid naturally and voluntarily, without feeling the need to humiliate them.

re re cātaka sāvadhāna-manasā mitra kṣaṇaṁ śrūyatām
ambhodā bahavo vasanti gagane sarve'pi naitādṛśāḥ |
kecid vṛṣṭibhir ārdrayanti vasudhāṁ garjanti kecid vṛthā
yaṁ yaṁ paśyasi tasya tasya purato mā brūhi dīnaṁ vacaḥ ||51||

My dear sparrow, my friend,
listen to me carefully for a moment:
There are many clouds in the sky,
but not all of them are the same.
Some drench the earth with a downpour,
while others rumble uselessly.
Don't go to every cloud you see
and make heartfelt pleas for mercy.

One should not reveal one's needs to every prospective benefactor, but should be very careful about such things. If one shows one's poverty to those who are empty braggards, he leaves himself open to mockery. A rich person, if wicked, should be avoided. The natural characteristics of the wicked are described in the next verse.

The wicked

akaruṇatvam akāraṇa-vigrahaḥ
para-dhane para-yoṣiti ca spṛhā |
sujana-bandhu-janeṣv asahiṣṇutā
prakṛti-siddham idaṁ hi durātmanām ||52||

The natural qualities of the wicked are:
lack of compassion, eagerness to do battle, even without cause,
the desire to steal others' wealth or wives,
impatience with good people or even their own friends.

By "impatience" is meant "envy" or the inability to tolerate another's virtues or good fortune. By "natural qualities" it is to be understood that they are unchangeable. One may think that if something is to be gained from such a wicked person, such as knowledge, then why not associate with him. Bhartrihari says, no.

durjanaḥ parihartavyo
vidyayā'laṅkṛto'pi san |
maṇinā bhūṣitaḥ sarpaḥ
kim asau na bhayaṅkaraḥ ||53||

A wicked man is to be avoided at all costs,
even if he is very learned.
Is a snake any the less frightening
for the jewel it wears on its crown?

jāḍyaṁ hrīmati gaṇyate vrata-rucau dambhaḥ śucau kaitavaṁ
śūre nirghṛṇatā munau vimatitā dainyaṁ priyālāpini |
tejasviny avaliptatā mukharatā vaktary aśaktiḥ sthire
tat ko nāma guṇo bhavet sa guṇināṁ yo durjanair nāṅkitaḥ ||54||

The way the wicked look at the world is such that
they consider the modest to be stupid,
those who lead a life of strict principle to be puffed up,
those who are ethical to be hypocrites;
they think that a true hero is cruel,
and one who is silent to have no opinion, or an opposing one;
they suspect anyone who speaks to them kindly of being a beggar,
one who has leadership qualities to be a braggart,
one who speaks well to be a blabbermouth
and one who is steady to be weak.
What qualities can anyone possess
that a wicked person will not sully with his faultfinding?

It reminds me of old Ramachandra Puri. As Srila Paramananda Puri said: "A slanderer like Ramachandra does not consider a person's virtues, even if he has them by the hundreds. ṛather, he attempts to cleverly interpret these virtues as faults." (Antya 8.81). These characteristics are worth slipping into a commentary on the Gita's 16th chapter also.

lobhaś ced aguṇena kiṁ piśunatā yady asti kiṁ pātakaiḥ
satyaṁ cet tapasā ca kiṁ śuci mano yady asti tīrthena kim |
saujanyaṁ yadi kiṁ guṇaiḥ sumahimā yady asti kiṁ maṇḍanaiḥ
sad-vidyā yadi kiṁ dhanair apayaśo yady asti kiṁ mṛtyunā ||55||

If a man is greedy, then what need has he for other flaws?
And if he is a slanderer, then what need has he for other sins?
If one has truth, then what need of other discipline?
And if he is pure, then what need has he of pilgrimages?
If one is polite, then what need of other virtues,
and if of good repute, what need of physical decoration?
And if one possesses correct knowledge,
then what need has he of riches?
But if you fall into disrepute, then what need is there of dying?

"What need of dying?" means that you become one of the living dead.

śaśī divasa-dhūsaro galita-yauvanā kāminī
saro vigata-vārijaṁ mukham anakṣaraṁ svākṛteḥ |
prabhur dhana-parāyaṇaḥ satata-durgataḥ sajjano
nṛpāṅgaṇa-gataḥ khalo manasi sapta śalyāni me ||55||

There are seven things that are like daggers in my heart:
the moon that loses its brightness in the daytime,
an aging beauty who has lost her charm,
a pond in which the lotuses have died,
dull, uneducated speech in a handsome face,
a greedy and miserly master,
a good person who is stricken with bad luck
and a rascal who has found a place in the king's court.

This verse reminds me of another by Jiva Goswami.

nṛpo na hari-sevitā vyaya-kṛtī na hary-arpakaḥ
kavir na hari-varṇakaḥ śrita-gurur na hary-āśritaḥ
guṇī na hari-tat-paraḥ sarala-dhīr na kṛṣṇāśrayaḥ
sa na braja-ramānugaḥ sva-hṛdi sapta śalyāni me

The king who does not serve Hari,
the person who spends, but offers nothing to Hari;
the poet who does not glorify Krishna with his words;
the person who has taken a spiritual master,
but not taken refuge in Hari;
the person with good qualities who is not fixed on Hari;
the simple-hearted person who has not taken shelter of Hari;
and finally, one who has taken shelter of Krishna,
but does not follow in the footsteps of the gopis --
These are the seven spears that pierce my heart.
(Gopāla-pūrva-campū 33.61)

na kaścic caṇḍa-kopānām
ātmīyo nāma bhūbhujām |
hotāram api juhvānaṁ
spṛṣṭo vahati pāvakaḥ ||57||

A king who is quick to anger
has no one he can call his own.
Fire burns even the priest
offering oblations into the sacrficial flames.

The idea is that anger is always dangerous, even if one has the authority to use it. The example is appropriate: a Vedic priest is authorized to use fire in performing a sacrifice, but it still has a negative effect if he touches it.

mauno mūkaḥ pravacana-paṭur bāṭulo jalpako vā
dhṛṣṭaḥ pārśve vasati ca sadā dūrataś cāpragalbhaḥ |
kṣāntyā bhīrur yadi na sahate prāyaśo nābhijātaḥ
sevā-dharmaḥ parama-gahano yoginām apy agamyaḥ ||58||

If a servant is silent, he is accused of being dumb,
if he is clever in his speech, then he is called talkative or even crazy;
if he stands too close, he is called shameless,
but if he stands too far away, he is lacking initiative;
if he is patient, he is thought to be fearful,
and if he is unable to tolerate difficulties,
he is mocked for thinking himself to be too good.
These are the difficulties of being a servant;
its depths are not understood, even by the yogis.

udbhāsitākhila-khalasya viśṛṅkhalasya
prāg-jāta-vistṛta-nijādhama-karma-vṛtteḥ |
daivād avāpta-vibhavasya guṇa-dviṣo'sya
nīcasya gocara-gataiḥ sukham āpyate ||59||

If a petty and wicked person,
who is unrestrained by morality,
gains wealth by some trick of fortune,
he becomes a real danger to others.
He hates the virtuous, so how will those
near him find happiness?

So don't work for someone like that.

ārambha-gurvī kṣayiṇī krameṇa
laghvī purā vṛddhimatī ca paścāt |
dinasya pūrvārdha-parārdha-bhinnā
chāyeva maitrī khala-saj-janānām ||60||

Both friendship with the deceitful or with the honest
can be compared to a shadow,
either of the morning or the afternoon.
The morning shadow starts large,
and becomes progressively smaller,
while the afternoon shadow starts small
and becomes progressively larger.

A dishonest person feigns friendship to achieve some purpose of his own. When that purpose is achieved, the friendship wanes. Actually, one of the themes of the Satakam is friendship, like the Hitopadesa. I think it worth considering these points in the culture of friendship within the bhakti-universe, where friendship with the devotees is an important part of the sadhana.

mṛga-mīna-sajjanānāṁ tṛṇa-jala-santoṣa-vihita-vṛttīnām |
lubdhaka-dhīvara-piśunā niṣkāraṇa-vairiṇo jagati ||61||

In this world, hunters
are enemies without cause of animals,
whose only wealth is grass;
fishermen similarly are enemies without cause
of fish, whose only possession is the water,
and the envious are enemies without cause of gentle folk,
whose only wealth is their self-satisfaction.


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