Niti-satakam 2: In praise of learning and the learned


hartur yāti na gocaraṁ kim api śaṁ puṣṇāti yat sarvadā’py
arthibhyaḥ pratipādyamānam aniśaṁ prāpnoti vṛddhiṁ parām |
kalpānteṣv api na prayāti nidhanaṁ vidyākhyam antar-dhanaṁ
yeṣāṁ tān prati mānam ujjhata nṛpāḥ kas taiḥ saha spardhate || 16 ||

Knowledge is an internal wealth:
it is imperceptible to the thief;
it always brings real calm to the spirit;
when given away to those who ask for it,
it increases rather than dwindling,
and even after ages, it does not come to destruction.
O kings, give up your pride with those who possess such wealth,
for it is not possible to compete with them.

adhigata-paramārthān paṇḍitān māvamaṁsthās
tṛṇam iva laghu lakṣmīr naiva tān saṁruṇaddhi |
abhinava-mada-lekhā-śyāma-gaṇḍa-sthalānāṁ
na bhavati bisa-tantur vāraṇaṁ vāraṇānām || 17 ||

Never disrespect the scholars who have understood the highest goals of life.
Fortune is like grass to them; it cannot bind them any more
than the threads found in the stem of lotus can bind
a mad elephant with cheeks blackened by streams of ichor.

ambhojinī-vana-vihāra-vilāsam eva
haṁsasya hanti nitarāṁ kupito vidhātā |
na tv asya dugdha-jala-bheda-vidhau prasiddhāṁ
vaidagdhī-kīrtim apahartum asau samarthaḥ || 18 ||

The creator may become angry with a swan
and deprive it of its pleasurable place of residence
in the lotus garden.
He will never be able to deprive it of its glory
of knowing how to separate milk from water.

keyūrāṇi na bhūṣayanti puruṣaṁ hārā na candrojjvalā
na snānaṁ na vilepanaṁ na kusumaṁ nālaṅkṛtā mūrdhajāḥ |
vāṇy ekā samalaṅkaroti puruṣaṁ yā saṁskṛtā dhāryate
kṣīyante khalu bhūṣaṇāni satataṁ vāg-bhūṣaṇaṁ bhūṣaṇam || 19 ||

What are the adornments of a man?
Are they the bracelets on his arm,
or necklaces, luminous as the moon?
Or cleanliness, or perfumes of saffron and camphor,
flowers or well-coiffed hair?
Only speech perfectly graces a man;
well-turned speech the true ornament
that puts all physical accoutrements to shame.

vidyā nāma narasya rūpam adhikaṁ pracchanna-guptaṁ dhanaṁ
vidyā bhogakarī yaśaḥ-sukhakarī vidyā gurūṇāṁ guruḥ |
vidyā bandhujano videśa-gamane vidyā parā devatā
vidyā rājasu pūjyate na tu dhanaṁ vidyā-vihīnaḥ paśuḥ ||20||

Learning and knowledge are the true beauty of a man;
it is one's hidden wealth;
learning is the real source of pleasure,
it brings fame and joy.
Learning is the teacher of teachers.
It is a companion when one travels abroad,
it is the supreme object of worship.
Learning is more honored amongst kings than wealth
One without learning is a beast.

kṣāntiś cet kavacena kiṁ kim aribhiḥ krodho'sti ced dehināṁ
jñātiś ced analena kiṁ yadi suhṛd divyauṣadhaṁ kiṁ phalam |
kiṁ sarpair yadi durjanāḥ kim u dhanair vidyānavadyā yadi
vrīḍā cet kim u bhūṣaṇaiḥ sukavitā yady asti rājyena kim || 21 ||

If one is kind to all beings, then what is the need of shields?
And if one is angry towards all beings, then what is the need of enemies?
If one has family, then what is the need of fire?
And if one has a friend, then what is gained from divine herbs?
If there are evil people around, then what need has one of snakes?
And if one has boundless knowledge, then what need has he of wealth?
If one has modesty, then what need has he of ornaments,
and if one has real wisdom, then what need has he of worldly kingdoms?

dākṣiṇyaṁ svajane dayā parijane śāṭhyaṁ sadā durjane
prītiḥ sādhujane nayo nṛpa-jane vidvaj-jane cārjavam |
śauryaṁ śatru-jane kṣamā guru-jane kāntā-jane dhṛṣṭatā
ye caivaṁ puruṣāḥ kalāsu kuśalās teṣv eva loka-sthitiḥ ||22||

Consideration with one's own relatives,
Kindness to friends, guile with those who are evil,
friendliness to the pious, prudence with rulers,
simplicity in dealings with the wise,
heroism with one's enemies,
forgiveness with one's seniors,
and uninhibitedness with one's beloved --
those who are expert in these arts of behavior
are well-established in the world.

jāḍyaṁ dhiyo harati siñcati vāci satyaṁ
mānonnatiṁ diśati pāpam apākaroti |
cetaḥ prasādayati dikṣu tanoti kīrtiṁ
sat-saṅgatiḥ kathaya kiṁ na karoti puṁsām ||23||

What takes away the dullness of wit
and sprinkles truth into our speech?
What brings us increased respect
and removes our impious actions?
What brings satisfaction to our minds
and spreads our fame in every direction?
ṭell me: what benefits do not accrue to a man
from the association of the saintly?

jayanti te sukṛtino
rasa-siddhāḥ kavīśvarāḥ |
nāsti yeṣāṁ yaśaḥkāye
jarā-maraṇa-jaṁ bhayam || 24 ||

May those pious poets
who have mastered the aesthetic arts
be ever victorious.
For their body of fame
will never know the fear of old age or death.

sūnuḥ sac-caritaḥ satī priyatamā svāmī prasādonmukhaḥ
snigdhaṁ mitram avañcakaḥ parijano niḥkleśa-leśaṁ manaḥ |
ākāro ruciraḥ sthiraś ca vibhavo vidyāvadātaṁ mukhaṁ
tuṣṭe viṣṭapa-kaṣṭa-hāriṇi harau samprāpyate dehinā || 25 ||

When Hari, who destroys the suffering of the world,
is pleased with someone, he gives
a virtuous son, a chaste and devoted wife,
a kind and satisfied employer, affectionate friends,
servants who don't steal and a mind that is free of any worries,
a pleasing appearance, a stable source of income,
and speech that is purified by learning.

prāṇāghātān nivṛttiḥ para-dhana-haraṇe saṁyamaḥ satya-vākyaṁ
kāle śaktyā pradānaṁ yuvati-jana-kathā-mūka-bhāvaḥ pareṣām |
tṛṣṇā-sroto vibhaṅgo guruṣu ca vinayaḥ sarva-bhūtānukampā
sāmānyaḥ sarva-śāstreṣv anupahata-vidhiḥ śreyasām eṣa panthāḥ || 26 ||

Abstention from doing harm to any creature
and from stealing others' possessions;
truth in speech,
giving in charity when able,

silence in the company of women,
equanimity to one's own desires,
respectful humility before one’s teachers
and compassion to all creatures:
these are the indisputable rules found in all scriptures
which are the path to all auspiciousness.

prārabhyate na khalu vighna-bhayena nīcaiḥ
prārabhya vighna-vihatā viramanti madhyāḥ |
vighnaiḥ punaḥ punar api pratihanyamānāḥ
prārabdham uttama-janā na parityajanti || 27 ||

An inferior man will not take up a task
because he forebodes the obstacles;
a better class of man takes up endeavors,
but obstacles make him abandon them;
the superior person does not give up what he has begun
even when repeatedly harassed by many obstacles.

asanto nābhyarthyāḥ suhṛd api na yācyaḥ kṛśa-dhanaḥ
priyā nyāyyā vṛttir malinam asu-bhaṅge’py asukaram |
vipady uccaiḥ stheyaṁ padam anuvidheyaṁ ca mahatāṁ
satāṁ kenoddiṣṭaṁ viṣamam asi-dhārā-vratam idam || 28 ||

The impious are not to be invited into one’s house;
one should not ask money from a friend who is impoverished;
one should engage in honest work that is dear to his nature,
and not do reprehensible actions, even when faced with death,
remaining fixed in higher principles even in calamity:
Who has ordained this painful, razor-sharp rule of life
that is followed by the great and the saintly?

kṣut-kṣāmo’pi jarā-kṛśo’pi śithila-prāṇo’pi kaṣṭāṁ daśām
āpanno’pi vipanna-dīdhitir iti prāṇeṣu naśyatsv api |
mattebhendra-vibhinna-kumbha-piśita-grāsaika-baddha-spṛhaḥ
kiṁ jīrṇaṁ tṛṇam atti māna-mahatām agresaraḥ kesarī || 29 ||

Even though emaciated from hunger and old age,
and though he may have lost his strength,
his condition be a torment, and his life in danger,
will the yellow-maned lion, the proudest of creatures,
dine on dried grass, when he pines exclusively
for even a single morcel
of an intoxicated elephant's humped skull
that he has himself split asunder?

svalpa-snāyu-vasāvaśeṣa-malinaṁ nirmāṁsam apy asthi goḥ
śvā labdhvā paritoṣam eti na tu tat tasya kṣudhā-śāntaye |
siṁho jambukam aṅkam āgatam api tyaktvā nihanti dvipaṁ
sarvaḥ kṛcchra-gato’pi vāñchati janaḥ sattvānurūpaṁ phalam || 30 ||

A dog finds happiness in eating a small dirty cow bone
with little or no meat, fat or marrow,
even though it does not relieve his hunger.
On the other hand, a lion ignores the jackal
that throws itself into his lap
to hunt for an elephant.
Every creature, even when in difficulty.
seeks that which is appropriate to his nature,

lāṅgūla-cālanam adhaś-caraṇāvapātaṁ
bhūmau nipatya vadanodara-darśanaṁ ca |
śvā piṇḍadasya kurute gaja-puṅgavas tu
dhīraṁ vilokayati cāṭu-śataiś ca bhuṅkte || 31 ||

The dog wags his tail, falls down at his master's feet,
rolls on the ground and gives his belly and muzzle to be scratched;
that is how he shows his pleasure and flatters his master to get a bite to eat,
but a stately elephant looks down with haughty tranquility
and eats only after being entreated to do so.

parivartini saṁsāre
mṛtaḥ ko vā na jāyate |
sa jāto yena jātena
yāti vaṁśaḥ samunnatim || 32 ||

In this ever changing world
every creature is born and dies,
but which one, after being born,
brings honor to his family?

kusuma-stavakasyeva
dvayī vṛttir manasvinaḥ |
mūrdhni vā sarva-lokasya
śīryate vana eva vā || 33 ||

Like a flower, a learned person
has two alternative situations:
either placed on everyone's head
or withering alone in the forest.

A learned person has pride and self-sufficiency. If he is not honored for his learning, the beauty of his learning continues to be displayed in solitude, but not being appreciated, it goes to waste.


Comments

Parikshit said…
Thank you Babaji for these beautiful and profound translations. I find the translations of exceptional literary quality. It gives me great joy every time I read you.

I'm presently reading the Bhagavat Sandharbha (of Babaji) and I again thank you for it.

I get to benefit from the colorful, sweet, high-quality flowers such as you.

Jai Shri Radhey!
Nice appreciation of prabhu Jagadananda work, Parikshit. I love Jagadji too.

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