******************************************************** Verse 1 - Guruprasamsa Verse 2 - Sathya Prasamsa Verse 3 - Vidhihi Verse 4 - Karyasidhi Verse 5 - Udyamaha Verse 6 - Vag-Bhooshanam Verse 7 - Lobhaha Verse 8 - Tripthih Verse 9 - Dhairyam Verse 10 - Tejaswi


****************************************************** Every Literature has its own collection of "good sayings". Sanskrit has its own collection of sacred wise sayings Subhashitani which teach us the values of life. These collections of "do"s and "don't"s form the basis of all culture and civilisation. They guide and show us the right path to be followed so that the purpose of human birth is achieved by one and all. Notable among the collections of Sanskrit Subhashitas is the Subhashita Rathnakara (an ocean of good sayings). Bhartruhari's Neethisathakam is yet another collection of good sayings. Top

Lesson # 2: Verse #1: Guruprasamsa

( In praise of Guru ):

One such popular saying from Subhashitha Rathnakara is in praise of the GURU - or Guru Prasamsa. The word Guru in Sanskrit is not a mere teacher of an objective subject. He gives the real subjective knowledge about oneself. Out of the letters in the word "Guru ", the letter ' Gu ' stands for darkness or ignorance; and the letter ' Ru ' stands for the one who removes it or dispells it. The Guru is the one who removes the ignorance of a seeker about his own true nature and gives him Jnanam or '"Knowledge" with which he realises his identity with the Soul or the Athman. We are all ignorant of our real nature; we do not know from where we came to this world, where we are finally going after this life, what is the purpose of our life and whether we are fulfilling it here. Our knowledge about ourselves is covered by a thick layer of Ajnanam - ignorance which impairs our true vision of ourselves. Like a surgeon who performs a cataract operation on the eye to remove the cataract and restore the vision to the eyes, so also, the Guru applies the collyrium ( a medicinal ointment applied to eyes called Kajal) and removes the cataract of ignorance and restores our vision about ourselves and our purpose of life. Thus the Guru is more than a God, the one who shows the God and without him, we do not fulfil the purpose of life. Natuarally, a seeker is all praise of the Guru who gives a meaning to life. By praising the Guru, the student is not obliging or doing any service to the Guru, but is only trying to imbibe the Knowledge given by the Guru. Without the medium of the teacher, the student would always remain ignorant and blind. The Guru thus gives a new dimension and opens up a new bright horizon for the student. The particular verse says: Quote: Ajnanatimirandhasya Jnanjanasalakaya, Chakshurunmeelitam yena tasmai sri Gurave namaha. "Salutations to that gracious preceptor, by whom the eyes of one blinded by ignorance is opened by applying the collyrium-brush of wisdom. " This sloka has a very beautiful simile embedded in it. It throws up a graphic picture of a person blinded by cataract, is treated by a Doctor with a medicinal ointment, Anjana. Similarly, the ignorance of a true seeker Ajnanam is removed by the Guru by giving him Jnanam, Knowledge. In this way the vision of the student is restored by the Guru. Significance: The verse brings out the glory of Guru in our culture and shows how much we owe to the institution of Guru-sishya-parampara in our pursit of Truth. The Knowledge imparted by the Guru to his Sishyas flows from generation to generation like the periennial Ganga for all times to come.

Lesson #2 - Verse #2: SATHYA PRASAMSA -

In Praise of Truth

****************************************************** Sathyam brooyath priyam brooyath na brooyath sathyam apriyam, Priyam cha na anritham brooyath esha Dharma sanatanaha. This verse is from the collection of Subhashita Ratnakara, and it emphasises the need of telling Truth in a pleasant manner without hurting anyone. No doubt, one should always tell the Truth, but it should be spoken in a pleasing manner. If the truth is unpleasant, better to avoid telling an unpleasant truth. But on no account, one should speak falsehood for the sake of pleasing someone. This is an eternal value to be followed by one and all. Sathyameva Jayate is a declaration of our Upanishads. This is also the motto of our nation. Truth alone triumphs ultimately. While speaking, one should always stick to truth and it should be spoken in a pleasant manner without hurting the feelings of those to whom it is spoken to. If the truth is unpleasant, it is better not to speak of it bluntly. This does not mean that one can speak pleasantly an un-truth just to please some one. A person who is blind need not necessarily be addressed as a blind man even though it is a truth. If at all one has to refer to his blindness, one can use words like, "visually handicpped", etc., which may not immediately hurt the feelings, but can even reveal a note of sympathy. While pleasantness is a necessary corollary to speaking, the verse warns the speaker, not to go out of the way to please someone by telling falsehood. In that case, apart from the strictures of moral code of conduct, the falsehood will be exposed sooner or later and the result will be more detrimental. This is an eternal value and many such values constitute what is known as SANATANA DHARMA, the culture of ancient India. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #3: VIDHIHI - Fate:

****************************** Yet another verse, culled from Subhashita Rathnakara, relates to what is called ,VIDHI or Fate. The verse says: Bhavithavyam bhavathyeva narikelaphalambuvath, Ganthavyam gatham ithyahuhu gajabhuktha kapithhavath. What is destined to happen will happen inevitably, and what is not destined to happen will never happen in spite of all efforts. The verse conveys that what must stay would invariably stay. A cocoanut is destined to have water in it; but how does this water come inside it is a mystery to the naked eye. We cannot perceive the source of water that trickles into a tender cocoanut. This does not happen to any other class of other fruits and is destined to happen only in this family of fruits at the appropriate time. Similarly, what is not destined to remain, will not remain. The example given here is of the Kapithha fruit (wood-apple). An elephant eats a Kapithha fruit as it is without breaking it and excretes it as it is without any rupture. But if one examines the excreted fruit he will find that the water which was there before eating it is not there now. It has to go, and how does it go without breaking it, is Nature's mystery. This leads to a greater question. Does it mean that human effort has no value and every thing happens as per "Destiny"? What is Fate or Destiny? Is it blind faith leading to Fatalism? Does it lead to cutting at the very root of self-effort? There are three types of Karmaor "results of one's own actions". They are: (1) Sanchitha, (2) Prarabdha and ( 3) Aagami. Sanchita is a bundle of all the Karmas accumulated over a number of births. Prarabdha is that specific Karma or Karmas already taken up for the purpose of this life. Since these Karmas have already started to give results /fruition, nothing can be done about them at this stage. This is called Destiny or Fate. But there is yet another group of Karmas called Aagami, i.e.,the actions that are now being done which will give their results later in future. In this way, one can make or mar one's destiny. Man is not a puppet in the hands of Fate, he is the creater of his own Destiny. For more details, please see FAQ question # 1. at website: Top

Lesson #2: verse #4: KARYASIDHI:

Success of an Action

************************************************ Manasa chinthitham karyam vachasa na prakasayeth, Mantra rakshanagoodhatma karyasidhim prakasayeth. One should not divulge to others by words an action contemplated in the mind; but should keep it a secret like protecting a secret Mantra and declare to others only the success in actions. This verse is taken from Subhashitha Rathnakaraor "The Ocean of Good sayings" An action contemplated in our mind should be kept a secret from others. It should not be publicised in advance. Only the result of the action should speak for itself. Like one who keeps a Mantra a secret and does not divulge it to others, similarly, an action contemplated in mind is not meant for publicity. What is the necessity for this secrecy? What is the use of boasting about what he wants to do like an Election candidate, what is important is how far one is successful. Empty words, promises and decisions carry no weight till they are fulfilled in practice. They may lower one's image in the eyes of others who matter. At the outset, it may be made clear that one may not be able to fulfil all or any part of what one promises without knowing the true picture of the given things. Even if one knows it, it may not succeed to the extent one announced earlier. It may even create problem if others come to know of it. They can generate sufficient hassles and block your way, if they are not favourly inclined towards you. Really great people are those who speak less and work more. In the Mahabharatha, when Arjuna learnt about the killing of his son, Abhimanue, he openly vowed to burn himself if he could not kill Jayadratha before sunset on that day. This was openly given and alerted Jayadratha and his friends. The result was that Jayadratha went into hiding till sunset. Arjuna could not keep his words and Krishna had to save the situation by creating an illusory sunset to bring out Jayadratha to the field. Politicians promise many things at the time of election and are not able to fulfil all or part of them. They become objects of public ridicule at the next election. The success of an action depends upon the secrecy attached to it at the beginning. If the success is not up to the mark, even then, no one can measure the success in the absence of what was promised earlier. It also helps prevent sabotage by vested interests. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #5: UDYAMAHA - (Effort):

********************************************************** Udyoginam purushasimham upaithi Lakshmeeh Daivam pradhanam ithi kaapurushaah vadanthi, Daivam vihaya kuru pourusham athmasakthyaa Yathney krithey yadi na sidhyanthi ko/tra doshaha. The Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, favours only those who are diligent and industrious. Those who are weak-minded are lethargic and do not strive forward nor initiate an action on the plea that every thing is pre-determined by Fate which alone, they say, is more important than one's actions. One should, however, put one's best efforts disregarding "fate ". What is wrong, if one puts his best efforts, but does not succeed? This sloka is yet another quote from Subhashitha Rathnakara, the "Ocean of Good Sayings". It is said that no deer will voluntarily enter the mouth of a sleeping lion. Without an effort, even things that are destined to happen will not happen. Unless one moves one step forward, even God cannot help him. A hungry person once decided that he will not do anything that is required of him and wait for Fate to take its own course. He was sitting in a choultry where many travellers come, stay for some time and leave. He was feeling hungry, but would not move anywhere, for, he felt that fate will give him food. A couple of days passed by, and he could not get any food. His mouth began to water seeing other travellers eating and enjoying the food. He could not suffer any more and involuntarily, he coughed to attract the attention of those who were eating in his presence. It had the desired effect and one of the travellers heard his peevish cough and took pity on him and offered food. Atleast that much of effort as even a cough was required to succeed in life. It is only the daring and the adventurous that succeed in life. Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth goes to such person and favours him with, wealth and prosperity. Only the weak-minded people take cover on " fate" and take an excuse for not starting a work. The poet here asks a question generally raised by the weakminded: "What is the guarantee that the work started, if at all, will win ?". The poet says that even if it does not succeed, what is the fault here? It is better to try and lose, rather than not to try at all. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #6:

VAG-BHOOSHANAM - ( The Ornament of Speech):

****************************************************** Bhartruhari was a celebrated poet and grammarian, who is said to have been the brother of Vikramaditya. He wrote three Sathakas or "centuries of verses", called - 1)Sringara Sathaka on amatory matters; 2) Niti Sataka, on polity and ethics; 3) Vairagya Sataka, on religious austerity. These maxims are said to have been written when he had taken to a religious life after a licentious life. The verse given below is taken from Bhartuhari's Niti Sathakam: Keyoorani na bhooshayanthi purusham haara na chandrojwalaa Na snanam na vilepanam na kusumam naalamkritha moordhajaha, Vaanyekaa samalamkarothi purusham yaa samskrithaa dhaaryatey Ksheeyanthey khalu bhooshanani sathatham vaag-bhooshanam bhooshanam. What is the best ornament that decorates a human being? The usual ornaments like the bracelets or the necklaces that are as lustrous as the shining moon do not really decorate a person; Nor taking baths frequently, nor applying make-up with cosmetics, nor the flowers that are worn on the braid of hair on the head really determine the adornment of a person. The art of speech well delivered grammatically and perfectly, alone really adorns a person. All the other ornaments do perish; but the ornament of speech is a constant ornament that decorates a human being at all times. In the Ramayana, there is an illustrious character that has immortalised the art of speech. It is none other than Hanuman. In the introductory talk he gave to Rama and Lakshmana on his frst meeting with them, he impressed Rama so much with his eloquence, that Rama praised his speech to the skies. The speech revealed the speaker's knowledge of all the Vedas; it was neither too long nor too short; It was rendered without any grammatical flaw, with the least effort and at the right pitch. Hearing the speech, even an enemy with a drawn sword will be humoured to friendship. A king who has such an envoy who knows the art of good speech, can achieve anything in the world. This was what Rama felt about the art of speech. Thirukkural has also reiterated that speaking harsh words is like chewing an un-ripe fruit while ripened fruit is at hand. The scar left by an wound inflicted by a weapon may be healed in course of time, but the wound inflicted by harsh words can never be healed. Therefore, good speaking is an art and it has to be cutivated by all and practised at all times. The art of good speech attracts everyone and can even change the course of a nation's fortune. The oration of Mark Antony in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" was an acclaimed speech that turned the tide of political behaviour of the masses. The speech of Swami Vivekananda in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago is yet another landmark in the art of speech. That adorned him and his country better than what any jewellery, dress or cosmetics could have adorned .. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #7: LOBHAHA - (Greediness):

************************************************************* Aasaayaah yey daasaasthe daasaaha sarvalokasya, Aasaa yesham daasee thesham daasaayathe lokaha. "Those who are the servants of "Desire", are really the servants of the entire world. But to those for whom "Desire " is a maid-servant, the whole world serves as a servant. " This verse is taken from Subhashitha Rathnakara or "The Ocean of Good Sayings ". It brings out the evil effects of "Desire" in man and stresses the necessity of controlling it at all periods of time. Desire is caused by the intrinsic tendencies or " Vasnaas " with which a living thing is born with or acquired over a period of time in this life. All the problems in life can be traced to this root-cause of " Desire". Desire leads to attachment and anger. Anger leads to loss of discrimination, i.e. lack of proper understanding as to what is right and what is wrong. This makes the victim lose for the moment, his Buddhi-his intellect. Such a person will be prompted to act irrationally and he goes down in the ladder of evolution. A person goaded by "Desire" may go to any extent to fulfil his desire unless it is controlled at the right time. They stoop down to any low level to get their desires fulfilled. They thus become the Daasaas or servants of all those who are in a position to fulfil their desire. Such people are always looked down by the world. Not only that, they are more and more getting involved and bound to this material world with new and deep Vaasanaas that make "liberation" a distant cry. On the other hand, a man of perfection casts away all his desires born of his mind and still remains happy with himself. This is how the Bhagawat Geeta describes a man of steady wisdom : Prajahathi yadaa kamaan sarwan Partha manogathaan.... The Geeta further compares a perfect man to a tortise which can withdraw its limbs into itself at its will. Similarly, an intelligent man can and should withdraw his sense organs from the sense objects at his will. To such a wise man, "Desire" becomes his maid-servant waitng for his orders without enslaving him as is the case with a greedy person. The whole world will admire such a person of self-control and will wait on him like a servant waitng for the master. In other words, the whole world serves him as a servant. There is a story of a king's barber who got seven jars of gold coins, out of which one was not full while the others were overflowing. In spite of all the wealth at his disposal, he was the most unhappy person on the earth as he wanted to fill the seventh jar which was not full to the brim. He wasted his precious life pursuing the elusive seventh jar and finally gave up everything to exchange it for peace and happiness within. There is yet another story of a sage who was taken prisoner by Alexander, the great Greek emperor who offered all the wealth that he wanted in life if only he could accompany him under his command. The sage wanted none and that made him greater than the emperor and the entire world. Significance: It is not fulfilment of desires that makes a man great, but his ability to control them and withdraw his sense organs from them that is really great. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #8: TRIPTHIH ( Contentment ):

************************************************************* Sarpaah pibanthi pavanam na cha durbalaasthe Sushkaisthrinaih vanagajaah balino bhavanthi, Kandhaih phalaih munivaraah kshapayanthi kaalam Santhosha eva purushasya param nidhanam. "Serpents drink air and they are not weak; wild elephants sustain themselves on dried grass and still they are very strong; Great sages pass their time with fruits and roots. Therefore, contentment alone is the supreme wealth of man." This verse is taken from Subhashita Rathnakara- "the Ocean of Good Sayings ". Many of us have a wrong notion that we cannot achieve success in life because of the various limitations and privations we have to encounter for our very existence. Life is too precious to be wasted in an eternal search for fulfillment of the un-ending desires. What makes life happy and worth living is a sense of contentment at all times. It is this contentment that makes a person strong. Great people are those who do not hanker after material comforts that stifle the growth of man. A great Vidya Sagar was happy with his surroundings and studied under a lamp-post and came up in life to new heights which no student of the present day with all his pamperings can ever dream of reaching. The great secret of success is, therefore, not wealth, comforts and luxury, but a sense of contentment with what one has. This contentment alone makes a person concentrate on his work, instead of frittering away his energies in brooding over his limitations in comparison to others. In support of this universal truth of contentment, the verse gives three examples. The first is that serpents are poisonous and they are strong. Even an army will be scattered by the mere mention of a serpent at hand. What makes the serpent so powerful? Certainly it does not take strong doses of strength-building medicines, nor take food that nourishes the body as we would like to, but they are fed on air ( pavana). Still they are strong, hale and healthy. Another example given here is of the wild elephants who are very strong and sturdy. What do they eat to develop such extra-ordinary strength? They eat only dried grass and leaves and are purely vegetarians. But that does not hamper its strength or power. May be animals and rodents are created that way, but men cannot be compared to them! To this natuaral possible query, the poet gives an example of sages and saints. The sages, Rishis and Munis of yore ate only fruits and roots that came their way and passed their time with them only. Still, they were not weak but extra-ordinarily strong both physically and mentally. They could visualise a galaxy of sciences like astronomy, astrology, medicine, mathematics, physical sciences and above all the science of the Self and spiritualism. What made them great was not their food in-take, nor a comfortable living condition nor wealth, but a sense of contentment with what they had and their ability to transcend all such petty considerations. Significance: It is a sense of Contentment with what we have that helps us go beyond the fringes of our creature comforts and enables us to rise to greater heights. Therefore, contentment is truly the supreme wealth of man. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #9 : DHAIRYAM - ( Firmness ):

*************************************************************** Prarabhyathe na khalu vighnabhayena neechaih Prarabhya vighnanihitha viramanthi madhyaha, Vighnaihi muhurmuhurapi prathihanyamaanaha Prarabdhamuthamagunaah na parithyajanthi. This verse is taken from Bhartruhari's Neethisathakam. Regarding the poet and his works, please see notes against verse #6. There are three categories of people for everything. First, the best category,called UTHAMA. The second category is the mediocre, the MADHYAMA type. The lowest of all the types is called the ADHAMA. The lowest of the low is also called a Neecha. Such Neechas do not start a work at any time as they always anticipate problems if they start anything. Vighnas or obstacles do come up, invariably, if any work is involved; but those who do not start any work because of possible obstacles that may crop up, belong to the worst type of categories of men. The second category of people, or the mediocre type, Madhyamas start the work in right earnest, no doubt; but stop it when they encounter any obstacle on the way. They lack the firmness of mind or fortitude, nor do they have the courage required to face problems and strive forth towards success. On the other hand, the Uthamas, or the best type of men are those endowed with noble character. They do not leave their efforts till they succeed, once they undertake a work, even if they confront obstacles again and again. They are resolute in their pursuit and possess a high degree of fortitude. We all know the story of Robert Bruce and the spider. Robert Bruce lost his battle six times. He gave up all war and fled to the jungle in despair. In a cave where he had taken shelter he watched a spider spinning its web. Every time the spider was to finish, it fell down and again tried. Six times it fell to the ground being unsuccessful in its efforts. But it did not lose heart and tried again for the seventh round; and the spider could succeed on the seventh time. The story goes that Robert Bruce saw this fortitude of a spider and went back to his kingdom and started war for the seventh time, and he won this time. The man who wins ultimately is the one who thinks he can. There is a popular Quote which says: "If you think you are beaten, you are: If you think you dare not, you don't. If you 'd like to win, but think you can't, it's almost a clinch you won't. If you think you'll lose, you're lost; For, out in the world we find ...SUCCESS BEGINS WITH a fellow's will." It was due to his sincere and consistent perseverence that a Bhagiratha could bring the Ganga from the heavens down to the earth and to the netherworlds. It was because of the firmness in his resolve that a five-year old boy called Dhruva, could undertake severe penance for five months to make the Lord appear before him. He is the best who believes in himself. Top

Lesson #2: Verse #10: TEJASWI - The Heroic

************************************************************* Simhah sisurapi nipathathi mada-malina- kapola- bhithhishu gajeshu, Prakrithiriyam sathwavathaam na khalu vayas-thejasaam hethuhu. A lion,though a cub, pounces upon the temples of an elephant. The temples of the elephant are already made dirty and sticky with its flowing rut, which means that the elephant has extraordinary strength during this time. Even a young lion cub strikes at this mighty elephant without any hesitation or fear, because, it has an inborn heroic nature, quite natural to it. So also, the heroic people are those who are heroic by nature. They are born heroic and not tailor-made. Age is never a criterion for reckoning the heroic, but the in-born qualities of Nature. This verse is also taken from Bhartruhari's Neethisathakam. (Regarding the author, please see the introduction to verse #6). A living being is always a product of its innate nature, the Vasanaas. This innate nature belongs to three categories, viz., Sathwa, Rajas and Tamas. These qualities of Nature are present in different shades and proportions in different beings. Accordingly, the personality of a person is manifest in this world. The vasanaas of a lion, even if it is still a cub, are Rajasic, active and virile and it is its Dharma or nature to be heroic and ferocious. A scorpion stings, because that is its nature, and if it does not sting, it is not a scorpion. Fire is hot at all times, because that is its nature. We do not hear of a "cold " fire. The Sun is bright, because that is its nature, and we do not come across a " dark " sun. Similarly, a man of high calibre is heroic by birth and does not become one with advancing age. This does not mean that we should accept lying low whatever low quality we have and do not make any effort to improve upon it. We should put our efforts to strive, to seek Knowledge, and not to yield to our present limitations. A majority of the people are steeped in Tamas, sluggish and lethargic due to their ignorance of their real identity with their immortal nature. They have to be stirred up to activity through Karma Yoga and exchanged for Satwic quality, thus paving the way to have the Knowledge to transcend all the qualities born of Nature and lead to Self-Realsation. This is what the Geeta prescribes for human evolution.. Significance : Age is not the criterion for the success of man. It is the inborn quality that makes or mars him. (END OF LESSON #2)
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