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The great philosopher-poet, Bharthruhari, was the King of Ujjain. He was the elder step brother of the renowned Vikramaaditya. 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. Students of Sanskrit are sure to have read selections from Subhashita Trishati which encompasses almost every experience known to man and pours them forth in beautiful poetry.
It provides philosophy to those interested in it. It provides metrical delight to lovers of poetry by the use of common meters such as Indravajra, Upendravajra, Vasantatilaka, Malini, Sikharini, Mandakranta, Sardulavikridita, Sragdhara etc.
It teaches morality to those who would llike lead a moral life. It has some thing in it for every one who delves into its pages. 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.
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. 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. 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. It is not visible to the thief. It always bestows on the possessor joy and happiness. The more it is imparted to those who want it the more it increases. Even after ages it never perishes.
It is vidya learning, knowledge which is an internal wealth. O Kings! Do not pride yourselves before those who possess such wealth of knowledge. Who can compete with them? Glittering gold and diamond ornaments, bathing, sandal wood paste for the body, flowers and adornments for the head do not really embellish a person.
The greatest adornment of a person is refined and soft speech. All other articles of adornment pale into insignificance before such speech. If one has patience endurance what is the use of a shield?
If one has anger what if enemies are there, anger being the greatest enemy. If a person has relatives he should not worry about fire because the relatives will generate enough heat for him. If one has a friend that friend will do the work of highly effective medicines. If one is in the company of evil men, such evil men will do the work of a poisonous snake.
If one has unblemished learning there is no use of wealth as learning is inexhaustible wealth. If one has shyness modesty gold and diamond adornments are of no use. If one has beautiful and ennobling poems and literature, the resultant happiness is more than having a kingdom. Those who are skilled in the art of interpersonal relationships show generosity towards relatives, kindness to servants, severity to evil men, devotion to saintly persons, diplomacy towards kings, straightforwardness where learned persons are concerned, valour towards enemies, patience towards elders and tactfulness with women.
The world depends on the skill of such people. There are three categories of persons who contemplate an undertaking. At the lowest level are those who never start off for fear of encountering obstacles. Those at the middle level start the project but, at the first sign of obstacles, withdraw themselves from the endeavour.
At the top level are those who, in spite of repeated obstacles, persist in their endeavour until they take the undertaking to a successful conclusion. The Lion, King of the forest, who breaks the head of the elephant and bites into its flesh to satisfy his hunger, will never stoop to the level of eating dry grass. He may be famished by hunger and weakened by old age.
His limbs may have lost their flexibility and his condition may be miserable and even his life may be ebbing out of his body. But he will never do anything which is beneath his dignity and majesty as the King of the forest. Similar is the nature of men of substance and majesty.
The dog is satisfied with a piece of bare bone which is dirty with a little blood and fatty substance on it though it is not sufficient to satisfy its hunger. The lion, on the other hand, ignores the jackal within its reach and kills a mighty elephant for his meal.
Men of majesty, though passing through a difficult period of their life, do not want to compromise their dignity and will accept only something befitting their dignity and strength. In this world of constant change who does not take birth after one dies? But one who takes his clan to greater heights is the one really born. Even a lion cub attacks a rutty elephant and breaks its head. This is the nature of men of strength and majesty. Age does not affect their prowess. Let the jaati caste, occupation sink to the nether world.
Let all good qualities go down deeper still. Let good conduct fall from the top of a hill. Let all relatives be burnt in a fire. Let valour against the enemy be struck by thunderbolt. Let us have only wealth money. Without money all good qualities are nothing more than a bundle of grass. If one has wealth he is considered born of a good family. He is learned, he recognizes good qualities, he is an orator, he is handsome etc.
All these qualities are attributed to a man possessing wealth whether or not these qualities actually reside in him. Giving to others, enjoying oneself or losing it — these are the only ways for utilising wealth. If one does not give to others or enjoy himself, it will result in the third course i. O King!
The earth land over which you rule is like a cow. If you want to milk the cow you should nourish the calf, your subjects, with the milk of the cow. If you do this always diligently the earth will yield you all its resources in abundance like a wish-yielding creeper kalpalataa. O Friend chaataka! Listen carefully to what I am saying.
There are so many clouds in the sky but all of them are not of the same character. Some of them drench the earth with precious rain. Some others do nothing but thundering. They do not yield a drop of water. Therefore do not beg for water before every cloud you seen in the sky. Evil men should be avoided though they may be learned. Is a serpent adorned with a jewel naaga maanikya less frightening?
If one has greed what is the need for other bad qualities? If one is a backbiter what is the need for evil deeds? If one has Truth what is the need for tapas? If one is pure of mind what is the need for teertha holy rivers, lakes, sea etc.
If one is of good conduct what is the need for friends? If one has fame what is the use of ornaments? If one has right learning why does he need wealth? If one is infamous why does he need death? The first quality is adequate without the second. Here the poet lists the difficulty of serving the King or other wealthy person. If the person serving is silent he is considered dumb.
NEETI SHATAKAM OF BHARTHRUHARI
The great philosopher-poet, Bharthruhari, was the King of Ujjain. He was the elder step brother of the renowned Vikramaaditya. 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. Students of Sanskrit are sure to have read selections from Subhashita Trishati which encompasses almost every experience known to man and pours them forth in beautiful poetry. It provides philosophy to those interested in it.
In the medieval tradition of Indian scholarship, it was assumed that both texts were written by the same person. Both the grammar and the poetic works had an enormous influence in their respective fields. The grammar in particular, takes a holistic view of language, countering the compositionality position of the Mimamsakas and others. The poetry constitute short verses, collected into three centuries of about a hundred poems each. Each century deals with a different rasa or aesthetic mood; on the whole his poetic work has been very highly regarded both within the tradition and by modern scholarship.