(THE CENTURY ON MORAL SCIENCE)
An ignorant can be appeased easily and a learned can be more easily. However, a man with little learning can hardly be appeased even by Brahmā himself. //1// A man may snatch away gem from the teeth of an alligator and may cross a rough ocean with high waves. He may adorn his head with an angry serpent like a flower, but it is not possible for him to please the mind of an obstinate fool. //2// A man may extract oil from sand with high efforts. A thirsty man may find water in mirage of a desert. It may also be possible for a person to find horns of a rabbit but, he cannot please the mind of an obstinate fool //3// The moon obscured by day-light, a woman who has lost her youthfulness, a pond that has gone out of lotuses, a handsome man suffering from dullness, a master hankering after wealth, a noble man always in calamity and an evil man enjoining the patronage of royal palace are the seven thorns (grieves) in my mind.//4// A jewel cut with polishing stone, a conqueror in war killed by weapons, an elephant weakened by the extreme loss of rots, a young woman who became languid through extreme pleasure, the waning moon, the islands of revers becoming dry in autumn, men whose wealth is lost by offering to the needy are still exemplary ones //5//.* ‘tam’ is missing here in the text which is otherwise found in most of the versions.
The one who has a longing for a handful of grain, when revives (recovers), consider the world as mere grass. Hence, objects seem great or small according to the situational factors of human beings possessing them. Significance or insignificance of objects will depend upon the changing fortunes of a man. //6// When a wise man dwells in poverty; a man whose words are adorned with polished words from the Shastras; and the one who imparts sacred learning to his disciples then that king in whose kingdom they dwell is chargeable with foolishness, and the wise men though poor, are the real masters of the land. Should not those bad examiners be worthy of condemnation who due to their carelessness cause jewels to fall from their actual value? //7// Great men are naturally endowed with the qualities-as patience in times of misfortune, restraint in prosperity, eloquence in assembly, bravery in battle, zest in fame and addiction to acquisition of knowledge. //8// A stable man may be blamed or praised by those skilled in codes of conduct; fortune may come or go; he may die to-day or thousand years later; but for all that he never deviates from the path of righteousness //9//.
It is not visible to thief but it always bestows happiness on the possessor. It increases even though it is imparted constantly to those who desire for it. Even after ages it never perishes. It is vidya (learning) which is an internal wealth. (It is therefore) O’ Kings! Do not be arrogant before those who possess such secrete treasure of wisdom. Who can compete with them? //10//. It is better not to underestimate the wise people who have acquired the knowledge of higher truth. Wealth, for them is insignificant as mere grass. It is like restricting of an elephant infuriated with passion with the filament of water-lily //11//. The lion though strained by hunger, weakened by old age; and even in the state of his limbs being loosened with weaknesses or at the point of his life at stake, in a state of misery, he keeps himself fit/ready to attack and swallow the forehead of an elephant to satisfy his hunger and never engages himself to eat the withered grasses. (Similar is the nature of great men of substance. They never engage themselves in petty things below their dignity even in distress) //12// Evil must be avoided, a poor man, even though he be a friend, must not be asked for alms, observation of the righteousness taught by good and great men even at the risk of death; stability in adversity, consistency of steps according to the guidelines of the great people, is an advised path by someone which is like a vow that is as difficult as to stand on the edge of a sword! //13//
In this world, rare are those virtuous people whose thoughts, words and actions are as it were filled with nectar in the form of meritorious deeds who please the three worlds with numerous benevolent actions and who are always enlivened in their minds by exalting even the very smallest virtues of another to the size of a mountain. //14// The ocean endures the sleep of Keśava (Lord Vishnu’s name), and is a refuge for the mountains in their flight from the demons; moreover, it is filled with devouring flames within. Surely the ocean can endure anything! //15// At one time he may lie on the ground and at another he may sleep on a couch; at one time he may live on herbs and at another on cooked rice of superior quality; at one time he may wear rags, at another a magnificent robe. A determined person, bent on his purpose, counts neither state as pleasure nor pain //16//. We worship the deities, but are they not in the power of destiny? Destiny must be worshipped, for it dispenses to individuals for the fruits of the deeds performed in their former state. But the fruit of those acts depends upon the acts themselves; why, then, should we worship either the god or destiny? Let us pay adoration to those works over which destiny has no power //17//. Those who have the quality of self-satisfaction by nature they never get dissatisfied for anything. For example, the Meru mountain in spite of being a mass of gold is not liked by me (the poet) //18//.
A king is ruined through evil counsellors; an ascetic through society; a child by spoiling staying with evil people; a priest by not studying the Sacred Scriptures; a family by the evil behaviour of children; good manners by evil habits; modesty by wine; agriculture by want of care; affection by absence from home; friendship by want of love; possessions by mismanagement and money by waste and prodigality //19//. Evil minded people, as if it is their duty, always see bad things in good people. They see a lack of spirit in graceful personalities, hypocrisy in austere, deceitfulness in people of good characters, cruelty in brave, lack of intellect in people of silent nature, inferiority in courteous people, pride in brilliant, absurdity in an eloquent, incapability in steady. After all, no good quality of good people is left out by wicked without condemning it. //20//. Our noble birth may go to the lower regions; our collection of virtues may perish; our moral character may fall as if from a lofty mountain; our family may be swallowed by fire; a thunderbolt may strike our might as it were an enemy: let us keep our money, for without this all the collected virtues are but a heap of grass //21//. A serpent who was confined in a basket where his body was squeezed and where he lost all hope of escaping himself, was half-dead with hunger. Once at night, a rat made a hole in the basket and fell into the jaws of the serpent. The serpent revived by the rat’s flesh and speedily made his exit.
Oh people! behold, fate alone is the cause of the decline and prosperity of men. //22// A ball, thrown down by the strokes of hand always rebounds. Even so the misfortunes of good men are not everlasting //23//. A man of noble character is like a ball even if falls down on earth comes up immediately but a man of ordinary falls down like the idol of clay falls on ground in such a way that he is unable to come up //24//. A son is the one who delights his father by his good conduct and character, a wife is she who always seeks of her husband’s good, a friend is the one whose behaviour remains constant in adversity and prosperity. Only people who have earned merit (punya) by doing good deeds will be blessed with such a son, wife and friend //25//. In prosperity the heart of great men is soft as the petals of the lotus flower. In adversity, however, it becomes as hard as the rocks of a mountain //26//. Evil men should be avoided though they may be learned. Is a serpent adorned with a jewel (Nāgamaṇi) less frightening? * //27// Milk gave all its qualities to water that was mixed with it. When milk was being heated on a fire water, unable to bear the suffering of its friend, sacrificed itself in the fire (i.e. water in the milk evaporated). Milk, in turn, finding water in trouble, comes up itself in the boiling pot to offer itself to the fire. But, mixed with water again, it settles down to the previous level. The friendship of good people is like this. Each is prepared to sacrifice himself to save the other //28//.*Note: [Legend has it that good serpents have a luminous stone (Nāgamaṇi) on the top of their hood]
O’ wise man! Cultivate constantly divine virtue; for that makes an evil men good, the foolish wise, enemies well disposed, invisible things visible; in a moment that turns poison into nectar; that will give you the desired fruit of your acts. virtuous man! do not in vainly spend your work on acquiring mighty gifts with great pain! //29//. A dog eats with delight putrid abominable bones, and though the king of the gods may stand before him, takes no heed: even so a mean man considers not the worthlessness of that which belongs to him //30//. A dog is satisfied with a piece of bare bone which is filthy with a little flesh 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 to their dignity and strength //31//. Saintly persons say that the characteristic of a true friend is to dissuade one from committing sinful actions, putting one on the path that will lead to good only, keeping one’s secrets, bringing out the innate qualities in one, not forsaking when one is in trouble and giving one whatever is required at the appropriate time //32// Deer, fish and good men live on grass, water and contentment respectively. But the hunter, the fisherman and the wicked respectively, are their enemies without any reason. This is the very nature of these people. //33// A drop of water in contact with hot iron evaporates in no time and is lost. The same drop of water on a lotus leaf shines taking the shape of a pearl. If the drop of water gets into a pearl oyster it becomes pearl itself. //34// **This analogy can be applied to humans. The qualities one acquires depend on the quality of the person with whom one associates. The three illustrations given relate to association with people with levels of low, medium and high quality //34//.
The Creator in his anger may hinder the swan from sporting in the lotus-bed, his dwelling; but he cannot take away his faculty of separating milk from water //35//. By means of destiny Brahma was constrained to work like an artificer in the interior of his egg; by means of destiny Vishnu was compelled to pass through ten incarnations of great difficulty; by means of destiny Siva was forced to live as a mendicant, bearing the skull in his hands for a pot; by means of destiny the sun is compelled to travel his daily course in the heaven. Adoration, therefore, be to works //36//. Unlike a bunch of flowers a great man has also two paths, either he heads the people or withers away in a forest. //37// The man who preserves a respectful silence is considered dumb; the man who talks agreeably is considered forward; the man who stands close by is thought troublesome; he who stands far off, cold-hearted; the patient man is counted as faint-hearted; the impetuous man is called ill-bred. So difficult, indeed, are the laws by which behaviour is regulated, impossible to be learnt even by an ascetic //38//.
Those who are ennobled by humility: those who display their own virtues by relating the virtues of other men; those who in their own business always consider the interests of others; those who hate the evil speaker, and the mouth that continually utters harsh and impatient words; good men whose admirable behaviour is shown in virtues like these are always held in reverence. Who would not respect them? //39//. If a man be greedy, what further vice can he have? What sin can be worse than backbiting? What need has the truthful man of penances? What need has the pure- minded man of a sacred bathing-place? What virtue is beyond generosity? If there be greatness of mind, what adornment is required? If a man be learned, what necessity is there of the society of others? If disgrace overtake a man, why need he fear death? //40//. A wayfarer, his bald head exposed to the heat of the sun, hastened to take shelter under a Palm tree. No sooner had he come under the shade of the tree, his head was broken with a great sound by the big fruit falling from the tree. Wherever an ill-fated person goes misfortune follows him //41//. An attractive form, noble lineage, good conduct, scholarship, efforts made to serve kings or wealthy persons – all these are of no consequence. Only the merit earned and accumulated by the meritorious deeds (tapas) of the previous times will yield the desired results like trees which yield their fruits at its appropriate time //42//.
Affluence is adorned by goodness, valor by not boasting, knowledge by control of the senses, scholarship by modesty, wealth by giving to the deserving, tapas by the absence of anger, power by forgiveness and dharma by Truth. All good qualities of men are embellished by good conduct //43//. Those are the greatest souls who, for the sake of helping others, forsake their own interests or comforts; Those are among the ordinary run of people who, without compromising their own interests, engage themselves in helping others; Those are verily demons in the shape of men who, for the sake of their selfish ends, put obstacles in the way of others and spoil their endeavors. What can be said about those who, without any purpose, come in the way of others’ welfare? //44//. Say what does not the company of good do to men; it removes the dullness of the intellect, instils veracity in their speech, directs them to the loftiness of self-respect, removes sinful tendencies, purifies the mind and spreads their fem in all directions. //45// Desire for the companionship of the good, love for the virtues of others, reverence for spiritual teachers, diligence in acquiring wisdom, love for their own wives, fear of the world's blame, reverence for Siva, self-restraint, freedom from the acquaintance with evil men wherever men dwell endowed with virtues like these, they are always reverenced //46//.
It is very difficult to understand women because of their nature. It is like a reflection in the mirror and like a difficult way to a mountain which cannot be understood exactly. The mind set of them is often compared with the nature of a water-drop in a lotus-leaf as the learned have described. Perhaps she is like a creeper developed with a poisoned sprout. //47// Restrain desire, cultivate patience, leave of pride, do not lust after evil, speak the truth, follow the path of righteousness, seek the company of the virtuous, honour the wise, be reconciled even with enemies, conceal your own virtues, guard your reputation, show pity for the distressed such is the conduct of good people //48//Body becomes contracted, steps becomes unsteady, teeth start falling, eye-sight becomes low, the glow in body starts fading, face starts salivated, the relatives do not talk, wife does not serve and son also does not care to such a person suffering from old-age. Thus, really old-age is a tough time //49//. Seeing the whiteness of the hair of a man and the man who has left his place & designation, the young women run away from him as they do in case of the well of a lower cast //50//.
The wise man, before undertaking any good or bad action, looks carefully at the consequences of them, so that by their means he may be freed from births in another state. Actions performed with excessive haste are as an arrow piercing the heart. //51// For me the deity is one whether he is Lord Keshava (Viṣhṇu) or Lord Shiva; friend is one whether he is rich or an ascetic; only one residence whether it is in a city or in a forest; wife is one whether she is beautiful or ugly one //52// That unfortunate man who stays away from the noble deeds, in spite of taking birth in this sacred land meant for that pious activity, is like the one who cooks sesame seeds in a pot made of jewels with the help of a sandal stick. Further, he is like the one who ploughs the earth with the golden plough to reap the root of swallow-wort. It is like developing the culture of cultivating camphor (trees) as a hedge around the field of Kodrava (some inferior quality grain). //53// A man may be in a forest, or in war, or in the midst of fire, or among a host of enemies, or in the ocean, or upon a high mountain; he may be asleep or mad; or he may be surrounded by difficulties; yet the meritorious deeds performed in a former time will save him. //54// A terrible forest becomes the capital city, all people become friends and the whole world becomes full of valuable treasures for the one who has performed all meritorious actions (puṇya) in his previous time //55//.
An individual may dive into deep waters, may climb the peak of the high mountain, may win his enemies in the battle field, may do business, agricultural farming or may learn all the arts with great efforts. With great efforts he may travel in the sky but the improbability will never happen and whatever remains to happen can’t be withheld //56//. The son of Himalaya would have behaved far more nobly if he had allowed enraged Indra to cut off his wings with the thunderbolt breathing forth huge masses of flame, and had not, when his father was helplessly subject to calamity, sought a refuge by throwing himself in the water ocean //57//. Indra, though guided by Brihaspati, and armed with the thunderbolt; though the deities were his soldiers, and Vishnu his ally; though Svarga was his citadel, and the elephant Airāvata his steed, was defeated. How resistless is the power of fate! How vain are human efforts! //58//. Discernment is the fruit of men's actions, and is the result produced his past deeds: this must be carefully considered by the wise man who gives heed to all things //59//. Laziness is a great enemy of human beings; there is no friend like energy; for the one cultivates will never fail //60//.
Giving, consuming, and loss, are the three ways by which wealth is diminished. The man who neither gives nor enjoys has yet the third way open to him //61//. So, the gods rested not until they had gained possession of the nectar; they were not turned aside from the search of costly jewels, nor by fear of terrible poison. Even so men of constant mind do not rest until they have completely accomplished the object that they have set their mind on //62//. Although the five or six planets, of which Brihaspati is the head, are held in high esteem, yet Rahu, whose power and might are great, does not attack them. The lord of the demons, though he has nothing left him but his head, devours in his course only the lord of the day and the ruler of the night //63//. The ears of such men as these are adorned with hearing revelation, not by earrings; their hands by liberality, not by bracelets; their bodies shine by doing kind deeds to others, not with application of sandal- wood //64//. If a man be wealthy, he is of well-born, he is wise and he is also learned in the scriptures, he is virtuous, eloquent and handsome. All the virtues depend upon gold (wealth) //65//. May there be glory to wise men who are learned and accomplished poets! There is no fear that their fame shall see any old age or diminish //66//.
Whatever fate has written on the forehead of each, that shall he obtain, whether it be poverty or riches. His abode may be the desert, but he shall gain no more if he lives even on Mount Meru. Let your mind be constant. Do not be miserable through envy of the rich. The pitcher takes up the same quantity of water whether it be from the well or the ocean //67//. The dog falls down at the feet of one who gives him food, wagging his tail and opening his mouth wide and showing his belly; but the elephant, on the other hand, calmly looks on and eats only when entreated with flattering words //68//. O’ king! If you would enjoy this earth, which is as fruitful as a cow, nourish it as carefully as you would care for a calf. The earth brings forth fruits without end like the creeper of plenty if it is perpetually and carefully cultivated //69//. The policy of kings is as uncertain and manifold as of a courtesan. Now it is false, now true; now with harsh, now with agreeable words; now cruel, now merciful; at one time liberal, at another covetous either always squandering money or heaping it together //70// There is no friend for kings full of wrath like that of a priest while offering oblation in the fire may be burnt with the same //71//.
ruelty, causeless quarrels, the desire for another's wife or wealth, envy of the good, or of one's own relatives. These are the natural characteristics of wicked men //72// O’ Brahma, don’t be too blunt & better to refrain yourself from testing those great people at the time of misfortune. You know the kulaparvatas and the ocean do not become so small that they will leave their own limit //73//. One who does not burn in the fire of passion generated by the eye-arrows of beautiful women, who is not subjected to the heat of anger, whom the pleasures of the senses do not drag with ropes of greed – that person of adamantine heart conquers all the three worlds //74//. The friendships formed between good and evil men differ. The friendship of the good, is small at first like the morning light, continually increases; the friendship of the evil at the very beginning is great, like the light of mid-day, and dies away like the light of evening //75//. Secret generosity, cheerful hospitality to strangers, not speaking in public about one's own good deeds but, pro-claiming the benefits received from others, freedom from pride in prosperity, due respect in speaking of others; who has taught these good qualities that are extremely difficult conduct as sharp as the edge of a sword (Asidhārāvrata). this is the vow of exceeding difficulty, taught by the good! //76//.
A tree sprouts again after it is cut, the moon waxes again after waning. Contemplating thus and consoling themselves which is their fate, good men do not vex themselves in times of distress //77//. Trees laden with fruits bend down (so that people may enjoy the fruits). Clouds surcharged with water hang down (in the form of rain cooling the earth and watering plants and trees). In the same way noble men do not become conceited when fortune embraces them but use their wealth to help others. Such is the natural disposition of the liberal. //78// As the flame of fire does not turn downwards even if it were turned towards the ground, similarly, a patient man never loses his patience in spite of all the negative or turned down situations.//79// The earth is sparsely adorned by people who do not use harsh language, but who are full of agreeable speech, who are satisfied with their wives only and averse to speaking ill of the other //80//.The Sun unasked opens the lotuses; the unasked Moon illuminates the beds of water-lilies; the cloud pours forth its water unasked; even so the liberal of their own accord are devoted to benefiting others //81// A single hero can take the whole world under his control as the Sun who sheds abundance on the whole world under his brilliance //82//. It is better that our body may crush falling down from a high-hill top or we may put our hands in the jaws of the serpent of sharp teeth, we may fail down to the fire but can never give up our modesty //83//
It is for him who possesses the virtues of such level that have been admired by the whole world, the fire behaves like water, the sea is just like a pond, mountain of Meru suddenly behaves like small rock, lion is like a deer, snake is like a garland and the fluid of poison becomes the flow of nectar //84//. If, sun-stone (Suryakāntamaṇi), in spite of being an inanimate object, when touched with feet, burns then how is it that a brilliant man can tolerate the insult of others! //85//. Authority, fame and care of Brahmins, charity, enjoyment of the fruits of wealth and protection of one’s friends – if they have not gained these six blessings, then what is the purpose of serving that king who is devoid of these qualities! //86// The places where elephants with rut ponder over with lazy movements and there are horses decorated nicely walk around, such a place is like the heaven where Dharma resounds //87//.
Brahma has created a unique cover, within one’s own control and is certain in its efficacy. 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 //88// Trying to bring a scoundrel to the right path with the nectar like good words is an attempt like binding an elephant with the fine threads of lotus-stem; also an attempt to cut the diamond with the edge of an acacia flower (a delicate one); or can be an attempt to sweeten the ocean with the drops of honey //89//. Nobody will be happy to come across a person who has continuously encouraged the wicked, who indulges in wicked deeds and has luckily come across such a man leads an unrestrained life being in the company of a wicked. //90// Wisdom indeed, is the highest ornament that a man possesses. It is a valuable treasure to be carefully guarded, for wisdom gains food, glory and blessing. It is the lord of lords. Wisdom is as a friend to a man travelling in a distant land. Wisdom is honoured among kings even more than wealth. The man devoid of wisdom is but an animal. //91// Those who are skilled in the art of interpersonal relationships, indulgence towards own people, kindness to people around, crafty to evil men, devotion to saintly persons, diplomacy towards kings, straightforwardness towards learned, valour towards enemies, patience towards elders and tactfulness with women. The world depends on the skill of such people //92//.
Liberality is the fitting virtue for the hand, reverence towards spiritual teachers for the head, true speech for the mouth, surpassing power for the arms of a mighty man, content for the heart, the holy Veda rightly understood for the ears; the man of noble mind who holds these adornments has no need of outward pomp //93//. The Śeṣa (Śeṣa-nāga) bears all the worlds placed on his plate of hood; he himself is always borne on the back of the king of the tortoises, who dwells, held without difficulty, in the bounds of ocean. Ah! With what ease do the mighty perform great marvels! //94// The victory is like a matured woman who embraces the heroes who return from the field with the cut marks on their arms. //95// In this world of constant change who does not die? But that man is born by whose birth his family attains dignity. //96// Even a lion cub attacks the rough, muddy & black-headed (due to continuous flow ruts) elephant. This is the very nature of valiant. Age is not the factor here. It is rather your prowess that matters //97//. *Not found in any of the published texts.
The great people even if tell a lot of things as the advices, but it is rather their very own experiences that become shastra //98//. Spirited men, who are devoted to the resolution of being truthful, readily give up even their life rather than swerve from their word which to them is like their own mother who instils gracefulness, shyness and other qualities (in their minds), is perfectly pure-hearted and wholly devoted to them. //100// This is the vow of the great people that once they commit to do a thing they perform it. The brighter example it is lie in the Universe itself. The tortoise who holds this earth never feels overburdened any time & the Sun who is never tired of his work //101// Where there is a good relationship among the people in a country everything run smoothly with proper understanding. //102//.*The verse Nos. 99 & 102 seem interpolated ones and corrupt also. Hence, not translated.
The capacity & capability of different creatures have been decided by the God. The Cātaka bird only can drink sip of water in spite of continuous rain //103//. Neither bracelets nor neckless brilliant like the moon, 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 speech. All other adornments pale into insignificance before such speech //104//. Herewith, the 1st version of Nitiśataka of Bhartrhari comes to completion.