Grow More Trees?

What is the use of raising children who are neither righteous nor prosperous?  It is better to grow a tree by the roadside where people can come and rest.

बहुभिर्बत किं जातैः पुत्रैर्धर्मार्थवर्जितैः /  वरमेकः पथि तरुर्यत्र विश्रमते जनः //  

bahubhirbatha kim jAthaihi puthrairDHarmArTHavarjithaihi /  varamEkaha paTHi tharuryathra vishramathE janaha //


 [This verse is from Upavana Vinoda, a section in Sharngadhara Padhdhathi, an encyclopaedia written by Sharngadhara in the thirteenth century.]

Tackling Poverty – A Lesson from Ancient India – Blog Action Day Special


The taxes that he [king Dilipa] collected were all given back to the people, just as the sun draws water from the earth only to give it back, a thousand times over.

प्रजानामॆव भूत्यर्थं स ताभ्यो बलिमग्रहीत् /  सहस्रगुणमुत्स्रष्टुम् आदत्ते हि रसं रविः //

prajAnAmEva bhUthyarTHam sa thAbhyO balimagrahIth /  sahasraguNamuthsraSHtum AdhaththE hi rasam ravihi //

 [The verse is from Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsha.  Dilipa ruled Bharatavarsha – approximately the area that is today India – around 5000 BCE or earlier.  If only the governments of the nations of the world would emulate Dilipa, the earth can be free from poverty.]

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Who is a Good Friend?

They will help you overcome bad qualities and inspire you to take the right path; they will keep your secrets but advertise your good qualities; they will not desert you when you’re in trouble and give of themselves in your time of need – such is the nature of good friends say the wise.

पापान् निवारयति योजयते हिताय गुह्यानि गूहति गुणान् प्रकटीकरोति /  आपद्गतम् च न जहाति ददाति काले सन्मित्रलक्षणमिदम् प्रवदन्ति सन्तः //

pApAn nivArayathi yOjayathE hithAya guhyAni gUhathi guNAn prakatIkarOthi /  Apadhgatham cha na jahAthi dhadhAthi kAlE sanmithralakSHaNamidham pravadhanthi santhaha //

Bless Me with Good Speech

In order to acquire command over the knowledge of Speech and its Meaning, I bow down to Parvathi and Parameshvara, mother and father of the world, who are as inseparable as Speech and its Meaning. 

[vAgarTHAviva samprkthau vAgarTHaprathipaththayE /  jagathaha pitharau vandhE pArvathIparamEshvarau -

 वागर्थाविव सम्पृक्तौ वागर्थप्रतिपत्तयॆ /  जगत: पितरौ वन्दे पार्वतीपरमॆश्वरौ]

[Note: This is the first verse of Kalidasa's epic poem, Raghuvamsham.   

Curiously, vAk, in Sanskrit belongs to the feminine gender and arTHa to the masculine gender.  In Sanskrit, gender is not determined by the object denoted by the word.)

Trust in Your Own Intelligence

An idea should not be accepted just because one’s own minister proposed it; nor should it be ignored just because another king’s minister suggested it. For the intelligent, their own intelligence is their minister. [From Nilakantavijayachampu of Nilakanta Dikshita, chapter 3]

(na khalvAthmanaha sachivOktham ithyEvAdharaNIyam parasachivOktham ithi vA pariharaNIyam / DHImathAm DHIrEva sachivaha/

न खल्वात्मनः सचिवोक्तम् इत्येवादरणीयं परसचिवोक्तम् इति वा परिहरणीयम्/ धीमतां धीरेव सचिवः /)

The True Sign of Nobility

In return for the small amount of water that they had been given during their initial years, the coconut trees carry a weight on their heads for as long as they live in order to give men an endless supply of sweet water.  The noble never forget a help done to them.
(Transliteration: praTHamavayasi pItham thOyamalpam smaranthaha /  shirasi nihithabhArA nArikElA narANAm /  dhadhathi jalamanalpam AsvAdham AjIvithAntham /  na hi krtham upakAram sADHavO vismaranthi)

Published in:  on November 15, 2007 at 11:35 am Leave a Comment

True Words vs Words Coming True

In this world, wise men speak about real happenings. But the words spoken by sages become reality after they are uttered.  (Rama tells AshtAvakra in playwright Bhavabhuti’s Uttara Ramacharitam)

(Transliteration: laukikAnAm hi sADHUnAm arTHam vAganuvarthathe / rSHINAm punarAdhyAnAm vAcham arTHOnuDHAvathi)

Published in:  on November 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm Leave a Comment

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Just a single letter – ‘n’ – differentiates worry (chintha) from a funeral pyre (chitha). But, while a funeral pyre burns only a lifeless body, worry burns one alive.

(Transliteration: chinthAyAshcha chithAyAshcha bindhumAthram vishiSHyathe/ chithA dhahathi nirjIvam chinthA dhahathi jIvinam)(chitha)

Published in:  on November 13, 2007 at 4:05 pm Leave a Comment

When Knowledge Dawns, Pride Falls

I became blind, like an intoxicated elephant, when I acquired a little knowledge. My mind was overcome with pride and I thought I knew everything.

I realized how ignorant I really was when I began to learn more, little by little, from the truly wise; then, my pride subsided, like a fever.

(Transliteration: yadhA kinchignyOham dhvipa iva madhAnDHaha samabhavam / thadhA sarvgnyOsmIthyabhavadh avaliptham mama manaha / yadhA kinchith kinchith buDHajanasakAshAdh avagatham / thadhA mUrkhOsmIthi jvara iva madhO mE vyapagathaha)

Published in:  on November 12, 2007 at 11:44 am Leave a Comment

Where Lotuses Bloom ‘Above’ the Sun!

In a verse in Kumarasambhava, poet Kalidasa, tries to give an idea of the loftiness of the Himalaya mountains. He says:

“From a lake on the Himalayas, the sapta rishis took some lotus buds ; the rest of the buds bloomed when the rising sun from below them kissed them with his ascending rays.”

(Transliteration: saptharSHihasthAvachithAvasheSHANaDHO vivasvAn parivarthamAnaha / padhmAni yasyAgrasarOruhANi pravarDHayathyUrDHvamuKHair mayUKHaihi)

Published in:  on November 11, 2007 at 1:39 pm Leave a Comment