Pushthakam Hastha Lakshanam


Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No. 1680; Dated 27 February 2015.

“Pusthakam hastha lakshanam” is a golden saying in Sanskrit. The meaning is that “the beauty or merit of a hand is enhanced by a book”. A hand looks beautiful holding a book.  India is the only ancient country which produced more books than any other country in the world. If you draw a line in 1000 BCE, there was no ‘book’ except India. We had Vedic Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads by that time. So this saying has more meaning into it.

(Pusthakam = book, Hastha = hand, lakshana = quality, beauty)

India is the only country in the world which has got more holy books than any other country in the world. If we go to North India we can see Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita in the Puja (Prayer) room on special wooden boards or platforms with flowers on them. They are worshiped. If we come down to the south we see Thevaram, Tiruvasagam and Divya Prabandham in Tamil worshiped in the same way. The authors of these books claim that these are Vedas in Tamil. It is very true.


If we go to Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, we see a book occupying the status of god in the Golden Temple. After ten holy teachers of Sikhism, the book was elevated to the status of Guru- –spiritual teacher. The book is given all reverence like a god’s statue. It contains all the holy teachings of their Gurus.

India is the only country in the world where a book’s birth day is celebrated every year. The Gita Jayanti in the month of Margasirsha (December- Tamil month Markazi) is celebrated on the 11th day of Marhasirsha –Shukla Ekadasi – to mark the birth anniversary of the Bhagavd Gita. The gist of Hindu thoughts is given in just 700 couplets in the book.


Manu’s Beautiful Quote on Books

Manu, the greatest law giver of the world, whose name figured in the oldest religious book Rig Veda, says:-

“Those who read the book are better than those who do not know them; those who remember them are better than those who read them; those who understand them are better than those who remember them; and those who put them into action are better than those who understand them” (Chapter 12- Sloka 103- Manu Smrti)

The book here meant the Vedas.

Famous Tamil poetess Avvaiyar says that one’s knowledge and wisdom depends upon the books one has learnt. She illustrated her point with a beautiful simile. A water lily’s height is determined by the depth of the water in the pond; a person’s wisdom is decided by the books one learnt.


There is a popular Sanskrit couplet:-

Pustakesu cha yaa vidyaa parahastesu yad dhanam

Utpannesu cha kaaryesu na saa vidhyaa na tad dhanam

Rough translation of this verse is “ the knowledge printed in the book and the money given to others are useless when you need them; they are neither knowledge nor wealth”.

Learning must be practised. There is an equivalent saying in Tamil – Ettu Suraik kay Karikku Uthavathu – meaning “The word bottle gourd written on a palm leaf cannot be cooked as curry”. No practical use!


Sutra(Sanskrit) = Surah(Arabic) = Torah(Hebrew)

The word Torah in Hebrew, Surah in Arabic (Quran) mean religious teachings or chapters containing religious teachings. My research shows that these words are derived from the Sanskrit word Sutra (Aphorisms, formulas, pithy sayings). Letters S and T are inte rchangeable; e.g. Tion in English is pronounced Sion in hundreds of words)

Moreover Tamil and Sanskrit were born in India and spread to different parts of the world. The word Sutra (Nuul in Tamil) means a thread as well as a book both in Tamil and Sanskrit.

Tamil Nul  = Sutra in Sanskrit

Nul = Book; thread

Sutra = thread (Mangala sutra), book (Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Paninian Sutra).


Long Live the Holy Books!

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