Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 16  September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 14-49 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5437

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Bhartruhari composed 300 slokas and they are in three books- Neeti Sataka, Srngara Sataka and Vairaga Sataka. The Neeti Sataka looks at the ethical issues; let us look at two slokas.


बोद्धारो मत्सरग्रस्ताः
प्रभवः स्मयदूषिताः ।
अबोधोपहताः चान्ये
जीर्णम् अङ्गे सुभाषितम् ॥ 1.2 ॥

The learned are filled with jealousy, the wealthy are full of arrogance, all others are ignorant. Therefore my words of wisdom have become emaciated 1-2


There are a few stories to illustrate these points.

Learned men suffer from jealousy. Tamil poet Valluvar says,


‘The wise will do no wrong actuated by jealousy as they realise that evil bound is to result from such wrong doing- Tirukkural 164


He who is envious needs no enemy to ruin him. Envy itself is enough to bring him ruin’- Tirukkural 165


1.Bandi, an arrogant scholar was in the Court of Janaka who ruled from Mithila. He used to challnege scholars coming to the Royal court and if the scholars lose they will be thrown into river nearby. This was the fate of many and one of them was Kahoda, a Brahmin scholar. Kahoda’s son Ashtavakra learnt about his father’s death at the age of 12. He set out to avnge him. The lad was possessed of great wisdom and great ability.  He got better of the court poet Bandi who worsted his father. He insisted that Bandi should be thrown into river and it was done. This story is found in Vana Parva of Mahabharata.

2.There is a similar story in Tamil Nadu. A poet of 15th century by name Villiputhurar challenged all the scholars and cut the ear of the opponent if he was lost. Many lost their ears. Once Arunagirinatha, a great saint and disciple of Lord Skanda happened to be at the same place. He was challenged by Villiputhurar. Arunagiri accepted the challenge and on his part asked the meaning of certain verses composed by him on Lord Muruga. Villiputturar couldn’t answer his questions and his ear was cut off.


3.The greatest of the Tamil poets of ancient Tamil Nadu, Tiruvalluvar was also asked to prove his book Tirukkural a genuine one and above fault. In ancient India book launch was not an ordinary meeting. Great scholars will assemble and try to tear the new poet like sharks in the sea. He has to answer all critics and prove that his book is fit for approval. When Tiruvalluvar came with his master piece Tirukkural, jealous poets challenged him. There was a magical plank which would allow only genuine poets to sit on it. It allowed only Tiruvalluvar and his book throwing all other wrong doers into water.


These anecdotes show how jealous were scholars in those days. In the same way money also corrupts.


There are two anecdotes from Mahabharata and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s life.

4.Drupada was the king of Punjab (Panchala) and he was the schoolmate of Drona, greatest archer and teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas. When Drona went to see him as an old classmate, he was sent back saying that he did not know him at all. When the Pandavas and their cousins finished their training under him ,they asked what Guru Dakshina ( convocation fees for the teacher) would make him happy. Drona told them that they had to bring Drupada and make him fall at his feet. Arjuna took the challenge and defeated Drupada in a battle and brought him as a prisoner of war. Drona got half of his kingdom and released him. This shows that power and money corrupt.


5.Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the great saint of Calcutta always warned about Kamini and Kanchana (Women and Money/gold). He narrated the following anecdote:

“Money is an upadhi ( a deceptive influence) of a very strong nature. As soon as a man becomes rich, he is thoroughly changed. A Brahmin who was very meek and humble used to come to Dakshineswar every now and then. After some time he stopped his visits, and we knew nothing of what happened to him. One day we went to Konnagore in a boat. As we were getting down from the boat, we saw him sitting on the banks of the Ganges, where in the fashion of a big folk, he was enjoying the breeze of the river.


On seeing me, he accosted me in a patronising tone with the words, ‘Hello, Thakur! How do you do now?’


At once I have noticed the change in his tone and said to Hriday who was with me, ‘I tell you Hriday, this man must have come by some riches. See what a great change has come over him!’ And Hriday burst into laughter.


That is the evil power of money.




अज्ञः सुखम् आराध्यः
सुखतरम् आराध्यते विशेषज्ञः ।
ब्रह्मापि तं नरं न रञ्जयति ॥ 1.3 ॥


It is easy to explain an ignorant man. It is even easier to explain to a wise and leanrned person. But, even Brahma cannot explain and please a person who has only a little knowledge and yet considers himself to be the mot learned man 1-3

In Tamil there are some proverbs to say that that a fool cannot be taught. ‘He will argue that the rabbit he caught has only three legs’.

There is another proverb which says ‘a dog’s tail can never be straightened!” And the last one is “An ignorant idiot and a crocodile will never lose the grip of its catch’. That is an idiot will stick to his argument,come what may.


There is an Arabic saying which categorizes people into four types:-


“He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is simple. Teach him.
He who knows, and knows not he knows, is asleep. Wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows is wise. Follow him.”





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