Bhartruhari and Valluvar on Fools! A Story from Panchatantra!

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 20  September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 11-35 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5450

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Sanskrit poet Bhartruhari who composed 300 verses and Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar who composed 1330 couplets agree on several topics including ‘dealing with fools’.


Bhartruhari says in Niti (Neeti) Sataka,

4.A man may forcibly get back a jewel from the teeth of a crocodile,
He may cross over the raging waves of sea,
He may wear an angry serpent on his head as if it were a garland of flowers,
But he cannot win over the mind of one who is foolish and obstinate.

5.A man may get oil from sand by violent pressure,
He may drink water from mirage when oppressed by thirst,
He may get the possession of a horn from the rabbit,
But he cannot win over the mind of one who is foolish and obstinate.

6.Those who try to lead evil men into the path of virtue by a few soft words, are like people who binds an elephant with a young lotus fibre ,
Or like people who try to cut the diamond with a filament of (softest) Sirisha flower,
Or like one who desires to make the salt sea sweet with a drop of honey.

All the three couplets show how difficult it would be to tackle fools or obstinate people.


Tamil poet Thiru Valluvar says,


‘One who attempts to open the eyes of a fool is a fool himself

For a fool continues to see things only his way’- Kural 849


‘Heeds no advice; knows nothing wise,

His life is an illness till he lives’- Kural 848


‘The person who cannot absorb and digest the great truths of the Vedas and of reputed scholars,

Will bring down on himself all calamities and miseries’—Kural 847

There are many stories about fools told to children in the Panchatantra fables. The popular one is the story of monkey and the weaver bird.

Here is the story:–


‘No sword can bend an unbending tree,

nor prevail against stone,
as Needle-bill’s good advice could not upon one

who took life easy and would not learn’ – Panchatantra


In a jungle there lived a troop of monkeys. On a cold winter day, the monkeys were shivering. At dusk, they saw a firefly. Believing it to be fire, they brought it with great care to their living place, covered it with dry grass and started rubbing their arms and feet to warm themselves. One monkey who felt very cold repeatedly blew hard on the firefly to make it burn more vigorously. A weaver bird called Needle-Bill, who had been watching this, flew from the tree and advised the monkeys not to do such a stupid thing and explained to them it is not fire, but just an insect. The monkeys did not listen to the bird. The bird came too close to a monkey to give the advice in its ears, and  he seized and dashed the poor bird against a rock.

And Vishnusarman, author of Panchatantra finishes this story with a saying,

‘what avails instruction to those unfit

it is like a lamp in a house that’s lit

within a jar with a lid on it’.


In Panchatantra we see more such stories. Even Kalidasa, the greatest poet of India, was dumb in the beginning. He was cutting the branch of a tree by sitting on top of it. Noticing his stupidity, the ministers took him to palace and dressed him like a prince and presented him in front of an arrogant princess.When she found out after marrying him that he was a rustic fool, he was thrown out of the palace. Kalidasa received the blessings of Goddess Kali and became one of the world’s most admired ancient poets.





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