Liquor is Poison- Great Poets Agree (Post No.5741)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 5 December 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London – 20-09

Post No. 5741

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37. A king is ruined through evil counsellors :

 an ascetic through society :

a child by spoiling :

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 :

money by waste and prodigality. -Niti Sataka of Bhartruhari

There is another translation for the same couplet:-

The king shall be ruined by a wicked adviser; the monk would be ruined by attachments;

the son would be spoilt by pampering; the learned would become dull without constant study;

The family would be ruined by a wicked son;

and modesty and virtues would be lost by bad company. Thealcoholic drinks would ruin the  intellect and agriculture would be lost  by undertaking travels abroad and friendshipwould be ruined without love. Lack of scruples would ruin prosperity and wealthwould be lost by renunciation or by lethargy.

दौर्मन्त्र्यान्नृपतिर्विनश्यति यतिः सङ्गात्सुतो लालनात्
विप्रो‌உनध्ययनात्कुलं कुतनयाच्छीलं खलोपासनात् ।
ह्रीर्मद्यादनवेक्षणादपि कृषिः स्नेहः प्रवासाश्रयान्
मैत्री चाप्रणयात्समृद्धिरनयात्त्यागप्रमादाद्धनम् ॥ 1.37 ॥

Bhartruhari gave lot of advice in one sloka/couplet. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvvar explained it in detail in several couplets.

For instance he has done ten couplets on the evils of drinking.

Kural 451, 460, 922, 925,926, 366, 341, 70 may be compared with the above sloka of Bhartruhari

“Noble men dread vulgar company; mean men treat the vulgar as kinsmen “- 451

“There is no help better than good company and no trouble worse than evil company”- 460

This is applicable both to a king/ruler and common man.

Evils of Drinking

“Let no one drink liquor; if drink is desired let them drink who do not seek the esteem of the good”.- 922

“To spend money and purchase liquor and lose bodily sense by intoxication is nothing but foolish ignorance”. – 925

V V S Iyer has translated this as,

“It is the veriest idiocy to spend to spen one’s substance

And obtain in return only insensibility”.

“The sleeping and the dead are in no way different; those who drink are always like them that eat poison”- 926

DR S M Diaz has translated it with the following commentary:

Those who sleep resemble the dead for the duration, but the drunken ones are,

As good as dead always, having consumed poison-Kural 926

Dr Diaz comments

Tennyson spoke of sleep as the twin brother of death.Shakespeare too has said very much the same on several occasions. But that is acomparison valid only for the duration of the sleep. But the drunken person isinvariably like on, who has really crossed the barrier of death, havingconsumed poison.

Desire and Attachment

“Desire is the evil which causes deception and detracts one from liberation. it is therefore proper that one should beware of it and guard oneself against it”- 366

“A man suffers no misery whatsoever from the desire of which he has freed himself “– 341

Dr S M Diaz in his commentary says

When you detach yourself from things of the world, one by one,

Each step will be a relatively a painless process.

Socrates said that ‘to have no wants is divine’ He descended to a  human and practical level when he stated ‘The fewer our wants, the closer we resemble the gods’.

The Bhagavad Gita also says

He who does forsaking attachment, resigning them to Brahman/God, is not soiled by evil, like unto a lotus leaf by water  – BG 5-10

Krishna repeats it in BG 5-21 and 18-2

Duty of a Son

“The duty of the son to the father is to make others exclaim ‘what penance has he done to be blessed with such a worthy son”. –70

In Tamil there is a saying about bad sons. Each one of them is worse than the other. When he was about to die in a burning house, which one is a good son so that we would call him before you die. Immediately the dying old man said,

Look above, there is a boy setting fire to the roof. He is the best among my sons.

At the same time we come across illustrious sons like Adi Sankara, Sambandar, Dhruva, Markandeya, Nachiketas, Satyakama Jabala, Aruni and others.


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