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When it comes to this great poet, his words speak for themselves.. no one can elaborate further on his words.

The philosopher King Bhartrihari is raising a signal of caution against faithfully serving a person whose state of mind has remained adamant and idiotic despite all attempt to instill some sense into his muddy brain.

"One may, with great difficulty perform the task of extricating a precious gem which by some chance had got stuck in the gap between the teeth of a ferocious crocodile. He may, with great physical exertion and show of valor, swim across the wide ocean in rage with huge waves. He may even wear on his head like a garland a venomous snake which is in a state of rage and is all set to spew all its poison. But if one tries to serve a confirmed idiot whose mindset is not amenable to any sensible ideas, failure and infamy awaits him".

It is needless to say how difficult it is to subdue a crocodile and extract a precious gem from its teeth, but with some determination a man may be able to do it. A man may swim across a rough and violent see, if he has the strength and verve. One may even charm a venomous snake if he he is sufficiently bold and tactful. But to serve under an incorrigible idiot is rather impossible.

In a way the force of the law is unbearably rigid. But if the law is not in its place, or if the lawmakers themselves do not hesitate to flout such law, the universe will be in chaos. Even the all powerful Tryam-Viraate do not dare to question the law made by themselves. This is also a message about the strength of the fate and at the same time a warning that laws are there to be obeyed.

The laws of Karm or the ordained fate are very rigid and normally unbreakable. This law had made the creator of the world Brahmaa, who is stuck with the big round pot of the cosmic egg and is always working hard like a potter to create maintain and repair this huge pot. From a fish, tortoise, wild boar, man-lion, dwarf, violent nomad, decent human being to a don juan to preceptor of the world, the powerful Vishnu has been forced to assume all Avataar and assume all the responsibilities of the world through the same stiff laws. Worse still, the most powerful Shiv was made to pluck off one of the heads of Brahmaa and using the skull as the alms pot, made to wander all over the world as a beggar. The Sun god is driven like a slave to go round and round the sky without any rest by the same Karm. So the most potent phenomenon existing is the Karm, and I bow before that Karm, so says the philosopher King Bhartrihari.
--Bhartrihari's Neeti Shatak-92

Like a tree laden with ripe fruits bends naturally, so do gentle people display all the more humility when blessed with abundance.
--Bhartrihari's Neeti Shatakam, 71

An elephant bound in ropes, the eclipse of the sun and the poverty of the wise, makes it obvious that the power of fate is always supreme.
--Bhartrihari's Neeti Shatakam, 91

A serpent giving out sound like a frog, a lion putting on the expression of a cow and an enemy showing respect one should take as not friendly.
--Subhaashit Neeti, 5.8

padmaakaram dinakaro vikacham karoti,  Chandro vikaas yati kaitava Chakravaalam||
Naabhyarthito jaladharo'pi jalam dadhaati,  Santah Swayam parahite Vihitaabhiyogaah||

The Lord of the day, without any petition from the lotus, opens up its petals as the first action in the day. The nectar of the rays of the Moon opens up the lily flower without any prompting. The clouds of monsoon fills the Earth with water without any entreaty from us. This is the hallmark of the noble souls. They do service for the welfare of all spontaneously and without any external promptings (without threat, coercion or undue influence in the parlance of law).

An unfortunate snake landed up in the closed box of a charmer. Finding no way out and having lost all hope, it just curled up inside the box and remained there tired and emaciated without any food for days. A nosy rat during its nocturnal forays, managed to drill a hole on the box and entered the enclosure well in time to land up in the company of the snake. The snake which was counting its hours before sure death due to starvation, made a sumptuous feast of the rodent. It had the added bonanza by way of the hole prepared by the rat. The snake sneaked out through the hole and went away happily. So people, should not lose their hope.. Stay happy. You are not the masters of your future but fate is waiting for you round the corner whether for good or for bad. The influence of serenditpity in human life is underlined here. But the idea should not be extended to justify blissful inaction. The poet has said elsewhere "whether death comes today or at the end of the millennium, one has to tread the path of justice".. and justice is not inaction
--Neeti Shatak

santaptaayasi sansthitasya payaso naamaapi na shrootate
muktaakaratayaa tadev nalinee patra sthitam drashyate|
antah saagarashukti madhyapatitam tanmauktikam jaayate
praayenaadhama madhyamottamaj ushaamevam vidhaa vrittaya: ||58||

"A drop of water when it falls on a piece of blazing piece of iron, it disappears within a split second leaving no trace of its former existence. The same drop caught on a lotus-leaf, just keeps its round shape and rolls around the surface giving the false appearance of a pearl. When a similar water drop falling from the sky is caught by the open flanks of a pearl oyster, the drop in due course transforms itself into an invaluable pearl."

This is verily the fate of people falling into the control of the evil people, the reasonably good people and the extremely noble persons. When we get the company of a cruel fellow, either with show of affection or with show of cruelty, we are finished in no time. When we have for our company people who are neither too good or too bad, we can reflect their quality, sometimes show off elegance and beauty and all but there is no real substance in that show. Like a water drop dancing on a lotus leaf, we may move gleefully on the surface but once we reach an edge and fall of, it is indeed a fall for ever. But when we are taken under the tutelage of a noble person, by constant company and by emulating their good deeds, we are sure to transform ourselves into really noble person.

This idea has been repeated often.' Saansargikaa: dosha gun bhavanti' it is through the company one keeps that one becomes noble or cruel.. this idea runs like a golden thread throughout the human thought.
--Neeti Shatak

A person when he is very poor and is running helter-skelter for livelihood, feels himself very fortunate and is happy like the richest man in the world when he comes by a handful of barley to prepare his day's gruel.. However when he becomes richer by stages and when his barn is overflowing with grains, he starts to look down upon his landholdings and starts to yearn for diversions in life. The bliss of that small possessions is lost now. This is human nature. The sense importance of something which is so close him varies in inverse proportions with acquisition of wealth. The state of a thing either magnifies or expands it or shrinks the same.

Here the poet talks about affluence or lack of it. But the perception of importance of relations, friendship and many other factors in life also undergo a great change with changing age, status and other factors. For a newborn baby, its whole world is its mother. Till a person is able to make a firm step on terra firma, the parents and elder relatives are important. Once he gets a young wife (or she gets a husband) the world again goes topsy turvy.. As one gets children, the children get priority over spouses. As status changes old friends often become embarrassment. A very realistic evaluation of human mind in its paradigm shift vis-a-vis changing environs. Sometimes poetic words assume prophetic dimensions. Bhartrihari says that a thing expands or shrinks according to its state. This is what exactly Einstein propounded in his special theory of relativity. His idea is also that when an object accelerates (gains speed) it has to shrink since the velocity of light is a constant.
--Neeti Shatak

Varam Parvat Durgeshu Bhrantam Vanacharaih Saha,  Na Morh Jan Sampoarkah Surandra Bhavaneshwapi
It is better to be roaming around in the obscure cave in the deeper parts of a mountain range in the company of Aborigines, than to have the company of the arrogant idiots even while staying in the ornate abodes of the gods or the likes.
--Neeti Shatak?

Absolute boldness and presence of mind while facing danger, extreme humility and patience while in affluence, exemplary eloquence while presenting important issues in an assembly of the learned men, unconquerable valor and leadership in war, abiding interest in keeping ones own good name and deep involvement in learning scriptures and sciences - these are inborn characteristics of the noble men.

Life is a saga of ups and downs. No one can avoid bad times. When one is in dire straits only the tenacity of spirit can keep him afloat. There is always a sunrise at the end of even the darkest night... but the wait is too tough. When one is in affluence, the usual subordinate evil in the shape of arrogance runs the roost. If the wealth is properly used and shared generously, such wealth will become good insurance for a bad day. Knowledge without skills of presentation will never get recognition. Physical prowess and leadership qualities should compliment such knowledge. And if one is not careful not to blot his copybook he will sink into oblivion. And all good qualities can come only through assiduous learning process.
--Neeti Shatak

The birds flying free in the yonder skies are blissful as they visit the blessed ascetics who do penance in the remote caves of the mountains and are shedding tears of ecstasy on discovering the ultimate bright light of divinity. Those birds nuzzle on the laps of the great sages and eagerly drink those tears of sweet realization . Indeed blessed are those birds. We the human beings travel in the chariots of our imaginations visiting the playhouses of desire seeking temporary pleasures and in this process our lifetime is getting depleted and wasted for ever.

Even the birds which according to our perception have no sixth sense realize how noble the seers who are sitting in penance are and without any inhibition they occupy their laps. The human tears which taste salty for us, are sweet when it flows from the enlightened eyes of those sages.. and the teardrops are drunk by the birds as if it is honey. The absolute trust in the nobility of the divine make the lives of such birds divine. But we human beings, run after ephemeral pleasures and waste away our lives. As Shankaraachaarya says, "Lokam shokahatam cha samastam....."

--Vairaagya Shatak, 14

The face is marked over with wrinkles, the head is covered with grey hair and the limbs are all weak and worn out with age, it is only the desire which is youthful (getting strong).
--Vairaagya Shatak, 16

Old age stands threatening like a tigress. Diseases are striking the body like enemies and life is leaking out like water from a broken jar; but, strange to say, men are still regardless of doing good.
--Vairaagya Shatak, 100

We all know that the termites attracted by the bright light and not realizing the terrible heat that will covert them to ashes, fly into the tongues of fire. The poor fish, noticing a big piece of worm attached to the fisherman's sharp hook bites the worm with greed and caught by the terrible hook. These actions arising out of ignorance can be condoned, but for such actions they have to pay the ultimate price. But we humans, fully knowing the dangers of excessive desire for money and lust for carnal activities go in full strength for money and carnal pleasures, simply prodded by our own lust and avariciousness. Indeed, inscrutable are the powers of desire.

Wise men talk of the human frailty of falling into a pit at daytime, the pit having been dug up by himself in the darkness of the earlier night. A person falling prey to some dangers unwittingly can at best be called an idiot. But when it comes to amassing wealth, black white or red, even the most intelligent person throws to wind all scruple and sin deliberately. The same attitude overtakes them when they go  for intoxicating drinks and pursuit of short-lived desires which are sure to land in a quagmire from which he has no escape, what can the hapless onlooker do? Pity them, or curse the fate?
--Vairaagya Shatak

"aashaa naam nadee manoratha-jalaa trishnaa tarangaakulaa, raaga-graahavatee, vitark vihag,
dhairya-druma-dhwansinee / mohaavarta-sudustaraatigahanaa prottunga-chintaa-tatee,
tasyaah paaragataa vishuddhamanaso nandanti yogeesvaraah//

i.e. Expectation is a river. In it desires (which overflow) are water. It is agitated with the waves of thirst. It has attachments as crocodiles. Doubts as birds destroy the trees of patience. The anxieties as banks are affected greatly by the whirl-pool of delusions which are so high and deep to be overcome. The great Yogee who are able to surpass the same are are fortunately happy in this world.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 06/26/13