Friday, September 04, 2009

Wisdom in Condensed Form

There are many references to fools, in Sanskrit Subhaashits. Several Subhaashits tell us that it is easy to explain something to an ignorant person, and even easier to explain something to a learned one. But it is very difficult to explain anything to someone who is wilfully foolish.

Just how difficult, is illustrated in the two Subhaashits that I am posting today. These are from the Niti Shatakam by the philosopher-poet Bhartrihari (भर्तृहरि).

Bhartrihari is the author of a tripartite work of Sanskrit verses known as the Shatakatraya- comprising of the Shringar Shatakam, the Niti Shatakam, and the Vairagya Shatakam. These are verses concerning personal life, social life and spirituality respectively.

We can read about Bhartrihari here and here.

प्रसह्य मणिमुद्धरेन्मकरवक्रदंष्ट्राकुरात्
Perhaps it would be possible for a person to wrest a jewel from the jaws of a crocodile,
समुद्रमपि संतरेत्प्रचलदूर्मिमालाकुलम् l
It would even be possible to cross the high tidal waves of an ocean,
भुजंगमपि कोपितं शिरसी पुष्पवद्धारयेत्
It would even be feasible to place an angry serpent on the head as one would place a flower,
न तु प्रतिनिविष्टमूर्खजनचित्तमाराधायेत् ll
But it would be impossible for anyone to explain something to a wilfully foolish person so that he is satisfied.

Bhartrihari further illustrates-

लभेत सिकतासु तैलमपि यत्नतः पीडयन्
Maybe it would be possible to obtain oil by grinding grains of sand,
पिबेच्च मृगतृष्णिकासु सलिलं पिपासार्दितः l
A thirsty person could drink water from a mirage and satisfy his thirst,
कदाचिदपि पर्यटञ्शशविषाणमासाधयेत्
It would even be easy to find the horn of a hare after searching for a while,
न तु प्रतिनिविष्टमूर्खजनचित्तमाराधायेत् ll
But it would be impossible for anyone to explain something to a wilfully foolish person so that he is satisfied.

An obstinately foolish person walks around with blinkers on his eyes. He is determined not to see things from the viewpoint of any one else. He is sure that only he is correct and all others are wrong. And nothing will convince him otherwise. We frequently notice such people in society.

Bhartrihari has given such interesting and creative examples (दृष्टान्त) to illustrate his point! We see that he has managed to convey what he wants to say, with dry humour, in just a few lines .

These verses are observations on social life in a compact form. Or we could call them condensed worldly wisdom!

4 comments:

Vinod_Sharma said...

Nice ones. I particularly like the way he describes almost impossible feats to drive home the point.

Perhaps all of us have a blind spot like that...the size varies, of course, and in the extreme case illustrated by Bhartrihari, the solar eclipse is total.

manju said...

Vinodji- That's true, I suppose- most of us are wilfully foolish with respect to some subject.

And thank you for your support for this blog!

Sandhya said...

Sorry, I don't find my comments here! Actually, my son has started reading this blog - he had Sanskrit as second language and now completely out of touch. He wrote the comment. He really appreciates this blog of yours.

'Maybe it would be possible to obtain oil by grinding grains of sand' - These verses are new to me. My mother used to tease my father in these lines too - anyone can wake up a person who is really in deep sleep, but no one can wake up a person, who feigns sleep!

manju said...

Sandhya- Very true- no one can wake up some one who is feigning sleep!

And a welcome here to your son.:)