Archive for the ‘Subhashitham’ Category

Vairagya Satakam, and detachment

April 2, 2012

In my philosophical pursuit, I came across Vairagya Satakam of Bhartrhari, which literally translates to mean ‘100 verses on detachment’. Personally, I find it to be a very powerful statement of disillusionment and detachment.

Detachment and disillusionment is something that always fascinated me right from my childhood. It is probably easier to practice in absolute renunciation as in Sanyasam but hard to practice in day to day life of Grihasta. Yet it is not impossible as story of Janaka, as explained in the context of Ashtavakra Gita indicates. Again, as I look around, I believe there are quite a few people who lived in the same spirit in recent times, and are living now as well.

An interesting verse from Vairaagya Satakam’ is:
Bhoge Rogabhayam Kule Chyutibhayam Vithe Nripaalaat Bhayam
Maane Dainyabhayam Bale Ripubhayam Roope Jaraayaat Bhayam
Saasthre Vaadibhayam Gune Khalabhayam Kaaye Krithaantaath Bhayam
Sarvam Vasthu Bhayaanvitham Bhuvinrinaam Vairaagyamevabhayam

It roughly to mean (in my knowledge):
When we indulge in pleasure, deep down we run a fear of missing it. When we belong to a socially respected group/family, we are afraid we might loose it sometimes. When we are rich, we are afraid of (too concerned about) money being apportioned by authorities. When we are a respected person, we are wary of situation which compromise respect. When we are powerful, we fear defeat (from someone more powerful or deceitful). When we are young and smart, we are afraid of aging. When we are scholar, we are afraid of being defeated in debates. When we are well off, then we are afraid of vandals (bad elements who are out destroy your peace), When you have good health, you are afraid of death. Fear is associated with everything and only detachment is the refuge.

This may sound too negative in the first reading. On a closer reading, it should be obvious that what is denounced not riches, knowledge, health, position etc but rather too much of attachment to these. Such attachments prevent you from enjoying the very moment now as well as the true joy. As a result, we end up in a self defeating a rat race.

It is clear in the lines:
Bhogaa Na Bhukthaa Vayameva Bhukthaah
Thapo Na Thaptham Vayameva Thampthaah
Kaalo Na Yaatho Vayameva Yathaah
Thrishnaa Na Jeerna Vayameva Jeernaah

That is:
We have not consumed worldly pleasures, they have consumed us (our life). We have not done any Tapas but we burned out ourselves. Time has not gone but we are gone. Desire has not been reduced but we are reduced.


Words of wisdom: Acting from position of power

December 6, 2010

When we seek out to achieve something, it is better to play from the position of power. It makes it much easier.

Nakra Svasthaanamaasadya Gajendramapi Karshathi
Sa Eva Prastita Stanaat Sunobhi Paribhooyate

A crocodile can pull down even a mighty elephant within water (which is its position of power) but even a dog could scare it once is away from its position of power

Words of wisdom: Great men are rare (and hence precious), like genuine gems

October 22, 2010

How one leads one own life is, very much, a matter of individual’s choice. There may be some who would argue that  life is is a mere existence; something that one needs to enjoy and/or endure?

I wonder, what is the difference between a man’s life and that of a beast. Rather, I consider the life of a beast better than that of such a life

I am reminded of a famous quote from Karl Marx which goes as: …a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality

That translates to me in the context as : man’s life and his works are not mere existence but rather a conscious experience and intentional creation.

Aahaaranidraabhayamaithunam Cha


Dharmohi Teshhaamadhiko Visheshho

Dharmena Hiinaah Pashubhih Samaanaah

Eating, sleeping, sex etc are all common to both animals and humans; what is special about men is their consciousness (of what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is not). A man devoid of such a consciousness is comparable to a beast.

Successful life has both an element of responsibility as well as fun; a responsibility to self and the world around.

People who are able to combine both, and get true life experience, effectively are rare. No wonder, it is said:

Saile Saile Na Maanikyam Mauktikam Na Gaje Gaje

Saadhavo Na Hi Sarvatra Chandanam Na Vane Vane

Precious stones are not in every mountain, Diamond is not on every elephant, Good people are not everywhere and Sandalwood is not in every forest

But, fortunately for us, they are lost in the archives of time. They are very much amongst us, if only we care to look around. They serve as our role models and guiding light.  Here is one such example from the thick of action:

Words of wisdom: Working hard

October 13, 2010

Praagutthaanam Cha Yuddham Cha Samvibhaagam Cha Bandhushu

Swayamakramyabhuktuscha Sikshet Chatvaari Kukkudaat

Getting up very early in the morning, striving for food (irrespective of whatever heights you may have achieved in the past, every day is a new day and one need to look ahead, plan and work), sharing gains with near and dear (joy shared is multiplied), eating what is acquired with one’s own effort (not living on freebies) are four qualities to be learned from rooster


Words of wisdom: Focused action at the right time critical to success

October 12, 2010

Indriyaani Cha Samyamya Bakavat Pandito Narah

Desakaalabalam Jnatva Sarvakaaryaani Saadhayet

Like a crane, keep your senses and emotions in check, wait for right time and place, and act decisively, with precision at the right place, at the right time.

That is, once you decide upon a goal,  keep yourself intensely focused and act decisively at the right time for success

Words of wisdom: True success comes only with your best efforts

October 11, 2010

Udyamena Hi Sidhyanthi Kaaryaani Na Manorathaih

Nahi Supthasya Simhasya Pravisanthi Mukhe Mrugaah

Anything can be achieved only with due effort. Animals do not walk into the mouth of lion (as its food)

Pravruddham Kaaryamalpamvaa Yo Narah Karthumicchathi
Sarvaarambhena Tatkaaryam Simhaadekam Prachakshathe

It is said that lion attacks its prey with its entire might.

Once you decide upon an action, put your best efforts for it even if it appears very easy and trivial.

That is, don’t ever try make  half hearted effort. Do it  properly in the best possible way, if you must,  or just leave it;

Half-hearted efforts are just time/energy-wasters

Words of wisdom: A man is known by the company he keeps

October 7, 2010

As a child, I heard and read many mythological stories.

In most of these stories, there are some asuras who works against the welfare of devas, disturbing dynamic equilibrium of routine life. Even as I visualize and enjoy those stories, as a child, I used to wonder why don’t they ever learn. All such stories start with Asuras making themselves almost invincible with with propitation of some devas and then turning against them and every other peaceful being.

What used to always surprise me as a child was that neither asuras nor devas ever seem to learn. Asuras are never able to make themselves invincible and never seem to be realize that they never can. Also, devas do not refrain from giving boons which makes asuras powerful enough to hurt them back.

In the light of my reflection now, it occurs to me that these asuras and devas, and their clashes,  are actually personification of vasanaas, or behavioral tendencies. Asuras represent a combination of tamas-ic and rajas-vic tendencies while devas represent a combination of rajas-vic and sat-vic tendencies.

Man is a being, perhaps the only being, which is capable of lifting themselves (and everyone else) to heights of divinity (barring some initial set backs) by following sat-vic instincts yet capable of bringing ruin (despite some initial gains) on themselves (and every one else) following tamas-vic instincts. I think, mythological stories present this, in an entertaining and educative manner (initial yet sophisticated form of what we now call ‘edutainment’).

As we look within and around, we find these characters and stories being replayed and retold many times over, and it makes all sense to learn from these and take care. Two pointers which  I find specifically as important are i) watching own instincts and conducting oneself in an appropriate manner (working for prosperity of oneself and everyone else) ii) keeping conduct of  immediate circle  (no wonder it is said that a man is known by the company he keeps)

Sakatam Panchahasteshu Dasahasteshu Vaajinam

Gajam Hastasahashrehu Durjanam Dooratastajet

Keep a distance of five ‘hasta’ from vehicles, ten ‘hasta’ from horse and 1000 ‘hasta’ from elephant (considering their damage potential). Keep as much distance as possible from bad people

Words of wisdom: Bad men are worse than beasts

October 6, 2010

Vruschikasyavisham Puccham Makshikaaya Visham Sira

Takshakasyavisham Dantam Sarvaangam Durjanasyacha

Scorpion’s poison is in its tail (so if you can manage to escape the sting, you are safe). Poison of insects are in its head and that of snake is in its teeth (therefore, perhaps, you can manage to escape the damage). As far as a bad person is concerned, everything about him is bad.

I think, human being is the only living being which can consciously strive to make life better for self and everyone around him yet become nasty enough to make life miserable for self and everyone around. The kind of ecological imbalance that the mankind has ended up with in the name of development, horrors like Hiroshima and Nagasakki, etc reminds me of just that negative potential

Words of wisdom: Avoid association with bad elements

October 5, 2010

Sarpah Kroorah Khalah Kroorah Sarpaat Krooratharah Khalah

Manthroushavasah Sarpah Kimudushto Bhayankarah

Both snake and bad people are dangerous.

Compared to snake, bad people are more dangerous, because venom of snake can be treated by medicine but not that of bad influence.

All other living being, other than man, kills or hurts another being only for i) existence (killing for good, as in case of wild animals like lion killing another animal for food) ), ii) survival (self defense as in case of snake biting when it is threatened/perceives threat. But human atrocities, at times, goes beyond all these and I wonder, what is left of human existence devoid of humane elements, other than mere existence

Words of wisdom: The strong and The weak

October 4, 2010

Alpaanaamapi Vasthoonaam Samhatih Kaaryasadhikaa

Trunaih Gunatvamaapannair Bandhyate Matthadanthikaah

Even what we consider as trivial may come in handy, some times.

Coir threads, grass etc are weak but when they are made into a coir, it can be strong enough to even tame an elephant