Quotable quotes from over a thousand years…

सुहृदि निरन्तर-रचिते गुणवति भृत्येऽनुवर्तिनि कलत्रे ।
स्वामिनि शक्ति-समेते निवेद्य दुःखं सुखी भवति ॥ ३७२ ॥

suhṛdi nirantara-racite guṇavati bhṛtye’nuvartini kalatre |
svāmini śakti-samete nivedya duḥkhaṃ sukhī bhavati || 372 ||

One’s grief becomes much lighter if we confide in a stable-minded friend, a servant of good character, a devoted spouse or a powerful master.

क्व कस्य कर्म संवीक्ष्य करोत्य् अन्यो ऽपि गर्हितम् ।
गतानुगतिको लोको न लोकः पारमार्थिकः ॥ ३७३ ॥

kva kasya karma saṃvīkṣya karoty anyo ‘pi garhitam |
gatānugatiko loko na lokaḥ pāramārthikaḥ || 373 ||

Imitation is the way of the world – seeing one perform a bad deed, the others follow as well. There are very few people in this world, who think of all the consequences, before acting.

यो न वेत्ति गुणान् यस्य न तं सेवेत पण्डितः ।
न हि तस्मात् फलं किञ्चित् सुकृष्टाद् ऊषराद् इव ॥ ३८१ ॥

yo na vetti guṇān yasya na taṃ seveta paṇḍitaḥ |
na hi tasmāt phalaṃ kiñcit sukṛṣṭād ūṣarād iva || 381 ||

A wise man should not serve a person who does not value his talents and capabilities. There is no gain in such service, service,much like ploughing a barren land will not yield in any crop, however hard you work at it.

भक्तं शक्तं कुलीनं च न भृत्यम् अवमानयेत् ।
पुत्रवल् लालयेन् नित्यं य इच्छेच् छ्रियम् आत्मनः ॥ ३८२ ॥

bhaktaṃ śaktaṃ kulīnaṃ ca na bhṛtyam avamānayet |
putraval lālayen nityaṃ ya icchec chriyam ātmanaḥ || 382 ||

One should never insult a person who serves him, if that person is loyal and efficient. Instead, he should take care of him like his own family.

राजा तुष्टो ऽपि भृत्यानाम् अर्थ-मात्रं प्रयच्छति ।
ते तु सम्मानितास् तस्य प्राणैर् अप्य् उपकुर्वते ॥ ३८३ ॥

rājā tuṣṭo ‘pi bhṛtyānām artha-mātraṃ prayacchati |
te tu sammānitās tasya prāṇair apy upakurvate || 383 ||

A king, if pleased, rewards his servants with only money. But servants who are treated with respect, are willing to even risk their lives for the king.


These quotes, and more, form part of the Sri Vishnusharma Praneetam Panchatantram, commonly known as the Panchatantra.

The Panchatantra is a complex story, woven in a way that there is something for everyone. A ten-year old child can read it and enjoy the interplay between the animal characters, and a sixty-year old can also enjoy it reminiscing about the experiences of his own life that reflect in these stories.

If you read through my posts, skipping the Sanskrit verses in color, and their meanings in bold, the story still makes sense, and is enjoyable.

But I compare it to having mango juice from a carton, as opposed to having the fruit.

You get the taste, but miss the experience – of biting into a succulent mango, tasting the pulp, juice dripping from the sides of your mouth – the smell, the taste, the joy cannot be compared. So is it with the Panchatantra.

The point of the exercise is the journey, not the destination. The stories weaved inside stories, bring out the depth of the learning contained within – the slokas present the essence of thought in a manner that would not be possible in any other language. You may have noticed it – the richness yet brevity of conveying a thought in Sanskrit cannot be matched by it’s translation into English. The characters present human nature as it is – with flaws, with insecurities, and a certain fakery that we all have within us. No one is purely good or purely evil – even the best of men has flaws , and the worst of men have something good in them.

The Panchatantra does not claim to be right or wrong, good or bad. That, my dear, is something that you have to work out on your own. After all, it is said…

स्वभावॊ नॊपदॆशॆन शक्यतॆ कर्तुम् अंयथा। 
सुतप्तम् अपि पानीयम्पुनर् गच्छति शीतताम्॥२८० ||

svabhavo nopadeshena shakyate kartum anyatha |
sutaptam api pāniamupnar gacchati shētatam 
|| 280 ||

You cannot change the nature of a person merely by advising him. No matter how much you boil water, it becomes cold again, once removed from the flame.

And also,

असाधना अपि प्राज्ञा बुद्धिमनोत् बहु-श्रुताः ।
साधयन्त्य् आशु कार्याणि काकाखु-मृग-कूर्मवत् ॥ १ ॥

asādhanā api prājñā buddhimanot bahu-śrutāḥ |
sādhayanty āśu kāryāṇi kākākhu-mṛga-kūrmavat || 1 ||

The wise and the intelligent can accomplish their goals even in the absence of guidance, much like the crow, the mouse the deer and the tortoise who got together and were able to accomplish their goal.

You ask me “How did that happen?”

I reply…