Sample the Panchatantra…


udīrito ‘rthaḥ paśunāpi gṛhate hayāś ca nāgāś ca vahanti coditāḥ |
anuktam apy ūhati paṇḍito janaḥ pareṅgita-jñāna-phjalā hi buddhayaḥ || 44 ||

Even animals can sort of make out the meanings of the words uttered. Horses and elephants do as directed. Learned men can even understand the meaning of words not spoken aloud. True intelligence lies in understanding the subtle indications made by others.

Even though one can attain victory through violent means, one should always seek peaceful methods at first. Because, it is only after performing a puja and worship of the tall and magnificent trees, that they are cut down.

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.

“O king, of what use is such advice that is impossible to follow, or if followed results in sadness and disappointment, with no hope of happiness whatsoever. That is why is it said that…”

अनिश्चितैर् अध्यवसाय-भीरुभिर् यथेष्ट-संलाप-रति-प्रयोजनैः ।
फले विसंवादम् उपागता गिरः प्रयान्ति लोके परिहास-वस्तुताम् ॥ २५० ॥

aniścitair adhyavasāya-bhīrubhir yatheṣṭa-saṃlāpa-rati-prayojanaiḥ |
phale visaṃvādam upāgatā giraḥ prayānti loke parihāsa-vastutām || 250 ||

Those who are always in doubt, those who are afraid of hard work, and those who complain at every step, always become the objects of ridicule, because they will fail for sure.

“A wise man never shirks away from work, however small it may be, and also does not underestimate it. It is said…”

शक्ष्यामि कर्तुम् इदम् अल्पम् अयत्न-साध्यम् अनादरः क इति कृत्यम् उपेक्षमाणाः ।
केचित् प्रमत्त-मनसः परिताप-दुःखम् आपत्-प्रसङ्ग-सुलभं पुरुषा प्रयान्ति ॥ २५१ ॥

śakṣyāmi kartum idam alpam ayatna-sādhyam anādaraḥ ka iti kṛtyam upekṣamāṇāḥ |
kecit pramatta-manasaḥ paritāpa-duḥkham āpat-prasaṅga-sulabhaṃ puruṣā prayānti || 251 ||

‘I can do this, it is a small task, and can be done without any effort. This isn’t difficult for me at all, and so why should I concentrate on it?’ – those who are lazy speak this way and underestimate work, they show not interest in it and as a consequence, when the work remains incomplete, or gets messed up, feel a deep sense of regret.

“You will sleep well today, o king, since you have attained victory over your enemies. It is said…

निःसर्पे बद्ध-सर्पे वा भवने सुष्यते सुखम् ।
सदा दृष्ट-भुजङ्गे तु निद्रा दुःखेन लभ्यते ॥ २५२ ॥

niḥsarpe baddha-sarpe vā bhavane suṣyate sukham |
sadā dṛṣṭa-bhujaṅge tu nidrā duḥkhena labhyate || 252 ||

One can sleep peacefully in a house where there is no snake at all, or where the snake has been killed…not in a house where a snake has been spotted, but not caught yet.

विस्तीर्ण-व्यवसाय-साध्य-महतां स्निघ्दोपयुक्ताशिषां कार्याणां नय-साहसोन्नति-मताम् इच्छापद्-आरोहिणाम् ।
मानोत्सेक-पराक्रम-व्यसनिनः पारं न यावद्-गताः सामर्षे हृदयेऽवकाश-विषया तावत् कथं निर्वृतिः ॥ २५३ ॥

vistīrṇa-vyavasāya-sādhya-mahatāṃ snighdopayuktāśiṣāṃ kāryāṇāṃ naya-sāhasonnati-matām icchāpad-ārohiṇām |
mānotseka-parākrama-vyasaninaḥ pāraṃ na yāvad-gatāḥ sāmarṣe hṛdaye’vakāśa-viṣayā tāvat kathaṃ nirvṛtiḥ || 253 ||

As long as there are tasks that demand hard work and concentration, that require the encouragement and support of those who care for you…that require courage and conviction to complete – as long as such tasks are not completed, there is no feeling of peace in the restless minds of those who are courageous, confident and enthusiastic.

“My mind is at peace now that I have completed the tasks that I started, and now that I have fulfilled my objectives. I pass the mantle to you, o MeghaVarna. Rule this kingdom well, take care of your people, develop a keen interest in virtue and disinterest in pleasures. Remember, the your problems begin the moment you go through the consecration ceremony…the pot that pours out the sacred water on your head also pours out the problems of the subjects…they then become your problems and you have to contend with them.”

न च त्वया प्राप्त-राज्यॊ हम् इति मत्वा श्री-मदॆनात्मा व्यसयितव्यः। यत्कारणम्-चला हि राज्ञॊ विभूतयः वम्शारॊहणवद्राज्य-लक्ष्मी-दुरारॊहा, क्षण-विनिपात-रता, प्रयत्न-शतैर् अपि धार्यमाणा दुर्धरा, प्रशस्ताराधिताप्य्अंतॆ विप्रलंभिनी, वानर-जातिर् इव विद्रुतानॆक-चित्ता, पद्म-पत्रम् इवाघटित-सम्श्लॆषा, पवन-गतिर् इवातिचपला, अनार्य-संगतिर् इवास्थिरा, आशीविष इव दुरुपचारा, संध्याभ्र-लॆखॆव मुहूर्त-रागा, जल-बुद्बुदावलीव स्वभाव-भंगुरा, शरीर-प्रक्ड़्तिर् इव क्ड़्तघ्ना, स्वप्न-लब्ध-द्रव्य-राशिर् इव क्षण-द्ड़्ष्ट-नष्टा।

“I am the king – do not think this and get carried away in the intoxication of the power that you hold. Power is momentary. Prosperity is fickle, and can go away anytime. She is difficult to hold on to, even if you say a million prayers. She slips away like a drop of dew on a lotus leaf, and blows away like the wind. She is as unreliable as the company of bad people, and as difficult to ingest as the venom of a snake. She lasts for mere moments, much like ripples that are formed on water, and is as real as the pot of gold that you get in a dream.”

“Also remember – misfortune can come at any time, and at any place. Sri Rāmā had to leave his palace and live in a forest, the mighty Bali was overcome and bound, the Pāndavās were sent to the forest, Sri Krishnā’s family was destroyed, King Nala was expelled from his own kingdom, the great warrior Arjuna had to teach dance to the women of Virāta, and the defeat of the powerful and learned Rāvanā…these only go to show that everyone has to suffer fate and no one can escape it.”

“Where is the mighty Dasharatha, who once was a close friend of the king of the devas, and sat on a throne next to him? Where is King Sagara, who once stopped the ocean from overflowing? Where is the son of Surya, the wise Manu? It is evident that nothing and nobody lasts forever. Even these mighty people had to bow down in front of Kālā (time). It is Kālā that brings prosperity, and it Kālā that also takes it away. All those kings who ruled the three worlds, were given their thrones by Kālā, and it is Kālā who also snatched them away. All that remains are their memories. And in the course of time, even those memories will vanish.”

” And so oh mighty MeghaVarna, my advice to you is this. Rule well, rule justly, and do not get carried away in the lust for power. We are all nothing in front of Kālā…all your victories and all your defeats, all that you gained and all that you lost, everything is a speck of dust in the cycle of time. Victories are meant to teach us, just like defeat is meant to give us a lesson. Reveling in victory, and languishing in defeat, both do not serve you well. Give your best to everything that you do, and do not take anything for granted.”

“May you rule for a hundred years!”