Of Wisdom & Scholars

Stumbled upon this gem of a verse from Bhartruhari’s Nitishataka yesterday. Very compelling and relevant for all times. Rough translation is mine.

Boddharo matsaragrastaah prabhavaah smayadooshitaah|
Abodhaapahataschaanye jeernamange subhashitam||

Consumed with jealousy are the teachers and scholars, repositories of knowledge and wisdom,
Polluted by arrogance are the rulers, enforcers of justice, character, and conduct,
Beaten by their own ignorance are the ignorant who remain ignorant–
Thus are the wise words digested by us, remain hidden within us.

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9 comments for “Of Wisdom & Scholars

  1. A
    May 19, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    Oh dear. In order:

    jirna, jirna, jarjara (pashcAjjIvati jarjaradehe), jarA (dehino’smin yathA dehe kaumAraM yauvanaM jarA), jIrna, iti, evam, jIrnamange subhASitam

  2. A
    May 19, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    I think your translation of the last line is incorrect. You take ????? to mean “digested,” which is certainly part of the word’s valence, but ????? almost always means “withered” or “wasted,” as indicated by semantic comparison to ????? (???????????? ?????????) and ??? (?????? ?????????? ???? ?????? ????? ???). I think Kalidasa also uses ????? universally as “withered,” and given his relatively contemporary position and the fact that Bhartrihari was not as pedantic as Magha or Dandin, it’s reasonable to assume the same meaning here. Moreover, the notion of words being “digested” does not appear in Sanskrit literature, at least to my knowledge.

    The structure of standalone verses like this is usually 3 padas of description + 1 pada of thematic reflection, often but not always indicated with a word like ??? or ????. I think such a word would be necessary, though, to yield the interpretation you’ve given. Given the pessimism of the verse too, ?????????? ????????? most probably means “Wise words wither in the body,” as evidenced by the poor state of affairs in the first three padas. I might offer the following translation instead:

    “The scholars are consumed with jealousy,
    The powerful are corrupted with pride,
    And all the rest are beaten down with ignorance.
    Wise words wither in the body.”

    But this is clumsily literal, and a better translation would take some more time to emerge.

  3. Archpagan
    April 6, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Dear Sandeep I came across a similar verse in the Upanishad:
    Avidyayam antare bartamanah
    Svayam mudah panditanmanya manah
    Dandryamya manah pariyanti mudhah
    Andhe naiva niyamana yatha andhah.
    This verse very faithfully describes our present day mediapersons, politicians and the judiciary ( in that order), all of whom have practically nil accountability. Much-maligned bureocracy, police and military are far better in this respect.

  4. svat
    March 20, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    I think every verse is a gem; often we find new meaning when we return to them.

    Here it is, “more readable”:

    ???????? ????????????? ?????? ???????????
    ????????????????? ????????? ????????? ||

    boddh?ro matsara-grast?? prabhava? smaya-d??it?? |
    abodhopahat?? c?nye j?r?am a?ge subh??itam ||

    (A couple of characters different from Sandeep’s, and sandhis broken up for convenience, but I think this is right.)

  5. February 27, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    It would be more readable if you can write the sloka in its original devanagari script.

  6. mindsense
    February 26, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    very true ,every word covers and reflects the present scene in our country and the world.

  7. Rashmi sahu
    February 26, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Dear sandeep very well said,

    The mantradrishta Maharishi Veda Vyasa has said, four deeds are common for animals and human beings :-
    To take in Food
    To take sleep
    To experience fear
    To beget progeny.
    The said qualities are common in humans and animals. Human beings differ only on the basis of fifth quality that only human beings can worship God as per eternal worship mentioned in saamveda otherwise he is also considered animal.

    Saneep I read your post on revival of sanatan dharma as the solution to all the ills present in every societry, country restricted not only to India but every country on this globe. Recently I am reading Vedas – A divine light – Part IV by Swami Ram Swarup ji. Page 45 of the book on Sanatan Dharma echoes your sentiment, I rewriting for all so that knowledge spreads:-
    “ Hindu laws enforced by the Government must be spread through out India through Media, TV, radio and other sources.However , we must also know about the laws framed by God in Vedas, Vedas being Sanatan Dharma*(Eternal code of righteousness). So, government and intellectuals should work hard to sp[red the knowledge of Vedas through school, college, media etc. As stated in Vedas that human beings must progress in both paths i.e spiritualism as well as worldly (pious) like science etc. otherwise, only laws made by MAN are not enough to maintain the peace, to destroy the sins and to enjoy long, happy life. It is sad that nowadays Sanatan Dharma (Vedic Path) which was universally applicable, is and shall always remain universally applicable, has been ignored and hence illusion is prevalent and in tuirn corruption, dishonour to women, blind faith, tension, unnecessary wars, disease, theft, problems are in vogue. It is our duty also to spread the knowledge of Vedas to those who desire to seek the knowledge. Until and unless the people are made aware about Hindu laws mentioned in Vedas as well as in present constitution, no body can get benefit of the same.
    As I already mentioned that fear of religion i.e Sanatan Dharma i.e Vedic law framed by God is only a path to destroy corruption, avoid divorces, atrocities over women etc. Main thing is to educate the people about the laws. You see, mostly injustice is being experienced in our country. The comments of honourable judge of supreme court Shro Markandaye Katju over the matter reflect the image of India depcting sorry state of affair of nation – Dainik Jagran (Hindi edition, dated 05 Nov 2009, report says = “Every one in India is corrupt and this Corruption can never be wiped out from the country”)”

    When you deeply Study India’s vedic/Yogic literature of Yogis ( achieving Union with the Supreme Self God in Nirvikalpa smaadhi) have eulogized only Vedas, be it Nityananda Bhagwan, gajanan Maharaj, Shri Guru etc. In Guru Charitra ( text describing Shri Guru’s biography a 1400 Ad yogi believed to be same soul as lord Datttreya) Shri Guru says read Vedas to Dispell Illusuion, same Vivekananda says too, same Swami ramswarup ji. So we hindus have to spread this message and shoulder additional responsibility to dispel the illusion spread everywhere.
    It is rightly said “ If you want to destroy a nation then destroy its Culture and the nation shall perish away at its own accord”.
    Now we have to save bharath from all our internal and external enemies which includes all who are hands in Glove to destroy this eternal culture (politicians, biased and arrogant academia, secularist/psedu intellectuals, Jihadi,Missionaries/Mullahs and ). Once again we try to become like Lord Krishna, Rama, Hanuman and countless Rihis/Self realized seers who have followed the eternal path and have ignited the spirit of Renounciation, material prosperity, Dharma and unity to mankind over petty sectarian dogmas of narrow-minded religious sects of last 2500 yrs which have only divided human beings on the name of God.

  8. froginthewell
    February 25, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    Jatkesha, but loony liberal “scholars” are also smayadooShitaaH, i.e., “polluted by arrogance” and abhodhaapahataaH, “beaten by their own ignorance”.

  9. February 25, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    No wonder you see all sorts of loony liberal scholars all around.

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