Index to this publication
* Introduction - This introductory text will serve well the purpose of
providing some background information to both the original writing of the
Tirukural some two millenia or more ago, and to this recent Tirukural
translation, which was oversighted by Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami,
student of the Sri Lankan sage Yogaswami (1872 - 1964), and the founder of
the Himalayan Academy.
Part I ... On Virtue
* Chapter 1 - In Praise of God
* Chapter 2 - The Importance of Rain
* Chapter 3 - Greatness of Renunciates
· Chapter 4 - Asserting Virtue's Power
· Family Life - The Way of the Householder
* Chapter 5 - Family Life
* Chapter 6 - The Good Wife
* Chapter 7 - The Blessing of Children
* Chapter 8 - Possessing Love
* Chapter 9 - Hospitality
* Chapter 10 - Speaking Pleasant Words
* Chapter 11 - Gratitude
* Chapter 12 - Impartiality
* Chapter 13 - Possession of Self-Control
* Chapter 14 - Possession of Virtuous Conduct
* Chapter 15 - Not Coveting Another's Wife
* Chapter 16 - Possession of Forbearance
* Chapter 17 - Avoidance of Envy
* Chapter 18 - Avoidance of Covetousness
* Chapter 19 - Avoidance of Backbiting
* Chapter 20 - Avoidance of Pointless Speech
* Chapter 21 - Dread of Sinful Deeds
* Chapter 22 - Understanding One's Duty to Society
* Chapter 23 - Charity
* Chapter 24 - Glory
* Chapter 25 - Possession of Compassion
* Chapter 26 - Abstaining from Eating Meat
* Chapter 27 - Austerity
* Chapter 28 - Ascetic Pretense
* Chapter 29 - Avoidance of Fraud
* Chapter 30 - Truthfulness
* Chapter 31 - Avoidance of Anger
* Chapter 32 - Avoidance of Injuring Others
* Chapter 33 - Avoidance of Killing
* Chapter 34 - Impermanence of All Things
* Chapter 35 - Renunciation
* Chapter 36 - Knowledge of Truth
* Chapter 37 - Eradication of Desire
* Chapter 38 - Destiny
Part II - On Wealth
* Chapter 39 - The Merits of the King
* Chapter 40 - Learning
* Chapter 41 - The Neglect of Learning
* Chapter 42 - Listening to the Learned
* Chapter 43 - Possession of Wisdom
* Chapter 44 - Guarding Against Faults
* Chapter 45 - Gaining Support from the Great
* Chapter 46 - Avoidance of Base Company
* Chapter 47 - Deliberation Before Action
* Chapter 48 - Understanding Strength
* Chapter 49 - Understanding Timeliness
* Chapter 50 - Understanding the Right Place
* Chapter 51 - Testing and Trusting Men
* Chapter 52 - Testing and Employing Men
* Chapter 53 - Fellowship of Kindred
* Chapter 54 - Avoidance of Unmindfulness
* Chapter 55 - Just Reign
* Chapter 56 - Unjust Reign
* Chapter 57 - Avoidance of Tyranny
* Chapter 58 - The Kindly Look
* Chapter 59 - Espionage
* Chapter 60 - Possession of Industriousness
* Chapter 61 - Avoidance of Laziness
* Chapter 62 - Perseverance
* Chapter 63 - Being Undaunted by Troubles
* Ministers & Subjects - The Essentials of the State
* Chapter 64 - Essentials Of the State Ministers
* Chapter 65 - Eloquence
* Chapter 66 - Purity of Action
* Chapter 67 - Resoluteness of Action
* Chapter 68 - Modes of Action
* Chapter 69 - Ambassadors
* Chapter 70 - Associating with Monarchs
* Chapter 71 - Discerning Unspoken Thoughts
* Chapter 72 - Judging the Audience
* Chapter 73 - Not Dreading the Audience
* Chapter 74 - The Country
* Chapter 75 - Fortresses
* Chapter 76 - The Ways of Acquiring Wealth
* Chapter 77 - Merits of the Army
* Chapter 78 - Military Pride
* Chapter 79 - Friendship
* Chapter 80 - Testing Fitness for Friendship
* Chapter 81 - Old Friendship
* Chapter 82 - Harmful Friendship
* Chapter 83 - False Friendship
* Chapter 84 - Folly
* Chapter 85 - Ignorance
* Chapter 86 - Hatred
* Chapter 87 - Merits of Enmity
* Chapter 88 - Understanding the Nature of Enmity
* Chapter 89 - Internal Enmity
* Chapter 90 - Not Offending the Great
* Chapter 91 - Being Led by Women
* Chapter 92 - Wanton Women
* Chapter 93 - The Avoidance of Drunkenness
* Chapter 94 - Gambling
* Chapter 95 - Medicine
* The People
* Chapter 96 - Nobility
* Chapter 97 - Honor
* Chapter 98 - Greatness
* Chapter 99 - Perfect Goodness
* Chapter 100 - Possession of Courtesy
* Chapter 101 - Wealth That Benefits None
* Chapter 102 - Possession of Modesty
* Chapter 103 - Advancing the Family
* Chapter 104 - Farming
* Chapter 105 - Poverty
* Chapter 106 - Begging
* Chapter 107 - Dread of Begging
* Chapter 108 - Baseness
Part III - On Love
* Kama or Pleasure (Love)
* Chapters 109 to 133 - At present un-translated by the Himalayan
Introduction to the Holy Kural
The following represents an inspired talk by Gurudeva, H.H. Sivaya
Subramuniyaswami, on Saint Tiruvalluvar's Guru Puja Day, February 15,
1979, introducing selections from the Holy Kural, the Saint's 2,100 year-old
Tamil classic on virtuous living:
Scripture of Saivite Hinduism
Many years ago when I was in Sri Lanka -- that was in 1949 -- I made a vow
to bring together the best of the East and the best of the West. I was first
introduced to the Holy Kural in those early days. To me it is one of the most
important scriptures of the East. It is very practical. It contains wonderful
insights of life and really teaches us how to deal With the various feelings and
circumstances that come to us in our interactions with others. In this sense
the Kural is the most relevant sacred text I know, applying to everyday
matters and common concerns.
Although it has been translated into English by many scholars, the Holy Kural
has never been widely known in the Western world. There is a similar work,
written in modern times by the mystic Kahil Gibran, called the Prophet which
has been widely distributed. Everyone knows and loves this great work. The
Holy Kural parallels the Prophet in many ways. Both books speak in profound
yet useful terms of love and friendship, of health and death, of joy and sorrow.
It is my hope that the Holy Kural will soon find its place beside the Prophet
and be known by the world for the gem that it is.
The Holy Kural was written by a weaver who lived with his wife, Vasuki, in
what is today a part of Madras in South India in the st century before the birth
of Christ. Details of his life are meager. It is known that his wife was the
perfect example of devotion and obedience to her husband, and several
stories are told depicting the harmony in their mar- riage. This was
Tiruvalluvar's only work, and though it is relatively short, it was sufficient to
bring renown to a humble weaver, making him a venerated sage and lawgiver
of the Tamil Dravidian people.
In the Tamil language "Tiru" means "holy" or "sacred," and "Kural" means
anything that is brief or short. In this case it describes the very difficult and
disciplined venpa meter in which the verses were written. Each verse is
extremely short, containing only two lines of fourteen syllables. In fact, it is the
shortest form of stanza in the Tamil language. In many ways these couplets
are similar to the Sanskrit sloka. The entire scripture consists of 133 chapters
with each chapter elucidat' a different aspect of human virtue or human fault.
There are ten kural couplets per chapter, making a total of 1,330 couplets in
the entire scripture. In his work Tiruvalluvar chose a topic - such as children,
friendship or avoidance of anger - and gave us ten different couplets on the
one subject. To properly understand his perspective on a subject, each of the
ten couplets must be read, for they are like facets of a gem - all reflecting the
light of his understanding slightly differently and adding to the richness of his
comprehension. It has been explained to me that the saint spent the fullness
of his life quietly observing, simply observing the human condition. Then,
toward the end of his life, he was asked to speak out and share the wisdom
others in the community knew he possessed. The Holy Kural is his response.
This edition of the Holy Kural has been several years in the preparation. While
in Sri Lanka in 1975 1 asked one of the Sannyasin to bring into American
English the essential meaning of the verses. There had never been a
translation in modern American English. He studied the various translations.
Later he returned to the monastery here in Hawaii and with another
Sannyasin worked in the hours before dawn for many months. There were
five objectives in their work - to be faithful to the original Tamil in meaning and
style, to be clear and understandable, to be brief whenever possible so as to
capture the saint's succinct style, to be subtle and profound, and finally to
have the verses as graceful and refined in English as they are in Tamil. This
was not an easy task, as you can imagine. It was further complicated by the
fact that the text was written twenty centuries ago in a classical form of Tamil
that is difficult to understand today. It is like trying to read the Old English
works of Chaucer. They had to react on exactly what the saint meant, for
often his verses are obscure and subtle. They had to catch the same
meaning, the same insight, to discover the same area of consciousness which
the saint held as he wrote. And then they had to speak out that perception in
the vernacular of our day. Realizing that much meaning would be lost if the
attempt was made to use rhyming verse in the translation, I asked the
Sannyasins to not attempt that, but to work in prose instead.
As you will see, this abridged edition contains four of the ten verses for the
first thirty-eight chapters. We have completed the abridged translations
through chapter 108, but the limitations of the Inspired Talks do not allow all
the chapters to be included here. The verses here are, to me, the most
meaningful and pertinent ones to serve as an introduction to this ancient
scripture in the West. They represent the essence of the saint's insights on
the topics of the first chapters. We hope that this small selection will find its
way into your heart and encourage further study of the Holy Kural in its fuller
The total scripture is divided into four sections: the Preface, Virtue, Wealth
and Love. In not speaking of the fourth and final objective of human existence,
moksha or spiritual liberation, Saint Tiruvalluvar was able to reach out with his
message of goodness and touch the lives of many generations. Certainly he
knew that in speaking of virtue and love he was leading the soul to the
liberation which he perhaps held too sacred, or too advanced, to openly
discuss. That is why it was awesome to be on San Marga today and to see
the two larger-than-life black granite statues made for us in South India sitting
together - the one who spoke on virtue wealth and love and the other who
spoke so potently on liberation in his great work, The Tirumantiram. The
whole of the way of Saivite Hinduism is contained in the world of these two
The Holy Kural should be used in everyday life - its verses commited to
memory and meditated upon, quoted freely as your very own. You will sound
wise if you do remember and share these jewels. One of the greatest benefits
of this scripture is to guide our actions and our thoughts, to direct our purpose
in life and refine our interactions with our fellow man. Problems can be
resolved in the light of the saint's wisdom. If something is going along wrong
in your life, bring the forces of life back into harmony by studying the Holy
Kural and applying its knowledge. That is perhaps its main function - to
perfect and protect our lives in the everyday world by preventing mistakes
which can cause an unhappy karma, by preventing erroneous attitudes which
can bring unnecessary sorrow into our experience. Yet, there is nothing in the
Kural that has to be obeyed. Each of the couplets contains such insight,
however, that we are drawn to it and want to obey.
Use the verses in this scripture to provide guidelines for effective and virtuous
action in your life. It can be our refuge in times of confusion, a source of
inspiration when we feel less than inspired, a central hub around which the
endless play of Lord Siva's maya revolves. Of course, it can be studied so as
to comprehend the nature of virtue and the difficulties caused by
transgressing virtue's natural laws. It does not contain a single concept or
expression that would offend another faith, and thus it is a fine introduction to
the scriptures of the East. The Holy Kural may well be the meeting ground,
the common ground, of all religions. It could be called a Common Creed for
the modern world. But above all it is to be used by the individual to bring the
wisdom of the ages, the wisdom of Saivite Hinduism, into our lives. I hope you
will all allow Saint Tiruvalluvar's insights to speak your own intuition and
reveal from within yourself the laws which he too discovered within himself.
Do not look upon this scripture as something "out there." Meditation and
reflection will reveal that its knowledge lies within, vibrantly alive, dynamically
real. It is impossible to not be moved by the grand compassion and the direct
discernment of the Kural. Let it enrich your life as you journey along this
Eternal Path, the Sanatana Dharma. I would suggest that you commit to
memory as many stanzas as you can. Many have done this, keeping them on
the tip of their tongue and in the forefront of their mind. Impress them on the
subconscious mind and thereby make a gridwork for living that takes you
swiftly to the goal and brings joy in the process, for Hinduism is a joyous
religion. I would also suggest that you teach these gems to the children.
This advice and admonition, coming from the world's most ancient faith and
culture, will enrich every child's understanding of goodness, right conduct and
right thought. It is one of the most astute scriptures in the world today. It
should be memorized, especially by small children. It will create a positive
conscience for their inner decisions, guiding how they will conduct themselves
through life. Small children all through South India memorize the Holy Kural in
order to be able to chant it verse after verse - many can recite the entire 1,330
verses by heart. This gives them a code of living that remains with them the
rest of their lives. It is crucial that children be given the benefit of strong
principles from an early age, especially in these times when television and the
stories, plots and scenes that children see on television which form the code
of living for their lives provide opposite and obscure values. The Holy Kural is
therefore most important. It is essential that the values which are the
substance of the Holy Kural - the do's as well as the don'ts - be carried over
into the next generation with courage and persistence and fortitude so that our
descendants, the heirs of a future which we are even now in the process of
creating, are benefited by these age-old insights into universal laws,
humanitarian laws and plain common sense.
This is the responsibility of all parents and those who teach our children. They
may use this translation freely, drawing upon its storehouse of virtuous living.
Quote from these verses freely. Use them as your very own.
In Saivite Hinduism we believe that the soul, man's soul created by Siva, is
returning to the Source which it already is, and this maturation is effected and
directed by karma, through experience, through a succession of lives that
provide experience from which inner knowledge is attained. This passage
through one life and then another brings the soul ever closer to its true,
effulgent being. Saivites believe that the soul can and does ultimately merge
with Siva, with God, Absolute Reality. It becomes one with God, united in an
ultimate experience, or non-experience, called Self-realization, which in turn
leads to moksha or liberation from the necessity for further incarnation. This is
the final goal, and the Holy Kural provides a foundation upon which the quest
for that goal may proceed with confidence and stability.
H.H. Sivaya Subramuniyaswami,
on Saint Tiruvalluvar's Guru Puja Day,
February 15, 1979
In Praise of God
"A" is the first and source of all the letters. Even so is
God Primordial the first and source of all the world.
What has learning profited a man, if it has not led him
To worship the Good Feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
The Supreme dwells within the lotus of the heart. Those who reach
His Splendid Feet dwell endearingly within unearthly realms.
Draw near the Feet of Him who is free of desire and aversion.
And live forever free of suffering.
Good and bad, delusion's dual deeds, do not cannot cling
Those who delight in praising the immutable, worshipful One.
A long and joyous life rewards those who remain firmly
On the faultless path of Him who controls the five senses.
They alone dispel the mind's distress
Who take refuge at the Feet of the Incomparable One.
They alone can cross life's other oceans who take refuge
At the Feet of the Gracious One, Himself an ocean of virtue.
The head which cannot bow before the Feet of the Possessor
Of eight infinite powers is like the senses lacking the power to perceive.
The boundless ocean of births can be crossed,
But not without intimate union with Infinity's Holy Feet.
The Importance of Rain
It is the unfailing fall of rain that sustains the world.
Therefore, look upon rain as the nectar of life.
Rain produces man's wholesome food;
And rain itself forms part of his food besides.
Though oceanic waters surround it, the world will be deluged
By hunger's hardships if the billowing clouds betray us.
When clouds withhold their watery wealth,
Farmers cease to pull their ploughs.
It is rain that ruins, and it is rain again
That raises up those it has ruined.
Unless raindrops fall from the sky,
Not a blade of green grass will rise from the earth.
The very nature of oceans, though vast, would diminish,
If clouds ceased to take up water and give back rain's gifts.
Should the heavens dry up, worship here of the heavenly ones
In festivals and daily rites would wither.
Unless the heavens grant their gifts, neither the giver's generosity
Nor the ascetic's aloofness will grace this wide world.
No life on earth can exist without water,
And the ceaseless flow of that water cannot exist without rain.
Greatness of Renunciates
The scriptures exalt above every other good
The greatness of virtuous renunciates.
Attempting to speak of the renunciate's magnitude
Is akin to measuring the human multitudes who have ever died.
Behold those who have weighed the dual nature of things and followed
The renunciate's way. Their greatness illumines the world.
He whose firm will, wisdom's goading hook, controls his five senses
Is a seed that will flourish in the fields of heaven.
Such is the power of those who subdue the five senses that even Indra,
Sovereign of spacious heaven's celestials, suffered their curse.
The magnificent ones are they who can dispatch the most
Difficult tasks; the insignificant ones are they who cannot.
Touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing -
He who controls these five magically controls the world.
Their own secret sayings reveal to the world
The greatness of men whose words prove prophetic.
It is impossible to endure even a moment's wrath of those
Who have scaled and stand upon the mountain called virtue.
Renunciates are called the priestly ones
For they are clothed in robes of compassion for all life.
Asserting Virtue's Power
Virtue yields heaven's honor and earth's wealth.
What is there then that is more fruitful for a man?
There is nothing more rewarding than virtue,
Nor anything more ruinous than its neglect.
Be unremitting in the doing of good deeds.
Do them with all your might and by every possible means.
Keep the mind free of impurity. That alone is the practice of virtue.
All else is nothing but empty display.
Virtue is living in such a way that one does not fall into these four -
Envy, anger, greed and unsavory speech.
Don't tell yourself tomorrow you'll be wise enough to practice virtue.
Do it now, for it will be your deathless companion when you die.
It is decidedly unnecessary to inquire about virtue's benefits,
So evident in the difference between the palanquin's rider and bearer.
Allowing not a day to pass without doing some good
Is a boulder that will block your passage on the path to rebirth.
Only virtuous deeds abound in true joy.
All other deeds are empty and devoid of distinction.
Virtue is merely that which should be done,
And vice is merely that which men avoid in life.
He alone may be called a householder who supports
Students, elders and renunciates pursuing well their good paths.
The virtuous householder supports the needs
Of renunciates, ancestors and the poor.
The foremost duty of family life is to duly serve these five:
God, guests, kindred, ancestors and one's self.
Gathering wealth without misdeeds and sharing meals without
miserliness, The householder's posterity will never perish.
When family life possesses love and virtue,
That is both its essence and fruition.
If a man masters the duties of married life,
What further merits could monkhood offer him?
Among those who strive for liberation, the foremost are they
Who live the blessed state of family life as it should be lived.
The householder dedicated to duty and to aiding
Ascetics on their path of penance endures more than they do.
Domestic life is rightly called virtue. The monastic path,
Rightly lived beyond blame, is likewise good.
He who pursues the householder's life well here on earth
Will be placed among the Gods there in heaven.
The Good Wife
She is the helpful wife who possesses the fullness of
Household culture and spends within her husband's means.
The fullest family life remains empty
If the wife lacks the lofty culture of the home.
What does a man lack if his wife is worthy?
And what does he possess if she is lacking worth?
What is more majestic than a women
Who preserves the prodigious strength of chastity?
Even the rains will fall at her command
Who upon rising worships not God, but her husband.
A woman is one who vigilantly guards herself,
Cares for her husband and protects their unblemished reputation.
Why do guardians protect women by confinement?
Her own resolute chastity is a women's paramount protection.
A women deeply devoted to the man who wed her
Will be worthy of great rewards in the world where Gods delight
Unless the wife pursues praiseworthy purity,
The husband cannot prance like a proud lion before his critics.
A worthy wife is the blessing of a home,
And good children are its precious ornament.
The Blessing of Children
Of all a man's blessings we know of none greater than
The begetting of children endowed with intelligence.
Those who bear children of blameless character
Will themselves be born seven times, untouched by evil.
It is said that children are a man's real wealth,
And that this wealth is determined by his deeds.
Far sweeter than divine nectar is simple boiled rice
Stirred by the small hands of one's own child.
Being touched by one's children is a delight to the body,
And listening to them chatter is a joy to the ear.
"Sweet are the sounds of the flute and the lute," say those
Who have not heard the prattle of their own children.
A father can best benefit his son by preparing him
To sit in the vanguard of erudite councils.
What pleasure it is to human beings everywhere
When their children possess knowledge surpassing their own!
When a mother hears her son heralded a good and learned man,
Her joy exceeds that of his joyous birth.
The son's duty to his father is to make the world ask,
"By what great austerities did he merit such a son?"
Can any lock keep love confined within,
When the loving heart's tiny tears escape and confess it?
The unloving belong only to themselves,
But the loving belong to others to their very bones.
They say it is to know union with love
That the soul takes union with the body.
Love makes a man affectionate toward all,
And affection affords the priceless treasure of friendship.
They say love's greatness is this: it yields to good families
Worldly happiness here and heavenly bliss there.
The uninformed say love stands by virtuous souls,
Unaware that love is also friend to all immersed in vice.
As the blazing sun dries up a boneless worm,
So does virtue scorch a loveless being.
Without love in the heart,
Life is like a sapless tree in a barren desert.
What good is a body perfect in outer ways,
If inwardly it is impaired by lack of love?
With love enshrined in the heart, one lives.
Without it, the body is but bone encased in skin.
The whole purpose of maintaining a home
And earning wealth is to provide hospitality to guests.
To hoard one's meal when a guest is in the home is improper,
Even if it happens to be the nectar of immortality.
The life of the man who daily cares for those who
Come to him will never suffer poverty's painful ruin.
Wealth's goddess dwells in the hospitable home
Of those who host guests with a smiling face.
If a man eats only after attending to guests' needs,
What further sowing will his fertile fields require?
The host who, caring for guests, watches hopefully for more,
Will himself be a welcomed guest of those whose home is heaven.
Charity's merit cannot be measured by gifts given.
It is measured by measuring the receiver's merits.
Those who never sacrifice to care for guests will later lament,
"We hoarded wealth, estranged ourselves, now none will care for us."
The poorest penury is having plenty yet shunning guests.
Such senselessness is only found in senseless fools.
The delicate anicham flower withers when merely smelled,
But an unwelcome look is enough to wither the heart of a guest
Speaking Pleasant Words
Pleasant words fall from the lips of virtuous men,
Full of tenderness and free from deceit.
Better than a gift given with a joyous heart
Are sweet words spoken with a cheerful smile.
A kindly countenance and sweet words
Spoken from the heart are virtue's way.
Poverty-provoking sorrow will not pursue
Those who speak joy-producing words to all they meet.
Humility and pleasant words are the jewels
That adorn a man; there are none other.
If a man seeks good works while speaking sweet words,
His virtues will wax and his vices wane.
Words yield spiritual rewards and moral excellence
When they do not wander far from usefulness and agreeableness.
Sweet speech which is stranger to pettiness
Imparts pleasure not only in this life, but in the next.
Why would anyone speak cruel words,
Having observed the happiness that kind words confer?
To utter harsh words when sweet ones would serve
Is like eating unripe fruits when ripe ones are at hand.
Heaven and earth are scant repayment
For help rendered where none was received.
A kindness done in the hour of need may itself be small,
But in worth it exceeds the whole world.
When help is rendered by weighing the receiver's need
And not the donor's reward, its goodness grows greater than the sea.
While aid may outwardly seem as puny as a mustard seed,
The knowing will deem it as imposing as a towering palm.
Help rendered another cannot be measured by the extent
Of assistance imparted. Its real measure is the recipient's worthiness.
Never forget fellowship with unsullied souls,
Nor forsake friendship with those who aided in adversity.
For seven lives in seven bodies the grateful will remember
Friends who nullified their anguish and affliction.
It is improper to ever forget a kindness,
But good to forget at once an injury received.
The deadliest injury is effaced the moment
The mind recalls a single kindness received from the injurer.
Having massacred every breed of goodness, one may yet escape,
But there is no escape for those who let gratitude die.
Justice may be called good when it acts impartially
Toward enemies, strangers and friends.
The wealth of those who possess justice will not perish;
Rather it will be posterity's soothing security.
However prosperous it may seem, all wealth gained
By loss of rightness must be relinquished that very day.
In their offspring one may doubtlessly discern
Who are the just and who the unjust.
Adversity and prosperity never cease to exist. The adornment
Of great men's minds is to remain unswervingly just under both.
When his heart forsakes fairness and his deeds turn depraved,
A man realizes deep within himself, "I am ruined."
Though a man is profoundly impoverished,
If he remains just, the world will not regard him as poor.
To incline to neither side like a balance scale's level beam
And thus weigh impartially is the wise one's ornament.
Speech uttered without bias is integrity,
Provided no unspoken bias hides in the heart.
Those businessmen will prosper whose business
Protects as their own the interests of others.
Possession of Self-Control
Self-control will place a man among the Gods,
While lack of it will lead him into deepest darkness.
Guard your self-control as a precious treasure,
For there is no greater wealth in life than this.
Comprehending and acquiring self-control
Confers upon one the esteem of wise men.
More imposing than a mountain is the greatness of a man who,
Steadfast in domestic life, has attained self-control.
Humility is a precious quality in all people,
But it has a rare richness in the rich.
Like a tortoise withdrawing five limbs into its shell, those who
Restrain the five senses in one life, will find safe shelter for seven.
Whatever you may fail to guard, guard well your tongue,
For flawed speech unfailingly invokes anguish and affliction.
By a single word of injury
Do all a man's virtues lose their goodness.
The wound caused by fire heals in its time;
The burn inflicted by an inflamed tongue never heals.
Virtue will wait in the streets to meet a man
Possessed of learning and self-disciplined, his anger subdued.
Possession of Virtuous Conduct
Virtuous conduct leads a man to eminent greatness,
Therefore, it should be guarded as more precious than life itself.
In your striving, be mindful to preserve good conduct.
In your deliberations, discover it is your staunchest ally.
Morality is the birthright of high families,
While immoral conduct's legacy is lowly birth.
If a brahmin forgets the Vedas, he can relearn them.
But if he falls from virtue, his high birth is forever effaced.
Prosperity is not for the envious,
Nor is greatness for men of impure conduct.
The firm-minded never slacken in upholding virtuous conduct,
For they know the miseries brought on by such neglect.
By honest conduct one achieves honorable eminence,
While corrupt conduct brings one nothing but blame.
Good conduct is the seed in virtue's field;
Wicked conduct's harvest is never-ending sorrow.
Men who conduct themselves virtuously
Are incapable of voicing harmful words, even forgetfully.
Those who cannot live in harmony with the world,
Though they have learned many things, are still ignorant.
Not Coveting Another's Wife
Those who know virtue's laws and property's rights
Never indulge in the folly of desiring another man's wife.
Among those who stand outside virtue, there is no greater fool
Than he who stands with a lustful heart outside another's gate.
No different from the dead are those who
Wickedly desire the wife of a friend.
Though a man's measure is mountainous, what good is it
If, without the minutest concern, he takes another's wife?
A man who seduces another man's wife, knowing she is easy,
Suffers a shame which neither dies nor diminishes.
Hatred, sin, fear and disgrace-these four
Never forsake the man who commits adultery.
He is decreed a worthy householder
Who holds no desire for the womanliness of another's wife.
The chivalry that does not look upon another's wife
Is not mere virtue - it is saintly conduct.
In a world imperiled by the fearsome sea, to whom do good things belong?
To men never impassioned to caress a married women.
Though a man deserts virtue and indulges in vice,
He keeps some decency by not wanting another's wife's womanliness.
Possession of Forbearance
Just as the Earth bears those who dig into her,
It is best to bear with those who despise us.
It is always good to endure injuries done to you,
But to forget them is even better.
It is impoverished poverty to be inhospitable to guests.
It is stalwart strength to be patient with fools.
Desiring that his greatness should never cease,
Let a man's conduct foster forbearance.
Worthless are those who injure others vengefully,
While those who stoically endure are like stored gold.
The gratification of the vengeful lasts only for a day,
But the glory of the forbearing lasts until the end of time.
Though unjustly aggrieved, it is best to suffer the suffering
And refrain from unrighteous retaliation.
Let a man conquer by forbearance
Those who in their arrogance have wronged him.
Those who patiently endure the rude remarks of the insolent
Possess the ascetic's rare purity.
Great are those who suffer fasting's hardships;
Yet they are surpassed by those who suffer hard words spoken.
Avoidance of Envy
The unenvious heart is to be valued
No less than virtuous conduct itself.
Among the profuse precious things a man may acquire,
None surpasses a nature free from envy toward all.
He who is jealous instead of joyous of another's wealth
Does not desire, they say, wealth and virtue of his own.
Envy will never cause one to commit wrongful deeds
Who rightly fathoms the disgrace which follows.
A man's own envy is foe enough to forge his ruin,
Even though he has no other enemies.
He who begrudges another's bounty
Will behold the death of his naked and starving kindred.
Fortune's Goddess, intolerant of men who cannot tolerate other's success,
Introduces them to her sister Misfortune and goes away.
The wicked one called envy consumes this world's wealth
Then consigns men to those worlds of hellish fire.
It is worth pondering that good men may be poor
While the envious in heart prosper.
There are no envious men who have risen to prosperity.
There are no men free from envy who have fallen from it.
Avoidance of Covetousness
In the very attempt to wrongly gain another's wealth,
A man loses his family's future and his own faultlessness.
Those who deem injustice shameful never commit
Guilt-yielding deeds driven by money-yielding desires.
Those who seek immortal bliss will not succumb
To immoral deeds which follow desire for fleeting delights.
With senses conquered and sight unclouded by depravity,
One will not covet others' wealth, even in destitution.
What avails a man's subtle and comprehensive learning,
If, in a covetous delirium, he still exploits others?
Desiring grace and doing his duty, a man who desires wealth
And contrives to acquire it wrongly is destroyed nevertheless.
Do not seek the fortune that greed gathers,
For its fruit is bitter in the day of enjoyment.
To protect his own prosperity from decline
One must not crave the property held by others.
Just as wise men know the goodness of non-coveting,
So Fortune herself knows their goodness and draws near.
There is a desire for another's possessions which is thoughtlessly destructive.
There is a pride which, refusing to covet, is mindfully triumphant.
Avoidance of Backbiting
Silent about virtue and swift to act wrongly,
A man who does not slander others may still be called good.
More vile than violating virtue and committing crime
Is slanderously sabotaging a man, then smiling to his face.
Virtue declares that dying, not living, will bring better rewards
To defamers who dissemble and deceive.
Though you speak unkind words to a man's face,
Do not speak words behind his back heedless of consequent harm.
Though every word is full of kindly virtue,
A man's mean back-biting will betray his empty heart.
If a man spreads tales of others' faults,
His own worst faults will be exposed and spread.
Not knowing the companionable art of cheerful conversation,
Men estrange even friends by their divisive discourse.
If men are disposed to spread the faults of friends,
What deadly harm might they do to strangers?
Only because she weighs duty well does Earth bear the weight
Of those who wait for a man's departure to defame him.
If men perceived their own faults as they do the faults of others,
Could misfortune ever come to them?
Avoidance of Pointless Speech
Everyone is disgusted by a man
Who offends one and all with meaningless chatter.
Uttering useless words to crowds is worse
Than committing unkindnesses toward companions.
A long and pointless discourse itself declares
To all the speaker's lack of worth.
Worthless words are doubly unprofitable: the listeners'
Enjoyment is lost, and the speaker's own virtues vanish.
Prestige and popularity flee the best of men
The moment they speak inane and useless words.
Do not call him a man who enjoys displaying
His own empty words. Call him rather the chaff of men.
Let the wise, if they deem it necessary, speak even unpleasant words,
But it is good if they always refrain from pointless speech.
In search of extraordinary gains, the wise
Will never speak trivial or ungainful words.
The wise, faultless and free from ignorance,
Never utter pointless words, even forgetfully.
In your speaking, say only that which is purposeful.
Never utter words which lack purpose.
Dread of Sinful Deeds
Wicked men do not fear, but worthy men dread,
The arrogance of sinful deeds.
From evil springs forth more evil.
Therefore, evil is to be feared even more than fire.
To commit no wrong, even against one's enemies,
Is said to be supreme wisdom.
Only the forgetful plot another's ruin; others remember
That virtue itself devises a plotter's downfall.
Do not commit wrongful deeds, claiming to be poor.
For such deeds only cause one to be poorer still.
Let him who wishes to be free from afflictions' pain
Avoid inflicting harm on others.
One can escape from hate-filled enemies,
But one's own hateful acts will relentlessly pursue and destroy him.
As a man's shadow follows his footsteps wherever he goes,
Even so will destruction pursue those who commit sinful deeds.
If a man feels fond affection for himself,
Let him not indulge in immoral deeds, however insignificant.
Know that a man will be defended against destruction
If he does not deviate from Right and act iniquitously.
Understanding One's Duty to Society
The benevolent expect no return for their dutiful giving.
How can the world ever repay the rain cloud?
It is to meet the needs of the deserving
That the worthy labor arduously to acquire wealth.
Of all duties, benevolence is unequaled in this world,
And even in celestial realms.
He who understands his duty to society truly lives.
All others shall be counted among the dead.
The wealth of the world-loving wise man
May be likened to a well-stocked village water tank.
Riches retained by generous men
Resemble a fruit tree ripening in the heart of a village.
In the hands of a benevolent man,
Wealth is like a medicinal tree whose healing gifts help all.
Those who deeply know duty do not neglect giving,
Even in their own unprosperous season.
The benevolent man considers himself poor only
When he is unable to render his accustomed service to humanity.
Were it said that loss of wealth is the price of benevolence,
Such loss is worth selling one's self to procure.
Giving to the poor is true charity.
All other giving expects a recompense.
Though men may declare it a good path, gathering gifts is bad.
Though they decree it denies one heaven, giving gifts is good.
Men of good birth graciously give,
Never uttering the wretched excuse, "I have nothing."
How unpleasant a beggar's pleading can become,
Until one sees his face, so sweetly pleased.
Great indeed is the power acquired through austerity to endure hunger.
But greater still is the power of those who relieve the hunger of others.
Relieving the ravaging hunger of the poor
Is the most secure use of a rich man's wealth.
The fiery scourge called hunger never touches
The man who shares his daily meal with others.
Is it because they are unaware of the joys of giving
That hard-hearted men waste their wealth by hoarding it?
More bitter than even a beggar's bread is the
Meal of the miser who hoards wealth and eats alone.
There is nothing more bitter than death;
Yet even death is sweet when charitable giving is impossible.
Give to the poor, and life will be richly graced.
There is no greater profit for a man than this.
All who speak will proclaim abiding praise
For those who give alms to the poor.
Except for exalted glory which endures forever,
Everything on earth perishes.
So great is glory gained by men in this world
That celestials cease praising ascended sages.
The loss that is gain and the death that is life of immortal glory
Are attained only by the wise.
If you are born, be born for glory,
For those born without it would be better off without birth.
Why do those whose life is devoid of renown
Blame despising rivals, when they have themselves to blame?
Just as it is disgraceful to bear no children,
All men on earth deem it disgraceful to not beget fame.
When forced to bear the body of a man without eminence,
Even faultless, fruitful lands will lessen their yields.
Those who live without blame truly live.
Those who live without glory live not.
Possession of Compassion
Among the wealthy, compassionate men claim the richest wealth,
For material wealth is possessed by even contemptible men.
Find and follow the good path and be ruled by compassion. For if the
Various ways are examined, compassion will prove the means to liberation.
Those whose hearts are drawn toward compassion
Will never be drawn into the dark and woeful world.
Evil deeds dreaded by the soul will not afflict
The compassionate who foster and protect all life.
This wide and wind-swept fertile earth is witness to the truth
That misery is not for men who keep compassion.
They say those who act cruelly by forsaking compassion
Must have forgotten what it means to forsake morality.
As this world is not for the penniless,
So is that world not for the pitiless!
Those without wealth may one day prosper, but those without
Kindness are utterly destitute, and their fortunes never change.
Practicing charity without compassion is as inconceivable
As realizing Truth without clarity of mind.
Before advancing against men weaker than yourself,
Ponder when you stood before those more powerful.
Abstaining from Eating Meat
How can he practice true compassion
Who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?
Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless,
Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.
Goodness is never one with the minds of these two:
One who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creatures' flesh.
If you ask, "What is kindness and what is unkind?"
It is not killing and killing. Thus, eating flesh is never virtuous.
Life is perpetuated by not eating meat.
The clenched jaws of hell hold those who do.
If the world did not purchase and consume meat,
There would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.
When a man realizes that meat is the butchered flesh
Of another creature, he must abstain from eating it.
Perceptive souls who have abandoned passion
Will not feed on flesh abandoned by life.
Greater then a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires
Do not do sacrifice and consume any living creature.
All that lives will press palms together in prayerful adoration
Of those who refuse to slaughter and savor meat.
It is the nature of asceticism to patiently endure
Hardship and not to harm living creatures.
Austerity belongs to the naturally austere.
Others may attempt it, but to no avail.
Is it because they must provide for renunciates
That others forget to do penance?
Should he but wish it, an ascetics' austerities
Will ruin his foes and reward his friends.
In this world men do austerities assiduously,
Assured of the fulfillment of desired desires.
Those who perform austerities are fulfilling their destiny. All others
Are ensnared by desire and unknowingly work their own destruction.
As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliancy, so does
The burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence.
He who has realized by himself his souls' Self
Will be worshiped by all other souls.
So potent is the power acquired through austerity
That those who attain it may even stay the moment of death.
Few people perform penance, while the majority do not.
For this reason the needy multitudes suffer deprivation.
Undeceived by a deceiver's duplicity,
His own five elements silently mock him.
Of what avail is an outer appearance of saintliness,
If the mind suffers inwardly from knowledge of its iniquity?
He who has not attained the power yet wears the garb of saints
Is like a cow that grazes about wearing a tiger's skin.
He who conceals himself beneath saintly robes and commits sins
Is like the hunter who hides in the bushes to snare unwary birds.
When those who claim dispassion act deceitfully,
The day will come when they exclaim,"Alas! Alas! What have I done?"
None is so heartless as he who, without renunciation in his heart,
Poses as a renunciate and lives fraudulently.
Like the poisonous jequirity seed, with its bright and black sides,
There are outwardly dazzling men whose insides are dark.
Many are the men who piously bath in purifying waters,
While in their dark hearts impure conduct lies concealed.
The arrow is straight but cruel; the lute is crooked but sweet.
Therefore, judge men by their acts, not their appearance.
Neither shaven head nor long locks are required,
Provided one refrains from conduct condemned by the world.
Avoidance of Fraud
If a man wishes not to be scorned by others,
He will secure his own mind against the merest thought of fraud.
The mere thought of sin is sin. Therefore,
Avoid even the thought of stealing from another.
The fortune that is amassed by fraud may appear to prosper
But it will soon perish altogether.
Finding delight in defrauding others yields the fruit
Of undying suffering when those delights ripen.
Benevolent thoughts and affectionate feelings flee from those
Who watch for another's' unwatchfulness to swindle his property.
They who follow deceit's desirous path
Cannot hope to work wisdom's measured way.
The dark deceits of fraud cannot be found
In the hearts of those who desire the greatness called virtue.
As righteousness resides in the hearts of the virtuous,
So does deceit dwell in the hearts of thieves.
Knowing nothing but deviousness,
Men die each time they contrive their corrupt deeds.
Even the life in his body will abandon him who defrauds others,
But heaven itself never forsakes those who are honest.
What is truthfulness? It is the speaking of words
Which are entirely free from harmful effects.
Even falsehood is of the nature of truth,
If it gives good results free from fault.
Let a man not speak as truth what he knows to be false,
For his conscience will scorch him when he has lied.
He who lives truly in his own heart,
Truly lives in the hearts of all people.
Those who speak only truth from the heart
Surpass even penitents and philanthropists.
No prestige surpasses the absence of falsehood;
All other virtues flow from it effortlessly.
Not lying, and merely not lying, is beneficial
For those who can't practice and won't practice other virtues.
Water is sufficient to cleanse the body,
But only truthfulness will purify the mind.
Not all lamps are effective lamps.
The lamp of nonlying is the wise man's lamp.
Among all great truths which we have ever beheld,
Not one can equal the goodness of veracity.
Avoidance of Anger
It is restraint that restrains anger when it can injure.
If it cannot harm, what does restraint really matter?
Anger is wrong even when it cannot cause injury,
But when it can, there is nothing more iniquitous.
Forget anger toward all who have offended you,
For from anger springs a multitude of wrongs.
The face's smile and the heart's joy are slain by anger.
Does there exist a greater enemy than one's own anger?
If a man would be his own guard, let him guard against anger.
Left unguarded, his own wrath will slay him.
Drawing near it, men are engulfed in fury's' fire,
Which burns even rescuing friends and family.
As a man trying to touch the ground with his hand cannot fail,
So one who treasures his temper will doubtlessly be destroyed.
Even when others inflict wrongs as painful as the touch of blazing
Torches, it is good if a man can refrain from anger.
If angry thoughts never invoke his mind,
A man's other thoughts may instantly manifest.
As men who have died resemble the dead,
So men who have renounced anger resemble renunciates.
Avoidance of Injuring Others
If hurting others would bring princely riches,
The pure in heart would still refuse.
It is the principle of the pure in heart never to injure others,
Even when they themselves have been hatefully injured.
Hating others, even enemies who harmed you unprovoked,
Assures incessant sorrow.
If you return kindness for injuries received and forget both,
Those who harmed you will be punished by their own shame.
What good is a man's knowledge unless it prompts him to
Prevent the pain of others as if it were his own pain?
Any actions which a man knows would harm himself
He should not inflict on others.
The supreme principle is this: Never knowingly
Harm anyone at any time in any way
Why does he who knows what injury to his own life is like
Inflict injury on other living human beings?
If a man inflicts sorrow on another in the morning,
Sorrow will come to him unbidden in the afternoon.
All suffering recoils on the wrongdoer himself. Therefore, those who
Desire not to suffer refrain from causing others pain.
Avoidance of Killing
What is virtuous conduct? It is never destroying life,
For killing leads to every other sin.
Of all the virtues summed by ancient sages the foremost are these:
To partake of food one has shared and to protect all living creatures.
Not killing is the first and foremost good.
The virtue of not lying comes next.
What is the good way? It is the path that reflects on
How it may avoid killing any living creature.
Among all who disown the world out of dismay, the foremost are
They who, dismayed with death-dealing, embrace non-killing.
Life-devouring death will not assail the living days
Of one whose code of conduct is to never kill.
Refrain from taking precious life from any living being,
Even to save your own life.
By sacrifice of life some gain great wealth and good,
But sagacious men scorn such gains.
Those whose trade is killing creatures are deemed defiled
By men who know the defiling nature of being mean.
They say the beggar who suffers a sore ridden body and deprived life
Once deprived another's body of life
Impermanence of All Things
There is no baser folly than the infatuation
That looks upon the transient as if it were everlasting.
Amassing great wealth is gradual, like the gathering of a theater
Crowd. Its dispersal is sudden, like that same crowd departing.
Wealth's nature is to be unenduring.
Upon acquiring it, do that which is enduring right away.
Though it seems a harmless gauge of time, a day,
To those who fathom its form, is a saw steadily cutting the tree of life.
Do good deeds with urgency,
Before death's approaching rattle strangles the tongue.
What wondrous greatness this world possesses -
That yesterday a man was, and today he is not.
Man does not know if he will live another moment,
Yet his thoughts are ten million and more.
The soul's attachment to the body resembles a fledgling
Which forsakes its empty shell and flies away.
Death is like falling asleep,
And birth is like waking from that sleep.
Not yet having a permanent home,
The soul takes temporary shelter in the body.
Whatsoever a man has renounced,
From the sorrow born of that he has freed himself.
After a man has renounced, he enjoys the many true things in this
World. Let men desiring that renounce in time.
The five senses must be subdued
And every desire simultaneously surrendered.
The mendicant's poverty permits not a single possession,
For possessions draws him back into delusion.
What are life's petty attachments to the man who seeks severance
From future births, when even his body is a burden?
He who slays the conceit which clamors "I" and "mine"
Will enter a realm above the celestials' world.
If one clings to his attachments, refusing to let go,
Sorrows will not let go their grip on him.
Those who renounce totally reach the highest peak;
The rest remain ensnared in delusions net.
Birth ceases when all attachments are severed;
Otherwise, one beholds unceasingly the transitoriness of life.
Attach yourself to Him who is free from all attachments.
Bind yourself to that bond in order that all other bonds may be broken.
Knowledge of Truth
The delusion which mistakes the unreal for the Real
Is the genesis of woeful births.
For those of undimmed perception, free from delusion,
Darkness departs and rapture rushes in.
To those who have dispelled all doubt and perceive Truth,
Heaven is nearer than earth.
All knowledge acquired through the five senses is worthless
To those without knowledge of truth.
In everything of every kind whatsoever,
Wisdom perceives Truth in that thing.
Those who find Divine Truth in this world
Follow a path which never comes back to this world.
Those who think with certitude and ponder well that which is,
Need never think of being born again.
Banishing the folly of rebirth and thus beholding
Perfections True Being - that is wisdom.
The ruinous griefs that he is yet to suffer will not cleave to him who,
Renouncing other supports, realizes life's true Support.
Desire, detesting and delusion - the annihilation of these three names
Is the annihilation of suffering endured.
Eradication of Desire
At all times and to all creatures
The seed of ceaseless births is desire.
If you must desire, desire freedom from birth.
That will only come by desiring desirelessness.
Here no fortune is as dear as desirelessness;
And even there nothing like it can be found.
Purity is but freedom from desire,
And that is achieved by desiring to know Truth.
They say only those who have renounced desire are renunciates.
Others do not share the same attainment
As it is desire, above all else, which deceives a man,
Ascetics dread it judiciously.
When a renunciate ceases the deeds of desire,
Deliverance from life and death will come when he desires.
He who has no desires has no sorrow, but where there is desire
There will be ever-increasing sorrows.
When desire, sorrow's sorrow, dies away,
Undying bliss prevails even here on earth.
It is the nature of desire never to be fulfilled, but he who utterly
Gives it up realizes eternal fulfillment at that very moment.
Industriousness comes to men whom Fortune favors,
But laziness approaches those whom Misfortune has chosen.
That destiny which decreases prosperity, increases ignorance.
That destiny which diminishes loss, expands knowledge.
However subtle the texts studied,
The native knowing destined one prevails.
Two natural ways are ordained in this world.
Acquiring wealth is one. Attaining wisdom is quite another.
When fate is against a man, his assured success in gathering wealth will
Fail; and when fate is with him, even certain failure will succeed.
Though you guard it well, what destiny does not decree disappears.
Though you cast it aside, what fate calls yours will not depart.
A man may amass millions, but its enjoyment,
Will never exceed the allotment allotted by him.
The destitute are almost ascetics and would renounce if only
Approaching fate, carrying experiences yet to be, would pass them by.
Why should those who rejoice when Destiny brings good
Moan when that same Destiny decrees misfortune?
What is there that is mightier than Destiny?
For it is there ahead of us even in the plans we devise to overcome it.
The Merits of the King
He is lion among kings who is well-endowed with these six possessions:
Army, citizens, wealth, ministers, allies and fortresses.
Four are the characteristics which a king cannot lack:
Fearlessness, generosity, wisdom and industriousness.
In those who rule the land these three must never lapse:
Vigilance, valiance and virtuous learning.
He is a true king who, unswerving in virtue,
Restrains wrongdoing, and, steadfast in courage, maintains his honor.
A king is he who can amass a treasury of wealth,
Store it, guard it and expend it wisely.
All peoples praise that nation whose sovereign
Is always accessible and never speaks severely.
Behold the King who speaks sweetly, gives generously and
Protects powerfully - the world, esteems his word its command.
Ruling righteously himself and safeguarding subjects from others,
A monarch may be deemed divine by his people.
The world abides protected beneath the umbrella
Of a virtuous king who can abide words bitter to the ear.
He is a light ruler who is endowed with the four merits
Of generosity, graciousness, justice and care for the people.
Learn perfectly all that you learn, and
Thereafter keep your conduct worthy of that learning.
Two are the eyes of those who truly live-
One is called numbers and the other letters.
The learned have eyes that see, they say.
The unlearned have but two sores on their face.
It is the learned mans prowess that meetings
Bring delight and departures leave pleasant thoughts.
Amidst the learned be humble, as those possessing nothing are before
The prosperous. Those who fail thus to learn are the lowest of men.
The deeper a sand-well is dug the freer is its flow of water.
Even so, the deeper a man's learning the greater is his wisdom.
When every country our village could be his own,
How can a man dwell unlearned to his death?
Learning a man secures in one birth
Will secure his well-being in seven.
When the learned see that the learning that delights them
Delights the world as well, they love learning even more.
A man's learning is an imperishable and precious wealth.
All other possessions are less golden.
The Neglect of Learning
Speaking to a learned gathering without full knowledge,
Is like playing a dice game without the board.
An unlearned man desiring to be eloquent,
Is like a breastless women longing to be feminine.
Even the ignorant will be deemed wise
If they refrain from speaking in the presence of the learned.
However excellent an unlearned man's knowledge may be,
Knowledgeable men will never take it.
An unlearned man's self-conceit will shrivel
The moment he speaks to an assembly.
Like unproductive barren land is the man who has neglected learning.
All that can be said about him is that he exists.
The goodness and beauty of him whose knowledge
Is neither subtle nor penetrating are like that of a painted clay doll.
Even more wretched than a learned man's poverty
Is the unlearned man's wealth.
Though humbly born, a learned man's nobility
Transcends that of the unlearned noble man.
As men are to feral beasts, so are the luminaries
Of knowledge compared to unlearned men.
Listening to the Learned
The most precious wealth is the wealth acquired by the ear
Indeed, of all wealth that wealth is the crown.
Only when no nourishment exists for the ear
Is it time to offer the stomach a morsel.
There are men who find listening a feast for there ears.
On earth they resemble deities who feast from sacrificial fires.
Even though he has no learning, if a man but listens to the learned
That will be his staff of strength in adversity.
Words from the lips of upright men
Are like a steadying staff in a slippery place.
However little, let a man do good things
Even that little will enhance his greatness.
Those who have studied deeply and listened diligently will never speak
Foolish words, even when they have wrongly understood a matter.
Ears may hear and yet remain deaf
If not pierced by sharp listening.
For a man to speak with humility is indeed rare,
Unless he has listened to learning's subtlety.
There are men whose tongues can taste but whose ears never savor.
What does it matter that they live or die.
Possession of Wisdom
Wisdom is a weapon with which a man may ward off destruction;
It is an inner fortress which no enemy can assail.
Wisdom will harness the mind, diverting it
From wrong and directing it toward right.
In whatever matter and from whomever heard,
Wisdom will witness its true meaning.
Wisdom speaks well, conveying each meaning clearly,
And listens for the subtlest sense in others' speech.
Men of wisdom befriend the wise and keep that friendship constant,
Not opening and closing like the petaled lotus.
It is wisdom to live in the world
As the world lives.
Those who know, know what it is to be.
The unknowing know this not.
It is folly not to fear what ought to be feared.
Therefore, the wise dread what ought to be dreaded.
Fearsome sufferings shall never happen
To the wise who guard against future happenings.
Those who possess wisdom possess everything.
Whatever others possess, without wisdom they have nothing.
Guarding Against Faults
Those who are free from arrogance, anger, and lust
Will prosper in great dignity.
Avarice, arrogance and crude amusements are flaws
In the characters of an unfit king.
Though their fault is as small as a millet seed,
To those who dread disgrace it will appear as large as a palm tree.
His own faults are a man's mortal enemies.
Therefore, to guard against them is life's gravest concern.
The fortune of a man who does not guard against failings before they
Manifest will perish like a stack of straw before a flaming fire.
What fault exists in a king who eradicates his own faults
Before examining the faults in others?
The wealth of one who, out of avarice, fails to do what should be done
Will vanish without the slightest vestige.
When faults are reckoned, one remains apart -
The greedy grasping known as avariciousness.
Never indulge in admiring yourself.
Never desire deeds that do not benefit others.
Delighting in life's pleasures privately
Nullifies the conspiring schemes of foes.
Gaining Support from the Great
Those who ponder the value of friends whose wisdom and goodness
Are mature, will plan the means, then acquire such friendships.
There are men who allay today's trials and avert tomorrow's troubles.
Befriend and look after them.
To cherish and befriend men of greatness
Is the rarest of all rare things.
To live among advising friends who are greater than himself
Is foremost among a man's strength.
Knowing that ministers function as a monarch's eyes,
A king looks at ministers meticulously before engaging them.
A man's foes are rendered ineffective
If he can live in fellowship among the worthy.
Who can destroy the man who has the friendship
Of helpful advisors who will not hesitate to admonish him?
With no one to reprove and thus protect him,
A king will be destroyed, though no one seeks his destruction.
Profit is not for those who have no capital, nor is stability
For those who lack the support of faithful friends.
It is harmful to make a multitude of foes, but it is ten times worse
To give up the friendship of the worthy.
Avoidance of Base Company
Men of greatness dread base company,
But the low-minded consider them kinsmen.
As water changes according to the soil through which it flows,
So does a man assimilate the character of his associates.
By knowing his thoughts, a man's mind is discovered.
By knowing his associates, his character is revealed.
Wisdom, appearing to originate in a man's mind,
Has its source in his companions.
Purity of mind and purity of conduct - these two
Depend upon the purity of a man's companions.
Good progeny comes to a pure-minded men.
Their pure companions keep pure deeds away.
Wealth will be given to good-minded men,
And all glory granted by good company.
Even perfect men, possessing the mind's full goodness,
Are fortified by good fellowship.
Goodness of mind leads to bliss in the next world,
And even this is secured by the company of good men.
There exists no greater aid than good fellowship,
And no greater affliction than evil fraternity.
Deliberation Before Action
Before undertaking a project, ponder what will be gained,
Lost and ultimately achieved.
There is nothing too difficult for a man who, before he acts,
Deliberates with chosen friends and reflects privately.
The wise never undertake an enterprise
Which rashly risks existing capitol to reach for potential profits.
Those who dread derision and disgrace
Will not commence a task that is unclear.
To strike out without a well-pondered plan
Is one way to cultivate an enemies' strength.
To do that which ought not to be done will bring ruin,
And not to do that which ought to be done will also bring ruin.
Embark upon an action after careful thought. It is folly to say,
"Let us begin the task now and think about it later."
Unless painstakingly performed, a task will not succeed
Even if men in multitudes support it.
Even in the performance of good deeds a man may error,
If he does not consider the recipient's unique nature.
Having reflected, let a man's actions lie above blame.
The world will never approve of acts which lie beneath him.
The prudent act after weighing the strength a deed demands,
One's own strength and the strengths of allies and opposition.
Nothing is impossible for those who perceive the nature and the means
Of their task and proceed with determination.
Ignorant of their strengths, many plunge zealously
Into projects, only to miscarry midway.
How swiftly men perish who praise themselves, unappraised of
Their real measure and unable to live peacefully with others.
Load too many of them and even peacock feathers
Would break the cart's axle.
He who has climbed out to the tip of a tree branch
And attempts to climb further will forfeit his life.
Know the measure of your capacity to give, then give accordingly -
Such clarity is the way wealth is preserved.
A small income is no cause for failure,
Provided expenditures do not exceed it.
The wealth of a man who lives unaware of his own measure,
Appears to exist, then disappears without a trace.
Unless weighed with prudence, a philanthropist's wealth
Will promptly perish, measure by measure.
A crow can overcome a powerful owl in the daytime.
A king desiring to defeat his enemy must pick the proper time.
A man may firmly bind himself to prosperity
By the cord called timely action.
Is there any task too difficult for the man who acts
At the right time and employs the proper means?
One may aim to acquire the whole world and succeed,
If actions are aimed at the right time and place.
Those who aim to own the world
Must wait, unruffled, for the fitting hour.
The patient restraint of the powerful man is like the drawing back
Of the fighting ram before it smites the stunning blow.
When angered, men of understanding never show it outwardly then and
There. Holding it inside, they watch for an opportune moment.
Bow humbly when greeting an enemy.
His own head will bow humiliated when in time he greets defeat.
When a rare opportunity comes, do not hesitate,
But swiftly accomplish tasks that are otherwise impossible.
There are times to stay still as a stalking heron.
There are times to move swiftly as a heron's strike.
Understanding the Right Place
Neither deride the opposition nor initiate a campaign
Until you possess the strategic place from which to strike.
In battle a fortified place yields numerous advantages,
Even to those possessing power and prowess.
Even the weak may powerfully prevail if they choose the right
Field of action, establish good defenses and then fight well.
When an attacker attacks from a strategic location
His enemies' thoughts of conquest become unthinkable.
In the river's depths the crocodile is unconquerable,
But others may defeat it if it departs those waters.
The massive chariot with mighty wheels cannot sail the sea,
Nor can the ocean-going ship travel the land.
Fearlessness is the only friend one needs,
If ceaselessly he ponders from which place to pounce.
If a large army assails a well-entrenched small army,
Its power will be repelled and it will retreat.
Even if they have neither potent resources nor strong fortresses,
It is difficult to conquer a people on their own soil.
The fearless elephant may slaughter a multitude of warriors
Yet be slain by a single jackal if his legs sink in muddy marsh.
Testing and Trusting Men
A man should be chosen after passing the four-fold test
Of virtue, wealth, pleasure and fear of death.
Place trust in a man of good family, free from faults
Of a modest nature that dreads reproach.
Even faultless and deeply learned men, when closely examined,
Are rarely found to be entirely free from ignorance.
Weigh a man's merits and weigh his faults
Then judge him according to the greater.
The touchstone which discloses a man's greatness
Or smallness is simply this - his deeds.
Beware of trusting men who have no kin,
Being attached to people, they are unashamed of peccancy.
When one employs a know-nothing out of affection,
He engages all kinds of foolishness.
To trust a stranger without investigation
Invite troubles so endless even descendants must endure.
Lacking investigation, lend your trust to no one. Having investigated
Entrust a man with matters for which he has proven trustworthy.
To trust a man who has not been tested and to suspect a man
Who has proven trustworthy lead to endless ills.
Testing and Employing Men
Employ those men who discern the good and the bad effects
In every undertaking and choose the good.
Let him do the work who can supplement revenues,
Spread prosperity and search out problems.
Let him alone be trusted who fully possesses these four:
Kindness, intelligence, assurance and freedom from greed.
Though tested fully under simulated conditions,
Many men function differently under working conditions.
Work should be entrusted to men on the basis of their knowledge
And diligence and not merely on the bonds of affection.
Consider the work, choose the workman,
Conceive the timing with care, then commence.
Having decided, "This man is qualified to do this work in this way,"
Entrust him to his task.
After ascertaining what work befits a man,
Assign him to a fitting task.
Wealth withdraws from the man who won't understand
The natural friendliness his workers wish to share with him.
Let the king scrutinize his staff's conduct daily.
If they do not go astray, the world will not go astray.
Fellowship of Kindred
When a man's wealth has disappeared, his kinsmen alone
Will maintain their customary kindness.
If a man's kindred cleave to him with unfailing love,
His fortunes will never fail to flourish.
Pursuing a happy life without mixing with kinsmen
Is like pouring water into a barrel which has no staves.
The real profit gained by giving riches
Is as one may then live surrounded by kindred.
Multitudes of kinsmen will gather around the man
Who gives generously and speaks sweetly.
In this wide world none enjoys a more faithful family
Than he who hands out large gifts and holds back anger.
The crow does not conceal its food but calls its kind to share it;
Prosperity will abide with men of such a nature.
The multitudes thrive when they perceive their monarch
Perceiving each one's merits, not seeing mere sameness in all.
Close kinsmen who have become estranged
Will come back when the cause of disagreement goes away.
When one who left him returns with good reason,
The king may, after careful reflection, receive him back.
Avoidance of Unmindfulness
Excessive anger is a great harm, but greater still is
The unmindfulness born of excessive pleasure.
Just as perpetual poverty slowly slays one's knowledge,
So does frequent forgetfulness destroy one's prestige.
Unmindful men will never know renown.
This is the verdict of every virtuous text in the world.
There is nothing that will provide defense for the cowardly,
And there is nothing that will produce good for the incautious.
The unmindful man who fails to guard beforehand
Against impending threats will afterwards regret his negligence.
Nothing can compare to unforgetfulness.
Extended unfailingly to all people at all times.
There is nothing too difficult for the man who
Consciously conceives and carefully executes his work.
One should do that which men extol as praiseworthy. Forgetting
This and failing to perform brings deprivation lasting seven births.
Whenever the mind is engrossed in pleasant infatuations,
One may remember men ruined by forgetfulness.
It is easy to get what you think of,
If you can get yourself to think of it.
Investigate well, show favor to none, maintain impartiality,
Consult the law, then give judgment - that is the way of justice.
All the world looks to the rain cloud for sustenance.
All the people look to the king's scepter for protection.
Even the priest's scriptures and all virtues therein
Rely on the king's scepter for sustenance.
The world will enduringly embrace the feet of a great kingdom's monarch
Who lovingly embraces subjects under his justice-wielding scepter.
Rain and rich harvests arise together.
In a country whose sovereign swing his scepter lawfully.
Victory is not won by the lance,
But by the king's scepter, provided it is not unjust.
A potentate protests all earthly realms.
Will undoubtedly fall from power and perish.
A ruler who remains inaccessible, neither listening nor judging
Attentively will undoubtedly fall from power and perish.
No fault befalls the king, who, in guarding and caring for his
Subjects, punishes wrongdoers - for that is his duty.
A king punishing cruel criminals by execution
Is like a farmer removing weeds from cultivated fields.
More malicious than a professional murderer is the king
Who rules his people with injustice and oppressiveness.
The scepter-wielding king who requests a gift is like
The lance-bearing robber who demands, "Give me all you have."
Unless the king day-to-day seeks out and punishes unlawful acts,
His country will day-by-day fall to ruin.
The unthinking king who rules crookedly
Forfeits both his subjects' fealty and his own fortune.
Are not the tears of a people who cannot endure an oppressive reign
The instrument that wears away their king's prosperity?
Ruling rightly, a monarch may long endure.
Without that, his majesty is rightly unenduring.
As the earth fares under a rainless sky,
So do a people languish under an unkind king.
Possessions are less pleasant than poverty
To the oppressed living under an unjust king.
If the king acts contrary to justice, contrary seasons will befall
And rain-laden will not come forth.
If the people's protector fails to protect,
Priests will forget the Vedas and cows' milk will dry up.
Avoidance of Tyranny
He is a true king who impartially investigates
And then duly punishes so that the offense will not reoccur.
He who wishes his prosperity to long remain
Will raise the rod severely, but let it fall softly.
The tyrant who causes terror to his people
Will perish quickly and certainly.
"The king is cruel." Should these bitter words be spoken,
The monarch's life is shortened and he soon dies.
If his countenance is harsh and access to him is hard,
A man's wealth, however vast, might as well belong to a demon.
If he is unkind and speaks cruelly,
A man's lofty wealth cannot last long - it ends right there.
Virulent language and overly severe punishment,
Like a keen file, grind down a king's conquering powers.
The king's wealth will waste away if, without thoughtful involvement, he lets
Ministers work, then works himself into anger, raging at their performance.
The sovereign who does not secure defenses will be seized by fear
When war time comes and promptly perish.
The earth bears no greater burden than the unlearned counselors
Whom the cruel-sceptered king binds to himself.
The Kindly Look
The world thrives when that great beauty
Called the kindly look flourishes.
The world's existence is sustained by kindliness.
The very existence of those bereft of it burdens the earth.
What use is a melody in an unmusical song?
What use are eyes which express no kindness?
Other than a facial appearance, what do eyes
With no quality of kindness really do?
A kindly look is the ornament of the eyes.
Without kindness the eyes are two unsightly sores.
Eyes may be fixed in their face, but those without
A kindly look might as well be tree stumps fixed in dirt.
Those who lack a kindly look are indeed without eyes,
And those who truly have eyes never lack a gracious look.
The world belongs to men who can behold others benevolently,
Without being distracted from their duty.
To grant forbearing kindness even to those
Who grieve us is the foremost of virtues.
Those desiring gracious goodness above all else could accept with
Friendliness poison they watched their host prepare and serve.
Competent spies and the esteemed codes of law -
Consider these two as the eyes of a king.
It is the duty of the monarch to acquire at once
Knowledge of all that happens each day among all men.
Without assessing the intelligence reports of spies
A king cannot enjoy conquests.
The working staff, close kindred and known enemies -
All such men are the investigation of spies.
An able spy is he who can assume an unsuspicious disguise,
Is fearless when caught and never betrays his secrets.
Disguised as a monk or a mendicant, the worthy spy moves about
Investigating all, never growing careless, whatever may be done.
A spy must ferret out hidden facts,
Assuring himself that knowledge found is beyond doubt.
Before believing a spy's espionage,
Have another spy espy the information.
See that spies do not know each other, and accept their findings
Only when three reports agree.
One must not openly honor spies.
To do so is to divulge one's own secrets.
Possession of Industriousness
Possessing belongs only to the industrious. Do those
Who lack such energy really possess their possessions?
Those who own an inner ardor possess a thing of worth.
Material Wealth is an unenduring possession that takes leave and departs.
Those who possess persevering industry
Will never say in despair, "We have lost our wealth."
Good Fortune of its own accord ferrets out and
Finds the man of unfailing industry.
The length of the lotus stalk depends on the water's depth.
Even so, a man's greatness is proportionate to his mind's energy.
Let all thoughts be thoughts of noble progress,
For then even failing cannot be called a failure.
The elephant stands firm even when wounded by a barrage of arrows.
The strong-willed are not discouraged when they encounter disaster.
Without a zealous spirit, one will never enjoy
The proud exhilaration of earthly generosity.
The enormous elephant with his tapered tusks
Still shrinks in fear when the tiger attacks.
A strong-willed mind is a mans true estate.
Those who lack it are mere vegetables in the form of men.
Avoidance of Laziness
The eternal flame of a family vanishes
When eclipsed by that dark cloud called laziness.
Let those who wish their family to be a noble family
Call laziness "laziness" and live without it.
A man whose actions are ruled by ruinous indolence
Will see his family fall before his own destrution.
Their family will perish and their vices will thrive when men,
Ensnared in sloth, do not put forth earnest exertion.
Procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness and sleep - these four
form the coveted ship which bears men to their destined ruin.
Seldom do men possessed by sloth achieve anything special,
Even when supported by the earth's wealthy proprietors.
The lazy ones, inept in noble exertion,
Invite sharp scoldings and must endure the shame of scornful words.
If lassitude is allowed to live in aristocrats,
They will be forced into servitude under foes.
Disgrace that has come upon a man and his family
Will disappear the moment he casts out laziness.
A king who is devoid of indolence will procure thereby,
All that cosmic province measured by God's immeasurable strides.
Never say in weakness, "This task is too difficult,"
For perseverance will give the ability to accomplish it.
Beware of leaving any work undone, for the world
Will abandon those who abandon their work unfinished.
The pride of profuse giving dwells only
With the dignity of diligent effort.
Like the swordsmanship of an effimate man,
The philanthropy of those who avoid hard work will end in failure.
He who prefers work to pleasure supports his family
Like a pillar, sweeping away their every sad sorrow.
Perseverance creates prosperity,
And the lack of it produces poverty.
They say the black ogress called Misfortune lurks in laziness,
While goddess Fortune lingers in the laboring toils of active men.
To be devoid of good fortune is no one's disgrace.
But shame belongs to those destitute of knowledge and tenacity.
Though destiny decrees one's deeds will fail,
The wages for determined work are always paid.
Those who strive with tireless exertion and remain undaunted
Will see the backside of retreating Fate.
Being Undaunted by Troubles
Laugh when troubles come your way.
There is nothing better to conquer calamity.
A flood of troubles will vanish the moment
The mind of a wise man collects itself to face them.
Trouble itself they send away troubled
Who do not trouble themselves at the sight of it.
Troubles will be troubled before the man who faces them
Like the determined bullock that wades through every difficulty.
Though massed upon him like a mountain,
A man's afflictions will be afflicted by his undaunted will.
Those who do not guard wealth gathered and boast, "I earned it,"
Will not, in poorer times, bemoan, "I have become destitute."
Knowing this body to be the prey of misery,
High souls, expecting troubles, do not accept them troubled.
Declaring difficulties to be quite natural,
Those who do not pursue life's pleasures will not suffer its sorrows.
He who does not long for joy in joy
Will not suffer sorrow in sorrow.
He who does not distinguish pain from pleasure
Becomes so distinguished even enemies hope to pay homage.
Essentials Of the State Ministers
A minister is he who can conceive a great enterprise, rightly choose
the ways, The means and the time, then successfully accomplish it.
A minister is he who, in addition to the above five, is well-endowed
With steadfastness, protection of the people, learning and perseverance.
He who can divide the enemy, bind friends more firmly
And reunite estranged allies is indeed a minister.
Call him a minister who comprehends things,
Executes them effectively and directs others firmly.
The helpful minister is he who understands virtue, is learned and
Deliberate in speech and discerns what is fit in every situation.
When subtle intelligence combines with scholastic study,
Who can stand before such peerless subtlty?
Though you have learned theoretical methods,
Act only after you know the world's practices.
Though his leader lacks knowledge and repels advice,
The loyal minister's obligation is to cry out his counsel.
Better for the king to face 700 million distant foes
Than befriend a single counselor who conspires at his side.
Though they may devise the perfect plan,
Those without executive abilities never finish their work.
Among a man's many good possessions,
A good command of speech has no equal.
Prosperity and ruin issue from the power of the tongue.
Therefore, guard yourself against thoughtless speech.
The content of worthy speech binds friends more closely,
And its eloquence draws even enemies to listen.
Judge the nature of your listeners and speak accordingly.
There is nothing more virtuous or valuable than this.
Speak out your speech. Once it is known,
No speech can be spoken to refute that speech.
To speak so listeners long to hear more and to listen
So others' meaning is grasped are the ideals of the impeccably great.
In a war of words none can defeat an eloquent man
Who never succumbs to fear or confusion.
Upon finding men whose forceful speech is couched
In cogent and enchanting ways, the world swiftly gathers around.
Unaware of the artful use of a few flawless words,
Men become enamored with excessive syllables.
Men who cannot communicate their knowledge to others
Resemble a bouquet of unfragrant flowers in full bloom.
Purity of Action
Good friendships bring wealth to a man,
But goodness of action fulfills his every desire.
Actions which bring fame but no real benefit
Are to be avoided always.
Declaring that their future will be brighter,
Men desist from deeds that darken glory's light.
However troubled the times, men of unperturbable perception
Never commit shamful or sordid deeds.
Do nothing that would make you regret, "What have I done!"
However, do not remain regretful if regretable deeds do occur.
Though he must behold his own mother's hunger,
Let a man refrain from deeds that wise men condemn.
The worst poverty of worthy men is far better
Than wealth amassed by improper means.
Even when accomplished, forbidden deeds afflict sorrow
On those who seek after, rather than shun, them.
What is gained by tears will go by tears. In the end, goodness
Reaps many good things, though it begins with loss.
Protecting the country by wrongly garnered wealth
Is like preserving water in an unbaked pot of clay.
Resoluteness of Action
What is called resoluteness of action is, in truth,
Resoluteness of mind. All other qualities are not that.
To avoid all action that is bound to fail and not to be discouraged by
Failures are said to be the two guiding principles of reflective men.
To reveal an action only after completion is resoluteness.
To disclose that action earlier causes countless difficulties.
It is easy for anyone to speak of a plan,
But it is difficult indeed to execute what has been spoken.
The strong-willed actions of eminent men
Earn the crown's respect and the crowd's renown.
Those who think will have their thoughts fulfilled,
Just as they thought, provided they possess the strength of will.
Do not disparage men who appear small, for there are those,
Seemingly insignificant, who are like the linchpin of a mighty chariot.
Visualize actions with unclouded clarity,
Then forcefully undertake them without delay or indecision.
Despite dire hardships, hold to strength of mind
And do those deeds which yield joy of heart.
Whatever other strengths they may possess, the world neither needs
Nor likes those who have no need for action's strength.
Modes of Action
When a decision is reached, deliberation ends.
To delay that decision's execution is detrimental.
Slumber when sleepy work awaits,
But never rest when actions demand sleepless vigilence.
Direct action is good whenever feasible,
but when it is not, seek other means of success.
Reflect on this: Both efforts and enemies, if left unfinished,
Can destroy like an unextinguished fire.
Before acting resolve all doubts through consideration of these five:
Cost, means, time, place and the action itself.
Discern a deed's outcome, obstacles and opulent earnings
Successful effort affirms - then act.
The way to accomplish any task is to ascertain
The inmost thoughts of an expert in that task.
Just as one elephant may be used to tether another,
So one task may be the means of accomplishing another.
Rather than bestow kind favors on friends,
Hasten to befriend your unkind enemies.
Fearing their people's inner apprehensions,
Men of minor realms bow before mightier rulers, accepting terms.
Kindliness, high birth, and a nature pleasing to kings -
These are the qualities of an ambassador.
Kindliness, knowingness and deliberateness of speech
Are three necessities for an ambassador.
The ambassador who presents to lance-bearing monarchs plans
That portend victory to his own king must be a scholar among scholars.
Send him on mission who possesses these three:
Well-winnowed wisdom, ample learning and an imperturbable presence.
The good which an ambassador procures derives from succinct speech
Cheerful conversation and avoidance of argument.
An envoy is learned, eloquently persuasive, unfearing of the fiercest
Stare and understanding of what fits the moment.
He is superior who knows duty and place,
Judges the appropriate time and thinks before he speaks.
Integrity, influence and intrepidity - these three along with truthfulness
Are the qualities of a man who faithfully delivers his monarch's message.
Commission him to deliver the monarch's mandates
Who, firm of vision, never blurts out flawed words.
An ambassador is he who fearlessly extends his king's glory,
Though he may expend his own life.
Associating with Monarchs
Those who associate with irascible kings should be like men who
Warm themselves at a fire, moving neither too near nor too far away.
Do not desire what the king desires
And the king himself will confer enduring wealth.
One wishing to be wary must beware of his grave faults.
Once suspicions are aroused, they are rarely removed.
In the presence of the great ones never speak
In whispers or exchange smiles with others.
The emissary neither eavesdrops nor inquires into matters.
Rather he listens raptly when secrets are revealed.
Sensing unspoken thoughts and ascertaining the ripe moment,
Speak of vital matters pleasantly, without offending others.
Speak useful ideas of interest to the king,
But always leave useless thoughts unspoken - even if he inquires.
Never criticize the king because he's young or your own kin.
Rather respect the luminous dignity kingship commands.
Men whose wisdom is unwavering
Do not use the high esteem to excuse lowly behavior.
Those who do unworthy deeds, expecting indulgence for their
Long-standing friendship with the monarch, ensure their own ruin.
Discerning Unspoken Thoughts
He who can discern through looking the unspoken thoughts of another
Is an ornament to this earth, encircled by ever unchanging seas.
He who can divine without any doubt what is in the king's
Mind should be held equal to a god.
Give whatever is required to gain an advisor
Who, knowing his own mind, can read another's thoughts.
Those who grasp the unspoken thoughts of others possess the same
physical features as those who do not - yet they are different.
Of what use are the body's eyes, if they cannot discern
Another's intentions by beholding their own?
As a crystal reflects objects that are nearby,
So does the face reflect what is foremost in the heart.
What is more perceptive than the face? For whether the heart
Is angry or glad, it is the face that expresses it first.
If you find a man who knows the truth of things by looking into the
Mind, it is enough to stand silently looking into his face.
If you find a man who knows the eye's language,
The eyes will speak of hidden hate and love.
Observe those who claim subtle discernment -
Their only measuring rod is their eyes.
Judging the Audience
Let pure men of studied eloquence study the audience
Before speaking deliberate words.
Let those good men who have the gift of eloquence await
The right moment and then speak with clear knowledge.
Those who do not assess an audience before venturing to speak
Are unaware of the way of words and remain ineffective.
Be brilliant before brilliant men; but assume
The dullness of white mortar before the unlearned.
Among all good things the best is that diffidence
Which refrains from speaking first with elders.
To blunder before perceptive, erudite men
Is to slip and fall from a high place.
A learned man's learning shines brightest
Among luminaries who can capably critique his language.
Speaking to an audience of understanding men
Is like watering a bed of growing plants.
Those who speak good things to good and learned gatherings
Should never say them to ignorant groups, even forgetfully.
Speaking before men of alien mind
Is like pouring sweet nectar down a drain.
Not Dreading the Audience
Pure men of skillful discourse may speak unfalteringly
Before the powerful, provided they understand the audience.
Those who can convincingly express what they have learned
Before a learned assembly are the learned among learned men.
Those who can brave death on the battlefield are common.
But rare are they who can face an audience without fear.
Speak confidently before the learned what you have mastered;
And learn from those more learned still what you do not know.
Study the science of logic so that
You may fearlessly reply in any assembly.
What does a coward do with a sword?
What does a man who fears a subtle council do with books?
The learning of those who fearfully face an audience
Is like the shining sword of womanly men amid foes.
Having learned many things, men remain useless
If they cannot expound effectively in chambers of excellence.
The learned who are intimidated by gatherings of good men
Are alluded to as less than the illiterate.
Men whose fear of assemblies forbids them to share
Their knowledge may be alive, yet may as well be dead.
Where unfailing fertile fields, worthy men
And wealthy merchants gather - that is a country.
A land coveted for its vast wealth, free from calamities
And yielding in abundance is indeed a country.
Call that a land which bears every burden that befalls,
Yet pays in full all tariffs owed the king.
Free of famine, endless epidemics and ravaging foes -
Now that is a flourishing nation.
Profuse factions, ruinous civil subservisives and murderous gangs
That harass the king - a real land is without these.
An incomparable country is one never devastated,
Yet, if devastated, would prosper undiminished.
Rain waters, underground waters, well-situated water shedding mountains
And strong fortresses are the features of a good country.
Five are the ornaments of a country: good health, abundant harvests,
Wealth, happiness and safety from invasions.
A place where prosperity comes effortlessly deserves the name land,
Not one where wealth entails laborious toils.
Even if a country has all these blessings, it is worth nothing
If it lacks harmony between the ruler and the ruled.
To aggressors and to those in fear who seek defense
A fortress is an important asset.
A good fort has crystal clear water, arable lands,
A hill and lovely shaded woods.
The texts prescribe four features of a fort's ramparts -
High, thick, solid and virtually impregnable.
The ideal fortress is spacious but vulnerable in very few places
And is capable of depleting the foe's determined will to storm it.
A good garrison is hard to assail sieze, amply provisioned
And well-suited to accommodate well those within.
A worthy fortress, stocked with all needed goods,
Needs good men to fend off all attack.
It is impossible to capture a strong fort, whether by employing
Launching artillery, tunneling beneath or encircling siege.
However forcefully the offensive may press,
The fort offers allies defense and foes defeat.
A fortress earns greatness by enabling courageous defenders
To gloriously defeat the enemy at the battle's very outset.
Whatever excellent qualities a fortress may possess,
It will be of no avail to men who lack action's excellence.
The Ways of Acquiring Wealth
There is nothing like wealth for lending consequence
To an inconsequential man.
Wealth is a dependable lamp whose light,
Reaching every imaginable land, dispels darkness.
Wealth is a dependable lamp whose light,
Reaching every imaginable land, dispels darkness.
Wealth that is acquired by proper means in a manner
That harms none will yield both virtue and happiness.
Do not embrace but rather eschew wealth
That is acquired without compassion and love.
Wealth with no owner, wealth of defeated foes,
Wealth from tax and customs - these are the royal revenues.
Compassion, which is the child of Love,
requires for its care the bountiful nurse called Wealth.
To undertake an enterprise with sufficient wealth in hand
Is like watching an elephants fight from the top of a hill.
Make money-that is the sharpest blade scalpel
For paring down an enemy's pride.
Having acquired well abundant wealth, acquisition of two
Other treasurers - duty and delight - is effortless.
Merits of the Army
An army which is complete and conquers fearlessly
Is foremost among all a king's possessions.
Only seasoned soldiers can confront the desperate adversity
Of decimating attacks with intrepid tenacity.
So what if an army of rats roars like the raging sea?
The mere hiss of a cobra will deaden their din.
A true army is one which has a long tradition of valor
And knows neither defeat nor desertion.
That is unquestionably truly an army which stands together,
Even when faced with death's fury.
Valor, honor, trustworthiness, and a tradition nobly upheld -
These four are an army's protective armor.
The well-trained army will withstand every onslaught,
Then outflank and storm the foe.
Even without a winning offense and defense,
A well-appointed army may win renown acclaim.
An army will prevail as long as there is
No attrition, no animosity and no afflictions.
Even with an abundance though it enlists legions of troops,
An army cannot endure without commanders.
O enemies, stand not against my monarch!
Many who did now stand as stone monuments.
There is greater fulfillment in carrying a lance which missed an
Elephant than an arrow which pierced a forest-dwelling rabbit.
Fierce courage is what they call valor,
And chivalry to the fallen forms its sharp edge.
Having hurled his spear at a huge bull elephant,
The hero finds another piercing his body and grabs it with glee.
Is it not a disgraceful defeat to the courageous warrior
If his glaring eyes so much as blink when the lance is hurled at him?
When recounting his days, the hero considers all days
On which no battle wounds scars were sustained as squandered.
To fasten the warrior's anklet to one who wants glory
More than life is adorning to adorn greatness with beauty.
Men of courage who do not fear their lives in battle do not
forfeit their ardor even if the king prohibits their fighting.
Who dares deride as defeated
Men who die fulfilling valor's vow?
Heroic death which fills with tears the emperor's eyes
Is death worth begging and then dying for.
What is as difficult to secure as friendship?
And what greater security is there against foes?
Among wise men, friendship waxes like the crescent moon;
Among fools it wanes as surely as the full moon must.
The bonds that good men share, like good bound books,
Reveal new enjoyments at each new encounter.
The object of friendship is not merrymaking
But a stern rebuking when friends go astray.
It is not constant meeting and companionship
But mutual sensibilities that confer the alliance of friendship.
Friendship is not seen on a friendly face,
But felt deep within a friendly heart.
To divert a man from wrong, direct him toward the right
And share his sorrow in misfortune is friendship.
As swiftly as the hand moves to seize a slipping garment,
Friendship acts to assuage a friend's distress.
Where does Friendship hold her court? It is where friends
May find constant support in every possible circumstance.
To boast, "He means so much to me and I to him,"
Merely belittles a friendship.
Testing Fitness for Friendship
There is no greater harm than forming a friendship without first
Testing, for once formed, it cannot be abandoned by the faithful.
Unless it begins with testing and proving,
Friendship may end in mortal sorrow.
Consider a man's character, family background, faults
And loyal associates and then befriend him.
Pay any price to possess the friendship
Of well-born men who cannot bear rebuke and blame.
Seek out and befriend those who speak and move you to repent,
Reprove your wrong-doing and teach you the right ways.
There is a benefit even in misfortune, for it is the rod
With which a man can measure the loyalty of friends.
To give up friendship with fools and quit their company -
Such loss is said to be the greatest gain.
Don't dwell on thoughts that dim your spirit,
Don't befriend those who flee you in affliction.
Even in the hour of death, the thoughts of friends
Who left you in your hour of need will hurt the heart.
Hold tight to friendship with pure men;
Let go of those who lack propriety, even by paying them off.
What is old friendship? It is when neither friend objects
To the liberties taken by the other.
Liberties taken by a friend are friendship's rightful
Possession, and to accept them is the duty of wise men.
Of what purpose is longstanding fellowship
If friends' familiar actions are not accepted as one's own?
Familiar with familiarity, the wise are not annoyed
When friends do things without asking.
When friends do things that hurt you, attribute it either
To unawareness or to the privileges of friendship.
Bound by friendship, true friends never break the bond
With an old comrade, even if he brings them loss.
Old friends do not abandon loving friendships,
Even when those they cherish happen to do them harm.
A strong, close friend will not listen to a friends' faults,
And on the day a friend offends, he celebrates his silence.
The world will cherish those faithful men
Who never forsake old, unbroken friendships.
Even ill-wishers will wish them well
Who never abandon affection for old friends.
Though unscrupulous men will seem to consume you in friendship,
Their companionship grows more delightful as it declines.
What does it matter if one gains or loses the friendship
Of manipulators who gainfully befriend and otherwise forsake?
Prostitutes, theives and those who make friends
To make money are all alike.
Loneliness is far better than friendship with men who are like
The untrained horse which throws its rider on the battlefield.
Far better to forfeit than to obtain the friendship
Of inferior men who stay away when they should stay and help.
The enmity of the wise is ten million times
Better than the intimate friendship of fools.
An enemy's enmity is 100 million times more worthwhile
Than the company of companions who always clown around.
If friends feign inability to perform possible tasks,
Remain silent and gradually give up their friendship.
The fellowship of men whose acts
Belie their spoken words is bitter, even in dreams.
There are men who will cherish you at home but censure you
In public - avoid their every befriending approach
The friendship of those who feign affection is an anvil
On which to hammer you when the opportunity arises.
The friendship of those who act like friends but are not,
Will fluctuate like the mind of a fickle woman.
Though their scholarship is good and abundant,
Ignoble men rarely learn goodness of heart.
Fear the cunning friend who smiles sweetly to your face
But conceals wickedness in his heart.
Distrust whatever words may come from
Men whose hearts are not in harmony with your own.
While sounding like a good friend's words,
A rival's words are readily revealed.
Do not trust an enemy though he bends low in his speech,
For the bending of the bow forebodes nothing but harm.
Folded in respect, a foe's hands may hide a dagger.
So too, his tears dare not be trusted.
Men may amply aid you, yet hate you in their heart;
Make them laugh, but let feigned friendship die.
When the time comes that foes pose as friends,
Keep a friendly face but banish their brotherhood from your heart.
What is folly? It is holding on to that which is harmful
And throwing away that which is beneficial.
The folly of all follies is to enjoy doing
What one is forbidden to do.
To be shameless, uninquisitive, loveless and uncaring
Are the fool's four failings.
No fool is more foolish than one who eagerly expounds
His learning to others while failing to follow it himself.
In a single birth a fool may earn by his efforts
A mire of hellish suffering in the subsequent seven.
If a fool who knows not how to act undertakes an enterprise
He will not only fail, he will shackle himself in chains.
When a fool falls upon a great fortune,
Strangers will feast while his family starves.
If a fool happens to acquire something of value,
He will act like a madman who is intoxicated.
Friendship among fools is profoundly sweet,
For at their parting there is not the slightest pain.
A fool stepping into a saintly council
Is like entering a clean bed with filthy feet.
Dearth of wisdom is dire destitution.
Other forms of poverty the world deems less impoverishing.
All merit for a gift given gladly by an ignoramus
Is nothing but the goodness gained by the recipient's past penance.
The suffering that ignorant men inflict upon themselves
Can hardly be caused even by their enemies.
What is stupidity? It is that vanity
Which dares to declare, "I am wise."
He who pretends to knowledge that he does not possess
Raises doubts as to those things that he really knows.
Fools follow a wayward path, clothing a well-formed, naked body
But failing to conceal their deformed mind.
The ignorant man who neglects valuable advice
Will cause himself himself his own great misery.
Neither following another's orders nor fathoming himself what to do -
Such a creature causes only pain until he leaves this life.
He who tries to open the eyes of those who will not see is himself
Blind, for the unseeing man sees only the ways of his own mind.
He is deemed an earthly demon who denies as false
What that which the world declares to be true.
It is said that hatred is the disease that spreads
The plague of discord among all living creatures.
Though men plot disunity and deliberately harm you,
The highest path is not to plan hateful retribution.
Removing the incurable cancer called hatred
Reveals one's undying, undiminishing radiance.
The destruction of hatred, that sorrow of sorrows,
Yields to man the joy of joys.
Who is there who could conquer those
Who keep themselves free of all hostilities?
To those who claim they take delight in hatred,
Failure and life's ruin are quite near.
Men immersed in animosities, knowingly causing harm,
Can never see that triumph comes from noble truths.
Wealth waxes when a man walks away from confrontation
And wanes whenever he encourages it.
Seeing a prosperous season approach, men neglect hatred.
In times of ruin, they nurture it to profusion.
From hatred springs all suffering,
But cheerful friendship yields good fortune's joys.
Merits of Enmity
Rein in antagonism against the strong,
But unleash animosity against weak adversaries.
How can the man who is unloving and who has neither powerful allies
Nor the strength to stand alone overcome his mighty enemies?
He who is fearful, ignorant, unfriendly and uncharitable
Is an easy prey to his enemies.
Letting go of his secrets but not his anger,
A man becomes easy prey to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Even one who is lacking character, conscience
Piety and propriety can be delightful - to his enemies!
Hatred is a desireable thing when it comes from
Scoundrels siezed by blinding rage and addictive lust.
Some men undertake a task then undermine it unawares.
Acquire their hatred - indeed, pay money for it.
If a man has no virtues and many vices, he will have no allies,
And this will be an advantage to his enemies.
If the foe is ignorant and afraid to fight,
The victor's joy cannot be far away.
Fame will escape the grasp of those who fail to grasp
The wealth of fools who failed to learn.
Understanding the Nature of Enmity
One should never wish for the accursed thing
Called enmity - even in jest.
Though you may incur the enmity of those who reap a livelihood by their
Bow do not provoke the hatred of those who sow and reap with their words.
A solitary man who provokes hatred from many
Is more of an idiot than lunatics are.
The world abides beneath the greatness
Of noble natured rulers who befriend their enemies.
Finding he faces two foes with no allies,
A lone man lures one to side with him.
When distress dawns, neither draw near nor depart from
New friends and foes - rather, leave them alone.
Never reveal your troubles to those who cannot comprehend them,
Nor expose your weaknesses to your enemies.
Engineer a plan, execute that plan well and ensure your security -
Thus is the vanity of foes forever vanquished.
Chop down a thorny tree while it is young.
Left to grow mature, it will cut the cutter's hand.
Those who fail to quell an acrimonious rival's conceits
Will be blown away by the mere fact he still breathes.
Even shade and water are unpleasant if they breed disease.
So too may relatives be unpleasant if they cause harm.
Do not fear the foe who is like the drawn sword,
But fear the friendship of the enemy who poses as kinsman.
Dread hatred from within and defend against it.
In calamitous times it will cut deeper than a potter's knife.
Hidden hatreds may lurk only in the mind,
Yet they can manifest myriad miseries among kin.
Hate hidden in a kinsman's heart will cause
More than many miseries - it will kill a man.
When hatred arises, dissention destroys unity,
And men fall inescapably toward every-ready death.
A house that harbors hatred will never form a united whole though,
Like a vessel and its lid, it may appear to be united.
As iron is worn away by frequent filing,
A family's strength is eroded by inner frictions.
Internal dissention may be minute as a divided sesame seed,
Yet it maintains the sufficient power to destroy.
Living with those who cannot dwell in harmony
Is like living in a hut with a cobra.
Not Offending the Great
The greatest way to guard oneself is to not belittle
The powers of men of prowess.
If a man by his conduct offends the great ones,
Through them he will bring on himself immeasurable miseries.
If you desire destruction, don't heed the rules -
Simply provoke those who, if they desire, can destroy.
For the powerless to wreak harm upon the powerful
Is to summon Death with the hand.
Having incured a stalwart king's withering wrath,
One is doomed, wherever he wanders, whatever he does.
Though burned by a fire one may survive;
But there is no survival for those who offend the great.
Of what avail is a man's many gloried life and splendorous wealth
If he incurs the wrath of great and righteous men?
When men of mountainous stature are meagerly esteemed,
Men who seemed enduring as the earth will die, as will their kin.
The most kingly king will tumble from his throne midway
And die, should he arouse an avowed sage's righteous wrath.
Though a king commands peerless powers of protection,
He cannot survive the anger of sages with powers of spirit.
Being Led by Women
Those who dote upon their wives will not achieve great success,
And those of great ambition avoid that very thing.
The riches of a man who rashly follows a woman's ways
Will buy him only shameful shame.
An abnormal submissiveness to his spouse
Will earn a man endless disgrace among decent men.
Though he has mastered the doing of deeds,
The henpecked husband merits little in this life or the next.
A man's fears of his own wife will make him
Constantly fearful of offering good to good folks.
Though providence has filled his life,
A man who fears his graceful spouse is empty of simple dignity.
A woman's shy ways show great dignity,
Unlike a man who lives to work a woman's bidding.
Those who live obeying their wife's wishes
Can neither satisfy the needs of friends nor benefit others.
Neither virtuous deeds nor vast wealth nor other accomplishments
Will be found with men who carry out their wife's commands.
Prosperous men whose thoughts dwell in the mind
Never indulge in the folly of doting on their wives.
The sweet words of beautifully bangled women who desire
A man's wealth and not his love cause his fall into disgrace.
Weigh the worth and abandon the company of unvirtuous women
Who weigh the profit and talk of their virtues.
A mercenary woman pretends intimate embrace,
But in the darkened room she holds a stranger's corpse.
Men seeking spiritual treasures are too richly wise
To touch tawdry women who treasure only material riches.
Men of innate good sense and acquired sagacity
Never touch tramps who share their shameful beauty with all.
Men who desire to extend their own goodness
Will not embrace desireable women who extend lewd charms to all.
Only men devoid of a chaste mind will lie in the arms of women
Whose hearts covet other things as they embrace.
It is said that men devoid of discerning wisdom
Succumb to a deceiving damsel's embrace as to a siren's song.
The soft arms of the elegantly jewelled harlot
Are an infernal pit wherein base, ignorant men are engulfed.
Two-faced females, besotting brew and addictive dice
Befriend the men whom fortune has forsaken.
The Avoidance of Drunkenness
Those who crave intoxicating drink each day
Will neither be feared nor famed.
Do not drink liquor. If some wish to, let it be those
Who have no wish for the esteem of exemplary men.
The sight of the drunken man's revelry is unbearable
Even to his own mother. How must it then appear to the wise?
The virtuous damsel called decency will turn her back
On men who indulge in the grievously vile vice called drunkenness.
To spend one's wealth to purchase self-oblivion
Is the result of being oblivious to what constitutes proper conduct.
Those who always sleep are akin to the dead.
And those who constantly drink are like men who have taken poison.
The drooping eyes of those who drink secretely reveal that secret,
Drawing forth their neighbor's endless ridicule.
Stop denying, "I never drink." For next time you drink
The mind's hidden secret will be told, then and there.
One may as well carry a candle underwater to search
For a drowned man as use reason to sober one drowned in drink.
Cannot the drunkard who sees while he is sober the drunken state of
Another realize the shameful degradation of his own drunkenness?
Do not take to gambling even if you can win,
Or your wins will be like the baited hook that the fish swallows.
To win once, a gambler loses a hundred times.
Is that the way to win either happiness or prosperity?
Gambling brings on many woes and erodes a man's good name.
There is nothing which ends in more wretched poverty.
Those enamored of the dice, the gambling hall
And their lucky hand lose everything in their desire to win.
Gambling is misfortune's other name, and fools ensnared
By her will suffer an empty stomach and a surfeit of sorrow.
Spending time in the gambling hall wastes
Ancestral wealth and diminishes an individual's worth.
Gambling will consume a man's wealth and corrupt his honesty.
It will end his benevolence and bring on him misery.
Those who take to gambling's fickle gain forfeit these five:
Raiments, riches, rations, renown and urudition.
The gambler's passion increases with the losses incurred.
Even so does the soul's craving for life grow with the griefs suffered.
Disease is but deficiency or excess of three life forces
Defined in learned texts as air, fire and water.
The body requires no medicine if you eat
Only after the food you have already eaten is digested.
If digestion is complete, let a man eat with moderation,
For that is the way to prolong the life of the body.
Certain the last meal has digested and sensing appetite's keen edge,
Savor only foods which are fully agreeable.
Life remains unharmed when one eats with restraint,
Refraining from foods proven disagreeable.
The joy of health abides in the man who eats moderately.
Even so, the pain of illness dwells with him who eats excessively.
The thoughtless glutton who gorges himself beyond
His digestive fire's limits will be consumed by limitless ills.
Diagnose the illness, trace its cause,
Seek the proper remedy and apply it with skill.
An erudite doctor offers healing remedy after heeding
The patient's nature, the disease's nature and the time of year.
Medicine consists of a patient, physician, prescription
And nursemaid - each commanding four parts.
An innate sense of rights and shying away from wrong
Are found together only in the nobly born.
Men of noble birth will never fall from three:
Virtuous conduct, truthfulness, and modesty.
Four are the attributes of the true gentleman: a smiling face,
A generous hand, a courteous disposition and kindly words.
Men of good birth will not do demeaning deeds
Even though millions and millions may be gained thereby.
Time-honored families may be parted from prosperity's charitableness,
But will never sever themselves from proper conduct.
Those committed to their family's flawless fame
Dare not commit deceitful, dishonorable deeds.
In high-born men blemishes are clearly seen,
Just as the moon's elevation makes it more visible.
When a man with good background lacks loving affection,
Doubts arise whether he arose from that family.
The nature of a soil is known by the seedlings that sprout.
Even so, the nature of a man's family is known by the words he speaks.
Those desiring greatness must desire modesty. And those seeking
their family's honor must seek to be respectful to all.
Refrain from those actions that would degrade honor
Even though they should be indispensable for the preservation of life.
Those who pursue glory honorably never act ingloriously,
Even if fame is assured.
Cultivate modesty in the midst of good fortune,
But in times of adversity preserve your dignity.
Honorable men fallen from high position
May be likened to odious hari fallen from the head.
Even men grand as a mountain will become small
If they commit an unworthy act though as small as a mustard seed.
It offers neither earth's renown nor heaven's refuge,
So why would one run after or even stand before a man who reviles him?
Better to die right where you stand, the saying goes,
Than to live running after those who despise you.
Will any medicine save the body of the high-born man
When his honor has perished?
Shorn of its hair, the yak will refuse to live;
Such men exist, who prefer death to the loss of honor.
The world will extoll and exalt honorable men
Who exult in death rather than dishonor.
Life's light is the aspiration for glorious achievement.
And disgrace is the dark thought that says, "I shall live without it."
Birth decrees to all men who live a common circumstance.
Diverse actions define their unique specialness.
Lowly men are never high, even when elevated.
High souls are never low, even when downtrodden.
Even as chastity in a woman, greatness must be guarded
By being true to one's own self.
A man possessing greatness possesses the power
To perform uncommon deeds.
"We will befriend great men and become like them,"
Such thoughts rarely intrude upon small minds.
When small-minded men do achieve some distinction,
It only serves to augment their arrogance.
Greatness is always humble. But pettiness
is self-adorned with words of praise.
Greatness abides in the absence of arrogance.
Smallness proudly parades its haughtiness.
Greatness conceals through silence the weaknesses of others.
But pettiness proclaims such things to all.
It is said that all good things are natural to those
Who know their duty and walk the path of perfect goodness.
Perfect men hold as good their own good character.
No other goodness is so perfectly good.
Love, modesty, propriety, kindly look, and truthfulness -
These are the five pillars on which perfect goodness rests.
Penance is that goodness which refrains from killing.
Perfection is that goodness which refuses to tell others' faults.
Humility is the strength of the strong and the weapon
With which the wise conquer their foes.
The touchstone of one's unalloyed character
Is accepting defeat from inferiors unabashedly.
Of what avail is perfect goodness if it does not do good
Even to those who have caused pain?
Deprived of all else, one remains undisgraced
If endowed with strength of character.
Destiny's last days may surge with oceanic change,
Yet men deemed perfectly good remain, like the shore, unchanged.
Should the perfect virtue of perfect men diminish,
The robust earth would bear our burdensomeness no more.
Possession of Courtesy
If a man is easy of access to all, then the virtue of courtesy
Will be easily accessible to him.
Loving kindness and birth to lofty kindred -
These two confer on one a gracious manner.
That their limbs look alike does not render likeness among human.
Real similarities derive from similarly civil features.
The world commends the civil character of those
Who combine usefulness with impartial benevolence.
Disparaging words pain a man even when uttered in jest. Therefore,
those who know human nature are courteous even to their enemies.
The world goes on because civilized men exist.
Without them it would collapse into mere dust.
Though their minds are as sharp as a rasp,
Men without human decency are as wooden as a tree.
It is disgraceful to be discourteous,
Even toward the unfriendly who treat you unjustly.
To those who cannot smile in joy the wide world
Lies engulfed in darkness even in broad daylight.
Great wealth amassed by men devoid of that virtue called courtesy
Is like good milk that has soured in an unclean vessel.
Wealth That Benefits None
Whoever hoards wealth, neither enjoying nor expending it,
Is as lifeless as his unused heap.
Believing wealth is everything, yet giving nothing,
The miser will himself be possessed in a miserable birth.
The mere sight of men who crave wealth's accumulation,
And care nothing of renown is a burden to the earth.
Unloved by even a single soul,
What could such a man imagine he might leave behind.
Amid accumulated millions a man remains poor
If he neither gives nor enjoys his wealth.
Vast wealth can be a wretched curse to one who neither
Gladdens himself in its worth nor gives to the worthy.
The wealth of a man who gives nothing to the needy
Is like a beautiful maiden growing old unwed.
The wealth of the man whom no one loves is like a poisonous tree
That bears fruit in the heart of a village.
Strangers will one day sieze his wealth, who,
To pile it high, preffered self-denial, forsaking love and dharma.
The short-lived poverty of the benevolent wealthy man
Is like the temporary dryness of the rain cloud.
Possession of Modesty
For fair-faced maidens virtue's modesty brings bashfulness,
But the deeper modesty shies away from wrongful deeds.
Food, clothing and such are not much different among people,
It is modesty that distingiushes good men from others.
All life clings to a body,
Perfect goodness clings to all that is modest.
Is not modesty the jewel of the great? Without it,
Is not their strut an affliction for the eye to behold?
Those men who for others' disgrace and their own feel equally ashamed
Are regarded by the world as the abode of modesty.
The great would rather defend themselves with modesty's barricade
Than breach it to acquire the vast world itself.
Those who prize unpretentiousness will forsake life to preserve it.
But they would never forsake modesty for the sake of life.
If a man does not feel ashamed of that which others feel ashamed,
Virtue itself will be ashamed of him.
One's family will be consumed in the fire of failure to act well;
But everything good will be incinerated by dwelling in shamelessness.
The movements of men devoid of innate modesty
May be likened to wooden puppets suspended on a string.
Advancing the Family
There is no greater dignity than that of the man who declares,
"I will never cease in laboring to advance my family."
Perseverance and sound understanding -
These two are what exalt a man's family.
When a man declares he will advance his family,
God Himself will wrap His robes and lead the way.
When a man's effort to raise high his family is unremitting,
His work will prosper of itself even if he makes no plans.
The world will surround and wish to befriend the man
Who, without wrongdoing, prospers in life to uplift loved ones.
It is said that true manliness consists
In becoming the head and provider for one's family.
On a battlefield the burden falls upon the brave; In the
family, a comparable weight is carried by the most competent.
Those seeking to improve their family await no reason,
For delays and undue regard for dignity will destroy it.
Behold the man who shields his family from all suffering.
Has not his body become a willing vessel for affliction.
Without good men to hold it up,
The family house will fall when misfortune descends.
Wherever it may wander, the world must follow the farmer.
Thus despite all its hardships, farming is the most esteemed work.
Farmers are the linchpin of the world, for they support all those
Who take to other work, not having the strength to plow.
Those who cultivate their food live in self-sufficiency.
All others follow them and subsist in self-made dependence.
Those in the shade of abundant sheaves of grain
Will see many nations overshadowed by their own.
Those who eat food harvested with their own hands will
Never beg and never refuse a beggar's outstretched palm.
When those who plough the fields stand idly with folded arms,
Even completely desireless ascetics will not subsist.
If soil is dried so one ounce become one-quarter ounce,
Abundant yields will not require a single handful of fertilizer.
It's better to fertilize than to furrow a field.
Having weeded, it's better to watch a field than to water it.
If the lord of the land fails to visit his fields,
They will sulk (I think) as surely as a neglected wife.
Mother Earth laughs to herself when she sees the slothful
Pleading poverty and crying, "Alas, I have nothing to eat."
Ask what is more miserable than being poor
And the answer comes - only poverty pains like poverty.
Poverty, the cruelest of demons, deprives a man
Of every joy in this life as well as the next.
That poison called poverty will destroy obliterate at once
The honor of ancient descent and the refinement of speech.
Privation produces unmindfulness which gives birth
To improper words, even in men of proper birth.
This one affliction called poverty
Brings in its train a multitude of miseries.
The poor may perceive profoundly and speak skillfully,
Yet their meaningful words are always forgotten.
Poverty, destitute of all virtue, estranges a man
Even from the mother who bore him.
Will wretched poverty which is killing me so (I think)
Come again today as of yesterday?
Men may slumber even in the midst of fire,
But none can find repose in poverty's presence.
Having become fatilly impoverished, let a man fully renounce,
Lest he fatally exhaust his neighbor's vinegar and salt.
If you meet a man of means, you may beg his help.
If he refuses, the fault is his, not yours.
Even begging can prove pleasurable
When what is begged for comes without a sense of burden.
Begging has its own beauty if one supplicates
Before dutiful men whose hearts never say no.
There are men who never deny a request even in a dream.
Begging from such men is as good as giving.
Because men do exist on earth who never begrudge giving,
Others dare to plead before men's gaze.
The evils of begging will flee at the mere sight
Of those who are free from the evil of refusal.
There is rejoicing in a jubilant heart
Upon seeing those who give without scoffing or scorning.
Deprived of its beggars, this vast and verdant (I think) earth
Would be reduced to a sphere for the wooden play of puppets.
What glory would generous men have
If there were none to beg and receive their gifts?
One who begs and is refused should not be angry
For his own poverty is sufficient proof.
Dread of Begging
It is ten millions better not to beg, even from those
Precious few who find joy in generosity and thus never refuse.
Were it the world's Creator who wished men to live by begging,
Men might well wish that He Himself also die a wanderer.
There is no greater foolhardiness than saying to oneself,
"I shall end the pains of poverty by begging."
The entire world is too small to contain the dignity of men
Who stoop not to beg even in the midst of destitution.
Though it is only gruel thin as water, nothing is more savory
Than the food that is earned by the labor of one's hands.
The tongue finds nothing more distasteful than begging
Even to simply plead for the cow's drinking water.
This I beg of all beggers,
"If beg you must, beg not from (of) misers."
The unsturdy ship called begging will break apart
The moment it crashes against the rock of refusal.
Thoughts of the beggar's plight must melt one's heart,
But thoughts of refusals he receives crushes it completely.
Is there any place a miser can safely hide
When inside him resounds the word "no" which slays beggars?
Outwardly, vile men resemble human beings.
Never have we witnessed such a remarkable likeness.
The low-minded are happier than men who know the good,
For they are never troubled by the pains of conscience.
Wicked rogues resemble the gods,
For they, too, live doing whatever they want.
When the vile meets the wicked he will outdo him
In his vices and pride himself on the achievement.
Fear is the primary motive force of base men.
Apart from that, the desire for gain may motivate them, but only a little.
Base men are like a bass drum,
For they sound off to others every secret they happen to hear.
The wretched are too inhospitable to even shake the moisture from their
Just-washed hands, unless the visitor can shatter their jaw with clenched fist.
The worthy yield their gifts when told of the need,
But, like the sugar cane, the low will yield theirs only by a deathly crushing.
Let a low man see others well clothed and fed
And instantly their faults assail his sight.
Is there anything for which ignoble men are suited?
Well, whenever crisis comes no one sells themselves more swiftly!
Credits & Acknowledgements
The Himalayan Academy
The Himalayan Academy was formed over time by Gurudeva, Satguru Sivaya
Subramuniyaswami, and has been responsible for the translation and the
original recent publication of the Tirukural. For those students of life who wish
to make a personal copy of Tirukural, the original publication, located within
the Himalayan Academy's website, is structured as a single 145K html
document, and might prove easier to manage than the separated chapters
108 which have been presented in this web publication.
This publication on the Tirukural is the second to have been sourced from the
wealth of the Himalayan Academy, the first being the inspiring The Words of
the Master, a collection of the sayings of Yogaswami, of Sri Lanka (1872 -
1964), gathered by a number of his disciples. The students of life who travel
through here are encouraged to spend some time perusing the wealth of the
Himalayan Academy's publications, and the the Classical Yoga Teachings of
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, known to many as Gurudeva.
Gurudeva also hosts absolutely free and contemplative Daily E-Mail
subscription routines, whereby one can receive, on each new day of the year,
short thought-provoking quotations, and in some cases commentary, on the
substance of publications such as the Nandinatha Sutras, the Tirukural, and
Dancing with Siva.
In closing this section, which provides full acknowledgement of the text,
translation and commentary to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, is might
be appropriate to duplicate the original 1994 and 1995 copyright notice of the
Copyright 1995, Himalayan Academy, All Rights Reserved.
The information contained in this document may not be published for
commercial purposes without the prior written authority of Himalayan
Academy. (The publisher's request is that the material not be used in
magazines or newspapers that are for sale without their permission.
Redistribution electronically (for free), photocopying to give to classes or
friends, all that is okay.) This copyright notice may not be removed, or the text
edited or changed without the prior written authority of Himalayan Academy.
This long standing web publications organisation has been responsible for the
presentation of articles of great interest for many years now, not only in the
realm of Hindu culture, religion and history, but also in relation to world affairs
and other articles which have always proved of interest to its broad range of
There have been a number of separate informational articles concerning the
Tirukural in the editions of Hinduism Today over the years.
Acknowledgements are also therfefore also directed to Hinduism Today for
some of the source of this current web publication of the Tirukural, and my
thanks is directed to the Editor, Acharya Palaniswami, for his support during
The substance of the Tirukural is for daily contemplation, and the application
of its precepts and observations into the processes of personal and individual
life by those who know themselves as its students.
Any global collation of the publications of peace and of great souls would not
be complete without first hand reference to this two thousand year-old text of
wisdom from the weaver Saint Tiruvalluvar. The Age may gradually change
like the mist rising out of the high mountain valleys, but the nature of the
daylight - of the substance of wisdom - is beyond the terrestrial realms of time
... for it represents expression of the nature of the the cosmic environment.
There is a continuing evolution of aspiration and thought such that the
recognition of this inner human cosmic environment, over and above the dayto-
day terrestrial environment, must also indeed form a foundational part of
the inner environmental nature of humanity and its myriad individuals. The
expression of these eternal principals are the expressions of the evolving
human soul - expressions of Global Terrestrial Nativity and the Cosmic
Solidarity of the Human Soul. In all lands beneath the sun, and in all Ages
which have flowed with their great rivers and oceans over the face of this
planetary cradle of continuously emergent life, the spirit of a deeper truth has
been echoing through the words and actions of the scattered folk out of the
scattered tribes of man.
The scope of the Tirukural is broad in its approach to the realms of life, and its
observations engender contemplation for the students. And we are all - each
of us - the students of life.
I would like again to congratulate the unceasing efforts of the Himalayan
Academy in their labors of translation and original publication of this text. It is
hoped that this publication has been found a resource to its readers, and that
the wisdom of the Holy Kural will once again find its place in the emergent
world of the third millenia after its origination within the pristine southern lands
of ancient India.
All the best,
Mountain Man Graphics,
Newport Beach, Australia
Southern Winter of 1997