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Wisdom Of The Hitopadesa - Good Advice Wisdom And Vision

( Originally Published 1939 )

WISE men, holding wisdom highest, scorn delights, more false than fair;

Daily live as if Death's fingers twined already in thy hair!

Truly, richer than all riches, better than the best of gain,

Wisdom is; unbound, secure once won, none loseth her again.

Bringing dark things into daylight, solving doubts that vex the mind,

Like an open eye is Wisdom he that hath her not is blind.


DEATH, that must come, comes nobly when we give Our wealth, and life, and all to make men live.


BAR thy door not to the stranger, be he friend or be he foe,For the tree will shade the woodman while his axe doth lay it low.

Greeting fair, and room to rest in; fire, and water from the well

Simple gifts are given freely in the house where good men dwell;

Young, or bent with many winters; rich, or poor, whate'er thy guest,

Honour him for thine own honour better is he than the best.

Pity them that crave thy pity; who art thou to stint thy hoard,

When the holy moon shines equal on the leper and the lord!

When thy gate is roughly fastened, and the asker turns away,

Thence he bears thy good deeds with him, and his sins on thee doth lay.

In the house the husband ruleth; men the Brahman "master" call;

Agni is the Twice-born's Master but the guest is lord of all.


THAT friend only is the true friend who abides when trouble comes;

That man only is the brave man who can bear the battle-drums;

Words are wind; deed proveth promise: he who helps at need is kin;

And the Ieal wife is Ioving though the husband lose or win.

Friend and kinsman more their meaning than the idle-hearted mind;

Many a friend can prove unfriendly, many a kinsman Iess than kind:

He who shares his comrade's portion, be he beggar, be he lord,

Comes as truly, comes as duly, to the battle as the board

Stands before the king to succour, follows to the pile to sigh

He is friend, and he is kinsman; less would make the name a lie.


STARS gleam, lamps flicker, friends foretell of fate;

The fated sees, knows, hears them all too late.


ANGER comes to noble natures, but Ieaves there no strife or storm:

Plunge a lighted torch beneath it, and the ocean grows not warm.

Noble hearts are golden vases - close the bond true metals make;

Easily the smith may weld them, harder far it is to break.

Evil hearts are earthen vessels at a touch they crack a-twain,

And what craftsman's ready cunning can unite the shards again?

Good men's friendships may be broken, yet abide they friends at heart;

Snap the stem of Luxmee's lotus, but its fibres will not part.

TRUE Religion ! 'tis not blindly prating what the gurus prate,

But to love, as God hath loved them, all things, be they small or great;

And true bliss is when a sane mind doth a healthy body fill

Arid true knowledge is the knowing what is good and what is ill.

POISONOUS though the tree of life be, two fair blossoms grow thereon :

One, the company of good men; and sweet songs of Poets, one.

SENTENCES of studied wisdom, naught avail they unapplied;

Though the blind man hold a lantern, yet his footsteps stray aside.

BE not haughty, being wealthy; droop not, having lost thine all;

Fate doth play with mortal fortunes as a girl doth toss her ball.

WORLDLY friendships, fair but fleeting; shadow of the clouds at noon;

Women, youth, new corn, and riches; these be pleasures passing soon.

For thy bread be not o'er thoughtful Heav'n for all hath taken thought;

When the babe is born, the sweet milk to the mother's breast is brought.

HE who gave the swan her silver, and the hawk her plumes of pride,

And his purples to the peacock He will verily provide.


AH! the gleaming, glancing arrows of a lovely woman's eye!

Feathered with her jetty lashes, perilous they pass thee by:

Loosed at venture from the black bows of her arching brow, they part,

All too penetrant and deadly for an undefended heart.

BY their own deeds men go downward, by them men mount upward all

Like the diggers of a well, and like the builders of a wall.

NoT disparagement nor slander kills the spirit of the brave;

Fling a torch down, upward ever burns the brilliant flame it gave.

NEVER tires the fire of burning, never wearies death of slaying,

Nor the sea of drinking rivers, nor the bright-eyed of betraying.

WITH gift, craft, promise, cause thy foe to yield; When these have failed thee, challenge him a-field.

HE is brave whose tongue is silent of the trophies of his sword;

He is great whose quiet bearing marks his greatness well assured.

GRIEF kills gladness, winter summer, midnight-gloom the light of day,

Kindnesses ingratitude, and pleasant friends drive pain away;

Each ends each, but none of other surer conquerors can be

Than Impolicy of Fortune of Misfortune Policy.

WHO sO trusts, for service rendered, or fair words, an enemy,

Wakes from folly like one falling in his slumber from a tree.

FELLOW be with kindly foemen, rather than with friends unkind;

Friend and foeman are distinguished not by title but by mind.


BRAHMANS for their lore have honour; Kshattriyas for their bravery;

Vaisyas for their hard-earned treasure; Sudras for humility.

WEEP not! Life the hired nurse is, holding us a little space;

Death, the mother who doth take us back into our proper place.

LIKE as a plank of driftwood Tossed on the watery main,

Another plank encountered,

Meets, touches, - parts again;

So tossed, and drifting ever, On life's unresting sea,

Men meet, and greet, and sever, Parting eternaIIy.

HALT, traveller! rest i' the shade: then up and leave it!

Stay, Soul! take fill of love; nor losing, grieve it!

EACH beloved object born Sets within the heart a thorn BIeeding, when it be uptorn.

SEEK not the wild, sad heart! thy passion haunt it; Play hermit in thy house with heart undaunted; A governed heart, thinking no thought but good, Makes crowded houses holy solitude.

AWAY with those that preach to us the washing off of sin -

Thine own self is the stream for thee to make ablutions in:

In self-restraint it rises pure flows clear in tide of truth,

By widening banks of wisdom, in waves of peace and truth,

Bathe there, thou son of Pandu ! with reverence and rite.

For never yet was water wet could wash the spirit white.


WHAT is the use of matted locks and a body smeared with ashes? He has divine knowledge and flnal emancipation whose heart melts with benevolence toward all animated beings.

As there are four ways of assaying gold by friction, cutting, heating, and hammering, so there are four ways of examining a man, by his conversation, disposition, family, and conduct.

I WILL. declare in a single hemistich what is dilated on in many books do not to others what would be disagreeable to yourself.

THE wicked man should be avoided though adorned with Iearning; is not the serpent to be feared though it has a Jewel in its head?

THE speech of the magnanimous is Iike the tooth of an elephant, which is never retracted; but that of the base is like the neck of the tortoise which is continually put forth and drawn back.

WHO is free from selfconceit? The partridge sleeps with its feet upward for fear of the sky faIling.

From the impurities of the body there is much to fear because all sins enter into it; therefore let your dwelling be with the fearless and conduct yourselves toward the light of God.

For there neither sword nor poison have power to destroy and sin cannot enter. Ye will live ever as God liveth, and the fire of death wiII be guarded, as it were, with water.

He that meditateth will naturally be happy because he is wise and suffereth not the passions to spread over his soul. He Ioveth but one God. - DADU.


THOUGH he roam to Concan, no dog will turn into a lion; going to Benares will make no pig an elephant; and no pilgrimage will make a saint of one whose nature is different. - VEMANA.


HE who has brought his members under subjection, but sits with foolish mind thinking in his heart of the things of sense, is called a hypocrite. - BHAGAVAT-GITA.


THE wise will remember throughout their seven-fold births the love of those who have wiped away the falling tear from their eyes. It is not good to forget a benefit; it is good to forget an injury even in the moment in which it is inflicted. - TIRUVALLUVAT.

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