Of Cabbages and Kings


manju joglekar

Blog- Of Cabbages and Kings []


केवलं शास्त्रमाश्रित्य न कर्तव्यो विनिर्णयः |

युक्तिहीने विचारे तु धर्महानिः प्रजायते ||

A decision (विनिर्णयः) should not be taken (न कर्तव्यो) by considering only the rules/words of any discipline (or science) (केवलं शास्त्रमाश्रित्य).

Any consideration (thought) ( विचार) without reasoning (युक्तिहीने) will only result in damage or destruction of Dharma  (धर्महानिः प्रजायते).

This Subhaashit brings to mind a story from the Panchatantra about Four foolish scholars. They had completed their education and were returning home. Coming to a fork in the road, they wondered which path they should take. One scholar reminded the others that they had learned-

“महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः”

In reality this means that the path taken by a great man (महाजनः) is the true path.

The scholars, apparently had gained bookish knowledge, but not much wisdom. They took this advice to suggest that they should take the path trodden by a crowd (महाजनः).

As it happened, there was a crowd going along one of these paths carrying a dead body to be cremated. The scholars decided to follow the crowd.

And it led the four to the cremation grounds.

There they saw a donkey standing near the cremation pier. One of the scholars remembered one of their lessons-

 उत्सवे व्यसने प्राप्ते दुर्भिक्षे शत्रुसंकटे |

राजद्वारे श्मशाने च यस्तिष्टति स बान्धवः ||

The meaning of this verse is that someone who extends support in any situation is a relative. But the learned but unwise scholars took this to mean that since the donkey was standing here at the cremation ground (श्मशाने), it was their relative. So they embraced it if it were a brother.

After a few more such wrong decisions based on misinterpretations of what they had learned, the four finally returned home, tired but not much wiser!



अकृत्वा परसन्तापमगत्वा खलमन्दिरम्  |

अनुत्सृज्य सतां वर्त्म यत्स्वल्पमपि तद्बहु ||

Without causing (अकृत्वा) pain to others (परसन्तापं), without going (अगत्वा) to the house of a bad person (खलमन्दिरम् ) (with any request),

and without leaving (अनुत्सृज्य) the path (वर्त्म) taken by good persons (सतां), whatever little is gained (यत्स्वल्पमपि) should be (considered) ample (तद्बहु).

Contentment has become a rare commodity nowadays. Advertisements and peer-pressure make us want more and more of everything.

The latest gadgets, newest fashions in clothes and accessories,  the flashiest cars and largest apartments- all find a place on our “have to acquire” list.

Sometimes we can afford to buy the things we covet.

Unfortunately, not all our aspirations are within our budget- and that’s when the problem starts. We cease to care what we do or whom we hurt in order to obtain what we want.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to heed the words of the Subhaashitkar, and try to be content in what we can get without causing pain to others or resorting to undignified begging?


The Shataktraya  comprises three collections of verses, having about 100 stanzas each. These are said to have been written by Bhartrihari.

The Nitishatakam is one of  these three collections. In the Nitishatakam, Bhartrihari deals with a variety of subjects such as duty of rulers, education, social relationships, etc.

The following Subhaashit is from the Nitishatakam.


सिंहःशिशुरपि निपतति मदमलिनकपोलभित्तिषु गजेषु |

प्रकृतिरियं सत्ववतां न खलु वयस्तेजसो हेतुः ||


Even the cub of a lion (सिंहःशिशुरपि) will leap on (attack without fear) ( निपतति) a mad elephant whose cheeks are wet because of musth (मदमलिनकपोलभित्तिषु गजेषु).

Those who are inherently (सत्ववतां) (braveare this way by nature (प्रकृतिरियं ), maturity of age is not necessary for (their bravery) to shine (न खलु वयस्तेजसो हेतुः).

Bravery or courage does not depend upon age. The lion cub does naturally/ instinctively what other – even adult- animals would hesitate to do.  He displays bravery by fearlessly attacking an elephant in musth.

For those fluent in Marathi, here is the delightful translation of this Subhaashit into Marathi verse by Waman Pandit.

सिंहाचा जो बाल तोही चपेटा ।

मारी त्याला जो करी मत्त मोठा ।।

तेजस्वी जे वृत्ति ऐशीच त्यांची ।

तेथे नाही चाड काही वयाची ।।


[To read an earlier post on this blog based on this Subhaashit please click here.]



We’ve often heard that shallow water makes a noisy splash. The inference is, that loud talk is often accompanied by minimal action. Of what use is talk without action?

The Subhaashitkars of earlier times seem to have had this same thought- as can be seen in the following couple of Subhaashits.


शरदि न वर्षति गर्जति, वर्षति वर्षासु निःस्वनो मेघः |

नीचः वदति न कुरुते, वदति न साधुः करोत्येव ||

In Autumn (शरदि) (The cloud) thunders (गर्जति), but gives forth no rain (न वर्षति). During the Monsoon (वर्षासु) the soundless (निःस्वनः) cloud (मेघः) yields rain (वर्षति).

An inferior person (नीचः) talks but does not act (वदति न कुरुते), (while) a great/virtuous person (साधुः) performs (करोति) without talking (वदति न).

The Autumn cloud makes much noise, but does not follow it up with showers. The cloud of the rainy season, on the other hand, goes about its work silently and showers life-giving rain upon the parched earth.


यथा चित्तं तथा वाचः यथा वाचस्तथा क्रियाः |

चित्ते वाचि क्रियायाञ्च साधूनामेकरूपता ||

As is the mind (यथा चित्तं) so is the speech (तथा वाचः), (and) as is the speech (यथा वाचः) so is the action (तथा क्रियाः).

There is uniformity (एकरूपता) in thought, speech and action (चित्ते वाचि क्रियायाञ्च) of a great person (साधूनां ).

A good person articulates his thoughts and then acts upon his words. There is no contrast between his thoughts, words and actions.

Happy New Year!

I came across this very interesting Limerick and just had to share it here.

There was a young man who said “God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there’s no one about in the quad.”

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

I, Me, and Myself

There is a story from Greek Mythology about a young hunter called Narcissus.  He was the son of  a river-god named Cephissus and a nymph named Liriope. He was known far and wide for his beauty. Continue reading “I, Me, and Myself”

New Year Musings


Today is Varsha Pratipada, the first day of the Hindu Lunar Year. It is also called  Yugadi ( first day of the era),  or Gudhi Padwa [here in Maharashtra].

Gudhis  are bamboo sticks with a coloured silk cloth and a garlanded metal vessel on top, symbolising victory.

A very interesting year has come to an end and now we look forward to what the coming one holds for us.

It promises to be an interesting one, too- particularly in the political sphere! Continue reading “New Year Musings”

Evolution [Part II]


Around a million years ago [give or take a few hundred thousand], our ancestors, the first humans, walked this earth. Continue reading “Evolution [Part II]”

Evolution [Part I]

A robot committing suicide?

Sounds like something out of a Science-fiction fantasy, doesn’t it?

But according to local media at Hinterstoder in Kirchdorf,  Austria, that is exactly what a robot there did! Continue reading “Evolution [Part I]”

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