Subhasitasaharsri (A Thousand Pearls From Sanskrit Literature): A Book of Quotations

Item Code: IDK236
Publisher: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Janakpuri
Author: Satya Vrat Shastri
Language: With Sanskrit Text and Translation
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 8186111344
Pages: 412
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description

Preface (Second Edition)

It was in 1998 that the first edition of the present work had made its appearance. It had got exhausted within a few months testifying to its wide acceptance. Bringing out is second edition had been under active consideration since then. For various reasons it had not been possible to do so earlier. It is now only that the second edition is hitting the stands.

For a while it was thought desirable to add certain number of Subhasitas to those in the first edition, there being a lot more in Sanskrit literature equally interesting and illuminating. But on second thought the idea was dropped for its being opposed to the very concept of the production of the work; viz., to make available to a reader a handy reference book of Subhasitas of daily use which had prompted the undersigned to limit their number to a thousand (though it exceeds by eighty) and to title it, appropriately enough, Sahasri. It has, therefore, been thought to be more prudent to bring out a reprint of the original matter only with such improvements as were deemed necessary.

I have every hope the reprint will also meet with the same approbation as had met its earlier print.


I have great pleasure in placing in the hands of discerning readers my latest work: Subhasitasahasri: A Thousand Pearls from Sanskrit Literature which is a collection of a thousand wise sayings from the vast repertory of Sanskrit literature with a history of thousands of years. This required scanning and survey of a vast array of works from the Vedas down to later writings of the classical Sanskrit period. These works are replete with the narrations of some fundamental truth or the other. They are true for all times and more often than not are the quotable quotes. Because of their appositeness a number of them have gained wide currency. They teach us what goes by the term niti, right conduct and ideal behaviour. They also offer bits of practical advice for smooth and successful conduct of life.

It may be mentioned at the outset that the present one is not the first collection of the subhasitas or wise sayings: there already exist in Sanskrit literature a number of them; including the Subhasitaratnabhandagara of encyclopaedic dimensions. More recently, a monumental collection of them was compiled by Ludwik Sternbach out of the proposed fifteen volumes of which seven have already seen the light of the day. There also exists a three-volume Visvasmskrtasuktikosa by the Jain saint Lalitaprabhasagara. A number of other smaller works also adorn the book shelves.

The answer to the need for the present volume is furnished by an incident which I am tempted to recount here. It was in early 1996 that my esteemed friend Mr. C.T. Dhar, a teachnocrat by profession, enquired of me if there is any work of wise sayings in Sanskrit in English translation. Even if on English translation, he would somehow manage with Hindi translation. Since I had not been keeping tab on such works my first reaction was that there should surely be many such works. To look for them I went to M/s Motilal Banarsidass. To my utter surprise I learnt that there is none. The booksellers, however, showed me a small book of some sixty or seventy pages which carried the Hindi translation. I readily caught hold of it like the one catching at a straw and presented it to my friend. The incident came to me as a revelation. I thought a handy volume containing ancient wisdom in pithy sayings with English and Hindi rendering is a desideratum. Having realized it, I set about working on it myself instead of waiting for somebody else to do so. My friend Mr. C.T. Dhar therefore was instrumental in providing me indirectly the inspiration for undertaking the work for which he deserves my profuse thanks, not only my thanks but also of many of its prospective readers who many like to profit by it.

Apart from its value in, its English and Hindi translation, it has its utility in its being handy and compact. The old compendia, at least some of them, are out of print. As of them as are available in print like the Subhasitaratnabhandagara referred to above-it has recently been reprinted-are too bulky to be of any practical use. The same is the case with the new compendia like the Visvasamskrtasuktikosa. The Mahasubhasitasangraha being apiece with the bulky works mentioned above also suffers from the disadvantage of being available only in part, its printing not having gone beyond the subhasitas beginning with the letter ka.

The present compendium is not just a collection. It is a selection as well. Since it is not exhaustive-it just evidently could not be in the limited compass set for it for its practical usefulness-it does not suffer from diffusion as some of the other compendia, old and new, do. It has the advantage of having the pick of subhasitas. This pick I have attempted myself by wading through a mass of works. I have preferred to take the minimum help from the old compendia for fear of being conditioned by them. even though every selection has an element of subjectivity, there has all through been a cautious effort on my part to be as objective as possible. There has also been an effort to trace every subhasita to some work or the other, a task none too easy in view of some of the subhasitas being in the nature of floating verses termed by the ancients themselves as the udbhataslokas. They being part of the Sanskrit tradition, it is not always possible to trace them to any extant Sanskrit work.

The President of Indian Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma (this Preface was written in 1996 when he still was the President) while delivering the Convocation Address at the Lal Bahadur Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi had drawn attention to the tradition in India of the young being made to commit to memory a number of subhasitas in the very early stage of their life. Citing his own example of how he had learnt them, he had reproduced impromptu, departing from his prepared text, the subhasita: yanti pipilika yati yojananam satany api agacchan vainateyo 'pi padam ekam na gacchati, "an ant, if on the move, would cover hundreds of miles while a garuda, not moving (sitting still) would not move even a step forward". He had pointed out that these sayings once learnt in childhood would stick to memory and would spontaneously flow out at the appropriate moment.

In this context I would like to recount here a personal experience of a decade and a half ago. I had been on a visit to South India then. I had heard a lot about the heavenly sight of the sunrise at Kanyakumari. To have a feel of it I went over there and joined the crowd that starts gathering on its shores since wee hours. Slowly I saw the grand spectacle unfolding itself. The orb of the sun was disgorging itself from the fathoms of the sea. As a prelude to it there appeared redness on the horizon. I ws intently Trying to capture it in my, eyes, lost to the outside world, when suddenly a melodious chant of a Sanskrit verse touched my ears:

udayan savita raktah rakta evastam eti ca
sampattau ca vipattau ca mahatma ekarupata

"The sun is red when it rises, it is red when it sets. The great maintain their uniformity in prosperity as much as in adversity." I looked around to see as to who had recited the verse in its impeccable pronunciation. Noticing a group of young men around, I enquired of them if any one from among them had done so. They pointed towards one of them who I learnt on enquiry was an engineer with Bharat Heavey Electrical Ltd. And had come to Kanyakumari like me and others to witness the grand spectacle. He had told me that he had learnt the verse from his Sanskrit teacher in the school. Now after a lapse of some fifteen years when he had found himself face to face with what had been described in the verse, there was the spontaneous outflow of it from him.

This was the Indian tradition. Sanskrit subhasitas once learnt would go deeper into the mind. They would remain just stored in memory and break out by sheer force of the occasion. The President of India in his Address referred to above had advocated the revival of this time-honoured tradition which is unfortunately dying out fast. If the present work were to help even a bit in achieving this noble objective, it would have more than served its purpose.

In carrying out translation both in Hindi and English, I have tried to be faithful to the original. I have, however, tried to mould it to suit the genius of the respective languages. My effort has been to catch the spirit rather than the letter of the expression. The subhasitas coming from different authors of different periods have their own peculiarities of syntax and semantics. They are laconic at times needing the supply of words to make them complete. I had to grapple with these problems many a time. Occasionally, a small innocuous-looking word like dasa, cf. vane 'pi dosah prabhavanti raginam would strain me. None of its English equivalents like blemish, defect, demerit, censure, etc. would fit in here. What would fit in would be 'weaknesses', "weaknesses sprout forth in the minds of those who have attachment ingrained in them even when they have repaired to forest."

Effective representation of the original being the guiding principle for me in translation, I have not shied away from the use of Urdu words where I felt they would better serve the above principle. I have translated the line Bhuje Virya Nivasati Na Wachi as Takat Bajuo main rahti hai na ki Juban main in preference to its more flat and insipid rendering Shakti Bahon main hai na ki wani main. Baju and Bah, though cognate, have different connotations. One refers to strength more forcefully than the other. Similarly in Ahare Vyavhare cha tyaktlajjah Sada bhawetah Lajja I have translated as sharmah khan paan or kam-kaj main Adami ko kabhi bhi sharm nahi karni chahiye The idea of Sada I have tried to convey by Kabhi bhi. The spirit of the original and the genius of the speech in which it is being put, the bhasasvarasya, I have kept before me as the ideal to be achieved. I would feel rather uncomfortable with the translation khan-paan or kam-kaj main sada adami ko lajja nahi karni chahiye. A dose of idiom sometimes would better convey the idea, e.g.,

From the Jacket

The Subhasitasaharsri is a collection of a thousand subhasitas, wise sayings, from Sanskrit literature. Hindi and English translations have been appended to them to make them easily comprehensible.

Sanskrit literature is full of subhasitas. Based on pragmatic knowledge they propound some fundamental truth or the other. Being good pieces of advice they provide the necessary guidelines to an individual to plan the course of his life.

The present work scans the vast corpus of Sanskrit literature and culls from it the subhasitas whose number has been restricted to a thousand to comprise a compact and a handy volume.

Born on 29th September. 1930 Prof. Satya Vrat Shastri had his early education under his father, Prof. Charu Deva Shastri. He received record marks in B.A. Hons. In Sanskrit and a First Class First in M.A. in Sanskrit from the Punjab University, and won University Medals. After doing his Ph. D. at the Banaras Hindu University he joined the University of Delhi, where during the forty years of his teaching career he has held important positions as the Head of the Department of Sanskrit and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He was also Vice-Chancellor of Shri Jagannath Sanskrit University, Puri, Orissa. He has the distinction of having been visiting professor in five universities on three continents. He has attended and chaired a number of national and international conferences and seminars and delivered more than a hundred lectures in universities in Europe. North America. Southeast Asia and the Far East.

At Present he is Honorary Professor at the Special Centre for Sanskrit, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.

Both a creative and a critical writer, Prof. Satya Vrat Shastri has to his credit in creative writing in Sanskrit three Mahakavyas of about a thousand stanzas each. One Prabandhakavya and three Khandakavyas, and five works in critical writing including a pioneering one, The Ramayana-A Linguistic Study.

He is the subject matter of seventeen theses for Ph. D. and D.Litt. degrees in Indian Universities. Recipient of fifty-two honours and awards, national international, including Padma Shri and four Honorary Doctorates, he was described in the Citation for the Honorary Doctorate at the Silpakorn University. Bangkok as a 'living legend in the field of Sanskrit.




Absence of Niggardliness 1
Illfame 1
Alone 2
Beyond the Ken 2
The Leader 2
Fulfilment of Undertaking 3
Excess 3
Of lower category 4
Misfortune 5
Inopportune 5
Justness, Consistency, Compatability 6
Attachment 6
Advice, Instruction 6
Untruth 7
Impropriety 7
End 7
Harm 8
Charity to Undeserving 8
Honour to Undeserving 9
Pride 9
Conceited 9
Officer-in-charge of Financial Matter 10
Non-Supplicating 10
Unattainable 11
Situation 11
Mistrust 12
Tears 12
Bad person 13
Untruth 14
Untimely act 16
Impossible 17
Carelessness 17
Failure 17
Non-stealing 18
Repudiation of Ego 18
Non-violence 19
Show 20
Expression 21
Desire 21
Self-dependence 22
Self-praise 22
Self-protection 23
Adversity 24
Hope 25
Sense-organ 25
High Family 26
High Post 26
Excellence 27
Effort 28
To do good to others 32
Advice 33
Fast 34
Ridicule 35
Usefulness, Utility 36
Expediant, Tact, Remedy 37
Worship 38
Ignoring 39
Uniformity 40
Alone, Solitary 41
Wealth 42
Propriety 43
Magnanimity 44
Medicine, Remedy 45
Harsh Speech 45
Speech and Action 46
Compassion 47
Quick Action 47
Action 48
Kali Age 52
Salutory, Good 52
Poet 53
Passion 54
Cowardice 55
Doing a thing 55
Action : Good or Bad 57
Initiating an Action 58
Time, Destiny 59
Black Money 62
Fame 62
Bad country 63
Unworthy son 64
Family 65
Treacherous to the Family 66
A woman of good Family 66
Of Good Family 67
Adept 67
Untimely 68
Grateful 69
Miser 69
Action 71
Good Points about Action 72
Anger 73
Effort, Suffering 77
Momentariness 78
Forbearance 80
About to die 82
Quality, Virtue 82
Qualities and Action 85
Regard for Qualities 85
Circle of Qualities 87
Speciality in Quality 89
Condemnation of qualities 89
Meritorious 90
Teacher, Preceptor, Elder 91
House 94
House-holder 95
Stage of Householder 97
Wife, House-wife 96
Secrecy 96
Importance 98
Receiving 98
Out-caste 100
Clever 101
Character 102
Spot in the moon 103
Movement 103
Flattery 103
Happiness of Mood 104
Purity of Mind 104
Worry 105
Well-thought-out Action 107
Long-lasting 107
Backbiter 108
Activity 109
Thief 109
Deceit 110
Life-Death 110
To Vanquish, Success 111
Old Age 112
Water 112
Jealousy 113
Waking 113
Characteristics of a species 114
Fear from the same species 114
Son-in-law 115
Desire to live 116
One who has control over senses 116
Tongue 117
Life 117
Passing of life 118
Success of life 118
Livelihood 119
Knowledge 119
A Tree on the bank of a river 122
Ascetic 122
Penance grove, Hermitage 123
Meaning, Significance 123
Heat 124
Forbearance 124
Insult 124
Holy Place 125
Water of Holy Place 126
The fruit of (visiting) a Holy Place 126
Straw-like, Inconsequential 127
Satisfaction 127
Longing 127
Life and Death 128
Light, Majesty, Strength 132
Weighing, Comparing 133
Renunciation 133
Punishment 137
Hypocrysy 138
Mercy 139
Pride 141
Charity 141
Charity to Undeserving 143
Philanthropist 143
Poverty 144
Upliftment of the Miserable 147
Effulgence, Glory 147
Sorrow 148
Sorrowful 148
Headstrongness 149
Wicked 149
Bad Luck 151
Rare 153
One of Bad Conduct 156
Wicked 156
Bad state 158
Wickedness 158
Messenger 159
Farsightedness 159
Resoluteness 160
Deity 161
To see the Idols of Gods 162
Godly People 162
Proper time and place 162
Body 163
Fate 164
Fault 167
Demerits and Merits 169
Enmity 170
Wealth 171
Poor 178
Rich 178
Deceit 178
Strong-willed 178
Fortitude 181
Bow 183
Dharma, Religion, Duty 183
Fruit of Dharma 188
Dharmic Mind 189
Characteristics of Dharma 190
Pious 191
River 192
Bowing 193
Humility 193
Deserving of Hell 195
New 195
Name 195
Sight of a woman 196
Contact with a woman 196
A Person with no Ambition 197
Cruel 197
Poverty, Penury 197
Destruction 200
Atheist 200
Being with no substance 200
Sleep 201
Treasure 201
Illtalk 202
Uselessness 202
Resolve 204
Of no use 204
Mean (Person) 205
Cruel 207
Eye 207
Justice 208
Small or large 208
Wise 208
Husband, Wife 209
Chaste Woman 214
To give way 215
Wholesome 215
Living in another's house 216
Speaking ill of others 216
Tormenting others 218
Another's wife 218
Doing good to others 219
Defeat 220
Dependent 220
Humiliation 220
Limited quantity 220
Labour 221
Doing good to others 221
Sermonizing others 224
Tourism 225
Retreat 226
Purification 227
Animal-like 228
Cooking of food 228
Deserving 229
Sin 230
Sin and Merit 232
Mutual Good 233
Father 233
Merit 235
Meritorious 236
Son 237
Man 239
Types of Men 240
Test of Men 241
Effort 241
Fear 242
Loss of Discrimination 242
Pride 243
Drunkard 243
Sweetness 244
Middle Path 244
High-minded Person 246
Human Being 247
Animal-like Man 248
Desire 249
Purity of Mind 249
Secret 250
To take counsel 250
Minister 251
Attachment 251
Greatness 252
Mother 254
Greatness 257
Meat 258
Man of few words 259
Moderate Eater 259
Friend 259
Friendship 264
Hypocrite 266
Liar 266
Fool 267
Foolish Son 270
No strength with fool 270
Assembly of Fools 270
Advice to Fools 271
Source 272
Death 272
Gentle in Nature 274
Intelligent 275
Delusion 275
Silence 276
Controller 277
Fame 278
Supplicant 278
Supplication 279
Aeon 279
Result of Combat 280
Compatible 280
Protection 281
Jewel 282
Charm 282
Politics 283
King and Subjects 283
Possessed of quality of Rajas 284
Royal Service 284
King 285
Kingdom 289
Royal Fortune 290
Emptiness, Loss of substance 290
Liking 290
Beauty 291
Disease 291
Prosperity, Fortune 292
Modesty, Shyness 293
Longing 293
This World and the Next 294
Nature of People 294
Extra-ordinary people 295
Greed 295
Family 296
Speaker 296
Words 298
Murder 299
Adorable 299
To be avoided 300
Win over 301
Seeing Things 304
Sweatness of speech 304
Orator, prattler 305
Babble 305
Speech 305
Discrimination in speech 308
Affection 309
Impressions of Previous Births 310
Harm 310
Bravery 311
Thinking 311
To apply mind 312
Strange Happenings 313
Success 314
Victor 314
Foreign Country 315
Knowledge 315
Fruit of Knowledge 322
Seeker of Knowledge 322
Respect for the Learned 323
Widow 323
Play of Creator 324
Calamity 325
Perversion 326
Rare 326
Procrastinator 328
Quarrel 328
Trust 328
Poison 330
Sense-objects 330
Expert in subject 331
Bravery 331
Old Age 332
Prosperity 332
Uselessness 332
Conduct 333
Disease 335
Apprehension, Fear 335
Enemy 336
Wicked 338
Good Disposition 339
Pure 340
White Money 340
Purification 341
Good Deeds 342
Good Wishes 343
Empty 343
Brave 343
Sorrow, Grief 344
Purification 345
Faith 345
Hard Work 347
Offering with Faith 347
Audience 347
Calamity 348
Indication 348
Chance 349
Association 349
Union 352
Happening Once 353
Of good character 353
Good Person 354
Good Man's Family 358
To Gather 358
Truth 359
Strong Will 361
Association with Good People 362
Good Family 363
Good Conduct 363
Offspring 364
Contentment 365
Doubt 367
Alliance, Treaty 367
Good Friend 368
Equanimity 368
Time 368
Honour 369
Straightforwardness 370
Learning 370
Serpent 370
Help 371
Twin Brother 372
Good 372
Capacity 372
Picking up the Gist 373
Happiness 373
Well-thought-out Action 374
Worthy son 375
Right Thinking 376
Service 376
Friendship 377
Affection 378
One's own duty 378
Nature 379
Self-interest 380
Hand 382
Cause 383
To be avoided 383
Worthy 383


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