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.
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