The Kural

By Thiruvalluvar.

Translated by V. V. S. Aiyar.


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Very few in the world outside of the Tamil country have heard the name of the poet whose work is presented here in a new English garb. And yet he is one of those seers whose message is intended not merely for their own age or country but for all time and for all mankind. Born in the lowest of castes and bred up to the profession of weaving, which was his only means of livelihood till the day came for him to renounce all worldly ties, Thiruvalluvar has given to the world a work to which, in perfection of form, profundity of thought, nobleness of sentiment, and earnestness of moral purpose, very few books outside the grand scriptures of humanity can at all be compared. Indeed his work is eulogised by the Tamil people as the Tamil Veda, the universal Veda, the later Veda, the Divine book etc., etc. It is a great pity that such a treasure should have been confined for so many ages only to one single people even in Hindustan.

The translation that I offer here is not the first translation of this chef d’oeuvre in a European language. More than a century and a half ago the famous Jesuit missionary, Constantius Beschi, who lived in the Tamil country for 42 years, translated the first two parts of the book into Latin. This translation was available only in manuscript until the Rev. G. U. Pope printed it in the notes to his edition. It is this manuscript that Dr. Graul is said to have used for his translations of the Kural into German as well as Latin. F. W. Ellis, W. H. Drew, E. J. Robinson, J. Lazarus and the late Rev. G. U. Pope have made translations into English of the whole or portions of the book at various dates between 1820 and 1886. M. Ariel and M. de Dumast have translated some stray portions into French. M. Ariel refers to a translation of the book into French by some author about 1767 which is to be found in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, while he himself has published a French translation of Part III. M. Lamairesse has more recently published a complete translation in the same language, which, however, is little better than a bad paraphrase.

As to the English translations with which we are more nearly concerned here, the edition jointly brought out by Drew and the great Râmânuja Kavirâyar is an excellent one, but it goes only up to 63 chapters out of a total of 133 and is now out of print. The only complete English edition that is possibly available now is Dr. Pope’s and it is 30 years old. He has given the Tamil text with his English translation of each verse under the text, has added a large number of valuable notes, and has prepared a combined lexicon and concordance which is very useful to the Tamil student. And what is more, he has printed in his notes the translations so far as they were available of Beschi and Ellis, and earned the thanks of all lovers of Thiruvalluvar.

After seeing the English, French, and Latin translations above mentioned except those of Robinson and Lazarus and Graul and that of the Bibliothèque Nationale, my long cherished desire to make an independent translation of the great master into English only grew the stronger, and the result is the book which I am able to place before the public today.

After a great deal of thought on the subject I have come to the conclusion that the Authorised English version of the Bible is the proper model to be followed by the translator of the Kural. The resemblance of the thought and diction of Thiruvalluvar to the great masterpieces of the Bible, and especially to the Ecclesiasticus, the Proverbs and Wisdom of Solomon, and the Sermons of Jesus, struck me forcibly, and I thought that if any portion of the vigour of the Kural could be preserved in English, it could only be by adopting the phraseology and the turns of expression of the English version of the Hebrew and Greek Veda. The style of the English Bible lends itself, as everybody has felt, to the expression of every variety of thought, from the plain and the naive to the most sublime and dignified that the human mind can conceive. It would have been easy for Drew as well as Pope, who were members of the Christian Church, to have adopted such a style for the translation of Thiruvalluvar. But, as it is, Drew has given but a feeble translation, while Dr. Pope’s verses do not at all do justice to the merits of the original but on the contrary deform its grand thoughts by giving them a stilted and unnatural expression. The following examples will enable the reader to judge for himself:⁠—

Drew’s Translation

336. This world possesses the greatness of one who yesterday was and today is not.
351. Inglorious births are produced by the confusion (of mind) which consider those things to be real which are not real.
375. In the acquisition of property, everything favourable becomes unfavourable, and (on the other hand) everything unfavourable becomes favourable, (through the power of fate).
397. How is it that anyone can remain without learning, even until his death, when (to the learned man) every country is his own (country) and every town his own (town)?
500. A fox can kill a fearless, warrior-faced elephant, if it go into mud in which its legs sink down.
881. Let a king consider as his eyes these two things, a spy, and a book (of laws) universally esteemed.

Pope’s Translation


Existing yesterday, today to nothing hurled!
Such greatness owns this transitory world.


Of things devoid of truth as real things men deem;⁠—
Cause of degraded birth the fond delusive dream.


All things that good appear will oft have ill success;
All evil things prove good for gain of happiness.


The learned make each land their own, in every city find a home;
Who, till they die, learn nought, along what weary ways they roam!


The jackal slays, in miry paths of foot-betraying fen,
The elephant of fearless eye and tusks transfixing armed men.


These two: the code renowned, and spies,
In these let king confide as eyes.


Unversed in councils, who essays to speak,
Knows not the way of suasive words⁠—and all is weak.


A steed untrained will leave in the tug of war;
Than friends like that to dwell alone is better far.


’Tis as with strings a wooden puppet apes life’s functions, when
Those void of shame within hold intercourse with men.


The good to those will profit yield fair words who use;
The base like sugarcane, will profit those who bruise.


For her with beauteous brow, the maid I love, there place is none;
To give her image room, O pupil of mine eye, begone!

In the translation of the titles of chapters also Pope has been singularly unhappy in many instances. Thus the headings, The knowledge of power (48),1 Knowing the place (50), The right sceptre (55), Power in speech (65), Power in action (67), The knowledge of indications (71), The might of hatred (87), Knowing the quality of hate (88), among others, are very unfortunate renderings of the original and do not give the reader any idea of what is contained in the respective chapters. A comparison of the translations of the verses and chapter headings of Drew and Pope given above, with those given in this book will show how much the former are lacking in force; and yet the latter do not render all the vigour and force of the original.


We know very little about the life of our poet. As in the case of so many of the world’s greatest men of the past, we have only to make our own conjectures even as to the time at which he flourished. Tradition says that he lived at Mylapore, Madras, where he had a friend in a rich merchant captain of the name of Elêla Shingan. This Shingan is described as the sixth descendant of a Chôla prince who, according to the Mahâvamsho of Ceylon, carried on a successful war against that island about 140 BC. This would give the 1st century AD as the probable date at which Thiruvalluvar flourished. Again, tradition declares that the Kural was published at the Madura College of poets in the reign of the Pânḍian Ugrapperuvajudi.2 Shrîmân M. Srînivâsa Aiyangâr in his scholarly book of Tamil Studies gives the date of accession of this king tentatively as 125 AD. Again, verse 55 of the Kural is quoted in Shilappadhikâram and Maṇimêkhalai, two great poems in the Tamil language, which have been determined on other evidence to have been written about the first or second century AD. We can therefore take it that our poet flourished between the 1st and 3rd centuries of the Christian era. Shrîmân M. Râghava Aiyangâr, writing in his able work on Chêran Chen-Kuṭṭuvan, has recently suggested the 5th century AD as the probable date of the two works above mentioned. But as it is admitted that the Kural is earlier in date than those two poems, this theory does not affect the limits above fixed for our Poet.

The very name of the poet is unknown to history, for the word Thiruvalluvar only means “the devotee of the valluva caste.” The valluvas are pariahs who proclaim the orders and commands promulgated by the king, by beat of drum from the back of elephants. From an encomiastic stanza on the author which tradition has preserved, it appears that he was born at Madura, the capital of the Pânḍias. Tradition declares that he was the child of a Brahman father named Bhagavan and a pariah mother Adi who had been brought up by another Brahman and given in marriage to Bhagavan. Six other children are named as the issue of this union, all of whom have dabbled in poetry.

Not much else is known about Thiruvalluvar besides the following bare facts. He was a weaver in Mylapore, having chosen weaving as the most innocent of all professions. He lived a happy family life until the death of his wife Vâsuki who was a model of every wifely virtue. Then he is said to have renounced the world and become an ascetic. A small book on the mysteries of wisdom, called Jnânaveṭṭi, is also attributed to him but the evidence of style seems to be against his authorship of it.

The Tamil people love to tell stories about his married life, which may be true or may be false, but which certainly serve to show not only what was their conception of the ideal home but also that Thiruvalluvar’s married life was in perfect agreement with the ideal as understood by them. Artless simplicity and unquestioning obedience to the husband are the first qualities that the East requires in the wife. Thiruvalluvar is said to have tested the faith of his prospective wife in him by asking her to boil and cook for him a handful of nailheads and other iron pieces. She took them in perfect faith and did as she was bid. The poet felt that she was the proper helpmate for him and married her. The fame of the happiness of their married life spread far and wide. A sage once visited him in order to ascertain for himself the truth of the report and to ask him whether he would recommend him to get married. Instead of answering the question directly, Thiruvalluvar wanted that the sage should draw his own conclusion after staying with him for some time. So he invited him to be his guest for a few days. One day as he and the guest were seated at their morning meal of cold rice and his wife was drawing water at the well in the yard, he called out to her saying that the rice was too hot for him to eat. Without questioning anything she left the water-pot even as she was drawing it up, and, hurrying to her husband’s side, fanned the rice that was served on the leaf. Wonder of wonders, steam rose from the cold rice as she fanned it and, what was still more miraculous, the pot that she had left to itself in order to obey her husband’s call remained hanging in mid air in the same position in which she had left it! Another day, in broad daylight, as he was working at his loom, Thiruvalluvar dropped the shuttle on the floor and called for a light to look for it. Vâsuki lit a light and brought it to him without even the slightest consciousness of the unreasonableness of the request. The sage had received the Poet’s answer: married life is the best even for scholars and searchers after truth if they can find a wife like Vâsuki; otherwise they had better continue single all their life.

The verse that is said to have escaped the lips of our Poet on the death of her who was the helpmate of his peaceful domestic life, is of a pathetic interest:

O loving one! O thou who usedst to cook delicious dishes for me and who hast never disobeyed me! who wouldst chafe my feet at night and sleep after I had slept and wake before I had waked! Art thou going away from me now, O artless one? When shall these eyes know sleep again?

These are about all the things that have come down to us regarding the life of one of the greatest geniuses of the world.

The Kural

Now as regards the work of the Master. It is divided into three parts, the first of which is devoted to Righteousness, the second to Politics, and the third to Love. These three things together with Heavenly Bliss as the fourth, are called by Hindu writers as the four objectives of life. Thiruvalluvar does not treat of the fourth objective separately and Hindus say that he has submitted himself to the orthodox rule that none but a Brahman should be a teacher of spiritual truth to mankind. But the first Part of the Kural, and especially the second section of it, inculcates every principle the following of which leads to self-realisation, which is the highest happiness that can be enjoyed by man here or hereafter.

Part I⁠—Righteousness

Under the title of Righteousness our author treats of the life of the householder and of the life of the ascetic. Every virtue that goes to make a good husband and a good father, a good neighbour and a good man, is inculcated by the poet in 19 chapters. 13 more chapters deal with the life of the ascetic and the virtues to be practised by him. The first four chapters of the Part serve as an introduction to the whole work; and the chapter that ends the section on the life of the householder is devoted to Fame as a great motive force to do good, while that which ends the whole Part treats of Destiny or rather the potential force which is behind every man impelling him to action good or evil, and which is the general resultant of all his thoughts and actions in his previous births.

Some of the grandest thoughts that have ever been uttered by man are to be found in this Part. Though it is difficult to select, we may specially mention verses 76, 115, 128, 156, 207, 247, 314, 341, 360 and 363.

What is the grand feature of the first Part is its healthy outlook on life. “The chiefest blessing,” declares our author, “is an honourable home, and its crowning glory is worthy offspring.” How charming is his love for children! “The touch of children is the delight of the body.” It is only they who have not listened to the prattle of their little ones that are attracted by the guitar and the flute! The Poet insists greatly on the love of mankind and the honouring of the guest as among the chief virtues of a man. The man that loveth not is like a dry tree in the wilderness. Kindness of speech is inculcated as a special virtue by itself. Such vices as fornication, envy, coveting, slander, vain speaking and injuring a neighbour are condemned, and such virtues as uprightness, forgiveness, obligation and good will to all, and charity, are recommended, and the first section ends with a chapter on Glory, for “they alone live who live without blemish: and they alone die who have lived without glory.” It will thus be seen that it is a cheerful, smiling, benignant humanity that Thiruvalluvar wants to produce in his country and in the world.

But the life of man ends not with this world. When man has fulfilled his duties towards society by living a life of usefulness and virtue, and by giving birth to children to take his place in the play of humanity, he has to think of another life, the life that is beyond death. The householder has ascended a few rungs on the ladder of life with the help of his righteous conduct, but from his more exalted position he sees a larger righteousness unfold itself before him. He has to go through a life of stricter discipline than before. He has now to practise mercy to all living beings, abjure flesh-meat, mortify his body and concentrate his thoughts, and thus obtain a higher spiritual power and vision, purify his mind by a strict adherence to truth, and conquer his anger and every temptation to injure or kill even the smallest of creatures. Most of the virtues treated of here should also of course be practised by the householder, though many of them only in a lesser degree; but they are placed in this section on account of their more intimate relation to the ascetic. This life of discipline removes the veils of ignorance covering the soul one after another, the eyes of the ascetic are opened, and he sees that the phenomenal life is no better than a dream and a shadow, a thing that is today but passes away tomorrow. He therefore renounces his attachments to this world utterly, and then be realises the Truth. “Heaven is nearer to him than the Earth” now. But there is yet the insidious foe of Desire which, taking a thousand forms and a thousand shapes, tempts men even the most spiritually minded, and until that is killed once for all there is no permanent bliss for the soul. And so the killing of Desire forms appropriately the last chapter of the section on the Life of the Ascetic.

The chapter on Destiny requires some explanation. The word used by the poet is Ûj and its original meaning is old or ancient. The idea underlying the word is the accumulated unspent force of a man’s actions in all his past lives. The Hindu belief is that all actions good and bad alike have, in addition to their visible physical effect in life, an invisible effect in the unseen world which transforms itself again into visible effects only later on. Using the phraseology of physical science may help a good deal to understand what we mean. Of the total force of every action of a man⁠—including thought and word also in the word action⁠—one part goes off as kinetic energy and that is represented by its visible effects that appear immediately the action is ended. But another part remains unspent for the time being and, whether it is much or little, it is stored up somewhere in the universe to uncoil itself as time and opportunity offer themselves. The storing up is certainly in part in the character of the man who does the action. But another and sometimes the major part of it is in Nature and in the memory of consciousness of fellow-men. Now the innumerable actions, conscious and unconscious, of a man’s life go on accumulating this potential energy until the very end of his life on earth, if not even beyond. Some of this potential energy is being turned to kinetic every moment of his life, but all the same a large portion remains unspent at the moment of death and accompanies the soul in its transmigration into another body. It is this energy waiting to materialise itself in the new life of the soul that our philosophical writers call by the name of karma or Ûj. The idea of the all but omnipotent force of this karma can now be rightly grasped by the reader, whether he is convinced of the truth of it as a fact or not. It is powerful because it forms part and parcel of a man’s character as the original tendencies with which he is born. And the portion of it that has formed part of Nature and remains in the memory of fellow-men must be even more powerful as it is much more beyond the control of the subject’s will than his inward tendencies. We hope these words will be sufficient to make the reader understand the trend of chapter 38 to which the title Destiny is given only for want of a better word to express the above ideas. That the ideas expressed in this chapter are however quite compatible with an active and energetic life, the author shows everywhere and especially in verses 619 and 620 and chapter 27.

The position of this chapter at the end of the Part on Righteousness may be explained thus. The author who is not a lawgiver in the sense that he has the power to compel the observance of his laws, has however to see that his laws are obeyed by those to whom they are intended. He requires a sanction to compel men to pursue the path of righteousness that he has showed with such infinite love to them. And what higher sanction is there than the knowledge that if a man does evil he will carry a load of evil which will make him unhappy and cursed in his next birth, and that if he does good he will have laid by a treasure which will be a blessing to him whenever and wherever he happens to live his next birth?

Part II⁠—Wealth

The author takes up the question of Politics in the second Part of the book. The fact that this part is about twice the size of the first and thrice that of the third shows what importance the sage gives to politics in his scheme of life. The giving of the title of Wealth to this subject is no new invention of Thiruvalluvar. Already Kauṭilya had written his immortal treatise on politics and called it the Arthashâstra or treatise on wealth. But even he is not the inventor of this nomenclature, for it is at least as old as the Mahâbhârata. The underlying idea seems to be that wealth cannot be amassed or enjoyed in security except under a stable and well-ordered government. For “the condition of the rich man is more galling than that of the poor under the rule of the tyrant prince (558).” Of course the vast majority of the rules that are laid down for the guidance of the prince and the minister apply with no less force to the man who is after the acquisition of wealth.

As, in the first part, the poet shows himself as a moral teacher of the very highest order, so, in this part he appears as a consummate statesman and a thorough man of the world. Not a single function of the statesman is unfamiliar to him. Everywhere he reveals the firm grasp that he has upon the fundamental principles that underlie the art of government. There is no confusion, there is no bungling, there is no mere wordiness in any of his 700 verses on the subject of Wealth. Everything is in its right place and is seen in proper proportion. It is the dry light of reason illuminating the whole field of the statesman’s art.

We had better remark at once here that every verse in the second part (excepting the first one hundred verses of section ii which apply in the first instance to the Minister) applies to the Prince as the ruler of his State, whether the author specially mentions him or only gives a rule or makes a remark that applies to all mankind. To give an example, verse 531 reads, “Worse than excessive rage is the unguardedness that cometh of self-complacency.” This is a general remark applicable to all men. But in the intention of the poet, this rule is addressed in the first instance to the Prince, the whole second part being intended by the poet to formulate rules for the proper and efficient conduct of the State. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the verses of this Part apply to ordinary men of affairs as well. There is no question as to the fact that those verses that address themselves to or speak of all men in general do apply to all men whether prince or peasant. But even those counsels which are specially given to princes or ministers are intended also for all men of the world wherever they are applicable. Verse 462 is an example.

Having made these necessary observations we shall make a few remarks as to the contents of Part II. The author is fully convinced, as all right-thinking statesmen ought to be, of the necessity of preserving order in the State, and has a great abhorrence of anarchy (735) and misgovernment (740 and 551⁠–⁠70). The prince, he says, should not be above the law and should be impartial and just (Ch. 55). He should give full liberty of speech to his subjects and to his ministers to criticise him and his rule when he goes wrong (389, 447, 448). The king should not loll in luxury but should be alert and watchful and accessible to all who demand justice, should develop the resources of his kingdom, and protect his subjects from internal and external enemies (Chh. 39, 54, 60, 61, & 62 and verses 549, 550). He should be learned in all the arts of peace and war. He should choose his friends from among the good and the great and avoid the company of the low and the vulgar (Chh. 45 and 46). He should examine his own mind constantly and never allow any vice to enter and obtain a foothold in it (Ch. 44). He should select his officers with due care (Chh. 51 and 52) and supervise everything personally (520 and 553) as well as by means of secret agents (Ch. 59). He should look after his kindred and treat them worthily. And being almost all-powerful in the State, he should cultivate the quality that should be an automatic check on the extravagant use of his power, the quality, namely, of considerateness towards all (Ch. 58). But above all he should be firm and daring, and should never be weak or irresolute in his purposes.

As to the Minister, he should be a man of affairs, clever and shifty, pure-minded, devoted to the Prince, and skilful in reading the hearts of men. He should be a courtier in the best sense of the term, knowing when to speak and what to speak, and when to hold his tongue. When representing his master in foreign courts he should be respectful to the prince to whose court he is appointed, and polite and social with the high functionaries of that court; but at the same time and above all, he should have an ever watchful eye to the interests and honour of his prince. And lastly he should be well versed in all the arts of the forum (Chh. 64⁠–⁠73).

The members of the body politic are six according to all Indian writers and they are adopted by Thiruvalluvar. The minister is one of them. The other members are, as enumerated in verse 381, the people, resources, allies, the army, and fortresses. In 22 chapters the author gives the most salient features of these five Members of the body of the State in their positive as well as negative aspects. The people are treated under the heading, Country (Ch. 74). Chapters 91 to 94 are taken by the commentator Parimêlajahar, who is responsible for the division of the several parts of the book into sections, as speaking of those who are unfit to be friends or allies to the Prince, and chapter 95 treats of the art of the physician who must be in loco amici to the Prince. Independently of this, however, these chapters are also meant, as indeed every other chapter of the first and second parts of the book, to give wholesome counsel for regulating the private conduct of prince and peasant alike.

In the section entitled “Miscellaneous,” the poet treats in 13 chapters of various subjects which cannot be included under the first two headings of Part II but which are too important to be omitted from his book. His verses on Honour and Worth are especially remarkable.

Part III⁠—Love

After considering the subject of Politics which claims such a large portion of the activities of man, the poet comes to treat of the third of the four great objectives of life, namely Love. The whole part is taken by the great commentators of the Kural as the romance of a single couple from the time when they meet each other for the first time up to the time when they reunite after a temporary separation from one another. But for one or two stanzas which may not appear to fit exactly with this scheme, all the 250 verses do lend themselves to this explanation. Of course each verse can also be considered as describing an isolated situation and containing a delicate analysis of one of the hundred varying moods of the lover’s heart. The most ardent admirers of “Locksley Hall” will have to admit that the Tamil poet is easily the superior of Tennyson in analysing the infinite number of moods that chase each other in the agitated minds of lovers.

The romance begins with the accidental meeting of a young man and a damsel in a grove. It is a case of love at first sight. They plight their words to one another and enter the married state. No rites are gone through but the simple plighting of the faith, but that was sufficient in the heroic age of Tamil society to legalise the marriage. It corresponds exactly to the Gândharva marriage of the Sanskrit Dharma Shâstras. The marriage however is kept secret by the lovers and they are at first inclined to wait for a favourable opportunity to make it public. But neither the husband nor the wife have sufficient patience to wait for that opportunity. They are impatient to rush to each other’s arms (1131 and 1138) before the minds of the parents and relations of the girl can be prepared to receive the news of their secret marriage. But lovers in the Tamil land had perfected in the course of ages an ingenious machinery to stead them under a dilemma of this kind. The lover undergoes a sort of martyrdom both physical and moral in order to induce the people of the village and the parents of his ladylove to pity his distraction and offer him of their own accord the object of his passion. A few branches of the palmyra tree are joined together so as to enable a man to sit astride on the united plank, the lover sits on it, and a number of his friends carry him in that posture into the village singing passionate songs of love. The edges of the palmyra branches being rough and hard, the “riding of the palmyra stalk” or the palmyra “horse,” as it is called, is a veritable penance. The young folks of the village mock at the lovelorn pilgrim and perhaps refer to the object of his passion by name even (Ch. 115). The outcry reaches the ears of the parents and other relations of the maiden in the village. They reproach her for entering into matrimony without their consent (1147), but there is no remedy now but to give their consent, and everything ends happily for the lovers. The idea of the “palmyra horse” may be compared with the following verses of the Twelfth Night, I. v:⁠—

Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house
With loyal cantons of contemned love,
And sing them loud even in the dead of night,

Holla your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out, Olivia!

Now the pair live a happy married life for some time, but the husband has soon to part for the wars from which, he tells his wife, he would soon return laden with glory and wealth. The wife cannot bear even the thought of separation. She will surely die if he leaves her. “If there is anything about not parting, speak it to me: but if it is only thy speedy return, tell it to those who will survive till then.” (1151). But he persuades her to allow him to part, and goes away. Wars and battles, however, do not hurry on to an end for the sake of young ladies, and the husband does not return within the appointed time. The pangs and pains of the wife’s lovesickness are described by the poet in 11 beautiful chapters, all the verses of which are gems sparkling with the light of fancy or expressing some of the tenderest emotions of the love-oppressed heart. The husband at last returns. The wife at first sulks because of his overstay, but cannot really withstand the passion of her heart to clasp him to her arms. Bouderie as one of the incidents of married life is described in three beautiful chapters, which are the last of the book; and as you read them you almost see the pouting lips and indignant eyes, and hear the hard words of the wife to the husband. But every pet ends in a petting which is only the more enjoyable for the quarrel that preceded it. For “bouderie is the salt of love.”

It is because the second section deals with the actions and feelings of the chaste wife in the absence of her lord that the author has given it the title of Chastity.

The above is a very inadequate description of the treasure which the reader will find spread out before him by the poet for his enlightenment as well as enjoyment in the 133 chapters of his book. Whether he speaks of moral duties or state policy, of the principles of action to be followed in order to succeed in life, or of the varying emotions in the trembling hearts of lovers, everywhere Thiruvalluvar has sounded the utmost depths of human thought. The prophets of the world have not emphasised the greatness and power of the Moral Law with greater insistence or force; Bhîshma or Kauṭilya or Kâmandaka or Râm Dâs or Vishnu Sharman or Macchiavelli have no more subtle counsel to give on the conduct of the State; “Poor Richard” has no wiser saw for the raising up of clever businessmen; and Kâlidâsa or Shakespeare have no deeper knowledge of the lovers’ heart and its varied moods; than this pariah weaver of Mylapore! Such is the universality of mind of this grand seer who was born in the Tamil country but who belongs to all mankind.

When one has read his book through, the one impression that abides in the mind is that virtue and honour and manliness triumph over everything, and that vice and degradation are to be eschewed even should they bring pleasure and profit. This is the master-thought that runs through the whole book “even as the thread that is seen through the crystal bead.” Certain verses in the Second Part, like 830 for example, may look as if they would take away a little from this high praise. But we must understand that the author makes a clear distinction between private morality and State necessity. In private life, for instance, forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues and chapter 16 sings its praises abundantly. But, for the king as the representative of the State it is only a limited virtue. He must punish the guilty as a matter of course. Not only that. When he has an enemy, he is not to sit quiet, allowing him to grow in power and strength, but he must attack and subdue him before he becomes strong enough to menace him seriously (879). And when a neighbouring prince defies him, he should not forgive him but humble his pride at once (880). But all the same, the king and the State have not a carte blanche to do what they please with regard to their subjects or their neighbours. They shall not think of acquiring even kingdoms by means for which they shall have to blush (1016). And “to try to lay by wealth by means of guile is like trying to preserve water in a pot of clay that is not baked” (660).

While admiring the high moral purpose and the sublime ethics of Thiruvalluvar, Christian writers, actuated by what we may call for want of a better term a spell of religious chauvinism, cannot resist the temptation of making use of this very moral elevation of the poet to attack the religions of India in an insidious manner. Dr. Pope repeats in substance what Beschi, Digot, and others have written, and speaks of the Kural as “the one oriental book, much of whose teaching is an echo of the Sermon on the Mount,” and says of the author, “Without doubt Christian influences most affected him⁠ ⁠… we see in Thiruvalluvar a noble, truth-loving and devout man, feeling in the darkness after God, if haply he might find him.” And in another place, with a patronising air towards the great sage and his people he remarks, “I suppose he was not satisfied with the glimpses he had obtained of man’s future, and awaited for light; or, perhaps, he thought his people not prepared for higher teaching.” The reverend gentleman insinuates in these and similar remarks that Thiruvalluvar’s book could not have been so moral in its tone but for his having listened to the doctrines of Christ from the descendants of those who must have, according to a scarcely credible theory, received the teachings of the Apostle St. Thomas at Mylapore.

Writing as Thiruvalluvar does on almost all things that concern man’s life here as well as hereafter, it is easy to find parallels to his maxims among the greater writers of almost every nation in the world. But that is no reason for at once jumping to the conclusion that he must have listened to the words of any sage in particular. Whatever be the truth as to St. Thomas having preached at Mylapore, the author of the Kural does not show that he has ever heard of any of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. Christians have a tendency to think that the ideas of forgiving one’s enemies, abstaining from returning evil for evil, humility etc. have been first taught to the world only by Jesus Christ. To say that these ideas are not autochthonous to any great nation that has developed a distinct civilisation of its own, one must possess a much greater amount of learning than falls to the lot of the ordinary man. But it can be safely asserted that these ideas were the common property of great minds at least four centuries before Jesus was born. And Thiruvalluvar had enough in the sacred literature of India, to say nothing of his own Illumined Self, to enable him to build these truths in his grand scheme of life without being indebted in any way to the teachings of Jesus.

So again among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains and Shaivas are each fond of asserting that the sage belonged to their own particular persuasion. But if every one of these religions can claim many of his teachings as its own, none of them can deny that they also belong to its rivals. And each of them will find it difficult to reconcile some of his ideas with its orthodox doctrines. For instance, almost all the names by which Thiruvalluvar refers to the Lord in his first chapter apply distinctively to the Buddha and to the Arhat of the Jains. But the Jains have to find an explanation for his reference to a creator of the universe (1062), for the high regard that he has for the sacred character of the Brahmans, their Gods, their sacrifices, and their Vedas (543, 560, 413, 134), for his Brahman division of life into four states (41), and for his attributing of anger to ascetics (29). The Buddhists have to explain his reference to the five principles of matter (271) while they admit only four, his approval of self-mortification and austerities (Ch. 27), and his condemnation of the eating of meat (Ch. 26). On the other hand, neither Shiva nor Vishnu nor any other God of the Hindu pantheon is by name spoken of as the supreme God anywhere in the book. The truth therefore appears to be that in whatever persuasion Thiruvalluvar had been born, he freed himself from the trammels of all sects and worked his way up to the Illuminated Existence of the Yogin for whom there are no persuasions or sects or religions, but only Truth and Wisdom and Joy.

The Verse

A few words on the verse of the Kural will not be deemed out of place here though this book is mainly intended for readers who are unacquainted with Tamil. The title of the book itself indicates to the Tamil reader the verse in which it is written. For the word Kural means only a short rhymed couplet, the first line of which is composed of four feet and the second of three feet. The last foot of the first line or the first foot of the second line should rhyme with the first foot of the first line. The ability with which the poet manages the caesura in these short verses is something masterly. It is within the compass of these seven feet that our author has compressed some of the profoundest thoughts that have ever been uttered by man. And how like a master he plays on this tiny instrument! Sparkling wit and humour, the pointed statement, fancy, irony, the naive question, the picturesque simile, there is not one of these and others of the thousand tricks of the born artist that our author has not employed in this perfect masterpiece of art. But the abiding note in this varied symphony is the sublime. Well has an admirer described the Kural as “a little mustard seed, but whose bore holds all the waters of the seven seas.” If we should start quoting we should have to quote each one of the 1330 verses that compose the book, and so we shall merely refer the reader to verses 263, 397, 827, 835, 839, 922, 930, 1071, 1072, 1073, 1219, and 1220 as some of the finest that be can ever meet with in any work in the world.

The following transliteration of a typical verse is intended to satisfy the curiosity of those readers who are unacquainted with Tamil:

Kâmam vehuli mayakkam ivaimûndrin
Nâmam keḍakkeḍum nôy.

—⁠Verse 360.


No man that writes or speaks about the Kural can forget to refer to its greatest commentator Parimêlajahar. Parimêlajahar was a Brahman scholar who lived and taught at Kânchi about 600 years ago. Nine commentators had interpreted the Kural before him. But it was reserved for him to enter into the very mind of the author, as it were, and bring out every beauty and point that lie embedded in the original. But for his commentary none in modern days could understand the full significance of the original verses. His commentary is as terse and vigorous as the Kural itself in point of style. The reasonings by which he condemns readings and renderings other than his own are a study in sharp, incisive, logical, and dignified criticism. I am tempted to give an example of his method of commenting. I take verse 687 which would stand thus in literal translation: Knowing his duty, considering the time, judging the place, (and) deliberating, (who) speaks (is) head.

Here is the commentary:

  • Knowing his duty: understanding how to comport himself before foreign princes;

  • Considering the time: judging the moods of those princes;

  • Judging the place: judging the proper place to address to them the business for which he has gone;

  • Deliberating: meditating within himself beforehand as to how he should deliver his message;

  • (Who) speaks (is) head: who delivers the same in that manner is the fittest among ambassadors.

The manner of comporting himself before princes consists in weighing the political situation of their kingdom as well as that of his own king, weighing his own status as ambassador, and regulating thereon the formalities to be observed in visiting and speaking to the prince etc. Mood is the state of mind that is prepared to receive in good part what he (the envoy) is going to say. As it depends on time the author mentions time also. The place referred to is the place where there are men who are friendly to the ambassador. Deliberation consists in imagining the words that he is going to use, the possible replies of the other side, his own rejoinders etc. in all their possible developments. As the northern writers (Sanskrit authors) add the carriers of written messages to the other two classes of ambassadors (explained in the commentator’s note to the title of the chapter as he who speaks only what he is told to speak, and he who is allowed a wide discretion as to what he is to speak, the word speak being used in the sense of negotiating), and classify envoys into three classes, namely, first (lit. head), second (lit. the middle), and third (lit. lowest or last), our author uses the word head so as to apply to their classification also. The word ambassador is supplied by the title of the chapter. These five verses (683 to 687) describe the qualifications of the ambassador who is allowed full freedom of negotiation.”

I shall give but one example of the commentator’s criticism. In verse 338 which reads, The fledgeling abandoneth the broken shell of the egg and flieth away: that is the symbol of the love between the soul and the body, the word kuḍambai which Parimêlajahar explains as the shell of the egg had been explained by others as nest, either of which meanings being correct from the etymological point of view. It is in these words that he supports his own rendering as against the other:

“As the author says abandoneth (more literally abandoneth to itself) we obtain the unseparatedness of the shell in the previous stage: that is, its contemporaneous origin with the embryo and its remaining as the matrix and support of the same until the very moment of separation. Hence it is the symbol of the body. As the bird is one with the shell in the beginning and as it enters not thereinto after the breaking thereof, the same is the symbol of the soul. Though there are other beings that are oviparous, it is the bird that is taken as the symbol of the soul here as it alone flies away from the shell. The word love is denotative of want of love. As the conscious, immaterial soul, and the dull, material body are the very opposites of each other, know that there can be no attachment between them but what comes of karma.

“Now there are those who would explain kuḍambai as nest. But as its origin is not contemporaneous with that of the bird, and as the bird goes again into it after leaving it, the reader will see that it cannot symbolise the body.”

After these two examples it is quite superfluous to expatiate any more to the reader on the great qualities of the commentator. The Tamil people have preserved this commentary with the most religious care. Indeed it as well as the Kural have been among the greatest sources of inspiration to the princes of the Tamil country for a good and just rule and for successful statecraft. Even thirty years ago the Zemindars of the Tamil land were great lovers of the Kural and their children were carefully initiated into the rules of state policy and good government that abound in it and in Parimêlajahar. Would that these great books are again restored to their proper place in the curricula of study of our young men both rich and poor!

In undertaking this translation, my object has been not only to spread a knowledge of Thiruvalluvar’s grand work as widely as possible in the world, but also to induce my own countrymen speaking other languages than Tamil to retranslate it into their different vernaculars, so that the words of a great moral teacher who intended his message for all the world and for all time, may not fail at least now to reach the ears of the poorest of the poor and the simplest of the simple of his own countrymen, and to sow in their hearts the seeds of a noble, dignified, virtuous, and manly life. If I shall be able to say to myself that I have contributed something towards spreading the ideas of the Great Master among a wider audience among my countrymen, I shall consider that I have been amply rewarded for my labours.

V. V. S. Aiyar.

The Kural

Or, The Maxims of Thiruvalluvar



In Praise of the Lord

  1. A is the starting-point of the world of sound: even so is the Great Original the starting-point of all that exists.

  2. Of what avail is all thy learning if thou worship not the holy feet of Him of the perfect intelligence?

  3. Whoso taketh refuge in the sacred feet of Him whose walk is among flowers, his days will be many upon the earth.

  4. Behold the men who cleave unto the feet of Him who is beyond preference and beyond aversion: the ills of life touch them not ever.

  5. Behold the men who sing earnestly the praises of the Lord: they will be freed from the pain-engendering fruits of action both good and evil.3

  6. Behold the men who follow the righteous ways of Him who hath burned away the desires of the five senses: their days will be many upon the earth.

  7. They alone escape from sorrow who take refuge in the feet of Him who hath no equal.

  8. The stormy seas of wealth and sense delights cannot be traversed except by those who cling to the feet of the Sage who is the Ocean of Righteousness.

  9. Worthless indeed like the organs of sense which do not perceive is the head that boweth not at the feet of Him who is endowed with the eight attributes.4

  10. They alone cross the ocean of births and deaths who take refuge in the feet of the Lord: the others traverse it not.


In Praise of Rain

  1. It is by the unfailing fall of rain that the earth sustaineth itself: therefore is the rain called the immortal drink.

  2. Every food that is sweet to the taste is given to man by Rain: and itself formeth also part of his food.

  3. It rain should fail, famine would rage over the wide earth even though it is encircled by the ocean.

  4. Husbandmen would cease to ply the plough if the fountains of the heavens are dried up.

  5. It is rain that ruineth, and it is rain again that setteth up those that it hath ruined.

  6. Even grass will cease to grow if the showers from above should cease to fall.

  7. Even the mighty ocean would reek with corruption if the heavens should cease to suck its waters and render them back to it.

  8. Sacrifices will not be offered to the Gods nor Feasts be celebrated on earth if the heavens are dried up.

  9. Neither charity nor austerities will abide on the wide earth if the heavens should hold back their showers.

  10. Nothing on earth can go on without water: so even right conduct itself depends ultimately on rain.


The Greatness of Those Who Have Renounced the World

  1. Behold the men who have renounced sense-enjoyments and live a life of discipline: the scriptures exalt their glory above every other good.

  2. Thou canst not measure the greatness of ascetics: thou canst as well count the number of the dead.

  3. Behold the men who have weighed this life with the next and have renounced: the earth is made radiant by their greatness.

  4. Behold the man whose firm will controlleth his five senses even as the goading hook controlleth the elephant: he is a seed fit for the fields of heaven.

  5. The King of the Gods himself, Indra, is witness unto the might of him that hath burned away the five desires.5

  6. The great ones are they who can achieve the impossible:6 the feeble ones are those who cannot.

  7. Behold the man who appreciateth at their true value the sensations of touch and taste and sight and sound and smell:7 he will command the world.

  8. The scriptures of the world proclaim the greatness of the men of the mighty word.

  9. It is impossible to support even for a second the wrath of those who stand on the rock of renunciation.

  10. It is saintly men that are to be called Brahmans: for it is they that have compassion on all life.8


The Glorification of Righteousness

  1. Righteousness leadeth unto heaven and it bringeth wealth also: what is there that is more profitable than Righteousness?

  2. There is no greater good than Righteousness, nor no greater ill than the forgetting of it.

  3. Be thou unremitting in the doing of good deeds: do them with all thy might and by every means.

  4. Be pure in heart: all righteousness is contained in this one commandment: all other things are nought but empty sound.

  5. Avoid envy and greed, anger and harsh words: that is the way to acquire righteousness.

  6. Say not in thy heart, I shall be righteous by and bye, but begin to do good works without delaying: for it is Righteousness will be thy undying companion on the day of thy death.

  7. Ask me not, Where is the good of Righteousness? Look at the bearer of the palanquin and him that rideth on it.9

  8. If thou do good all thy life without a single waste day, thou wallest up the road to future births.

  9. That alone is delight which cometh of Righteousness: all else is pain and shame.

  10. That action alone is worth doing which is righteous: and all action must be shunned which is unrighteous.

Part I


Section I

The Life of the Householder


Family Life

  1. The householder is the mainstay of all who follow the three other paths of life.10

  2. The householder is the friend of the orphan and the pauper and the helpless dead.11

  3. Five are the duties of the householder, namely, the offering of oblations to the dead, the performance of sacrifices to the Gods, the doing of hospitality, the rendering of help unto relations, and the looking after of one’s own self.

  4. Behold the man who feareth to do ill and doth charity before eating his meal: his seed decayeth never.

  5. If love aboundeth in the home and righteousness doth prevail, the home is perfect and its end is all fulfilled.

  6. If a man fulfilleth aright the duties of the householder, where is the need for him to take up other duties?

  7. Among those that seek after salvation the greatest are they who lead a virtuous family life.

  8. Behold the householder who helpeth others in the observance of their vows and who leadeth a virtuous life himself: he is holier than the austere ones themselves.

  9. Righteousness belongeth especially to the married life: and a good name is its ornament.

  10. The householder who liveth as he ought to live will be looked upon as a God among men.


The Blessings of a Good Helpmate

  1. She is the good helpmate who possesseth every wifely virtue and spendeth not above her husband’s means.

  2. All other blessings turn to nought if the wife faileth in wifely virtues.

  3. Where is indigence if the wife is worthy? and where is riches is worth is not in her?

  4. What is there that is grander than woman, when she is strong in the strength of her chastity?

  5. Behold the woman who worshippeth not other Gods but worshippeth her husband even as she riseth from bed: the rain-cloud obeyeth her commands.

  6. She is the good housewife who guardeth her virtue and her reputation, and tendeth her husband with loving care.

  7. Of what avail is close confinement? It is her own continence that is the best guardian of a woman’s virtue.

  8. Behold the woman who hath begotten a worthy son: her place is high in the world of the Gods.

  9. Behold the man whose home beareth not an honourable reputation: the proud lion-like walk in the sight of detractors is denied him.

  10. The chiefest blessing is an honourable home: and its crowning glory is worthy offspring.



  1. We know of no blessing so great as the begetting of children that are endowed with understanding.

  2. Behold the man whose children bear an unstained character: no evil will touch him in any of his seven reincarnations.

  3. Children are the veritable riches of a man: for they pass to him by their own acts all the merits that they acquire.

  4. Sweeter verily than ambrosia is the plain soup bespattered by the tender hands of one’s own children.

  5. The touch of children is the delight of the body: the delight of the ear is the hearing of their speech.

  6. The flute is sweet and the guitar dulcet: so say they who have not heard the babbling speech of their little ones.

  7. What is the duty of the father to his son? It is to make him worthy to sit in the front rank in the assembly.

  8. To find oneself eclipsed in intelligence by one’s children is a delight to all the world.

  9. Great is the joy of the mother when a male child is born unto her: but greater far is her delight when she heareth him called worthy.

  10. What is the duty of the son to his father? It is to make the world ask, For what austerities of his hath he been blessed with such a son?



  1. Where is the bar that can close in the gates of love? The gentle teardrops of lovers’ eyes are sure to proclaim its presence.

  2. Those that love not live only for themselves: as to those that love, their very bones are for others’ occasions.

  3. They say it is to taste again of love that the soul hath consented once more to be encased in bone.

  4. Love maketh the heart tender towards all: and tenderness yieldeth that priceless treasure called friendship.

  5. The blessing of the blessed, they say, is only the reward of a constant love.

  6. They are fools who say that love is for the righteous alone: for even against the evil-minded love is the only ally for a man.

  7. Behold how the sun burneth the boneless worm: even so doth Righteousness burn the man that doth not love.

  8. Behold the man that loveth not: he will know prosperity only when the sapless tree of the desert putteth forth leaves.

  9. Of what avail is a lovely outside, if love, the soul’s ornament, hath no place in the heart?

  10. The seat of life is in Love: who hath it not is only a mass of skin-encased bone.



  1. What for do the wise toil and set up homes? It is to feed the guest and help the pilgrim.

  2. Were it even the draught of immortality, it shall not be tasted alone when the guest is in the hall.

  3. No evil befalleth the man who never faileth to honour the incoming guest.

  4. Behold the man who receiveth the worthy guest with his best smile: Lakshmi12 delighteth to abide in his home.

  5. Behold the man who feedeth his guest first and then only eateth what is left: standeth his land in need even of sowing?

  6. Behold the man who hath tended the outgoing guest and waiteth for the incoming one: he is a welcome guest unto the Gods.

  7. We cannot say of any hospitable act by itself, So much is the merit of this act: it is the worth of the guest that is the measure of the sacrifice.

  8. Behold the man who performeth not the sacrifice of hospitality: he will say one day, I have toiled hard and laid me up a great treasure: but it is all in vain, for there is none to comfort me.

  9. Not to honour the pilgrim is veritable indigence in the midst of wealth: such a thing is found only with fools.

  10. The anitcha flower fadeth by smelling: but a look is enough to break the heart of the guest.


Kindness of Speech

  1. The speech that is truly kind is the speech of the righteous men which is full of tenderness and free from dissimulation.

  2. Better even than a generous gift is sweet speech and a kind and gracious look.

  3. Behold the sweet and gracious look and the kind speech that cometh from the heart: Righteousness hath its dwelling place there.

  4. Behold the man who always speaketh words which gladden all hearts: Poverty, the increaser of sorrow, will never come to him.

  5. Modesty and a loving speech, these alone are the ornaments of man and none other.

  6. Sinfulness will wane away and righteousness will increase if thy thoughts are good and thy speech is kind.

  7. The word that is serviceable and kind createth friends and bringeth forth benefits.

  8. Words that are kind and are removed from all littleness yield good in this life and in the next also.

  9. Why doth not a man cease from violent words, even after he hath felt the sweetness that kind words give?

  10. Behold the man who useth hard words when sweet ones serve: he preferreth the unripe fruit to the ripe.



  1. Behold the kindness done without any obligation: even the heavens and the earth are too poor to repay it.

  2. A kindness done in the hour of need may look small: but it outweigheth the whole world.

  3. Behold the kindness done without thought of recompense: it is mightier than the ocean.

  4. The benefit received may be small even like a millet seed: but in the eyes of the just its measure is that of a palmyra tree.

  5. Gratitude is not limited by the assistance given: it is bounded only by the nobility of him that receiveth it.

  6. Disregard not the friendship of the holy ones: forsake not those that succoured thee in difficulty.

  7. He that hath relieved from affliction shall be remembered with gratitude in every birth.

  8. It is ignoble to forget a kindness: but an ill turn received it is the part of nobility to forget at once.

  9. The mortallest injury is forgiven the moment the mind recalleth a single kindness received from the injurer.

  10. There is redemption for men who are guilty of every other crime: but the ingrate wretch shall know of none.


Uprightness of Heart

  1. The just and the fair that giveth each man his due whether he is friend or foe, that is the good: nought else.

  2. The prosperity of the just groweth not less: it endureth even unto their remotest posterity.

  3. Though nought but profit come of it, touch not the wealth that cometh by deviating from the right.

  4. The righteous and the unrighteous are known by their offspring.

  5. Evil and good come unto all: but an upright heart is the glory of the wise.

  6. When thy heart swerveth from the right and turneth unto evil, know that thy destruction is near at hand.

  7. The world looketh not down on the poverty of the upright and virtuous man.

  8. Behold the weighing beam, for it is straight in itself and weigheth justly: the glory of the wise is to be like unto it and to incline neither to this side nor to that.

  9. Behold the man who swerveth not at all from the right in his own mind: the upright speech of his lips is a judgment.

  10. Behold the businessman that looketh after the interests of others as his own: his business will expand.



  1. Self-control leadeth unto heaven, but uncontrolled passion is the royal road to endless darkness.

  2. Guard thy self-control as a very treasure: life hath no richer wealth here below.

  3. Behold the man who controlleth his passions consciously and by the right way: wisdom and every other blessing will come unto him.

  4. Behold the man who hath triumphed over his passions and who swerveth not from duty: his form is more imposing than a mountain.

  5. Humility is beautiful in all man: but alone on the rich doth it shine in all its splendour.

  6. Behold the man who can draw in into himself his five senses even as the tortoise doth its limbs: he hath laid up for himself a treasure for all his future births.

  7. Whatever else thou rein not in, rein in thy tongue: for an unbridled tongue leadeth unto grief.

  8. If even one word of thine causeth pain to another, all thy virtue is lost.

  9. The burn caused by fire healeth in its time: but the wound burned in by the tongue remaineth green forever.

  10. Behold the man who hath learned wisdom and whose mind is tranquil and under perfect control: Righteousness pilgrimageth to his home in order to have a look at him.


Purity of Conduct

  1. The man whose conduct is pure is honoured by all: purity of conduct is therefore to be prized even above life.

  2. Watch anxiously over thy conduct: for wheresoever thou mayest search thou canst not find a firmer ally than right conduct.

  3. Good conduct bespeaketh an honourable family: but low conduct placeth a man amongst the ignoble.

  4. Even the Vedas if forgotten can be learned again: but once fallen from virtuous conduct the Brahman is fallen from his place forever.

  5. Prosperity is not for the envious: even so dignity is not for men of ill conduct.

  6. The firm-minded swerve not from virtuous conduct: for they know the evils brought on by such swerving.

  7. The man of right conduct is honoured among men: but ignominy alone is the portion of those who fall therefrom.

  8. Good conduct soweth the seed of prosperity: but an evil course is the mother of endless ills.

  9. Foul words can never fall from the lips of the well-bred even when off their guard.

  10. Fools may be as instructed as thou pleasest: but they never learn to conform to the ways of the Righteous.


Non-Desiring of Another Man’s Wife

  1. Behold the men whose eyes are turned towards righteousness and towards wealth: they commit not the folly of desiring another man’s wife.

  2. Among those that have fallen from virtue there is no greater fool than he that standeth at his neighbour’s threshold.

  3. Verily they are in the jaws of death who invade the home of an unsuspecting friend.

  4. Let a man be ever so great: what availeth it all if he committeth adultery without thinking ever so little of the shame that floweth therefrom?

  5. Behold the man who hangeth on to his neighbour’s wife because she is accessible: his name is sullied forever.

  6. The adulterer knoweth no respite from four things, hatred, sin, fear, and shame.

  7. He is the righteous householder who careth not for the charms of his neighbour’s wife.

  8. Behold the high-souled man that looketh not on another’s wife: he is more than righteous: he is saintly.

  9. Who on earth deserve all the good things of the world? It is they who clasp not the arms of her who belongeth to another.

  10. Though thou shouldst transgress and yield to every other sin, it were well for thee if thou desire not thy neighbour’s wife.



  1. The earth supporteth even those that dig into her: even so bear thou with those that traduce thee; for that is greatness.

  2. Forgive thou always the injuries that others may do thee: but if thou forget them, it were even better.

  3. The most shameful poverty is the refusal of hospitality: and the greatest strength is to bear with the dullness of fools.

  4. If thou want to be grand always, be forgiving unto all.

  5. The wise respect not the men who retaliate an injury: but they are prized as gold who forgive their enemy.

  6. The joy of revenge lasteth but a day: but the glory of him who forgiveth endureth forever.

  7. Be the wrong suffered ever so great: the better part is not to take it to heart and to abstain from revenge.

  8. Conquer by thy nobility those that in their pride have injured thee.

  9. More saintly than even those that have renounced are they that bear with the bitter tongue of their detractors.

  10. Those that do penance by fasting are great: but they only come after those that forgive their calumniators.



  1. Guard thyself from envious thoughts: for freedom from envy is a part of virtuous conduct.

  2. No blessing is so great as a nature that is free from all envy.

  3. It is he that careth not for virtue or for wealth that envieth his neighbour’s prosperity.

  4. The wise injure not others through envy: for they know the evils that result therefrom.

  5. Envy itself is scourge enough for the envious man: for, even if his enemies spare him, his own envy will work his ruin.

  6. Behold the man that beareth not to see gifts made to another: his family will beg for very food and clothing and perish.

  7. Lakshmi13 cannot bear with the envious: she will abandon them to the care of her elder sister14 and quit their side.

  8. Caitiff Envy bringeth on indigence and leadeth up to the gates of hell.

  9. The affluence of the envious and the misery of the generous-minded are alike matter for wonder.

  10. Never hath envy led to prosperity: nor a liberal heart to a fall therefrom.



  1. Behold the man who leaveth the right way and coveteth another man’s wealth: his wickednesses will increase and his family will decline.

  2. Behold the men that turn away from evil: they covet not, neither do they yield to ignoble deeds.

  3. Behold the men that care for other joys: they are not greedy after little delights, nor do they yield unto iniquity.

  4. Behold the men that have mastered their senses and enlarged their vision: they covet not saying, Lo, we are in want.

  5. Of what avail is a mind that is subtle and comprehending, if it yieldeth unto greed and consenteth unto insensate deeds?

  6. Even he who hungereth after grace and walketh in the path shall perish if he hankereth after wealth and plotteth evil.

  7. Covet not the wealth that greed gathereth: for its fruit is bitter in the day of enjoyment.

  8. If thou desire that thy substance should not grow less, covet not the riches in thy neighbour’s hands.

  9. Behold the wise man that understandeth justice and coveteth not: Lakshmi knoweth his worth and seeketh him in his home.

  10. The greed that looketh not beyond engendereth destruction: but the greatness that sayeth, I desire not, triumpheth over all.


Refraining from Slander

  1. Behold the man who doeth iniquity and who speaketh not so much as the name of righteousness: it is sweet even unto him if men say, Lo, here is one who backbiteth not.

  2. It is wrong to turn away from good and do evil: but it is far worse to smile before and vilify behind.

  3. It is worthier to die at once than live by lying and slander: for such a death bringeth with it the fruits of righteousness.

  4. Slander not a man behind his back even though he hath insulted thee to thy very face.

  5. The lips may speak righteousness: but a slanderous tongue betrayeth the meanness of the heart.

  6. If thou slander another, he will look into thy own transgressions and expose the worst of them.

  7. They that know not to speak sweet and to make friendships create discord and separate men who were friends.

  8. Those that speak abroad the transgressions of their friends, how will they spare the transgressions of their enemies?

  9. How doth the Earth suffer patiently the tread of the calumniator on her bosom? Is it that she looketh unto Righteousness to rid her of him?

  10. If a man can scan his own faults as he doth those of his enemies, can evil ever come to him?


Refraining from Vain Speaking

  1. Behold the man that angereth the public by the speaking of vain words: he will be despised of all men.

  2. Worse even than injuring one’s friends is the speaking of vain words before many.

  3. He that multiplieth empty words declareth loud his want of worth.

  4. Behold the man that speaketh vain words in an assembly: no profit will come unto him and all that is good will flee from his side.

  5. Even the worthy will lose honour and respect if they indulge in vain speaking.

  6. Call not him man who loveth idle words: call him rather a chaff among men.

  7. Let the wise, if they deem it meet, speak even hard words: but it is good for them to desist from profitless speech.

  8. The wise whose thoughts are set on great questions utter not words that are profitless and vain.

  9. They whose eyes are whole say not vain words even by oversight.

  10. Speak thou the speech that bringeth forth profit: but speak not ever words that are profitless and vain.


Fear of Evildoing

  1. The evil fear not the folly called sin: but the worthy flee from it.

  2. Evil bringeth forth evil: evil therefore shall be feared even more than fire.

  3. The chiefest wisdom, they say, is to abstain from injury even to an enemy.

  4. Let not a man compass another’s ruin even by oversight: for Justice will compass the ruin of him that plotteth evil.

  5. Let not a man work evil saying, I am poor: for, if he do, he will sink into a lower destitution than before.

  6. Whoso desireth not to be saddened by ills, let him abstain from doing injury to others.

  7. There is a way of escape from every other enemy: but ill deeds never die but pursue and destroy their author.

  8. As the shadow leaveth not a man but doggeth his steps wherever he goeth, even so do evil deeds pursue their author and work his destruction.

  9. If a man love his own self, let him not incline toward evil in any degree.

  10. Know that man to be secure from ills who leaveth not the straight path in order to commit wrong.



  1. The gracious expect no return when they oblige: how ever can the world repay the rain-cloud?

  2. The substance gathered in by the worthy by the labour of their hands is all for others’ use.

  3. A better thing than a gracious complaisance cannot be had either here or in heaven.

  4. He alone liveth who knoweth what is proper: he who knoweth not what is fitting shall be classed with the dead.

  5. Behold the village tank filled with water to its brim: like unto it is the prosperity of the wise man that loveth the world.

  6. Like unto a fruit-tree in the middle of the village bearing fruit is riches in the hands of the man of heart.

  7. Like unto a tree that yieldeth medicinal drugs and drieth not is riches in the hands of the generous man.

  8. Behold the men who know what is just and proper: they fail not to oblige others even when fallen on evil days.

  9. The complaisant man thinketh himself poor only when he is impotent to oblige those who solicit his aid.

  10. If ruin cometh as a result of complaisance, it is worth courting even by selling one’s own self into slavery.



  1. Giving to the poor is alone charity: all other giving is of the nature of loan.

  2. Though it lead unto heaven, receiving is bad: and though heaven should be denied to the giver, giving alms is a virtue.

  3. It is only the highborn man that giveth without ever meanly saying, I have not.

  4. The heart of the giver is not glad until he seeth the smile of content on the face of the suppliant.

  5. The conquest of conquests to the conqueror over self is the conquest over hunger: but his conquest cometh only after the conquest of him who appeaseth that hunger.15

  6. To fill the gnawing hunger of the poor: that is the way that the wealthy man should lay up riches for himself.

  7. The evil disease called hunger toucheth not the man that divideth his bread with others.

  8. The hard of heart who perish their wealth by hoarding it, have not they ever tasted the delight of giving unto others?

  9. Bitterer verily than the beggar’s bread is the hoarded meal of the miser eating alone.

  10. Nothing is bitterer than death: but even death is sweet when one hath not the power to do charity.



  1. Give to the poor and add glory unto thy name: there is no greater profit for man than this.

  2. The one theme in the mouth of all that praise is the glory of those that give unto the poor.

  3. Everything else dieth on earth: but the fame that hath no rival endureth forever.

  4. Behold the man that hath won a lasting, worldwide fame: the Gods on high prefer him even before saints.

  5. The ruin that addeth unto fame and the death that bringeth glory belong only to the great-souled.

  6. If men must needs be born into the world, let them earn glory: as to those who earn it not, it were better for them not to have been born at all.

  7. Those that are not free from blemish chafe not at themselves: why then are they wroth against their calumniators?

  8. It is a disgrace for all men if they earn not the memory called fame.

  9. Behold the land weighed down beneath the tread of an inglorious people: its riches, even though renowned in the past, will wane away.

  10. They alone live who live without blemish: and they alone die who have lived without glory.

Section II

The Life of the Ascetic

Subdivision A




  1. The chiefest wealth is a heart that is rich in mercy: for material wealth is found even in the hands of vile men.

  2. Reason by the right method and take up Mercy: and if thou inquire of all religions also, thou shalt see that Mercy is the only salvation.

  3. They enter not into the dark and bitter world whose heart is joined unto mercy.

  4. The results of actions at which the soul trembleth pursue not him who is kind and merciful to all life.

  5. Affliction is not for the merciful: the teeming air-encircled earth is a witness thereto.

  6. Behold the man that hath forsaken mercy and doth iniquity: though he must have suffered cruelly in past births for abandoning virtue, he hath forgotten the lesson, say the wise.

  7. The other world is not for those that have not mercy, even as this world is not for them that are without riches.

  8. The poor in substance may one day thrive and prosper: but they that lack pity are poor indeed and their day cometh never.

  9. It is as easy for the hard of heart to do deeds of righteousness as for the confused in mind to realise the Truth.

  10. When thou art tempted to oppress the weak, consider how it would be for thee to tremble before a stronger.


Abjuring of Flesh-Meat

  1. How can he feel pity, who eateth other flesh in order to fatten his own?

  2. Riches are not for the thriftless: even so pity is not for those that eat meat.

  3. The heart of the man that tasteth flesh turneth not towards good, even as the heart of him that is armed with steel.

  4. The killing of animals is veritable hardness of heart: but the eating of their flesh is iniquity indeed.

  5. In non-eating of flesh is Life: if thou eat, the pit of hell will not open its mouth to let thee out.

  6. If the world desireth not meat for eating, there will be none to offer it for sale.

  7. If a man can only realise to himself the agony and pain suffered by other living beings, he would not desire to eat flesh-meat.

  8. Behold the men who have escaped from the bonds of illusion and ignorance: they eat not the flesh from which life hath flown out.

  9. To abstain from the killing and eating of living things is better than to perform a thousand sacrifices in the sacrificial fire.

  10. Behold the man who killeth not and abstaineth from flesh-meat: all the world joineth hands to do him reverence.



  1. Patient endurance of suffering and non-injuring of life, in these is contained the whole of tapas.

  2. Austerities are for the austere of heart: it is profitless for others to take them up.

  3. Is it because there should be some people to tend and feed ascetics that all the rest have forgotten tapas?

  4. It thou wouldst destroy thy foes and exalt those that love thee, know that such a power belongeth unto tapas.

  5. Tapas fulfilleth all desires even in the very manner that is desired: therefore is it that men endeavour after tapas in this world.

  6. It is the men that do tapas that look after their own interests: the rest are caught in the snares of desire and only do themselves harm.

  7. The fiercer the fire in which it is melted the more brilliant becometh the lustre of the gold: even so the severer the sufferings endured by the austere, the purer their nature shineth.

  8. Behold the man who hath attained mastery over himself: all other men worship him.

  9. Behold the men that have acquired power by austerities: they can succeed even in conquering death.

  10. If the needy are the many in the world, it is because those that do tapas are few, and those that do not, the larger number.



  1. The five17 principles of his own body smile within themselves when they see the imposture of the hypocrite.

  2. Of what avail is an imposing presence when evil is in the heart and the heart is conscious thereof?

  3. Behold the ungodly man putting on the puissant look of the austere: he is like a cow that grazeth about wearing a tiger’s skin.

  4. Behold the man who taketh cover under a saintly garb and doth evil: he is like a fowler hiding in the bush and catching birds.

  5. The hypocrite pretendeth unto sanctity and sayeth, I have vanquished my passions: but he will come to grief and cry, What have I done? and what have I done?

  6. Behold the man that hath not renounced in his heart, but walketh about like one that hath renounced, and cheateth men: there is none more hard of heart than he.

  7. The kunri seed is fair on one side, but the other side of it is black: there are men who are like unto it: they are fair on the outside, but their inside is all black.

  8. Many there be whose heart is impure but who bathe in holy streams and prowl about.

  9. The arrow is straight and the lute hath a bend: judge thou therefore men by their acts and not by their appearance.

  10. Neither matted hair thou wantest nor shaven head, if thou abstain from that which the world contemneth.


Abstaining from Fraud

  1. Whoso wanteth not to be held in contempt, let him guard himself against every thought of fraud.

  2. It is a sin even to say in one’s heart, I shall cheat my neighbour of his substance.

  3. The fortune that is built up by fraud may appear to thrive; but it is doomed forever.

  4. The thirst for plunder leadeth in its season to endless grief.

  5. Behold the man that coveteth other men’s substance and lieth in wait to catch them napping: he thinketh not of grace and love is far from his heart.

  6. The man who thirsteth after plunder cannot weigh things aright: nor can he walk in the way of righteousness.

  7. Behold the man that hath weighed the things of this world and made his heart firm: he committeth not the folly of cheating his neighbour.

  8. As Righteousness resideth in the heart of him who valueth things aright, even so Deceit hath its seat in the heart of the thief.

  9. Behold the man who meditateth on nothing but theft and plunder: he will leave the right path and perish.

  10. He that deceiveth others is not master even of his own body: but the world of the Gods itself is a never-failing inheritance unto the men that are righteous.



  1. What is truthfulness? It is the speaking of that which is free from even the slightest taint of evil.

  2. Even falsehood is of the nature of truth if it bringeth forth unmixed good.18

  3. Bear not false witness against thy neighbour: for thy own conscience will burn thee when thou hast lied.

  4. Behold the man whose heart is free from falsehood: he reigneth in the hearts of all.

  5. Behold the man whose heart is fixed in truthfulness: he is greater than the austere and greater than he that distributeth alms.

  6. There is no greater renown for a man than the renown that he is a stranger unto falsehood: such a man obtaineth every blessing without mortifying the body.

  7. If a map can live without ever uttering a falsehood, all other virtue is superfluous unto him.

  8. The cleanliness of the body belongeth unto water: but the purity of the heart is proved by truthfulness.

  9. The worthy regard not all other light as light: it is only the light of truth that they look upon as a veritable illumination.

  10. Many things have I seen in this world: but of all the things that I have seen, there is nothing that is higher than truth.


Abstaining from Anger

  1. He alone can be said to forbear who hath the power to strike: as to him that hath not the power, what mattereth it whether he forbeareth or forbeareth not?

  2. It is wrong to get angry even when thou art helpless to strike: and when thou hast the power, there is nothing that is worse than anger.

  3. Whoever thy offender may be, forget thy anger: for from anger springeth a multitude of ills.

  4. Anger killeth the smile and it destroyeth cheer: hath man a crueller foe than anger?

  5. If thou want to look after thyself, keep off from choler: for if thou keep not off, it will come upon thee and destroy thy own self.

  6. Choler destroyeth every man whom it approacheth: and it burneth also the family of him who nurseth it.

  7. He who nurseth his rage as if it were a precious thing is like unto the man who dasheth his hand against the ground: the hand of this man escapeth not from injury, and the destruction of the first is as certain.

  8. Even when thy wrongs burn as the flaming of many fires, it is good if thou canst abstain from anger.

  9. All the desires of a man will be fulfilled on the instant if from his heart he banish anger.

  10. Whoso is overwhelmed with anger is like one dead: but whoso hath forsworn wrathfulness is like unto the saints.



  1. The pure in heart injure not others even for the sake of the wealth that glorifieth a man: for that is their way.

  2. Even when another hath injured them in his hate, the pure in heart return not the injury: for that is their way.

  3. If thou injure another, even though it be only a man who hath injured thee without any provocation, thou simply bringest down upon thyself evils that can never be remedied.

  4. How shall a man punish them that have injured him? Let him do them a good turn and make them ashamed in their hearts.

  5. Of what avail is intelligence to a man if he doth not look on others’ pain as his own and abstain from injuring any?

  6. When a man hath felt a pain for himself, let him take care that he inflicteth it not on others.

  7. It is a great thing it thou injure not knowingly any man, at any time, and in any degree.

  8. He who hath felt what pain meaneth to himself, how doth he bring himself to inflict it on others?

  9. If a man injureth his neighbour in the forenoon, evil will come to him in the afternoon of its own accord.

  10. All evil recoileth on the head of the wrongdoer: they abstain therefore from wrongdoing who desire to be immune from ills.



  1. The greatest of virtues is non-killing: killing bringeth in its train every other sin.

  2. To divide one’s bread with the needy and to abstain from killing: this is the greatest of all the commandments of all the prophets.

  3. The greatest virtue of all is non-killing: truthfulness cometh only next.

  4. What is the good way? It is the path that taketh thought how it may save even the smallest of creatures from being killed.

  5. Among all that have renounced this life with its fears of ill, the chiefest is he that reverenceth all life for fear of killing any.

  6. Behold the man who hath taken the vow of non-killing: Death that eateth away all life maketh no inroads into his days.

  7. Take not away from any living thing the life that is sweet unto all, even if it be to save thine own.

  8. They may say, Sacrifices gain for a man many blessings: but to the pure in heart the blessings that are earned by killing are an abomination.

  9. Those who live by slaying are likened by the discriminating to eaters of carrion.

  10. Behold the man whose putrid body is festering with ulcerous sores: he must have been a shedder of blood in the past, say the wise.

Subdivision B



The Vanity of All Things

  1. There is no greater folly than the infatuation that looketh upon the transient as if it were everlasting.

  2. The crowd that assembleth to witness a village show, that is the symbol of great riches flowing on a man: and the dispersal of that same crowd is the type of its passing away.

  3. Prosperity is transient: if thou have come by it, delay not to do things that are of lasting good.

  4. Tine looketh like an innocent thing: but verily it is a saw that is continually sawing away the life of man.

  5. Make haste to do good works before the tongue is paralysed and hiccup ariseth in the throat.

  6. But yesterday a man was and today he is not: that is the wonder of wonders in this world.

  7. Man knoweth not if he shall last the next minute: but his thoughts are more than ten million.

  8. The fledgeling abandoneth the broken shell of the egg and flieth away: that is the symbol of the love between the soul and the body.

  9. Death is like unto a sleep: and life is like the waking after that sleep.

  10. Hath the soul no home of its own, that it taketh shelter in this worthless body?



  1. Whatsoever thing a man hath renounced, from the grief arising from that thing hath he liberated himself.

  2. If thou want joy, renounce early: for many are the delights that thou shalt enjoy after renouncing.

  3. Crush thou the five senses: and everything in which thou takest delight, give up utterly.

  4. To possess nothing, that is the law of the man of vows: the possession of even one thing is a coming back to the snares that he hath left.

  5. To those that desire to put an end to their reincarnations, even the body is a superfluity: how much more then are other bonds?

  6. The feelings of I and Mine are nought but vanity and pride: he who crusheth them entereth a higher world than the world of the Gods.

  7. Behold the man who holdeth on to attachments and giveth not them up: Grief shall take hold of him and shall not give him up.

  8. They that have renounced utterly are on the path to salvation: but the others are caught in a snare.

  9. The moment that attachments are broken, that very moment reincarnations cease: the man who breaketh them not continueth in vanity.

  10. Take thou refuge in Him who hath conquered all attachments: and hold fast to that ark in order that all thy bonds may be broken.


Realisation of the Truth

  1. From the delusion of taking vanities for the Reality a man cometh by a life of sorrow.

  2. Behold the man who is freed from delusion and who hath an unclouded vision: darkness ceaseth for him and joy cometh unto him.

  3. Behold the man who hath freed himself from uncertainties and who hath realised the Truth: heaven is nearer to him than the earth.

  4. Though risen to human birth, nought is gained if the soul realiseth not the Truth.

  5. To separate the true from the false in everything, whatever its nature may be, that is the part of a wise understanding.

  6. Behold the man who hath studied deeply and hath realised the Truth: he shall enter the path that leadeth not again into this world.

  7. Verily those that have meditated upon and attained to the Truth need not think at all of future incarnations.

  8. It is the part of Wisdom to desire to escape the folly called birth, and to aim at realising the Supreme and the Good.

  9. Behold the man who understandeth the means of his salvation and laboureth to conquer all attachments: the ills that he is yet to suffer depart from him.

  10. As desire and anger and delusion leave a man, his ills also follow their pace and slowly melt away.


The Killing of Desire

  1. Desire is the seed that yieldeth unto every soul, and always, a never-failing crop of births.

  2. If thou must needs long for anything, long for freedom from reincarnation: and that freedom shall come to thee if thou long to conquer longing.

  3. There is no greater wealth here below than desirelessness: and wherever thou goest thou canst find no treasure that equalleth it.

  4. Purity is nought but freedom from desire: and this freedom is achieved by yearning for perfect truthfulness.

  5. It is those that have conquered their desire that are called the liberated ones: the others appear to be free but they are verily in bondage.

  6. If thou love righteousness, flee from desire: for desire is a snare and a disappointment.

  7. If a man cutteth off utterly all his desires, salvation shall come to him by any path that he commandeth to it.

  8. He that hath no desires hath no grief: but ills on ills descend on the man that hankereth after things.

  9. Even here a man shall have everlasting joy if he killeth that greatest misery of all, desire.

  10. Desire is never filled: but if a man giveth it up he attaineth perfection even at that very moment.



  1. Resolution cometh to a man when Fortune is about to smile on him; but Indolence appeareth when Fortune is about to leave.

  2. Evil fate dulleth the faculties: but when Fortune is about to smile she first expandeth the intelligence.

  3. What doth learning avail and all subtleties? It is the Spirit that is inside that prevaileth over all.

  4. There are two things in the world which have nothing in common: Riches is one thing and Saintliness is quite another.

  5. When the tide is against thee even good things turn to evil: and even evil things turn to good when the tide is on.

  6. What Destiny denieth thou canst not keep even with the utmost care: and even if thou scatter abroad, the things that are thine will not go away from thee.

  7. Even the man who hath amassed ten million cannot enjoy his riches except as the Ordainer hath ordained.

  8. Verily the destitute poor would turn their hearts towards renunciation but that Destiny reserveth them for the miseries that are their portion.

  9. He that rejoiceth when good cometh, why should he fret when he receiveth evil?

  10. What is there that is mightier than Destiny? For even as its victim is meditating a plan to overcome it, it forestalleth him and bringeth him down.

Part II


Section I

The Prince


The Qualifications of the Prince

  1. He is a lion among princes who is well endowed in respect of the six things: troops, population, substance, council, alliances, and fortifications.

  2. Four qualities should never be wanting in the prince, namely, courage, liberality, wisdom, and energy.

  3. Behold the men that are destined to rule the earth: the three virtues, alertness, learning, and decision, leave them not.

  4. The prince shall not fail in virtue and shall abolish unrighteousness: he shall guard his honour jealously but shall not sin against the laws of valour.

  5. The prince shall know how to develop the resources of his kingdom and how to enrich his treasury: how to preserve his wealth and how to spend it worthily.

  6. If the prince is accessible to all his subjects and is never harsh of word, his kingdom will be esteemed above every other.

  7. Behold the prince who can give with grace and rule with love: his name will fill the world.

  8. Behold the prince who administereth impartial justice and protecteth his subjects: he shall be called a God among men.

  9. Behold the prince who hath the virtue to bear with words that are bitter to the ear: the world will rest permanently under his umbrella.

  10. Behold the prince who is liberal and gracious and just, and who tendeth his people with care: he is a light among kings.



  1. Acquire thoroughly the knowledge that is worth acquiring and after acquiring it walk thou in accordance therewith.

  2. Two are the eyes of living kind: the one is called Numbers, and the other, Letters.

  3. The learned alone can be said to possess eyes: the unlettered have but two sores in their head.

  4. The scholar bringeth joy with him wherever he cometh: but when he departeth he leaveth regrets behind.

  5. Though thou hast to humble thyself before the teacher even as a beggar before a man of wealth thou yet acquirest learning: it is those that refuse to learn that are the lowest among men.

  6. Knowledge is like unto a sand-spring: the more thou diggest and drawest thereat, the more excellent is the flow thereof.

  7. Everywhere is his home to the learned man, and everywhere his native land: why then doth a man neglect instruction up to his dying day?

  8. The learning that a man hath acquired in one birth will exalt him; even in all his succeeding incarnations.

  9. The learned man seeth that the learning that delighteth him delighteth also all that listen to him: and he loveth instruction all the more on that account.

  10. An imperishable and flawless treasure is learning to a man: other wealth is as nothing before it.


The Neglecting of Instruction

  1. Ascending the rostrum without abundant knowledge is like the playing of dice without the chequered board.19

  2. Behold the man without learning who desireth to be called eloquent: he is like unto a woman without busts who yearneth to be admired of men.

  3. Even a fool shall be counted wise if he can hold his peace before the learned.

  4. The opinion of an ignorant man will be rejected by the wise even though it may be perfectly sensible.

  5. Behold the ignorant man who is wise in his own eyes: he will be put to shame directly he openeth his lips in an assembly.

  6. Like unto a wasteland that yieldeth no harvests is the man that hath neglected instruction: all that men can say about him is that he liveth, and nothing more.

  7. Behold the man whose understanding hath not been penetrated by the Grand and the Subtle: the comeliness of his person is no better than the beauty of an image of clay.

  8. Bitter verily is the poverty of the man of learning: but far worse is riches in the hands of the fool.

  9. The fool though born of a higher family is esteemed much less than a learned man who is of inferior descent.

  10. How much better are men than beasts? Even so much are the learned better than those that have not cared for instruction.


Listening to the Instruction of the Wise

  1. The most precious of treasures is the treasure of the ear: verily it is the crown of all kinds of wealth.

  2. Even unto the stomach some food will be offered when there is no more food to be offered to the ear.20

  3. Behold the men who have listened to much instruction: they are very Gods on earth.

  4. Let a man hear instruction even though he hath no learning: for it will be a stay unto him when he is encompassed by difficulty.

  5. The counsel of the righteous is like unto a strong staff: for it keepeth those that listen to it from slipping.

  6. Listen to good words though they be but few: even those few will add to thee a proportionate dignity.

  7. Behold the man that hath meditated much in himself and hath laid by a store of instruction by listening to the wise: he talketh not nonsense even when in error.

  8. Deaf indeed though it heareth is the ear that hath not been drilled by words of instruction.

  9. Humility of speech is hard to be attained by those who have not listened to the subtle words of the wise.

  10. Behold the men that taste with the tongue but know not the taste of the ear: what doth it matter to the world whether they live or die?


The Understanding

  1. The understanding is an armour against all surprise: it is a fortress which even enemies cannot storm.

  2. It is the understanding that curbeth the senses from roving about, keepeth them from evil, and directeth them towards the Good.

  3. To separate the true from the false in every utterance, whoever it be that speaketh, that is the part of a wise understanding.

  4. What he speaketh, the wise man speaketh so as to be understood by all: and from the lips of others he gathereth their subtle meanings.

  5. The wise man is sociable with all the world: and his temper is ever even, expanding not nor contracting to excess.

  6. It is a part of wisdom to conform to the ways of the world.

  7. The man of understanding knoweth what is coming: but the fool foreseeth not what is before.

  8. It is folly to rush headlong into danger: it is the part of the wise to fear what ought to be feared.

  9. Behold the man of foresight who is armed for every contingency: he will never know the blow that causeth trembling.

  10. He that hath understanding hath everything: but the fool though he possess everything hath nothing.


Eschewing of Faults

  1. Behold the man who is free from haughtiness and anger and the vulgar passion:21 there is a dignity about him that adorneth his prosperity.

  2. Parsimony, overconfidence, and excessive amour propre are faults in the prince.

  3. Behold the men who are jealous of their reputation: though their fault be small even like a millet seed, they look upon it as of the measure of a palmyra tree.

  4. Guard thyself jealously against weaknesses: for they are the foes that will lead thee to ruin.

  5. Behold the man who provideth not beforehand against surprise: he will be destroyed even like a stack of straw before a spark of fire.

  6. If the prince correcteth his own faults and then looketh into those of others, where is the ill that can approach him?

  7. Behold the miser that spendeth not where he ought to spend: his wealth will come to an inglorious wreck.

  8. Closefisted parsimony is not a vice to be classed with other vices: it formeth a class apart.

  9. Exult not at anything at any time: embark not on enterprises that would bring thee no good.

  10. If thou canst keep from the knowledge of others the things in which thy heart taketh delight, the machinations of thy foes will be in vain.


Courting the Friendship of the Worthy

  1. Esteem thou the men that have grown old in righteousness, and acquire their friendship.

  2. Behold the men who can cure the evils that have already befallen thee and who can guard thee from future ones: cultivate thou their friendship with ardour.

  3. It is the rarest of rare good fortunes if a man can secure to himself the devotion of men of worth.

  4. If those that are worthier than thyself have become thy intimates, thou hast acquired a strength before which all other strength paleth.

  5. As the eyes of the prince are his own ministers, let him use his discretion and choose them wisely.

  6. Behold the man who can move with the worthy as their intimate: his foes will be powerless against him.

  7. Who can ruin the man that commandeth the friendship of those that can reprove him?

  8. Behold the prince who reposeth not on the support of men who can rebuke him: he will perish even when he hath no foes.

  9. Profit is not for those that have no capital: even so stability is not for them that repose not on the firm support of the wise.

  10. It is foolish to make a multitude of foes: but it is ten times worse to give up the intimacy of the good.


Keeping Aloof from Vulgar Company

  1. Men of worth fear vulgar company: but little-minded men mix with it as if they made one family with it.

  2. Water altereth and taketh the character of the soil through which it floweth: even so the mind taketh the colour of the company with which it consorteth.

  3. The understanding of a man belongeth unto his mind: but his reputation dependeth on the company he keepeth.

  4. The disposition of a man seemeth to reside in his mind: but its veritable abode is the company in which he moveth.

  5. Purity of heart and purity of action depend upon the purity of a man’s company.

  6. The pure of heart shall have a righteous progeny: and everything prospereth unto those that consort with good company.

  7. Purity of heart is a treasure unto a man: and virtuous company bringeth him every glory.

  8. Though themselves are endowed with every virtue, the wise looks upon the company of the pure as a tower of strength.

  9. Virtue leadeth unto heaven: and the company of the good steadieth a man in the practice thereof.

  10. There is no greater ally to a man than good company: and nothing injureth so much as evil company.


Deliberation Before Action

  1. Take into thy consideration the output and the wastage and the profit that the undertaking will yield: and then put thy hand to it.

  2. Behold the prince who decideth upon action only after consulting with men chosen for their worth: there is nothing that is impossible for him.

  3. There are enterprises that tempt with a great profit but which perish even the capital itself: the wise undertake them not.

  4. Behold the men who fear to be ridiculed by others: they start not on any enterprise without previous deliberation.

  5. To make war without planning every detail of it beforehand is only to transplant thy enemy on carefully prepared soil.

  6. There are things that ought not to be done and if thou do them thou wilt be ruined: and there are things that ought to be done and if thou do them not thou will be ruined also.

  7. Decide not upon any action except after careful deliberation: it is a fool who undertaketh first and sayeth in his heart, I shall think afterwards.

  8. Behold the man that goeth not to his work the right way about: all his labour will be a waste even if numbers come to his aid.

  9. Even in doing good thou mayest err, it thou suit not the benefit to the character of him that receiveth.

  10. Let the thing that thou decidest on be above reproach: for the world despiseth the man who stoopeth to a thing that is beneath himself.


Judging of Strength

  1. Weigh justly the difficulty of the enterprise, thy own strength and the strength of thy enemy, and the strength also of your22 allies; and then enter thou upon it.

  2. Behold the prince who knoweth his own force and hath learned what he ought to learn, and who oversteppeth not the limits his force and information: his invasions will never fail.

  3. Many there have been who in the sanguineness of their hearts overestimated their strength and adventured, but were cut off in the middle.

  4. Behold the men who know not to live in peace, who know not their own measure and who are full of self-conceit: they will have a swift end.

  5. Put too many of them and even peacock’s feathers would break the wagon’s axle.23

  6. Those that have climbed to the top of the tree will lose their lives if they attempt to climb still higher.24

  7. Keep thou in mind the extent of thy wealth and let thy gifts be commensurate therewith: that is the way to conserve and divide thy substance.

  8. It mattereth not if the feeder channel25 is strait, provided that the draining channel26 is not wider.

  9. Behold the man that taketh not account of his measure nor liveth within the bounds thereof: he may look like prospering, but he will perish leaving no trace behind.

  10. Behold the man that measureth not his wealth and lavisheth it with an unsparing hand: his substance will quickly come to nought.


Judging the Opportune Moment

  1. The crow triumpheth over the owl when it is day: so opportunity is a great thing to the prince who would vanquish his enemy.

  2. To follow closely on the pace of Time: that is the cord that will bind Fortune to thee firmly.

  3. Where is the thing called impossible if thou start on thy enterprise with a knowledge of the right season and employ the proper means?

  4. Thou canst conquer even the whole world if thou choose the proper time and the proper objectives.

  5. Those that are intent on conquests will be quietly watching their opportunity: they will know neither confusion nor hurry.

  6. The ram steppeth back before it delivereth the crushing blow: even such is the inaction of the man of energy.

  7. The wise show not their anger on the spot: they will nurse it within their hearts and wait for their opportunity.

  8. Bend down before thy adversaries till the day of their decline: when that day is come thou mayest easily throw them down headlong.

  9. When thou hast got an unusual chance, hesitate not but straightway attempt even the impossible.

  10. When the time is against thee feign inaction like the stork: but when the tide is on, strike with the swiftness of its souse.


Judging of Place

  1. Provoke no war and begin no operation except after making a thorough reconnaissance of the theatre of operations.

  2. It is an immense advantage even to the powerful and the strong to be based on fortified places.

  3. Even the weak can hold their own and triumph over a powerful foe if they choose the proper theatre and operate cautiously.

  4. The plans of thy adversaries will be baffled if thou fall back on strong positions and base thyself on them.

  5. All-powerful is the crocodile in deep water: but out of it, it is the plaything of its foes.

  6. The strong-wheeled chariot runneth not on the sea: nor saileth the oceangoing ship on dry land.

  7. Behold the prince that hath planned everything beforehand and striketh at the proper objective: he wanteth no other ally than his own valour.

  8. If the prince whose army is weak only betaketh himself to a proper theatre of war, all the endeavours of his strong foe would be vain against him.

  9. Even if they have no proper defences and other advantages it is hard to beat a people on their own soil.

  10. Behold the high-mettled elephant that hath faced without wincing a whole multitude of lancers: even a jackal will triumph over him when he is entangled in marshy ground.


Testing of Men for Confidence

  1. Love of the right, gold, pleasure, and fear of life, these four are the tests of a man: give thy confidence therefore to men that satisfy all these tests.27

  2. Behold the man who is born of a good family, who is free from faults and who dreadeth disgrace: he is the man for thee.

  3. Even men of rare learning and of pure hearts will not be found, when thou dost test them, to be absolutely exempt from all ignorance.

  4. Weigh a man’s good and weigh his evil: whichever is more, take that to be his nature.

  5. Dost thou want to find out whether a man is noble or little-minded? Know that conduct is the touchstone of character.

  6. Beware of trusting men that have no kindred: for their hearts will be without attachment and they will be callous to shame.

  7. If thou choose a fool for thy confidential adviser because that thou lovest him, he will lead thee to endless follies.

  8. Behold the man that trusteth another without trying him: he createth endless evils even unto his posterity.

  9. Trust not a man without trying him: and after trying your men, give each of them the work for which he is fit.

  10. To trust a man whom thou hast not tried and to suspect a man whom thou hast found worthy lead alike to endless ills.


Testing and Employment of Men

  1. Behold the man that seeth the good and seeth the evil also and chooseth only that which is good: employ thou him in thy service.

  2. Behold the man that is able to develop the resources of thy kingdom and to cure the ills that may befall it: set him to manage thy affairs.

  3. Let him alone be selected for service who is endowed with kindness and intelligence and decision, and who is free from greed.

  4. Many are the men that satisfy every test and yet alter in the actual performance of duty.

  5. Work should be entrusted to men in consideration of their expert knowledge and capacity for patient exertion, and not of their love towards thy person.

  6. Choose the expert and give him the work for which he is fit: see that the time is ripe for performance and then get him to begin it.

  7. Determine first the capacity of the servant and the work for which he is fit: and then leave him in responsible charge of the same.

  8. After thou hast decided that a man is fit for an office, make him worthy to fill it.

  9. Behold the man who resenteth the friendly advances of the servant who is skilful at his work: Fortune will depart from him.

  10. Let the prince oversee everything every day: for there will be nothing wrong with the country so long as there is nothing wrong with the officers of the State.


Cherishing of Kindred

  1. Constancy of attachment even in adversity belongeth only unto kindred.

  2. If a man is blessed with kindred whose love for him bateth not, his fortunes will never cease to grow.

  3. The man who rejoiceth not in the intimacy of his kindred is like a tank without bunds: the waters of prosperity will flow away from him.

  4. To gather and attach one’s kindred to oneself: that is the use and purpose of prosperity.

  5. If a man have a sweet tongue and a liberal hand his kinsmen will gather round him in serried ranks.

  6. Behold the man that giveth freely and entertaineth not anger: the world hath none who hath a more attached kindred than he.

  7. The crow concealeth not its food selfishly from its fellows but shareth it lovingly with them: prosperity will abide only with men of a like nature.

  8. It is good if the prince treateth not all his kinsmen alike but hath a graduated scale for each: for there are many that have an eye to privilege.

  9. The estrangement of a kinsman is easily remedied: remove the cause of the coolness and he will come back to thee.

  10. When a kinsman that hath broken with thee cometh back to thee for a reason, accept thou him, but with caution.


Guarding Against Insouciance

  1. Worse than excessive rage is the unguardedness that cometh of self-complacency.

  2. A false sense of security killeth glory even as indigence crusheth the understanding.

  3. Glory is not for the unwatchful: that is the conclusion of every school of thinkers in the world.

  4. Of what use are fortresses to the cowardly? or abundance of resources to the incautious?

  5. He who faileth to guard against everything beforehand will deplore his negligence when he is surprised by disaster.

  6. If thou relax not in thy vigilance at all times and against all men, there is nothing like it.

  7. Nothing is impossible to the man who can bring unto his work a mind that is ever wakeful and cautious.

  8. The prince shall devote himself assiduously to works that are commended by the wise: if he neglect them he will suffer in all his future births.

  9. When thou art tempted to be self-complacent and elated, call to thy kind those that have perished by their supineness.

  10. Verily it is easy for a man to achieve all that he desireth, provided he keepeth his purpose constantly before his mind.


Just Government

  1. Deliberate well and lean not to either side: be impartial and consult with the men of law: that is the way to administer justice.

  2. The world looketh up to the rain-cloud for life: even so do men look up to the sceptre of the prince for protection.

  3. The sceptre of the prince is the mainstay of the science of the Brahmans and of righteousness also.

  4. Behold the noble prince who ruleth the people of his dominions with loving care: sovereignty will never depart from him.

  5. Behold the prince who wieldeth the sceptre in accordance with the law: seasonal rains and rich harvests have their home in his land.

  6. It is not the lance that bringeth victory unto the prince: it is rather his sceptre, and that provided it is straight and leaneth not to either side.

  7. The prince is the protector of all his people: and him his sceptre shall guard, provided he alloweth it not ever to lean to either side.

  8. Behold the prince who is not easy of access and who judgeth not causes with care: he will fall from his place and perish, even when he hath no enemy.

  9. Behold the prince that guardeth his subjects from enemies both within and without: if he punish them when they go wrong it is not a blemish: it is his duty.

  10. Punishing the wicked with death is like the removing of weeds from the cornfield.



  1. Behold the prince who oppresseth his subjects and doth iniquity: he is worse than an assassin.

  2. A request from him who holdeth the sceptre is like the stand and deliver of the highway robber.

  3. Behold the prince who doth not oversee his administration every day and remove the irregularities therein: his sovereignty will wear away day by day.

  4. Behold the thoughtless prince whose rule swerveth from the ways of justice: he will lose his kingdom and his substance also.

  5. Verily it is the tears of those groaning under oppression that wear away the prosperity of the prince.

  6. It is just rule that bringeth renown unto princes: and an unjust government darkeneth their glory.

  7. How fareth the earth under a rainless sky? even so fare the people under the rule of a cruel prince.

  8. The condition of the rich man is more galling than that of the poor under the rule of the tyrant prince.

  9. The heavens will not send showers in their season if the prince swerveth from justice and right.

  10. The udders of the cow will be dried up and the Brahman will forget his science if the prince ruleth not with justice.


Abstaining from Deeds That Cause Trepidation

  1. The prince shall measure the guilt of the offender and punish him so that he offend not again: but the punishment shall not be excessive.

  2. Those that desire that their power shall last, let them brandish the rod smartly but lay it on soft.

  3. Behold the prince who ruleth with a rod of iron and causeth anguish unto his people: he shall stand without a friend and perish forthwith.

  4. Behold the prince whose cruelty is a byword among his people: his days will be shortened and he will perish forthwith.

  5. Behold the dour-faced prince who is inaccessible to his people: the wealth in his hands is like treasure guarded by a demon.

  6. If the prince is harsh of word and unforgiving, his prosperity, be it ever so great, will come to an end quickly.

  7. Words that are harsh and punishments that are excessive are the files that file away the iron of power.

  8. Behold the prince who will not take counsel with his councillors but who falleth into a passion when his projects fail: his prosperity will wane away.

  9. Behold the prince who looketh not to his defences while yet there is time: when he is surprised by a war be will be seized with trembling and perish quickly.

  10. The tyranny that yoketh to itself charlatans is the only burden under which the earth groaneth: there is none other beside.



  1. Behold that ravishing Beauty called Considerateness: the world cannot go on smoothly without her.

  2. In considerateness have the amenities of life their existence: those who possess it not are a burden unto the earth.

  3. To what end is the song that cannot be sung? and what is the worth of the eye that showeth not indulgence?

  4. What is the use of eyes that merely show in the face, if they show not consideration for others according to their measure?

  5. Indulgence is the ornament of the eye: the eye that hath it not will be looked upon as a mere sore.

  6. Behold the men whose eyes show not consideration towards others: verily they are no better than the trees of the earth.

  7. Verily they are blind, those who are not considerate towards others: and there are none that truly see but are indulgent to others’ faults.

  8. Behold the man who can be considerate towards others without derogating from any of his duties: he will inherit the earth.

  9. It is nobility to forbear and show indulgence even unto those that have offended thee.

  10. Those who desire to be styled the very pink of courtesy will drink off even the poison that hath been mixed for them before their very eyes.


The Service of Intelligence

  1. Let the prince understand that Political Science and his Intelligence Corps are the eyes wherewith he seeth.

  2. It is the duty of the prince to learn betimes everything that befalleth every man and every day.

  3. Behold the prince that learneth not the happenings about him by means of scouts and spies: conquests are not for him.

  4. The prince shalt set spies to watch closely the officers of the realm, his own kindred, and his enemies.

  5. Behold the man who can wear an unsuspicious appearance, who will not know confusion before any man, and who can guard his secrets from ever leaking out: he is the proper man for the work of Intelligence.

  6. Spies and scouts shall disguise themselves as ascetics and holy men, and their investigation shall be thorough: and whatever is done them, they shall not let out their secrets.

  7. Behold the man who can draw out secrets from others and whose information is ever unconfused and clear: he is the man for the work of intelligence.

  8. Even the information that hath been obtained by a spy shall be tested by that of another.

  9. See that no spy knoweth the others engaged in the same work: when three reports agree, thou mayest give credence to them.

  10. Reward not openly thy officers of Intelligence: for if thou do, thou merely lettest out thy own secret.



  1. Those that possess energy are alone to be called rich: as to those that possess it not, do they really possess what they own?

  2. Energy is the veritable possession of a man: for wealth endureth not forever and will depart from him one day.

  3. Behold the men that hold in their hands the resource called energy: they will never despair, saying, Alas, we are ruined!

  4. Behold the man who remitteth not ever from his activity: Good Fortune inquireth the way to his home.

  5. The water with which a plant is watered is the measure of the luxuriance of its flower: even so, the spirit of a man is the measure of his fortunes.

  6. Let all thy purposes be grand: for then even if they fail, their glory will tarnish never.

  7. Men of spirit flinch not before a defeat: the elephant planteth his legs only more firmly when he is hit by the deep-piercing arrow.

  8. Behold the men that are wanting in energy: the glory of an exhaustless liberality can never be theirs.

  9. What availeth his size and his sharp tapering tusks? The heart of the elephant sinketh when he seeth the tiger spring.

  10. Exuberance of spirit, that alone is strength: those that have it not are mere stocks: their human bodies alone make the difference.


Abstention from Sloth

  1. The perennial light called Family will be extinguished if it is invaded by the foul vapour of sloth.

  2. Let them call sloth by its real name and avoid it, those who desire to establish their family on a solid foundation.

  3. Behold the fool who huggeth assassin sloth unto his heart: his family will fall even before his day is ended.

  4. Behold the men who are sunk in sloth and who turn not their hand to any noble undertakings: their family will go to ruin and their vices will grow apace.

  5. Procrastination, forgetfulness, sloth, and sleep, these four are the cosy pleasure boats of those that are fated to perish.

  6. The slothful can never thrive in the world even though they have the favour of princes.

  7. Behold the men who are slothful and who turn not their hand to any noble undertakings: they will listen to much reproof and contumely.

  8. If sloth find a home in a family, the family will soon be in bondage to its foes.

  9. The afflictions that may have befallen a man’s family will cease to exist the moment he giveth up sloth.

  10. Behold the prince that knoweth not sloth: he will bring within his sway all that hath been measured by the steps of Trivikrama.28


Manly Exertion

  1. Shrink not from any work saying, It is impossible: for labour will give thee the strength to achieve everything.

  2. Beware of leaving any work unfinished: for the world careth not for those that do not complete the work that they have once begun.

  3. The proud pleasure of being able to serve all men belongeth only to the greatness that shrinketh not from any exertion.

  4. Like unto a sword in the hands of a eunuch is the liberality of the indolent man: it will not endure.

  5. The man who loveth not pleasure but loveth work is a pillar of strength unto his friends and will wipe away their tears of grief.

  6. Industry is the mother of Prosperity: but Indolence only bringeth forth Misery.

  7. In sloth hath the Genius of Wretchedness her home: but the Lotus-born One29 resideth in the labour of him who yieldeth not to sloth.

  8. It is no shame if fortune faileth a man but it is a disgrace if he abstain deliberately from exertion.

  9. Even though the Gods be against, Industry is bound to pay the wages of labour.

  10. They will snap their fingers even at Destiny who succumb not to it but labour unremittingly in despite of it.


Intrepidity in the Face of Misfortune

  1. When thou meetest with misfortune face it with thy best smile: for there is nothing like a smile to enable a man to hold his own against it.

  2. A whole sea of troubles will abase themselves the moment a shifty mind collecteth itself to face them.

  3. Troubles they send away troubled who trouble not themselves at the sight of troubles.

  4. Behold the man who is prepared to strain his every nerve like the bull-buffalo to wade through every difficulty: he may meet with obstacles but he will send them away disappointed.

  5. Behold the man whose heart sinketh not even at a whole host of troubles arrayed against him: the obstacles in his path have themselves met with an obstacle.

  6. The men that exult not at good fortune, can they ever fret themselves saying, Alas! we are ruined?

  7. The wise know that the body is a target unto misfortune: and so they worry themselves not when they meet with a calamity.

  8. Behold the man who loveth not pleasure and who knoweth that difficulties are a part of the law of things: he smarteth not ever under any check.

  9. The man who runneth not after pleasure in the day of success suffereth not pain in the day of failure.

  10. Behold the man who looketh upon the stress and strain of exertion as a veritable joy: he will be extolled by his very enemies.

Section II

The Members of the Body Politic


The Councillor of State

  1. Behold the man who judgeth aright the ways and means of achieving great enterprises and the proper season to commence them: he is the proper man for the Council.

  2. Study, resolution, manly exertion, and loving attention to the welfare of the people, these four make along with the last the five qualifications of the Councillor.

  3. He is the able minister who possesseth the capacity to disunite allies, to cherish and keep up existing friendships, and to reunite those who have become enemies.

  4. Judgment in the choice of projects and the means of their execution, and positiveness in the expression of opinion are necessary qualities in the Councillor.

  5. Behold the man who knoweth the law and aboundeth in instruction, is deliberate in his speech and always understandeth what is fit for each occasion: he is the Councillor for thee.

  6. What is there that is too subtle for men who add knowledge of books unto natural intelligence?

  7. Even though thou art wise in thy knowledge of books, gather thou the wisdom of experience and act in accordance therewith.

  8. The prince may be a fool and may thwart him at every step: but the duty of the Councillor is always to point to him what is just and proper.

  9. Behold the minister that sitteth in the Council and plotteth the ruin of his prince: he is more dangerous than seven hundred million enemies.

  10. The irresolute may even plan perfectly: but they will waver in the course of the execution and will never accomplish their designs.



  1. The blessing of the tongue is a blessing indeed: for it is a blessing apart and formeth not part of other blessings.

  2. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: guard thou therefore against imprudence of speech.

  3. Behold the speech that bindeth friends more closely and fascinateth even enemies: that alone is worthy of its name.

  4. Weigh each circumstance aright and then speak the speech that is fit: for the increase of righteousness and profit there is no other thing of more worth to thee than it.

  5. Speak thou the speech that cannot be silenced by any other speech.

  6. To speak so as to captivate one’s own hearers and to seize the sense in the words of others, that is the part of the consummate statesman.

  7. Behold the man who is eloquent of speech and knoweth neither confusion nor fear: it is impossible for anyone to beat him in debate.

  8. Behold the men whose speech is well ordered and couched in persuasive language: the world will be at their beck and call.

  9. Verily they have a passion for much speaking who know not to say their mind in few and well chosen words.

  10. Behold the men who cannot expound unto others the knowledge that they have acquired: they are like unto the flower that blossometh but giveth forth no fragrance.


Purity of Action

  1. Alliances bring success unto a man: but purity of action fulfilleth his every desire.

  2. Always turn thy face away from those deeds that bring not glory as well as profit.

  3. Those that desire to rise in the world, let them abjure all action that can tarnish their glory.

  4. Behold the men who see things in their right proportions: even when fallen on evil days they stoop not to action that is dishonourable and mean.

  5. Let not a man do those things which make him cry afterwards, what is it that I have done? and if he hath done any such thing, it is good for him if he doth it not once again.

  6. Let not a man do those things that good men condemn, even to save the mother that bore him from starvation.

  7. The indigence of the worthy is better far than wealth that is amassed by dishonourable means.

  8. Behold the men that shun not those things that are forbidden by good morals: they will come to grief even if they succeed in their designs.

  9. All that is wrong in the midst of tears will depart also accompanied by weepings: but that which is acquired by righteous ways, even if lost in the middle, increaseth in the latter end.

  10. To try to lay by wealth by means of guile is like trying to preserve water in a pot of clay that is not baked.


Decision of Character

  1. Greatness of achievement is nought else but the greatness of the will that striveth therefor: all other things come not near the mark.

  2. To avoid all action that is bound to fail and not to turn away from one’s purpose because of obstacles: these two are said to be the guiding principles of the wise.

  3. The man of action letteth his purpose appear only when that purpose is achieved: for an untimely disclosure would create obstacles that cannot be surmounted.

  4. To say a thing is easy for any man: but to do it in the manner undertaken is a rare thing indeed.

  5. Behold the man who hath acquired a name for the doing of great deeds: his services will be greatly in request with the prince and will be esteemed by all.

  6. That which they will, men acquire even in the manner that they will, provided they will with all their might.

  7. Despise not a man for his look: for there are men who are even as the axle pin of the mighty rolling car.

  8. When thou hast resolved upon a thing with all thy wits about thee, waver not but pursue thy purpose with vigour.

  9. Take up the doing of works that increase happiness: and even if thou have to suffer cruel mortification in the doing of them, steel thy heart and persevere to the end.

  10. Behold the men that have not the ambition to do great deeds: the world will not care for them whatever their other virtues may be.


The Conduct of Affairs

  1. The end of all deliberation is to arrive at a decision: and when a decision is come to, it is wrong to delay the execution thereof.

  2. Do with deliberation those things that ought to be done in a leisurely way: but put not off even for a moment those things that require prompt action.

  3. Go straight for the goal whenever circumstances permit: but when circumstances are against, follow along the path that offereth the least resistance.

  4. Uncompleted work and enemies that are left unsubdued are like unextinguished sparks of fire: they will grow betimes and overwhelm the perfunctory man.

  5. Five things should be carefully considered in the doing of all action, namely, the resources in band, the instrument, the nature of the action itself, the proper time and the proper place for its execution.

  6. Determine first the exertion necessary, the obstacles in the way, and the expected profit, and then undertake thy enterprise.

  7. The way to succeed in any undertaking is to learn the secret thereof from the man who is an expert in it.

  8. Men decoy one elephant by means of another: even so make one enterprise the means of achieving a second.

  9. Placate enemies even more swiftly than thou rewardest friends.

  10. The weak should not care to live in the midst of constant alarms: when an opportunity offereth itself they should submit to an alliance with the strong.


The Ambassador

  1. A kind heart, high birth, and manners that captivate princes, these are the qualifications of the ambassador.

  2. A loving nature, a wise understanding, and skill in speech, these three are indispensable to the envoy.

  3. Behold the man who undertaketh to speak before princes words that shall profit his master: he shall be a scholar among scholars.

  4. Let that man go on embassies who possesseth intelligence and learning and a commanding presence.

  5. Conciseness of speech, sweetness of tongue and a careful eschewing of all disagreeable language, these are the means by which the ambassador shall work his master’s profit.

  6. Learning, sangfroid, persuasive speech, and a just instinct for what is meet for each occasion, all these are necessary qualifications in the envoy.

  7. He is the fittest ambassador who hath a just eye for time and place, who knoweth his duty, and who weigheth his words before uttering them.

  8. The man that is sent on embassies shall be firm of mind, pure of heart, and engaging in his ways.

  9. Behold the firm-minded man that will never let fall from his lips words that are weak and unbecoming: he is the fit man to deliver the messages of princes at foreign courts.

  10. Even when threatened with death the perfect ambassador will not fail in his duty but will endeavour to secure his master’s profit.


Comporting Oneself Before Princes

  1. Whoever desireth to move with princes, let him be like unto the men that warm themselves at a fire: let him not approach too near nor stand too far away.

  2. Not to itch for those things that the prince desireth: that is the secret of acquiring his lasting favour and thereby growing in affluence.

  3. If thou desire not to fall into disgrace steer clear of all graver failings: for once suspicion is roused, it is impossible for anyone to remove it.

  4. Speak not in whispers in the presence of the great ones: nor smile to another’s face when they are near.

  5. Do not try to overhear any conversation nor to fish out that which is withheld from thee: and then only receive the secret when it is imparted to thee.

  6. Take into thy consideration the humour of the prince and the season that is, and then speak the words that will please him.

  7. Speak those things before the prince that are pleasant to him; but things that are unprofitable, speak not ever even if he demandeth.

  8. Trifle not with the prince because he is young or because he is thy kinsman or connection: but walk with awe before the light that is within him.

  9. Behold the men whose vision is unconfused and clear: they never do things that displease the prince, saying, we are favoured of him.

  10. The men that rely on their intimacy with the prince and do unworthy deeds will perish.


Judging by Looks

  1. Behold the man who divineth what is in the mind before the voice uttereth it: he is an ornament unto all the world.

  2. Look upon that man as a God who divineth with certitude that which is in the heart.

  3. Behold the men that can judge a man’s intentions from his looks: take them into thy council at whatever cost.

  4. The men that understand without words may have the same features with the men that do not so understand: but they form a class apart.

  5. What is the place of the eve among the organs of sense, if it divineth not by a look that which is in the heart?

  6. Even as the crystal changeth and assumeth the colour of that which is near, even so doth the face alter and show that which overfloweth the heart.

  7. What is there that is subtler than the face? for whether the heart is angry or glad it is the face that expresseth it first.

  8. If thou canst find a man that is able to read the inside of thy heart without words, it is enough that thou merely lookest towards him and thy wishes will be fulfilled.

  9. If there are men who understand its moods and tricks, the eye alone will declare whether there is hatred in the heart or friendship.

  10. The measuring rod of those that call themselves subtle is, when thou search for it, nought else but their eye.


Judging of the Audience

  1. O ye that know how to weigh your words! study well your audience and suit your speech to it.

  2. O ye that have the gift of eloquence! ascertain the mood of your audience first and then speak after careful deliberation.

  3. Behold the men that take upon themselves to address an assembly without studying its nature: they know not the art of speaking nor are they good for anything else.

  4. Discuss wisdom in the congregation of the wise: but answer fools according to the measure of their folly.

  5. Behold the self-control that denieth itself the lead in an assembly of ancients: it is a virtue that outshineth even other virtues.

  6. A failure before men of understanding is like falling off from the way of righteousness.

  7. The learning of the scholar shineth forth in all its brilliance only in an assembly of accomplished critics.

  8. Delivering an address of good counsel to men of understanding is like watering the roots of living plants.

  9. O ye that desire to delight the wise by your discourses! beware of addressing even by mistake an audience of fools.

  10. A discourse spoken before the unworthy is like unto ambrosia spilled on filthy ground.


Self-Confidence Before an Audience

  1. Behold the men that know how to weigh their words: they will also know how to order their discourse and will not fail before a wise audience.

  2. Behold the man who can sustain his conclusions in the congregation of the learned: he will be called a scholar among scholars.

  3. They are common, those that can brave death on the battlefield: but they are rare who can face an audience without trembling.

  4. Place before the learned that which thou hast mastered: and that which thou knowest not, learn from them that excel therein.

  5. Master thou the science of reasoning that thou mayest speak without fear in any assembly.

  6. What have they to do with swords, those who have no mettle in them? and what have they to do with books, those who are afraid to face the assembly of the wise?

  7. Even as the sword in the hand of the eunuch on the battlefield is the learning of him who is afraid to face an audience.

  8. Behold the men who cannot drive home their point before a learned assembly: even if they possess varied learning they are good for nothing.

  9. Behold the men that possess learning but fear to face an assembly of learned men: they will be esteemed lower than even the ignorant.

  10. Behold the men that are afraid before an assembly and are unable to expound what they have learned: though they breathe, they are no better than dead men.


The Country

  1. That is the great country which never faileth in its yield of harvests, and which is the abode of sages and of rich men that are worthy.

  2. That is the great country which attracteth men to itself by the greatness of its wealth and which yieldeth abundantly for that it is free from pests.

  3. Behold the great nation: even if burdens upon burdens press down upon it, it will support them bravely and pay its taxes in full withal.

  4. That is the great country which is free from famines and plagues, and which is safe from the invasions of enemies.

  5. That is the great nation which is not divided into warring sects, which is free from murderous anarchists, and which hath no traitors within its bosom to ruin it.

  6. Behold the land that hath known no devastation by its foes, and which, even should it suffer any, would not bate one whit in its yield: it will be called a jewel among the countries of the world.

  7. The waters of the surface, the waters that flow underground, rainwater, well-situated mountains, and strong fortifications, these are indispensable to every country.

  8. Wealth, richness of yield, happiness, immunity from diseases, and safety from invasions, these five are the ornaments of a kingdom.

  9. That alone deserveth to be called country which produceth abundantly without the labour of the people: that which yieldeth only unto labour deserveth not that name.

  10. Even if a country hath all these blessings it is worth nothing if it is not blessed in its ruler.



  1. Fortresses are helpful to the weak who are thinking only of their defence: but they are also no less helpful to the strong and powerful.

  2. Watercourses, deserts, mountains, and thick jungles, all these constitute various kinds of defensive barriers.

  3. Height, thickness, strength, and impregnability, these are the four requisites that Science demandeth of fortresses.

  4. That is the best fortress which is vulnerable in very few places but at the same time is spacious, and which is capable of breaking the assaults of those that attempt to take it.

  5. Impregnability, facility of defence for the garrison, and abundance of provisions inside, these are the essential requisites of the fortress.

  6. That is the real fortress which is filled with stores of every kind and which is garrisoned by men that will make a brave defence.

  7. That is the veritable fortress which cannot be reduced whether by a regular siege or by storm or even by mining.

  8. That is the veritable fortress which enableth the garrison to defeat the besiegers even when they exert their utmost against it.

  9. That is the veritable fortress which hath been rendered impregnable by works of various kinds, and which enableth the defenders to fell down their adversaries even at the outermost enceintes.

  10. But however strong a fortress may be, it will avail nothing if the defenders show not vigour in action.


The Acquisition of Wealth

  1. There is nothing like wealth to lend so much consequence to men of no consequence.

  2. The indigent are decried by all: but everyone exalteth the man of substance.

  3. The unflickering light called wealth lighteth up all dark places unto him that possesseth it.

  4. Behold the substance that is acquired by means that are not evil: righteousness floweth therefrom and happiness also.

  5. Affect not the substance that is divorced from mercy and kindliness, and touch it not with thy hands.

  6. Escheats and derelicts, customs duties, and prize acquired in war, all these contribute to build up the wealth of the prince.

  7. Compassion which is the child of Love requireth for tending it the kindly nurse called Wealth.

  8. Behold the wealthy man who taketh an enterprise on hand: he is like one who watcheth an elephant-fight from the top of a hill.30

  9. Amass wealth: for there is no sharper steel to cleave thy foeman’s pride.

  10. Behold the man that hath laid up for himself wealth in great profusion: both the other objects of life31 are within his reach.


The Characteristics of the Army

  1. A well-organised and puissant army that feareth not danger is the first among the possessions of the prince.

  2. It is only veterans that can hold out in desperate situations with grim determination, regardless of decimating attacks.

  3. What though they roar even like the ocean? an army of rats will be annihilated at a single whiff of the cobra’s breath.

  4. That alone deserveth the name of army which knoweth no defeat, which is incapable of being corrupted, and which hath a long tradition of valour behind it.

  5. That alone deserveth the name of army which can face valiantly even the God of Death if he should advance against it in all his fury.

  6. Valour, honour, a clear head, and a thorough acquaintance with the history of the great wars of the past, these four are the armours of protection for an army.

  7. That which deserveth the name of army always goeth for the enemy: for it is confident of overcoming him when he offereth battle.

  8. Superiority of armament is a compensation when the army is lacking in dash or steadiness.

  9. The army will always win provided that it is not inferior in numbers, hath no implacable jealousies, and is not left to starve without pay.

  10. Even if there is no lack of troops of the line, there is no army when there are no chiefs to lead.


The Self-Abandon of the Warrior

  1. Face not my master in battle, O ye foes! for many are the men that challenged him and are now lying in stone-marked graves.

  2. The javelin that is aimed at a tusker but misseth bringeth more glory than the arrow that is aimed at a hare and even hitteth.

  3. The furious courage that striketh hard, that is what they call valour: but it is chivalrous generosity to the fallen that giveth it its edge.

  4. The warrior hurled his spear at the elephant and was hurrying back to look for another: but he noticed the spear buried in his own body and smiled with joy as he plucked it out.32

  5. Is it not a shame to the hero if his eye doth so much as wink when the lance is hurled at him?

  6. The hero counteth those days as wasted on which he receiveth not deep gashes on his body.

  7. Behold the men that care not for their lives but yearn for the fame that encompasseth the earth about: the anklet that they wear round their foot is a very feast to the eye.

  8. Behold the men of valour that fear not for their lives on the battlefield: they forget not their discipline even when their chief is severe upon them.

  9. Who hath the right to blame the men who lose their lives in the attempt to accomplish that which they have undertaken?

  10. If one can die so as to draw tears from the eyes of one’s chief, one may even go a-begging in order to obtain for oneself such a death.



  1. What is there in the world that is so difficult to acquire as friendship? and what other armour equalleth it as a defence against the machinations of foes?

  2. Like unto the waxing of the moon is the friendship of the worthy: but the alliance of fools is like the waning thereof.

  3. The friendship of the worthy is like the studying of great books: the more thou approachest them, the more charms thou wilt discover in them.

  4. The object of friendship is not merrymaking: but the restraining and reproving of oneself when one goeth astray.

  5. Constant meeting and companionship are superfluous: it is the union of hearts that maketh strong the bond of friendship.

  6. Friendship is not the comradeship that smileth to the face: it is rather the love that delighteth the heart.

  7. That man alone is thy friend who turneth thee aside from wrong, directeth thee toward the right, and beareth thee company in misfortune.

  8. Behold the hand of the man whose garment hath been blown aside, how it hurrieth to re-cover his limbs: that is the symbol of the true friend that hasteneth to succour a man in his misfortune.

  9. Where doth friendship hold its court? It is where two hearts beat in perfect unison and combine to lift each other up in every possible way.

  10. There is beggary in the friendship that can be reckoned, though it boasteth saying, Thus much do I love him and thus much he loveth me.


Testing of Fitness for Friendship

  1. There is no greater ill than making a friend without first testing him: for, once a friendship is formed, there is no giving it up for the man of heart.

  2. Behold the man that maketh men his friends without previously testing them: he courteth disasters which will only end in his death.

  3. Take into thy consideration the family of the man whom thou desirest to make thy friend, his virtues and his vices, and the whole range of his associates and connections: and then befriend him if he is worthy.

  4. Behold the man who is born of a good family and who dreadeth disgrace: one ought to acquire his friendship even by paying a price for it if necessary.

  5. Look for the men who know the way of the wise and can reprove and chastise thee whenever thou go astray: and make them thy friends.

  6. There is a virtue even in misfortune: for it is the rod wherewith to measure thy friends.

  7. To discard the friendship of fools, that is veritable profit for a man.

  8. Think not the thoughts that depress the heart: nor make the friendship of men who will abandon thee the moment thou art down.

  9. The friendship of men that betray in the day of disaster would burn the heart that thinketh on it even at the moment of death.

  10. Cultivate with ardour the friendship of the pure; as to men that are unworthy of thee, discard thou their association even if it be by giving them a present.



  1. That friendship is called intimacy which submitteth without resenting to all the freedoms taken by the beloved one.

  2. To be free and easy with each other, that is the heart of true friendship: and it is the part of worthy men never to resent such familiarities.

  3. Of what avail is friendship that is longstanding if it acquiesceth not in the liberties taken in its name?

  4. When friends rely on their intimacy and do a thing without leave, the warmhearted will think of their love and will take it in good part.

  5. When friends do a thing that paineth thee, account thou it as much to their feeling of perfect oneness with thee as to their ignorance.

  6. The perfect friend giveth not up the friend of his heart even though he hath been the cause of his ruin.

  7. Behold the man who hath loved dearly and long: he bateth not in his affection for his friend even though he cause him damage frequently.

  8. Behold the men who refuse to listen to any imputations against the friend of their bosom: the day that he doth them an injury is a feast-day unto them.33

  9. Behold the man who loveth another with a deathless affection: the whole world will hold him dear.

  10. Behold the men that alter not in their affection for their old friends: even enemies will look upon them with tenderness.


The Friendship That Injureth

  1. Behold the men who look as if they would eat thee up for very love, but who love thee not in their hearts: their friendship is sweeter in the waning than in the waxing.

  2. Behold the unworthy wretches who would fawn on thee when it is to their profit and forsake thee when thou canst serve them no more: what mattereth it whether thou gain their friendship or lose it?

  3. Behold the men that calculate how much they can gain by a friend: they are of the same class with harlots and thieves.

  4. There are men who are like the unbroken horse which throweth down its rider on the battlefield and gallopeth away: it is far better to be lonely than to have such men for friends.

  5. Behold the vile men that forsake a trusting friend at the time of his need: it is better not to possess their friendship than to possess it.

  6. The enmity of the wise is ten million times better than the intimacy of fools.

  7. The hate of enemies is a hundred million times more valuable than the friendship of boon companions and flatterers.

  8. Behold the men that will place obstructions on thy path while thou art at thy work: tell them not a word, but drop their friendship little by little.

  9. Behold the men whose acts belie their spoken words: it is bitter to recall their fellowship even in dreams.

  10. Behold the men that speak sweet in the closet but disparage in the assembly: do not approach them in any degree.


False Friendship

  1. The friendship that an enemy pretendeth is only an anvil whereon to hammer thee when he seeth his opportunity.

  2. Behold the men who look like friends but are enemies at heart: their friendship will alter even as the heart of a woman.

  3. Even if his studies are great and godly, it is impossible for an enemy to cast off the hate in his heart.

  4. Fear thou the hypocritical ruffians that smile to the face but nurse their spite within their bosom.

  5. Behold the men whose hearts are not with thee: though their words tempt thee, place not the slightest faith in them.

  6. An enemy will be revealed in a moment though he speak the tender language of friendship.

  7. Trust not an enemy though he bendeth low in his speech: for the bending of the bow forebodeth nothing but harm.

  8. Even in his joined hands thy enemy will have a weapon concealed: nor put thou more faith in his tears.

  9. Behold the men that make much of thee in public but laugh thee to scorn in secret: humour thou them openly but crush them even in the embrace of friendship.

  10. When thou canst not yet break openly with thy foe, feign friendship to his face but keep him off from thy heart.



  1. Dost thou want to know what folly is? It is the throwing away of that which is profitable and the holding fast to that which is hurtful.

  2. The chiefest among all kinds of folly is the folly of inclining the heart towards conduct that is unbecoming to oneself.

  3. The fool is neglectful of duties and rude of speech, and callous to all sense of shame: and he will cherish nothing that is good.

  4. There is a man that is learned and subtle and a teacher of others, and yet continueth to be the slave of his passions himself: there is no greater fool than he.

  5. The fool hath the gift of sowing in one birth the seeds of misery for all his future incarnations.

  6. Behold the fool that taketh in his hand an enterprise of moment: he will not merely spoil it, he will qualify also for fetters.

  7. If the fool should come by a great fortune it is strangers that will feast and his kindred will only starve.

  8. If the fool obtaineth anything of value he will behave like a madman who is also grown tipsy.

  9. Greatly delectable is the friendship of fools: one feeleth no pangs when one parteth from them.

  10. Even as is the placing of an unwashed foot on the couch, even so is the entrance of the fool in an assembly of men of worth.


Conceited Folly

  1. The veritable poverty is the poverty of sense: the world regardeth not other poverty as poverty.

  2. When a fool bestoweth a gift of his own free will, it is simply the good fortune of the receiver and nothing else.

  3. The troubles that a fool bringeth down on his head, it is hard even for his enemies to cause him.

  4. Dost thou want to know what is shallowness of wit? It is the conceit that sayeth to itself, I am wise.

  5. Behold the fool that pretendeth unto knowledge that be possesseth not: he raiseth doubts even as to those things that he really knoweth.

  6. Where is the good of the fool covering his nakedness, if the deformities of his mind are still left uncovered?

  7. Behold the shallow man that cannot keep a secret to himself: he will bring down great calamities on his own head.

  8. Behold the man who neither listeneth to advice nor knoweth for himself what is right: all the days of his life he is a plague to his fellows.

  9. He that trieth to open the eyes of a fool is a fool himself: for the fool seeth but one way and that way is never wrong in his eyes.

  10. Behold the man who denieth what all the world doth assert: he will be looked upon as a devil in human shape.


The Defiant Spirit

  1. The spirit of defiance is the peccant humour which developpeth in all men the distemper called hate.

  2. Even when thy neighbour injureth thee with the deliberate purpose of picking a quarrel, even then it is best not to harbour vengeance or return the injury.

  3. The habit of defying others is verily a grievous malady: if a man freeth himself from it, he will acquire everlasting fame.

  4. The highest joys will be within thy reach if thou reject from thy heart that greatest of evils, the defiant spirit.

  5. Who can desire the overthrow of the man who hath the talent to avoid hostilities?

  6. Behold the man who taketh delight in breathing defiance against his neighbours: it will not be long before he doth stumble and fall.

  7. Behold the prince of spiteful nature who is ever addicted to strife: he will be blind to the policy that advanceth nations.

  8. The avoiding of strife leadeth unto prosperity: but if thou allow it to grow apace, ruin will not lag far behind.

  9. When fortune is about to smile on a man he will ignore all provocation: but when Destiny hath decreed him ruin, he will set no bounds to his defiance of his neighbours.

  10. From defiance springeth all that is bitter: but good will yieldeth the glorious fruit of peace and harmony.


The Characteristics of Enemies

  1. Strive not with the powerful: but against those that are weaker than thyself carry on wars without relaxing even for one moment.

  2. Behold the prince who is cruel, and who hath neither allies nor the strength to stand alone: how is he going to withstand his enemy’s forces?

  3. There is a prince that hath neither courage nor understanding nor liberality, and yet will not live in peace with his neighbours: he is an easy prey to his foes.

  4. Behold the prince who is always ill-tempered and who controlleth not his tongue: he will be an easy prey to everybody at all times and at all places.

  5. There is a prince who is tactless, who careth not for honour, and who neglecteth the science of politics and the works that it enjoineth: verily he is a joy unto his enemies.

  6. Behold the prince who is a slave to his lust and who loseth his reason in the blindness of rage: his enmity will be welcomed by his foes.

  7. Behold the prince who undertaketh an enterprise but doth things that accord not with its success: verily one should seek his enmity even by paying a price for it if necessary.

  8. If a prince hath no virtues and many vices he will have no allies and his enemies will rejoice.

  9. Enemies rejoice exceedingly when they get a fool and a coward to contend against.

  10. Behold the prince who careth not even to fight his foolish neighbour and obtain an easy victory: glory will reject him for evermore.


The Appraising of Enemies

  1. The accursed thing called enmity should never be courted willingly even though it be only in jest.

  2. Even if thou challenge the men whose weapon is the bow, provoke not the men whose weapon is their tongue.

  3. Behold the prince that hath no allies but challengeth to war a multitude of foes: he is more insane than even a madman.

  4. Behold the prince that hath the tact to convert enemies into allies: his power will last without end.

  5. If thou hast to contend alone and without allies against two enemies, try to gain over one of them to thy side.

  6. Whether thou hast decided to make a neighbour thy friend or thine enemy, do not make him either when thou art embarrassed, but leave him alone.

  7. Reveal not thy troubles to men who know it not: neither expose thy weaknesses to thine enemies.

  8. Form a wise plan, consolidate thy resources, and provide for thy defences: if thou do this, it will not be long before the pride of thy enemies is humbled to the dust.

  9. Fell down thorn-trees while yet they are young: for when they are overgrown they will themselves cut the hand that attempteth to fell them.

  10. Verily they shall not last long, those who humble not the pride of men who defy them.


The Traitor in the Camp

  1. Even groves and fountains give no joy if they breed disease: even so kinsmen too are an abomination when they seek one’s ruin.

  2. Fear not the foe that is like the naked sword: but beware of the enemy that cometh as a friend.

  3. Guard thyself against the secret enemy: for in the moment of embarrassment he will cut thee clean like the potter’s steel.

  4. If thou have an enemy that masqueradeth about as thy friend, he will soon corrupt thy kindred and bring down a multitude of evils on thy head.

  5. When a kinsman turneth traitor against thee, he will bring on thee a multitude of evils and jeopardise thy very life.

  6. When treachery invadeth the entourage of the prince, it is impossible that he falleth not a prey to it one day or other.

  7. The house that is divided against itself is like a vessel that is fitted with a lid: though it appeareth to be a single unit, it will never make a united whole.

  8. Behold the house that is divided against itself: it will crumble to dust even like a piece of iron that is filed with a file.

  9. Though the split be small even like a slit in a sesamum seed, ruin hangeth over the house that is divided against itself.

  10. Behold the man who mixeth on intimate terms with one who hateth him in his heart: he is like one dwelling in a hut with a cobra for his companion.


Refraining from Offending the Great Ones

  1. The greatest care of a man that looketh to his safety should be to guard himself carefully from offending the Great Ones.

  2. If a man slighteth the Great Ones, their power will bring down on him miseries without end.

  3. Dost thou seek thy annihilation? then close thy ears to good counsel and offer provocation to men who have the power to destroy thee when they please.

  4. Behold the weak man slighting men of might and power: it is as if he beckoneth to the God of Death to come to him.

  5. Behold the men who provoke the wrath of princes of the mighty arm: wheresoever they go they will not thrive.

  6. Even men who are caught in a conflagration may escape alive: but there is no safety for men who wrong the mighty ones.

  7. Where will be thy life with its varied glories and thy wealth with all its splendour, if sages, strong in the strength of the spirit, are incensed against thee?

  8. Behold the princes who look as if they are established on an everlasting foundation: even they will perish with all their kin if men who are mighty as the mountain but will their doom.

  9. Even the king of the Gods will fail from his place and lose his sovereignty if men of holy vows look on him in anger.

  10. Even men who rest upon the most solid of supports will not be saved if men of great spiritual power frown on them.


Submission to Wife Government

  1. Those that dote upon their wives will not attain to greatness: those that have the ambition to do great things turn away from such seduction.

  2. Behold the man who hath an abject infatuation for his wife: in the very midst of his prosperity he will be a byword among men, and he will have to hide his face in shame.

  3. The weakling who humbleth himself before his wife will always be ashamed to show his face before the worthy.

  4. Behold the salvation-less wretch that trembleth before his wife: his talents will never be held in any esteem.

  5. The man who feareth his wife will never have the courage to do a service even to the worthy.

  6. Behold the men who stand in awe of the tender arms of their wives: though they live like Gods no man will respect them.

  7. Behold the man that submitteth to petticoat government: a bashful maid hath more dignity in her than he.

  8. Behold the men that allow themselves to be governed by their wives: they will not satisfy the wants of their friends, neither will they do anything that is good.

  9. Behold the men that submit to petticoat government: neither righteousness nor wealth nor even the joy of love will be found with them.

  10. Behold the men whose thoughts are set on great affairs and who are the favourites of fortune: they yield not to the folly of doting on their wives.



  1. Behold the women that desire a man for the sake of his gold and not for the sake of love: their cajoleries will lead only to misery.

  2. Behold the women who speak honeyed words, but whose thoughts are ever fixed on their own profit: consider their ways and keep them at a distance.

  3. The prostitute pretendeth love when she embraceth her lover: but in her heart she feeleth even as one who hath touched a stranger dead body in a dark room.

  4. Behold the men whose hearts are inclined to deeds of purity: they defile themselves not with the touch of harlots.

  5. Behold the men who add deep study to a clear understanding: they defile themselves not with the touch of women whose charms are free to all.

  6. Behold the men that have a regard for their own good: they touch not the hand of wantons who put up their lewd charms for sale.

  7. Behold the men who are light-minded: they will seek the women who embrace with the body while their heart is somewhere else.

  8. Behold the men who have not a discriminating understanding: the embraces of wily women are to them even as the fascination of the siren of the solitudes.34

  9. The soft arms of the well-decked harlot are the filthy ditch wherein contemptible fools drown themselves.

  10. Women of two hearts, drink, and the dice-table, these are the delights of men when fortune forsaketh them.


Abstaining from Drink

  1. Behold the men who are addicted to drink: they will never be feared by their enemies, and even the glory they have acquired they will lose.

  2. Let none drink: but if they desire, let those men drink who care not for the esteem of worthy men.

  3. The sight of the man who is intoxicated is an abomination even unto his own mother: what must it be then to the worthy?

  4. Behold the man who is addicted to the low vice of drunkenness: the fair one called Shame turneth her back upon him.

  5. It is the veriest idiocy to spend one’s substance and obtain in return only insensibility.

  6. Behold the men who drink the poison called toddy day after day: they are as men that are asleep, neither do they differ from dead men.

  7. Behold the men who drink in secret and pass their days in torpid insensibility: their neighbours will soon find them out, and hold them in utter contempt.

  8. Let not the drunkard pretend, saying, I know not even what it is to be drunk: for thereby he would merely add falsehood to his other vice.

  9. Behold the man who reproveth one who is intoxicated: he is like a man who searcheth torch in hand one who is immersed under water.

  10. The man who seeth while he is sober the drunken state of another man, cannot he picture to himself his own state when he is drunk?



  1. Take not to gambling even if thou win: for thy wins are even as the baited hook that the fish swalloweth.

  2. Behold the gamblers who lose a hundred where they gain but one: is there forsooth a way even for them to thrive in the world?

  3. If a man bet constantly over dice, his substance will only go into stranger hands.

  4. Nothing bringeth on wretchedness so surely as gambling: for it killeth a man’s good name and driveth his heart to every ignoble deed.

  5. Many there have been who were proud of their skill in the throwing of dice and were mad after the gambling-house: but there hath not been a single man of them that did not come to grief.

  6. Behold the men that are blinded by the Genius of Wretchedness who cometh in the form of a passion for gambling: they will starve and suffer every misery.

  7. If thou throw away thy time at the gambling-house, thy inheritance will be consumed and thy fair name will be wiped out.

  8. Gambling will consume thy substance and corrupt thy honesty: it will harden thy heart and bring on thee misery.

  9. Glory, learning, wealth, and even food and clothing will depart from the man who betaketh himself to gambling.

  10. The passion for gambling increaseth with the losses incurred in the bettings: even so doth the craving of the soul for life grow with the griefs that it suffereth therein.



  1. Every one of the three humours described by sages, beginning with the windy one,35 would cause disease whenever they go to either extreme.

  2. The body requireth no medicine if new food is eaten only after the old food is fully digested.

  3. Eat with moderation and after the food that thou hast taken is digested: that is the way to prolong thy days.

  4. Wait till thy food is digested and thy appetite is keen: then eat moderately the food that agreeth with thee.

  5. If thou eat abstemiously the food that doth not disagree with thee thou wilt have no troubles in the body.

  6. Even as Health seeketh the man who eateth only when his stomach is empty, even so doth Disease seek the man who eateth to excess.

  7. Behold the man who glutteth himself foolishly beyond the measure of his internal heat: his diseases will exceed all measure.

  8. Consider the disease and its origin and the means of curing it: and then set about the cure with every precaution.

  9. Let the physician take the measure of the patient and the disease and the season that is: and then let him undertake the cure.

  10. The patient, the physician, the medicine, and the apothecary, on these four doth all cure depend: and four again are the attributes of each of them.36

Section III



Respectability of Birth

  1. Rectitude and a sense of shame come by nature only to men who are born of a good family.

  2. Men of family fall not from three things, namely, correct conduct, truth, and a sense of shame.

  3. Four are the attributes of the true gentleman: a smiling face, a liberal hand, sweetness of speech, and condescension.

  4. Men of family would not tarnish their name even for the sake of tens of millions.

  5. Behold the men of ancient family: they give not up their liberality even when their means of munificence are diminished.

  6. Behold the men who are anxious to keep pure the honourable traditions of their family: they will never take to deceit nor descend to ignoble deeds.

  7. The fault of a man of noble family will show conspicuously even as the spot in the body of the moon.

  8. If rudeness of speech showeth itself in a man coming of a good family, people would even suspect the legitimacy of his descent.

  9. The nature of a soil is known by the seedling that groweth therein: even so is the family of a man known by the words that come out of his mouth.

  10. If thou desire virtue, thou must cultivate the sense of shame: and if thou want to honour thy family, thou must be respectful unto all.



  1. Forbear from those things that would lower thee, even though they should be indispensable for the very preservation of thy life.

  2. Behold the men that desire to leave an honoured name behind them: they will not do that which is not right even for the sake of glory.

  3. Cultivate modesty in the day of prosperity: but in the day of thy decline hold fast to thy dignity.

  4. Behold the men that have soiled a name that was honourable: they are even as the locks of hair that have been shaven off the head and thrown away.

  5. Even men who are grand as a mountain will look small if they do an ignoble thing, though it should be only of the measure of a kunri seed.

  6. It bringeth not glory, neither doth it open the way unto heaven: why then doth a man try to live by fawning on men that despise him?

  7. It is better for a man to meet his doom at once without any ado than to maintain himself by hanging on to those that scorn him.

  8. Is the skin immortal, that men desire to save it even at the cost of honour?

  9. The kavarima giveth up its life when it loseth its wool: there are men who are as sensitive and they put an end to their lives when they cannot save their honour.

  10. Behold the men of honour who refuse to outlive their good name: the world will join its hands and worship at the altar of their glory.



  1. An aspiration for noble achievement, that is what is called greatness: and littleness is the thought that sayeth, I shall live without it.

  2. The manner of birth is the same for all men: but their reputations vary because they differ in the lives that they lead.

  3. Even if they are noble, those that are not noble are not noble; and even if they are lowborn, those that are not low are not low.

  4. Even as chastity in a woman, greatness can be maintained only by being true to one’s own self.

  5. Those that are great have the puissance to employ adequate means and achieve things that are impossible for others.

  6. It is not in the grain of small men to revere the great and earn their good will and favour.

  7. If fortune falleth to the lot of the little-minded their insolence will know no bounds.

  8. Greatness is ever unpretending and modest: but littleness vaunteth its merits before all the world.

  9. Greatness showeth condescension unto all: but littleness is the very acme of insolence.

  10. Greatness is always for screening the infirmities of others: but littleness will talk nothing but scandal.



  1. Behold the men that know their duties and want to cultivate worth in themselves: everything that is good will be a duty in their eyes.

  2. The comeliness of the worthy is the comeliness of their character: the comeliness of the body addeth nothing to their comeliness.

  3. Love to all, sensibility to shame, complaisance, indulgence to the faults of others, and truthfulness, these five are the pillars that support the edifice of a noble character.

  4. The virtue of the saint is non-killing: and the virtue of the worthy man is the abstaining from scandalous speech.

  5. It is humility that is the strength of the strong: and that is also the armour of the man of worth against his foes.

  6. What is the touchstone of worth? It is the acknowledgement of superiority when it is found even in men who are otherwise one’s inferiors.

  7. Where is the superiority of the worthy man if he doth not do good even unto those that work him injury?

  8. Poverty is no disgrace to a man if he possesseth the wealth that is called character.

  9. Behold the men that would not swerve from the path of rectitude even if all else should change in a general convulsion: they will be called the very palladium of worth.

  10. Verily even the earth itself will not be able to support the burden of human life if the worthy were to fall from their worth.



  1. Courteousness, they say, cometh easily to those who receive all men with open arms.

  2. Courteousness cometh of the combination of the two virtues of kindness and good-breeding.

  3. Men are likened to each other not by the cut of their personal appearance, but by the similarity of their manners.

  4. Behold the men who love justice and righteousness, and who are of a helpful disposition: the world setteth a high value on their manners.

  5. Disparaging words pain a man even when uttered only in jest: the well-bred therefore are never discourteous even to their foes.

  6. The world goeth on smoothly because of the men of good-breeding: verily, but for them all this harmony would be dead and buried in the dust.

  7. Though they are sharp as files, the men that are lacking in good manners are no better than mere wooden stocks.

  8. Discourtesy is unbecoming in a man, even were it only against men who are unfriendly and unjust.

  9. Behold the men who cannot smile: in all the wide, wide world they will see nothing but darkness even during the day.

  10. Behold the wealth in the hands of the churlish man: it is even as the milk that is spoiled for being kept in an unclean vessel.


The Wealth That Is Not Put to Good Use

  1. Behold the man who hath laid by in his home treasures in abundance but enjoyeth them not: he is as good as dead, for he maketh no use of them.

  2. Behold the miser that thinketh that wealth is all in all and hoardeth it without giving to any: he will be a demon in his next birth.

  3. Behold the men that are always after hoarding but care not for fame: their existence is a burden unto the earth.

  4. The man who careth not to earn the attachment of his neighbours, what doth he hope to leave behind him when he is dead?37

  5. Behold the men that neither give unto others nor enjoy their wealth themselves: even if they possess tens of millions they really possess nothing.

  6. There is a man that enjoyeth not his wealth nor giveth freely to men of worth: he is a disease unto a great fortune.

  7. Behold the man that giveth not anything to the needy: the wealth in his hands is like a fair damsel that wasteth away her youth in loneliness.

  8. The fortune of the man that is not loved of men is like the fruiting of the poison tree in the midst of the village.

  9. The wealth that is made without any regard to love or righteousness, and by starving oneself, is hoarded only for the behoof of strangers.

  10. The distress of the man of wealth who hath emptied his resources by benefactions is only like the exhaustion of the rain-cloud: it will not continue for long.


Sensitiveness to Shame

  1. The blush of the worthy is for action that become them not: it is therefore quite different to the blush of the fair.

  2. Food, clothing, and progeny are common unto all men: it is in the sensibility to shame that they differ from one another.

  3. The body is the seat of all life: but a virtuous blush is the dwelling place of worth.

  4. Is not the jewel of the worthy their sense of shame? And when a man hath it not, is not his swagger an affliction unto the eye to behold?

  5. Behold the men that blush as much for others’ disgrace as for their own: they will be called the very dwelling place of delicacy.

  6. The worthy refuse to acquire even kingdoms save by means for which they shall not have to blush.

  7. Behold the men that have a delicate sense of shame: they will renounce their lives to save themselves from a disgrace, but will not swallow their shame even in order to save their lives.

  8. If a man blush not for those things that call forth a blush in others, Righteousness will have cause to blush for him.

  9. By neglecting ceremonial observances a man loseth only his family: but every good is lost when he is lost to shame.

  10. The men that are dead to shame live not: they merely feign life even as wooden marionettes that are moved by strings.


Advancing the Family

  1. Nothing advanceth a man’s family so much as his determination never to weary in labouring with his hands.

  2. Manly exertion and a sound understanding: it is the fullness of these two that exalteth the family.

  3. When a man setteth out saying, I shall advance my house, the very Gods gird up their loins and march before him.

  4. Behold the men that remit not in their exertions to raise high their family: the work of their hands will prosper of itself even if they make no elaborate plans therefor.

  5. Behold the man that setteth his family on high without doing iniquity: the whole world will be as a kindred unto him.

  6. That is the supreme manhood which bringeth to a high estate the family wherein one is born.

  7. Even as the brunt of an action falleth on the courageous on the battlefield, even so the burden of keeping up the family lieth only on the shoulders of those that can bear the burden.

  8. There is no season for them that desire the advancement of their family: if they take things easy or stand upon their dignity, their house will be brought low.

  9. Verily, is the body of the man that would protect his family against every ill a receptacle for toils and hardships alone?38

  10. Behold the family that hath no good man to prop it up: calamities will gnaw into its roots and it will fall to the ground.



  1. Roam where they will, men must at last stand behind the plough for their food: in spite of every hardship, therefore, husbandry is the chiefest industry.

  2. Husbandmen are the linchpin of society: for they support all those that take to other work, not having the strength to plough.

  3. They alone live who live by tilling the ground: all others eat only the bread of dependence.

  4. Behold the men whose fields sleep under the shadow of the rich ears of their harvests: they will see the umbrellas of other princes bow down before the umbrella of their own sovereign.

  5. Behold the men that eat the bread of husbandry: they will not only not beg themselves, but they will also give alms to those that beg, without ever saying nay.

  6. Even they who have renounced all desire will have to suffer if the husbandman sitteth still with folded arms.

  7. If thou dry the soil of thy field till an ounce of mould is reduced to a quarter-ounce of dust, then not even a handful of manure will be needed, and the yield would be abundant.

  8. Manuring profiteth more than the ploughing: and when the land is weeded, guarding it profiteth more than irrigation.

  9. If the goodman visiteth not his land but sitteth at home, the land will take huff even as the goodwife.

  10. The fair one called Earth laugheth to herself when she seeth the sluggard cry, saying, Alas, I have nothing to eat.



  1. Wantest thou to know what is more galling than indigence? then know that indigence alone is more galling than indigence.

  2. Caitiff Indigence is an enemy to the joys of this life as well as of the next.

  3. The itching that goeth by the name of Indigence killeth dignity of demeanour and refinement of speech, even though they run in the very blood.

  4. Want will drive even men of high family to forget their dignity and to speak the language of abject servility.

  5. There are a thousand mortifications concealed underneath this one curse called poverty.

  6. The words of the indigent will carry no weight even when they expound grand truths with masterly skill and knowledge.

  7. The poverty that is divorced from virtue will estrange even the mother that bore him from the side of the miserable wretch.

  8. Is Indigence to bear me company even today? It tormented me but only yesterday even unto death.39

  9. It is possible to go to sleep even in the midst of flames: but it is impossible to get even a wink of sleep in the midst of poverty.

  10. The one way open to the indigent is to renounce utterly, their lives: their not doing so is but death to salt and rice-water.40



  1. Thou mayest beg if thou seest men that can afford to do charity: if they feign inability, it is their fault, not thine.

  2. Even begging will be a pleasure if thou canst obtain what thou beggest without suffering any humiliation.

  3. There is a charm even in begging, at the hands of those who understand their duty and do not falsely pretend inability to help.

  4. Behold the man who sayeth not nay to a request even in a dream: begging at the hands of such a man is as honourable as bestowing itself.

  5. If men take freely to begging as a means of livelihood, it is because there are men in the world that refuse not alms.

  6. Behold the men that have not the churlishness to deny charity: the pangs of poverty would cease at the very sight of them.

  7. Behold the men that give without snubbing or huffing the beggar: the heart of the beggar rejoiceth when he meeteth them.

  8. If there were none to beg for alms, the whole world would have no more interest than a dance of marionettes.41

  9. Where would be the glory of men of a liberal hand if there were none in the world to beg of them?

  10. Let not the beggar scowl when a man pleadeth inability to give: for his own need should be enough to show bim that another may be in like condition.


The Dread of Beggary

  1. The man that beggeth not is ten million times worthier than he that beggeth, even though it be only at the hands of men that give lovingly and with all their heart.

  2. If He that made the earth intended that man should live even by begging, may He wander about the world and perish.

  3. Nothing is hardier than the hardihood that sayeth to itself, I shall put an end to my indigence by begging.

  4. Behold the dignity that consenteth not to beg even when reduced to utter destitution: even the whole universe is too small to hold it.

  5. Though it is only gruel thin as water, nothing is more savoury than the food that is earned by the labour of one’s hands.

  6. Even if what thou beggest is only water for the cow, nothing is so humiliating to the tongue to utter as a begging prayer.

  7. Of all that beg I shall beg but this one thing: If ye needs must beg, beg not of those that shirk.

  8. The hapless ship called begging will split the moment that it striketh the rock of dodging.

  9. The heart melteth even when it contemplateth the lot of the beggar: but when it thinketh on the rebuffs that he receiveth, it simply dieth away.

  10. Where doth the life of the dodger hide itself when he sayeth nay? At the mere sound of his rebuff the life of the beggar ebbeth away!42


The Degraded Life

  1. How they take after men, these degraded ones! We have never seen likeness so exact!

  2. Happier than men of conscience are these despicable ones! For they never have any pangs of the mind to feel.

  3. Like unto very Gods are the base ones on earth! For they too are a law unto themselves.

  4. When the degenerate meeteth a reprobate, he would outbeat him in his vices and pride himself on the achievement.

  5. Fear is the only motive force of degenerates: if there is any other at all, it is appetite, and it availeth just a little.

  6. Like unto a tomtom are the base ones: for they cannot rest without giving out to others the secrets that are entrusted to them.

  7. The degenerate would grudge even to jerk his hands moistened with food, save to those that can break his jaw with clenched fists.

  8. The worthy can be commanded by a simple word: but, like the sugarcane, the low can be made to give only by a sound thrashing.

  9. It is enough if he seeth a neighbour clothed and fed: the vile man can always discover vices in his character.

  10. What is the resource of the degenerate when misfortune befalleth him? He hath but one, and that is to sell himself as quickly as possible.

Part III


Section I

The Secret Marriage


The Wound That Beauty Inflicteth


  1. The jewelled form that appeareth yonder, is it a Goddess? or a peacock chosen from among its kind? or is it simply a lovely maid? Verily I am too dazed to tell.

  2. How would it fare with men if the fascinating siren of the solitudes44 assail them with a whole host behind her? So fareth it with me when the lovely one returneth my look.

  3. I never knew Death before: I know it now: it weareth the form of a woman and hath large and battling eyes.

  4. She is simple and gracious, but yet her eyes are versed in the ways of waging war: for they drink the lives of those that look on her.

  5. Is it Death that I behold or simply eyes? or is it the look of the gazelle? for all three are to be found in the glance of this artless one.

  6. It is only when her eyebrows will cease to bend and will veil her looks that her eyes will cease to cause me the pangs that make me tremble.

  7. The vestment that covereth the beauteous breasts of this fair one are even as the eye-cover on the eyes of the infuriate elephant.45

  8. Is it by her fair forehead that my manhood is overcome, the manhood that causeth to tremble even those that have not faced me on the battlefield?

  9. To what end are these trinkets that merely mar her beauty, when she hath the guileless look of the fawn and modesty as her especial ornaments?

  10. Wine giveth joy, but only to him that tasteth it: it can never delight at the mere seeing as doth love.


Reading of the Heart by Signs


  1. Two are the looks of her eye: one of them tortureth the heart, but the other is the balm that healeth it.

  2. The furtive lightning glance that is turned on the lover the moment that his eyes are turned aside, is not merely the half of love: it is more than a moiety.46

  3. She looked, and then she bowed: that was the watering of the young plant of love that was springing between us.

  4. When I look at her, she looketh at the ground: but when I look away, she looketh on me and solely smileth.

  5. She doth not seem to see me, it is true: but she smileth to me the while she affecteth but to wink an eye.

  6. Though they feign to speak as strangers, the words of the loving will be seen through in an instant.

  7. The halfhearted reproach and the offended look are the marks of those who pretend to spurn but who really love us in their hearts.

  8. The slender-shaped maid melteth to see my imploring look and softly smileth: and the gentle smile giveth her an added grace.

  9. It is only in lovers’ eyes that one can see the look of absolute unconcern, as if they were perfect strangers.

  10. When eyes speak their consent to eyes, the words of the mouth are quite superfluous.


In Praise of the Union


  1. All the delights of sight and sound and smell and taste and touch are to be found in their entirety only in this damsel of the shining bangles.

  2. The cure of all disease lieth in some other thing than that which causeth it: but the pang that this damsel causeth, she alone can heal.

  3. Is the world of the lotus-eyed God sweeter than the tender arms of her that one loveth?

  4. When she is at a distance she burneth, but when she is near she is refreshingly cool: ah! whence did she obtain this strange fire?

  5. Behold the witchery of my love whose tresses are adorned with flowers! whatever thing my heart desireth, that very thing her form seemeth to me to be!

  6. Of ambrosia are the arms of my artless damsel formed: for their every touch reviveth my dying limbs.

  7. The embrace of this lovely fair is supremely joyous, even as the family life of the householder who eateth his portion only after distributing charity.

  8. Joyous to the loving pair is the embrace that alloweth not even the air to come between.

  9. The pettish frown, the softening of the heart, and the new embrace, these are the sweets that lovers enjoy.

  10. Even as a man feeleth his ignorance the more keenly the more wise he groweth, even so do I love her the more ardently, the more I enjoy her company.


In Praise of Her Beauty


  1. Soft art thou, O blest anitcha flower! but tenderer than thyself is she on whom my heart is set.

  2. Thou becomest distracted whenever thou seest a flower, O my Heart! Thou thinkest that the flowers that look on all men can resemble her eye!

  3. Her arm is as the bamboo; her body is as the tender leaf; her smile is a very pearl; the sweetest of odours is in her breath; and her eye is piercing as the lance.

  4. The sky-blue flower despaireth of ever equalling her eye in beauty, and droopeth down its head whenever it looketh on her.

  5. She hath adorned herself with anitcha flowers but hath not removed the stems from among them: alack! her waist will be crushed beneath the weight and will presently break!

  6. The stars of the heavens wander from their spheres for that they cannot tell which is the moon and which her face.

  7. But is there a spot in the face of this fair one even as in the moon which hath rounded up only today its deformities of yesterday?

  8. Bless thee, O Moon! If thou canst shine like the face of this lovely one, I shall love thee in very truth.

  9. If thou want, O Moon, to emulate the face of her whose eyes are like flowers, show not thyself unto all but shine alone for me.

  10. Even the anitcha flower and swan’s down are as nettle to the feet of this fair one.


The Glorification of Love


  1. Even as honey and milk mingled together is the dew on the lips of this fair one with the subdued speech.

  2. How great is the love between the body and the soul? Even so great is my love for this artless one.

  3. O thou Image in the pupil of mine eye! Leave and give room to the fair one that I love, for there is no other abode that is worthy of her.

  4. It is as life when she is near: but it is as very death when she leaveth my side.

  5. The virtues of this maiden of the fair and battling eyes I certainly can remember, provided first I can forget them: but how to forget them I know not!


  1. He will not go from my eyes, neither will he be hurt when I wink: so subtle is the form of my beloved.47

  2. My beloved dwelleth ever within my eyes: so I do not paint them even lest I lose sight of him even for an instant.48

  3. My beloved is ever in my heart: so I eat not hot food lest it burn him there.

  4. I wink not for fear that I should lose sight of him even for that instant: and for this the village folk charge him with cruelty.49

  5. He dwelleth lovingly within my bosom and is never away from thence: and yet the village folk declare that he hath abandoned me, and call him cruel.


Overpassing the Bounds of Decorum


  1. To those who are torn from their loved one and suffer the pangs of their passion there is no other resource left but the riding of the palmyra stalk.50

  2. Body and soul cannot support this anguish and have consented to ride the palm: they have trampled down all shame.

  3. Firmness and delicacy I had formerly: but now I possess only the stalk of the palmyra that is ridden by the lovelorn lover.

  4. I put my trust on the raft that was built of firmness and delicacy: but the rushing stream of passion hath carried it along in its course.

  5. This fair one who weareth tiny bracelets and who is tender as a flower, it is she that hath given me the palm-stalk and the anguish of eventide.

  6. My eyes cannot sleep for thinking of that artless one: I shall ride the stalk therefore even in this late hour of the night.

  7. Nothing is grander than the woman who refuseth to ride the palm-stalk even when the passion of her heart is deep as the ocean.


  1. My Passion considereth not the strength of my modesty nor my kindness towards itself, and betrayeth my secret by showing itself abroad.

  2. My passion seeth that none taketh notice of it: and it wandereth about in the streets in great anguish.

  3. Fools laugh at me to my very face: for they have not felt all the pangs that I feel.


The Public Humour


  1. As the outcry riseth in the village my life cometh back to me: it is my good luck that many do not know this secret.51

  2. These village folk know not the rare virtues of my beloved with the flower-like eyes: for they have given her cheaply to me by raising this clamour.

  3. Is not this gossip of the village a precious thing unto me? for even without obtaining her I feel as if I possess her already.

  4. This clamour hath increased my passion for her: without it it would have been but a stale affair.

  5. Even as every cup that is drunk but maketh the drunkard thirst for more, even so doth every discovery of his passion by others but increase its sweetness for the lover.


  1. Our meeting was but for one day: but the outcry that hath arisen over it is as when the serpent hath swallowed the moon!52

  2. The public talk is the manure, and the reproach of mother is the water, that unite to feed and prolong this anguish.

  3. To think of extinguishing my passion by raising this clamour is like wanting to put out a fire by pouring ghee over it.

  4. Is it for me to blush at this outcry now, when he who said, Fear not, hath abandoned me to the scandal of every bystander?

  5. This clamour which I in my heart so much desire, the village rabble hath raised for me: verily my beloved will not refuse it me if I should beg it of him.

Section II



The Pangs of Separation


  1. If there is anything about not parting, speak it to me: but if it is only thy quick return, tell it to those who will survive till then.

  2. His mere look was once a delight unto me: but now even his embrace saddeneth, for that I fear that he is to part.

  3. It is impossible to put trust in any, seeing that the thought of separation lurketh somewhere even in the heart of him who knoweth my heart.

  4. If he who bade me be of good cheer consenteth to part from me, can I be blamed for having placed my trust in his solemn promise?

  5. If thou wouldst save my life, O my maid, prevent the master of that life, from going: for if he part from me, I despair of our meeting again.

  6. When he hath the hardness to say to my very face, I shall depart, I give up all hope of his ever coming back to save me.53

  7. Would not my close-fitting bracelets themselves that have slipped from my wrists raise the bruit of the parting of my lord?54

  8. Bitter is life in a place where there are no bosom friends: but bitterer far is separation from the beloved one.

  9. Hath fire, which burneth only when it is touched the power, like love, to burn when it is far away?

  10. Many there are, are there not, who live through the pangs of leave-taking and of separation, and survive till the return of the beloved!


Bewailing the Pangs of Separation and Pining Away


  1. I smother my grief within me, but behold! it only welleth up more and more even as the water of the spring to those who are draining it.

  2. To conceal my grief is now beyond me: but as to disclosing it, I should feel it a shame to speak of it even to him that caused it.

  3. At the two ends of the pole which is my life, my two loads of passion and delicacy hang heavy; and this suffering body breaketh under their weight.55

  4. There is a very sea before me in my passion for my beloved: but a trusty bark to cross it there is none for me.

  5. What will they not do when they are enemies, those who suffer one to pine away when they are friends?

  6. Vast as the sea is the joy that love yieldeth: but when it taketh to burning, the pangs it causeth are deeper far.

  7. I swim in the stormy sea of love, but I spy not any shore thereto: even in the dead of night I am all alone and there is none to console me.

  8. Night in her mercy rocketh all life to sleep: and yet she hath none to help her through but me.56

  9. The Night that passeth too slowly for me today is crueller in its cruelty than the cruel one himself.

  10. If my eyes can run, even as my heart runneth, to where he is, they need not now be swimming in a sea of tears.


The Wasting of the Eyes Through Wistful Longing


  1. Why do my Eyes complain to me today? This inconsolable grief hath come even upon me only through their showing to me my beloved.

  2. How is it that the Eyes that looked rashly on the beloved that day grieve today, instead of bearing patiently the consequences of their own folly?

  3. They looked on him straightway of their own free will that day, and today they weep of themselves: how they make themselves ridiculous!

  4. After bequeathing to me the incurable grief that consumeth me, my Eyes have now dried up, having exhausted their store of tears.

  5. My Eyes which have brought on me this anguish vaster than the ocean, now pine away with grief and cannot even lay themselves to sleep.

  6. Oh, it is a sweet revenge to me that the Eyes that caused me this sorrow are victims themselves to the selfsame anguish!

  7. Beshrew the eyes that hung upon his form on that day with a passionate, greedy, all-absorbing love! May they dry up to their very roots with pining and repining!

  8. Verily there be those who love without being loved! For here are my eyes which know no repose for not seeing him.

  9. My Eyes sleep not when he is away, neither sleep they when he is returned: either way it is their lot to suffer unceasing pain.

  10. When people’s eyes themselves are telltale drums, even as my own, it is not hard for strangers to read the secret they seek to conceal.


Bewailing the Pallor of Pining Love


  1. It is I myself that consented to the parting of my beloved: to whom shall I complain now of my pallor?

  2. Pallor is proud of being his child, and creeping all over my frame rideth on me.

  3. My comeliness and my modesty he hath taken away, giving in exchange nought but the pangs of the heart and my pallid hue.

  4. In my heart I think nought but his thoughts, with my tongue I speak nought but his praises: and yet, witchcraft! this pallor hath overspread my frame.57

  5. That day too he went but there, and paleness sought me out here!58

  6. Even as darkness lieth in wait for the light to be put out, even so doth Pallor lie in wait for my separation from my lord.

  7. I lay in his embrace: I then left him for a while, and behold, pallor swallowed me up, as it were!

  8. There are people to reproach me saying, Behold she hath become sallow and pale: but there is none to reproach him for abandoning me!

  9. Acquit him forsooth, my maid, of all harmful intent: the deathlike pallor of my body is nothing to thee.

  10. It is good for me even to be twitted with the sallowness of my skin, if only they accuse not my beloved of cruelty.59


Anguish of Heart That the Husband Feeleth Not as Oneself


  1. They alone eat the stoneless all-sweet fruit of love who are beloved of those whom they hold dear.

  2. What the rain is to all the world, that is the tenderness of the beloved to her that loveth.

  3. They alone can pride themselves on their happiness who are loved in return by those whom they love.

  4. What if they are loved by others? If women receive not the affection of their beloved they know no happiness on earth.

  5. How can I hope for any favour from my beloved if he loveth me not even as I love him?

  6. Even as the burden on the carrying pole, love is pleasant only when it is on both sides: but it is a galling load when it is only on one side.60

  7. The God of Love assaileth only me: is it because he hath no eyes for my sorrows and sufferings?

  8. None in the world are so hardhearted as women who continue to live on even when they receive no kind messages from their beloved.

  9. Even if the beloved is unkind to us, any message that cometh from him is sweet to the ear.

  10. Bless thee, my Heart! Thou wouldst tell thy grief to one who loveth thee not: thou mayest as well try to dry up the sea.


Sighing for the Absent One


  1. Even in the recollection love is sweet with endless delights: love is therefore sweeter than wine.

  2. The moment I recall the image of my loved one to my mind, that very moment all my sorrow is vanquished: ah, love is dear in all its aspects!


  1. I was about to sneeze, but the fit passed away: is it that he was about to think of me but did not?61

  2. Have I at all a place in his heart? As for him, there is never a doubt but he abideth in mine.

  3. He excludeth me jealously from his heart: is he not ashamed then to show himself ceaselessly in mine?

  4. It is but the recollection of our union that keepeth me alive yet: what else of life is there in me?62

  5. Even with my memory full of him, my heart burneth within me: what then will be my case if I forget him?

  6. How often soever I recall my beloved to my mind he will not be wroth with me: so much is the favour that my beloved bestoweth upon me!

  7. When my heart thinketh on his cruelty who once said, We are not two but only one life and soul, verily my life ebbeth away.

  8. O Moon! set not in the horizon, I pray thee, till my eyes look again upon him who, abiding still within my heart, hath yet parted from me.


In Praise of the Dream-State


  1. What honours shall I do to the Dream which hath brought me a message from the beloved?

  2. If only I could persuade my eyes to sleep, I would fly to my beloved in my dream, and tell him the story of how I manage yet to hold on to life.

  3. If I am able to support life yet it is only because I see him in dreams who showeth not his face in waking hours.

  4. Dream giveth me all the joys of love: for it bringeth back to me my beloved who refuseth to pity me in my waking state.

  5. The joys of the dream last as long as the beloved appeareth in it: and what more can be said of the waking state?

  6. Oh that there were no waking state! For then my dream would never be cut short and my beloved would never depart from me.

  7. The cruel one who pitieth me not while I am awake, why doth he haunt me in my dreams?63

  8. He embraceth me while I am asleep64 and rusheth into my heart as soon as I open my eyes.

  9. They reproach my beloved for that he doth not meet me to their knowledge: but then they see him not in dreams.

  10. These village folk say that he hath parted from me: is it that they see him not in dreams?


Sighing at the Approach of Evening


  1. Evening! Bless thee, but who calleth thee Evening? Thou art really the hour that devoureth the lives of the wedded ones!

  2. Thou lookest melancholy and pale, O Eventide! Pray, tell me, dear, is thy lover also cruel even as mine?

  3. The dewy evening hour that once used to come trembling and sighing before me, now advanceth boldly, bringing nought but grief and despair unto my heart.

  4. When the beloved is away, evening approacheth even as the executioner advancing to the execution-ground.

  5. What is the kindness that I had done to the morning hour? and how have I injured eventide?65

  6. Alack the day! I never knew the sting of the evening so long as my beloved was by my side.

  7. This sickness buddeth in the morning, goeth on opening its petals the livelong day, and standeth full-blown at eventide.

  8. They call it the pipe of the shepherd, but verily it is a murderous weapon to me: for it ushereth in the evening that burneth me so.

  9. If evening that hath already driven me mad should advance any further, the whole town will be shrouded in sorrow before long, for I shall simply die.

  10. The life which is yet clinging on to me will soon depart: for eventide recalleth to me the image of him who is mad after wealth.


The Wasting Away of Her Lovely Form


  1. My eyes think on him who left me saying that it was but to increase my happiness that he went, and are ashamed to show their face before flowers.66

  2. My lacklustre eyes that are raining down tears look as if they would betray to others the unkindness of my beloved.

  3. The arms that swelled with joy on the nuptial day now look as if they would proclaim his parting to all the world.

  4. The arms that lost their wonted comeliness at the parting of the beloved, are now grown so thin that their very bracelets slip off from them of themselves.

  5. The arms which have lost their wonted comeliness together with the bracelets that they were wearing, proclaim loudly to the world the cruelty of that cruel one.

  6. I chide my arms for growing lean and allowing the bracelets to fall off, as people now reproach him with cruelty.

  7. Wouldst thou obtain glory, O my Heart? Then run to the cruel one and tell him of the bruit that hath arisen here from the wasting away of my arm.


  1. As we were embracing each other one day, I but relaxed my arms a little, and the forehead of that artless one grew pale at once!

  2. But a single breath of wind cut its way between us during our embrace, and the blood fled at once from her large eyes that are full even as the rain-cloud.

  3. Did the eyes grow pale only? They wept also at seeing the pallor of the fair forehead above.


Addressing One’s Own Heart


  1. Wouldst thou not think, O my Heart, and find out and tell me some remedy to cure me of this incurable disease?

  2. Bless thee, my Heart! Thou art a fool to grieve at his absence when he hath no love for thee.

  3. What availeth our sitting here and pining away for thinking of him, O my Heart? He that caused us this grief remembereth us not.

  4. If thou go to him, my Heart, take these eyes also along with thee! For they devour me in their longing to look on him.

  5. Though he spurneth us in spite of our cleaving unto him, can we give him up as an enemy, my Heart?

  6. When thou lookest on the beloved who is clever in the art of conciliating, my Heart, thou wouldst not even take huff but wouldst rush to his embrace, forgetting all: I fear that now too thy anger is only feigned.

  7. O my Heart! Either give up love or give up bashfulness: for, I am unable to support both of them at the same time.

  8. Thou sighest that he would not return for pity sake, and wouldst go to seek him though he separated deliberately from thee: verily, thou art a simpleton, my Heart!

  9. Whom dost thou seek to join, O my Heart, when thou knowest that the beloved is seated within thy own self?

  10. If we entertain any longer within our hearts the beloved that hath abandoned us, we shall only waste ourselves away yet further.


The Losing of the Sense of a Dignified Reserve


  1. The door that is bolted with the bolt of modesty will yet yield to the axe of an overpowering love.

  2. Heartless is this thing called Love: for it oppresseth my heart even in the dead of night.

  3. I try indeed to shut my love up within my heart: but like a sneeze it breaketh out of itself without a warning.

  4. I was proud that I was correct and decorous in my behaviour: but alas! love rendeth every veil and showeth itself in public.

  5. The stern self-respect that refuseth to seek the beloved though he hath cruelly deserted, is a thing unknown to the lovesick fair.

  6. How thou lovest me, O Grief! Thou wantest me to follow after him who hath deserted me cruelly!

  7. If the beloved but favour us with his love, we at once forget all our reserve.

  8. It is the subdued speech of that false one skilled in many a wily art, that breaketh through all the defences of our womanly decorum.

  9. I wanted to go away in a huff: but I went and embraced him, for I saw that my heart had already joined him.

  10. Can they ever think of refusing to be reconciled, whose heart melteth even as fat in the fire?


The Longing of the Lovers to Meet


  1. My eyes have lost their lustre and grown dull, and my fingers have worn away for counting of the days that I have noted on the wall.67

  2. What if I forget today, my maid? My beauty hath already left me and my bracelet hath slipped off my arm.

  3. He parted from me longing for conquests: and if I live yet, it is for the longing of his return.

  4. He gave my company up and parted without any regard to my feelings but yet for the mere thinking of his speedy return my heart swelleth with joy!

  5. Only let my eyes take their fill of the sight of my beloved: pallor will then no more be seen on my wasted arm.

  6. Let my spouse but return home: and then in one day I shall drink the nectar of his presence and bid farewell to this wasting disease.

  7. When the beloved who is dear even as my eyes cometh home, shall I sulk for his long absence? or shall I embrace him? or shall I do both?


  1. May the prince begin the battle at once and triumph! And may I return in the evening and feast at home with my loved one!

  2. To those who count the days and yearn for the return of the beloved who is away, one single day will creep along with the slowness of seven.

  3. Of what avail will be my getting back or the meeting or even the hearty embrace, if the heart of my loved one be broken before then?


Reading the Secret Thought


  1. Thou mayest try to conceal, my love, but thy eye refuseth to be restrained, and telleth me that there is some strange thought in thy breast.68

She Is Silent and He Addresses the Maid

  1. Ah! More than a woman’s reserve hath my artless one, whose beauty filleth my eyes and whose arms are even as bamboo stems.

  2. Even as the thread that is seen through the crystal bead, there is a thought that is now passing in her bosom, but which is yet plainly visible.

  3. Even as the fragrance in the bud that is not yet blown, there is a secret meaning in the half-smile of this artless one.

  4. The cunning with which she concealed her rising thought and left hath a charm to cure the anguish of my heart.

She Addresses the Maid When Alone

  1. He is overkind and sweet to me: I fear there is something in his heart which he is hardly able to conceal: and it forebodeth to me a second departure.

  2. My bracelet hath read the coolness in the heart of my gracious lord even sooner than my own self.

  3. My beloved parted only yesterday: but it is seven days since my form hath lost its freshness!69

The Maid Addresses Him Alone

  1. She looked at her bracelet and her tender arm and then she looked at her feet: these are the signs that she made to me.70

He Speaks to the Maid

  1. She telleth me of the pangs of separation and prayeth for permission to accompany me if I go: how she surpasseth womanhood’s self in delicacy to tell this only with her eyes!


The Impatience of the Pair to Fly to Each Other’s Arms


  1. Rapture at the very thought and delight at the mere seeing belong not to wine: they belong only unto love.

  2. When love exceedeth even the measure of a palmyra tree, the desire to sulk can never enter the heart even to the extent of a millet seed.

  3. Though he careth not for me and doth only as he pleaseth, my eyes will not rest unless they behold him.

  4. I wanted indeed to go away in a huff, my maid: but my heart forgot it and ran after union with the beloved.

  5. Even as the eye seeth not the blackness of the pencil when it is being painted, even so I see no blemish in my beloved when he is near.

  6. When he is before me I can see no faults in him: but when I see him not, I can see nothing in him but faults.

  7. Who will jump into a stream knowing that it hath a treacherous undercurrent that will carry him away? and how should I take to sulking who know that I cannot hold on to it when he is near?

  8. Wine is never unwelcome to the drunkard though it maketh him hang down his head in shame: even so is thy bosom to me, O false one!


  1. Even tenderer than a flower is love: and few there be who know its delicacy and deal with it gently.71

  2. There were the sulks in her eye when she saw me: but when I approached, she flew to my arms even quicker than I myself to hers.


Chiding the Heart


  1. Thou seest how his heart serveth his will: then, how is it that thou obeyest not me, O my Heart?

  2. Thou seest, my Heart, how he neglecteth me: and yet thou consortest with him as if he were thy friend!

  3. Thou followest him at thy own sweet will and pleasure, my Heart: dost thou also teach me that those who are unfortunate have no friends?

  4. Thou refusest to indulge in a bouderie, my Heart, before showing thy delight in his company: who is going hereafter to take thee as a confidant in suchlike things?

  5. It feareth lest it should not get him, and when it hath got him, it feareth lest it should lose him: thus there is no end to the pangs that my Heart suffereth.

  6. What is my Heart good for? It is good for nothing else but to devour me when I am musing alone.

  7. Fallen into the company of this foolish Heart that knoweth not to preserve its self-respect by forgetting him, I have myself forgotten my dignity.

  8. My life of a Heart thinketh it a disgrace to our own selves if we humiliate the beloved: and so it is always partial to him.


  1. Who will support a man in his grief, if the Heart of his beloved itself refuseth him help?

  2. When my own heart is not on my side,72 is it a wonder that strangers73 care not at all for me?



The Maid to the Mistress

  1. Embrace him not, my dear, but feign to be angry: let us just see a fun how he is nettled over it.

  2. Bouderie is the salt of love: to lengthen it unduly, however, is like adding too much of salt to food.

The Wife Is in a Fit of Jealousy and Addresses the Husband

  1. It is like wounding one anew who is already wounded, it thou come away without embracing her whom thou hast left in a pet.

  2. To come away without conciliating her who is frowning in a pet is like cutting off the roots from under the starving plant.

The Husband Within Himself

  1. The bouderie of the beloved hath an attraction even for men who are spotlessly pure.

  2. If there were no frowns or pets on the part of the beloved, love would miss its fruits and its half-growns.

  3. There is a pain that belongeth unto bouderie: for one asketh oneself whether reconciliation is near or yet a far way off.

The Husband to Himself but in the Hearing of the Wife

  1. Of what avail is my grieving when there is no loving one nigh to see how much I suffer?

  2. Water is pleasant only in shady groves: and pettishness hath a charm only in one who loveth ardently.

  3. If my heart still yearneth for her who sootheth me not, it is due to nothing but a foolish longing.


The Finesses of Bouderie


  1. All that are women devour thee with their eyes, thou gallant! I shall have none of thy embrace.

  2. I was in the sulks: he then sneezed, for he thought that I would bless him saying, Long live my beloved!


  1. Even if I wear a garland she would go off in a pique saying, Thou wantest to look smart in some damsel’s eyes!

  2. I said to her, I love thee above all: and behold, she frowned at once asking, Above whom? and above whom?

  3. I told her, We shall never part in this life: alack, her eyes at once filled with tears!75

  4. I said to her, I called thee to mind when away: and she that was about to clasp me to her arms went off in a pet saying, Thou hadst forgotten me then!

  5. I sneezed and she blessed: but then she recalled her blessing and asked with tear-filled eyes, Who thought on thee now, that thou sneezedest?76

  6. I repressed my sneeze: and then aiso she wept saying, Thou wantest to conceal from me that some of thy friends are thinking on thee!

  7. Even if I exhaust all my arts to soothe her, she will only frown harder saying, Thou hast practised well at others’ bouderies!

  8. Even if I look in rapture on her own charms, she will chide saying, To whose limbs now art thou comparing mine?


The Charm of Bouderie


  1. Even if he is free from faults, it is only bouderie that giveth me a taste of his conciliatory grace.

  2. Though the tenderness of the beloved hath to wait a little, there is a charm in the pinprick that we feel in being pettish.

  3. Is there a higher heaven than bouderie, provided that the beloved is one with us, even as the water with the land whereon it floweth?

  4. In my very quarrel with my beloved lieth the engine that stormeth the defences of my heart.


  1. Even when one is free from faults there is a delight when the arms of the beloved are withdrawn from one’s clasp.

  2. Sweeter is digestion than the meal: even so is the lovers’ quarrel sweeter than the embrace.

  3. It is the one who yieldeth first who is the winner in lovers’ quarrels: thou canst see it indeed at the hour of reconciliation.

  4. Verily, will she give some piquancy to the delights of our embrace by just feigning a quarrel for some time?

  5. Oh, let me enjoy her frowning and her pouting a little more! Only let night prolong her reign at my prayer.

  6. Bouderie is the charm of love: and the charm of that again is the sweet embrace at its close.


  1. The figures within brackets to this paragraph refer to chapters. Everywhere else in the preface they will refer to the number of the verse except where chapters are indicated by the letters Ch.

  2. In the transliteration of Tamil words occurring in the book, the letter j is italicised in order to indicate that it is to be pronounced as in French.

  3. According to the Hindus, the Buddhists and Jains, the subtle results of all the actions of a man accompany the soul after the death of the body, and are the cause of his being born again into the world. It is a misery to be born again and again as every new incarnation postpones the moment of supreme bliss. Good deeds done with attachment carry the germs of future birth as much as evil deeds. See here.

  4. The eight attributes are,

    1. According to Shaiva theology: (1) Non-dependence on anything external, (2) Possession of a pure body, (3) Possession of uncreated intelligence, (4) Omniscience, (5) Capacity to transcend all bounds without exertion, (6) Infinite mercy, (7) Omnipotence, and (8) Unlimited joy; and

    2. According to Jain theology: (1) Infinite knowledge, (2) Infinite vision, (3) Infinite energy, (4) Infinite joy, (5) Indescribability, (6) Beginninglessness, (7) Agelessness, (8) Deathlessness.

  5. Indra was smitten with the charms of Ahalya, wife of sage Gautama. One morning when the sage was away he took the form of the sage, and pretending to be her husband he induced her to yield herself to his desire. On coming to know this the sage cursed Indra with a disgusting disease.

  6. I.e. control their senses.

  7. I.e. who knows that they are transient and at the same time misleading, and who therefore endeavours to transcend them.

  8. Andana, the Tamil word for Brahman means etymologically, he who has the beautiful quality of mercy.

  9. It is the righteous deeds done in past births that have made the one the rider, and the unrighteous deeds done in the same past births that have made the other the bearer, of the palanquin.

  10. I.e. the student, the eremite, and the ascetic.

  11. Friend of the dead because he performs their obsequies.

  12. The Goddess of Prosperity.

  13. The Goddess of Fortune.

  14. The Genius of misery.

  15. The jingle is in the original.

  16. Austerities, self-mortification, and thought-concentration.

  17. Ether and the subtle principles of gaseousness, heat liquidity, and solidity.

  18. The falsehood that is contemplated in this verse is the untruth that even the most virtuous of men will not flinch from uttering when an innocent victim has to be rescued from death, cruelty, or dishonour about to be inflicted by ruffians, and there is no other means of saving him from the same.

  19. In the game of dice, as played in India, the pieces can be moved only on a chequered board. When there is no chequered board, whatever the scores, the pieces cannot be moved at all. Similarly, even if a man should have great and valuable ideas, he would be unable to order and regulate them in his discourse unless he has previously disciplined himself by study.

  20. Food is not to be thought of so long as there is instruction to listen to.

  21. Lust.

  22. Thy allies as well as those of thy enemy.

  23. I.e., even the most powerful king will succumb if he makes war with too many enemies at a time even if each of them should be despicable when alone.

  24. This is a warning to those princes who seek to embark on fresh enterprises after the utmost limit of their strength has been reached.

  25. Income.

  26. Expenditure.

  27. See Kauṭilya’s Arthashâstra, Part I Ch. 10 for those tests or upadhâs.

  28. The God Vishnu who in his incarnation as Trivikrama measured the whole universe in three strides.

  29. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune.

  30. For he can go on with his enterprise without any fear or anxiety.

  31. I.e., righteousness and love.

  32. The warrior is supposed not to have felt at all the pain caused by the enemy’s spear. So he does not even know that it is still sticking in his body. When he notices it, instead of feeling the pain of the wound he is glad that he has got a spear handy to launch against his enemy.

  33. For it gives them an opportunity to show the depth of their love by pardoning the injury without uttering a word of reproach.

  34. An imaginary being that is believed to fascinate men in groves etc. and make them extremely erotic.

  35. The other two are the bile and the phlegm.

  36. Parimêlajahar explains the attributes thus: the attributes of the patient are ability to disclose symptoms, strength to endure pain, ability to pay, and strict obedience to the directions of the physician; those of the physician are intelligence and study, courage to handle every disease, purity of thought, word, and deed, and good luck; those of the medicine are efficacy to cure many diseases, superior virtue on account of taste, power, strength, and effects, facility of being procured, and capacity to combine with other ingredients as well as food; and those of the apothecary are kindness and consideration to the anxiety of the patient, purity of thought, word, and deed, ability to compound drugs, and common sense.

  37. The grateful remembrance of neighbours, which can be earned only by freely helping others, is the only thing that can be said to really survive a man.

  38. The post pities the uncomplaining patience with which the goodman bears every burden.

  39. To be taken as the words of an indigent man sinking under the load of his poverty.

  40. Of others.

  41. For the joy and glory of liberality would be absent from life: see next verse.

  42. The fancy is that the rebuff of the dodger kills the beggar; if its virulence is so great, it should kill the dodger himself who nurses it in his bosom.

  43. Every one of the verses in this part are to be taken as the words either of the love or of the ladylove or of the confidante of the ladylove.

  44. See note to verse 918.

  45. I.e., but for the vestment men would be smitten by their beauty and die. It is usual for mahouts to cover with a metal plate the eyes of elephants which are expected to become rabid.

  46. For it giveth more joy than all the other tricks of the beloved taken together.

  47. The fancy is that the lover is seated in her very eye.

  48. For eyes close automatically when being painted.

  49. Wrongly thinking that he has abandoned her and attributing her sleeplessness to it.

  50. See here.

  51. And leave me to die by stopping the outcry. See here before reading this chapter.

  52. The eclipse of the moon to see which everybody in India comes out of his home.

  53. See 1160 below.

  54. The fancy is that her grief at the very thought of his parting is so intense that her arms have lost flesh and allowed the bracelets to slip of themselves.

  55. Whenever men have a heavy burden to carry, they divide it into two equal bundles and attach each one of them to one end of a longish pole which is then lifted and carried on the shoulder by the middle.

  56. All else but me are asleep: by being awake I bear Night company and help her to go on with her work.

  57. The fancy seems to be something like this: As evil spirits are warded off by devotion accompanied by the uttering of the name of God, so it should have been possible to ward off pallor of the body by thinking of the beloved and uttering his praises. If, in spite of this, pallor should overspread her frame, there should be some witchcraft somewhere to nullify the effects of her endeavours to keep it at a distance. Parimêlajahar gives a different explanation.

  58. The maid is to be supposed to have tried to console the mistress saying. “Thy beloved is not gone far away: be calm, be will return soon.” The text is to be taken an the reply of the mistress to this supposed address.

  59. Note the sudden change of mood.

  60. See note to verse 1163.

  61. Sneezing is believed to indicate that a friend or relative is thinking of the one who sneezes.

  62. The maid is to be supposed to have said, “As it is remembrance that causes thee all this sorrow, why dost thou not try to forget thy beloved for some time?” The text is to taken as the reply of the mistress to this supposed address.

  63. Note the sudden change of mood.

  64. I.e. I dream that he embraces me.

  65. For morning assuages her grief and evening intensifies it.

  66. For having believed such a palpable absurdity.

  67. The artless simplicity of women is exaggerated by poets in a thousand ways. Here the wife is supposed to be unable to tell the number of days that have elapsed since the parting of the husband by means of a calendar or by memory. So she is described as making a mark on the wall for every day that has elapsed since his departure, and then counting the marks, touching them one by one with her fingers, whenever she wants to calculate the day of his return.

  68. The fear that the husband is going again to part: the pair are now to be supposed to have met again after their separation.

  69. So intense is my grief even at anticipated separation.

  70. See next verse.

  71. Thou art not one of those few, as thou woundest me in thy sulks.

  72. I.e. by taking her part when she is in the sulks.

  73. I.e. his wife.

  74. Sulks.

  75. For she thought that he contemplated the possibility of parting in the next life.

  76. See note to verse 1203.


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The Kural
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