Sanskrit Subhashitas - 37 Shlokas [Easy and Meaningful]

Laziness Vs. Activity

आलस्यं हि मनुष्याणां शरीरस्थो महान् रिपुः।
नास्त्युद्यमसमो बन्धुः कृत्वा यं नावसीदति ॥

Laziness is set by default on a human being. It is the effort of the human being to indulge in activities, by making activity their next of kin (so close to them) can eliminate laziness. Here the poet says that laziness is the root cause of all diseases that flourish in human beings, the only counter to which is the activity, which cannot be equaled to anyone. 

Self-made King

नाभिषेको न संस्कारः सिंहस्य क्रियते वने ।
विक्रमार्जितसत्त्वस्य स्वयमेव मृगेंद्रता ॥

Like how the situations and environment create a criminal and motivate them to get them involved in a crime, the qualities of a person determines their value.  A Lion neither gets coronated by its fellow animals of a forest nor do they have any culture to demonstrate this. It is just through its qualities that a Lion becomes the king of the jungle. It is how you portray yourself, the inbuilt quality depicts you.

Be Good. Do Good.

अष्टादशपुराणानां सारं व्यासेन कीर्तितम् ।
परोपकार: पुण्याय पापाय परपीडनम् ॥

Puranas are considered as ancient texts of India eulogizing various deities, primarily the divine Trimurti God in Hinduism through divine stories. There are eighteen of them that we know currently, however, there could be sub-Puranas too. The essence of all these Puranas that were written by Maharshi Veda Vyasa can be boiled down to two phrases. Being good to who we regard as the others in addition to doing good.

Knowledge to Happiness

विद्या ददाति विनयं विनयाद् याति पात्रताम् ।
पात्रत्वात् धनमाप्नोति धनात् धर्मं ततः सुखम् ॥

Knowledge is not just about academics. Knowledge is something that we gain, could also be a skill, which will be a utility for us for our survival. This knowledge gives us modesty. With this modesty, we gain Worthiness or Competence. With this worthiness will we become prosperous.  Prosperous with good deeds and good actions, we attain a joyous state or a blissful state. Ultimately what human beings want is a blissful state of mind. To get there we need to follow what the poet has written beautifully in his own words.

Important Designations

धनिक: श्रोत्रियो राजा नदी वैद्यस्तु पंचम:।
पंच यत्र न विद्यन्ते न तत्र दिवसं वसेत्।॥

For us to even live one day there are at least five designations that are required. All of them are still relevant, perhaps they would be organizations now instead of one person. They are:

  • Rich man: We can equate this to the current banks, without whom, both lending or protecting money is unimaginable. Read about the rich man who built a college for the needy here.
  • Intellects: These people are required at any point in time to get the world going. They help us in ways that we are not familiar with, like Chartered Accountants, IAS, etc. Read about a highly intellectual person Chanakya’s quotes here.
  • King: In a democracy, it is the elected government and administration. Their right functioning and existence are very much necessary. Read more about Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj here.
  • River: We have heard two states fighting for water and there is no need to explain how important this is anymore. Read more about the patriotic places of India here.
  • Doctor: We used to treat the doctor as God himself. Viadyo Narayano Harihi, Doctor is Narayana. The more faith we have in them the better will be the treatment. Read more about a great chemist P C Ray here.

Without them, the poet claims, we cannot survive even a single day.

The Persistence

गच्छन् पिपीलिको याति योजनानां शतान्यपि।
अगच्छन् वैनतेयोऽपि पदमेकं न गच्छति॥ 

Persistently moving in the direction of the goal, even in small milestones is way better than not moving. This is beautifully compared with an ant and an eagle. Eagle is extremely fast when it comes to its movement. A persistent ant, moving in the direction of the food certainly reaches faster then the eagle sitting idle. Sitting idle is like stagnant water. Forget its uses, it is as harmful as poison.

Importance of Activity

उद्यमेनहि सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथैः।
न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगाः॥

Another way of conveying almost the same message from that of the previous shloka. Without working towards any goal, nothing looks possible and working towards the goal, everything looks possible. This poet has deployed a different kind of simile. He says animals won’t enter the mouth of a sitting lion. The lion has to hunt animals and have them for food. We cannot expect things to happen without our effort.

The Strength

दुर्बलस्य बलं राजा बालानां रोदनं बलम् ।
बलं मूर्खस्य मौनित्वं चौराणामनृतं बलम् ॥

In the team Rama, there was a search for a person who can fly to Lanka as a messenger and find out if Sita was there. During this time, Hanuman did not come forward because he did not know about his strength until Jamabavanta explained to him who he was. So, the strength is important and here the poet tells us the four important strengths that we should be aware of. 

  1. King is the strength of a weakling
  2. For children, their cry is their strength
  3. Keeping their mouth shut is the greatest strength of a fool
  4. Telling lies supports the thieves in their job making it their strength

Weakness is Death

अश्वं नैव गजं नैव व्याघ्रं नैव च नैव च ।
अजापुत्रं बलिं दद्यात् देवो दुर्बलघातकः॥

This Shloka is all about the Survival of the fittest. Strength matters the most, of whatever type it might be. The simile here is about who will have to face the sacrifice as an offering to the god. We don’t offer any of the following animals…

  • Horse
  • Elephant
  • Tiger

The shloka says not a horse, not an elephant, and never a tiger. Finally, we select the weakest animal in the society, i.e. the Lamb, the kid of a Sheep. Be active, be brave, accumulate strength, of whatever type it might be. This will help you in a longer period.

The world is my Family

अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् ।
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥

An extract from the Maha Upanishad, that talks about the world as a family. It starts with how the narrow-minded people believe that this is mine, they are others, that is not mine, etc. Whereas the broad-minded always treat the whole world as their family. On the contrary, that does not mean the broad-minded have to support Adharma. To know what is right and what is wrong the best way to do is to think like Lord Krishna.

Hunger for Knowledge

अजरामरवत् प्राज्ञः विद्यामर्थं च साधयेत् ।
गृहीत इव केशेषु मृत्युना धर्ममाचरेत् ॥

These shlokas are to show the behavioral aspects of the wise. It says the wise learn and acquire knowledge as they live forever. Even in modern times, there have been corporates who have asked us to keep learning and to never settle. At the same time, they follow Dharma and be truthful like there is no tomorrow. The duties and righteousness have to be followed as if death is holding our hair.

Poisons

अनभ्यासे विषं विद्या अजीर्णे भोजनं विषम् ।
विषं सभा दरिद्रस्य वृद्धस्य तरुणी विषम् ॥ 

Life is unfair, get used to it, is a very famous sentence spoken by Bill Gates. Therefore, we need to know where can we see these poisons, the acts that return to us in the form of poison. One of the Subhashitas explains this.

  1. Disregarding learning makes knowledge the poison
  2. Food becomes poisonous in the time of indigestion
  3. For a poor person, the gathering is poison
  4. A young lady is a poison to an old man

Truth vs Untruth

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् न ब्रूयात् सत्यम् अप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च नानृतम् ब्रूयात् एष धर्मः सनातन: ॥

A shloka that tells us what is the truth, how to speak out the truth and when not to speak untruth. 

  1. Truth spoken has to be spoken when it is not sweet to listen to
  2. Never speak out a truth that is bitter to listen to
  3. Untruth, just because it is sweet to listen should not be spoken

This is the eternal truth and the path towards righteousness

Mother and Motherland

अपि स्वर्णमयी लंका न मे लक्ष्मण रोचते।
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी॥

After killing the evil Ravana, Lakshmana asks Rama if they can stay back in the beautiful Lanka. Lanka was filled with gold that Ravan was very fond of and had a collection of such metals throughout the place making it a golden place. For this, Rama answers that let Lanka be the best of the place across the places and be filled with gold or even expensive metals. It does not instill any desire in me to stay back because Mother and Motherland are uncomparable even with the abodes of the gods (heaven). 

Wise vs Fool

काव्य शास्त्र विनोदेन कालो गच्छति धीमताम्।
व्यसनेन च मूर्खाणां निद्रयाकलहेन वा॥

There are two types of people categorized based on their interests. This shloka explains to us how interests can reveal the psychology of a person. 

  1. The first lot utilize time discussing ideas, poems, about the knowledge they have possessed
  2. The second lot, waste time by unnecessary sleep, laziness, quarrels, etc.

Utilizing time efficiently by increasing knowledge is the way to success.

Good Deeds vs Bad Deeds

कर्ता कारयित चैव प्रेरकश्च अनुमोदकः ।
सुकृते दुष्कृते चैवः चत्वारः सम भागिनः ॥  

Behind every deed, be it good or bad, there are four people. This shloka talks about intentions, motives, inspiration, and approval is all a part of the deed. 

These are the four people who are behind every action.

  1. Performer or doer
  2. The person getting the action done
  3. The Inspirer
  4. The Approver or Supporter

Both in good and bad deed these people are responsible

Blessings and Elderly

अभिवादनशीलस्य नित्यं वृद्धोपसेविनः।
चत्वारि तस्य वर्धन्ते आयुर्विद्या यशो बलम्

The following four qualities of a person will get multifold when a person’s routine is regular salutations to his elders, especially parents and teachers.

  1. Age
  2. Knowledge
  3. Fame
  4. Strength

Richness vs Poverty

उदये सविता रक्तो रक्त:श्चास्तमये तथा।
सम्पत्तौ च विपत्तौ च महतामेकरूपता॥

Both at the time of setting and raising, the Sun is of the same color, which is Saffron. Using this simile to make us understand that great people have the same attitude of goodness both in times of calamity and prosperity. They like to remain simple no matter what God gives them. 

Types of Wealth 

विदेशेषु धनं विद्या व्यसनेषु धनं मति:।
परलोके धनं धर्म: शीलं सर्वत्र वै धनम्॥

Wealth is not always just about money. There are various types of wealth explained to us in this awesome shloka in simple language.

  1. When in a different place, knowledge comes in handy and is the wealth
  2. In tough times intelligence or wisdom is our wealth
  3. On another world wealth is righteousness
  4. Whereas our good character is the wealth everywhere are all the times

Philanthropy

शतेषु जायते शूरः सहस्त्रेषु च पण्डितः ।
वक्ता दशसहस्त्रेषु दाता भवति वा न वा ॥

When it comes to philanthropy, it is not easy. Taking is too easy but giving is not. 

  • There are brave men for every hundred people
  • For every thousand people, there is a knowledgeable 
  • An orator is among every ten thousand
  • But a giver is not to be found easily

A true giver gives with a sense of compulsion/duty, to someone who can’t pay back, given in proper time, place and to the worthy receiver is called a true giver.

Importance of Knowledge

अन्नदानं परं दानं विद्यादानमतः परम् ।
अन्नेन क्षणिका तृप्ति र्यावज्जीवं च विद्यया ॥ 

There are several kinds of hand-holding or in a true sense giving. Our normal tendency is to give away leftover food or some money to the needy. That will suffice their hunger at that moment and after a few hours, they are back with hunger. This is a cycle. Breaking this cycle are those who come forward and teach the needy with a skill. (Here vidya is referred to as a skill). This will help them earn their bread for a longer time. So of the two offerings for the needy, skill remains for the whole life.

Quality of a Scoundrel

वृश्चिकस्य विषं पुच्छे मक्षिकायाश्च मस्तके ।
तक्षकस्य विषं दन्ते सर्वांगे दुर्जनस्य तत्  ॥ 

A lot of scoundrels are to be seen in recent times. What is the quality of a scoundrel? Let us see how bad it is to be a scoundrel. 

A scorpion has poison in its tail. On its head is its poison for a bee. While it is in its teeth for a snake, a scoundrel has it everywhere in his body. They are so venomous and we must realize this and stay away from them.

The Qualities

नास्ति विद्या समं चक्षु: नास्ति सत्य समं तप:।
नास्ति राग समं दुखं नास्ति त्याग समं सुखं॥  

Several qualities are hard to explain. But essentially the ones that take is to the next level in explanation are the following ones. 

  • Knowledge is the greatest eye
  • Truth is the highest penance
  • Attachment is the biggest pain 
  • Renunciation is the highest happiness 

Introspection

प्रत्यहं प्रत्यवेक्षेत नरश्चरितमात्मन: |
किन्नु मे पशुभिस्तुल्यं किन्नु सत्पुरूषैरिति ||

Every person has to introspect daily. The introspection makes us realize what we were in the whole day by letting us know we were a part of the good lot or did we commit a drastic mistake that we behave like animals. These introspections are very much required for all kinds of human beings that want to improve and change for the better.

Idealism

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते॥

When the mother of a child asked Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to ask her child to stop eating sweets as the child was eating a lot of sweets. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took a lot of time in telling the child this. After some days, he asked the child to stop eating sweets. The mother out of curiosity asked Paramahamsa that why did he take this long, to which Paramahamsa said that he was addicted to sweets. So, before asking the child to stop eating he had to stop eating sweets and then instruct this to the child. When the greatest of the great does something, the others start following them without any problems. They will go to the extent of following with all whatever the great person does.

Humane

वज्रादपि कठोराणि मृदूनि कुसुमादपि ।
लोकोत्तराणां चेतांसि को हि विक्षातुमर्हति ॥  

These great men are like strong from outside and too soft from within. I.e., they go to any extent to punish themselves but are very compassionate when it comes to the punishment of others or the suffering of others. This is in itself the greatest exhibit of the men with such caliber. 

Defects

षड्दोषाः पुरुषेणेह हातव्या भूतिरिच्छता ।
निद्रा थन्द्रा भयं क्रोधः आलस्यं दीर्घसूत्रता ॥

Six types of defects can turn out to blunder. They are all listed in this shloka. Let us know more about them:

Nidra: the poet is telling us about sleep. The first and foremost problem of the human beings that gets us stagnant that we have already spoken about it.

Thundra: Lethargy, devoid of activity makes man weaker. Being active on the contrary helps them overcome this defect.

Bhayam: Fear, right from the very fear of survival to finances, the fear factor remains affected the same way

Krodhah: Anger, the killer adds poison to the body bit by bit constantly harming the body in one way or the other.

Alasyam: Laziness, which is different from being lethargic in a way that it stops people from performing actions. 

Deerghasutrata: Procrastination, a defect that slows down the very action of people. People with this defect take 2x or even 4x the time of what others take.

Stupidity

यस्य नास्ति स्वयं प्रज्ञा शास्त्रं तस्य करोति किम् ।
लोचनाभ्यां विहीनस्य दर्पणः किं करिष्यति ॥

A person without own intellectual insight, of what use would be the knowledge sources. The poet stresses on being wise than just accumulating knowledge. Knowledge will certainly help, but the correct implementation of the right knowledge at the right time needs the wisdom, in other words, own intellectual insight.

Worry

चिंतायाश्च चितायाश्च बिंदुमात्रं विशिष्यते ।
चिता दहति निर्जीवं चिंता दहति जीवनम् ॥

In Sanskrit, Chinta and Chita are written the same way in the Devanagari script. However, there is one small difference that being the dot above the letter “Chi”. They become two completely different, in terms of meaning. 

Chinta – worry

Chita – the material wood used at the funeral to burn

The beauty of the language comes into the picture when there is a comparison between the above mentioned two words. While the wood burns the body without life, worry burns life itself.

Crow Vs Beggar

काक आह्वयते काकान् याचको न तु याचकान् ।
काक याचकयोर्मध्ये वरं काको न याचकः ॥

A crow invites its fellow crows on any occasion, especially while having food by sharing and caring. At the same time, a beggar silently eats for themselves without sharing. Between the two, the crow is a better life than that of a beggar. 

Educated

स्वगृहे पूज्यते मूर्खः स्वग्रामे पूज्यते प्रभुः ।
स्वदेशे पूज्यते राजा विद्वान् सर्वत्र पूज्यते ॥

We know how important is intellect, but in these two phrases, the poet has written how a person earns respect based on who they are.

  • An idiot is worshipped in his house and only limited to that
  • In his village, a leader is worshipped, outside which he won’t be even recognized
  • While a king is famous and worshiped in his country
  • An educated intellect who is both wise and knowledgeable man is worshipped everywhere

Precious Time

विना कार्येण ये मूढाः गच्छन्ति पर मन्दिरं ।
अवश्यं लघुता यान्ति कृष्णपक्षे यथा शशि ॥

Without any solid reason or just to gossip, people go visit other’s places. These people without any motive or reason unnecessarily visiting, wane like the moon in the second half of a Lunar month (it is a part of Lunar Calendar used in India). In the second half of the lunar month, the moon progressively becomes smaller and smaller. Every simile used in Sanskrit is exclusive. 

Charity

परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षाः परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः ।
परोपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परोपकारार्थ मिदं शरीरम् ॥ 

The fruits that form on the trees, the rivers the flows, the holy cow that gives milk are all dedicated to the others. Similarly, let our bodies be dedicated to the service of the others.

Precious

जननी जन्मभूमिश्च जान्हवी च जनार्दनः ।
जनकः पञ्चमश्चैव जकाराः पञ्च दुर्लभाः ॥

The five exclusive things that start from the Sanskrit alphabet “Ja”. 

  1. Janani – Mother
  2. Janmabhoomi – Motherland
  3. Janhavi – River Ganga
  4. Janardana – Lord Vishnu or Shiva or any God
  5. Janaka – Father

Children

लालयेत् पञ्च वर्षाणि दश वर्षाणि ताडयेत्  ।
प्राप्ते तु षोडशे वर्षे पुत्रं मित्रवदाचरेत् ॥

Chanakya in his Chanakya Neeti, tells us how to handle children at different stages of life.

From 0 – 5 – for five years, the children should be carefully handled and a little pampered too

From 5 – 15 – for ten years, they have to be punished, because this is the age where they can be corrected at their mistakes

From 16 – throughout, children are friends of their parents and have to be treated like one 

Virtue and Effort

पुण्यस्य फलमिच्छन्ति पुण्यम् नॆच्छन्ति मानवाः ।
न पाप फलम् इच्छन्ति पापं कुर्वन्ति यत्नतः ॥

Human beings are creatures who are always behind fruits and results. Their attitude towards everything goes like in the Shloka.

They like the fruits of virtue or good deeds, but never the virtue. At the same time, they would not want the fruits of sin but deliberately indulge in sin.

God

अनन्याश्चिन्तयन्तो मां ये जना: पर्युपासते ।
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम् ॥

With single-pointed thoughts or meditations, those who constantly engage themselves in worshipping me in any of the ways they like, I take the complete responsibility of taking care of them by looking after their needs.

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