Words of Bhisma, Vidhur & Yudhister

  • By Shyam Sunder
  • December 2002

Viddura’s Counsel       

101. Self-control enhances energy; an excellent and holy attribute it is. For all the four modes of life, Self-control is deemed an excellent vow.

102. Purity, straight-forwardness and sincerity are the marks of a man of self-control.

103. Who, not covetous, with a little is satisfied, who thinks not of sense-objects, and is grave as the ocean, is known as man of self-control.

104. The resourceless weak confronting a powerful man, one, who has lost everything; the lustful and the thief, they don’t get sleep at night.

105. Who accompanied by self-knowledge, by industry, endurance and stability in dharma, does not deviate from personal effort, is called wise.

106. Whose effort does anger, joy or pride, not deflect, by shyness, impudence or self-esteem, is called wise.

107. Who, honored, does not swell with joy, who, dishonored, does not get heated, who, like Ganga’s depths, is ever calm, he is called wise.

108. Here are two who forfeit respect by reason of their reverse roles. The inactive householder and the worldly active ascetic.

109. Dharma alone bestows supreme well being, Forgiveness alone is the best means of peace. Knowledge alone gives supreme contentment Ahimsa alone brings happiness.

110. Two are the misuses of well-gotten money; giving to wrong persons and non-giving to right ones.

111. Not the least harshness in speech and no honoring of wicked man who observes these two rules is seen as superior.

112. Who, though mighty, is forgiving; who, though poor, is liberal in giving; to regions higher than heaven these two go.

113. The brave, the learned, the true servitors, these three types of men gather flowers of gold from the earth.

114. Lust, anger and greed are three destroyers of self; these three gateways of hell are to be discarded.

115. Usurpation of another’s wealth, adultery, and forsaking of friend, these three wrongs are consumption for man.

116. A devoted follower, a servant, one who says, “I am yours”, these three, come for refuge, shouldn’t be refused, even though one is in difficulty oneself.

117. Who is of little wisdom, who delays action, who rushes headlong into action, who flatters: hold no secret counsel with these four, O King.

118. These four give immediate result; will of the gods, influence of the wise, humility of the learned, destruction of the sinners.

119. Honoring these five-god, ancestors, fellow-beings, ascetics and guests-one earns the people’s esteem.

120. Friends, foes, neutrals, patrons and dependants-by these five one is followed wherever one goes.

121. Of man’s five senses even if one is leaky, his good sense will flow away like water out of a leaky leather bag.

122. Six are the faults to be given up by one desiring prosperity; sleepiness, drowsiness, fear, anger, laziness and dilatoriness.

123. Six qualities a man should never give up; truth, charity, diligence, non-jealously, forgiveness and fortitude.

124. These six, O King, make a man happy; adequate income, unfailing good health, loving wife, also soft-spoken, obedient son, and a learning that can bring money.

125. Ever unhappy are these six; the envious, the hater, the discontented, the bad-tempered, the fearful, the parasite.

126. Uncared, unwatched even for an hour these six may be lost; cow, service, harvest, woman, knowledge, and shudra’s amity.

127. Woman wine, dice, hunting, harsh words, misuse of wealth and excessive punishment, these seven faults a king must never shelter.

128. Intelligence, noble family, control of senses, knowledge of scriptures, valor, non-garrulity, maximum charity, and gratefulness-by these eight qualities man’s reputation shines.

129. The learned man who knows in principle this dwelling of the soul, the nine-gated body with three pillars and five witnesses, he is indeed a man of knowledge.

130. These ten haven’t learnt the principle of dharma; the drunk, the unwatchful, the insane, the weary, the ill tempered, the hungry, the hasty, the greedy, the fearful, the lustful.

131. Truth, beauty, study of scriptures, knowledge, high birth, good behavior, strength, wealth, valor, and distinction in expression-these ten are heavenly.

132. Who does not kindle the fire of hostility once calmed, who is neither proud nor self-disparaging, and who, even in peril does no improper act, that man of Aryan conduct the Aryans call the greatest.

133. Who is not elated by his own happiness, not taken pleasure in others’ sorrows, nor repents over his charity, among the good he is called Aryan.

134. Do not, O Bharat, set your heart upon success by means untrue and improper. Nor should a man of intelligence grieve if an act done by proper means doesn’t succeed.

135. The wise should consider the action’s object, the consequence, and his own good, before doing or not doing something.

136. He who plucks unripe fruits from trees, gets neither the juice the seeds. Who plucks fruits ripened by time gets their juice and also the seeds.

137. Taxes should be collected without hunting the subjects, even as a bee collects honey without harming the flowers.

138. Man’s body, O King, is his car, the soul is the charioteer, and the senses are its steeds.

139. Drawn by those powerful steeds, when well trained, the wise man, awake, makes happy journey of life.

140. The horses unbroken and uncontrollable, lead an unskilled driver to death on the way; so the senses, unsubdued, lead man to destruction.

141. One should seek to know one’s self by means of one’s own self, controlling one’s mind, intellect and senses.

142. One’s self is one’s friend, as, indeed, it is one’s own foe.

143. Who conquers self by means of his self, has his self for a friend. The self, conquered, is a friend; the self, unconquered, is a foe indeed.

144. Even wet wood, mixed with dry wood, gets burnt, so does the sinless, who mixes with the sinful.

145. Goodwill and straightness, purity and contentment, sweetness of speech and self-restraint, truth telling and simplicity,-these are not to be seen in the wicked.

146. In violence lies the strength of the wicked, in penal code the strength of kings, in loving care the strength of women, and in forgiveness that of the virtuous.

147. Control of speech, O King, is said to be hard to attain, Nor is it easy to speak for long words meaningful and delightful to hearers.

148. Words, well spoken, bring many good results, the same, ill-spoken, are cause of great evil.

149. Arrows, bullets and bearded darts can be extricated from the body, but not the wordy dagger plunged deep into the heart.

150. He, to whom gods ordain defeat, has first his intelligence taken away, and next he sets his eyes on ignoble acts.

151. When destruction is near, the intellect becomes dim; then wrong looking like right sticks in the heart.

152. Ablution at all the holy places and kindness to all creatures-these two are equal. Perhaps the latter surpasses the former.

153. Not with sticks or clubs like herdsmen, do the gods guard their men; to those they wish to protect, they grant intelligence.

154. An assembly without elders is no assembly; who do not speak of dharma are not elders. What is without truth is not dharma; what is fraught with deceit is not truth.

155. Who draws wisdom from the wise is really learned and intelligent.

156. Do that during the day, which may give a happy night.

157. Do that during the youth, which may give a happy old age.

158. The wise prize the food well digested, the wife whose youth has passed away, the warrior who is victorious, the ascetic who has attained the goal.

159. The guru controls the self-controllers; the king controls the wicked; Yama, the sun-born, controls those who is secrecy.

160. The origins of Rishis, of rivers, families, great souls, and of the downfall of women, cannot be ascertained.

161. The families that abound in members, wealth and kine, if wanting in manners and good conduct, do not count as noble families.

162. The families that are not very wealthy, yet distinguished by manners and good conduct, count as noble families and get glory.

163. Wealth comes and goes; indeed it is good manners and good conduct that are to be guarded.

164. His wealth diminishing, the man is not diminished; his manners and conduct depraved, the man is depraved.

165. Grief spoils beauty, grief weakens strength, grief benumbs intelligence, and grief brings disease.

166. By intelligence man dispels his fears, by tapasya he attains the heights, by service of the guru he gains knowledge, and by yoga peace.

167. At the end of right study, of battle for just cause, of deed of virtue, of tapa well done, happiness is on the increase.

168. Separated from one another, burning brans product but smoke; brought together they blaze forth into a burning flame.

169. The tree that stands singly, though gigantic and strong and deep-rooted, may be twisted and smashed down by a mighty wind in no time.

170. The trees that grow in close compact, by mutual dependence gets the strength to resist the most violent winds.

171. That is not strength, which is opposed to softness.

172. Beauty fades away by old age, and patience by expectation; life is overcome by death, and envy by practice of dharma.

173. Modesty is lost by lust, good conduct by service of the wicked, prosperity by anger, and all indeed by pride.

174. They abound, O King, who can always speak words agreeable; of words beneficial yet disagreeable rare is the speaker, also the hearer.

175. That which is good for all creatures, and also for oneself, should be done, and it should be done as offering to God; this is the root of all attainments.

176. What anxiety he can have for livelihood, who has intelligence, energy, prowess, strength, alacrity and perseverance?

177. As nectar is not far from heaven, so achievement is not from dharma.

178. Medicine or physician there is none or a man struck by the arrow of wisdom.

179. The Brahmin knows the Brahmin, the husband knows the wife, the king knows the minister, and the monarch knows the monarch.

180. Wealth comes by intelligence and poverty by foolishness,-there is no such rule.

181. Some are loved for their generosity, some for their sweet words, some for their incantations and medicines, but the truly lovable are always lovable.

182. In him towards whom one is bitter, one sees no goodness, nor learning nor wisdom.

183. One regards as good every act of his whom one loves; as evil one regards every act of his whom one hates.

184. That gain should not be regarded highly, which leads to loss. That loss should be regarded highly which will bring on gain.

185. A thing cast into the sea is lost; words spoken to one not listening are lost; so also scriptural knowledge with senses uncontrolled, and the libation poured on fireless ashes are lost.

186. Humility disarms obloquy; courage gets over disaster; forgiveness vanquishes anger; good conduct conquers ill omens.

187. Of prosperity gain and well being, steady perseverance is the root.

188. The weak must forgive in all circumstances, the strong should forgive for reason of dharma, and to whom success and failure are equal, for him to forgive is always well and good.

189. Like a mad cow, blind Lakshmi stays at random, and not for long.

190. Amidst deserts, deep woods, inaccessible fastnesses, in the face of dangers and alarms, and of arms upraised to strike, the man endowed with sattwa fears not.

191. What is inimical to one’s own self, should not be done to others also.

192. Conquer anger by forgiveness and wickedness by saintliness; conquer the miser by liberality and falsehood by truth.

193. The scum of gold is silver, of silver tin, of tin lead, and of lead mere dross.

194. Try not to conquer sleep by longer sleep, woman by lust, fire by fuel, wine by drinking.

195. The poor always eat delicious food, for appetite makes the food tasteful, but in the rich that appetite is rare.

196. If one man were to posses all the grain, all the gold, all the cattle, and all the women in the world, yet he would not be content.

197. The intoxication drinks is well known, but stronger is the intoxication of wealth. Who is maddened by the wine of wealth, regains sanity only after some bad fall.

198. Laziness, confusion, unfixity, attraction for parties, haughtiness, pride and covetousness – always these seven have been deemed faults for students engaged in learning.

199. Seekers of pleasure must abandon knowledge; seekers of knowledge must abandon pleasure.
200. In man good conduct is paramount.

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