Sunday, January 15, 2012

Displaced and disgraced - राजाकुलवधूर्विप्रा

King, lady, scholar/priest, adviser, breasts,
teeth, hair, men, fingernails - displaced are disgraceful.

rAjA-kulavadhUr_viprA mantriNAsh_cha payodharAH |
sthAna-bhraShTA na shobhante dantAH keshA narA nakhAH || [ITRANS]

rājā-kulavadhūr_viprā mantriṇāsh_cha payodharāḥ |
sthāna-bhraṣhṭā na shobhanté dantāḥ késhā narā nakhāḥ || [IAST]

The shloka appears in the Hitopadesh (hitopadésha, हितोपदेश), when the crow Laghupatanaka (laghu-patanaka, लघुपतनक) tells his friend the mouse Hiranyaka (hiraṇyaka, hiraNyaka, हिरण्यक) that he wants to move from his current home to somewhere else, since he is unable to find much food around.

The mouse in return warns him of when to move and when not to. He says that "A lion, saint or elephant keep moving from place to place, but crows, cowards and animals/deer end up dying when they leave their abode."

There are some things that look graceful only in their own place, not displaced. Here 'place' is also used metaphorically to mean character, integrity, purity as well as literal place.

A king who is supposed to protect and provide for the state, graces the throne. A deposed king who has been defeated does not look very graceful. Being defeated itself means he was unable to defend and win. It also means that the grace of the king comes from his place, the crown and throne.

A lady of good upbringing is respected, graces her status only if she behaves like a lady. If she lets her character loosen, she is not attracting the same respect as before. Once fallen, it is almost impossible to regain the respect.

A 'vipra' (विप्र) is one who is learned, famous, scholar, a priest. One who is in pursuit of truth, who speaks the truth, and is known for his wisdom. It also means a brāhmaṇa (brAhmaNa, ब्राह्मण, the one in pursuit of truth), and one of the duties of a brāhmaṇa is the upliftment of all the sections of the society. If one doesn't stand by the truth, doesn't behave for the good of others (i.e. behaves selfishly) he has fallen from his place of duty and is not respectable. Once losing face, a vipra is never trusted or respected. Priests should not betray their followers, who trust lives and faith with them. Once betrayed the people don't trust the priest again. A priest should be selfless, divinely inclined.

An adviser, a minister (to the king), a counselor who does not give proper advice can cause the ruin of the kingdom or the corporate. A corporate executive fired for misconduct or under-performance doesn't look good at all. A defeated politician or a former politician doesn't exact the same respect or awe as an incumbent one.

A person who slides down from his place of upright character is not graceful. A fallen man is a pitiable thing, a picture of disgrace. Keep your character intact. It is a life long exercise, falling takes only a moment.

These were metaphorical examples. Now for some literal examples.

Breasts are a very visual aspect of the physical beauty of a woman and they have been praised liberally by ancient and modern poets and writers and movie directors alike. But, displaced (sagging) from their natural youthful place, they are not very appealing.

Beautiful white teeth enhance a smile, and are attractive as well as sign of good health and pedigree. They have been compared to flying lines of swans, and white pearls. But, fallen teeth are rarely enticing.

Lot of lover boys have lost their path in the long, black, fragrant, silken tresses of a young damsel, like inspired travelers lost in the dark wraps of the night. But the hair, fallen from the head is not at all inspiring.

There are enough salons to give you a pedicure, polish your nails with Glass Slippers or Adore-a-Ball nail-polish, give it the extra shine that makes you look like a princess. Nails can enhance the beauty of a hand and the overall beauty of a woman. But who wants to see nail clipping lying on the floor?

Somethings look good where they ought to be. Not every change is good.

Knowing this, the wise does not leave his place. 
इति विज्ञाय मतिमान्स्वस्थानं न परित्यजेत्
iti viGYAya matimAn_svasthAnam na parityajet [ITRANS]
iti vijñāya matimān_svasthānam na parityajét [IAST]

What it means is that we should know who we are, what we stand for, what we are suitable for in the social role, and do justice to that role, that place. Displaced from our duties, we fall and no one likes one who doesn't fulfill his or her duties.

The wise don't shun from or betray their duties. Displaced, they are disgraced.

And now the language aspects -

rājā = king

kulavadhūrviprā = lady, priest
kula = family
vadhūḥ = bride
kula-vadhū = bride of a respected family.
vipraḥ = learned people, priests

mantriṇāsh_cha = and advisor
mantriṇāḥ = advisors, ministers
cha = and
mantra = secret
mantraṇā = advising, counselling.
mantri = advisor, minister

payodharāḥ = breasts
payaḥ = milk
dharāḥ = holders

sthāna-bhraṣhṭāḥ = displaced
sthāna = place
bhraṣhṭāḥ = ruined, misguided

na = not

shobhanté = [do] grace (verb, plural first person)

dantāḥ = teeth
késhāḥ = hair
narāḥ = men
nakhāḥ = nails

In many words the trailing visarga is disappearing. For example,  narāḥ becomes narā. This is due to the sandhi rule, that a visarga disappears if followed by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th letter of the group.

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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  1. अत्र सरलं ,सुलभं ,मधुरं च संस्कृतं अपेक्ष्यते !बाल-्मुखात्‌ निःसृतम्‌ !जनाः संभाष्णार्थं आकृष्टाः भवन्तु ,तादृशं संस्कृतं अत्र अस्तु ! मम शुभाशयाः !
    अनन्त कुलकर्णी.पुणे.

  2. Dhanyawad. Can anyone tell how to use devnagri lipi in computer.

  3. Dhanyawad.Can anyone tell how to use devnagri lipi in compuer.Thank you

    1. Please try


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