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Bhartrihari Quotes and Thoughts - Bhartruhari Subhashita

Bhartrihari (570 AD - 651 AD) was a Hindu philosopher and poet. He was also a famous grammarian. Neeti Shataka and Vairagya Satakam are the works attributed to him. Bhartruhari Subhashitas are famous even today. Here is a collection of quotes and thoughts of Bhartrihari.

Daily, with the rising and setting of the sun, life shortens and time is not felt on account of affairs heavily burdened with manifold activities. Neither is fear produced at beholding birth, death, old age and sufferings. The world is become mad by drinking the stupefying wine of delusion.

Possessed of tall mansions, of sons esteemed by the learned, of untold wealth, of a beloved wife of beneficence, and of youthful age, and thinking this world to be permanent, men deluded by ignorance run into this prison-house of worldliness; whereas blessed indeed is he who considering the transiency of the same world renounces it.

Enjoyments of embodied beings are fleeting like the quick play of lightning within a mass of clouds; life is as insecure as a drop of water attached to the edge of a lotus leaf and dispersed by the wind; the desires of youth are unsteady; realizing these quickly, let the wise firmly fix their minds in Yoga, easily attainable by patience and equanimity.

As long as this body is free from disease and decrepitude, as long as senility is far off, as long as the powers of the senses are unaffected and life is not decaying, so long, wise persons should put forth mighty exertions for the sake of their Supreme good, for when the house is on fire what avails setting about digging a well for water?

Hope is like a flowing river of which the ceaseless desires constitute the waters, it rages with the waves of keen longings, and the attachments for various objects are its animals of prey; scheming thoughts of greed are the aquatic birds that abound on it, and it destroys in its course the big trees of patience and fortitude; it is rendered impassible by the whirlpools of ignorance, and of profound depth of bed as it is, its banks of anxious deliberation are precipitous indeed. Such a river the great Yogis of pure mind pass across to enjoy supreme felicity.


I do not find the virtuous distinction produced (by ceremonial observances) through life after life to be conducive to well being, for the sum of such virtuous merits when weighed in mind inspires fear in me, multiply so greatly in the case of people attached to them, only to bring them misery and peril!

The objects of enjoyment, even after staying with us for a long time, are sure to leave us sometime; then what difference does their privation in this way make to men, that they do not of their own accord discard them? If the enjoyments leave us on their own initiative, i.e. if they tear themselves from us, they produce great affliction of the mind; but if men voluntarily renounce them, they conduce to the eternal bliss of self-possession.

The face has been attacked with wrinkles,
the head has been painted with white grey hair,
the limbs are all enfeebles;
but desire alone is rejuvenating and remaining young.
In enjoyment, there is the fear of disease;
in social position, the fear of falling-off;
in wealth, the fear of hostile kings;
in honor, the fear of humiliation;
in power, the fear of foemen;
in beauty, the fear of old age;
in scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents;
in virtue, the fear of traducers;
in body, the fear of death.
All the things of this world pertaining to man are attended with fear;
renunciation alone stands for fearlessness.

Blessed are those who live in seclusion meditating on Brahman, the Supreme Light, while birds devoid of fear perch on their laps and drink the tear-drops of bliss; while our life is fast ebbing away in the excitement of revelry in palatial mansions or on the banks of refreshing pools or in pleasure-gardens, all created and brooded over by imagination.

O friend please listen carefully to what I say. So many clouds come in sky; some pour water, some roar and go away. People are also like that. All are not going to fulfill your desires. When desires cannot be fulfilled by all, why do you go on telling them to all? If at all I ask, I will ask God only. When He cannot fulfill them, even others cannot. If it is not in our karma, nobody can do anything, so why should not one ask God only? If He gives, fine, and, if not, I accept it!

Wisdom indeed is the highest ornament that a man posses. It is a valuable to be carefully guarded for wisdom gains food, glory, and blessing. It is the Lord or lords. Wisdom is as a friend to a man traveling in a distant land. Wisdom is honored among kings even more than wealth. The man devoid of wisdom is but an animal.

There is no need for any weapons for a man who is blessed with the virtue of patience.
A man’s greatest enemy is the anger in his heart.

The moderate man’s virtue is called dullness; the man who lives by rigid vows is considered arrogant; the pure minded is deceitful; the hero is called unmerciful; the sage is contemptuous; the polite man is branded as servile, the noble man is proud; the eloquent man is called a chatterer; freedom from passion is said to be feebleness. These are the ways in which evil-minded people describe good virtues.

Firmness in adversity, restraint in prosperity, eloquence in the assembly, boldness in war, the desire for glory, study in the scriptures – these are the natural characteristics of the virtuous.

The heart of the wise is soft as a lotus flower in prosperity, but in adversity it is as firm as a mountain rock.

What is the most profitable? – Fellowship with the god.
What is the worst thing in the world? – Company of evil men.
What is the greatest loss? – Failure in one’s duty.
Where is the greatest peace? – In truth and righteousness.
Who is the hero? – The man who subdues his senses.
Who is the best beloved? – The faithful wife.
What is wealth? – Knowledge
What is the most perfect happiness? Staying at home.

Undivided by space, time or qualities, whose form is nothing but endless consciousness, measurable only by his own awareness, tranquil and splendid, to him obeisance.

By bad advice is a king ruined,
By attachment an ascetic is ruined,
By indulgence a son is ruined
By lack of study a Brahmin is ruined
By a bad son a family is ruined
By association with rogues good conduct is lost,
By recklessness modesty is lost,
By lack of attention agriculture is lost
By absence from home familial love is lost
By lack of affection friendship is lost
By carelessness prosperity is ruined
By extravagant generosity wealth.

If truthful, there is no need for austerities.
If pure in mind what matters pilgrimage?
If kind, there is no need to bother about followers
If generous, there is no need of any adornment
If truly learned what matters wealth?

The son who delights his father by his good actions; the wife who seeks only her husband’s good; the friend who is the same in prosperity and adversity – these three things are the reward of virtue.

The friendships formed between good and evil men differ. The friendship of the good, at first is faint like the morning light, but continually increases; the friendship of the evil at the very beginning is like the light of midday, and dies away like the light of evening.

Trees loaded with fruits bent down; the clouds when charged with fresh rain hang down near the earth; similarly are good men who are humble and down to earth in prosperity.

The good man shuns evil and follows good; he keeps secret that which ought to be hidden; he makes his virtues manifest to all; he does not forsake one in adversity; he gives in season: such are the marks of a worthy friend.

The sun opens the lotuses, the moon illumines the beds of water lilies, the cloud pours forth its water unasked: even so the liberal of their own accord are occupied in benefiting others.

Idleness is a great enemy to mankind. There is no friend like energy, for, if you cultivate that, it will never fail.