Bhartruhari’s three Sataka’s (Sataka being a poetic work of one hundred verses) namely, NeetiSataka ,SrungaraSataka and VairagyaSataka (dealing with good conduct, romance and renunciation respectively), are well known. The work is available in several editions and in several languages. There are several commentaries in several languages.
Although the work may be known to a large number of people, it is quite possible that many, like me, might not have studied all the three Sataka’s in their entirety. Here is an attempt to study the work.
Not much is known about Bhartruhari although there are legends associated with his name. It is said that he was a king and that he was the brother of Vikramaditya. It is also said that he became an ascetic.
A Bhartruhari has written a grammatical treatise, Vakyapadiya and I’tsing, the Chinese traveller of 7th century AD mentions of grammarian Bhartruhari’s death having occurred some years earlier to his writing. If it is assumed that the same Bhartruhari wrote the three Satakas, one can say that the poet lived in 7th century AD. It is believed that Bhartruhari who wrote Vakyapadiya was a Buddhist, but our poet seems to be a Saivite. Bhoja who lived in 11th century quotes a verse from the Satakas of Bhartruhari in his Sarasvatikanthabharana. Bhartruhari was therefore earlier to Bhoja.. Some scholars identify him to be Bhatti the author of Bhattikavya, who lived before Bhoja.
In what follows each posting will carry a few verses in order from each of the three Satakas with text and prose order in Sanskrit and an English translation which attempts to be as close to the original as possible. This method of studying all the three almost parallelly and not serially may reduce the possibility of an overdose of any sentiment! I shall follow the text given in “Subhashita-triSati” with Sanskrit commentary of Ramachandra Budhendra published by Nirnayasagar Press (1925).
स्वानुभूत्येकमानाय नमः शान्ताय तेजसे ॥ नी-० ॥
अन्वयः: दिक्-काल-आदि-अनवच्छिन्न-अनन्त-चित्-मात्र-मूर्तये स्व-अनुभूति-एक-मानाय शान्ताय तेजसे नमः ।
Salutation to the beatific Energy whose limitless form of knowledge is uninterrupted along time, directions etc. and whose proof is only through self-perception.
येनाक्रियन्त सततं गृहकुम्भदासाः ।
तस्मै नमो भगवते मकरध्वजाय ॥ शृ-१ ॥
अन्वयः: येन शम्भु-स्वयम्भु-हरयः हरिण-ईक्षणानां गृह-कुम्भ-दासाः सततम् अक्रियन्त, तस्मै वाचाम् अगोचर-चरित्र-विचित्रिताय भगवते मकरध्वजाय नमः ।
Salutation to the revered God of love, Manmatha, whose flag carries the picture of a fish, whose colourful life is beyond words and who has made Siva, Brahma and Vishnu carriers of household pitchers of doe-eyed ladies. [ Doe-eyed ladies refer to the wives of Siva, Brahma and Vishnu, namely Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi.]
लीलादग्धविलोलकामशलभः श्रेयोदशाग्रे स्फुरन् ।
चेतःसद्मनि योगिनां विजयते ज्ञानप्रदीपो हरः ॥ वै-१ ॥
अन्वयः: चूड-उत्तंसित-चन्द्र-चारु-कलिका-चञ्चत्-शिखा-भास्वरः लीला-दग्ध-विलोल-काम-शलभः ज्ञानप्रदीपः हरः योगिनां चेतः-सद्मनि श्रेयः-दशा-अग्रे स्फुरन् अन्तः-स्फूर्जत्-अपार-मोह-तिमिर-प्राग्भारम् उच्चाटयन् विजयते ।
Shiva whose unsteady lock of hair where the bud-like moon appearing as a hair-crest is shining and who easily burnt the tremulous moth called Manmatha, flourishes in all his glory residing in the hearts of ascetics shining in the forefront during auspicious moments and vanquishing the thick darkness of boundless delusion roaring internally. (Verbs जयतु,जयति,विजयते etc. which are often used in benedictory verses convey the sense of “flourishing in all its glory” although the literal meaning is “to be victorious”. )
अथ मूर्खपद्धतिः ( Section on the dull-headed)
बोद्धारो मत्सरग्रस्ताः प्रभवः स्मयदूषिताः ।
अबोधोपहताश्चान्ये जीर्णमङ्गे सुभाषितम् ॥ नी-१ ॥
अ: बोद्धारः मत्सर-ग्रस्ताः, प्रभवः स्मय-दूषिताः,अन्ये अबोधोपहताः च, सुभाषितम् अङ्गे जीर्णम् ।
Scholars suffer from jealousy; kings are corrupted by arrogance; others are afflicted with ignorance; (thus) good sayings decay in their own body (without expression).
स्त्रीप्रशंसा (In praise of women)
स्मितेन भावेन च लज्जया भिया
समस्तभावैः खलु बन्धनं स्त्रियः ॥ शृ-२ ॥
अ: स्त्रियः स्मितेन भावेन लज्जया पराङ्मुखैः अर्ध-कटाक्ष-वीक्षणैः वचोभिः ईर्ष्या-कलहेन लीलया समस्त-भावैः च बन्धनम् ।
With their smile, temperament, shyness, partial glances while turning away their faces, words, quarrels out of jealousy, playfulness and with all their moods women are a fetter (to men).
अथ तृष्णादूषणम् ( Censuring desire)
भ्रान्तं देशमनेकदुर्गविषमं प्राप्तं न किञ्चित्फलं
त्यक्त्वा जातिकुलाभिमानमुचितं सेवा कृता निष्फला ।
भुक्तं मानविवर्जितं परगृहेष्वाशङ्कया काकवत्
तृष्णे जृम्भसि पापकर्मपिशुने नाद्यापि संतुष्यसि ॥ वै-२ ॥
अ: अनेक-दुर्ग-विषमं देशं भ्रान्तम् ,फलं न किञ्चित् (अपि) प्राप्तम्; उचितं जाति-कुल-अभिमानं त्यक्त्वा कॄता सेवा निष्फला; पर-गृहेषु आशङ्कया काकवत् मान-विवर्जितं भुक्तम्; पाप-कर्म-पिशुने तृष्णे! जृम्भसि, अद्य अपि न सन्तुष्यसि ।O Greed manifesting wretched actions ! many places dangerous and difficult to access were traversed fruitlessly; sacrificing the self respect proper for the community and family, fruitless service was rendered; Without self-respect (food) was eaten with apprehension in others’ houses like a crow; you are still growing and do not feel satisfied.
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