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One-minute Indian Wisdom for all times

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Wisdom makes the difference between success and failure. Though there is enough wisdom available in this world, there always seems to be a shortage of wisdom at crucial times. Subhaashitaas or wise sayings in Sanskrit have offered us one minute wisdom since ancient times but due to our modern education, we have completely overlooked them. Moreover we have been looking for wisdom only in contemporary books and magazines.

We always need one-minute wisdom quickly in moments of despair and confusion. Wouldn’t it be great if the great wisdom of the world is available in simple bite-sized two-liners? Well Indian culture has that in the form of subhaashitaas. Subhaashitaas are a great heritage of Indian culture. They teach values in life, great thoughts in a convincing manner, often quoting examples. They are applicable at all times, all ages and for all cultures. These subhaashitaas offer material to learn from and provide essential life skills.

In Indian culture there is plenty of wisdom – be it in the tales of our grandparents, the sayings of our Gurus and our ancient books. Of the wisdom originating from ancient India culture, Subhaashitaas or wise sayings in sanskrit offer a colossal amount of wisdom for all times, in the shortest of the sentence. Subhaashitaas are a great heritage of Indian culture. They teach values in life, great thoughts in a convincing manner, often quoting examples. Subhashita are witty and epigrammatic verses in Sanskrit that are full of wisdom. A subhaashitaa has morals and values that are life essentials for daily living. They are the ‘Yoda (wise man of Star Wars)’ quotes from ancient India.

So what are ‘subhaashitaas’?

Subhaashitaas literally means good speech. They are wise aphorisms, instructions, proverbs and stories, either in poetry or in prose composed in Sanskrit language which is considered as the “Mother of all Languages”. Subhaashitaas act as wise teachers in formulating the sense of morality and character, which sums up the total of a person’s virtues.  Subhaashitaas through its short wisdom generally in couplet format stresses that by understanding the meaning and practicing the disciplines in real life can cultivate a strong and morally superior character. They offer a code of conduct, a philosophy of social and ethical relations and a lively teaching of morals crucial to the survival of a modern society caught up in turmoil of decaying values.

What is the source of the Subhaashitaas?

The great subhaashitaas are composed by ancient saints and scholars which can be dated back to 5000 BCE. Subhaashitaas–literally meaning “well-spoken words” were passed down orally through generations are works of great masters of Sanskrit language: Vedavyasa, Shankaracharya, Bhartrhari and Somadeva Bhatta. There are many originating from the great epic ‘Mahabharata’. The Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha also have compilation draws from all these sources in addition to the Bhagavad Geeta and other Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
Here’s a subhashita which speaks about its own greatness.

Samsaara vishavrukshasya dve phale hyamrutopame|
Subhaashitarasasvaadaha sangatihi sujanaihi saha||

The most important and sweetest of all languages is the divine language of Gods (Sanskrit). Poetry is the sweetest literature in Sanskrit and ‘Subhaashitaas’ are sweetest verses in Sanskrit poetry.

There are plenty available on the internet and many books are available too. Of the many books that are available on subhaashitaas, the Subhashita-Ratna-Bhandagara of Gems of Sanskrit Poetry by Narayan Ram Acharya Kavyatirtha is a good collection.

Here are some Subhaashitaas for our understanding and appreciation.

What are the three jewels in this world?

There are three jewels in this earth. They are water, food and Subhaashita!! But the Fools call the pieces of rocks as Jewels! Subhaashitaa are nothing but the collection of vast experiences of people or in other words wise sayings.

 What is goodness and what is sin?

In all the 18 ‘Puranas’ Shri. Vyaasa Maharshi has told only two gospels:
Doing favour to others is ‘Punya’ and troubling others is ‘Paapa’ (Sin)!!

Who is a broad minded person?

This person is my kin and that one is alien’ such a thought occurs only to the narrow-minded people. To the broad-minded person the whole world is one family.

What should be finished completely?

Fire, Loan and enemy traces, even if they remain in small amount, they grow back repeatedly, hence finish them without leaving a trace.

What do wicked people do?

Wicked person’s company is invitation to frequent insults. When gold is with iron and hammer, it gets beaten.

What is the highest achievement

Happiness is the highest gain,
Noble company is highest achievement

What is the highest knowledge and enjoyment?

Questioning is highest knowledge,
Forgiveness is highest enjoyment

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