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Great Thoughts

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The Pancatantra is one of the earliest books of fables and its influence can be seen in The Arabian Nights, the Decameron, the Conterbury Tales and most notably in The Fables of La Fontaine...

Tradition ascribe this fabulous work to Vishnu Sharma whose existence has not been conclusively established. Faced with the challenge of educating three unlettered princes, to awaken their intelligence, Vishnu Sharma evolved a unique pedagogy- for his aim was to teach the princes how to think not what to think........

1   A trouble to acquire; a trouble to protect;
a trouble if it's lost; a trouble if it's spent;
money is nothing but trouble; also! 
From beginning to end.

2   Easily filled is a tiny stream;
easily filled the cupped paws of a mouse;
easily pleased a scurvy fellow;
he gives thanks for crumbs.

3  Deer recline in its shade;
birds in multitudes gather to roost,
darkening its dark-green canopy of leaves;
troops of monkeys cling to the trunk;
while hollows hum with insect-throngs;
flowers are badly kissed by honey-bees;
OH! What happens its every limb showers
on assemblages of various creatures,
Such a tree deserves all praise,
others only burden the earth.

4   Far better that a man have no sons born or, 
that born they die; though there be grief, if passes
 soon; But, to have living sons, who turn out fools,
and obstinate fools at that, that indeed
is a lifelong misery hard to bear.

5   Let the wealth you earn circulate and you keep
 it still. Water in a full tank, lacking an outlet
spills over and goes to waste. 

6   Wealth lures wealth as tame elephants the wild;
wealth cannot be earned by wishful thinking;
there can be no trade without wealth.

7   The man who lets the wealth that Fortune showers on him, sit idle, finds no happiness in this world, nor in the next.  What is he then?   
A confounded fool performing 
watchman's role.'

8   If a man does not hold dear the well-being 
of parents, kin,  dependents, and himself, 
what good is his living in the world of men?
A crow too lives long eating 
Ritual offerings.

9   If between what is good and proper, and what is not, a man cannot discern; if from all commerce with Scripture's holy precepts, his mind is shut-out;
if to fill the belly is his sole aim,  
what difference then, between beast 
And Man Beast?

10   By no man's smile is any man raised high;
by no man's frown is any man cast down;up or down, a man rises or falls in life but the 
true worth of his actions and conduct.

11   With greatest effort are stones carried uphill;
and with the greatest ease do they tumble down;
so too with our own self, through 
Virtue and Vice.'

12   What job is beyond the competent?
What place too far for the adventurous?
What land alien to the well-performed?
To smooth talkers, who remains 
a stranger for long?'

13   The learned, the brave, and he who well knows
 how to serve, these are the three who pluck the 
Flower of Gold in this world.

14   Words follow words; words spring from words
even as seed begets more seed
with timely rains.

15   A person's state of mind makes known what manner of man he is;entering it, one with experience quickly gains control 
over that man.

16   Words should be used wisely and well;
spoken where they would yield rich fruit.
Colors take the firmest hold and brightest, 
on whitest cloth.

17   If a man should undertake something, 
lacking knowledge of resources and energies,
his best efforts will not shine forth, 
even as moonlight on the Snow Mountain, 
though brilliant, does not.'

18   Servants and ornaments are to be placed

each in the position right for them: to say, 
'I can do this, so I shall,' and fasten a crest-jewel 
on the foot- that's not done.

19   A fine gem fit to grace a gold jewel,

if mounted in a cheap tin setting,
does not scream, nor refuses to gleam.
It's the jeweler who's put to shame.

20   Where  no distinction is made between the right hand and the left, there, no gentlemen will care to stay an instant, if he has another way.

21   In a place where no difference is perceived

between a priceless gem with eye of fire and a fragment of pale crystal, how can a gem-trade flourish there?

22   A horse, a weapon, a text, a lute,

a voice,a man and a women- they perform ill, 
or well, according to who masters them.

23   A man might confide some things to his wife,

some to his close friends, and some to his son;
these deserve his trust: but not reveal
all matters to everyone in sight.;

24   A true and tested friend, a faithful wife, a loyal servant, a powerful master, disclosing his troubles to these a man discovers great relief.'

25   The wise man puts one foot forward while he stands firm on the other: he'll not forsake his former home, until he finds another.

26   A king who summons up all his courage to face the most savage of foes, advancing,  drunk 

with fury,and will not yield, 
will never face defeat.

27   A blade of grass bends low, powerless,

tosses about, light, lacking inner strength,
A man who lacks a sense of honor and pride,
is like a pitiful blade of grass.

28   The weak, if wary and mistrustful,can easily 
withstand the strongest;the strong who are foolish 
and trustful,may be overthrown 
by the weakest.

29   Even those who are from fine families,

if once honored by the king and then slighted,
will at all times work towards his downfall.

30   As a man in perfect health disdains all doctors 

and drugs, so, a king free of troubles
thinks little of his ministers.'

31   A hurricane does not uproot the pliant grass

that bends low before its fury; it snaps only proud, 
lordly trees; A man of might lets his valor speak
only to others of equal might.'

32   Earth's true extent may be compassed

that of the seas and mountains too
but the world of a king's mind and thoughts-
that is beyond anyone's reach,
anywhere, at any time.

33   What a man watches or does

or yearns for during the day
he does the same at night in his sleep.
He talks about it; he acts it out.

34   One without ambition does not hold office;

one fallen out of love does not care to adorn himself; one who lacks learning displays no eloquence; one who is blunt in speech 
is never a cheat.'

35   The senses age first, then the body,

in those blessed with virtue and piety;
but in those who posses neither,
body ages, senses never.

36   A king is ruined by bad advice; an ascetic

 by company; a child by fond indulgence;a Brahman by lack of learning; a noble line by evil sons;virtuous conduct by serving the base;friendship from want of regard; investment by mismanagement; affection from long absence;
and a woman by drink; a farm too from neglect;
wealth through misdirected charity.

37   Delirium, trembling, battering, falling down, a constant patter of incoherent babbling, these are the sure signs of foul fevers, life-threatening,
and of drunkenness as well.

38   Falsehood and daring, folly and deceit,

uncleanness of body and spirit too,
excessive greed, and lack of compassion,
these vices are inborn in women.

39   Altered speech, changing complexion,

eyes darting from side to side in alarm,
drooping, broken in spirit: 
such a man having committed 
a crime is afraid of
 his own act.

40   The man who appears in open court

calm and cheerful, with smiling face, defiant eye,
and speaks in clear, firm tones with confident pride,
know him to be true and upright.

41   Crows, cowards, deer, these three, will ne'er abandon their home; elephants, lions and noble men, these three, faced with dishonor

 will always leave home.

42   There is no friend like good health; there is no foe like sickness; no joy equals that of children;

no pain equals that of hunger.

43   Why need you think of ways and means

to do harm to evildoers,when they are sure to fall on their own like trees that grow 
by the river's edge.

44   Having devoured a horde of fishes, the high, the low, and the in-between a certain crane through excessive greed, met his end 

in a crab's stranglehold.

45   Better take a walk with a snake;

or share your home with rogues or foes;
never put your trust in evil friends,
false, fickle and foolish.

46   Fear danger while it's still to come;

once you're face to face with danger,
strike hard, with no hesitation.

47   The sinful acts the ignorant commit for the sake of a single life, bring them only sorrows that extend

over a thousand recurring lives.

48   What is impossible if you have intelligence?

What is UN-achievable if your will is firm?
Who will not fall prey to a sweet and smooth tongue? What is unattainable 
if you preserve?

49   Land, friends, or gold are the triple fruits of war; 
in the absence of even one of these a war.
a man is foolhardy to star.

50  Not a thousand elephants, and not ten thousand horses, can furnish kings with the power

that a single fortress can.

51 Giving and receiving, each others secrets sharing, 
dining, entertaining; 
these six are sure signs 
of affection.

52  Where the host does not rise and come forward

to greet his guest, engage him in pleasant talk
and converse with on virtue and vice,
should never set foot in that house.

53  Whosoever does an act good or bad

at any time or place or at any age, reaps
its inevitable consequence.

54  For every living being, these five are fixed

while still in the womb; length of life,
 fortune and knowledge, wealth, and the precise moment of death.

55  Bit by bit, the wise enjoy, the wealth they earn, slowly, very slowly, as some precious elixir

 is savored drop by drop, not gulped unceremoniously.

56  A wise person takes a man's true measure 

at one shrewd glance, as an expert jeweler gauges
 the true weight  of metal by simply 
holding it on his palm.

57  Like a serpent deprived of his fang,

like an elephant not in rut,
so is a man lacking wealth,
man only in name.

58  With men of dim intelligence, and lacking wealth to boot, all undertakings fail and get lost

as little streams in summer do. 

59  Barren barley corn, seed of wild sesame,

and men lacking wealth  own only a name;
without substance, they produce no fruit.

60  Those born poor into this world s less

than those who accustomed to happiness
having possessed wealth,
 lose it all.