CHANAKYA NEETI by Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai: Book Summary

Reading Time: 48 minutes

Chanakya was also known by the names Vishnu Gupta and Kautilya. This great thinker, philosopher, statesman and political strategist lived in the 4th century BC. He made one of his students, Chandragupta Maurya, the king of Magadha. Chanakya also defeated Alexander the Great, who was on his way to conquer the world. Chanakya brought together all the 16 regional kingdoms of India under one roof and thus established Akhanda Bharat — United India, and made Chandragupta its Emperor.

Chanakya was a teacher at his core. He wrote his magnus opus, Kautilya’s Artha Shastra — one of the greatest books ever written on leadership and good governance. The Artha Shastra has 6000 sutras or formulas based on which he guided Chandragupta on how to govern well. This book, Artha Shastra continues to provide guidance and inspiration to countless past, present and future generations of world leaders.

He wrote another book, Chanakya Neeti, for rest of us, who want to become worthy leaders one day. If you can NOT study Arthashastra, start with Chanakya Neeti. He lived during a time when casteism and discrimination against women were the norms. As a result, many of his original thoughts may seem outdated or outrageous in today’s context. Understand the broader context, while studying this book. When he refers to Brahmins, he is refering to enlightened people. There are enlightened people all across the world.

Verse 1.1. Firstly, I bow my head to Lord Vishnu, The preserver of the triple-world And enunciate the code of regal conduct From numerous scriptures culled.

This book, Chanakya Neeti, is the very essence of Chanakya’s immense wisdom and all the ancient scriptures.

Verse 1.2. I declare it, With a wish for people’s welfare, A scientific understanding of its basics Makes a person all-aware.

Using one’s mind and heart for the benefit of others is the mark of great leaders. Never do anything without logic or scientific approach. Have emotions but do not become emotional. Being mindful will give us the strength to deal with difficult people and circumstances. As one is aware of the outside world, one should also have the understanding of the inner world – the world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is self-awareness.

1.3. By studying this scripture, A person learns the truth of the matter About celebrated teachings in those scriptures, Dos and don’ts, beneficial and sinister.

When you study Chanakya Neeti, you will understand the real truth, the reality of life. You will be exposed to the thoughts of great people who wrote other scriptures (Vedas, puranas, shastras.,), because Chanakya read many of them to compile his own. Scriptures are also code of conduct. They teach you what is right and what is wrong, what to do and not to do, how to behave and how not to behave.

It is important to read holy texts on a daily basis. It should be a part of your routine, like waking up or brushing your teeth. These scriptures are written by great men and women. These shastras also contain rules. Our ancestors, the great rishis laid down certain social codes in the form of prayers, rituals, hymns, etc.

Verse 2.1. The Vipra is like a tree, whose roots are prayers. The Vedas are his branches; his deeds are the leaves. Therefore, diligently keep the roots secure. Cutting off the roots, neither the branches Nor the leaves endure

It is your mindset and quality of thoughts that determine your quality of life. Those people who are grateful for what they have, experience peace and happiness throughout their lives. In this verse, Chanakya gives example of enlightened person (Vipra) and compares him to a tree. Chanakya advises you to live a prayerful life. Vedas contain the eternal wisdom of the universe in the form of four books – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. A self realized person works much more than all of us put together. By serving others unconditionally, one achieves happiness. Keeping prayerful attitude, dedicate your life to the service of others.

Verse 2.2. What worry is there in my life, If Hari is the world’s sustainer? Were He not so, how for the child’s sustenance, Could the milk flow from the breasts of the mother? Thinking so again and again O Lord of the Yadus and Lord of Lakshmi, Serving only your lotus feet ever and always, Time passes for me.

In this verse, you get to see Chanakya’s Bhakti for Lord Vishnu (husband of goddess Lakshmi). When Lord Vishnu is the sustainer and provider of the whole universe, there’s no need for Chanakya to worry. “You do not get what you desire but what you deserve.” Through service of the Lord, you serve people around you, and this will make you truly happy.

2.3. Without oblations to the sacred fire, the Vedas are chanted in vain. So are religious ceremonies without donation. Without faith nothing is accomplished. Therefore, faith is indeed the causation.

Faith can move mountains. Priests offer ghee, coconut, sandal wood etc. to the fire while chanting Vedas. To be alive and active, you need faith in yourself, your mentors, and the path shown by your ancestors.

2.4. For a Dvija, God is in the fire. For a sage, God is in his heart. God is in the idol for the dim-witted. But everywhere for the just.

Dvija in Sanskrit means twice-born – those who are first born from the mother’s womb and then attains a second birth as a enlightened person. Dvija sees god in the sacred fire while he does his daily pooja and in the yajnas he participates in. For a sage, God is inside himself. For the rest of us, God is in the idols, we worship. Wise are those who see God everywhere and in everything.

2.5. The one whose heart melts Towards every being, To him what else will mean knowledge, Salvation, hair-matting and ash-besmearing?

Unconditional love is a rare quality, and there is nothing purer than a heart that melts in others’ sorrow. For a person whose heart is full of love, there is no need to show off his spiritual side by smearing himself with holy ash or matting his hair.

2.6. No austerity, measures up to calmness. No joy is better than contentment. No disease is worse than greed. And no religion cuts above compassion.

If you can maintain equanimity (calmness), through ups and downs, you are a winner. A content man is the happiest in the world. Greedy person can never be content. There is no disease, which is worse than greed. The greatest religion is compassion.

2.7. Kalpavriksh is just a tree; Sumeru is a mountain; Chintamani is just a stone; The sun’s rays are hot; the moon wanes; And the ocean’s water is salty; Kamadeva is without a body; Bali is a king of demons; Kamadhenu is just a beast; None of these can be compared to you, O Raghupati!

It is only Raghupati, Lord Rama, who is perfect, without comparison. The mythological wish-granting tree Kalpavriksh may be great, but finally it is just a tree. The greatest mountain, Sumeru (mount Kailash), is a mountain nonetheless. Kamadeva, who is the god of love, does not even have a physical form. Bali, the great generous king, is a descendant of demons. And Kamadhenu, the divine cow, is still an animal. The only thing that is flawless is Raghupati, Lord Rama himself.

2.8. The deity dwells not in a piece of wood, In a stone or in a clay model. In faith surely is he, therefore, it is faith In the deity that is fundamental.

It is when you add your faith to those idols the real God awakens. Where there is faith, there is surrender to God. And in that total acceptance, God reveals himself to us.

2.9. Desires of the mind! What has got all the cushy things? Everything depends on destiny. Therefore, count your blessings!

Everything you have is yours because of your destiny. What is destined for you will surely come to you unasked. You are blessed with many things other, less-fortunate people wish for. So be content with what you have.

2.10. Egoism gets dissolved In the knowledge of the Supreme Soul. Then wherever the mind goes, There it meets the Ultimate Goal.

For an enlightened person, his egoism has ended. It has dissolved. Wherever the enlightened person’s mind goes, it’s able to see God. Shed your ego and see how uncomplicated life becomes. In order to enjoy the happiness of being in the moment — which is what matters the most — you need to have an ego-free mind.

2.11. The human mind is indeed The cause of bondage and deliverance. The love of pleasure enslaves, But detachment liberates.

Equanimity, through meditation, will liberate your mind.

2.12. Nothing more than passion causes distraction. There is no bigger enemy than delusions of the mind. Nothing burns more than anger. No bigger happiness than an enlightened mind.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Only enlightened minds are able to experience ultimate happiness.

2.13. Anger is the regent of death. Greed is the river of hell. Knowledge is the wish-granting cow. Contentment is the celestial garden.

Avoid anger and greed. Pursue knowledge and be content. A person who is constantly angry will die early. A greedy person will move towards immoral paths that will lead him to a world of trouble. Wealth follows the wise, like a wish-granting cow. (Kamadhenu).

2.14. Having read the four Vedas And several scriptures, Yet living without realizing the soul Is like the sweetness of food unknown to the ladle.

What use is knowledge if it has not been digested? Reading scriptures without understanding one’s own soul is like using the ladle that serves food. The ladle scoops food every time it is used to serve the dish, but has no idea how delicious the food is.

2.15. As fragrance in a flower, oil in sesame seed, Fire in wood, butter in milk, And sweetness in sugarcane, One should seek the soul in a body.

2.16. Look before you take a step. Filter water through a cloth before you sip. Conform to the scriptures while speaking up. For conscience’s sake, obey its whip!

Listen to your conscience (“gut feeling”). Even if what your conscience tells you to do is like a whip that hurts, obey it.

2.17. Everyone experiences birth and death alone. Everyone stands up to good and bad actions alone. Everyone faces hell alone. Everyone reaches heaven alone.

You were born alone and you will die alone, so learn to enjoy your own company.

2.18. Wealth, friends, spouse and land, One can obtain again. But this life as a human Can’t be had now and again.

2.19. Poverty, sickness, suffering, Bondage and addiction, By the tree of self-repression Is caused their fruition.

Poverty, sickness, suffering, bondage and addiction are the result of keeping one’s thoughts and feelings concealed for ages. Self-repression is a tree that bears bad fruits. It is best to express yourself. Find an outlet for your feelings and you will feel much better.

2.20. Where Lakshmi is the mother, Vishnu is the father, Devotees of Vishnu are kinsfolk. The motherland itself represents the triple sphere.

Children of a family should be like ardent devotees who follow the advice of their father and mother. Here’s the story of Ganesha and Kartikeya, the sons of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvathi. Once the brothers had a competition to establish who among them was the fastest. It was decided that whoever returns to the starting point first, after racing around the world, will be the winner. Kartikeya at once sat on his peacock and went off. Ganesha, using his wisdom, simply went around his parents. When his brother returned, Ganesha told him that his world is his parents and so he had finished the task earlier.

2.21. In the midst of thousands of cows, A calf pursues its mother. Past actions follow the doer In a similar way.

Karma is considered the universal law of cause and effect. No one can escape the consequences of one’s actions by blaming others.

2.22. If leaves don’t grow on a karira tree, Is the spring season to blame? If the owl can’t see during the day, Is it the fault of the sun? If raindrops fall not into the mouth of the cuckoo, Is it the cloud’s mistake? Who has the power to wipe off the destiny inscribed on one’s forehead?

Karira is a type of tree that grows in arid climates and does not have any leaves. It is said that a person’s destiny is written on her forehead, and what is written there can not be erased. If victory is in your destiny, no one will be able to take it away from you.

2.23. Life span, occupation, wealth, Education and how one’s death will occur, These five are determined while a person Is in the womb of his mother.

Scriptures say that the longest human being can live is 120 “smiling” years.

2.24. Time matures all beings. Time annihilates people. Time stays awake when everybody is asleep. Time is indeed unbeatable.

Nothing can stop time. It is unbeatable, all powerful and all decisive.

2.25. As is the desire of Providence, So functions one’s intellect. One’s activities are also controlled by Providence, And by the will of Providence one is surrounded by helpers.

A person’s intellect is controlled by Providence. When a person’s luck goes south, her mind veers off the course as well, prompting her to make bad decisions, pick fights and attract further misfortune. Heavenly wisdom is infinite and unfathomable. Always be gracious and thankful to God in success. Who knows when a person’s fate will change.

2.26. The lowbrow becomes king. The king is made miserly. The rich become poor. The poor are made rich by destiny.

Chanakya believed in planning and hard work. What you get is your destiny, how you get is through hard work.

2.27. No one has built a golden deer. No one has seen or heard of one. Yet Raghunandan was fascinated by it. At the time of destruction, one’s mind works perversely.

In one of the pivotal events in the Ramayana, Mareech, an accomplice of the demon king Ravana, disguises himself as a golden deer to entice Sita. Sita falls for the golden deer and wants it at any cost. When her husband Rama and brother-in-law Lakshmana go after the deer, Sita is left alone in their hut in the forest. As a result, Ravana is able to kidnap her. Not only did Sita fall into the trap but Lord Rama himself believed it and had to endure the misfortune of losing his wife as a result. Logic and reason desert a person when his luck runs out.

2.28. Truth supports the earth. Truth kindles the sun. Truth blows the wind. Truth sustains everyone.

The very life in this universe is sustained by truth and truth alone. “Try to remain truthful. The power of truth never declines. Force and violence may be effective in the short term, but in the long run, it’s the truth that prevails.”

2.29. The spirit sets itself in motion. By itself enjoys the gains. By itself roams about the world And from there attains liberation.

The soul gets caught in the circle of karma and gets out of it on its own. Life is the journey of the soul; it goes through the good and bad consequences of its actions and finally gets liberated when one attains enlightenment.

2.30. “Shame upon those who do not worship the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, Mother Yashoda’s son. Shame upon those who have no attachment to the Tales describing the glories of Shrimati Radharani. Shame upon those whose ears are not eager to listen to The stories of the Lord’s lila.” Exclaims mridanga sound ‘dhik-tam dhik-tam, dhigatam’ during kirtana.

During kirtans or bhajans, it’s customary to play the Indian classical instrument mridangam to add to the mood. Through the tune it plays, the mridanga is calling out to those in the vicinity to come and join the worship.

2.31. A living person is as good as dead, If faithless. But even a dead person lives on If he’s devout.

Saints and sages are remembered and worshiped even if they died a long time ago. They remain immortal through their devotion.

2.32. Descendants from heaven to this planet Have four marks in their appearance: Generosity, gentle voice, Devotion to God and an attitude of service towards Brahmins.

2.33. Extreme anger, harsh speech, Enmity with one’s own relations, dishonesty, Being friendly with unrefined people, Service of the dishonorable Are the marks of person descended from hell.

2.34. Men have hunger, sleep, fear and copulation In common with animals. But intelligence is something that differentiates men from animals. Without intelligence a man is much the same as an animal.

2.35. Those who lack education, penance, knowledge, Good disposition, virtue and benevolence, Are beasts wandering the surface of the earth in the form of men. They are a burden to the earth.

2.36. Even shackles can be strange And the bond of love is the strongest. A bee, even though capable of perforating timber Stays put within the petals of the lotus flower.

From love springs attachment and from attachment comes the fear of loss. As this fear grips this person, he is unable to unleash his full potential and conquer his goals. Take a chance, try your luck. In the end you will only regret the things you didn’t do.

2.37. Heaven-sent is the boat of Dvija Which sails bottom-up in the ocean of life. Those who bow down to it skim through the water. While those hanging over it sink.

A Dvija is a person who is twice-born, an enlightened person. If such a person comes into your life, it is because he is a godsend. Respect and serve all such enlightened people. A wise man is like a boat in the vast sea. Dvija’s boat sails upside down. You need to surrender your ego in the company of wise men to receive their help.

2.38. It is enough to live for a moment, If that moment is spent doing good deeds. It is useless living for ages and bringing only distress To this world and the other.

Live every moment as if it is your last and do good deeds.

2.39. A true meal is the leftover of a Brahmin. True love is that which is shown to another. To abstain from sin is true wisdom. And true religion is the one which is practiced without arrogance.

True love is unconditional. Be humble while practicing your religion.

2.40. Those who were not satiated with the enjoyment of wealth, food and women have all passed away. There are others now passing away who have likewise remained unsatiated. And in the future still others will pass away feeling themselves unsatiated.

2.41. The nectar of contentment fills joy In peaceful people. It can’t be had by the covetous Restlessly running hither and thither.

True happiness does not come from fulfilling your wants. Truly happy person is one who is content with whatever she has in hand.

2.42. One who is attached stands in fear. Lovesickness is indeed a pot of sadness. Attachment is the cause of suffering. One gains happiness by being detached.

Fear of loss can prevent a person from being happy. Accept the realities of life – people die and nobody can predict what is going to happen. Cherish every moment you spend with your loved ones.

2.43. Listening to discourses one acquires righteousness And is able to give up evil deeds. By listening one gains knowledge And by listening one attains salvation.

Chanakya gives a 3-step process to attain enlightenment: Shravan (listening), manan (thinking) and nidhidyasan (meditation). Listen to spiritual discourses (satsangs) of enlightened people.

2.44. The frame of mind that comes about During a discourse, sickness and cremation If retained for good, Who will not gain salvation?

During the cremation of a family member, people contemplate life and its meaning. Retain the feeling.

2.45. The poor want wealth. Animals want a faculty of speech. Humans desire paradise And the godly long for liberation.

2.46. If you want liberation, As if poison, forsake the objects of pleasure. Drink forgiveness, mercy, purity of mind, And truthfulness as if they are nectar.

Those who are the seekers of enlightenment (moksha) should forsake worldly pleasures as if they are poison.

2.47. In whose heart The love for all kindles and abides, His troubles vanish and success ensues In all his strides.

Troubles of those who are kind and loving vanish.

2.48. The physical body is mortal. Wealth doesn’t last forever. Death hangs over one’s head always. Therefore, dutifully, one should indulge in piety.

2.49. Though the ocean filled with gems is its father And Lakshmi is its sister. Yet the conch goes begging. Well, without giving one gains nothing.

The ocean is filled with gems. But the conch which is born of the same ocean bed goes begging to others in the hands of sadhus. Conch is the son of Varuna (god of oceans). Goddess Lakshmi is considered the daughter of the ocean in the Puranas. Though conch lives in the seabed, it guards its wealth (precious pearls) without sharing it. So as a punishment, the conch ends up in the hands of sadhus seeking alms. Without giving, one gains nothing.

2.50. Truth is my mother, knowledge is my father, Virtue is my brother, compassion is my friend, Peace is my wife, forgiveness is my son, These six I keep as my kinsmen.

2.51. Whatever is distant, Difficult to accomplish or unworkable, That can be accomplished through penance. For penances are unimpeachable.

How does one achieve the unachievable? Chanakya says it is through penance. In Sanskrit, it is called Tapsya or Vipassana. Through the power of your mind and constant meditation, you can achieve the unachievable.

2.52. Delicious food and the potency to eat. Beautiful women and the potency of romance. Wealth in abundance and the potency to give. There’re not the rewards of ordinary penance.

Delicious food and ability to eat, beautiful women and ability to romance and wealth in abundance and ability to give, are your blessings. Count your blessings.

2.53. The previous life’s practices of Charity, learning and austerity Continue to be cultivated in this life Through the link of this present life with the previous ones.

According to the law of karma, all living beings have had many previous births and there will be many more, unless you attain enlightenment in this life. You keep carrying forward the consequences of your actions from one birth to the other. “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” There are 3 things you can do that will add value in every birth you take: 1) Charity/giving. 2) Learning. 3) Austerity (living without overindulgence). If you are on the path to enlightenment in this life, you will be closer to enlightenment in your next life.

2.54. One who abandons the sure thing And runs after the transient Loses the permanent. And as well, by itself, vanishes the impermanent.

The world doesn’t owe you anything, so be thankful for the good in your life.

2.55. The wiseman should not be anxious about food. He should be anxious to be engaged only in dharma. Food for each man is created at his birth itself.

Chanakya in the Arthashastra calls this art aanvikshiki. Why worry over small things in life when you can focus on thinking about higher things? You will have enough food to survive. So think about how you can lead a virtuous and righteous life.

2.56. Transient is wealth, breath, life And the place of dwelling. Among the transient and intransient things of the world, Only piety is everlasting.

2.57. Charity puts an end to poverty, Righteous conduct to misery, Discretion to ignorance And scrutiny to fear.

Give to those who deserve your kindness and nature will return your generosity. Faith can conquer any type of fear.

Verse 3.1. He who has failed to attain Either virtue, wealth, satisfaction of desires or salvation Lives a useless life Like a nipple hanging on the neck of a goat.

According to Vedic literature, we have four goals – to achieve in life. They are dharma (right conduct), artha (wealth), kama (gratification) and moksha (enlightenment). If we attain all these four in our lifetime, we can say we have lived a complete life. A person who has failed to acquire even one of these four goals is not living a fruitful life. Such a person’s life is like an appendix, useless.

Verse 3.2. On this earth there are three gems indeed: Water, foodgrains and fine words. But mere pebbles are branded As gems by the half-witted.

Without food and water, life cannot sustain itself. Words can transform people – break them or make them. Be the person who speaks to inspire, not belittle.

3.3. The world, a bitter tree, Has two nectar filled fruits hanging from it: Sweet, wise words and The company of good people.

Sat in Sanskrit means good and sangh means company. Satsang is a get-together with good people. “You are the average of five people you spend the most time with.”

3.4. Goodness is the ornament of beauty. The glory of a family is gentleness. Perfection is the crown of learning. Utility is the beauty of affluence.

Someone with a good heart is beautiful.

3.5. Merit makes a person great, Not sitting on a high seat. Does a crow become Garuda By perching on top of the palace?

Garuda is the vehicle of lord Vishnu and has a mix of eagle and human features. Real greatness is acquired through good work alone.

3.6. As gold is examined four ways by Rubbing, cutting, heating and beating, Likewise a man should be tested in four ways: His self-sacrifice, his conduct, his virtues and actions.

3.7. Like the drops of water falling slowly and steadily, fill the pitcher. Knowledge, virtue and wealth Are gathered in a similar way.

3.8. Nothing equals rainwater. No strength like one’s own. Nothing matches the light of the eyes. And no wealth is dearer than food grains.

According to the Upanishads , Annam Brahma – food is God.

3.9. Poverty is removed through work. Sins expunged through prayers. Silence quells quarrels. Wakefulness dispels fears.

Poverty can be erased through hard work. Listen carefully instead of speaking.

3.10. Grieve not for the past. Worry not for the future. Wise men only deal With the present moment.

When you put your best foot forward and make the best of the present moment, know that success will follow.

3.11. The one who prepares for the future And he who is alert and clever Will both be lucky and happy but The one who wholly depends on luck will be ruined.

Luck favors those who are prepared to be successful.

3.12. One whose knowledge is confined to books And those whose wealth is in the hands of others Can use neither the knowledge nor such wealth When the need arises.

3.13. Lives he who strives For merit and good deeds; Without merits and good deeds Life is useless, indeed.

3.14. Troublesome for Sita was her great beauty. For Ravana it was too much pride. Balis was bound because of excessive generosity. So one should avoid the excess of anything.

Bali (Mahabali) was a very noble asura king. His greatest quality was his generosity. When Vishnu appeared in the form of a Brahmin and asked him for alms. Bali gave away all the three worlds under his control. Vishnu banished him to Patal for eternity. Practice a life of moderation, a life of balance.

3.15. Results depend on the action. Following the trail of acts forms the intellect. Even so, sensible and noble people get in on the act only after considering it well.

Actions lead to results. The kind of actions you perform determine the quality of results you get. Give careful thought before acting.

3.16. If you wish to gain control of the world, Then keep the following fifteen, which are prone to wander, From getting the upper hand over you: the five sense objects, The five sense organs and organs of activity.

Having mastery over 15, namely five-sense objects (objects of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch), the five sense organs (ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin) and the organs of activity (hands, feet, mouth, generative and excretory organs), is of utmost importance for anyone who is serious about leading in any field.

3.17. Consider repeatedly the following: right time, right friends, right place, right means of income, right ways of spending And what your real strength is.

3.18. Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses And a compassionate heart Are the qualities one need To rise to a divine platform.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and you will be closer to God than ever before. Wise people strive to develop compassion and in the process develop saintly qualities.

3.19. The reckless spender, the homeless child, the quarrel monger, The man who neglects his wife and is heedless in his actions, All these will soon come to ruin.

A person who doesn’t treat his spouse right and is careless in his actions is destined for doom.

3.20. For a man who makes no use of his intellect, What use are books? As for a blind man, What use is a mirror?

3.21. One and same object Can be perceived in three different ways: A woman is a mere body to a yogi, An object of lust to the lustful And is a piece of flesh to wild dogs.

3.22. If the bees which seek the liquid oozing from the head of a mad elephant Are driven away by the flapping of ears, Then the elephant loses the ornament on his head. The bees are quite happy in the lotus-filled lake.

Miscreants are happy wherever they are, only their victims suffer. What happens to the swarm after the elephant drives them away? Nothing drastic, really. The elephant has lost his precious ornaments, but the bees fly to the lake and enjoy the nectar from lotuses.

3.23. Those born blind cannot see. Similarly blind are those in the grip of lust. Proud men have no perception of evil. And those bent on getting rich see no sin in their actions.

3.24. He, who runs away from a dreadful calamity, A foreign invasion, a terrible famine, And the friendship of evil men, is safe.

When enemies storm your native land, do not expect mercy; they will inflict atrocities on your fellow men and women.

3.25. A misdeed done by a swami becomes right Even as the righteousness of a miscreant sometimes is improper. As nectar proved fatal for Rahu And poison adorned by Shankar.

It is the person’s intentions that matter, rather than the act itself. In the Srimad Bhagavatam Rahu consumes the nectar of immortality, amrit, which came out of churning the ocean of milk by devas and asuras. But instead of giving eternal life, it proved fatal for Rahu, an asura. He drank it out of turn. An angry Lord Vishnu cut his head off before the nectar could reach his stomach. Rahu’s head survived, but without a body. During this churning, a pot of poison, halahala, came out of the ocean before amrit. It had the potency to destroy the whole world. Both devas and asuras were terrified. They prayed to lord Shiva to help them get rid of it. Shiva drank the poison to save the world. Instead of harming him, the poison merely turned his neck an amazing shade of blue, thus giving him the name Neelkanth or the Blue-throated one.

3.26. The power of the Vipra lies in his knowledge. The power of the king lies in his army. The power of Vaishya in his money. The power of the Shudra in his humility.

3.27. Knowledge is lost if it’s not put into action. Man is lost in ignorance. An army is lost without a commander. A woman is lost without a husband.

A woman is incomplete without a husband and a man without a wife.

3.28. The huge elephant is kept in restraint using a goad; Is the goad as bulky as the elephant? The lamp dispels darkness when lit; Is the lamp as vast as darkness? A mountain can crumble if struck by a thunderbolt; Is the thunderbolt as big as the mountain? Truly, the one whose power prevails is mighty. What’s there in size?

Power is with the one who knows how to wield it.

3.29. A cuckoo’s beauty is its voice. The beauty of a woman is her loyalty to her husband. Knowledge is the beauty of an ugly face. The ability to forgive is the ascetic’s beauty.

3.30. The wisdom that emerges Out of repentance. If that comes about before time, Who will not be prosperous?

Intelligent people learn from their mistakes. Who wouldn’t be prosperous if no one makes mistakes?

3.31. The moon, who is sweet like nectar and the god of medicine Who is immortal like the amrit and resplendent, Still wanes when in the presence of sun. Who doesn’t feel inferior when staying in someone else’s house?

Moon is considered the god of medicine. His energy is cool and soothing; it is sweet like nectar. He is also immortal, like amrit. Even the shining moon will lose its luster when the sun appears. Lead an independent life for your own peace of mind.

3.32. Poverty is overcome with fortitude. Dirty clothes by keeping them clean. Raw food by heating it. And ugliness by good character.

3.33. Virtues are admired everywhere. Not the wealth, however great. Isn’t the full moon more adored Than the moon that is lean but immaculate?

3.34. [A person’s] Conduct talks of the family. Language identifies the region. Friendship by warmth and affection. And physique points to nutrition.

3.35. Pure is the water that is underground. Pure is that woman who is loyal to her husband. Pure is that king who is benevolent. And pure is that Brahmin who is content.

3.36. Practice sustains learning. Good conduct sustains family ties. And arya is known by his goodness. And anger is seen in the eyes.

Arya (a noble person) is known by his goodness.

3.37. Goodness attained by a prudent person Turns up fine As a gem set in gold Adds on shine.

3.38. If the one who has wits is possessed by power Where else can the dim-witted gain strength? Remember the proud lion in the forest. A jackal drew him to his death!

Those who are intelligent are really powerful. If you’re not smart, no one will respect you, no matter what post you hold. There is a story in Panchatantra in which a lion is outwitted by a jackal. This one lion was very proud and arrogant. Fed up being harassed, the jackal, the clever one, devised a cunning plan by which he pushed the lion to his death.

3.39. What work is too heavy for the strong? What place is too remote for the tradesmen? Which country is alien to the learned? Who can be rude to the soft-spoken?

There is no work that is too heavy or difficult for a person who is able-bodied and strong. Ambitious traders will reach any part of the world. Those who are learned are welcome in any country. And nobody behaves rudely to a person who is soft-spoken.

3.40. What is a worse defect than greed? What is meaner than betrayal? If you are truthful, you don’t need to do penance. If you have a clear conscience, you don’t need to go on pilgrimage. There is no greater distinction than goodness. If you are great, you don’t need decoration. There is no better wealth than education. And ill fame is worse than death.

3.41. The king only speaks once. The pundit also speaks only once. A man marries off his daughter only once. All these three are done only once.

Do not keep saying the same thing over and over, again.

3.42. A Brahmin who is discontent, A king who is content, A modest courtesan And an immodest homemaker Are all doomed.

A shy prostitute will not be able to make ends meet. Same is the case with an enlightened person who is discontent, and a leader who is content.

3.43. A man’s speech should suit the occasion. His good deeds should match his capacity. His wrath should be in proportion to his power. One who knows these, is a pundit indeed.

3.44. Maybe no one advised Brahma, the creator, To infuse fragrance in gold, To put fruits on sugarcane, To give flowers to the sandalwood tree, To bestow wealth on the scholar and To grant long life to the king.

For warriors, who are in the battlefield frequently, death is always at the doorstep. Be content with what you have.

Verse 4.1. Parents are the enemies of a child who is not given education. He stands like a crane amidst swans In a social setting.

Education is the best gift parents can give their children. Parents who neglect their children’s education are committing a crime and failing their children.

Verse 4.2. Though Sanskrit has refined my mind, I’m inclined to learn other languages. Just as gods yearn for the kisses of celestial nymphs Even after consuming amrit.

The puranas narrate the story of gods and demons fighting for the nectar of immortality, the amrit. Even after consuming the nectar, the gods pined for kisses of apsaras, the heavenly damsels. There is no end to desires. Even gods are not immune to it.

4.3. A scholar is honored everywhere. A scholar is respected by the people. Knowledge brings gains. Knowledge is indeed honored everywhere.

4.4. A person who is blessed with beauty, riches and a noble family background Is still worthless without education, Like the kimshuka flower without fragrance.

Kimshuka is an attractive flower without fragrance.

4.5. Of what use is a noble family to men without education. A scholar from a low family Wins the gods’ admiration.

4.6. Like a wish-granting cow (Kamadhenu), Even in hard times knowledge bears fruit. While abroad, knowledge nurtures like a mother. Knowledge is like a hidden treasure.

4.7. The poor may not be wanting, But the rich want more, no doubt. In fact, without knowledge, One remains wanting more and more.

4.8. A rogue will never attain goodness, Even if he is trained in many ways. And the neem tree will not become sweet, Even if soaked in milk and ghee.

4.9. Even a guru who has taught you just a word should be worshiped. He who does not worship a guru is born a dog for a hundred years And then at last as a Chandala.

According to Chanakya, the one who mistreats a guru will be born as a dog for a hundred years. And after those hundred years, he will be born a Chandala, a dog-eater (during Chanakya’s time).

4.10. Even a word from the guru, that enables the pupil to be with him as one, On the earth there’s no wealth, which can repay the debt.

4.11. No messenger can travel around the sky. No exchange of tidings comes from there. The voices of its inhabitants are not heard. And there is no contact with them. Therefore, a Dvija who can predict The solar and lunar eclipses should be called a scholar.

Dvija is an enlightened being. In ancient times, enlightened beings predicted solar and lunar eclipses.

4.12. Just as obtaining clear water From the underground using a pick-ax, A diligent student obtains knowledge From his teacher.

In the olden days, people used pick-axes to dig wells.

4.13. The scriptures are countless, knowledge is in abundance, Time is short, many a hindrance. So choose your pick wisely. Like a swan drinking only milk from the milk-water mix.

Extract the essence like a swan. You need to be like a swan and focus only on the necessary and avoid the trivial.

4.14. Learn one virtue from a lion, one from a crane, Four from a cock, Five from a crow, six from a dog, And three from a donkey.

4.15. Whatever work, big or small, A man intends to do must be done. Doing the same with full strength and wholeheartedly Is a quality that can be learned from a lion.

4.16. A wise man should restrain His senses like a crane And accomplish his goals after The due inspection of the place, time and ability.

4.17. To wake up early, To take a bold stand in a fight, To share anything evenly with the relatives, And to own one’s own bread through hard work Are the things one can learn from a rooster (cock).

When you observe a rooster. He struts around searching for food and when he gets a worm, he divides equally with all his family members. He fends for himself and doesn’t depend on others to bring him food.

4.18. Making love in private, Boldness, storing away useful items, Watchfulness and not trusting anyone easily, These five qualities have to be learned from the crow.

You will never catch a crow mating in public; it is as if the bird understands and respects the sanctity of intimacy.

4.19. A glutton but content with small (portions of food), Deep sleeper but is awake at short call, Faithful to the master and bold, Take six virtues from the dog.

A dog is fond of eating, but is happy with what you give him.

4.20. Though tired, a donkey carries his load, Indifferent to heat and cold, Grazes always with ease. Learn from the donkey these three qualities.

4.21. Whoever practices these Twenty virtues Will be invincible In any situation.

If you practice the above 20 virtues, from animals and birds, you will become invincible.

Verse 5.1. It’s better to live under a tree in a forest, Where tigers and elephants hang, With leaves, fruits and water for nourishment, A bed of grass to sleep, The tree bark for a dress, Than to live without money In the midst of kith and kin.

Verse 5.2. A man who loses money is deserted by friends, By his wife, well-wishers and dependents. On his becoming rich, they hang on to him again. In this world money is indeed a true ally of man!

5.3. Where fools are not adored, Food grains are properly stored, Husband and wife do not clash, There Lakshmi comes on her own accord.

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. Lakshmi resides where scholars are revered, not fools.

5.4. He who wears unwashed clothes, has dirty teeth, Is a glutton, speaks rudely, Sleeps even after sunrise, Will lose Lakshmi’s favor.

5.5. Unjustly earned money May stay for ten years. In the eleventh year Along with the principal it disappears.

5.6. Let me not have the wealth That is the result of a fight Or attained through illegal means.

5.7. A straw is light, cotton is lighter than straw, A beggar is the lightest of all; Why doesn’t the wind blow him away? Because wind fears he will ask for alms!

Not even the wind wants to touch a pauper. So guard your wealth with all you have.

5.8. One should save money for the rainy day. “Do the rich have calamities anyway?” For Lakshmi is chanchala, when she walks out Accumulated wealth also goes away.

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that bad times won’t come your way. The rich are not insulated from calamities and bad luck, because the nature of goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is chanchala (fickle).

5.9. Of what use is that wealth which is either like a monogamous bride, Or is like a woman of the streets Enjoyed even by the wayfarers.

5.10. What a wonder it is, The doings of the great are strange. They treat wealth as light as a straw. But when they obtain it, how they bend under its weight.

Great men consider wealth to be as inconsequential as a straw. But once they achieve wealth, they protect their newfound wealth and want more of it. No one escapes the charm of wealth.

5.11. A rich man attracts friends. Kin also turn to the moneyed. The wealthy one alone is called a man. The affluent alone are considered wise.

This may be strange, but those who are wealthy are considered wise by others. Friends and relatives flock to the rich.

5.12. Distribution of accumulated wealth Provides the safety net Just as incoming fresh water Is saved by letting out stagnant water.

5.13. One who compassionately gives a little To a Vipra who is in distress is compensated abundantly. Hence, O king, what is given to a good Vipra is returned Not in the same measure, but in an infinitely higher degree.

Helping a distressed enlightened person will only strengthen your karma. Help out without arrogance and without ego.

5.14. O wise man, wealth should be given only to the virtuous. Never to anybody else. Same as the ocean Vapoured into clouds turns sweet in between. Meets all living and nonliving beings’ need, On the whole circle of earth indeed. Look! The same water ever so many cycles it turns And back to the ocean it flows.

5.15. Distribute your wealth, O kind hearted! It shouldn’t be hoarded. The great kings Karna, Bali and Vikramaditya Attained their fame through charity. Just see the lament of the honeybees who have lost their honey. They neither enjoyed the stored-up honey nor did they give it to charity And now someone else has taken it from them.

Growing your savings is essential but hoarding wealth like honey bees is not good. Warren Buffet is a good example. He is giving away his wealth without hoarding it like bees.

Verse 6.1. Men who are successful in this world are those Who are generous to one’s own people, Kind to attendants, Smart with the malevolent, Loving towards the good, shrewd with the wicked, Frank with scholars, Courageous with enemies, humble with the elderly, And stern with women.

Verse 6.2. He who considers another’s wife as his mother, Another’s money as a lump of clay, pain and pleasures of all beings as his own Is a true pundit.

Enlightened beings are compassionate towards others.

6.3. The one who criticizes others Without knowing their merits Is like the Bhil woman who discards The pearl from the head of the elephant and picks up the berry.

Do not judge, without knowing, others. Bhils are a tribal hunting community of Rajasthan.

6.4. From the earth, on both hands, Easily you lifted the mountain That’s why on earth and in heaven Forever thy name became Giridhar. “Though in my heart I bear you O triple-world sustainer! Does it matter? O Keshav! What use is talking much! By good work only one gets honored!”

Here’s an analogy about Krishna, also known as Giridhar, the one who holds up the mountain. The Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam narrate the leelas of Lord Krishna. In one such story, Indra (god of rains) was upset because he was not worshiped in Krishna’s village. Indra, in his anger, caused a heavy downpour. To protect his people, Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain and gathered his whole village under it. Good work will be honored. Let your work speak for itself.

6.5. They alone are sons who are devoted to their father. He is a father who nurtures his children. A friend is the one who is a repository of faith. A wife is she in whom the husband finds satisfaction.

6.6. Fish, turtles, and birds Bring up their little ones By means of attendance, attention and caress And saintly men do the same with their associates.

Saintly men take care of their aids just as a parent cares for their child.

6.7. Consider these five as your father: The one who gave your birth, The one who initiated you, The one who taught you, The who provided for you, And the one who protected your from fear.

6.8. The wife of the ruler, of the friend, Of the preceptor, Your wife’s mother and your own mother, All these five should be considered as mothers.

The wives of your king, friend, teacher, your wife’s mother and your mother are all your mothers.

6.9. Fondle the child for five years. For the next ten, teach him discipline. Treat him as a friend On his sixteenth year onwards.

Children should be pampered for the first five years, disciplined for the next ten and treated as friends from 16 onwards.

6.10. Avoid contact with the wicked. Choose the company of good people. Perform good deeds day and night. Remember always that life is ephemeral.

6.11. The wise may marry a girl born to a respectable family Even if she is not pretty. But do not marry a pretty girl from an undignified family. Alliance between families of equal status is preferable.

6.12. Social affairs, healthy fear, Shame, kindness and liberal values. Where these five are not found Stay away from that society.

Five qualities of a good society are social interaction to interact and help each other, healthy fear of law, shame, kindness and open towards others views.

6.13. Avoid the person who is sweet in front of you But tries to harm you behind your back. Because he is like a pot of poison With milk on top.

6.14. In sickness, suffering, Famine and danger at the king’s gate and on the funeral ground, one who lends support is a real well-wisher.

6.15. It’s better to give up Than to live in disgrace. The pain of death is only momentary But the pain of disgrace lingers every day.

6.16. The lower class wants wealth. The middle class wants both wealth and respect. But nobles want dignity alone. For dignity is the true wealth of men of honor.

6.17. Praised by others, Even an unworthy person acquires merit. But falls short even Indra, If he blows his own trumpet.

Others must praise you for your work. Only then will you be held in high esteem.

6.18. A Brahmin is happy with a good meal. A peacock is happy when thunder rumbles. A pious person is happy at others’ prosperity. The wicked are happy when others are in trouble.

6.19. Gods, sages and parents Are easily pleased. Relatives can be pleased with good hospitality. And pundits with a chance to deliver a discourse.

6.20. Test a worker when he is discharging his duties, Relatives during an adversity, Friends during an emergency And a wife during misfortune.

6.21. Indulgence only spoils. Strictness is the best. Therefore, with son and student One should be strict, not indulgent.

To love and discipline children simultaneously is the duty of a parent. So is the case with a student.

6.22. Whom one desires to harm, One should always speak endearingly, As a hunter intending to kill a deer Sings to it melodiously.

Speak softly with your enemy, but carry a big stick.

6.23. Too much closeness to the king, Fire, a religious teacher and women are harmful. To be indifferent to them is not beneficial either. It is best to deal with them from a safe distance.

All of these folks are temperamental and dangerous when spurned.

6.24. Without support wastes away a person Even if he is brilliant and virtuous. For even a precious ruby Shines bright when supported by a gold frame.

Without mentorship, a person can lose his direction. Everyone needs help.

6.25. Many beings joined together Can vanquish the enemy, As a bunch of straw fends off The heavy downpour.

In ancient times, individual straws were bound together to make the roofs of houses.

6.26. The one who betrays his own fraternity And seeks refuge with the enemy Brings about his own downfall like a kingdom without piety.

6.27. Save money for emergencies. But at the cost of money, protect your wife. However, protect your own life At the cost of your wife and riches.

6.28. Even without poison A cobra may raise its hood. A raised hood is fearsome indeed Even if devoid of venom.

Don’t show your weakness or fear. Do not show that you are tired.

6.29. Take alarm of the terrible Till it hasn’t drawn near. The terrible coming into view, Strike at it without fear.

Be aware and alert about terrible things. Do not do anything about them till you are face to face with them. Strike it when it comes near.

6.30. Giving as good as one gets, Measure for measure. One falls not from grace By countering the aggressor.

Unkind people don’t deserve your kindness. Don’t be a pushover.

6.31. Deal cautiously with these six: Fire, water, women, fools, Serpents and members of the royal family. For they can bring about death quickly.

6.32. A king, a prostitute, Yama, fire, A thief, a child and a beggar Can’t understand others’ sufferings. The eighth among them is the tax collector.

6.33. Kings pick men of good families To serve them and to be around, For they don’t forsake the kings From beginning till end, through the thick of things.

6.34. The hearts of mean men Burn with the flame of others’ fame. And they slander them, being unable to Rise up to such heights themselves.

Unable to develop to the level of winners, the jealous attempt to defame them.

6.35. He who neither causes fear when angered nor grant a favor when pleased, can neither punish nor protect. What harm can he do?

6.36. The wicked may develop Good qualities in the presence of a good man. But the good person doesn’t turn bad in the company of evil. The earth is scented by the flowers that fall upon it. But the smell of the earth doesn’t touch the flowers.

6.37. Sanctifying is the audience with a seer. For a seer is like a place of pilgrimage. Visiting a holy place is fruitful after a while, But meeting a seer is of instant advantage.

6.38. With the foot one may roll about a gem. One may wear mere glass as a crown. But in buying and selling, glass is glass And gems remain as precious as ever.

6.39. You may find pearls from the head of the elephant, If you walk into lion’s den. But in a jackal’s lair, You will find only a calf’s tail or pieces of donkey’s fur.

6.40. Not every mountain has rubies, Nor a pearl in the head of every elephant. Sages are not found everywhere, Nor sandalwood in every forest.

6.41. She who is chaste, clever, Soft-spoken, truthful, pleasing to the husband Is a true wife.

6.42. A woman who fasts Without the permission of her husband Shortens his life And she goes to hell.

Mostly, married women prayed and fasted for husband’s long life.

6.43. Honored is a visiting king. Held in respect is a traveling Dvija. A rambling yogi is paid homage. But a vagrant woman is met with outrage.

Marriage was considered an essential part of a woman’s life in ancient India.

6.44. One who eats without serving a traveler Who has arrived at his door unexpectedly From far away, tired and weary, is a Chandala.

Athithi devo bhava; we consider our guests to be gods. Anyone who eats first without serving such a traveler is despicable.

6.45. Husband is reverential to his wife. A guest is reverential for everyone in the house. Reverential is the fire for the Dvija. A Dvija is reverential for all classes of men.

Enlightened people are respected by all.

6.46. Speaking endearing words Pleases all creatures. Therefore, O Honorable men! We must use pleasing words, For there is no dearth of sweet words.

6.47. Ignore the fool, For he is essentially a two-legged animal. Like an unseen thorn, He pierces the heart with his sharp words.

6.48. Win over the greedy with money, The haughty with showing courtesy, A fool by tickling his fancy And a pundit with truth.

The best way to win over a wise person is with honesty and humility.

6.49. The evil-minded and thorns Can be met with two kinds of defenses: Either by breaking their faces with shoes Or by keeping a safe distance.

6.50. None in authority is free from aspiration. Not likely that the passionless are fond of ornamentation. Unlikely that a victim is well spoken. No way the deceitful is outspoken.

An articulate person will not play the victim. She will stand up for what is right. She will fight for justice.

6.51. Gentle manners should be learned from princes. The art of conversation from pundits. Falsehood should be learned from gamblers And pretense from women.

6.52. It’s better to have no kingdom than the rule of tyranny. Better to have no friends than bad company. It’s better to have no pupil than a stupid one. Having no wife is better than having a bitter one.

6.53. Renounce the religion falling short of compassion. Bid farewell to the guru lacking education. Leave alone the bitter wife. Let go of the kinfolk who don’t show affection.

6.54. He who lives in our hearts Is near even though he may be far away. But he who is not on our mind Is really far away even though he is nearby.

6.55. On a full-grown tree, Birds of different feathers live together. At dawn, if they fly out in ten directions, Why cry over it?

6.56. The cuckoo passes days Remaining silent. In spring issues forth her voice To everyone pleasant.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say it at all.

6.57. Living on fruits and roots of Unploughed land, Enjoying forest life constantly, Performing meditation every day, Such a Brahmin is called a hermit.

Editorial opinion: Remember, this is 2028 (we are in the year 2024) years ago. Kautilya says any Sadhu, in pursuit of enlightenment, is a Brahmin. Chanakya is ahead of his time.

6.58. Busy with worldly affairs, Tending cattle, Engaged in commerce and agriculture, Such a Brahmin is indeed a Vaishya.

Editorial opinion: And any Brahmin, who is not pursuing enlightenment is not a Brahmin. By the same token, any prime minister, minister, general, head of a large organization, no matter which family she is born into, is a Kshatriya. If Chanakya/Kautilya lived at later times, there is no doubt, he would have succeeded in abolishing castes and providing equality to women, well ahead of its time, from people’s minds. There is no doubt, gender and caste discrimination exists even today.

Verse 7.1. Women have appetites two-fold, Wisdom four-fold, courage six-fold, And passion eight-fold As compared to men.

Remember Chanakya lived at a time when women were considered inferior to men. Women are twice as intelligent as men and they have a higher level of empathy than men. These and many other qualities of women deserve respect.

Verse 7.2. Old lady, why are you gazing downwards? Have you lost anything? “O fool! Don’t you understand? The pearl of my youth has gone!”

No one wants to grow old, though we all do.

7.3. A whore will quit a poor man. The subjects will desert a defeated king. Birds will abandon a fruitless tree. And guests will leave the house after partaking in the meal.

7.4. After receiving Dakshina (donation) The Brahmin leaves the worshiper. After receiving education, the student leaves his teacher And animals leave the forest burnt down by fire.

7.5. Sins of the subjects are borne by the king. And those of the king are borne by the priest. The husband bears the sins of his wife And the pupil’s sins are borne by the teacher.

7.6. The lamp eats darkness And produces soot. Likewise, the food you usually eat Determines the quality of your offspring.

7.7. Generosity, soft speech, Equanimity and rectitude Are not gained by recitation, But through hard work and experience.

One is not born with good qualities, they are acquired through hard work and experience.

7.8. Whose family is without blemish? Who is free from sickness and grief? Who hasn’t come across calamity? Who is happy forever?

No one is flawless or lives an ideal life.

7.9. Oil on water, a secret confided in the treacherous; Donation to the deserving, even in small measures; And knowledge in a wise person Expand by themselves because of inherent nature.

7.10. A fool envies the pundit. The impoverished covets the wealthy. The unfortunate envies the fortunate And a flirt envies the chaste.

It is human nature to compare and feel jealous.

7.11. Without a child, a family is void. Without kinfolk, quarters are void. The mind of a fool is void And the poor is void of everything.

The impoverished person is always unhappy.

7.12. Though born of the same womb And under the same constellation, Like the thorns of a jujube shrub, Two persons are never the same in their disposition.

Two people are never alike, even if they are identical twins.

7.13. Ripening of age notwithstanding Bitterness in the wicked does endure. As the fruit of indravaruni, despite ripening, remains sour.

7.14. Of all medicines, amrit is the best. Of all comforts, food is excellent. Of all sense organs, eyes are the most important. Of all parts of the body, the head is the topmost.

According to hindu mythology, taking amrit makes people immortal.

7.15. Flour is ten times more nutritious than corn. But milk is ten times better than flour. Black gram is ten times better than milk. And still ghee is ten times better.

Choose your food after understanding the nutrition value of each ingredient.

7.16. Diseases spread from raw vegetables. The body grows with milk. Virility grows with ghee. Strength grows with meat.

7.17. The weak become hermits. The poor remain celibate. A sufferer takes to piety. The old lady remains loyal.

7.18. Trivial is heaven for the one who has known the self. Trivial is life for the brave-hearted. Trivial are women for the one with subdued senses And trivial is the world for the disinterested.

7.19. If the king is virtuous, then the subjects are also virtuous. If the king is sinful, then the subjects also become sinful. If he’s mediocre, the subjects are also mediocre. The subjects follow the king. As the king, so are his subjects.

The quality of the followers depends on the quality of their leader.

7.20. Constant travel tires a man. Horses get tired from being tied up all the time. A woman ages quickly when not with her husband. Clothes become old when left in the sun for too long.

7.21. Tundi weakens the mind. Vacha strengthens it instantly. A woman weakens the vigor of a man But is restored swiftly with milk.

Every problem has an antidote, you only have to look for it. tundi (a type of gourd) weakens the mind, but vach (calamus) boosts the mind. Sex weakens the vigor of a man but is restored swiftly with milk.

7.22. The bee who is used to lying on the soft petals of the lotus flower And drinking sweet nectar in abundance, Is now drinking from the ordinary kutaja flower. Being in a foreign land where there are no lotuses, He is considering the kutaja grove grand.

When circumstances change, the best strategy is to adapt rather than complain. Kutaja is a common flower.

7.23. Ash cleans brass. Acid cleans copper. Periods clean a woman. And flowing water cleans a river.

Verse 8.1. One good son, Educated and upright, Delights the whole family, as the moon lights up the light.

It is better to have one child who is educated and morally upright, rather than many uneducated and immoral children.

Verse 8.2. Why to beget sons Who cause grief and agony? Better is one son as the pillar On whom the whole family rests.

8.3. Better is one virtuous son Than a hundred duds. For one moon dispels the darkness, But not the stars in thousands.

8.4. Of the worldly sufferings, These three lessen the strain: Worthy children, affectionate wife And the company of good people.

8.5. Nothing equals giving food and water in charity. No day is more auspicious than dvadasi. No incantation out does the Gayatri mantra. No deity superior to one’s own mother.

Among the days, dvadasi (the 12th day of the lunar calendar) is considered auspicious. Gayatri mantra is the most important.

8.6. Blessings through good deeds, wealth, food grains, guru’s words and medicine: Stock them up as much as possible. Without them, life becomes impossible!

8.7. Friendship amongst equals flourishes. Service under the royals is respectable. Business is good among occupations. And a beautiful woman is safe at home.

Owning a business is better than other professions. Be on your guard, when on the move.

8.8. Wealth preserves piety. Learning is preserved by application. Tenderness preserves the king. And a home is preserved by a well-behaved woman.

King’s power stays intact because of his tenderness and humility.

8.9. Knowledge is a friend when away from home. Wife is a friend at home. Medicine is a friend when sick. Peity remains a friend at the time of death.

8.10. The power of the king is in his mighty arms. The power of the Brahmin is in his spiritual knowledge. And the power of a woman is in her beauty, youth and sweet temperament.

8.11. Like a whole forest becomes fragrant By a single tree with sweet flowers blossoming, A family becomes famous with the birth of a virtuous son.

8.12. He whose sons are obedient, has a pleasing wife and is content with wealth, Is able to experience heaven on earth.

Contentment is real happiness.

8.13. If one has a lovely wife and wealth in plenty, Gentle and meritorious offspring, Grandchild in the family, Is there anything more in heaven?

8.14. A happy home, intelligent children, A charming and soft-spoken wife, Wish-fulfilling wealth, conjugal bliss, Servants who obey the orders, Hospitality to guests, worship of Shiva daily, Delicious food and drinks for the family, Always enjoying the company of good people, Blessed is indeed the state of this householder.

Verse 9.1. Practicing what is in the scriptures wrongly is poison. Food is poisonous when undigested. A social gathering is poison to a pauper. A young wife is poison to an old man.

Study scriptures in the right context and do not mislead others with inaccurate interpretations.

Verse 9.2. The poison of a snake is lodged in its fangs. The poison of a fly is in its head. The scorpion has poison in its tail. The poison in the wicked is all over.

9.3. Foolishness is annoying. The youth too are indeed annoying. But the most annoying thing is Living in another’s house.

9.4. Where one finds no respect, No means of livelihood, no kinsmen, And no means of education, That place is not fit for habitation.

A place, where there is no respect, no livelihood, no relatives or friends and no means of education, is not fit for habitation.

9.5. Do not stay even for a day in a place That doesn’t have these five: A king, a Brahmin, a rich man, A river and a doctor.

If a place is ungoverned, if it doesn’t have an enlightened person, a rich person, a river and a doctor, do not stay there even for a day.

9.6. A house where a Brahmin’s feet are not washed, Where scriptures are not read, Where holy rites of svaha and svadha are not performed, Such a house is like a cremation ground.

Swaha refers to holy rituals practiced to appease God. Svadha refers to the rites performed in memory of dead ancestors.

9.7. Tell me, O Vipra, who in this town is the greatest? “A palm grove!”. Who is the best donor? “A washerman who returns the clothes in the evening!”. Who is the cleverest? “The one who robs the wealth or the wife of another!”. How do you survive in a place like this? “Like a worm in poisoned bread!”

This is a conversation between a traveler and an enlightened man. Someone who can rob a man off his dearest possessions has to be the sharpest.

9.8. What use is the cow, That neither gives milk nor conceives? What use is a son, Who is neither learned nor pious?

9.9. A short-lived son is better Than a foolish son with a long life. For the dead is mourned for a while, But the latter is a life-long sorrow.

9.10. Residing in an ill-reputed village, Serving a low-life, Unhealthy food, ill-tempered wife, A foolish son and a widowed daughter, These six burn a person without fire.

Serving a boss who is incompetent, is difficult.

9.11. The one attached to home can’t learn. The one who eats meat has no compassion. The one who is greedy can’t be truthful. The one who is devoted to women has no morality.

9.12. A debt-incurring father is one’s enemy. A mother fallen from virtue is one’s enemy. A beautiful wife is one’s enemy. And an unwise son is one’s enemy.

9.13. Separation from one’s love, insult by one’s kin, An outstanding debt, service to a wicked king, Impoverishment and attending a gathering of people above one’s stature. These can cause the heart to burn without fire.

9.14. One who obstructs other people’s work, Is arrogant, selfish, deceitful, hateful and spiteful. Though soft-spoken Such a Brahmin is cat-like.

9.15. The one who steals the belongings of the gods and the guru, Touches the wife of another, And lives on other people’s money, Such a Brahmin is Chandala.

9.16. Even a pundit becomes grief-stricken by Giving sermons to a fool, Having a wicked wife And being with the miserable.

Pessimists upset the morale of anyone listening to them. Surround yourself with positive people and you’ll be happy too.

9.17. The beggar is a miser’s enemy. The wise man is a fool’s enemy. The husband is the wayward wife’s enemy And the moon is the enemy of the thief.

9.18. An indignant wife, a deceitful friend, An offending servant, And the snake-inhabited house Are no doubt death warrants.

9.19. Death of the wife in old age, Wealth gone into the hands of kin, Dependence on others for food, These three are mortifying for men.

9.20. Those who disclose Secrets of others are evil. They meet their downfall As a snake who strays into anthills.

9.21. Meat-eaters, drunkards, Fools and illiterates Are beasts in human form And add to the earth’s burden.

9.22. Between a scoundrel and a snake, The snake is better. For the snake strikes only when provoked, But the scoundrel does it at every turn.

Evil person will try to harm you every chance he gets.

9.23. Laziness ruins knowledge. Money is lost when entrusted with others. Farmland is wasted without seeds. And an army is lost without a commander.

9.24. Trees on a river bank, A woman in another man’s house, A king without advisors, Without doubt go quickly to ruin.

9.25. How can people be happy with a corrupt ruler? How can one fall back on a friend who is insincere? How can the family be happy with a discordant spouse? How can one gain glory by teaching an undisciplined pupil?

A couple in an acrimonious relationship turn home into hell.

9.26. O jackal, leave alone that body at once Whose hands that never gave any alms, Whose ears that never heard any holy discourses, Whose eyes never saw the sight of sages, Whose feet that were not used for pilgrimages, Whose stomach was fed with ill-gotten money, Whose head was kept erect with vainglory. Do not eat that body. Otherwise, you will become polluted.

9.27. On gaining wealth, who hasn’t felt proud? Who has put an end to his miseries? Whose heart has not been broken by a woman? Who, indeed, is always a favorite of the sovereign? Who hasn’t fallen prey to death? Which beggar has gained respect? Fallen into the trap of bad company, Who has traversed the path of milk and honey?

The path to heaven is only for the righteous.

9.28. The Brahmin who is indifferent to the destruction of A tank, a well, a lake, a garden, And a holy place Is a barbarian.

An enlightened person can NOT stand the destruction of a tank, well, a lake, a garden or a holy place.

9.29. As one dried-up tree Makes the whole forest burn, So is the distress caused to the whole family By a wicked son.

Be conscious of the consequences of your actions, their impact on your loved ones.

Verse 10.1. Generosity, austerity, courage, Knowledge, politeness and wisdom, Don’t have airs about having these. For the earth has many gems (with such qualities).

Verse 10.2. Till this body is healthy And death is distant, Perform the deeds beneficial to the soul. When death is at the door, what can you do?

10.3. Nectar can be extracted even from poison. Gold can be picked up from filth. Knowledge can be acquired even from a low-born. And a girl can be virtuous even if born in a family of ill-repute.

When gods and demons came together to churn the Ocean of milk for amrit, the elixir of immortality, they first extracted kalakooda or Halahala, the lethal poison that Lord Shiva drank to protect the universe from annihilation. They were able to extract amrit only after that.

10.4. Let not a single day go by Without learning a hymn, half of it or a quarter, Or even a word of it, Nor performing charity, study or prescribed work.

Don’t waste a single day. Make your days count.

10.5. Sugarcane, water, milk, radish, Betel leaf, fruits and herbal remedies, Even after consuming these Bathing and benefaction be done as usual.

10.6. All charities and sacrifices performed for gain Will only bring temporary results. But gifts given to the deserving And protection offered to all beings shall never perish.

10.7. An action contemplated in the mind Shouldn’t be advertised. But keep it a secret like a mantra And reveal it in time.

Wait till your plan has taken complete shape before announcing it to the world.

10.8. Be satisfied with these three: Your own wife, food and money. And relent not with these three: Study, meditation and charity.

10.9. Penance should be done alone. Study by two and sing by three. A journey should be undertaken by four, Agriculture by five And battle by an army.

Certain things are better done alone while others are better conducted in a group.

10.10. It’s giving of gifts that makes the hands gracious, Not the bracelet. It’s the act of taking a bath that cleanses the body, Not the sandalwood paste. It’s the act of giving respect that gives satisfaction, Not refreshments. It’s the knowledge that brings salvation, Not self-adornment.

10.11. He who sheds shyness when dealing with money, In acquiring knowledge, In eating and in business Gains satisfaction.

Be bold to ask what you want to ask, only then you will get it. Never shy away from claiming what is rightfully yours. Speak freely and frankly with your debtor, make him aware that he needs to pay you back. If you don’t ask for your own salary hike or money or share of profit, no one else will do it for you.

10.12. He who is content with a single meal, Who performs the sixteen samskaras, Who only sleeps with his wife when she is well Is a true Brahmin.

Our ancestors survived on one meal a day. Vedic scriptures list the 16 samskaras that need to be performed by enlightened souls. Enlightened man enjoys sex with his wife only when she is in good health. Respecting, giving support and help when one’s wife is ill is a husband’s duty.

10.13. Marry your daughter into a good family. Give your son the best education. Bind the enemy with vices And engage with righteous friends.

Make your enemies suffer for their wrongdoing.

10.14. Wise men bring up their children To be virtuous, For those children who are well-behaved and ethical Bring glory upon their families.

10.15. O ketki flower! Though you are a resort for snakes, Fruitless, prickly and crooked, You thrive in the mud; not easily approachable. Yet with your fragrance you fascinate everyone! Indeed, one merit overcomes every other imperfection.

The ketki flower is a very common bloom that finds mention in literature. The flower of the pandanus or screw pine tree/shrub, it is highly fragrant. It’s even used in making perfumes and essential oils. However, the tree is home for poisonous snakes. So be like ketki flower and cultivate a brilliant quality even though you have many imperfections.

10.16. Reconcile with the stronger. Counter the weaker. Deal with the enemy equal in strength With politeness or force as may be proper.

This truth is among the most famous strategies of Chanakya/Kautilya. Another version of “Sama, Dana, Danda, Bheda”. When your enemy is stronger than you, it is useless to fight with the enemy. But if your enemy is weaker than you, go into attack mode. With an enemy who is your equal, you can either use politeness or force, depending on what works on the enemy. Use the right method to get the best outcome in tricky situations.

10.17. Restrain an elephant with a goad. A horse with a harness. Restrain a horned animal with a stick. And a scoundrel with a sword.

How to control someone depends on what type of person he is. A man with no principles should be restrained using harsh methods; no gentle manners will do for such a person.

10.18. Keep a distance of five feet from a carriage, Ten feet from a war horse, A thousand feet from the elephant And quit the place of the villainous.

A virtuous person spending time with a wicked one is like pure drinking water getting mixed with sewage water.

10.19. Sugarcane, sesame seed, a lazy person, An amorous woman, gold and earth, Sandalwood, curd and betel leaf: Rubbing improves their worth.

A lazy person needs to be pushed hard to get the best work out of him. Amorous women should be loved. Understand what works for a person and treat him/her accordingly to produce great results.

10.20. The student, the servant, the traveler, the hungry, the frightened, the storekeeper and the watchman, these seven should be awakened if they fall asleep.

10.21. He who eats his meals silently For one full year, Will live for many years With complete happiness.

Be silent, without talking or looking at your phone, for one full year, while eating. It is meditation.

10.22. Give up a member to save a family. Give up the family to save a village. Give up a village for the country. And give up the world to save your soul!

If you have an unlawful sibling, turn him in for the sake of other members of the family. Don’t cling on to your own family if your village is engulfed in fire; run out and save as many people as you can.

Verse 11.1. Though chopped, the sandalwood tree does not lose its scent. Even when old, the elephant does not give up his sportiness. Though pressed in a machine, the sugarcane does not lose its sweetness. The high-born, though impoverished, does not forsake his gentleness.

Verse 11.2. At the time of a deluge, Oceans are known to exceed their boundaries And seek to change. But a gentleman never changes, even during a catastrophe.

A person shows his real character when faced with misfortune.

11.3. At the end of a yuga, the Meru mountain may shake. At the end of kalpa, all the seven seas may churn. But a sage will never Veer from his path of righteousness.

Mount Meru (Mount Kailash) is a sacred mountain. Even Meru will shake when a yuga (era) comes to an end. The seven seas (world’s oceans) may churn when a kalpa (considered to be the length of a single cycle of the cosmos creation to dissolution) ends.

11.4. Spurning kinsmen is fatal. Offending others causes loss of money. Hostility towards the king triggers one’s own downfall. But the scorn of a Brahmin brings ruin to the whole family.

Of all the people you should not offend, an enlightened person should be at the top of the list.

11.5. Do not confide in the unfriendly, Nor trust an ordinary friend. For if he gets angry with you, All your secrets could be revealed.

11.6. A wise man should not reveal His loss of money, agonies of his mind, The misconduct of his wife, Deception by others, And insults spoken to him.

11.7. A wise man should not reveal the formula of a drug he has prepared, An act of charity he has performed, Rifts in the family, private affairs with his wife, Unrefined food he may have been offered, Or scandalous talks he may have heard.

11.8. One shouldn’t be too upright. Go and see for yourself the forests, Where the straight trees are cut down, While the curved ones are left standing.

It’s not always in your best interest to be sitting on a high horse. Street-smart and wily people know how to get out of trouble.

11.9. Do NOT let your foot touch: Fire, a teacher, a Brahmin, A cow, a virgin, An infant and an old person.

Fire is sacred and it symbolizes the Sun, the source of all energy on this planet. Hindus worship Agni, the god of fire, and give him a place of pride at any auspicious event. So always respect fire. Likewise, respect a teacher, an enlightened person, a cow, a virgin, an infant and an old person.

11.10. Infatuated, the foolish man believes, The charming lady is enamored by him. He dances under her spell Like an entertaining bird.

Do not behave nonsensically in front of those you wish to impress. It will only amuse them and you will lose respect in their eyes.

11.11. He, who befriends An immoral, evil-minded, Crooked and vicious man, Meets his ruin very quick.

11.12. Vain is rain in the sea. Vain it is to burn a lamp in daylight. Vain is to donate to the rich. And vain is the food given to the one without an appetite.

11.13. Shaving at the barber’s home, Applying sandalwood paste or frankincense on a stone, Seeing one’s own reflection in water, Deprives even Indra of his affluence.

Always be aware of your stature in society and behave accordingly.

11.14. Do NOT come between Two Brahmins, a Brahmin and the sacred fire, A husband and his wife, a master and his servant And a plough and an ox.

When two enlightened people are engaged in conversation, do not interfere.

11.15. A poisonous snake, a king, a tiger, A wasp, a tiny tot, Another’s dog and a fool, If found asleep, don’t awaken them.

11.16. Geese live wherever there’s water And go away when it dries up. Unlike the goose, a man should abstain From coming and going as he pleases.

A man should have roots in one place; They shouldn’t fly away during tough times in search of an easier life. Don’t abandon those who are loyal to you. Be faithful to your loved ones.

11.17. The pleasure-seeker should give up learning. A student should forsake revelry. For the pleasure-seeker can’t attain knowledge And a knowledge-seeker can’t find happiness in revelry.

11.18. A student must completely give up these eight: Lust, anger, greed, Love for food, flashiness, excessive curiosity, Too much sleep and too much servility.

11.19. A stupid person Cannot be benefitted by direction, Despite the association with the Malay mountain. A bamboo does not turn into sandalwood.

Verse 12.1. O Rama, bless me with virtue, Pleasing speech, a desire for performing charity, Sincerity towards friends, humility towards teachers, profound wisdom, Moral purity, zeal for excellence, knowledge of the scriptures, Grace in appearance and reverence to Lord Shiva.

Verse 12.2. Like an invitation to a feast delights the Vipra, Fresh grass makes a cow happy, A wife finds pleasure in being with a loving husband, O Krishna, the same way I rejoice in battle.

An enlightened person is delighted to attend feasts. Enlightened people live a frugal life and eat simple meals. When they are invited to attend a banquet, they welcome it not only for the food but also because they will get a chance to interact with guests and spread their wisdom.

Here Chanakya quotes from the Bhagavad Gita: Arjuna is speaking to Lord Krishna about his zeal for battles. Lord Krishna had guided Arjuna back into action when he felt disheartened about fighting and killing his own kin. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when Arjuna was saddened by the reality of war, Krishna, through his sermon of the Gita, woke him up from lethargy and confusion and directed him to do his duty. Similarly, here too, Chanakya, after teaching us all his wisdom of Chanakya Neeti, is directing us into the field of action. Our culture has created many men of action – the true Karma Yogis.