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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Which is the 'the holy book' or scripture of Hindus?

The Vedas are the foundation scriptures of Hinduism. But still we can say that there isn't actually a sole central scripture of Hinduism. There are many hundreds of different kinds of scriptures and spiritual texts belonging to the many different and diverse forms - but all in essence, transcends from the Vedas.

There are six divisions of Hindu scriptures and these – in order of general authority and importance – are 

  1. the Shrutis,
  2. the Smritis,
  3. the Itihasas,
  4. the Puranas,
  5. the Agamas, and
  6. the Darshanas.


Shrutis consists of the Vedas(वेद véda, meaning "knowledge") - eternal truths revealed to the great ancient Rishis of India. The word Rishi means a seer from dris, to see. He is the Mantra-Drashta, a seer of Mantra or thought. The thought was not his own. The Rishis saw the truths or heard them. Therefore, the Vedas are what are heard (Sruti). The Rishi did not write. He did not create it out of his mind. He was the seer of thought which existed already. He was only the spiritual discoverer of the thought. He is not the inventor of the Veda. Vedas are known as apauruṣeya (not human compositions).

The Vedas represent the spiritual experiences of the Rishis of yore. The Rishi is only a medium or an agent to transmit to people the intuitional experiences which he received. 

The Veda is divided into four great books: 
  • the Rig-Veda, 
  • the Yajur-Veda, 
  • the Sama-Veda and 
  • the Atharva-Veda. 
The Yajur-Veda is again divided into two parts, the Sukla and the Krishna. The Krishna or the Taittiriya is the older book and the Sukla or the Vajasaneya is a later revelation to sage Yajnavalkya.

The Rig-Veda is divided into twenty-one sections, the Yajur-Veda into one hundred and nine sections, the Sama-Veda into one thousand sections and the Atharva-Veda into fifty sections. In all, the whole Veda is thus divided into one thousand one hundred and eighty recensions.

Each Veda consists of four parts: 
  • the Mantra-Samhitas or hymns, 
  • the Brahmanas or explanations of Mantras or rituals, 
  • the Aranyakas and 
  • the Upanishads. 
The division of the Vedas into four parts is to suit the four stages in a man’s life.
Mantra-Samhitas: Metrical poems comprising prayers, hymns and incantations addressed to various deities, both subjective and objective. The Mantra portion of the Vedas is useful for the Brahmacharins.
Brahmanas: Guide to perform sacrificial rites. They are prose explanations of the method of using the Mantras in the Yajna. The Brahmana portion is suitable for the householders(grihasthashrama).
Aranyakas: Give philosophical interpretations of the rituals. The Aranyakas are intended for the Vanaprasthas or hermits who prepare themselves for taking Sannyasa.
Upanishads: They contain the essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas. The philosophy of the Upanishads is sublime, profound, lofty and soul-stirring. The Upanishads speak of the identity of the jIvAtma and paramAtma. They reveal the most subtle and deep spiritual truths. The Upanishads are useful for the Sannyasins.

The Upa-Vedas

There are four Upa-Vedas or subsidiary Vedas, viz., the Ayurveda, the Dhanurveda, the Gandharva Veda and the Arthasastra, forming auxiliaries to the four Vedas, which mean, respectively, the science of life, the science of war, the science of music and the science of polity.

The Vedangas

There are six Angas or explanatory limbs, to the Vedas: 
  • the Siksha and Vyakarana of Panini, 
  • the Chhandas of Pingalacharya, 
  • the Nirukta of Yaska, the Jyotisha of Garga, and 
  • the Kalpas (Srauta, Grihya, Dharma and Sulba) belonging to the authorship of various Rishis.
Siksha is a knowledge of phonetics. Siksha deals with pronunciation and accent. The text of the Vedas is arranged in various forms or Pathas. The Pada-patha gives each word its separate form. The Krama-patha connects the word in pairs.

Vyakarana is Sanskrit grammar. Panini’s books are most famous. Without knowledge of Vyakarana, you cannot understand the Vedas.

Chhandas is metre dealing with prosody.

Nirukta is philology or etymology.

Jyotisha is astronomy and astrology. It deals with the movements of the heavenly bodies, planets, etc., and their influence in human affairs.

Kalpa is the method of ritual. The Srauta Sutras which explain the ritual of sacrifices belong to Kalpa. The sulba Sutras, which treat of the measurements which are necessary for laying out the sacrificial areas, also belong to Kalpa. The Grihya Sutras which concern domestic life, and the Dharma Sutras which deal with ethics, customs and laws, also belong to Kalpa.

The Pratishakhyas, Padapathas, Kramapathas, Upalekhas, Anukramanis, Daivatsamhitas, Parishishtas, Prayogas, Paddhatis, Karikas, Khilas and Vyuhas are further elaborations in the rituals of the Kalpa Sutras.
Among the Kalpa Sutras, the Asvalayana, Sankhyana and the Sambhavya belong to the Rig-Veda. The Mashaka, Latyayana, Drahyayana, Gobhila and Khadira belong to the Sama-Veda. The Katyayana and Paraskara belong to the Sukla Yajur-Veda. The Apastamba, Hiranyakesi, Bodhayana, Bharadvaja, Manava, Vaikhanasa and the Kathaka belong to the Krishna Yajur-Veda. The Vaitana and the Kaushika belong to the Atharva-Veda.


Smritis are the secondary scriptures. Smriti means "That which is remembered; the tradition." These are the ancient sacred law-codes of the Hindus dealing with the Sanatana-Varnasrama-Dharma. They supplement and explain the ritualistic injunctions called Vidhis in the Vedas. The Smriti Sastra is founded on the Sruti. The Smritis are based on the teachings of the Vedas. The Smriti stands next in authority to the Sruti. It explains and develops Dharma. It lays down the laws which regulate Hindu national, social, family and individual obligations.

The works which are expressly called Smritis are the law books, Dharma Sastras. Smriti, in a broader sense, covers all Hindu Sastras save the Vedas.
The laws for regulating Hindu society from time to time are codified in the Smritis. The Smritis have laid down definite rules and laws to guide the individuals and communities in their daily conduct and to regulate their manners and customs. The Smritis have given detailed instructions, according to the conditions of the time, to all classes of men regarding their duties in life.
The Hindu learns how he has to spend his whole life from these Smritis. The duties of Varnasrama and all ceremonies are clearly given in these books. The Smritis prescribe certain acts and prohibit some others for a Hindu, according to his birth and stage of life. The object of the Smritis is to purify the heart of man and take him gradually to the supreme abode of immortality and make him perfect and free.

These Smritis have varied from time to time. The injunctions and prohibitions of the Smritis are related to the particular social surroundings. As these surroundings and essential conditions of the Hindu society changed from time to time, new Smritis had to be compiled by the sages of different ages and different parts of India.

There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Sastras. The most important are those of Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara. The other fifteen are those of Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka.

The laws of Manu are intended for the Satya Yuga, those of Yajnavalkya are for the Treta Yuga; those of Sankha and Likhita are for the Dvapara Yuga; and those of Parasara are for the Kali Yuga.

The laws and rules which are based entirely upon our social positions, time and clime, must change with the changes in society and changing conditions of time and clime. Then only the progress of the Hindu society can be ensured.

It is not possible to follow some of the laws of Manu at the present time. We can follow their spirit and not the letter. Society is advancing. When it advances, it outgrows certain laws which were valid and helpful at a particular stage of its growth. Many new things which were not thought out by the old law-givers have come into existence now. It is no use insisting people to follow now those old laws which have become obsolete.

Our present society has considerably changed. A new Smriti to suit the requirements of this age is very necessary. Another sage will place before the Hindus of our days a new suitable code of laws. Time is ripe for a new Smriti.

If there is anything in a Smriti which contradicts the Shruti, the Smriti is to be rejected.


There are four books under this heading: 
  1. The Valmiki-Ramayana, 
  2. the Yogavasishtha, 
  3. The Mahabharata and 
  4. the Harivamsa. 
These embody all that is in the Vedas, but only in a simpler manner. These are called the Suhrit-Samhitas or the Friendly Treatises, while the Vedas are called the Prabhu-Samhitas or the Commanding Treatises with great authority. These works explain the great universal truths in the form of historical narratives, stories and dialogues. These are very interesting volumes and are liked by all, from the inquisitive child to the intellectual scholar.

The Itihasas give us beautiful stories of absorbing interest and importance, through which all the fundamental teachings of Hinduism are indelibly impressed on one’s mind. The laws of Smritis and the principles of the Vedas are stamped firmly on the minds of the Hindus through the noble and marvellous deeds of their great national heroes. We get a clear idea of Hinduism from these sublime stories.

The common man cannot comprehend the high abstract philosophy of the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Hence, the compassionate sages Valmiki and Vyasa wrote the Itihasas for the benefit of common people. The same philosophy is presented with analogies and parables in a tasteful form to the common run of mankind.

The two well-known Itihasas (histories) are the epics (Mahakavyas), Ramayana and Mahabharata. They are two very popular and useful Sastras of the Hindus. The Ramayana was written by the sage Valmiki, and the Mahabharata by Vyasa.


The Puranas are of the same class as the Itihasas. They have five characteristics (Pancha-Lakshana) viz., history, cosmology (with various symbolical illustrations of philosophical principles), secondary creation, genealogy of kings and of Manvantaras. All the Puranas belong to the class of Suhrit-Samhitas.

Vyasa is the compiler of the Puranas from age to age; and for this age, he is Krishnadvaipayana, the son of Parasara.

The Puranas were written to popularise the Vedas. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of the Vedas. The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for the ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and who could not study the Vedas.

The Darsanas are very stiff. They are meant only for the learned few. The Puranas are meant for the masses with inferior intellect. Religion is taught in a very easy and interesting way through these Puranas. Even to this day, the Puranas are popular. The Puranas contain the history of remote times. They also give a description of the regions of the universe not visible to the ordinary physical eye. They are very interesting to read and are full of information of all kinds.

There are eighteen main Puranas and an equal number of subsidiary Puranas or Upa-Puranas. The main Puranas are: 
  1. Vishnu Purana, 
  2. Naradiya Purana, 
  3. Srimad Bhagavata Purana, 
  4. Garuda (Suparna) Purana, 
  5. Padma Purana, 
  6. Varaha Purana, 
  7. Brahma Purana, 
  8. Brahmanda Purana, 
  9. Brahma Vaivarta Purana, 
  10. Markandeya Purana, 
  11. Bhavishya Purana, 
  12. Vamana Purana, 
  13. Matsya Purana, 
  14. Kurma Purana, 
  15. Linga Purana, 
  16. Siva Purana, 
  17. Skanda Purana and 
  18. Agni Purana. 

Neophytes or beginners in the spiritual Path are puzzled when they go through Siva Purana and Vishnu Purana. In Siva Purana, Siva is highly eulogized and an inferior position is given to Vishnu. Sometimes Vishnu is belittled. In Vishnu Purana, Hari is highly eulogized and an inferior status is given to Siva. Sometimes Siva is belittled. This is only to increase the faith of the devotees in their particular Ishta-Devata. Ultimately, Siva and Vishnu are one.

The best among the Puranas are the Srimad Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana. The most popular is the Srimad Bhagavata Purana. Next comes Vishnu Purana. A portion of the Markandeya Purana is well known to all Hindus as Chandi, or Devimahatmya. 

The Tamil Puranas

Siva incarnated himself in the form of Dakshinamurti to impart knowledge to the four Kumaras. He took human form to initiate Sambandhar, Manikkavasagar, Pattinathar. He appeared in flesh and blood to help his devotees and relieve their sufferings. The divine Lilas of Siva are recorded in the Tamil Puranas like Siva Purana, Periya Purana, Siva Parakramam and Tiruvilayadal Purana.

The Upa-Puranas

The eighteen Upa-Puranas are: 
  1. Sanatkumara, 
  2. Narasimha, 
  3. Brihannaradiya, 
  4. Sivarahasya, 
  5. Durvasa, 
  6. Kapila, 
  7. Vamana, 
  8. Bhargava, 
  9. Varuna, 
  10. Kalika, 
  11. Samba, 
  12. Nandi, 
  13. Surya, 
  14. Parasara, 
  15. Vasishtha, 
  16. Devi-Bhagavata, 
  17. Ganesa and 
  18. Hamsa.
The language of the Vedas is archaic, and the subtle philosophy of Vedanta and the Upanishads is extremely difficult to grasp and assimilate. Hence, the Puranas are of special value as they present philosophical truths and precious teachings in an easier manner. They give ready access to the mysteries of life and the key to bliss. Imbibe their teachings. Start a new life of Dharma-Nishtha and Adhyatmic Sadhana from this very day.


The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of Ishwara, in vigrahas, temples, etc. All the Agamas treat of 
  1. Jnana or Knowledge, 
  2. Yoga or Concentration, 
  3. Kriya or Esoteric Ritual and 
  4. Charya or Exoteric Worship. 
They also give elaborate details about ontology and cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, public festivals, etc.

The Agamas are divided into three sections: 
  1. The Vaishnava, 
  2. the Saiva and 
  3. the Sakta. 
The three chief sects of Hinduism, viz., Vaishnavism, Saivism and Saktism, base their doctrines and dogmas on their respective Agamas. The Vaishnava Agamas or Pancharatra Agamas glorify Ishwara as Vishnu. The Saiva Agamas glorify Ishwara as Siva and have given rise to an important school of philosophy known as Saiva-Siddhanta, which prevails in South India, particularly in the districts of Tirunelveli and Madurai. The Sakta Agamas or Tantras glorify Ishwara as the Mother of the Universe, under one of the many names of Devi.

The Agamas do not derive their authority from the Vedas, but are not antagonistic to them. They are all Vedic in spirit and character. That is the reason why they are regarded as authoritative.

The Vaishnava Agamas

The Vaishnava Agamas are of four kinds: 
  • the Vaikhanasa, 
  • Pancharatra, 
  • Pratishthasara and 
  • Vijnanalalita. 
The Brahma, Saiva Kaumara, Vasishtha, Kapila, Gautamiya and the Naradiya are the seven groups of the Pancharatras. The Naradiya section of the Santi-Parva of the Mahabharata is the earliest source of information about the Pancharatras.

Vishnu is the Supreme being in the Pancharatra Agamas. The Vaishnavas regard the Pancharatra Agamas to be the most authoritative. They believe that these Agamas were revealed by Vishnu Himself. Narada-Pancharatra says: “Everything from Brahma to a blade of grass is Lord Krishna.” This corresponds to the Upanishadic declaration: “All this is, verily, Brahman—Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma.

There are two hundred and fifteen of these Vaishnava texts. Isvara, Ahirbudhnya, Paushkara, Parama, Sattvata, Brihad-Brahma and Jnanamritasara Samhitas are the important ones.

The Saiva Agamas

The Saivas recognise twenty-eight Agamas, of which the chief is Kamika. The Agamas are also the basis of Kashmir Saivism which is called the Pratyabhijna system. The latter works of Pratyabhijna system show a distinct leaning to Advaitism. The Southern Saivism, i.e., Saiva Siddhanta and the Kashmir Saivism, regard these Agamas as their authority, besides the Vedas. Each Agama has Upa-Agamas. Of these, only fragmentary texts of twenty are extant. Siva is the central in the Saiva Agamas. They are suitable to this age, Kali Yuga.

The Sakta Agamas

There is another group of scriptures known as the Tantras. They belong to the Sakta cult. They glorify Sakti as the divine mother. They dwell on the Sakti aspect of Brahman and prescribe numerous courses of ritualistic worship of the Divine Mother in various forms. There are seventy-seven Agamas. These are very much like the Puranas in some respects. The texts are usually in the form of dialogues between Siva and Parvati. In some of these, Siva answers the questions put by Parvati, and in others, Parvati answers, Siva questioning. 

Mahanirvana, Kularnava, Kulasara, Prapanchasara, Tantraraja, Rudra-Yamala, Brahma-Yamala, Vishnu-Yamala and Todala Tantra are the important works.

The Agamas teach several occult practices some of which confer powers, while the others bestow knowledge and freedom. Sakti is the creative aspect(power) of Siva. Saktism is really a supplement to Saivism.

Among the existing books on the Agamas, the most famous are the Isvara-Samhita, Ahirbudhnya-Samhita, Sanatkumara-Samhita, Narada-Pancharatra, Spanda-Pradipika and the Mahanirvana-Tantra.


These are the intellectual section of the Hindu writings, while the first four are intuitional, and the fifth inspirational and emotional. Darsanas are schools of philosophy based on the Vedas. The Agamas are theological. The Darsana literature is philosophical. The Darsanas are meant for the erudite scholars who are endowed with acute acumen, good understanding, power of reasoning and subtle intellect. The Itihasas, Puranas and Agamas are meant for the masses. The Darsanas appeal to the intellect, while the Itihasas, Puranas, etc., appeal to the heart.

Philosophy has six divisions—Shad-darsana—the six Darsanas or ways of seeing things, usually called the six systems or six different schools of thought. The six schools of philosophy are the six instruments of true teaching or the six demonstrations of Truth. Each school has developed, systematised and correlated the various parts of the Veda in its own way. Each system has its Sutrakara, i.e., the one great Rishi who systematised the doctrines of the school and put them in short aphorisms or Sutras.

The Sutras are terse and laconic. The Rishis have condensed their thoughts in the aphorisms. It is very difficult to understand them without the help of commentaries by great sages or Rishis. Hence, there arose many commentators or Bhashyakaras. There are glosses, notes and, later, commentaries on the original commentaries.

The Shad-Darsanas (the six schools of philosophy) or the Shat-Sastras are: 
  1. the NYAYA, founded by Gautama Rishi,
  2. the VAISESHIKA by Kanada Rishi,
  3. the SANKHYA by Kapila Muni,
  4. the YOGA by Patanjali Maharshi,
  5. the PURVA MIMAMSA by Jaimini,
  6. and the UTTARA MIMAMSA or VEDANTA by Badarayana or Vyasa.
The Darsanas are divided into three pairs of aphoristic compositions which explain the philosophy of the Vedas in a rationalistic method of approach. They are: the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika, the Sankhya and the Yoga, and the Mimamsa and the Vedanta. Each set of Sutras has got its Bhashya, Vritti, Varttika, Vyakhyana or Tika and Tippani.


Astobham-anavadyam cha
Sutram sutravido viduh

A Sutra or an aphorism is a short formula with the least possible number of letters, without any ambiguity or doubtful assertion, containing the very essence, embracing all meanings, without any stop or obstruction and absolutely faultless in nature.

The best example of the greatest, the tersest and the most perfect of Sutra literature is the series of aphorisms called the Ashtadhyayi composed by Panini. Panini is the father of all Sutrakaras from whom all others seem to have borrowed the method of composition. The Sutras are meant to explain a big volume of knowledge in short assertions suitable to be kept in memory at all times. The six Vedangas and the six systems of Hindu philosophy form the twelve sets of Sutra literature of the world. In addition to these, there are later compositions like the Narada-Bhakti Sutras, the Sandilya-Bhakti Sutras, etc., which also wish to assume an equal form with the famous Sutras mentioned above.


Sutrartho varnyate yatra
Padaih sutranusaribhih
Svapadani cha varnyante
Bhashyam bhashyavido viduh

A Bhashya is an elaborate exposition, a commentary on the Sutras, with word by word meaning of the aphoristic precepts, their running translation, together with the individual views of the commentator or the Bhashyakara. The best and the exemplary Bhashya in Sanskrit literature is the one written by Patanjali on the Vyakarana Sutras of Panini. This Bhashya is so very famous and important that it is called the MAHABHASHYA and its celebrated author is specially called the BHASHYAKARA. Patanjali is the father of Bhashyakaras. The next important Bhashya is the one on the Mimamsa Sutras written by Sabara-Swamin who learnt the art from Patanjali’s commentary. The third important Bhashya was written by Sankara on the Brahma Sutras, in close following with the Sabara-Bhashya. The Bhashyas on the six sets of aphorisms dealing with Indian philosophy were written by Vatsyayana, Prasastapada, Vijnanabhikshu, Vyasa, Sabara and Sankara. On the Vedanta or Brahma Sutras, there are about sixteen Bhashyas, like those of Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, Nimbarka, etc.


Sadvrittih sannibandhana

A Vritti is a short gloss explaining the aphorisms in a more elaborate way, but not as extensively as a Bhashya. An example is Bodhayana’s Vritti on the Brahma Sutras.


Chinta yatra pravartate
Tam grantham varttikam prahuh

A Varttika is a work where a critical study is made of that which is said and left unsaid or imperfectly said in a Bhashya, and the ways of making it perfect by supplying the omissions therein, are given. Examples are the Varttikas of Katyayana on Panini’s Sutras, of Suresvara on Sankara’s Upanishad-Bhashyas, and of Kumarila Bhatta on the Sabara-Bhashya on the Karma-Mimamsa.

Vyakhyana or Tika

A Vyakhyana is a running explanation in an easier language of what is said in the original, with little elucidations here and there. A Vyakhyana, particularly of a Kavya, deals with eight different modes of dissection of the Sloka, like Pada-Chheda, Vigraha, Sandhi, Alankara, Anuvada, etc. This forms an important aspect in the study of Sanskrit Sahitya Sastra. An Anu-Vyakhyana—like the one written by Sri Madhva—is a repetition of what is already written, but in greater detail. An Anuvada is merely a running translation or statement of an abstruse text of the original. Tika is only another name for Vyakhyana. The best Vyakhyanas are of Vachaspati Misra on the Darsanas, especially on Sankara’s Brahmasutra-Bhashya.


Tippani is just like a Vritti, but is less orthodox than the Vritti. It is an explanation of difficult words or phrases occurring in the original. Examples are Kaiyata’s gloss on the Mahabhashya of Patanjali, Nagojibhatta’s gloss on Kaiyata’s gloss, or Appayya’s gloss on Amalananda’s gloss on the Bhamati of Vachaspati Misra.

Other Scriptures

The Tevaram and the Tiruvachakam which are the hymns of the Saiva saints of South India, the Divya-Prabandham of the Alvar saints of South India, the songs of Kabir, the Abhangas of Tukaram and the Ramayana of Tulasi Das—all of which are the outpourings of great realised souls—are wonderful scriptures. They contain the essence of the Vedas.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Rescue of a Deer

Mandharaka ended the story of Somilaka telling Hiranyaka and Laghupatanaka that a rich person who does not spend money is as poor as any poor person can be. Not being able to enjoy is common to both the poor and the miserly rich. Nothing on this earth is greater than charity and there is no greater enemy than miserliness.
The crow then advised Hiranyaka, “Listen to what the turtle is saying. Elders have said that it is easier to get friends who talk sweetly but difficult to find friends who venture to tell you the truth however bitter it is. The latter alone deserve to be called friends.
The crow and the mouse put a brake to their conversation when they saw a frightened deer darting towards the lake. The crow flew to the top of a tree. The mouse scampered into his hole and the turtle sank into the water. From the treetop, the crow could see the deer now clearly and told his other friends, “Friends, he is only a deer who is thirsty. These footfalls are not those of a man.”
The turtle replied, “The deer is panting. It seems someone is chasing him. He has not come to quench his thirst. Surely, some hunter might be after him. Please go to the top of the tree and look if you can find any hunter.”
Assured that these are friends only, the deer named Chitranga, now said, “Friend, you have guessed correctly. I have escaped the arrow of the hunter and reached here with difficulty. I am in search of a shelter the hunter cannot reach. Please show me a place safe from the hunter.”
Mandharaka, the turtle, said, “the scriptures have mentioned two ways of escaping danger. One is to use your muscle power and another is to run as fast as you can. Now, run into the forest before the hunter could come.”
“That is not necessary,” said Laghupatanaka, the crow.
“I have seen the hunters taking a good catch of food and going the way they came. O Mandharaka, you can now come out of the water.”
With Chitranga, the deer, they became now four friends, happily spending time in each other’s company. The learned have said that when you have plenty of cordial conversation, to be happy you do not need a woman. The man who has no store of good words is not capable of uttering them.
One day, Chitranga had not come when the other three had gathered at the lakeside for their daily discourse. They thought, “Poor Chitranga has not come so far. Is it possible that a lion or a hunter has killed him? Or, is it possible that he has fallen into a pit?” Well-wishers naturally suspect the worst when their near and dear ones are not seen for a while.
Mandharaka told the crow, “Friend, you know neither Hiranyaka nor I can move fast. You alone can fly and see more things than we can. Please go immediately and find out what is happening to our friend.”
The crow did not fly too long before he saw Chitranga trapped in a hunter’s net near a small pond. Moved by his plight, the crow said, “Friend, what happened to you?” Trying to check tears in his eyes, the deer said, “Death is chasing me. It is good that you came to see me.”
The crow said, “Friend, don’t lose courage when we are here. I will rush back and bring Hiranyaka here.” Laghupatanaka flew fast to where the mouse and the turtle were anxiously waiting for him to come and tell them what happened to the deer. On hearing his account, Hiranyaka immediately decided that he should go and bite off the strings of the hunter’s net.
He got on to the back of the crow and together they flew to the spot where the deer lay helplessly in the hunter’s net. When the deer saw his friends rushing to his aid, he realised how necessary it was to collect good friends and how nobody could overcome troubles without the help of good friends.
Hiranyaka asked the deer, “How did you, such a learned being, get into this hole?” The deer replied, “Friend, this is not a time for a debate. The hunter may come any time. First, get me out of this net.” The mouse laughed and said, “Why are you scared of the hunter when I am here? But tell me how did you let yourself trapped in this way?”
The deer replied, “Friend, when luck is not with you, you will lose discretion. As the elders say when death is lurking for you and when wickedness overtakes you, your thoughts too take a crooked path. Nobody can save you from what God has in store for you.”
As they were discussing their plan to escape, Laghupatanaka and Hiranyaka saw that the turtle also was coming. The crow said, “Look, this slow-footed guy is coming. Neither can we save the deer or ourselves. See this fellow’s foolishness. If the hunter comes, I can fly away and you can beat a fast retreat. But how can this turtle escape?”
The hunter came when they were debating this point. The mouse did a fast job of biting off the strings of the net and the deer rushed into the thick forest. The mouse too disappeared into the nearest hole. But the poor turtle was slowly plodding its way to safety. But the hunter saw him and bound him to his bow and slung it across his shoulder and began going home.
Hiranyaka saw this from a distance and began reflecting, “Troubles do not come in singles. I have already lost everything I have. I have lost my relatives and my retinue. Now, this loss of a great friend! We come close to each other only to part. Everything in this world is temporary. Yet, I am grateful to God, for, he has created this sweet relationship we call friendship.”
Meanwhile, the deer and the crow came, disturbing the mouse’s reverie. Recovering, Hiranyaka said, “Let’s not brood over the past. Let us first look for a way to rescue the turtle.” The crow said, “Listen, and do as I tell you. Chitranga will go to a small lake on the hunter’s way taking him home. He should pretend he is dead and I will sit on his head and pretend pecking his eyes. Seeing the motionless deer, the hunter will then rest the turtle on the ground and reach for the deer. Hiranyaka should at once reach the turtle and bite off the strings binding him to the bow.”
“All right, we will do as you say,” said the mouse and the deer. Meanwhile, the hunter, seeing the motionless deer, thought it was dead. Leaving the turtle on the ground, he came to the deer. The deer at once ran away and the crow flew away. At the other end, the mouse bit off the strings binding the turtle to the bow. The turtle entered water and the mouse ran to his hole.
Disappointed, the hunter returned to where he had rested the turtle. When he found that the turtle had escaped, he cried bitterly and went home. After making sure that they were far away from the hunter’s reach, the four friends gathered and celebrated their reunion.
Concluding his discourse, Hiranyaka said, “It is a lesson to mankind on the value of friendship. One should not try to cheat friends. The elders have said that he who is faithful to his friends shall never taste defeat”. Thus we come to the end of the second part of Panchatantra called Gaining Friends.

The Unlucky Weaver

Somilaka was a weaver living on the edge of the city. He was an expert at making fine garments worthy of kings and princes. He enjoyed the patronage of the nobility. Despite all this, he was poorer than those weavers who were making coarse cloth for the common people. Worried at his condition, he told his wife, “Look dear, how rich these weavers of coarse cloth have become. There is something wrong with this place. I am not a success here. I will go elsewhere.”
“No dear. It is not true that you can be successful elsewhere. Our luck is linked to what we have done in a previous birth. If you have done a good deed in your previous birth, you will reap the harvest in this birth without your effort. If you don’t have it in your destiny, you will not get it even with effort. Just as sun and shade are inseparable, cause and effect are also linked to each other.”
Somilaka did not agree with her. He said, “Without effort, you can achieve nothing. Without cause there is no effect. Even if you get a good meal as a result of a good deed in the past, you have to use your hand to eat it. Wealth comes to a person who toils. There is no point in chanting the name of God. You must do your bit first. If you are not successful despite your effort, you are not to blame. Therefore, I have decided to go abroad.”
Ignoring his wife’s pleas, Somilaka left his place and reached Vardhamanapuram. Working day and night, he earned three hundred gold sovereigns within three years. He thought he should go home now and started the homeward trek. At dusk he found himself in the middle of a forest. Wild animals began their hunt for prey. The weaver climbed a tall tree and went to sleep on a big branch. He saw a dream:
The God of Action and the God of Destiny were talking to each other. Destiny asked Action, “The weaver is not destined to live in luxury. Why did you give him three hundred sovereigns?” Action replied, “I have to give to those who try and toil. Whether the weaver can keep it or not is in your hands.”
The dream jolted the weaver. He looked into his bag and found the sovereigns missing. Heart-broken, Somilaka began crying, “Oh I have lost what I have earned in three years with great effort. I have become a poor man again. I cannot go home in this condition and show my face to my wife.” He saw no point in brooding over what has happened and decided to go to Vardhamanapuram and try again.
This time, he could collect five hundred sovereigns in one year. He stored all this money in a small bag and began his homeward journey. When it was sundown, he had already entered a forest. This time, he did not sleep, afraid that he would lose his money. He continued to walk through the forest. This time also he saw those two persons he saw earlier in his dream coming in his direction.
They repeated the same conversation about God rewarding a hardworking person and destiny denying it. He immediately looked into his bag and found there was no gold in it. This time Somilaka lost his courage and thought he should commit suicide. He made a strong rope with the fibres he found in the forest. He tied one end of the rope to a high branch of the tree and made a noose of the other end. Everything was ready for his suicide when he heard a voice in the skies:
“O Somilaka, don’t be rash. I am destiny who took away your wealth. I cannot give you more than what is necessary for your bare needs. Not a single cent more. But I am pleased with your adventurous spirit. Ask for a boon. I shall give it.”
“Please give me lots of wealth,” said the weaver.
“What do you do with so much money,” asked the voice.
The weaver replied, “People serve him who is rich even if he is a miser.”
“In that case, go back to Vardhamanapuram where two wealthy merchants, Guptadhana and Upabhuktadhana are doing business. After studying them well, decide who you want to become, Guptadhana, the man who earns a lot of money but does not spend a cent of it or Upabhuktadhana, the man who earns but also enjoys the wealth he has amassed.”
Somilaka followed their advice and went back to Vardhamanapuram reaching the place in the evening after a tiring journey. With great difficulty he traced Guptadhana’s house and entered it despite resistance from the merchant’s family. When the time for dinner came, the merchant grudgingly gave food to Somilaka, suggesting that he was an unwanted guest. The weaver found a corner in the house where he could sleep.
Somilaka again had the same dream in which Action and Destiny were debating Guptadhana giving food to him.
Destiny told Action, “You have made Guptadhana give food to Somilaka.”
Action said, “You cannot blame me. I had to ensure that Somalika was fed. It is for you to decide who deserved what.”
Next day, Destiny saw to it that Guptadhana had an attack of cholera and had to miss his meal. In this manner what was given away was saved.
Later, Somilaka visited Upabhuktadhana’s house where the host welcomed him with great love and respect. The weaver had a good meal and slept. He had a dream as usual, the same two figures appearing in the dream.
Destiny told Action, “O Action, the host has spent a lot of money to entertain Somilaka. He even borrowed to make the guest happy. It is not in his destiny to have surplus. How will he repay what he has borrowed?”
Action replied, “My job is to see Somilaka got what he deserved. If Upabhuktadhana crossed the limits in entertaining his guest, that is not my fault. It is for you to decide what should be done.”
Next day, a messenger from the royal household came to Upabhuktadhana and gave him a big sum of money on behalf of the king.
Somilaka thought, “It is better to be like Upabhuktadhana. He enjoys life with whatever he has. What’s the use of being rich but miserly? I will better be Upabhuktadhana.” Pleased, the Gods showered on him the wealth that he needed to enjoy life.

Story of The Merchant’s Son

“Sagargupta was a merchant living in one of the country’s big cities. He had a son, who, one day purchased a book whose only content was a single verse. The verse read:
“What is the price of this book,” the father asked.
“Hundred rupees,” said the son.
The father flew into a rage and said, “You are a fool. You have paid hundred rupees for a book that has only one verse. You can never come up in life. Leave my house at once. It has no place for you.” 
“Thrown out of the house, the boy went to another city and began fresh life there. One day, a neighbour asked him, “What is your native place and what is your name?”
The boy replied, “Man gets what he is destined to.” He gave the same answer to whoever asked for his name. From that day onwards, people began calling him Praptavya, meaning the same line he was reciting to indicate his name.
“The summer came and the city was celebrating it with a big fair. One of the visitors to the fair was the city’s princess Chandravati and her maids. Chandravati was young and beautiful. As she was making the rounds of the fair, she saw an extremely handsome warrior and immediately fell in love with him. She told one of her maids, “It is your job to see that both of us meet.”
The maid ran to the warrior and told him, “I have a message for you from our princess. She says she will die if you do not meet her today.”
“But tell me where and how I can see her. How can I enter the harem?” asked the warrior.
The maid told him, “Come to the palace and you will see a rope hanging from the high wall. Climb and jump over the wall with the help of the rope.”
“All right, I will try to do it tonight,” said the warrior.
When the night came, the warrior lost his nerve and thought, “O this is an improper thing to do. The elders have said, “He who has liaison with the daughter of a teacher, wife of a friend or of a master or of a servant commits the sin of killing a Brahmin. Also, don’t do what brings you a bad name or what denies you a place in heaven.” In the end, the warrior decided not to meet the princess and stayed back at home.
“Coming out for a walk in the night, Prapta noticed the rope outside the royal palace and curious to know what it is, went up the rope that took him inside the princess” bedroom. The princess mistook him for the warrior and served him dinner and with great ecstasy told Prapta, “I have fallen in love with you at the very first sight. I am yours. You are in my heart and nobody except you can be my husband. Why don’t you say something.”
“He replied, “Man gets what he is destined to.” The princess immediately realised that this man was not the warrior she saw in the day and asked him to leave the palace at once. She made sure that he climbed back the way he came. Prapta left the place and slept that night in a rundown temple.
“The sheriff of the city came to the same temple where he had arranged to meet a woman of vice. He saw Prapta sleeping there and to keep his meeting a secret, he asked Prapta who he was. Prapta recited the verse about destiny. The sheriff then said, “Sir, this is a bad place to sleep. You can go to my house and sleep there tonight in my place.” The merchant’s son agreed to the proposal.
“At the sheriff’s house, his young and beautiful daughter Vinayawati had asked her lover to come and meet her secretly there in the night. When Prapta came there following the sheriff’s advice, Vinayawati mistook him in the darkness for her secret lover. She arranged a feast for him and married him according to Gandharva tradition. Noticing that Prapta did not utter a word, the sheriff’s daughter asked him to say something. Prapta recited his usual verse. Vinayawati realised her mistake and asked him to leave at once.
“As Prapta once again took to the street, he saw a marriage procession entering the city led by the bridegroom named Varakirti. He joined the procession. The bride was the daughter of a very wealthy merchant of the city. This procession reached the wedding hall sometime before the scheduled time for the wedding.
“The bride’s father set up a costly and gaily decorated dais for the wedding. The bridal party came to the scene of wedding a bit in advance. In the meantime, an elephant went berserk and killing the mahout headed for the marriage venue. The bridegroom and his party joined the frightened people who were fleeing the scene of marriage.
“Prapta happened to see the frightened bride alone and abandoned on the dais shivering in fear. He jumped on to the dais and told the merchant’s daughter that she need not fear for her life and that he would save her at any cost. With great courage and presence of mind he approached the elephant with a stick and began to threaten him. The elephant luckily left the scene. Prapta took the bride’s hand into his as a token of assurance.
“When peace returned, Varakirti and his friends and relatives also returned to the dais and seeing the bride’s hand in the hand of a stranger, addressed the merchant, “Sir, you have pledged the hand of your daughter to me. But I see that you have given her away to someone else. This is improper.” The merchant replied, “My son, I don’t know anything. I also ran away from the dais. Let me ask my daughter.”
The daughter told her father, “This brave man saved me from the mad elephant. He is my saviour. I won’t marry anyone but him.” It was now dawn and hearing the commotion the royal princess also came to the wedding venue to see what happened. The sheriff’s daughter also came there learning what had happened. The king also came there and asked Prapta to tell him everything without fear. Prapta as usual recited the verse.
This verse rang a bell in the princess head. She remembered what happened in the night and thought “Even God cannot undo what is destined.” The sheriff’s daughter also recalled the events of the night and thought “There is nothing to regret nor cause for surprise.” Listening to what Prapta said, the merchant’s daughter also thought “nobody can take away what destiny gives me.”
“The king now knew everything and the mystery of the verse. He then gave away his daughter in marriage to Prapta and also a thousand villages as gift. He also crowned Prapta as the prince. The sheriff also married his daughter to Prapta. The merchant’s son lived happily ever after with his wives and parents.
Hiranyaka, the mouse, thus ended his story of troubles and said:
"I am disillusioned. That is why my friend Laghupatanaka brought me to you,” said the mouse.
Addressing the mouse, Mandharaka, the turtle said, “O Hiranyaka, the crow is you true friend. Though he was hungry and you were his meal, he did not kill you. On the other hand, he brought you here on his back. You must make a friend of him who is uncorrupted by wealth and who stands by you in time of trouble.”
The turtle continued, “Therefore, stay here without fear or hesitation. Forget the loss of wealth and shelter. Remember, the shade of a passing cloud, friendship of the wicked, a cooked meal, youth and wealth do not stay for long. Learned men are never attached to wealth. It does not come with you even for a few feet in your last journey. There is a lot of pain in earning money and protecting it. Money, therefore, brings grief.”
“What is not ours will not stay with us. Haven’t you heard the story of Somilaka who earned a lot of wealth but could not keep it?”
“How is that?” asked Hiranyaka.
Mandharaka began telling Hiranyaka the story of the unlucky weaver.