Richard Francis Burton.

The book of good counsels, from the Sanskrit of the Hitopadesa. online

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father. The Hindoo proverb says, "Whoso begetteth a son, planteth
a tree, and diggeth a well ; that man shall rest in Heaven."


146 NOTES.


Sesasuw. The " tilla" seed ; which, together with the cocoa-nut,
supplies Hinclostan with oil.

Pundits. Learned men.


The angel of the planet Jupiter. Vrihaspati, the Instructor of the
gods. Like the rest of the Hindoo divinities, he casts no shadow
in moving, his eternally watchful eyes never even wink with fatigue,
and the crown of flowers on his head blooms in perpetual beauty
and freshness.


The silk-cotton tree. Sans. ** Shalmali."


His radiance the moon. The moon (Chandra) is a masculine deity
in Hindoo mythology. The white lotus opens its blossoms at night
only, hence his descriptive epithet.


A crow. The Indian crow is everywhere seen and heard in India.
Its plumage is black, with a dull grey hood extending over the head
and neck.


God of Death. Yama, called here Kritanta, or the "End-bringer."
He is God of Justice as well as of Death, and sits in judgment upon
disembodied souls in his infernal city of Yamapoora. Thence he
dismisses them upwards to Swarga, downwards to Naraka, or back
again to earth in the form of some animal.


Bangle. The bracelet, in one solid piece, of gold, silver, brass,
glass, or earthenware, worn by all Indian women.


An old tiger. It is true to nature that an " old tiger" should be
the villain of this episode, and devour the traveller ; for it is gene-

NOTES. 147

rally when the tiger has lost his teeth and claws by age, and with
them his power of securing antelopes, cattle, &c., that he becomes a
professed man-stealer. The popular notion was that the hide of a
"man-killer " became worn and mangy as a punishment for attacking
man, his lord ; but it is not until his hide thus assumes the aspect of
old age that he has recourse to such easy but illicit food.


Kusa grass. Used in many religious observances by the Hindoos.
(Poa cynosuroides.)


CoivSj BrahmanS) and wen. The tiger justifies his self-condemna-
tion by confessing to one of the greatest moral guilts possible, the
slaughter of cows a sin all but inexpiable.


Son of Kunti. Kunti was wife of Pandu, and mother of the
Pandava princes of the Mahabharata.


Neither give, &c. Here, and elsewhere, the intelligent reader
will remark a curious similarity between these ancient Hindoo pro-
verbs and those of Solomon.


Vanish in the dragorfs jaw. Rahoo, an evil spirit, with the tail
of a dragon, was held to be the cause of eclipses, by swallowing
occasionally the moon and sun. The legend had this origin. At
the time when the gods were drinking the nectar, churned from the
ocean by the direction of Vishnu, Rahoo insinuated himself among
them, and began to drink. The sun and moon, as guardians for the
gods, observed the intrusion and revealed it. Vishnu at once cut
off the head of the venturous devil, but as the " amrit " drink had
rendered him immortal the head and tail retained their separate life,
and were placed in the stellar sky. Rahoo, therefore, still mindful
of the injury done him by the sun's interference, loses no opportunity
of enclosing his ancient enemy in his jaws.

148 NOTES.


Can a golden deer, &c. An allusion to an episode in the great
poem of the Ramayana. Manicha takes the form of a golden deer,
in pursuing which Rama is led away insensibly from his abode, and
Ravana comes as a beggar and carries off Sita in his absence.


The three wide worlds. Heaven, earth, and the lower regions.


The king of the mice. The mouse, as vehicle of Gunesh, is an
important animal in Hindu legend.


Sickness, anguish, bonds, and woe,
Spring from wrongs wrought long ago.

By this theory of a series of existences continued until the balance
is just, and the soul has purified itself, the Hindoo accounts for the
origin of evil. Every fault must have its expiation, and every higher
faculty its development ; pain and misery being signs of and ordeals
in the trial, which is to end in the happy re-absorption of the eman-
cipated spirit.


Champak-grove. The champak is a bushy deciduous tree, bearing
a profusion of white star-like blossoms with golden centre, and of
the most pleasing perfume.


Fig-tree (Sans. " Parkti "). A large handsome tree, with leaves
curiously waved.


The moon-penance. A religious observance, inculcated by Manu.
The devotee commences the penance at the full moon with an
allowance of fifteen mouthfuls for his food, diminishing this by one
mouthful each day, till on the fifteenth it is reduced to one. As the
new moor then increases, his allowance also ascends to its original

NOTES. 149


Bmhmacharya. A votary of the Vedas, a name technically ap-
plied to young Brahmins after their investiture with the sacred cord,
and generally to pundits and Vedic professors.


Agni is the twice-born *j master. Agni, the deity of Fire, under
his manifestations of light, the sun, &c., occupies a large portion of
the Vedic liturgy. The twice-born is the Brahman, whose second
birth is dated from his investiture with the " sacred thread."


Krishna. The god Vishnoo under his most celebrated and popular
form. He is represented as of a handsome and graceful person,
with the dark blue complexion which the name implies.


Unto Swarga, <SrV. Heaven, the paradise of Indra, and the
happy abode of the souls of the just and of the gods.

A nd the castor-oiF s a tree, where no tree else its shade affords.

The castor plant, although not altogether a shrub, seldom assumes
the proportions and dignity of a tree. It either grows thick as a
bush, or shoots up to twelve or sixteen feet, like a sapling.


Oil of sandal-wood. An extract from the well-known fragrant
tree of India.


The prince of all the serpents. Vasuki, or Ananta, the chief of
the human-headed serpents, who people Patala, or the regions under
the earth.


Har?s name and Hards. The first is the god Vishnoo, the
second Shiva.



And to taste the salt of service* Italian scholars will recall the
sorrowful lines of Dante, so nearly resembling these

" Tu proverai siccome sa di sale
Lo pane altrui, e com 'e duro Caso
Lo scendere e 1' salir per 1'altrui scale/'

DANTE, Paradise, cant. 17.


Breathe he like a blacksmith's bellows. This implement in India
is a sewn goat skin, inflated with one hand and noisily emptied by
the other.


The last thunder. Alluding to the " Pralaya," or termination of
one of the Kalpas of the world's existence.


Resolved into the Jive elements. The five constituent ingredients
of the body. A common periphrasis for death in Sanskrit writings.


Lakshmi. The wife of Vishnoo, Goddess of beauty and abun-
dance. She sprang, like Aphrodite, from the sea, when the gods
churned it with the mountain Mandara to obtain the " Amrit," or


New corn. The Hindoos are as fond, as the English learn to
become, of the green ear of the jowaree stalk parched and eaten hot
with butter and pepper.


A deer named Dapple-back. Antelopes are common in all parts
of India. The true deer, such as the sambur, is found in the forests


The Ko'il. The black or Indian cuckoo.

NOTES. 151


The god of the five shafts. " Kama," the Indian Cupid. His
bow is made of flowers, the string is a row of bees, and he wounds
with five arrows, typifying the five senses. He is known, also, as
Manmatha, the heart-shaker ; Manasija, the heart-begotten ; and
Ananga^ the bodiless. The second title refers to his reputed origin
from the heart of Brahma, though the god is also represented as the
son of Lukshmi and Vishnoo. He is called the Bodiless, from a
misadventure with Shiva, whom he dared to aim at, but the indig-
nant deity reduced the archer to cinders with one glance of his
central eye. He is painted as a handsome boy, riding on a parrot,
and surrounded by maidens, who bear his banner with the fish


The forest of Brahma. A wood where the Vedas are read and
expounded. A Hindoo Academe.


The reverential prostration of the eight members. The salutations
of India are Spanish in their variety and exactness. The " salaam"
is universal ; but the native greets his neighbour with the more
cordial " ram-ram," and receives it with gratification from the Sahib.
The better hand must always be employed, and is raised pressed to
the palm of the other to perform a " namuskar," the salutation of a
Brahman. The prostration alluded to in the text is performed by
lowering at once to the ground the hands, breast, forehead, eyes,
two knees, and two feet.


The moment of fortunate conjunction. The astrologer is an im-
portant personage in every Hindoo town or village to decide upon
lucky or unlucky days. The rules for his decision are freely given
by Manu. " The day of new moon," he says, " destroys the
spiritual teacher (or gooroo), the fourteenth is bad for the learner,
and nothing in the Vedas read on the eighth day and the day of full
moon will be remembered."


A vow to Gauri. " The fair goddess," i.e. Parvati, wife of

152 NOTES.

He, whose forehead-jewel is the moon. Shiva.


The soorma. (Unjun.) The antimony powder used universally
by Hindoo women to darken the lids and lashes of the eye. It is
applied with a small stick rubbed upon the powder, and a little
consequently goes a long way.

Chatty. The large earthen pot employed to hold water.


Seeing how the ant-hill grows. In the great plains of India the
large ant-hills form a marked feature. They are thrown up with
great rapidity, and have been seen to rise by a public road to the
height of three feet or more in a night.


The chattra. The white umbrella borne above the heads of Indian
rajahs, and especially appropriated to royalty, like the Chowri or


The retreat of Dhurmma. Personified virtue, under the form of
the bull of Shiva.


Kdyeth caste. A. writer ; a man sprung from a Kshattriya father
and a Sudra mother.


Washerman. The labour of the laundry in India is always per-
formed on hard rocks by the river side, and principally by men
called " dhobies."


Starve thy maw, &c. (Literally, "with the belly serve the
Eater of oblations " hutdshan), i.e. stint thyself to perform the

NOTES. 153


Vrihaspati the Grave. Regent of the planet Jupiter, and In-
structor of the divinities.


In the north. There are no lions in India, excepting that called
" the maneless lion," occasionally met with in Guzerat.


The King of Chedi. Shishupala ; he took also the forms of
Havana and of Hiranya Kasipu, to oppose Krishna, who killed him.


Gunpattee. Gunesh ; the deity of prudence. Born from the
bathing-water of the Goddess Parvati.


A cowry. The little sea-shell used in India for small change.
About 6,000 go to the rupee.


The tree of Paradise. A tree growing in Indra's Swarga, which
instantly produced whatever was desired.


The form called Gundharva. Manu, in his Book III., gives the
form of eight different kinds of marriage. This is that without cere-
monies, and by mutual consent. The ordinary Hindoo rite is very
graceful, and resembles in some points the classic custom. At any
time after the " Moonj," or investiture with the sacred thread, the
Brahman boy is marriageable, and the girl must not be ten years
old. They meet at the bride's house, the laganpatrica or " marriage
horoscope " having been previously made out by the astrologer.
There they go through the supttipadi, walking together three times
round a fire, seven steps at each time ; then their garments are tied
together, and an offering is placed upon the flames, completing the
rite. The bride remains at her father's house until the age of twelve
or thirteen, when she is claimed by her husband.

1 54 NOTES.


Cut thy nose off. The ordinary expedient of an incensed husband
in the East.


Yama and the seven guardians. These eight protecting deities
rank next below the Hindoo Trinity, They are : I. Indra, the
air ; 2. Agni, the fire ; 3. Chandra, the moon ; 4. Surya, the sun.
5. Pavana, the wind. 6. Yama, the lord of justice and of the lower
worlds. 7. Varuna, God of the waters ; and 8. Kuvera, the master
of wealth.


Shaving the head of the barbels wife. This indignity reduced
her to the appearance and the miserable status of a widow.


The three prerogatives of the throne. Regal authority derives its
rights from three sources with the Hindoo authors viz. Power,
Prescription or continuance, and Wisdom.


Watered them with nectar. The Greek word nectar, and the
Sanskrit amrit, are alike in their etymology "the immortal."
Both were the food of the undying gods, and the Hindoo deities
thus obtained their ambrosia. The Daityas, like the Titans, had
waged war upon the divinities (the Asuras), and these last betook
themselves to Vishnoo for protection. He bade them cast certain
medicinal herbs into the " sea of milk ; " then taking Mount Man-
dara for a churning-stick, and the king of the serpents for the
twisting-string, the god began to churn the ocean for nectar. The
Daityas themselves aided on promise of sharing in the strength-
restoring extract, and stood at the serpent's head while the Asuras
worked at the tail. The great Vishnoo also took part in the work
as a tortoise, upon whose back the mountain whirled round back-
wards and forwards. Out of the seething flood there carr.e up at
the last a figure robed in white Dhanwantari, the physician of the
gods who bore in his hands the first cup-full of the amrit. From
the same ocean also rose the ever-lovely Lukshmi the marvellous
cow, from which all things that could be desired might be milked

NOTES. 155

and the kalkut^ or poison which stained the neck of Shiva. The
nectar thus obtained bestowed new vigour on the wearied gods, and
was stored up in the moon, where the lunar rays ripen and perfect it.


Guriid, the lord of the birds. He is the vehicle and the attendant
of Vishnoo, and has a human face with the wings of a bird.


The god Narayen. Varuna, god of the world of waters. This
Deity is regent of the west, and a lord of punishment, holding a
noosed cord, wherewith to bind transgressors beneath the sea. His
vdhana, a vehicle, is the great fish mukur. The present age (kalpa)
of the world is called Varaha, or the boar's, and was initiated by
Narayen. " When that supreme lord," says the Vishnoo Pooran,
" woke and beheld the universe void, knowing that the earth lay
hid within the waters, he assumed the body of a wild boar, and
plunging in them raised up the earth till it floated upon the waves."
The name Narayen, suggestive of the Greek Nereus, denotes him
" whose progress (ay ana) is upon the face of the waters (narah)."

7^/ie life to come. Literally, " the other world " (Paralok).

The azure lotus. The lotus resembles our water-lily, but is more
varied in form and colour. There are white, red, blue, and yellow


Another hath the spoils. There is a belief, constantly occurring
in Hindoo writings, that the elephant's head contains precious stones,
resembling pearls. The remorseful monarch alludes to this, and
compares his conquest to the slaughter of an elephant, which leaves
guilt to the lion, and gives the pearls to some chance hunter.


" A Brahman that eats all things equally ."This epithet, " sar-
ivabhaksha" and the comparison, are very strong, and suffice to

156 NOTES.

quiet King Tawny-hide's conscience. A Brahman who ate flesh
would be like the unclean " Rdkshasas" or demons.


Peacock and Swan. The peacock is wild in most Indian jungles.
The swan (Sanscrit, hansa) is a species of flamingo of a white
colour, with markings of a golden yellow. The voice and gait of a
beautiful woman are likened in the Hindoo poets to those of the
" Hansa." It is the vehicle of the god Brahma.


The Vindhya mountains. The chain between Hindustan and the
south country or Deccan. The name is said to imply that they
appear, from their loftiness, to stop the sun in his declining course.


Jambu-dwipa. "The land of the rose-apple" the central of
the seven continents, containing the regions known to Hindoo
geographers. It may not be out of place to sketch in this note the
Hindoo's co. i mogony. He reads in his Poorans that Priyavrata, son
of the Self-born, grieving to see the earth but half illumined at one
time by the sun, drove round it seven times in his own flaming
chariot, the wheels of which formed seven ruts, which are now the
beds of the seven oceans. The continents thus divided are also
seven. Jambu-dwipa is the central one, with Mount Meru for its
own centre, where " men are born of the colour of burnished gold,
and the women resemble blue lotuses ; where all live as do the gods,
and have the vital forces of 10,000 elephants."

Around Jamhu-dtoifa runs a sea of salt-water, and beyond it lies
Plaksha-dw ; pa. There the happy inhabitants know nothing of sick-
ness, and live 5* 000 years.

Flaksha-kwipa is divided by a sea of sugar-cane juice from Shdl-
mali-dwipa. The castes of this continent are the tawny, the purple,
the yellow, and the red, and in it " the vicinity of the gods is very
delightful to the soul."

A sea of wine intervenes between this land and Kusha-dwipa.
There no one dies ; but the gods and gandharvas, the heavenly
minstrels, share in the pastimes of the fair and innocent persons who
dwell in the land.

NOTES. 157

Kuska-dwipa is separated from Krauncha-dwipa by its sea of
ghee, or clarified butter. This last is twice as large as the first,
and the inhabitants dwell among its mountains with the immortal
gods, whom they regard without fear.

Outside Krauncka-dwipa rolls the sea of curds and whey, washing
also the shores of &aka~diuipa, a favoured land, where there is no
vice, nor envy, nor injustice. In the black mountains (Syama) of
this country the men are black, and they worship the God Vishnoo,
as the sun.

Round the dark shores of Krauncha-dwipa ^ " like an armlet of
ivory on a Brahmanee's wrist," flows the sea of milk. It divides
this continent from the last and farthest of the seven, the Pushkara-
dwipa. In the perfect joy of this distant sphere, "there is no dis-
tinction of highest and lowest, of killer or slain, of truth or falsehood ;
the people are of one form with the gods, and too high for duty or
observances. Food they consume, but it comes spontaneously to
them upon desire, and delicately prepared. There is no evil there,
but endless good."

And (for the mind yet unsatiated with receding infinity) beyond
Puskkara is the sea of fresh water, equal to itself in breadth.
Passing that is the Golden Land^ without inhabitants, and yet
beyond it lie the Loka loka mountains, dark, immovable, and
10,000 yojans (50,000 miles) high and broad. Outside that dark-
ness is the shell of the mundane egg.

" Of which eggs," concludes the Poorana, " there be thousands,
and tens of thousands yea, a hundred millions of millions ! "


Their hanging nests. These birds seem to select the bushes over
the mouth of a well, or the slender twigs of a tree, as safe places
from the snakes.


A frog in a well. Having no more knowledge than the frog has
of light.

Am I not Sasanka ? From the Sanskrit Sasa, a hare.

158 NOTES.

Shiva reigns for ever Shiva, while the sea-waves stain his neck.

At the churning of the waters, along with the " amrita " and the
beautiful Lukshmi, came up also a deadly venom (Kalkut), fatal to
mortals. To avert its evil influence the god Shiva drank it up ; but
it was potent enough to stain his throat black or dark-blue, whence
his title of " Nilkanta," the blue-throated.


The wife of Ranichtindra, i.e. Rama, who was absent in the chase
of a phantom deer of gold.

Peepul tree. Or " Pimpal," the holy fig.


A betal leaf. The '* pan-sooparee," a compound of betel-nut,
lime, and cloves, wrapped up in a leaf of the pepper-vine, and
. chewed by all India.


The faithful wife. By such a death as that alluded to, she earns
the title of Sati, the "excellent."


The paddy-bird. The common Indian crane ; a graceful white
bird, to be seen everywhere, and always, in the interior of Hin-

Singhala-dwipa. The " Land of the Lion " Ceylon.


He is sure to join in. The cry of one jackal at night raises a
chorus from all those within hearing.


Vachaspati. Policy, "the Lord of Talk." Hodie, "Govern-

NOTES. 159


Ghauts. A word applied to ranges of mountain, by which, as by
a staircase p , the country rises into an elevated region. Also to the
step-like path leading over or through the mountains, and to the
flight of stairs at a river side landing-place.


A rajpoot. Here synonymous with " Kshattriya," a man of the
military caste.


The complimentary betel. The *' pan-sooparee " (see note 83),
neatly folded into a triangular form, and pierced through by a clove,
is handed round at the close of all occasions of ceremony. Judged
by its popularity (and not by a first experiment upon it), it deserves
the encomium which King Silver-sides cannot repress.


The dark half of the month. The Hindoos divide their month
into two divisions of fifteen tithees (or days) each. " Shood" the
bright half, is occupied by the increase of the moon ; and " Vud"
the dark half, marks the moon's waning. The fourteenth night of
the dark half would be intensely dark.

The fortune. The "Lukshmi," the attendant genius.


The thirty-two auspicious marks. This superstition, preserved to
us in palmistry, is of common occurrence in the Hindoo writings.
In Book 19 of the Vana-parva (Mahabharat) Vahuka chooses his
horses by the ten avartas^ or marks of excellence. "Never," says
King Rituparna

" Never shall we reach Vidarbha, drawn by steeds so slight and

Vahuka replies

l6o NOTES.

" Two on head, and one on forehead, marks of mettle here be all.
Two on chest, on this and that flank two and two, on crupper one,
These the steeds shall reach Vidarbha long before the day be done."

Thy GiiriL The spiritual instructor of a young Brahman.


With his shoulder-scratching horn. Large branching horns which
reach backward and rub upon his shoulders.


The Apsarasas. The houris of Indra's heaven. They also were
produced at the churning of the ocean, in raiment and ornaments of
celestial splendour. Their office is to receive into Paradise and to
solace there with the delights of love the souls of all who have died
fighting bravely. In the "Nala" of the Mahabharat (Book 2) Indra
the god is made to say
" They, the just the lion-hearted, Lords, who, never yielding

Saw the shaft's descending death-blow saw, and took it on their

face !

Theirs this realm of endless joy is, as the Cow of Plenty mine ;
Let them come the Dead in battle Lo ! I wait them -guests



Time not come, &c. These composite titles may serve as instances
of conjoined Sanskrit words. One such in the Champu of Trivik-
rama contains 118 letters.


The Mongoose. An animal of the weasel kind, very common in
India, and valued for its active animosity against all serpents.


The Pot-breaker. This episode is the undoubted origin of " Al-
naschar " in the Arabian Nights ; and of a host of stories and pro-
verbs against the imprudence of "counting chickens before they are

NOTES. l6l


Sunda the Strong^ and Giant Upasunda. Two of the Daityas,
the Hindoo Titans who fought against the Suras.

That God who wears the Moon. Shiva.

" On whose brow the Moon shines brave,
Like the foam on Gunga's wave. "


Saraswati. The wife of Brahma, goddess of speech and elo-
quence inventress of the Devanagari character and of the Sanskrit.
"JThou," says the Sage Vasistha, addressing her in the Mahabharat
(Salya Parva), "art nourishment, radiance, fame, perfection, intel-
lect, light. Thou art speech ; thou art Swaha ; this world is thine,
and thou, in four-fold form, art in all its creatures."


Parvati. The wife of Shiva another name for Durga, the
" Mountain Queen." She is the daughter of Himala, King of the
Snowy Hills ; and her temple, as at Poona, stands generally on a

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Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of good counsels, from the Sanskrit of the Hitopadesa. → online text (page 8 of 9)