Sumathi Stakamu, a jewel in telugu literature, is a compilation of 100 Telugu poems,
authored by Baddena in 13th century,
with timeless morals, appropriate to changing conditions and personal values,
suitable for family life and necessary in politics.
'Sumathi' means a person with good sense.
It lists do's, don'ts, conveying morals in simple language.
Here poem is in telugu followed by meaning in telugu and english
and brief commentary in english.
Sumati, with the grace of Sri Rama, I shall tell plenty of morals.
All the people will certainly be fascinated and will ask for more.
The poet states his theme of morals, which will be of interest to everybody.
The poet states his theme of morals, which will be of interest to everybody.
In this noble task he seeks the blessings of Sri Rama.
Sumati, one must at once discard: a relative who doesn’t help in times of need,
a god who doesn’t grant boons,
and a horse (one mounts) which refuses to run in a battle.
People should help their relatives in times of distress. Otherwise they are useless.
Sumati, it is better to live in the world ploughing a paddy field with sturdy,
fast moving bullocks than serve an arrogant master
who doesn’t pay the wages asked and then feel sorry for it.
There are bosses who are arrogant and extract work from their workers.
They don’t pay fair wages and pay in time.
Self-employment like cultivation is better than low-paid jobs.
Sumati, don’t ever serve anyone with abnormal hope, don’t cultivate temple lands
for selfish ends, don’t make fast friendship with wicked persons;
don’t go to a forest without a companion.
It is foolish to work under someone who cannot understand your aspirations.
It may be necessary sometimes to deal with wicked people,
but we should keep them at a distance.
A friend is useful when a person goes into a forest because such a journey
is fraught with many unknown dangers.
Sumati, an official will barely speak; he won’t speak sweet words, but becomes silent.
Power corrupts him and he appears like a blind and deaf corpse.
It is a sin to see such a person.
Officials might become insensitive and unsympathetic to visitors.
It is better to avoid such unhelpful officials.
Sumati, wealth obtained through borrowing, a young wife in old age, a fool’s penance,
and a regime which doesn’t recognize the crime of an accused, will cause harm later.
Living with pomp on borrowed money, which many people do, will lead to grief.
It is just as bad as taking a young wife in old age,
praying without conviction, and an unpunished crime.
All these should be avoided if you wish to lead a peaceful life.
Sumati, reside in a place where a creditor, a doctor, a perennial stream,
and a brahmin (priest) are available. Don’t go to a place where they are not available.
Our life would be difficult if we don’t have credit facilities, medical help,
uninterrupted water supply, and a priest to perform rituals on various occasions.
So, a place with these facilities should be chosen for residence.
Sumati, know that these things do not exist: good behavior of a son-in-law,
literary scholarship of a shepherd, truth uttered by a woman,
rice from pounding chaff, and white crows.
It is difficult to obtain rice from chaff, there are certainly no white crows.
But the three other things mentioned in this verse are not completely true.
Son-in-law may be good; some shepherds may acquire literary knowledge,
and women are truthful. Son-in-law might be too demanding,
shepherds might not be educated, and women may have reasons to resort to falsehood.
But these things are changing fast with the spread of education
and interaction among different people.
Sumati, in this world the food eaten when hungry is nectar,
the man who gives without annoyance is a real donor, the person
who can put up with difficulties is a man,
and the one with courage alone brings fame to the family.
A hungry man will not care much for the taste of food.
Donating without irritation is noble charity.
Adversity tests a person’s character.
A courageous man will bring glory to a family.
Sumati, on this earth certain things are disgusting:
food that does not satisfy hunger,
a pregnant whore who doesn’t give up her profession,
the stale water in a well, and goat’s milk.
Tasteless or insufficient food is bad.
The necessity for money felt by a pregnant whore to continue her work,
accumulated water in a well which is unhygienic,
goat’s milk, which has a different smell
compared with cow’s milk, are nauseating.
But it must be pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi used to
drink goat’s milk as it was nourishing.
Sumati, in this world, giving is knowledge, joining a battle is manliness,
what good poets praise is talent, quarrel is harmful.
The test of knowledge is being generous; manliness is on test in a battle;
talent is appreciated by great poets. Quarrel leads to harm.
These are matters of common experience
and continuing relevance in our strife-ridden world.
Sumati, a mouth which doesn’t read well, a mouth which doesn’t ask
a mother for food, a mouth which doesn’t invite younger brothers is (useless)
like a hole dug by a potter in the earth.
In ancient times education was through oral transmission and practice.
Great importance was attached to correct pronunciation, which is of importance
for successful living/career. If the mouth is not used for asking the mother for food
and for affectionately calling the brothers, then it is useless.
The mouth has nobler functions than a potter’s ditch.
Sumati, in this world, man should achieve four things known as purusharthas
(morality, money, love, and salvation). Otherwise his life is worthless.
Doesn’t the iguana live for a hundred years, a serpent for a thousand years,
or a crane for a long time in a lake without achieving anything worthwhile?
The poet urges us to pursue significant aims and not simply exist like animals and birds.
Sumati, in this world, how can a wicked person acquire noble qualities?
Can brass become gold anywhere by melting it and giving it value?
Noble qualities come with birth. Mean persons like base metals can never obtain value.
Sumati, don’t go near a horse which is quenching its thirst,
an elephant which is swelling with pride,
a bull with a cow in heat, and a mean person who isn’t educated.
Animals under certain circumstances lose control, behave wildly and attack people.
But a person without education is worse than an animal and so we should keep away from him. Education enables a person to rise above beasts, which cannot reason.
Sumati, it is not unusual to help a person who helps you. But one who helps
a person who has harmed him without any complaint is an expert (a skilled person).
A person can show his nobility by showing charity to a person who harmed him.
That is a greater virtue than taking revenge. Revenge might satisfy, but noble treatment
might lead to a change of heart on the part of the offender. Jesus Christ and
Mahatma Gandhi were able to win over their opponents through their nobility.
Sumati, friendship with wicked persons is like sugarcane:
it is sweet in the beginning and turns tasteless in the end.
Initially it entices and then becomes deceitful finding faults.
This is a worthwhile caution against trusting deceitful persons
who befriend you talking sweetly, but finally quarrel with you.
Sumati, a person, who speaks whatever is appropriate at the given time and
so doesn’t hurt others’ feelings, or get his own feelings hurt, is fortunate.
Whenever we interact with a person we have to consider the occasion, the time and
that person’s frame of mind. We should not hurt him, nor should we get hurt ourselves.
Sumati, you should never serve a person who is always looking for faults.
Such service is like the life of a frog in the shadow of a serpent’s hood.
A boss may appreciate a subordinate and pat him on the back.
Another boss will only look for defects in the work
of his subordinates, so he can punish them.
The second type of boss should be avoided since he is dangerous.
Sumati, when you are wealthy, relatives flock to you.
This is like frogs in large numbers moving to a lake, which overflows.
A wealthy person should be sympathetic and charitable towards the less fortunate,
but at the same time careful about those who seek his help when he is well off,
as they are sure to leave him, when he falls on bad days.
Sumati, in this world, don’t pick unripe fruits, don’t abuse relatives,
don’t run away from the battle, don’t disobey the teacher’s order.
The poet impresses on us that no purpose will be served by picking unripe fruits,
abusing relatives, escaping from a battle, and disregarding the teacher’s order.
Such negative deeds may actually recoil on us.
Sumati, the affairs of a village will go on smoothly if there is
only one accountant, and one law officer. If they are more, there will be confusion
and everything will get spoiled. This is natural.
Divided and multiple leadership in any setup will lead to confusion and collapse.
Hence it is important to have someone
in overall charge of the affairs of a village or an organization.
Sumati, on this earth, one has to leave a woman who doesn’t love one,
a master who doesn’t respect one, and a companion who doesn’t like one.
If one doesn’t leave them, one is a fool. The word shepherd may mean a fool,
but every shepherd is not a fool simply because of his caste.
We have to keep away from people (women, masters, friends) who don't like us.
In modem society we should not associate certain qualities with certain castes.
Given education and opportunities, people of any caste may come up.
Sumati, in this world, carts are carried on boats (in water),
and carts carry boats gracefully on the earth.
Like the boats and the carts, the rich and the poor may exchange places.
Inter-dependence is an essential feature of life.
The wealthy and the poor should realize this and try to co-operate with one another.
The wealthy should not be proud and the poor dejected.
Sumati, if at an auspicious moment, a dog is placed on a golden throne
and properly crowned, will he give up his old habits?
Nobody can give up his inherent qualities.
Even when there are happy occasions old habits die hard and people fail to live up
to the occasion. A mean person cannot give up his meanness and a liar cannot stop
lying even when they are in favorable positions.
Sumati, sorrow is certain for a lame frog, a sick serpent,
a wicked wife and an old man who is poor.
There are certain disabilities and disadvantages for both animals and human beings,
which cause distress and misery. If an old man who has no more physical strength
to earn his livelihood and if he thus faces poverty, it is sorrowful for him.
Sumati, if lotuses are removed from water, they wither under the sun’s rays. Similarly,
if a person leaves his proper place, his own friends will become his foes. This is certain.
A position confers comfort and security on a person.
If he moves out of that position, his friends may turn out to be his enemies.
Sumati, if a village accountant trusts another village accountant, it will be fatal;
he cannot survive. One village accountant should not trust
another village accountant too much and reveal his secret.
In each profession and institution there may be some confidential information.
Such information should not be divulged even to colleagues.
The co-workers may betray you.
Sumati, we have to follow the wishes of the village accountants. If we eat against their
wishes, it will cause illness. Unless the axle is greased, even god’s chariot won’t run.
It is important for a happy and smooth living not to offend those who matter.
If they are dissatisfied, they will raise objections and make our life miserable.
The way civil servants and policemen harass people is well-known.
It is therefore necessary to keep them in good humor.
Sumati, if a village accountant is mild, if an elephant loses its arrogance,
if a serpent doesn’t bite, or if a scorpion doesn’t sting, then no one cares for them.
Sometimes, it is necessary to be harsh in dealing with others.
Otherwise people don’t care for us and we cannot get anything done.
Sumati, the writings of one who is not a poet, the love of a woman
who is not well-versed in the nine emotions, the skill of a hunter
with various weapons who fails to kill a fast-running boar, are all futile.
This verse urges expertise and professionalism in whatever we do.
A casual approach to work is not adequate, when we seek results.
Sumati, you shouldn’t make friends with wicked persons. When once you
attain fame, it won’t leave you. Lending money to others will lead to disputes.
There is not even a bit of love among women, at any time.
In this verse, the poet advises the reader that one should not befriend evil persons,
should not lend money and should not expect mutual love among women, but should
perform good deeds, since after the physical body perishes after death fame remains.
Sumati, on this earth, laughing without reason, a woman without a blouse, a sweet dish
without the stuffing inside, a wedding without a double drum, are all wasteful.
The value of certain things can be enhanced if they are properly presented.
Just as a dish without the sweet stuffing will be insipid, many other things will fail to impress
without proper embellishments
Sumati, don’t quarrel violently with your wife at anytime. Don’t attribute any baseless
defects to her. Prosperity doesn’t stay in a house where the woman weeps.
A happy home is the basis of prosperity and peace. A happy home is possible
if the husband and wife don’t quarrel and don’t find fault with each other.
It is a man’s duty to make his wife happy so that his own life can be happy.
Sumati, as along as you remain friends with someone, you don’t find any defects.
But if the friendship sours you will find only defects in him/her.
When you have love and friendship for others, you don't notice their faults.
It is important to maintain friendship with others. It is necessary to overlook any
disagreeable qualities they may have in order to maintain a happy and peaceful life.
Sumati, friendship with an evil person will lead to danger in a crooked way.
This is like a cot receiving beatings when a tiny bed bug bites a man.
A man who makes friends with a mean person will have to bear the consequences
himself. More than the evil person, the other man will be blamed for any mishap.
Sumati, a man may have read the treatise on erotic love, he may be handsome,
he may be a great king. But he cannot possess a whore unless he pays her a lot of cash.
One's knowledge, physical attraction and other accomplishments may impress
the cultured people. But for others, the only criterion is ready cash.
We should not be led astray by those who care only for money.
Sumati, a useless son is not only useless, but he will spoil the reputation
of his father. If at the end of a sugar cane, a thorny bush grows,
it will spoil the sweetness of the entire sugarcane.
A useless son, like the ear of corn of a sugarcane, will destroy the good name
of the family. Similarly, in any organization one corrupt or immoral person
will spoil its good name.
Sumati, the faithfulness of a woman, friendship with serpents, other women’s love,
sweetness of neem seeds and the assurances of rulers are all false.
It is true that neem seeds can never be sweet and befriending serpents is dangerous.
But it is, not correct to say that women and their love are untrue. It is our experience
that many promises made at the time of election are forgotten soon after the election.
The rulers quite often look for expediency than for keeping their word.
Sumati, women respect a man and welcome him with a red carpet as long as
he earns money. But when he stops earning money they look upon him as a
walking corpse and laugh among themselves and mock at him.
It is true that earning members of a family receive respect and special treatment.
When the earning capacity wanes, particularly with the onset of old age,
there is a decline in the respect shown to them.
It is unfortunate that a person's earning and the respect given to him are linked.
But that is the way of the world.
Sumati, don’t worry about the past; don’t believe in your heart that
women will love; stop secret negotiations with women in the royal palace.
This is the acceptable way.
Brooding over the past events, especially when they were unfavourable,
will only lead to depression. One should be extremely cautious in
talking to women particularly professional colleagues, because
such talk may be misunderstood or misrepresented as sexual harassment.
Sumati, in this earth, the ants build anthills, but serpents dwell in them.
Similarly, a foolish man may amass wealth,
which will ultimately go to the rulers of the land.
It is foolish to be greedy and deny yourself comforts.
Your money should be put to good use including charity.
Otherwise, the government will confiscate it.
Sumati, when you have a lot of wealth, people who are not related to you push
forward and approach you talking sweetly and claiming relationship to you.
This is a common experience. When a person has wealth, people whom
he hasn’t heard of or seen before, come forward, claim relationship, and seek favors,
especially monetary gifts. These are selfish and shameless people. You may help
them to the extent possible, but must take care not to be cheated or exploited.
Sumati, in this world, giving away liberally is an ornament for the hands.
Not uttering falsehoods is an adornment for the kings.
Morality is an adornment to all. For women, honor is the adornment.
A person may wear gold rings or other ornaments on his hands, but it is his
willingness to give that is his real adornment. A king may wear gold and
diamond ornaments from head to foot, but his real distinguishing mark is
his truthfulness. More than anything else, honor is the most important
embellishment for a woman. Qualities of head and heart are more
important than monetary or material acquisitions.
Sumati, can you achieve your goal if you cannot tolerate delay and cannot
exert yourself? If you put up with delays and work hard you may set right things
which have gone wrong.
Patience is both physical and mental. Unless we have both these kinds of patience,
we cannot accomplish our goals. In modern times when there are delays,
postponements and cancellations of programs, it is much important to
keep cool. If we work patiently, we can solve knotty problems.
Sumati, your anger is your enemy; your calmness is your defence;
your compassion is your relative;
your happiness is your heaven; your sorrow is your hell; this is true.
Happiness and unhappiness are two attitudes in our mind.
It is only our thinking which makes the difference.
Peace and happiness are possible with self - control.
Sumati, no one praises in his heart the penance performed by one’s own villager
or the educational progress of one’s own son, the beauty of one’s own wife,
or the medicine from the tree in one’s own backyard.
We don’t appreciate our own advantages.
We even try to deride or ignore them for sentimental or other reasons.
But it is sometimes necessary to say a word of praise where it is due.
Otherwise, people may feel discouraged.
Sumati, some people think their wealth is equal to Indra’s,
that their poverty is the world’s poverty,
that their death is the world’s catastrophe.
They believe that the woman they love is indeed a celestial damsel.
People tend to exaggerate their fortunes and misfortunes.
It is necessary to be more realistic in one’s evaluation.
Sumati, in this world, it is not proper to live in a place where there
are no relatives, where one doesn’t feel comfortable, where there are
(chances for) quarrels, or a place over which there are suspicions.
It is better to choose a place where there are relatives and where
people care for you, for your own residence.
Otherwise, you may face difficulties in times of need.
Sumati, a mouth which hasn’t chewed the betel, a body which hasn’t rubbed
on the nipples of a beautiful woman, a lake without lotuses, a night without
the moon’s cool light are worthless.
Full enjoyment of life includes savoring the betel, intimate contact
with a beautiful woman, watching a lake filled with lotuses,
and the full moon shedding cool light.
Sumati, the serpent has poison in its head, the scorpion has it in its tail,
the wicked person has poison not only in head and tail, but all over his body.
A wicked person is worse than poisonous animals because his thoughts,
his words, and his deeds may cause harm to many people at the same time.
Sumati, a prostitute will not tell the truth even if you cover her with
money all over. You should not trust a prostitute even when she swears by
putting her hand on your head.
There are many things and people money can buy.
But money cannot make a whore tell the truth.
Falsehood is an inherent quality of her profession.
Sumati, in this world, even if a man is dearer to a woman than her life,
she will loathe him if his hair is untidy, if his body is dirty, or his clothes soiled.
It is necessary to maintain personal cleanliness for our own health
and for social and even domestic acceptability.
Sumati, it is certain that money which is not spent will partly go to the king
and partly to the earth if it is hidden there. This is like the honey-bees
gathering honey in a forest and storing it in a hive.
But the bees don't drink it; others will enjoy it.
Money must be spent for your comforts; it may be given away to others.
But wealth accumulated may end up in the government or under the earth.
Sumati, a king who listens to his minister’s complaints against his people
and harms them is like axing a wish-granting tree for the sake of charcoal.
A ruler is usually surrounded by clever tale - bearers. A wise ruler will not
encourage them. He will come to his own judgment and will not be
swayed by the tales borne by selfish persons.
Sumati, the god of wealth is a friend of Siva. But Siva had to seek alms.
Whatever wealth one’s relatives and friends might have, one would get only
what is one’s fortune. This is certain.
The wealth of your relatives and friends doesn’t help you.
Your prosperity depends on your own good fortune.
Sumati, in this world, we have to help the wise. Such help will be like the
nourishing coconut water and it will fetch honor and a lot of happiness later.
If you nourish a coconut plant by watering it, it will give you nourishing
water when it grows into a tree. So, if you assist wise people,
you will receive wisdom from them.
Sumati, don’t go alone on the road.
Don’t eat in an enemy’s house out of courtesy.
Don’t steal others’ money. Don’t speak in a way, which hurts others.
Since journeys are fraught with dangers and accidents,
it is advisable to go with a companion.
Don’t accept the hospitality of an enemy because he may harm you.
Don’t grab others’ money. Never speak an offensive word.
If you do any of these you will court trouble.
Sumati, in this world, don’t trust the tax collector, the gambler, the goldsmith,
the actor, the whore, the shopkeeper and the left-hander.
The professionals named above are untrustworthy as they are habitual liars.
Left-handers are included presumably because they are unusual.
Sumati, people don’t drink milk if you ask them politely,
but they will devour poison when threatened.
How harmful is politeness! So threats are necessary to get things done.
In feudal and patriarchal society fear motivates people to work.
But fear as motivating factor in a democratic set-up has lost its force.
Persuasion and reasonable discussion should drive out fear as motivation.
Sumati, if the rulers cross the limits of authority; if a widow becomes
the boss in the house, or if a village accountant becomes a
vedic scholar (priest), it certainly amounts to death.
We have certain stereotypes in mind: a king should act within the limits
of his authority; a widow should be docile; a village accountant is not fit to be a
vedic scholar (priest), and so on. But these stereotypes are not valid any more.
Sumati, an ignorant person cannot appreciate poetry embellished with the nine
emotions just as a deaf man cannot hear the blowing of a conch-shell.
Knowledge, culture and curiosity are necessary for enjoying and appreciating
fine arts like poetry and music. People without this basic equipment will react
to music and poetry as a deaf man reacts to the sound of a conch.
Sumati, don’t laugh in a meeting, don’t laugh in the presence of
parents, boss (or husband) or wives of others.
Don’t ridicule eminent brahmins. This is only proper.
Laughter is a natural emotion but there are situations when we should
restrain our laughter. Otherwise, there is scope for misunderstanding and worse.
Sumati, water is the source of life; mouth is the aid (vehicle) for
beautiful speeches; woman is a jewel for men;
it is said that a saree is an adornment (for women). This is certain.
Water is the source of life in all forms, so we should save it.
We should use our mouth for pleasant speech to win over others
and not offend them. Woman has a respectable place in human society.
She is a mother and in that role she is revered even by those who renounce the world.
The saree has a special grace among clothes for women.
Only in the Indian subcontinent is saree used by women.
Sumati, in this world, don’t have enmity with anyone,
don’t worry when you face poverty, don’t denounce
anyone in a conference, and don’t give your heart to a woman.
To get along smoothly in life we should avoid quarrels with anyone.
We should face adversity with equanimity.
It is improper to decry others in a meeting.
It may also be advisable to resist getting infatuated with any woman.
Sumati, wise persons don’t go with empty hands to the king (the ruler),
to the wife, to a god, to a good teacher and to a son. This indeed is the right way.
It is a cultural trait of humans to carry a gift (leaves, fruits, flowers, or even water)
whenever they visit others, notably the persons listed here.
It is necessary to show respect/love for them.
Sumati, a good wife is one who is a servant while working,
a heavenly damsel in bed, a counselor in discussions,
and a mother in serving food.
A woman has multiple roles which she plays skillfully.
She switches from one role to another without fanfare and fuss.
This verse draws from the well-known Samskrit sloka: Karyesu dasi,
karanesu mantri/ sayanesu rambha, bhojesu mata/kshamaya dharitri,
which extols the multiple duties efficiently discharged by an Indian woman.
Sumati, a man should look upon other women as his sisters; he shouldn’t
covet others’ properties; he should be a well-wisher of all. He should behave
in a way that would bring him praise. He shouldn't be angry with others
even if they are angry with him. Such a person is a noble man.
A man can attain greatness if he treats other women as his sisters,
if he has no eye on others’ money, if he engages himself in
good deeds and if he doesn’t ever lose his temper.
Sumati, don’t desire another man’s wife,
don’t covet others’ property, don’t find fault with others,
don’t approach relatives when you lose your wealth.
This verse continues the list of negative imperatives
of the previous verse; don’t go to a relative in times of adversity;
don't debate on unequal terms.
Sumati, in this world, even if Bhisma (who had taken a vow of celibacy)
talks to other women, there will be a scandal. Even a woman of good character
will be blamed if she is friendly with another man.
Even persons of sterling virtue may have to face scandal if they are found
talking to other men and other women. This applies to both men and women.
Sumati, discard a woman who thinks of another man.
Don’t excuse your sons who talk back.
Don’t hire a servant who doesn’t fear you (has no respect for you).
Don’t unite with your wife too often. These things are not proper.
The negative imperatives are continued in this verse also.
Within a family, if the wife thinks of another man, if the sons are impudent,
and if a servant is disobedient, they should be given up.
Sumati, don’t talk of unpleasant things before others,
don’t go to others’ houses if you have no business with them,
don’t unite with a woman who had an affair with another man;
don’t ride a horse known for its arrogance.
This is another catalogue of prohibitions. Talking of unpleasant things,
disturbing others on purpose, riding a disobedient horse,
and seeking a woman who loves another are dangerous.
Sumati, don’t unite with women during holy days, don’t feel flattered by
trusting the sympathy of the rulers, don't allow the wife to become arrogant,
don’t reside in a place where there is no means of livelihood.
Yet another list of prohibitions.
These negative commands are based on daily experience.
If these are followed, one may lead a happy, trouble-free life.
Sumati, we cannot state the value of chewing betel after brushing teeth,
of sleeping after head bath, of uniting with young women after tiffs.
Certain things like chewing betel after cleaning the teeth,
sleeping after a head bath and uniting with a woman
after minor quarrels give immense pleasure.
Sumati, serving a boss who doesn’t appreciate hard work,
uniting with a young woman who is ignorant of the sexual act, and
friendship that soon harms are comparable to swimming against the current.
That is, they are difficult.
There is no enjoyment in working under an unsympathetic boss,
in having sex with an ignorant girl,
and in patching up a friendship which harms one.
Sumati, when water is mixed with milk, it also looks like milk,
but it will spoil the taste of milk. Friendship with a wicked person will
spoil your goodness. Hence avoid that.
We should be wary of making friends with wicked people
because they try to make us lose our virtues.
Sumati, a wise man should not take pity over the misfortunes of a
wicked man and go to his rescue. If a scorpion is caught in fire and it is pulled
out of fire, it will sting the rescuer and not thank him.
Ingratitude is a built-in trait of an evil-doer. So we shouldn’t help him.
Sumati, don’t work for others without invitation,
don’t unite with a woman who doesn’t like the union,
don't work for a king who doesn’t notice you,
don’t go to functions uninvited,
don’t make friends with persons who have no affection for you.
It is unwise to work without a proper invitation, to work for a king who
doesn’t bestow attention on you, to attend functions without invitation.
The consequence will be that you will be ill-treated.
Sumati, in the world, a trader gives life to a town;
water sustains a paddy-crop; a trunk is necessary for an elephant;
for prosperity a woman is essential.
There are some vital necessities without which life becomes difficult:
a trader for a town, water for growing paddy, a trunk for an elephant,
and a woman for prosperity.
Sumati, a father will not be happy immediately after the birth of a son.
When people recognize and praise the son, a father will surely feel happy.
It is not so much the birth of a son, but his later accomplishments
that will make a man happy. How a son shapes up is
more important than the mere birth of a male child.
Sumati, a prostitute will not love a man even if he offers her tiger’s milk,
or places his heart on her palm,
or offers her a heap of cash equal to her height.
A whore will not love anybody even if she is given things which are
extremely difficult to obtain. She acts without emotion.
Sumati, if you had given generously (in your previous life), all that you need
will be available to you even in the midst of forests. But if you
hadn’t given, you won’t get anything even on the top of a golden hill.
This is a variation of an adage, which says that just as you sow so you reap.
If in this life you do good deeds, you will be happy in the next life.
This is a kind of inducement for people to be charitable.
Sumati, the life of a village accountant becomes difficult if an enemy
lives next door, or if a person, who is proficient in writing, becomes the ruler,
or if a peasant complains against him.
This verse is an indirect comment on the manipulative ability and secret deals
of a village accountant which may be exposed by a foe,
a knowledgeable ruler, or a victimized peasant.
Sumati, if you are wise you shouldn't pledge gold,
run away from the battle, buy things on credit in a
shop, or make friends with fools.
Happiness comes to those who don't get involved in complicated affairs
or trouble-some people. So, keep away from these.
Sumati, a serpent is powerful, but it can be killed by many tiny ants.
A similar fate awaits a strong man who does not care for other people
and behaves with them rudely.
A strong man cannot always depend on his strength and behave
in an arrogant fashion with others.
A horde of weaker people may defeat and destroy him.
Sumati, if a ruler attempts to rule without a competent adviser before him,
he is like a large elephant without a trunk.
There are some indispensable requirements in every job.
Without fulfilling those requirements those
jobs will be difficult to handle.
Sumati, in this world, quite often, a country ruled with the help of a minister
will conduct its affairs smoothly, whereas a kingdom without a minister
will not function very like a machine with a broken joint.
A knowledgeable person can give proper advice to an administrator
so that the government functions smoothly.
Sumati, in this world, truth is the breath of speech;
good soldiers are vital for a fort;
for a woman honor is important;
and for a letter (document) signature is essential.
Everything has a special requirement. A woman must have honor.
A document without signature is useless.
Sumati, in this world, an honorable man may, because of misfortune,
be forced to approach a mean person. This is like an elephant trying
to hide its body in a small quantity of water.
An honorable man should never seek the help of a mean person.
If he does, he will be humiliated.
Sumati, when a cruel adulterer proposes consistently to a woman
who is already in love with someone what she will do?
When a cat catches a parrot,
will the parrot repeat the words it had learnt in the cage?
We cannot compel some one to do something against his wishes.
Things done under duress will lack grace and spontaneity.
Sumati, will service under a king who doesn't enquire about
your welfare provide food and salvation? Such service
is like groping (with fingers) in a house without a lamp.
Don't work under a master who is unsympathetic and
insensitive to the needs and hopes of his subordinates.
Sumati, don't deny what you said knowing its implications fully,
don't harm your supporting relatives;
don't serve an angry king; and don't run to a sinful country.
Lying, fault-finding among relatives, serving an irritable ruler and
migrating to a bad place will bring misery.
Sumati, in this world, just as a mahout mounts an elephant
as huge as a hill, an honest man is superior to another
who is physically very strong.
Physical size and strength are of no avail compared with honesty.
Great things can be conquered by small, but honest men.
Sumati, don’t plough the field during drought, don’t go to relatives
even if there is famine, don’t reveal secrets to outsiders,
don’t appoint a coward as a (army) general.
If we do things which the poet enjoins us not to do, we will land
ourselves in great trouble, loss, humiliation, or defeat.
For example, a cowardly general will run away from the battle-field
and bring defeat and ignominy to his country.
Sumati, in this world, a village without a paddy field, a place where the
ruler doesn't reside, a journey without a companion,
a house without a husband, may be called cremation ground.
Without certain pre-requisites many things are like graveyards.
A village without a paddy field, a journey
without a friend are depressing and should be avoided.
Sumati, in this world, we should listen to whatever anyone says.
But we should not jump to conclusions at once.
We have to judge what is false and what is true.
A man who can distinguish between truth and falsehood is a virtuous person.
We should get inputs from whatever sources we can and then
shift the true from the false. Then we can make our judgments