The Naladiyar

The Indian Antiquary, A Journal Of Oriental Research

18,838 words

The Naladiyar is one of the few original works we have in Tamil. It contains altogether forty chapters, of ten stanzas each, on moral subjects....

Chapter 1 - Unstable Wealth

1. Even those who have eaten of every variety of food of six flavours laid before them by their wives with anxious attention, not taking a second portion from any dish, may yet become poor and go and beg somewhere for pottage. Verily riches are but seeming, not to be considered as actually existing.

2. When by blameless means thou hast acquired great wealth, then eat with others rice imported by oxen, for wealth never remaineth in the centre with anyone, but changes its position like a cart-wheel.

3. Even those who have marched as generals, mounted on the back of an elephant and shaded by the umbrella, when the effect of evil deeds works their ruin, will suffer a change of state, and while their wives are enjoyed by their foes, will fall for ever.

4. Understand that these things are unstable which thou deemest stable. Therefore do quickly the duties in thy power to perform if thou wouldst do thom at all, for the days of life are gone, are gone, and even now death is come, is come.

5. Those who give alms at once without keeping it back, when anything, however small, has come into their hands, and do not say, Oh, this can be given hereafter, will escape from the forest path in which the cruel but just Yama drags those whom he has bound fast with the rope.

6. The day appointed passes not its bourne; there are none in this world who, escaping it and passing by, have leaped over death and lived. Be liberal, then, ye who have laid up abundant and exceeding wealth. Your funeral drum may beat to-morrow.

7. Death devours your days, using the sun from which they originate as the measure by which he metes them. Practise therefore virtue and be compassionate, for such as do not act thus, though they are born, must be esteemed as unborn.

8. Men of but small attainments in virtue, no tconsidering their natural tendency, say, We are wealthy. The greatest wealth may be utterly destroyed and vanish, like a flash of lightning darting in the night from a thunder-cloud.

9. If a man will not eat sufficiently, will not dress becomingly, does nothing worthy of commendation, will not wipe away the distress of relatives, who are with difficulty to be obtained, and is not liberal, but keeps his wealth to himself, of such a one it must surely be supposed that he is lost.

10. They who, vexing their own bodies by stinting them in food and raiment, perform not acts of that goodly charity which never faileth, but avariciously hoard up what they have gathered together, will lose it all. O Lord of the mountain land which toucheth the sky! the bees which are driven from the honey they have collected bear witness.

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