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 11 - The effect of actions done in a former birth

1. As a young calf when let loose among a number of cows naturally seeks out and attaches itself to its own mother, so does the act of a former state of existence seek out and attach itself to him who has performed it.

2. The prosperity of him who knows that beauty, youth, glittering wealth, and honour remain not stable in one birth to any one, and yet in one birth performs not a single good deed--has the nature of a thing that takes a body, remains for a time, and then utterly perishes.

3. There are none at all who are not anxious to acquire wealth. Each one's experience of happiness or misery is measured by the deeds of a former birth. None can make the wood-apple round, none can dye the Karla-fruit black.

4. To avoid those things which are to happen, or to detain those who are to depart, is alike impossible even to saints, even as there is none who can give rain out of season, or prevent its falling in season.

5. Those who were once in dignity as tall as the Palmyra, live on, daily losing their greatness, and becoming small as a grain of millet, hide within them their glory. On enquiry it will appear that that which has happened is nothing but the effect of deeds done in a former birth.

6. If you wish to know how it is that those perish, who know the benefits accruing from the sciences which they have acquired by oral instruction, while the unlearned prosper: it is because Yama looks upon the unlearned as refuse cane, since they are destitute, as to their minds, of the sap of knowledge, and therefore he cares not to take them away.

7. Behold all those whose bosoms are goaded by distress and who wander forlorn through the long streets, know--O lord of the cool shore of the billowy ocean where the playful swans tear in pieces the water-flowers!--that this proceeds from the acts of former births.

8. When those who, besides being not ignorant, have learned that which they ought to know and do that which is blameable, O king of the cool shore of the broad ocean, where the lotus flings its odours to the winds! this proceeds from the acts they have formerly done.

9. All who dwell in the world surrounded by the surging ocean desire to be exempt from the afflictive effects of former evil deeds, and to experience the effect of former good deeds; but, whether men wish or do not wish, it is impossible p. 270 to prevent that from affecting themwhich is ordained to happen.

10. The effect of the act of former births does not fall below nor exeeed its due proportion, nor doth it fail to come in its turn, neither does it assist out of season, but when it ought to be there it is. Of what use therefore is sorrow when it affiicts you?

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