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 14 - Learning

1. The beauty of the hair, and the beauty of the encircling garment, and the beauty of saffron is no beauty; the beauty of learing is (real) beauty, for it is decisive of our mental excellence.

2. Since learning even in this life will be beneficial, since when it is imparted to others it is not diminished, since it renders its possessors illustrious, since they who have it during life suffer no loss, we see no medicine like it which destroys delusion.

3. Wise people take the salt produced in a barren soil to be more valuable than the rice of a fertile soil. Though they be of the lowest station, people who have acquired learning will be put in the chief place.

4. From the place in which it is stored up it cannot be stolen. It can suffer no harm, though to that place fire should come. Though very glorious kings rage, they cannot sear it. Therefore wisdom, and nothing else, is what one who intends to lay up an inheritance for his children should acquire.

5. Learning has no bounds; the students' days are few. Would they calmly reflect, diseases are many. Let them carefully investigate and make themselves acquainted with those things which are essential, making a good choice like the swan, which drinks the milk and leaves the water.

6. They will not despise the boatman because he is at the lower end among the old castes. Lo, by his assistance they pass the river! And like this is getting advantage through the help of a man who has learned books.

7. Let me see whether the joy of associating with those who possess the qualities which are derived from indestructible ancient learning, who are without hatred and also very acute, be not as sweet as dwelling in Amravuti, the city of the gods, in the wide expanse of heaven.

8. Lord of the cool shore of the roaring ocean! the friendship of those who have acquired learning is like eating sugar-cane from the top (downwards). Attachment to those who are graceless and destitute of good qualities is like eating it from the root (upwards), having rejected the top.

9. Though unlearned, if they walk in the society of the learned they will daily acquire good understanding, as a new (earthen) vessel by contact with the bright-coloured Padiri flower gives (its scent) to the water itself.

10. If a man learn ever so much, instead of studying the books of wisdom, the reading of worldly books is all of the nature of mere noise: there are none who can discover from them the way to rid themselves of sorrow.

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