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 26 - The want of understanding

1. Poverty consists in the being destitute of accurate learning. Great wealth, which has been accumulated by acquisition, consists in the possession of that learning. Will not the hermaphrodite, who is destitute of manliness, adorn itself with every jewel which is desirable in its eyes?

2. Would you know why affliction and loss of dignity befall those who know the benefits of knowledge derived from many books? It is this: when Sarasvati, of ancient renown, takes up her abode with them, Lakshmi, being coy, will flee away.

3. He that receives not, but despises as mere talk the command of his father to study, on a letter being gently held out to him in the presence of many, calls out to the person who presented it and seizes the rod of offence.

4. If one who has grown up in ignorance enter the assembly of the excellent in learning, in the earth, and sits down, it will be like the sitting down of a dog; and though, not remaining quiet, he should say anything, it will be like the barking ofa dog.

5. The vulgar will repair to the learned and speak of what they know nothing of; the good, though asked of all they know, display it not, knowing that it will be thrown away.

6. Those whose tongues are adorned with learning and knowledge fear the disgrace of evil speaking. The unwise indulge therein. Thus on the palm-tree the dry leaves maintain a perpetual rustling, whilst the green leaves make no noise.

7. When speaking of the way of virtue to those who comprehend not what is good, it is like pressing the sweet mango into a bowl of hogwash. Like a stick driven against a rock,--the point is broken, it will not enter in at the ear. 8, Though they wash it with milk and put it to dry many days, charcoal has not the property of becoming white. Though they strike with a stick, and thrust too, understanding will not enter into the body void of virtue.

9. Like the fly, which battens on filth, instead of feasting on the sweet-smelling and (honey) dropping flower, so to those whose minds are inherently base, what pleasure is there in words that come from the mouth of the worthy, though clean and sweet as honey?

10. The acute and faultless instruction uttered by the wise, strikes on the mind of the mean without laying hold of it. A mean man will look on the face of one like himself, and with him hold converse.

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