Sanskrit quote nr. 14 (Maha-subhashita-samgraha)

Sanskrit text:

अकण्टका पुष्पमही वेशयोषिदमातृका ।
मन्त्रिहीना च राज्यश्रीर् भुज्यते विटचेटकैः ॥

akaṇṭakā puṣpamahī veśayoṣidamātṛkā |
mantrihīnā ca rājyaśrīr bhujyate viṭaceṭakaiḥ ||


Meter name (1st and 2nd pāda): Śloka; Type: vipulā (‘extended’, type 3); 8 syllables per quarter (pāda).
Meter name (3rd and 4th pāda): Śloka; Type: pathyā (‘normal’); 8 syllables per quarter (pāda).

Primary English translation:

“A terrace without thorns, a public girl without a matron, a king without his ministers: it is through these that sycophancy and flunkeydom grow fat.”

(translation by E. Powys Mathers)



Presented above is a Sanskrit aphorism, also known as a subhāṣita, which is at the very least, a literary piece of art. This page provides critical research material such as an anlaysis on the poetic meter used, an English translation, a glossary explaining technical terms, and a list of resources including print editions and digital links.

Glossary of Sanskrit terms

Kaṇṭaka (कण्टक, kantaka) refers to “thorns”, while akaṇṭkaka refers to “without thorns”. (more info)

Puṣpa (पुष्प, pushpa) is a most common term for “flower”. Flowers are often used in worship during religous ceremonies. (more info)

Veśayoṣit (वेशयोषित्, veshayoshit) refers to a “prostitute”. It is composed of the words veśa and yoṣit.

Amātṛka (अमातृक, amatrika) literally means “motherless”. It is derived from the word mātṛka (‘mother’).

Mantrin (मन्त्रिन्) refers to the “minister” (of the King), but literally translates to “wise” or “eloquent”.

Viṭa (विट) translates to the “voluptuary” or “sensualist”.

Ceṭaka (चेटक) translates to “slave”, “servant” or “paramour”. (more info).


This quote is contained within the following Sanskrit literary sources:

Samayamātṛkā 1.45: Literally “The life of a courtesan”. The plot revolves around the life of an attractive courtesan. The book was written by Kṣemendra in the 11th century.
More info


Kṣemendra (10th century) is the author of the Samayamātṛkā. A Kashmirian poet who studied various branches of literature including Vaishnavism and Buddhism, under Abhinavagupta. He composed many works, among which several abridgements of famous Sanskrit epics.

About the Mahāsubhāṣitasaṃgraha

This quote is included within the Mahāsubhāṣitasaṃgraha (महासुभाषितसंग्रह, maha-subhashita-samgraha), which is a compendium of Sanskrit aphorisms (subhāṣita), collected from various sources. Subhāṣita is a genre of Sanskrit literature, exposing the vast and rich cultural heritage of ancient India.

It has serial number 14 and can be found on page 3. (read on

Sanskrit is the oldest living language and bears testimony to the intellectual past of ancient India. Three major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) share this language, which is used for many of their holy books. Besides religious manuscripts, much of India’s ancient culture has been preserved in Sanskrit, covering topics such as Architecture, Music, Botany, Surgery, Ethics, Philosophy, Dance and much more.

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