Sanskrit quote nr. 16 (Maha-subhashita-samgraha)

Sanskrit text:

अकपर्द्दकस्य विफलं जनुरिति जानीमहे महेशोऽपि ।
शिरसि कृतेन कपर्द्दी भवति जटाजूटकेनापि ॥

akaparddakasya viphalaṃ januriti jānīmahe maheśo'pi |
śirasi kṛtena kaparddī bhavati jaṭājūṭakenāpi ||

Meter name: Āryā; Type: Mātrācchanda; 19 syllables per quarter (pāda).

Primary English translation:

“We know that one’s existence is frustrating when there is no money even though one may be a great lord. But he is rich even with matted hair on the head.”

(translation by A. A. Ramanathan)



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

Viphala (विफल) literalle means “bearing no fruit”, “useless”. It is derived from the word phala (‘fuit’, ‘result’). (more info)

Janus (जनुस्) literally translates to “birth” or “production”, but in this context refers to “existence”.

Mahat (जनुस्) literally translates to “great”, “large”, “big” etc., and in this context refers to the “great lord”. (more info)

Śiras (नासिका, shiras) refers to the “head”. The term is used to refer to this anatomic part of the human body since old times in ancient India. In Nāṭyaśāstra the head is considered as one of the six major limbs (aṅga) used in dramatic performance with which thirteen different gestures (āṅgika) can be performed. (more info)


This quote is contained within the following Sanskrit literary sources:

Sūktimuktāvalī 4.2: The poems contained in this compilation belong to the category “muktaka” (gnomic poetry). It is divided into twelve chapters. Deals with topics such as Gods and Goddesses, politics, erotics, heroes, etc. The book was compiled by Harihara.
More info


Harihara (16th century) is the compiler of the Sūktimuktāvalī, into which he included this quote. The author calls himself a son of Lakshmi and Raghava in the verse 12.74 of his Suktimuktavali. His younger brother was Shri Nilakantha. Raghava was the son of Hrishikesha (of the respectable family of Divakara) and Lakshmi was the daughter of a renowned Maithila scholar. He was a resident of the village of Bittho, which he and his brother, in the course of time, changed into an important seat of learning.

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 16 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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