Sanskrit quote nr. 18 (Maha-subhashita-samgraha)

Sanskrit text:

अकरुण कातरमनसा दर्शितनीरा निरन्तरालेयम् ।
त्वामनुधावति विमुखं गङ्गेव भगीरथं दृष्टिः ॥

akaruṇa kātaramanasā darśitanīrā nirantarāleyam |
tvāmanudhāvati vimukhaṃ gaṅgeva bhagīrathaṃ dṛṣṭiḥ ||

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

Primary English translation:

“O pitiless man, with an agitated mind my eyes shed a continuous flow of tears and follow you with your face averted, like Gaṅgā following Bhagīratha.”

(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

Karuṇa (करुण, karuna) is a very common term referring to “pity”, while it could also translate to “mournful”, “miserable” or “lamenting”. The word akaruṇa refers to “without pity” or “pitiless”. The term is used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism alike. (more info)

Kātara (कातर, katara) literally translates to “agitated”, “cowardly”, “despairing”, etc. In compound with manasā, it refers to “with an agitated mind”. (more info)

Nīra (नीर, nira) translate to “water”, but in this context refers to “tears”. (more info)

Vimukha (विमुख) literally translates to “having the face averted”. It is derived from the word mukha (‘face’). (more info)

Gaṅgā (गङ्गा) refers to the most sacred river of India (the ganges), originating from within the Himalaya mountain range. The term is used sinc Vedic times. Gaṅgā is also the name of the river personified as a deity. (more info)

Bhagīratha (भगीरथ, bhagiratha) is the name of a mountain, as well as of an ancient king, who is supposed to have brought the Ganges from heaven to earth, by performing very severe austerities. (more info)


This quote is contained within the following Sanskrit literary sources:

Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra 351.25: Literally, “Gems of Sanskrit poetry”. This work is a recent compilation of more than 10,000 Subhāṣitas, or ‘sanskrit aphorisms’. The book was compiled by Nārāyaṇa Rāma Ācārya in 1952.
More info


Nārāyaṇa Rāma Ācārya (1900 A.D.) is the compiler of the Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra, into which he included this quote.

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 18 and can be found on page 4. (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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