Sanskrit quote nr. 36 (Maha-subhashita-samgraha)

Sanskrit text:

अकस्मात् प्रक्रिया नॄणां अकस्माच्चापकर्षणम् ।
शुभाशुभे महत्त्वं च प्रकर्तुं बुद्धिलाघवात् ॥

akasmāt prakriyā nṝṇāṃ akasmāccāpakarṣaṇam |
śubhāśubhe mahattvaṃ ca prakartuṃ buddhilāghavāt ||


Meter name: Śloka; Type: pathyā (‘normal’); 8 syllables per quarter (pāda).

Primary English translation:

“The prosperity of men, as also their fall comes of itself. Prosperity and adversity, and greatness, all proceed from weakness of understanding.”

(translation by P. C. Roy)

Secondary translations:

“The prosperity of men, as also their downfall, originates of itself. Prosperity and adversity, and greatness, all originate from weakness of understanding.”

(translation by M. N. Dutt)

“Ohne Grund Männer zu erhöhen und zu erniedrigen, uhnen Gutes und Böses, so wie Grösse zu verleihen, zeugt von geringem Verstande.”

(translation by Otto Böhtlingk)



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

Nara (नर) is a most common word for a “human being”, “man” or “person” and is derived from the root nṛ. It is used since Vedic times in ancient India. It is also a very common name for persons. (more info)

Śubha (शुभ, shubha) in this context refers to “prosperity”, while it literally translates to “splendid”, “pure” or “pleasant”. It is also a common name for persons, used since purāṇic times. (more info)

Mahat (महत्) translates to “greatness”, “abundance” or “important”. It is also a technical term referring to “thick” used in Āyurveda, ancient India’s science of health and medicine. (more info)

Buddhi (बुद्धि) in this context refers to “understanding”, while it literally translates to “reason”, “intellect” or “perception”. The term is used in many of ancient Indian sciences such Yoga, Āstika (orthodox schools of philosphy) and Shaktism (worship of the goddess). (more info)


This quote is contained within the following Sanskrit literary sources:

Mahābhārata (V. S. Sukhtankar: 12.112.84; Nimachand Siromani: 12.4170; M. N. Dutt: 12.111.88): The largest epic poem in the world, consisting of 100,000 verses. It contains the history of ancient India and the exploits of its heroes, such as the fate of the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas. It is also famous for its inclusion of the Bhagavadgītā, a conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. The book was written by Vyāsa.
More info

Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra 380.140: 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

Indische Sprüchen 6: Collection of Sanskrit subhāṣitas (proverbial verses) with German translation. The book was written by Otto Böhtlingk in 1870.
More info


Vyāsa is the author of the Mahābhārata. He is traditionally accepted as author of the vedas, the purāṇas and the mahābhārata. He was also known as Vedavyāsa or Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana.

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

Otto Böhtlingk (1815) is the author of the Indische Sprüchen.

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 36 and can be found on page 7. (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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