On Renunciation, by Bhartrihari

The Indian Hindu sage Bhartrihari (450-510 CE) composed technical works on language and philosophy, but also attributed to him is the Sanskrit poem "Vairagya Shatakam," the third part of which is a section on renunciation. Renunciation is not an unusual theme in Hindu thought, and is historically associated with eremitism and the life of the sadhu. Bhartrihari here presents renunciation in vivid aphoristic stanzas, 113 of them. Text is a slight editing and modernizing of the B. Hale Wortham's English translation of 1866.

1. Salutation to the deity who is not definable in time or space, infinite, pure intelligence in incarnate form, who is peace and glory, whose sole essence is self-knowledge.

2. The learned are eaten up with jealousy; the mighty are spoiled through pride; the minds of some are obscured through ignorance: therefore the eloquent teachings of knowledge are neglected.

3. When I look at the world, I see no profit in any action. The result of good actions makes me afraid when I reflect on them; for the great enjoyments gained after long continuance in the practice of great virtues hinders many from perfect liberation, since they are attracted to objects of sense.

4. I have dug up the earth to find treasure; I have smelted minerals; I have crossed the sea; I have conciliated kings with great effort; I have spent my nights in a cemetery; I have laboured to acquire religious knowledge; but my efforts are all in vain. Desire! will you not leave me?

5. I have wandered over lands crossing with difficulty, but I have gained no fruit; I have put away from me my pride of family; I have performed services that have profited me nothing; I have cast off my self-respect, and have eaten like a crow in a stranger's house. But yet, desire! you still increase, ever given to evil, and are never satisfied.

6. I have suffered the abuse of evil men in hope of gain; I have repressed my tears and forced laughter, though my heart was void; I have restrained my feelings; I have bowed myself before fools. Desire, foolish desire! will you lead me yet further?

7. Day by day our life slips away from us, while the sun rises and sets: our business is so great and weighty that the flight of time escapes us. We behold birth, pain, old age, ending in death, and yet we are not afraid. We are, as it were, intoxicated: we have drunk of the wine of infatuation.

8. If one were to see his spouse overcome by hunger, garments old and torn, children hanging round, crying with pinched, unhappy faces; though one might fear refusal and stammer in speech, yet would ask alms, not begging to satisfy one's own wants.

9. Our desire for pleasure fails; respect is no longer paid us by the world; our equals in age have gone to Svarga; our friends whom we love even as ourselves will soon follow; we walk slowly, supported by a stick; our eyes are dim. Alas! our body is subdued; it trembles at the approach of death.

10. It has been ordained by the deity that the serpents shall gain their livelihood on air, without effort and without injury to others; the cattle have been created eating shoots of grass and lying on the ground. The same mode of living has been appointed for us who pass over the ocean of this world with subdued senses: we who seek to live in such a way as this continually go on to perfection.

11. We have not meditated on the deity bringing future births to an end. We have not, through the energy of our righteousness, been able to open for ourselves the door of Svarga. We have not embraced a woman even in imagination. We have only (if our life has been spent thus) destroyed the tree of youth which our mother gave us, as though we had cut it down with an axe.

12. We have gained no pleasure, but pleasure has taken us captive; we have not practised penance, but we have suffered pain in the pursuit of earthly joys. Time never grows old, but our life passes away.

13. We have pardoned injuries, but not for the sake of showing forgiveness; we have abandoned the pleasures of home, but not because we were willing to cast them aside; we have suffered pain from cold winds, but we have shrunk from penance because of its painfulness; we have thought night and day on the acquisition of wealth, but we have given no thought to the supreme deity; we have performed all the acts which the sages have prescribed for us, but we have gained no fruits.

14. My face is covered with wrinkles, my head is grey, my limbs are feeble, but desire alone is ever strong in me.

15. The same piece of sky which encircles the moon by night, that encircles the sun by day. Ah! how great is the labour of both!

16. Objects of sense, however long they may be with us, must one day depart; but there is this difference between separating oneself from them and not giving them up. If they forsake us, we shall suffer unequalled pain and grief; but if we forsake them of our own accord, we shall gain unending peace and happiness.

17. Desire ceases in one when self-restraint, developed by means of true discrimination, shines forth; but the end of desire increases yet more and more in the lofty contact (with royal objects): by this means even Indra himself, the king of the winds, is the prey of desire, inasmuch as he is wretched because of the appetite which he feels for his royal position a position decrepit through age.

18. A dog, wretched, worn out, lame, deaf, without a tail, and covered with sores, overcome with hunger, and with a piece of broken pot tied round his neck, still runs after his mate. Love destroys even that which is already dead.

19. A man may live by begging; his food may be tasteless, only enough for one meal; his bed may be the bare earth; he may have no attendant but himself; his clothes may be in a thousand pieces through age, hardly able to hold together. Alas! even then objects of sense do not quit their hold over him!

20. The beauties of a woman are praised by the elegant poets; her breasts are compared to two pots of gold, her face to the moon, her hips to the forehead of an elephant; but yet the beauty of a woman does not merit praise.

21. A moth may fall into the flame of a candle through ignorance; a fish may take a piece of meat fastened to a hook, not knowing what it is; but we who know perfectly the many entanglements of fortune yet do not give up our desire. Ah! in what a thicket of error do we wander!

22. Lotus fibre is enough for our food; water suffices for us to drink; we may lie on the bare earth; we may be clothed in bark raiment. I approve not the evil behaviour of bad men, whose senses are led astray through the thirst for gold.

23. This created world was ruled in former times by great sages; by others afterwards it was cast away like straw, after they had conquered it: even now heroes rule fourteen divisions of the world. Whence then is the feverish desire that men have for a few cities?

24. You are a king: I am of the number of the spiritual teachers, honoured for my wisdom by the world. Your riches are celebrated: my fame is celebrated by poets. Thus, giver of blessings! there is not a great interval between us. Your face is averted from me, but yet I have no desire for your favour.

25. Hundreds of princes always have been, and always are, incessantly disputing for the possession of earthly enjoyments, and still kings do not abandon pride in their possessions. Owners of the earth in their folly display delight in the acquirement of even the very smallest particle, while, on the contrary, they ought to manifest sorrow.

26. This earth is but an atom of clay surrounded by the shoreline of ocean. Kings have subdued the earth in hundreds of battles, and have divided it among themselves. These wicked, contemptible men might give or they might not: there is no wonder in that! But shame on those low-minded persons who beg alms from them.

27. I am not an actor; I am not a courtesan; I am not a singer; I am not a buffoon; I am not a beautiful woman: what have I to do with king's palaces?

28. Once wisdom was employed to gain relief from pain; afterwards it began to be used for the attainment of pleasure. Now, alas! men who dwell on the earth plainly care nothing for the sacred wisdom, therefore day by day it goes farther from them.

29. Those truly born great are those whose white skull is worn by Shiva (the enemy of Kama) as an ornament lifted up on high. What means, then, this unequalled burden of pride which kings now display, who are worshipped by other men, intent solely on saving their royal lives?

30. You are the lord of wealth; I of speech: you are a hero in war; my skill is in subduing the proud by the power of my eloquence: men bow down before you, but they listen to me that their minds may be purified. If, king! you have no desire for me, still less is my desire for you.

31. When I was possessed of a small amount of knowledge, my mind was filled with pride, even as an elephant is blinded by passion, and I thought within myself that I knew everything. When I had learnt many things from the wise, I discovered my foolishness, and my mad excitement left me.

32. Time has gone by, passed without difficulty through the pleasing society of beautiful women. We are wearied through our long wanderings in the path of transmigrations. We lie on the banks of Shiva's own river, and we invoke him with piercing cries, calling "Shiva! Shiva! Shiva!"

33. When honour has fled, when wealth is lost, when one's desire has departed and one has gained nothing; when one's relations are dead, one's friends have vanished, one's youth has faded by degrees: then there is only one thing left for the wise: a dwelling in a mountain cave, whose rocks are purified by the stream of the Ganges.

34. Why, my heart, do you try day by day to conciliate the favour of others, bringing forth no fruit of your toil? Surely, if a purified will were in you, all your desires would be fulfilled, and there would be no need to pay court to others, for you would be at rest inwardly.

35. In health there is the fear of disease; in pride of family the fear of a fall; in wealth the fear of the king; in honour the fear of abasement; in power the fear of enemies; in beauty the fear of old age; in the scriptures the fear of controversy; in virtue the fear of evil; in the body the fear of death. Everything on earth is beset by fear; the only freedom from fear is in the renunciation of desire.

36. What have we not attempted for the sake of those lives of ours which are as unstable as the drop of water on the lotus-leaf? Even we commit sin by boasting of our own virtues shamelessly before those rich men whose minds are senseless through the intoxicating power of wealth.

37. Homage be to time! The delights of the city, the great king with his crowds of courtiers, the counsellors that stand before him, the women with faces beautiful as the moon, the assembly of haughty princes, the bards, the reciters: these are all borne away by time, and become but a memory.

38. Those from whom we were born have long since departed; they also with whom we grew up exist only in memory: we too, through the approach of death, become, as it were, trees growing on the sandy bank of a river.

39. In the house where there were many, now there is but one; where there was but one, there were many, and then again but one. So Kala and Kali toss day and night backward and forward as though they were dice, and play with us on the chessboard of this world as if we were chess pieces.

40. Shall we dwell beside the divine river in a life of penance? or shall we desire the society of virtuous women? or shall we study the multitude of the scriptures, whose poetry is even as nectar? We know not what we shall do, seeing that life endures but the twinkling of an eye.

41. Surely the retreats amid the Himalayas, where the Vidyadharas [demigods] dwell among the rocks cooled by the spray of the Ganges, must have ceased to exist, since men enjoy that sustenance which they have gained from others to their own disgrace.

42. When may we sit at peace on the banks of the heavenly river, whose banks of sand are dazzling white in the moonlight? And when shall we, when the nights are perfectly still, wearied with the satiety of the world, utter cries of "Shiva! Shiva! Shiva!" while the tears flow from our eyes?

43. Mahadeva [i.e., Shiva] is the god we worship, and this river is the heavenly river; these caves are the dwelling, the abode of Hari pi.e., Vishnu]. Kala, moreover, is our friend, and the rule of life which we observe has freedom from humiliation. What more need I say on this matter?

44. The Ganges falls from heaven on the head of Shiva; from the head of Shiva on to the mountain; from the top of the mountain to the earth, always falling lower and lower: even in so many ways is the fall of one whose judgment has departed from him.

45. Desire is like a river. Its waters are men's wishes, agitated by the waves of desire; love takes the place of crocodiles; the birds that fly about it are the doubts which haunt the mind. The tree of firmness growing on the bank is washed away by the flood; the whirlpools of error are very difficult to cross: the lofty banks are the cares of life. The ascetics who, pure in heart, have succeeded in crossing it successfully, are filled with joy.

46. As we look at the ever-changing three worlds, the desire hidden with us, violently attracted towards objects of sense, ceases to cross the path of our eyes or to enter into the way of our ears; for we have subdued the objects of sense which produce desire in us, and hold them bound by devotion, as an elephant attracted by its mate is kept from her by being tied to a post.

47. My days once seemed long when I used to suffer pain through asking favours from rich men, and they seemed too short for me to carry out all my aims, filled as they were with the desire for earthly objects. Now I sit on a stone in a mountain cave, and in the intervals of my meditation I am filled with laughter at the recollection of my former life.

48. Wisdom has not been gained free from blemish; wealth has not been acquired; reverence towards our elders has not been practised by us; we have not even dreamt of love. If this has been our existence, then have we lived a life even like the life of a crow, which hungers for the food of others.

49. When all our wealth is gone, then with hearts full of tenderness, recollecting how the path of action in the world leads to evil, we in a sacred grove, with the rays of the autumn moon shining on us, will pass our nights occupied alone in meditation, at the feet of Shiva.

50. I am satisfied with bark clothing; rise! take pleasure in thy magnificence: there is no difference between the contentment of both of us. One whose desires are unlimited is poor indeed; who is satisfied with what he has can be either rich or poor.

51. Relaxation from toil at one's own will, food gained without degradation, friendship with the noble-minded, a mind not agitated by contact with external things: this is the result of the highest vow of tranquillity. I know not, though I have carefully thought thereupon, by what strict penance this perfect state may be gained.

52. The hand serves for a cup; food is gained by begging; the sky with its pure expanse serves for a garment; the earth is a couch. Those whose freedom from attraction to objects of sense has been brought to such perfection as this are fortunate, contented in their own minds, and they uproot action, casting away all the many forms of pain which attend upon it.

53. Masters are difficult to please; kings change from one thing to another in their minds with the swiftness of horses; our desires are great, and our minds aim at high things. Old age consumes our bodies; death puts an end to our lives, my friends! There is no glory in this world for the wise but that which is gained by penance.

54. Pleasure is like the lightning that flashes in the canopy of cloud; life is like the fleeting clouds that are torn asunder by the storm; the ardent desires of the young are transitory. Wise ones! you who know the uncertainty of human affairs, gain wisdom by meditation on the supreme spirit; for perfection is easily gained by means of constant contemplation.

55. One who is wise and understanding, being pained by hunger, will go from door to door throughout the huts of a sacred village, and will beg alms where the door-post is blackened by the smoke of the sacrifices offered by the learned priests who dwell within; and he will bear before him his pot covered with a white cloth: he will not live in misery from day to day among families as wretched as himself.

56. Are you a Chandala? are you a Brahman? are you a Sudra, or an ascetic, or a lord of devotion whose mind is skilled in meditating on the truth? Ascetics, when asked such questions as these with loud voices, feel neither pleasure nor anger, but pursue their course in quietness.

57. My friend! fortunate are those who have cast off the many bonds of this world, and from within whose minds desire for earthly objects, like the poison of a serpent, has departed. They spend the night, bright with the clear shining of the autumn moon, in the border of the forest, thinking on nothing but the greatness of their good fortune.

58. Cease to wander wearily in the thicket of sense. Seek that better way which, in a moment, brings freedom from trouble. Unite thyself to the supreme spirit, and abandon your own state as unsteady as the waves. Take no more pleasure in things perishable. Be calm, my heart!

59. My friend! live on fruits and nuts, lie on the bare ground; let us rise up and go into the forest clothed in new soft bark garments. In that retreat we shall not hear the voices of those rich men whose minds are blind through ignorance, and whose voices are troubled through the confusion of their minds.

60. My mind! let the delusion which envelops you be cleared away, pay devotion to the god of the moon crest, who takes delusion away from us. Fix your thought on the stream of the heavenly river. For what certainty is there in earthly things, in waves and bubbles, or in flashes of lightning, or in women, or in the tongues of flame, or in serpents, or in the rushing of a stream?

61. If there are songs before you, if there are elegant poets from the southern regions on one side of you, if behind damsels bearing fans with tinkling anklets, taste, my friend, the pleasures of sense which you may gain from these things. But if you have them not, then plunge, my mind! into devout contemplation, freeing yourself from all thought.

62. Wise ones! have nothing to do with women who are only pleasing from their beauty, in whose society is a transitory delight. Rather follow after women who are compassionate, amiable, and intelligent: the beautiful forms of women adorned with tinkling jewels will not avail you in Naraka [i.e., hell].

63. Abstinence from destroying life, keeping one's hands off another's wealth, speaking the truth, seasonable liberality according to one's power, not conversing with the wives of other men, checking the stream of covetousness, reverence towards spiritual fathers, compassion towards all creatures, this is the path of happiness, violating no ordinances, taught in all the Sastras [i.e., scriptures]

64. Mother Lakshmi! grant me yet further that I may not be filled with desire. May I not be filled with longing after pleasure! Purifying me with a vessel of leaves joined together, may I now gain my livelihood by means of the barley grain which I have begged.

65. You were to me even as myself; I was as yourself to you. Such were our feelings to one another. How has it come about that we have been changed, and that we no more feel the same sympathy one for another?

66. Woman! why do you shoot forth at me those beautiful glances from your half-opened eyes? Cease! cease! Your toil is in vain! I am as it were changed! My youth has departed from me; my dwelling is in a forest; my infatuation has left me. I look on the favours of this world only as so much grass.

67. This woman, with eyes that have stolen the beauty of the lotus, unceasingly casts her glances towards me. What does she wish? My infatuation has departed; the arrows of cruel love, producing immoderate heat and fever, have left me.

68. Is not a palace delightful to dwell in? are not songs charming to hear? is not the society of friends, whom we love as our own lives, alluring? Yet wise men retire away from all these things into the forest, considering them like the light of a lamp which burns unsteadily through the wind of the wings of a wandering moth.

69. Are there no more roots growing in the caves; have the mountain torrents ceased to flow; do the trees no longer bear fruit; has the bark with which you may gain your clothing withered on the trees, that you cast off your self-respect and fall down before haughty men, who have gained a little wealth with difficulty, and who regard you with supercilious contempt?

70. Surely the retreats of the Himalayas, the abode of the Vidyadharas, where the rocks are cooled by the spray of the Ganges, surely these places must have ceased to exist, since men enjoy food which they gain from others to their own disgrace.

71. When Meru the magnificent mountain falls from its place, destroyed at the end of the age; when the ocean, the abode of multitudes of great monsters, is dried up; when the earth resting on her mountains comes to an end, how can there be any abiding-place for the body, which is as unstable as the ear of a young elephant?

72. When shall I, Shiva! whose drinking-cup is my hand, who have no garment but the sky, who live solitary, peaceful, free from desire, able to uproot action, when shall I attain to union with the supreme soul?

73. You may have gained glory and the accomplishment of all your desires: what further? Your foot may have been placed on the neck of your enemies: what further? You may have bestowed your riches on your friends: what further? You may live thousands of years: what further?

74. One may have been clothed in rags: what then? One may have worn a magnificent silk garment: what then? One may have had only one wife: what then? Or a retinue of horses and elephants and attendants: what then? One may have enjoyed good fare: what then? Or eaten poor food at the end of the day: what then? What matters either state if you know not the glory of the Supreme One who destroys all evils?

75. You have paid worship to Shiva; you have lived in fear of death and birth in a future state; you have detached yourself from love for your own family; you have not been blinded by love; you have dwelt in a forest apart from others; you have been freed from the evil contact of the world. If you have passed your life thus, then you have renunciatory freedom from attachment to outward things.

76. Meditate on the supreme deity, who is eternal, who grows not old, above all things, expanding by his own will. What profit is there in the delusions of the world? If one be truly seeking unity with the supreme spirit, all earthly pleasures and powers seem worthy only of the notice of the low-minded.

77. Mind! you can enter Patala [i.e., the lower regions], you can skim over the heavens and cross the breadth of this world in a moment of thought. How is it that you do not even by accident meditate on the supreme deity, who is spotless, dwelling within himself? So you might gain tranquillity.

78. We, devoid of intelligence, think within ourselves that day and night repeat themselves indefinitely; and so we run each to our tasks unswervingly, and we take up each separate work where we laid it down. Alas! how is it that we are not ashamed of our folly? We endure the torments of this world while we are wholly occupied in enjoying the same objects of sense over and over again.

79. The earth is his delightful couch, the arms of the creepers are his pillow, the heavens are his canopy, the winds his fan, the moon is his twinkling lamp. The sage rejoices being freed from desire, and lives in peace and happiness, as though he were the lord of the universe.

80. Who has gained great power finds even the sovereignty of the universe tasteless. Do not seek pleasure in the enjoyment which comes from flattery, dress, or feasting; for the only delight which is supreme is everlasting, and continually grows. Seize upon it, for, compared to the sweetness of that, all the three worlds are devoid of pleasure.

81. What profit is there in the Vedas, or in the smriti, or in the reading of Puranas and the tedious sastras, or in the bewildering multitude of ceremonial acts which lead to an abode in the tabernacles of heaven? All else is as the mere haggling of merchants, in comparison with the final fire which will consume the creations of this wearisome burden of sorrow called existence, that fire which will make us enter into the sphere of joy and unite us with the supreme soul.

82. Life is as uncertain as the waves of the sea; the glory of youth remains but a short time; wealth passes away like a thought; all the pleasure in the world endures but a lightning-flash through the heavens; the embraces of your beloved whom you clasp to your breast will not be for long. Direct your thoughts to the supreme deity; for you must cross the sea of life with all its fears and alarms.

83. How should the wise be anxious after a small portion of this world? Is the mighty ocean ever stirred up by the gambols of a little fish?

84. When the darkness of love had filled me with ignorance, women seemed the only objects for which to live. Now, since I have anointed my eyes with the ointment of discrimination, the sight of all things has become clear to me, and I behold the three worlds as the Creator.

85. Delightful are the rays of the moon; delightful the grassy places of the forest; delightful the society of beloved friends; delightful the tales of the poets; delightful the face of one's beloved sparkling with the tear-drops of rage. But who cares any more for these delights when his mind reflects on their uncertainty?

86. An ascetic lives on alms, remote from people, self-controlled, walking in the path of indifference, giving or not giving, it matters not which. He is clothed in a torn cloak made from rags cast into the street; he has no pride, no self-consciousness; he is free from desire; his sole pleasure is rest and quietness.

87. Earth, my mother! wind, my father! fire, my friend! water, my consort! sky, my brother! I salute you with my hands joined. I am full of glory through the merit which I have gained through my union with you. May I enter into the supreme deity!

88. As long as the temple of the body is well and strong; as long as old age is far off; as long as the senses are unimpaired; as long as there is no diminution of life; so long will the wise make great efforts to gain eternal glory. What is the use of digging a well when the house is on fire?

89. We have not studied knowledge while upon the earth knowledge which tames the hosts of disputants and is suitable for one well-trained: our fame has not been exalted to the skies by the sword-point which splits the hard forehead of the elephant; we have not tasted the juice of the lower lip of the soft mouth of the beloved one at the time of moon-rising. Alas! youth has passed fruitlessly, like a lamp in an empty house.

96. In the good knowledge is the destruction of pride; in others it is the cause of haughtiness: a solitary dwelling frees ascetics from attraction to objects of sense; it is the cause of extreme attraction towards desire in those who are wounded by it.

91. The desires in our own minds have faded: youth has passed into old age: even the very virtues in our own bodies have become barren since they are no longer recognised as virtues. What can we do? All-powerful time is hastening on, and death is coming on us to end our lives. What can we do but resort to the feet of Shiva? There is no other means of salvation for us.

92. When the mouth is dry, a man drinks water which is sweet to him; when pained with hunger, he eats rice and other vegetables. But he is mistaken if he imagines that the removal of the pain caused by hunger and thirst is a pleasure.

93. I will bathe in the waters of Ganges: I will honour you, lord! with pure fruits and flowers. I will meditate upon you; I will sit on a couch of stone in a mountain cave; I will feed on fruits with peaceful mind; I will reverence the voice of my spiritual father. When shall I, lying at your feet, enemy of love! by your favour be freed from the pain of desire, seeking alone the path of meditation?

94. You whose bed is a slab of rock; you whose dwelling is a cave, whose clothes are the bark of trees, whose companions are the antelopes, whose food is the tender fruits, whose drink is water from the cascades, whose spouse is knowledge: such as these are indeed the supreme lords; they pay homage to no man.

95. While there is the Ganges near us, whose rays kiss the head of Shiva, and furnishes us abundant livelihood, with bark garments made from the banyan trees that grow on its banks, what sage would even look at the face of women as they sit filled with extreme misery, and with pain produced by the fever of calamity, unless he felt compassion for his distressed family?

96. If the wise forsake Benares, alas! to what other place should they resort? For in the gardens of Benares are manifold pleasures, and penances practised of exceeding difficulty; a small ragged piece of cloth is looked upon as a splendid garment, and food without end may be gained by begging. Death in that place is even as a festival.

97. "Our lord sleeps; now is the time for his rest: you may not enter, for if he wake up and see you, he will be angry." So say the guardians at the palace gate. Pass them by and enter the temple of that lord who is the ruler of the universe, that shrine which gives boundless bliss, full of love, where the speech of rough doorkeepers is not heard.

98. Dear friend! unyielding destiny, like an almighty potter, places the human mind upon the wheel of care like a lump of clay and makes it revolve, that wheel which is ever moving through all the manifold evils of life, visiting us as though with the rod of affliction.

99. There is no difference for me between Shiva, the lord of the world, the slayer of Janu, and Vishnu, the soul of the universe; therefore I worship the deity who bears the moon-crest.

100. I am satisfied with the divine voice which sheds forth words over my mind sweeter than honey, richer than butter. Alms content me; bark clothing satisfies me; I care nothing for wealth gained in a state of slavery to objects of sense.

101. The ascetic may be clothed in rags; he may beg his livelihood; his bed may be in the grove of a cemetery; he may cease to care for friend or foe; his habitation may be desolate; but he dwells in peace, rejoicing because the intoxication of pride has disappeared.

102. The many pleasures of which this world is made up are all transitory; why then, do you roam about? why take such pains to pursue them? Free your soul from the numberless bonds of desire, and let it enter into the abode of peace which is destined for it, if you believe my words.

103. Blessed are those who dwell in the mountain caves meditating on the glory of the Supreme. In their laps the birds perch fearlessly, and drink the tears of joy flowing from their eyes. As for us, our life passes away while we enjoy ourselves in the groves or on the river-banks, building castles in the air.

104. Every living thing is subject to death. Youth passes into old age; contentment is destroyed by covetousness after riches; peace of mind by the glances of beautiful women; the just are slandered by the envious; forests are infested by serpents; kings are ruined by evil counsellors. Even the divine virtues themselves are unstable; so everything in the world suffers loss and damage.

105. The health of men is undermined by sicknesses of various kinds: when fortune has departed, then disasters come in as if by the open door. Death truly brings all things under its sway. Destiny has made nothing abide firmly.

106. We have dwelt in the narrow womb of our mother, suffering pain; youth, with its separations from one we love, is full of sorrow; old age, exposing us to the contempt of women, is an evil thing. Alas! when one reckons it up, what pleasure is there to be found in the world?

107. Life endures a hundred years; half is spent in night; of the remainder, half is spent in childhood and in old age. Servitude, pain, separation, sickness, fill up that which is left. What pleasure then can there be in life, which is as uncertain as the bubbles on the stream?

108. The pure-minded, possessed of right judgment, through their union with the supreme spirit, perform that which is difficult; for they entirely cast off worldly riches, which are the source of all pleasure. As for us, neither what we had formerly nor that which we have now is really in our own power. That which we have only in wish we cannot abandon.

109. Old age menaces the body like a tiger; diseases carry it off like enemies; life slips away like water out of a broken jar; and yet we live an evil life in the world. Truly this is marvellous.

110. The Creator makes a jewel of a human being, a mine of virtues, an ornament to the earth and then in one moment destroys him. Alas! what want of knowledge does the Creator display!

111. The body is bent with age, the steps fail, the teeth are broken, the sight becomes dim, deafness grows on one, the mouth dribbles, servants cease to obey one's orders, one's spouse is not submissive, one's child is even one's enemy: such are the evils of old age.

112. For a moment one is a child; for a moment a youth full of love: in one minute wealth is abundant; in the next it has all vanished. We come to the end of life, and then, with limbs worn by age and covered with wrinkles, as an actor disappears behind the curtain, so we enter the abode of death.

113. Whether one wear a serpent or a string of pearls, whether one be surrounded by powerful enemies or friends, whether one be the owner of jewels or possesses merely a lump of mud, whether one's bed be flowers or a stone, whether one be encircled by grass or by a multitude of women, it is all the same to him while, dwelling in a sacred grove, he invokes Shiva.