Lesson 31 – A story from the Hitopadeśa

A short  YouTube version is available here. [Expand to the full article to be able to click on the link].

In the previous lessons, lesson 28 , lesson 29 and lesson 30, we looked at the perfect tense, called liṭ लिट् by the Sanskrit grammarians.

In this lesson, Lesson 31, we will take another story from the Hitopadeśa and analyse it.

This story, “The herons, the serpent and the mongooses“, is fable 5 of book 4 of the Hitopadeśa. This story corresponds to the  Pañcatantra story fable 20 of book 1.

अस्त्युत्तरापथे गृध्रकूटो नाम पर्वतः | तत्रैव रेवतीतीरे न्यग्रोधपादपे बका निवसन्ति | तस्य वटस्याधस्ताद्विवरे सर्पस्तिष्ठति | स च बकानां बालापत्यानि खादति | ततः शोकार्तानां बकानां प्रलापं श्रुत्वा केनचिद्वृद्धबकेनोक्तं | भो एवं कुरुत यूयम् | मत्स्यानानीय नकुलविवरादारभ्य सर्पविवरं यावत्पङ्क्तिक्रमेणैकैकशो मत्स्यान्धत्त | ततस्तदाहारवर्त्मना नकुलैरागत्य सर्पो द्रष्टव्यः स्वभावद्वेषात्व्यापादयितव्यश्च | तथानुष्ठिते सति तद्वृत्तं | अथ नकुलैर्वृक्षोपरि पक्षिशावकानां रावः श्रुतः | पश्चात्तैर्वृक्षमारुह्य शावकाः सर्व एव खादिताः | अत आवां ब्रूवः |

उपायं चिन्तयन् प्राज्ञो ह्यपायमपि चिन्तयेत् |

पश्यतो बकमूर्खस्य नकुलैर्भक्षिता बकाः |

astyuttarāpathe gr̥dhrakūṭo nāma parvataḥ | tatraiva revatītīre nyagrodhapādape bakā nivasanti | tasya vaṭasyādhastādvivare sarpastiṣṭhati | sa ca bakānāṃ bālāpatyāni khādati | tataḥ śokārtānāṃ bakānāṃ pralāpaṃ śrutvā kenacidvr̥ddhabakenoktaṃ | bho evaṃ kuruta yūyam | matsyānānīya nakulavivarādārabhya sarpavivaraṃ yāvatpaṅktikrameṇaikaikaśo matsyāndhatta | tatastadāhāravartmanā nakulairāgatya sarpo draṣṭavyaḥ svabhāvadveṣātvyāpādayitavyaśca | tathānuṣṭhite sati tadvr̥ttaṃ | atha nakulairvr̥kṣopari pakṣiśāvakānāṃ rāvaḥ śrutaḥ | paścāttairvr̥kṣamāruhya śāvakāḥ sarva eva khāditāḥ | ata āvāṃ brūvaḥ |

upāyaṃ cintayan prājño hyapāyamapi cintayet |

paśyato bakamūrkhasya nakulairbhakṣitā bakāḥ |

Analysis

[Note: words explained before in the previous stories will not be explained again

  • asti
  • uttarāpathe – locative singular of  masculine uttarāpatha (by northerly way, the north country) – in the north country
    • uttarā (adverb) – northerly ;
      • from uttara (adj) – upper ,higher, and so northern ;
        • comparative from ud
    • patha masculine (for “path” at end of compounds with “a” added ; path = panthan (m)) “way”
  • gr̥dhrakūṭaḥ – nominative singular of masculine gr̥dhrakūṭa – Vulture-peak
    • gr̥dhra – (m) vulture from adj. greedy
      • from class 4 root √gr̥dh – be greedy
    • kūṭa – (m) – peak [from horn]
  • nāma
  • parvataḥ –
  • tatra
  • eva
  • revatītīre
  • nyagrodhapādape – locative singular of masculine nyagrodhapādapa – on the banyan tree
    • nyagrodha – masculine banyan tree
      • from nyañc (ni + añc) adj. directed downwards + rodha (“growing”) from class 1 root √rudh (“grow”)
    • pādapa – masculine (“tree”) from pāda+pa (drinking with the foot ie. root)
  • bakāḥ – nominative plural of masculine baka (heron) – herons
  • nivasanti
  • tasya
  • vaṭasya – genitive singular of masculine vaṭa (“banyan tree”)
  • adhastāt – indeclinabe adverb “below”; from adverb adhas “below”
  • vivare – locative singular of masculine vivara (“hole, opening”) – in hole
    • from vi + class 5 root √vr̥ (“cover, close”) [adding vi gives opposite meaning]
  • sarpaḥ – nominative singular of masculine sarpa (“snake”)
    • from class 1 root √sr̥p (“creep”)
  • tiṣṭhati
  • saḥ
  • ca
  • bakānām
  • bālāpatyāni – accusative plural of neuter bālāpatya (“young offspring”)
    • bāla (adj.) “young” + apatya (neuter) “offfspring” (from apa “off”)
  • khādati
  • tataḥ
  • śokārtānām – genitive plural of masculine adjective śokārta (“sorrow-stricken”)
    • śoka+ārta
    • śoka – masculine “pain, grief” from class 1 root √śuc (“gleam, burn”)
    • ārta – adjective – ā + r̥ta – past passive participle of class 6 root √r̥ (“go, send”) “afflicted”
  • bakānām
  • pralāpam – accusative singular of masculine pralāpa (“unintelligible, lamenting talk”)
    • pra + lāpa (from class 1 root √lap (“prate”))
  • śrutvā
  • kenacid
  • vr̥ddhabakena
  • uktam
  • bhoḥ
  • evam
  • kuruta
  • yūyam
  • matsyān – accusative plural of masculine matsya (“the lively one” meaning “fish”)
    • from class 1 root √mad “exhilarate”
  • ānīya – indeclinable (continuative – lyabanta) ; ā + class 1 root √nī – “having led”, “having brought”
  • nakulavivarāt – ablative singular of masculine nakula (mas.) “mongoose” + vivara – “mongooses’ hole” – from mongooses’ hole
  • ārabhya – indeclinable (continuative – lyabanta) ; ā + class 1 root √rabh – “beginning from”,
  • sarpavivaram
  • yāvat – indeclinable adverb (used as quasi preposition) – “as far as”
  • paṅktikrameṇa – instrumental singular of masculine paṅktikrama “order of row” – in a row
    • paṅkti (feminine) “row” from pañca “five” +krama (“step”, “order”) from class 1 root √kram (“step”)
  • ekaikaśaḥ – indeclinable adverb “one by one”
    • from ekaika = eka + eka
  • matsyān
  • dhatta – present imperative active second person plural of class 3 root √dhā (“put”)
  • tataḥ
  • tad – from tad; “therefore, accordingly”
  • āhāravartmanā – instrumental singular of neuter āhāravartman “food track” – by the food trail
    • āhāra – “food” from ā + class 1 root √hr̥ “take”
    • vartman – “way” from class 1 root √vr̥t “turn”
  • nakulaiḥ
  • āgatya
  • sarpaḥ
  • draṣṭavyaḥ – nominative singular masculine of draṣṭavya (“to be seen”)
    • from class 4 root √dr̥ś (“see”) (potential passive participle (gerundive)
  • svabhāvadveṣāt – ablative singular of masculine svabhāvadveṣa (“natural hatred”) – from natural hatred
    • svabhāva + dveṣa
    • svabhāva (m) – sva + bhāva (own way of being, inherent nature)
    • dveṣa (m) “hatred”; from class 2 root √dviṣ “hate”
  • vyāpādayitavyaḥ – nominative singular masculine of vyāpādayitavya (“to be killed”)
    • from vi + ā + class 4 root √pad (“go”) (potential passive participle (gerundive) of causative)
  • ca
  • tathā – indeclinable adverb “thus”
  • anuṣṭhite – locative singular of adjective anuṣṭhita (“having been accomplished”)
    • anu + past passive participle of class 1 root √sthā  (“stand”) [anu + sthita –> anuṣṭhita]
    • locative absolute construction tathānuṣṭhite – it having been thus accomplished
  • sati – locative singular of adj. sant
    • present active participle of class 2 root √as (“be”)
  • tat – nominative singular of pronoun neuter tad “that”
  • vr̥ttam – nominative singular of neuter vr̥tta (“happenned”)
    • past passive participle of class 1 root √vr̥t (“turn”)
  • tathānuṣṭhite sati tadvr̥ttaṃ means that having been accomplished that  (what was expected) happenned. [Meaning, the fish trail was laid, and the mongooses killed the snake]
  • atha
  • nakulaiḥ
  • vr̥kṣopari – upon the tree
    • upari – adverb “above”
  • pakṣiśāvakānām
  • rāvaḥ – nominative singular of masculine rāva “cry”
    • from class 2 root √ru “cry”
  • śrutaḥ
  • paścāt
  • taiḥ –> nakulaiḥ
  • vr̥kṣam
  • āruhya
  • śāvakāḥ
  • sarve
  • eva
  • khāditāḥ
  • ataḥ
  • āvām
  • brūvaḥ
  • upāyam – accusative singular of masculine upāya (“advantage, stratagem”)
    • upa + class 2 root √i “go”
  • cintayan
  • prājñaḥ – nominative singular of masculine adjective prājña (wise, wise man”)
    • pra – jña
  • hi
  • apāyam – accusative singular of masculine apāya (“disadvantage, danger”)
    • apa + class 2 root √i “go”
  • api
  • cintayet – present optative active third person singular of causative of class 1 root √cint (“think”)
  • paśyataḥ – genitive singular of masculine adjective paśyant (“seeing”)
    • present active participle of class 4 root √paś (√dr̥ś) “see”
  • bakamūrkhasya – genitive singular of masculine bakamūrkha (“foolish heron”)
    • karmadhāraya with natural order reversed
    • mūrkha – “foolish” from class 1 root √mūrch “thicken”
  • paśyato bakamūrkhasya – of the watching foolish heron – Also, this can be viewed as an absolute construction: Of the foolish heron, while he looked on, …
  • nakulaiḥ
  • bhakṣitāḥ
  • bakāḥ

Word-by-word meaning

  • asti (there is) uttarāpathe  (in the north country) gr̥dhrakūṭaḥ  (Vulture-peak) nāma (by name) parvataḥ (hill).
  • tatra (there) eva (exactly) revatītīre (on the banks of the river Revati) nyagrodhapādape (on a banyan tree) bakāḥ (herons) nivasanti (dwell).
  • tasya (of that) vaṭasya (banyan tree) adhastāt (below) vivare (in a hole) sarpaḥ (a snake) tiṣṭhati (stands, lives)
  • saḥ (he) ca (and) bakānām (of the herons) bālāpatyāni (young ones) khādati (eats)
  • tataḥ (then) śokārtānām (of the sorrow-stricken) bakānām (herons) pralāpam (lament) śrutvā (having heard) kenacid (some) vr̥ddhabakena (by old heron) uktam (was said)
  • bhoḥ (Hey) evam (thus) kuruta (do) yūyam (you)
  • matsyān (fish) ānīya (having brought) nakulavivarāt (from the mongooses’ hole) ārabhya (beginning from) sarpavivaram (snake’s hole) yāvat (as far as) paṅktikrameṇa (in a row) ekaikaśaḥ (one by one) matsyān (fish) dhatta (put)
  • tataḥ (then) tad (accordingly) āhāravartmanā (by the food trail) nakulaiḥ (by the mongooses) āgatya (having come) sarpaḥ (snake) draṣṭavyaḥ (will be seen) svabhāvadveṣāt (from natural hatred) vyāpādayitavyaḥ (will be killed) ca (and)
  • tathā (thus) anuṣṭhite (having been accomplished) sati (is) tat (that)vr̥ttam (happenned)
  • atha (then) nakulaiḥ (by the mongooses) vr̥kṣopari (upon the tree) pakṣiśāvakānām (of the young ones of the birds) rāvaḥ (cry) śrutaḥ (was heard)
  • paścāt (after that) taiḥ (by them) vr̥kṣam (tree) āruhya (having climbed) śāvakāḥ (young ones) sarve (all) eva (even) khāditāḥ (was eaten)
  • ataḥ (therefore) āvām (we) brūvaḥ (say)
  • upāyam (advantage, stratagem) cintayan (thinking) prājñaḥ (wise man) hi (even) apāyam (danger) api (also) cintayet  (must think)
  • paśyataḥ (seeing) bakamūrkhasya (of the foolish heron) nakulaiḥ (by the mongooses) bhakṣitāḥ (were eaten) bakāḥ (herons)

Meaning

There is, in the Northern country, a hill named Vulture-peak. There, on the banks of the Revati river, on a banyan tree, lived some herons. At the foot of this banyan tree, there lived a snake. It used to eat the young ones of the herons. Now, a certain old heron, hearing the lamenting cry of the sorrow-stricken herons, told them. Hey, you should do this. Bring some fish and put the fish, one by one, in a row from the mongooses’ hole to the snake’s hole. The mongooses will come by the food (fish) trail, and seeing the snake, will kill him due to their natural enmity. Now, this was done (the fish trail was laid) and the expected happened (the mongooses killed the snake). (However) Then the mongooses heard the cry of the young ones of the herons on top of the tree. So they climbed up the tree and ate all the young herons.

Therefore we say,

When thinking of a stratagem, a wise man should also think of the dangers.

While the foolish heron was watching, (the young ones of) the herons were eaten by the mongooses.

This is the end of lesson 31.

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