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The Kural

Part Three

part one | part two | part three | part four
Unjust Reign

Verse 551 More malicious than a professional murderer is the king Who rules his people with injustice and oppressiveness.

Verse 552 The scepter-wielding king who requests a gift is like The lance-bearing robber who demands, "Give me all you have."

Verse 553 Unless the king day-to-day seeks out and punishes unlawful acts, His country will day-by-day fall to ruin.

Verse 554 The unthinking king who rules crookedly Forfeits both his subjects' fealty and his own fortune.

Verse 555 Are not the tears of a people who cannot endure an oppressive reign The instrument that wears away their king's prosperity?

Verse 556 Ruling rightly, a monarch may long endure. Without that, his majesty is rightly unenduring.

Verse 557 As the earth fares under a rainless sky, So do a people languish under an unkind king.

Verse 558 Possessions are less pleasant than poverty To the oppressed living under an unjust king.

Verse 559 If the king acts contrary to justice, contrary seasons will befall And rain-laden will not come forth.

Verse 560 If the people's protector fails to protect, Priests will forget the Vedas and cows' milk will dry up.

Avoidance of Tyranny

Verse 561 He is a true king who impartially investigates And then duly punishes so that the offense will not reoccur.

Verse 562 He who wishes his prosperity to long remain Will raise the rod severely, but let it fall softly.

Verse 563 The tyrant who causes terror to his people Will perish quickly and certainly.

Verse 564 "The king is cruel." Should these bitter words be spoken, The monarch's life is shortened and he soon dies.

Verse 565 If his countenance is harsh and access to him is hard, A man's wealth, however vast, might as well belong to a demon.

Verse 566 If he is unkind and speaks cruelly, A man's lofty wealth cannot last long-it ends right there.

Verse 567 Virulent language and overly severe punishment, Like a keen file, grind down a king's conquering powers.

Verse 568 The king's wealth will waste away if, without thoughtful involvement, he lets Ministers work, then works himself into anger, raging at their performance.

Verse 569 The sovereign who does not secure defenses will be seized by fear When war time comes and promptly perish.

Verse 570 The earth bears no greater burden than the unlearned counselors Whom the cruel-sceptered king binds to himself.

The Kindly Look

Verse 571 The world thrives when that great beauty Called the kindly look flourishes.

Verse 572 The world's existence is sustained by kindliness. The very existence of those bereft of it burdens the earth.

Verse 573 What use is a melody in an unmusical song? What use are eyes which express no kindness?

Verse 574 Other than a facial appearance, what do eyes With no quality of kindness really do?

Verse 575 A kindly look is the ornament of the eyes. Without kindness the eyes are two unsightly sores.

Verse 576 Eyes may be fixed in their face, but those without A kindly look might as well be tree stumps fixed in dirt.

Verse 577 Those who lack a kindly look are indeed without eyes, And those who truly have eyes never lack a gracious look.

Verse 578 The world belongs to men who can behold others benevolently, Without being distracted from their duty.

Verse 579 To grant forbearing kindness even to those Who grieve us is the foremost of virtues.

Verse 580 Those desiring gracious goodness above all else could accept with Friendliness poison they watched their host prepare and serve.


Verse 581 Competent spies and the esteemed codes of law- Consider these two as the eyes of a king.

Verse 582 It is the duty of the monarch to acquire at once Knowledge of all that happens each day among all men.

Verse 583 Without assessing the intelligence reports of spies A king cannot enjoy conquests.

Verse 584 The working staff, close kindred and known enemies- All such men are the investigation of spies.

Verse 585 An able spy is he who can assume an unsuspicious disguise, Is fearless when caught and never betrays his secrets.

Verse 586 Disguised as a monk or a mendicant, the worthy spy moves about Investigating all, never growing careless, whatever may be done.

Verse 587 A spy must ferret out hidden facts, Assuring himself that knowledge found is beyond doubt.

Verse 588 Before believing a spy's espionage, Have another spy espy the information.

Verse 589 See that spies do not know each other, and accept their findings Only when three reports agree.

Verse 590 One must not openly honor spies. To do so is to divulge one's own secrets.

Possession of Industriousness

Verse 591 Possessing belongs only to the industrious. Do those Who lack such energy really possess their possessions?

Verse 592 Those who own an inner ardor possess a thing of worth. Material Wealth is an un-enduring possession that takes leave and departs.

Verse 593 Those who possess persevering industry Will never say in despair, "We have lost our wealth."

Verse 594 Good Fortune of its own accord ferrets out and Finds the man of unfailing industry.

Verse 595 The length of the lotus stalk depends on the water's depth. Even so, a man's greatness is proportionate to his mind's energy.

Verse 596 Let all thoughts be thoughts of noble progress, For then even failing cannot be called a failure.

Verse 597 The elephant stands firm even when wounded by a barrage of arrows. The strong-willed are not discouraged when they encounter disaster.

Verse 598 Without a zealous spirit, one will never enjoy The proud exhilaration of earthly generosity.

Verse 599 The enormous elephant with his tapered tusks Still shrinks in fear when the tiger attacks.

Verse 600 A strong-willed mind is a mans true estate. Those who lack it are mere vegetables in the form of men.

Avoidance of Laziness

Verse 601 The eternal flame of a family vanishes When eclipsed by that dark cloud called laziness.

Verse 602 Let those who wish their family to be a noble family Call laziness "laziness" and live without it.

Verse 603 A man whose actions are ruled by ruinous indolence Will see his family fall before his own destruction.

Verse 604 Their family will perish and their vices will thrive when men, Ensnared in sloth, do not put forth earnest exertion.

Verse 605 Procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness and sleep - these four form the coveted ship which bears men to their destined ruin.

Verse 606 Seldom do men possessed by sloth achieve anything special, Even when supported by the earth's wealthy proprietors.

Verse 607 The lazy ones, inept in noble exertion, Invite sharp scoldings and must endure the shame of scornful words.

Verse 608 If lassitude is allowed to live in aristocrats, They will be forced into servitude under foes.

Verse 609 Disgrace that has come upon a man and his family Will disappear the moment he casts out laziness.

Verse 610 A king who is devoid of indolence will procure thereby, All that cosmic province measured by God's immeasurable strides.


Verse 611 Never say in weakness, "This task is too difficult," For perseverance will give the ability to accomplish it.

Verse 612 Beware of leaving any work undone, for the world Will abandon those who abandon their work unfinished.

Verse 613 The pride of profuse giving dwells only With the dignity of diligent effort.

Verse 614 Like the swordsmanship of an effeminate man, The philanthropy of those who avoid hard work will end in failure.

Verse 615 He who prefers work to pleasure supports his family Like a pillar, sweeping away 9their0 every sad sorrow.

Verse 616 Perseverance creates prosperity, And the lack of it produces poverty.

Verse 617 They say the black ogress called Misfortune lurks in laziness, While goddess Fortune lingers in the laboring toils of active men.

Verse 618 To be devoid of good fortune is no one's disgrace. But shame belongs to those destitute of knowledge and tenacity. Verse 619 Though destiny decrees one's deeds will fail, The wages for determined work are always paid.

Verse 620 Those who strive with tireless exertion and remain undaunted Will see the backside of retreating Fate.

Being Undaunted by Troubles

Verse 621 Laugh when troubles come your way. There is nothing better to conquer calamity.

Verse 622 A flood of troubles will vanish the moment The mind of a wise man collects itself to face them. Verse 623 Trouble itself they send away

troubled Who do not trouble themselves at the sight of it.

Verse 624 Troubles will be troubled before the man who faces them Like the determined bullock that wades through every difficulty.

Verse 625 Though massed upon him like a mountain, A man's afflictions will be afflicted by his undaunted will.

Verse 626 Those who do not guard wealth gathered and boast, "I earned it," Will not, in poorer times, bemoan, "I have become destitute."

Verse 627 Knowing this body to be the prey of misery, High souls, expecting troubles, do not accept them troubled.

Verse 628 Declaring difficulties to be quite natural, Those who do not pursue life's pleasures will not suffer its sorrows.

Verse 629 He who does not long for joy in joy Will not suffer sorrow in sorrow. Verse 630 He who does not distinguish pain from pleasure Becomes so distinguished even enemies hope to pay homage.

Book 2 On Wealth

Part 2 Essentials Of the State Ministers

Verse 631 A minister is he who can conceive a great enterprise, rightly choose the ways, The means and the time, then successfully accomplish it.

Verse 632 A minister is he who, in addition to the above five, is well-endowed With steadfastness, protection of the people, learning and perseverance.

Verse 633 He who can divide the enemy, bind friends more firmly And reunite estranged allies is indeed a minister.

Verse 634 Call him a minister who comprehends things, Executes them effectively and directs others firmly.

Verse 635 The helpful minister is he who understands virtue, is learned and Deliberate in speech and discerns what is fit in every situation.

Verse 636 When subtle intelligence combines with scholastic study, Who can stand before such peerless subtlety?

Verse 637 Though you have learned theoretical methods, Act only after you know the world's practices.

Verse 638 Though his leader lacks knowledge and repels advice, The loyal minister's obligation is to cry out his counsel.

Verse 639 Better for the king to face 700 million distant foes Than befriend a single counselor who conspires at his side.

Verse 640 Though they may devise the perfect plan, Those without executive abilities never finish their work.


Verse 641 Among a man's many good possessions, A good command of speech has no equal.

Verse 642 Prosperity and ruin issue from the power of the tongue. Therefore, guard yourself against thoughtless speech.

Verse 643 The content of worthy speech binds friends more closely, And its eloquence draws even enemies to listen.

Verse 644 Judge the nature of your listeners and speak accordingly. There is nothing more virtuous or valuable than this.

Verse 645 Speak out your speech. Once it is known, No speech can be spoken to refute that speech.

Verse 646 To speak so listeners long to hear more and to listen So others' meaning is grasped are the ideals of the impeccably great.

Verse 647 In a war of words none can defeat an eloquent man Who never succumbs to fear or confusion.

Verse 648 Upon finding men whose forceful speech is couched In cogent and enchanting ways, the world swiftly gathers around.

Verse 649 Unaware of the artful use of a few flawless words, Men become enamored with excessive syllables.

Verse 650 Men who cannot communicate their knowledge to others Resemble a bouquet of un-fragrant flowers in full bloom.

Purity of Action

Verse 651 Good friendships bring wealth to a man, But goodness of action fulfills his every desire.

Verse 652 Actions which bring fame but no real benefit Are to be avoided always.

Verse 653 Declaring that their future will be brighter, Men desist from deeds that darken glory's light.

Verse 654 However troubled the times, men of unperturbable perception Never commit shameful or sordid deeds.

Verse 655 Do nothing that would make you regret, "What have I done!" However, do not remain regretful if regrettable deeds do occur.

Verse 656 Though he must behold his own mother's hunger, Let a man refrain from deeds that wise men condemn.

Verse 657 The worst poverty of worthy men is far better Than wealth amassed by improper means.

Verse 658 Even when accomplished, forbidden deeds afflict sorrow On those who seek after, rather than shun, them.

Verse 659 What is gained by tears will go by tears. In the end, goodness Reaps many good things, though it begins with loss.

Verse 660 Protecting the country by wrongly garnered wealth Is like preserving water in an unbaked pot of clay.

Resoluteness of Action Verse

661 What is called resoluteness of action is, in truth, Resoluteness of mind. All other qualities are not that.

Verse 662 To avoid all action that is bound to fail and not to be discouraged by Failures are said to be the two guiding principles of reflective men.

Verse 663 To reveal an action only after completion is resoluteness. To disclose that action earlier causes countless difficulties.

Verse 664 It is easy for anyone to speak of a plan, But it is difficult indeed to execute what has been spoken.

Verse 665 The strong-willed actions of eminent men Earn the crown's respect and the crowd's renown.

Verse 666 Those who think will have their thoughts fulfilled, Just as they thought, provided they possess the strength of will.

Verse 667 Do not disparage men who appear small, for there are those, Seemingly insignificant, who are like the linchpin of a mighty chariot.

Verse 668 Visualize actions with unclouded clarity, Then forcefully undertake them without delay or indecision.

Verse 669 Despite dire hardships, hold to strength of mind And do those deeds which yield joy of heart.

Verse 670 Whatever other strengths they may possess, the world neither needs Nor likes those who have no need for action's strength.

Modes of Action

Verse 671 When a decision is reached, deliberation ends. To delay that decision's execution is detrimental.

Verse 672 Slumber when sleepy work awaits, But never rest when actions demand sleepless vigilance.

Verse 673 Direct action is good whenever feasible, but when it is not, seek other means of success.

Verse 674 Reflect on this: Both efforts and enemies, if left unfinished, Can destroy like an un-extinguished fire.

Verse 675 Before acting resolve all doubts through consideration of these five: Cost, means, time, place and the action itself.

Verse 676 Discern a deed's outcome, obstacles and opulent earnings Successful effort affirms - then act.

Verse 677 The way to accomplish any task is to ascertain The inmost thoughts of an expert in that task.

Verse 678 Just as one elephant may be used to tether another, So one task may be the means of accomplishing another.

Verse 679 Rather than bestow kind favors on friends, Hasten to befriend your unkind enemies.

Verse 680 Fearing their people's inner apprehensions, Men of minor realms bow before mightier rulers, accepting terms.


Verse 681 Kindliness, high birth, and a nature pleasing to kings- These are the qualities of an ambassador.

Verse 682 Kindliness, knowingness and deliberateness of speech Are three necessities for an ambassador.

Verse 683 The ambassador who presents to lance-bearing monarchs plans That portend victory to his own king must be a scholar among scholars.

Verse 684 Send him on mission who possesses these three: Well-winnowed wisdom, ample learning and an imperturbable presence.

Verse 685 The good which an ambassador procures derives from succinct speech Cheerful conversation and avoidance of argument.

Verse 686 An envoy is learned, eloquently persuasive, un-fearing of the fiercest Stare and understanding of what fits the moment.

Verse 687 He is superior who knows duty and place, Judges the appropriate time and thinks before he speaks.

Verse 688 Integrity, influence and intrepidity-these three along with truthfulness Are the qualities of a man who faithfully delivers his monarch's message.

Verse 689 Commission him to deliver the monarch's mandates Who, firm of vision, never blurts out flawed words.

Verse 690 An ambassador is he who fearlessly extends his king's glory, Though he may expend his own life.

Associating with Monarchs

Verse 691 Those who associate with irascible kings should be like men who Warm themselves at a fire, moving neither too near nor too far away.

Verse 692 Do not desire what the king desires And the king himself will confer enduring wealth.

Verse 693 One wishing to be wary must beware of his grave faults. Once suspicions are aroused, they are rarely removed.

Verse 694 In the presence of the great ones never speak In whispers or exchange smiles with others.

Verse 695 The emissary neither eavesdrops nor inquires into matters. Rather he listens raptly when secrets are revealed.

Verse 696 Sensing unspoken thoughts and ascertaining the ripe moment, Speak of vital matters pleasantly, without offending others.

Verse 697 Speak useful ideas of interest to the king, But always leave useless thoughts unspoken-even if he inquires.

Verse 698 Never criticize the king because he's young or your own kin. Rather respect the luminous dignity kingship commands.

Verse 699 Men whose wisdom is unwavering Do not use the high esteem to excuse lowly behavior.

Verse 700 Those who do unworthy deeds, expecting indulgence for their Long-standing friendship with the monarch, ensure their own ruin.

Discerning Unspoken Thoughts

Verse 701 He who can discern through looking the unspoken thoughts of another Is an ornament to this earth, encircled by ever unchanging seas.

Verse 702 He who can divine without any doubt what is in the king's Mind should be held equal to a god.

Verse 703 Give whatever is required to gain an advisor Who, knowing his own mind, can read another's thoughts.

Verse 704 Those who grasp the unspoken thoughts of others possess the same physical features as those who do not-yet they are different.

Verse 705 Of what use are the body's eyes, if they cannot discern Another's intentions by beholding their own?

Verse 706 As a crystal reflects objects that are nearby, So does the face reflect what is foremost in the heart.

Verse 707 What is more perceptive than the face? For whether the heart Is angry or glad, it is the face that expresses it first.

Verse 708 If you find a man who knows the truth of things by looking into the Mind, it is enough to stand silently looking into his face.

Verse 709 If you find a man who knows the eye's language, The eyes will speak of hidden hate and love.

Verse 710 Observe those who claim subtle discernment- Their only measuring rod is their eyes.

Judging the Audience

Verse 711 Let pure men of studied eloquence study the audience Before speaking deliberate words.

Verse 712 Let those good men who have the gift of eloquence await The right moment and then speak with clear knowledge.

Verse 713 Those who do not assess an audience before venturing to speak Are unaware of the way of words and remain ineffective.

Verse 714 Be brilliant before brilliant men; but assume The dullness of white mortar before the unlearned.

Verse 715 Among all good things the best is that diffidence Which refrains from speaking first with elders.

Verse 716 To blunder before perceptive, erudite men Is to slip and fall from a high place.

Verse 717 A learned man's learning shines brightest Among luminaries who can capably critique his language.

Verse 718 Speaking to an audience of understanding men Is like watering a bed of growing plants.

Verse 719 Those who speak good things to good and learned gatherings Should never say them to ignorant groups, even forgetfully.

Verse 720 Speaking before men of alien mind Is like pouring sweet nectar down a drain. Not

Dreading the Audience

Verse 721 Pure men of skillful discourse may speak unfalteringly Before the powerful, provided they understand the audience.

Verse 722 Those who can convincingly express what they have learned Before a learned assembly are the learned among learned men.

Verse 723 Those who can brave death on the battlefield are common. But rare are they who can face an audience without fear.

Verse 724 Speak confidently before the learned what you have mastered; And learn from those more learned still what you do not know.

Verse 725 Study the science of logic so that You may fearlessly reply in any assembly. Verse

726 What does a coward do with a sword? What does a man who fears a subtle council do with books?

Verse 727 The learning of those who fearfully face an audience Is like the shining sword of womanly men amid foes.

Verse 728 Having learned many things, men remain useless If they cannot expound effectively in chambers of excellence.

Verse 729 The learned who are intimidated by gatherings of good men Are alluded to as less than the illiterate.

Verse 730 Men whose fear of assemblies forbids them to share Their knowledge may be alive, yet may as well be dead.

The Country

Verse 731 Where unfailing fertile fields, worthy men And wealthy merchants gather-that is a country.

Verse 732 A land coveted for its vast wealth, free from calamities And yielding in abundance is indeed a country.

Verse 733 Call that a land which bears every burden that befalls, Yet pays in full all tariffs owed the king.

Verse 734 Free of famine, endless epidemics and ravaging foes- Now that is a flourishing nation.

Verse 735 Profuse factions, ruinous civil subversives and murderous gangs That harass the king-a real land is without these.

Verse 736 An incomparable country is one never devastated, Yet, if devastated, would prosper undiminished.

Verse 737 Rain waters, underground waters, well-situated water shedding mountains And strong fortresses are the features of a good country.

Verse 738 Five are the ornaments of a country: good health, abundant harvests, Wealth, happiness and safety from invasions.

Verse 739 A place where prosperity comes effortlessly deserves the name land, Not one where wealth entails laborious toils.

Verse 740 Even if a country has all these blessings, it is worth nothing If it lacks harmony between the ruler and the ruled.


Verse 741 To aggressors and to those in fear who seek defense A fortress is an important asset.

Verse 742 A good fort has crystal clear water, arable lands, A hill and lovely shaded woods.

Verse 743 The texts prescribe four features of a fort's ramparts- High, thick, solid and virtually impregnable.

Verse 744 The ideal fortress is spacious but vulnerable in very few places And is capable of depleting the foe's determined will to storm it.

Verse 745 A good garrison is hard to assail sieze, amply provisioned And well-suited to accommodate well those within.

Verse 746 A worthy fortress, stocked with all needed goods, Needs good men to fend off all attack.

Verse 747 It is impossible to capture a strong fort, whether by employing Launching artillery, tunneling beneath or encircling siege.

Verse 748 However forcefully the offensive may press, The fort offers allies defense and foes defeat.

Verse 749 A fortress earns greatness by enabling courageous defenders To gloriously defeat the enemy at the battle's very outset.

Verse 750 Whatever excellent qualities a fortress may possess, It will be of no avail to men who lack action's excellence.

The Ways of Acquiring Wealth

Verse 751 There is nothing like wealth for lending consequence To an inconsequential man

Verse 752 Those who have nothing have everyone's contempt, While the rich are exalted by all.

Verse 753 Wealth is a dependable lamp whose light, Reaching every imaginable land, dispels darkness.

Verse 754 Wealth that is acquired by proper means in a manner That harms none will yield both virtue and happiness.

Verse 755 Do not embrace but rather eschew wealth That is acquired without compassion and love.

Verse 756 Wealth with no owner, wealth of defeated foes, Wealth from tax and customs-these are the royal revenues.

Verse 757 Compassion, which is the child of Love, requires for its care the bountiful nurse called Wealth.

Verse 758 To undertake an enterprise with sufficient wealth in hand Is like watching an elephants fight from the top of a hill.

Verse 759 Make money-that is the sharpest blade scalpel For paring down an enemy's pride.

Verse 760 Having acquired well abundant wealth, acquisition of two Other treasurers-duty and delight-is effortless.

Merits of the Army

Verse 761 An army which is complete and conquers fearlessly Is foremost among all a king's possessions.

Verse 762 Only seasoned soldiers can confront the desperate adversity Of decimating attacks with intrepid tenacity.

Verse 763 So what if an army of rats roars like the raging sea? The mere hiss of a cobra will deaden their din.

Verse 764 A true army is one which has a long tradition of valor And knows neither defeat nor desertion.

Verse 765 That is unquestionably truly an army which stands together, Even when faced with death's fury.

Verse 766 Valor, honor, trustworthiness, and a tradition nobly upheld- These four are an army's protective armor.

Verse 767 The well-trained army will withstand every onslaught, Then outflank and storm the foe.

Verse 768 Even without a winning offense and defense, A well-appointed army may win renown acclaim.

Verse 769 An army will prevail as long as there is No attrition, no animosity and no afflictions.

Verse 770 Even with an abundance Though it enlists legions of troops, An army cannot endure without commanders.

Military Pride

Verse 771 O enemies, stand not against my monarch! Many who did now stand as stone monuments.

Verse 772 There is greater fulfillment in carrying a lance which missed an Elephant than an arrow which pierced a forest-dwelling rabbit.

Verse 773 Fierce courage is what they call valor, And chivalry to the fallen forms its sharp edge.

Verse 774 Having hurled his spear at a huge bull elephant, The hero finds another piercing his body and grabs it with glee.

Verse 775 Is it not a disgraceful defeat to the courageous warrior If his glaring eyes so much as blink when the lance is hurled at him?

Verse 776 When recounting his days, the hero considers all days On which no battle wounds scars were sustained as squandered.

Verse 777 To fasten the warrior's anklet to one who wants glory More than life is adorning to adorn greatness with beauty.

Verse 778 Men of courage who do not fear their lives in battle do not forfeit their ardor even if the king prohibits their fighting.

Verse 779 Who dares deride as defeated Men who die fulfilling valor's vow?

Verse 780 Heroic death which fills with tears the emperor's eyes Is death worth begging and then dying for.