Haste is Waste !

Dear children!

“Haste is waste!” -We often hear our elders saying this. Here is a story which tells how important it is to observe, assimilate, evaluate and respond to the situations, without giving impulsive responses.

This story is about Bha:ravi, one of the greatest Indian poets. He is the author of the celebrated work ‘Kira:tha:rjuni:yam’. Even as a young man, Bha:ravi earned enormous fame. He was praised by one and all. Everyone referred to him as a great poet, a great scholar…. Every one applauded him… except his father!

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Bha:ravi could never digest this fact. All the fame he earned seemed nothing to him. Day and night he would yearn for his father’s praise, which he never got. His distress crossed all limits. It made him short-sighted and revengeful. He decided to kill his own father! It often happens that notwithstanding all our talents, we fall into the trap of perceptions and the subsequent hasty actions. We find Bha:ravi taking a hasty decision to kill his father. Bha:ravi took a big boulder along with him to the attic in the room where his parents slept. He intended to throw it on his sleeping father!

Luckily for him, that night, while his parents were about to sleep, Bha:ravi’s mother asked his father, “When the entire world praises our son, why don’t you praise him ? Don’t you know how much he craves for your applause? He is much disturbed at your silence.”

The loving father replied, “O dear! Won’t you agree with me that parents who desire their children to progress do not praise them! If I praise my son, he will not grow up further. That is the reason why I don’t praise him. I keep to myself all the joy of his greatness!

Bha:ravi heard these words. He was stunned. He realised how inappropriate his decision was. He jumped down the attic, fell at his father’s feet and begged for punishment. At first, his father was surprised. Later he smiled and said, “Stay at the house of your father-in-law for six months. That is the punishment I give you.”

svasura gruha niva:saha svarga tulyo nara:na:m
yadi vasati dina:ni thri:niv:a pancha saptha |
madhu dhaddhi ghrutha dha:ra: kshi:ra sa:ra prava:haha
tadupari dina me:kam pa:da raksha:praha:raha ||

The slo:ka is pretty straightforward!! A sonin-law would feel at heaven when goes to his inlaws’ house. He gets honey, curd, streams of ghee and torrents of undiluted milk. However, all this will not last longer than three or five or seven days! Any prolonged stay will bring him blows of slippers!

Bha:ravi experienced exactly the same. He was honoured for a week and when he decided to stay further, he was promptly sent to work at fields! It was hard to work at fields. Yet, the poet persisted. He was now a new man. He gracefully underwent the punishment. The creative genius in him realised that work was sacred whether it be writing poetry or tilling the land. One wonders if this period gave Bha:ravi a different exposure to nature and human life!

Meanwhile, it was ‘vara lakshmi: vratham’ in the month of sra:vana. The women in the household were preparing for the worship of Divine Mother Lakshmi. The ladies of the household began teasing Bha:ravi’s wife. They would say, “Your husband is here since several months! Ask him which jewels and sarees he would get !!” Very soon these taunts became words of humiliation.

How many times our hasty words hurt others! How much introspection is needed to speak sweet, good and in a limited way!! Bha:ravi’s wife was unlucky. Her own people hurt her by speaking in thoughtless haste. With tears in her eyes, she approached Bha:ravi who was working in the field.

Bha:ravi enquired into the cause and consoled her with sweet words. True, he was under punishment. However, there was no reason why he should see his wife troubled. Was not his hastiness the cause of all trouble? Pondering over his own deeds and learnings, he picked a palm leaf, took a thorn and wrote a beautiful poem on it. He gave it to his wife and asked her to sell it to any merchant and procure things with the obtained money.

The wife sold the poem to an affluent young man who liked the poem. He paid her hefty sum and all her needs were fulfilled to the utter dismay of her relatives. The young man would read the poem every day. To remind himself of the message conveyed by the poem, he decided to hang it to one of the bedposts.

It so happened that the young man’s father was a merchant who went to foreign lands before the birth of his son. Now, after so many years, the father had come back only to find a young man sleeping in his own house! In an impetuous rage, the father decided to punish the unknown young man. He drew the sword angrily and swung it towards the young man. Luckily, the sword encountered the palm leaf tied to the bed post. The curious merchant began reading it.

 sahasa: vidhadhi:tha na kriya:m
avive:kaha parama:pada:m padam |
vrunuthe:hi vimrusyaka:rinam
guna lubdha:ha svayame:va sampadaha ||

“One should not do anything in haste. Indiscretion causes great misfortune. Fortune, which is desirous of good qualities naturally attaches itself to a person who acts with due reflection.” Such is the meaning of the verse.

The merchant was struck by the profundity of the poem. While the message was put forth in a crisp way, the verse had a great poetic charm. The figure of speech used in the poem, the usage of words like a:padam, padam must have pleased the merchant. Of course, the poem asked him not to act rashly. Meanwhile the merchant’s wife came out and introduced the young man as his son! The merchant felt indebted to the poet who composed the slo:ka which saved the situation. Knowing that Bha:ravi resided there, the merchant honoured him appropriately. In the due course of time, as the six months completed, Bha:ravi returned home along with his wife.

We may also note with interest that the above poem is found in 2nd Canto of Kira:tha:rjuni:yam as 30th verse. Bha:ravi’s Kira:tha:rjuni:yam is one of the pancha maha ka:vyas ( the five epic poems). His poetry is intricate yet direct. Bha:ravi’s poetry is known for its ‘artha gauravam’—the depth of meaning.

In the article of next month, we will come up with one more episode related to the above verse. Till then we will stick the verse to our wall or pin it on our desktop—to learn the verse as well as to let the meaning sink into our minds!

– By M. Krishnapriya, India, translated by Ramakrishna Tupurani