वर्तस्व च सतां क्रमे

न शक्यसे वारयितुं गच्छेदानीं रघूत्तम।
शीघ्रं च विनिवर्तस्व वर्तस्व च सतां क्रमे॥ २-२५-२॥
–श्रीमद्वाल्मीकिरामायणे अयोध्याकाण्डे पञ्चविंशतितमे सर्गे
na śakyase vārayituṁ gacchedānīṁ raghūttama |
śīghraṁ ca vinivartasva vartasva ca satāṁ krame || 2-25-2||
–śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇe ayodhyākāṇḍe pañcaviṁśatitame sarge

It is not possible to restrain your departure [any longer]. Depart now, Oh best amongst the Raghus!
Return soon, and tread in the footsteps of the righteous!”

Amazing! The first advice the great Kausalya gave Her Son, is to tread in the footsteps of the righteous! Surely, Lord Rama didn’t need that advice (of course, it’s for us), but Kausalya just underlines the importance of that. No wonder, this is also one of the most fundamental cornerstones of Sanatana Dharma (and the need for a Guru!). It’s also worth quoting another fantastic conversation in Mahabharata (thanks to the eloquent Vasu Srinivasan):

कः पन्थाः ? asks yakSha. “What is the road?” I would have just asked back “To where?”.

तर्क: अप्रतिष्ट: श्रुतयो विभिन्ना: न एको ऋषि: यस्य मतम् प्रमाणम् ।
धर्मस्य तत्त्वं निहितम् गुहायाम् महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः ॥

Yudhishtra’s first utterance is “tarkaH apratiShTaH”. A quote on which vyAkhyAna can be done for hours I guess. “Logic is baseless”. Logic has been the considered the greatest employment of human intellect since Aristotle, Plato down to the European philosophers, who have spent their lifetime only in logic. But Yudhishtra dismisses it curtly – Logic is limited, baseless and cannot be relied upon.

“srutayo vibhinnAH” – vedA-s say different things! “na eko rShiH yasya matam pramANam” – There is not a single rishi whose word is an authority! Its just a poetic way of expressing that vedA-s are interpreted differently and every rishi worth his beard has an opinion. “dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhAyAm”. The truth about dharma is hidden in a deep cave! What the Huh? Where did dharma come from? What does it have to do with logic or vedas or roads? Each rishi is attempting to explain what is “dharma”, but nobody has a single opinion about it and nobody really knows what dharma is. And then he finally ties them all beautifully – “mahAjano yena gataH saH panThaH” – the road travelled by great people is the one to follow (for mokSha)! The great ones have already figured it out, you just follow the road paved by them. yakSha was not even asking about a physical road! That is the fault of translation or misunderstanding of contexts.

See also:



सद्‌भिस्तु लीलया प्रोक्तं शिलालिखितमक्षरम्‌।
असद्‌भिः शपथेनोक्तं जले लिखितम् अक्षरम्‌॥
sadbhistu līlayā proktaṁ śilālikhitamakṣaram |
asadbhiḥ śapathenoktaṁ jale likhitam akṣaram ||
Even the casual words of good people are like words set in stone,
[while] even the vows of the bad people are like words written on water!

अपकारिषु यः साधुः

उपकारोऽपकारश्च प्रवराविति सम्मतौ।
उपकारिषु सर्वोऽपि करोत्युपकृतिं पुनः॥८०-५४॥
अपकारिषु यः साधुः पुण्यभाक्ष उदाहृतः॥८०-५५॥
An act of favour and an unfavourable act — these are to be considered alike.
On doing a favour, everyone will [be ready to] return the favour/help.
One who remains good, even on being wronged, he indeed is a noble soul.
upakāro’pakāraśca pravarāviti sammatau|
upakāriṣu sarvo’pi karotyupakṛtiṁ punaḥ||80-54||
apakāriṣu yaḥ sādhuḥ puṇyabhākṣa udāhṛtaḥ||80-55||
An act of favour and an unfavourable act — these are to be considered alike.
On doing a favour, everyone will [be ready to] return the favour/help.
One who remains good, even on being wronged, he indeed is a noble soul.

तृष्णां छिन्धि भज क्षमाम्

तृष्णां छिन्धि भज क्षमां जहि मदं पापे रतिं मा कृताः
सत्यं ब्रूह्यनुयाहि साधु पदवीं सेवस्व विद्वज्जनम्‌।
मान्यान्मानय विद्विशोऽप्यनुनय प्रख्यापय प्रश्रयं
कीर्तिं पालय दुःखिते कुरु दयामेतत्सतां चेष्टितम्॥
tṛṣṇāṁ chindhi bhaja kṣamāṁ jahi madaṁ pāpe ratiṁ mā kṛtāḥ
satyaṁ brūhyanuyāhi sādhu padavīṁ sevasva vidvajjanam |
mānyānmānaya vidviśo’pyanunaya prakhyāpaya praśrayaṁ
kīrtiṁ pālaya duḥkhite kuru dayāmetatsatāṁ ceṣṭitam ||
Curbing the desire, practicing patience, giving up pride, not interested in committing a sin,
Speaking the truth, following the footsteps of the good, serving the scholars,
Respecting the honourable, pleasing even enemies, being modest,
Protecting fame and kind towards the distressed. These are the actions of the good.

[Thanks to sanskritdocuments.org]

महतां मण्डनमिदम्‌

करे श्लाघ्यस्त्यागः शिरसि गुरुपादप्रणयिता
मुखे सत्या वाणी विजयि भुजयोः वीर्यमतुलम्‌।
हृदि स्वच्छवृत्ति श्रुतमधिगतं च श्रवणयोः।
विनाऽप्यैश्वर्येण प्रकृति महतां मण्डनमिदम्‌॥
kare ślāghyastyāgaḥ śirasi gurupādapraṇayitā
mukhe satyā vāṇī vijayi bhujayoḥ vīryamatulam |
hṛdi svacchavṛtti śrutamadhigataṁ ca śravaṇayoḥ |
vinā’pyaiśvaryeṇa prakṛti mahatāṁ maṇḍanamidam ||
Ornaments of great people are entirely different. They are all natural.
Praise-worthy charity, for the hand; submission at the feet of the elders, for the head;
Truthful speech, for the mouth; matchless ever victorious strength, for the arms;
Purity of thought, for the heart and acquired knowledge of the holy scriptures, for the ears.
These are the worthy ornaments of the great by nature (despite the absence of worldly riches.)

[Thanks to sanskritdocuments.org]

परोपकाराय सतां विभूतयः

पिबन्ति नद्यः स्वयमेव नाम्भः स्वयं न खादन्ति फलानि वृक्षाः।
नादन्ति स्वस्यं खलु वारिवाहाः परोपकाराय सतां विभूतयः॥
pibanti nadyaḥ svayameva nāmbhaḥ svayaṁ na khādanti phalāni vṛkṣāḥ|
nādanti svasyaṁ khalu vārivāhāḥ paropakārāya satāṁ vibhūtayaḥ||
The rivers don’t drink their waters themselves; the trees don’t eat their own fruits.
The clouds do not eat the crops they have watered; in the same way, the wealth of the good people are for helping others (they don’t consume their own wealth)

Alternate version:

रत्नाकरः किं करोति स्वरत्नैः
विन्ध्याचलः किं करिभिः करोति
श्रीखन्ण्डकण्डैः मलयाचलः किं
परोपकाराय सतां विभूतयः


वृक्षाः सत्पुरुषा इव

छायामन्यस्य कुर्वन्ति तिष्ठन्ति स्वयमातपे।
फलान्यपि परार्थाय वृक्षाः सत्पुरुषा इव॥
chāyāmanyasya kurvanti tiṣṭhanti svayamātape|
phalānyapi parārthāya vṛkṣāḥ satpuruṣā iva||
Trees are like good people. They themselves stand in the heat and make shade for the others. Their fruits are also for the benefit of the others.

[Kindly contributed by Shri Chandrashekhar Raghu]