A collection of best quotes by Chanakya, the great Indian economist and philosopher – quotes with actual shlokas in Sanskrit, and their meaning in Hindi and English.
Chanakya (चाणक्य) aka Kautilya & Vishnugupta is one of the greatest people in the ancient Indian history. He was an acharya (आचार्य, means teacher in Hinduism), Hindu philosopher, preacher, and royal adviser by profession who played a very important role in laying the foundation of Maurya Empire.
He is well-known for his political and socioeconomic skills not only among the Indian people, but also across the world.
Initially (in ~320 BC), Chanakya was a professor at Takshashila University and also became the chief adviser of the first Mauryan King Chandragupta Maurya later. His writings, most popularly Chanakya Neeti, are still helping people to understand the political, social, and moral ethics to make life more better.
Many important things about the Dharma (Sanatan Dharma, Hinduism) and Karma are written by him in Chanakya Neeti, and here are some of the best quotes taken from this great Hindu text. The below list carries the basic meaning of the shloka (श्लोक, quote) in English, Hindi, the complete shloka in Sanskrit language, and then elaborated meaning in English.
Dharma is constant
धर्म ही अटल है
चला लक्ष्मीश्चलाः प्राणश्चले जीवितमन्दिरे।
चलाचले च संसारे धर्म एको हि निश्चलः।।
Money, soul, life, body, all these things go with time, only Dharma remains.
One well-mannered son is enough
एक गुणवान पुत्र ही काफी है
एकोपि गुणवान् पुत्रो निर्गुणैश्च शतैर्वरः।
एकश्चन्द्रस्तमो हन्ति न च ताराः सहस्रशः।।
One intelligent son is better than 100 stupid ones. One moon is able to brighten the night, but thousands of stars are not.
Mother is above all the deities
सबसे बड़ा देवता है – माँ
नान्नोदकसमं दानं न तिथिर्द्वादशी समा।
ना गायत्र्याः परो मन्त्रो न मातुर्दैवतं परम्।।
Acharya says that offering food and water is the biggest of all donations. Dwadashi (द्वादशी) is the holiest day. Gayatri mantra (गायत्री मंत्र) is greatest of all the mantras. And mother is above all the deities.
Most important duty of a parents towards their son is to well educate.
पुत्र के प्रति दायित्व
पुनश्च विविधैः शीलैर्नियोज्या सततं बुधैः।
नीतिज्ञा शीलसम्पन्नाः भवन्ति कुलपूजिताः।।
Intelligent people educate their son well about the morality and different aspects of life that makes him a better person ahead.
Levels of friendship and behavior
मित्रता और व्यवहार
समाने शोभते प्रीति राज्ञि सेवा च शोभते।
वाणिज्यं व्यवहारेषु स्त्री दिव्या शोभते गृहे।।
According to Acharya, some things suit the best in certain levels. For example, offering services to the king, business done by Vaishyas, and the role of a good lady in the house. Similarly, friendships suit the best in the same social level.
Wicked has poison in all his body
दुष्ट के सारे शरीर में जहर होता है
तक्षकस्य विषं दंते मक्षिकाया मुखे विषम्।
वृष्चिकस्य विषं पुच्छे सर्वांगे दुर्जने विषम्।।
Acharya says that snake has venom in its hood, a bee has it in his mouth, and a scorpion has the venom in its tail. But a wicked person is much poisonous that all of these creatures, who has it in its whole body.
Real gem is Earth
असली रत्न है – पृथ्वी
पृथिव्यां त्रीणि रत्नानि अन्नमापः सुभाषितम्।
मूढैः पाषाणखण्डेषु रत्नसंज्ञा विधीयते।।
Grains, water and peach with everybody, these three things are the true gems on earth. Diamond, emerald, jewelry etc. are just the pieces of stone. Calling them a gem is folly.
You reap what you sow
जैसा बोना वैसा पाना
आत्मापराधवृक्षस्य फलान्येतानि देहिनाम्।
दारिद्रयरोग दुःखानि बन्धनव्यसनानि च।।
Poverty, disease, sorrow, imprisonment and bad habits – all are the fruits of the karma. You get what you sow.
Sense of Time
समय की सूझ
उपसर्गेन्यचक्रे च दुर्भिक्षे ज भयावहे।
असाधुजनसम्पर्के पलायति स जीवति।।
The person who moves away when a fuss or fight or severe drought is about to happen, or when the wicked / enemy is around, makes the chances of his survival certain.
Some things are fortune driven
कुछ चीजें भाग्य से मिलती हैं
आयुः कर्म वित्तञ्व विद्या निधनमेव च।
पञ्चैतानि हि सृज्यन्ते गर्भस्थस्यैव देहिनः।।
When a creature is in his mother’s womb, then five things that comes to him are luck-driven: age, karma, money-property, lore and death. Any of these five things can’t be changed anyhow.
Practice your knowledge
ज्ञान का अभ्यास भी करें
अनभ्यासे विषं शास्त्रमजीर्णे भोजनं विषम्।
दरिद्रस्य विषं गोष्ठी वृद्धस्थ तरुणी विषम्।।
Acharya says that just like the best food doesn’t help the body in the problem of indigestion and works as poison, the absence of sustained exercise of skills and subjects also does the same thing to a professional.
Get rid of morons
मूर्खों का त्याग करें
अन्यथा वेदपाण्डित्यं शास्त्रमाचार मन्यथा।
अन्यथा वदतः शान्तं लोकाः क्लिश्यन्ति चान्यथा।।
Someone who insults the Vedas, Shastras, intelligent, virtuous and peaceful persons, is a fool. In terms of wider interests of the society, such a person is maleficent in all ways, so its better to get rid of them for good.
Different forms of friend
मित्र के भिन्न रूप
विद्या मित्रं प्रवासेषु भार्या मित्रं गृहेषु च।
व्याधितश्यौषधं मित्रं धर्मो मित्रं मृतस्थ च।।
While living away from home in foreign land, knowledge is the true friend. In home, wife is the true friend. For a patient, the medicine is the true friend. And after death, the faith (religion) is the only friend. So, all these friends should be recognized in time and should be well taken care of.
Money attracts people
धन का प्रभाव
यस्यार्थास्तस्य मित्राणि यस्यार्थास्तस्य बान्धवाः।
यस्यार्थाः स पुमांल्लोके यस्यार्थाः स च पण्डितः।।
Acharya Chanakya tells about the effect of money here. As soon as a person gets money, he is automatically befriend by people and treated as a scholar and respected person in today’s world regardless of his actual talents.
Water as a medicine
पानी एक औषधि है
अजीर्णे भेषजं वारि जीर्णे तद् बलप्रदम्।
भोजने चामृतं वारि भोजनान्तें विषप्रदम्।।
Stating the quality of water, Acharya says that water acts as a medicine in indigestion treatment. Water acts as nectar while eating, but it works poisonously when taken after meal.
God is in the spirit
भावना में ही भगवान है
काष्ठपाषाण धातुनां कृत्वा भावेन सेवनम्।
श्रद्धया च तथा सिद्धिस्तस्य विष्णोः प्रसादतः।।
Acharya explains the importance of true faith and spirit here – if someone worships even a wooden, stoned or metallic idol as god with the true faith and spirit, he will be blessed by the almighty god for his truthfulness.
Lore is greater than wealth
विद्या अर्थ से बड़ा धन
धनहीनो न च हीनश्च धनिक स सुनिश्चयः।
विद्या रत्नेन हीनो यः स हीनः सर्ववस्तुषु।।
Acharya says – If a scholar is poor, he is not considered as inferior because of his knowledge. His knowledge gem can get him the money and richness again, but the illiterate man is considered inferior and talentless everywhere.
Ignorant/talentless human is no different than an animal
गुणहीन मनुष्य पशु के समान
येषां न विद्या न तपो न दानं
न चापि शीलं च गुणो न धर्मः।
ते मर्त्यलोके भुवि भारभूता
A human who does not try to study, does not practice tenacity, someone who never helps anyone, and is not good in conduct and behavior, and doesn’t have any virtues in itself, such a human being is similar to the unnecessary burden on earth.
6 qualities of relations
रिश्तों के छः गुण
सत्यं माता पिता ज्ञानं धर्मो भ्राता दया सखा।
शान्तिः पत्नी क्षमा पुत्रः षडेते मम बान्धवाः।।
According to Acharya Chanakya, in the life of a human being, the truth resembles the mother, wisdom resembles the father, righteousness resembles the brother and the sister, grace resembles the true friend, peace resembles the wife, and the forgiveness resembles the son and the daughter.
That which is past, is gone.
जो बीत गया उसे भूलकर आगे की सुध लेनी चाहिए।
गतं शोको न कर्तव्यं भविष्यं नैव चिन्तयेत्।
वर्तमानेन कालेन प्रवर्तमन्ते विचक्षणाः।।
Repenting on something that has happened in past would not help anything. Same applies to the future as well. So, its always good to live in the preset. That will also brighten the future.
Tit for tat
जैसे को तैसा
कृते प्रतिकृतिं कुर्यात् हिंसेन प्रतिहिंसनम्।
तत्र दोषो न पतति दुष्टे दौष्टयं समाचरेत्।।
Acharya says that the person who does good to you, you should also do the same to him. Similarly, those who are wicked to you, should be treated with wickedness. There is no harm in doing so.
Faults eat up the virtues
दुर्गुण सदगुणों को खा जाते हैं
निर्गुणस्य हतं रुपं दुःशीलस्य हतं कुलम्।
असिद्धस्य हता विद्या अभोगस्य हतं धनम्।।
Chanakya said that it doesn’t matter how beautiful a person is. If he has no good manners, he will not be called beautiful.
Intelligence & destruction
विनाश काले विपरीत बुद्धि
न निर्मिता केन न दृष्टपूर्वा न श्रुयते हेममयी कुरंगी।
तथापि तृष्णा रघुनन्दनस्य विनाशकाले विपरीतबुद्धिः।।
It is observed that the intelligence leaves the man at the time of destruction.
Don’t lose anything in hand
हाथ आई चीज न गवाएँ
यो ध्रुवाणि परित्यज्य ह्यध्रुवं परिसेवते।
ध्रुवाणि तस्य नश्यन्ति चाध्रुवं नष्टमेव तत्।।
One who leaves something certain to achieve the uncertain, loses the certain. The thing is, always take well care of things that are in you hand, and don’t lose them to get something that is uncertain.
Discard dodgy friends
छली मित्र को त्याग दें
परोक्षे कार्यहन्तारं प्रत्यक्षे प्रियवादिनम्।
वर्जयेत्तादृशं मित्रं विषकुम्भं पयोमुखम्।।
A friend who talks sweet to you but becomes bitter about you behind your back should be left immediately.