śatakatrayam 1.1: ode to light

by Jahnabi Barooah

last weekend, i started reading with my brilliant sanskritist friend RB of harvard the nītiśataka, a much-loved volume of sanskrit poetry attributed to bhartṛhari, one of the early sanskrit poets. these verses purport to provide guidance on ethics and morality. it is one of three volumes, the other two are on love / passion (śṛṅgāra) and renunciation (vairāgya). cumulatively, the anthology is called ‘śatakatrayam,’ which means three hundred. each volume supposedly contained hundred poems on the three themes, which explains why these collections are called ‘śatakas.’ occasionally, i will be sharing my translations on this blog.

दिक्कालाद्यनवच्छिन्नानन्तचिन्मात्रमूर्तये ।
स्वानुभूत्येकमानाय नम: शान्ताय तेजसे ।।१।।
नीतिशतके

glory be to light!
unbound by limits of direction or time,
eternal, inexhaustible, infinite.
the only embodiment of knowledge,
the ever steady,
it is known only to itself. ||1||
nītiśataka

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