śatakatrayam 1.29: yadacetano’pi pādaiḥ (if an insentient sun-stone)

by Jahnabi Barooah

यदचेतनोऽपि पादै: स्पृष्ट: प्रज्वलति सवितुरिनकान्त:।
तत्तेजस्वी पुरुष: परकृतनिकृतिं कथं सहते ।।२९।।
नीतिशतके

if an insentient sun-stone,
bursts into flames when grazed by
the sun’s feet (~rays),*
then will a brilliant person
tolerate being humiliated by others?
nītiśataka

Some information that might be helpful in understanding this poem: *This verse puns on the word, pāda, whose most common meaning in the Sanskrit language is ‘foot.’ It also means a ray of light. In the South Asian context, it is considered disrespectful to touch someone with one’s foot. It is natural for the sun-stone to burn when exposed to the sun’s rays. Here this natural reaction is poetically imagined to be an expression of the sun-stone’s anger at being disrespected by the sun (~touched by its rays / feet). Then, the poet asks –if a sun-stone which is insentient (acetana) reacts in this manner, then how can a brilliant / upright / courageous (tejasvī) person tolerate insult from others?

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