सुभाषितम or Su-Bhaashitam – 1

Editor’s Note: We change directions a bit and begin a journey into the vast collection of सुभाषितम (Su-Bhaashitam) or well spoken phrases from past centuries. The prefix Su is for good, or well chosen, the word Bhaashitam comes from Bhashaa or spoken language and stands for verse or phrase. The objective of a Su-Bhaashitam is to convey a point delicately and in a pleasant way. Samskrut is famous for such Su-Bhaashitam which themselves tell the tale of culture or Dharma.

The concept of Su-Bhaashitam has been celebrated in Samskrut for centuries. A simple illustration is the famous verse below:
        भाषासु मुख्या मधुरा दिव्या गीर्वाण भारती
        Bhaashaasu Mukhyaa Divyaa GeervanBharati
        Among all languages, the most important, beautiful and celestial langauge is Samskrut of Bhaarat

        तस्मात् अपि काव्यं मधुरं तस्मात् अपि सुभाषितम
        Tasmaat Api Kavyam Madhuram Tasmaat Api Su-Bhaashitam
        Kavya (poetry) is its beautiful part; the Su-Bhaashitam is even more beautiful

So we begin this series with our first Su-Bhaashitam.

In our daily lives, we wear specific clothes for specific purposes. We tend to wear our best clothes when we want others to be impressed by us. This could be in an interview or at a reception. We realize that the dress does not make a man or a woman. We know that what is inside a person, the heart, the mind, the brain are far more important than how we appear in formal wear. But formal wear is important and looking at our best in haute fashion gives us material rewards.

A Su-Bhaashita-Kaar or a creator of a Su-Bhaashitam felt the same. He said वासः प्रधानम खलु योग्यातायाः Or The Dress  (Vas) is indeed (Khalu) the Main indicator of Status (Yogyataa).

He gave an interesting analogy to make his point.

       किम वा समस्तत्र विचारनीयम वासः प्रधानम खलु योग्यातायाः
       Kim Vaa Samas tatra vichaarneeyam Vasah Pradhaanam Khalu Yogyataayaha
       This is worth thinking about; that Dress is indeed the main indicator of Status

       पीताम्बरं वीक्ष्य ददौ स्वकन्याम चर्माबरम वीक्ष्य विषम समुद्रः
       Peeta-Ambaram Vikshyaa Dadau Swa-Kanyaam Charma-Ambaram Vikshyaa Visham Samudrah
       Upon seeing the Peeta-Ambar (rich dress of Vishnu), (Ocean) gave him his own daughter,
       Upon seeing the Charma-Ambar
(animal skin dress of Shankar), the Ocean gave him poison.

As the legend goes, the Gods and the Demons began churning the Ocean in search of Amrut. Out of that churning, came out the poison which Shankar drank and then came out the Goddess Lakshmi whose hand Vishnu accepted.

So, according to the Su-Bhaashita-Kaar, the Ocean saw the rich dress of Vishnu and gave him his daughter Lakshmi and upon seeing the poor animal skin dress of Shankar, the Ocean gave him the poison.

This is what a Su-Bhaashitam is – a nice couplet that makes a point in a positive way and sometimes bringing a chuckle or a smile. This Su-Bhaashitam became so popular that the phrase वासः प्रधानम खलु योग्यातायाः (Dress is the Main Indicator of Status) has became immortal.

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