Subhashita Introduction

Subhashita  सुभाषित means “Well said!”

When some one utters an idea in a beautiful manner, do we not say “Well said!” That is what is a Subhashita. सुभाषित -- Well said !
Literary persons are in love with subhashitas. सुभाषित. They value these even more than the so called valuable gems! See the following verse (Again a subhashita सुभाषित by itself!)

पृथिव्यां त्रीणि रत्नानि जलमन्नं सुभाषितम्    
मूढैः पाषाणखण्डेषु रत्नसंज्ञाऽभिधीयते


prithivyaam trini ratnaani jalamannam subhaashitam
mudhaih paashaanakhandeshu ratnasamjnaabhidhiiyate

There are (only) three gems (most precious things) in this world
Water, food and wise sayings. Only the fools call bits of rock as gems.

Who would not like a well written speech, or a beautifully worded paragraph? When we write something, and come across a beautiful verse to enhance our idea, we surely would welcome it, wouldn’t we?

Subhashitas सुभाषित are two or four liners in poetic form which deal with topics like:
1.    Stuti स्तुति of deities, (but more importantly, the following subjects are deftly handled by the poets)
2.    Prashamsaa प्रशंसा (Praise) of say, poets, Good people, of Knowledge—vidya
3.    (conversely) Ninda निन्दा blaming the vices, the bad people, (durjana दुर्जन ), In short, extoll virtues and highlight vices.
4.    Comments on social mores, Advice on moral and ethical values to be followed.
5.    Neeti नीति (Values) political, moral, social etc
6.    Puzzles and riddles
7.    The Nature and seasons
8.    Highlight peculiarities of human nature and behaviour as compared to animals, plants etc.
9.    Humorous couplets or four liners about gods and goddesses and superimposing human values and frailties on them.
10.  The “Navarasas” नवरस   in literature (Hasya, हास्य Shringara, शृंगार Bhaya भाव etc), And many more.

Some categorise verses in praise of Gods, as subhashitas, सुभाषित too.

How shall we identify/define a subashita when we come across one? The following will help.
A subhashita (Sanskrit: सुभाषित) is a literary genre of Sanskrit epigrammatic poems and their message is an aphorism, maxim, advice, fact, truth, lesson or riddle. Su in Sanskrit means good; bhashita means spoken; which together literally means well spoken or eloquent saying.
Subhashitas in Sanskrit are short verses, eay to memorise, typically in four padas (verses) but sometimes just two, but their structure follows a meter.  Subhashitas are one of many forms of creative works that have survived from ancient and medieval era of India, and sometimes known as Suktis. Ancient and medieval Indian literature created tens of thousands of subhashitas covering a vast range of subjects.
Subhashitas are known for their inherent moral and ethical advice, instructions in worldly wisdom and guidance in making righteous deeds. Subhashitas create an appeal as the inherent message is conveyed through poems which quote practical examples which are often rhythmic in nature. Some authors even relate Subhashitas to sugar coated bitter medicines considering their worthiness.

---Suhas B R).

The subhashita deals with various subjects and includes topics of day to day experiences that every one can easily relate to.[6] A subhashita is always eloquent in form, structured in a poetical form, complete in itself and concisely depicts a single emotion, idea, dharma, truth or situation.[3]
Subhashitas are drawn from real life and give fruit of philosophy grafted on the stem of experience!
— Ludwik Sternbach[3]
(Both the above gratefully taken from Wikipedia)

Subhashitas thus are poetic two or four liners, complete in themselves (Say stand alone) and hence are also called “Muktaka”

The Subhashita-Ratna-Bhandagaram is a compilation of more than 10,000 subhashitas (wise sayings) from Sanskrit literature compiled and arranged subject wise by Shri Kashinath Sharma. It was published by the Nirnayasagara Press in 1952. (One can download from the Net)

In addition to Subhashitas, we also have:
Lokokti लोकोक्ति (or lokavakya लोकवाक्य, or pracinavakya प्राचीन वाक्य ). These are Sanskrit proverbs, in the form of short sentences that express truths or facts, but they differ from Subhashitas in not being in poetical form. An example of a Sanskrit lokokti is:

Heartless words get heartless answers.
— Laukikanyayanjali. लौकिक न्यायांजलि

A sutra is another ancient Indian literary form. Sutras are concise wisdom or truth, but typically they too are not poetical. Unlike subhashitas and lokokti whose authors are unknown or long forgotten, sutras are attributed to sages, famous or known personalities. Sutras typically need to be read within a context to be completely understood.[3] An example of a Sanskrit Sutra attributed to Chanakya is:

Punishment must be proportionate to the offense.
— Chanakya-sutrani
There are many other ways in which the language is enriched, but we shall confine ourselves, to Subhashitas, for the time being.
Why use Subhashitas?

The Subhashitas make your writing effective, colourful at times and these embellish the matter with a beauty that is unparalleled. In the course of our study, let us look at Subhashitas and connect them to our lessons in a meaningful way.



Prev Lesson 81 ----- Sanskrit Proverbs लोकोक्तयः (Sanskrit Proverbs लोकोक्तयः) Next Subhashita 1. Desi Daffodils. (Subhashita 1. Desi Daffodils.)