Sanskrit Notes: Context

Wise Principle
Wise Principle

(This is the translation of a story which appeared in Sambhashana Sandesha magazine. The translation is mine)

Once upon a time, a pundit went to the river to take a bath. While taking bath, he uttered a shlokam, which meant the following

“The love of a mother is the greatest, so is the strength of the brother.
The light of the sun is the best, so is the water from Ganga.”

A washerwoman, who was listening to this started laughing. Feeling insulted by her laughter, the pundit complained to the village chief, who summoned the woman and asked, “Why did you insult the pundit?”

The woman replied, “I did not insult him”

The pundit got angry, “Didn’t you laugh listening to my shlokam? Isn’t that insulting me?”

“Of course I laughed. That’s because your shlokam is laughable”

The pundit asked, “Isn’t the affection of a mother great? Isn’t the strength of the brother great? Isn’t the rays from the sun, bright? Isn’t the water from Ganga holy?”

The woman replied, “Sure, all those are excellent. But there are other principles, which are better. For example, if there is a fight between the father and son, the mother will support the father. At that time he would find the love of his wife the greatest.

Another example: if an enemy is attacking me, the strength of my shoulders would be the best defense.

If my eyes are weak, then I could become blind. Then the rays of light entering my eyes would be the best.

If there is drought, then life would get miserable. Then if it rains, that water would be the best.”

Everyone admired the wisdom of the washerwoman.

Thus, everything depends on the context.