More poems by Bartrihari

I dug up the earth in hope of treasure,
smelted the mountain’s metal ore,
crossed the ocean, diligently
flattered kings.
I spent my nights in charnel grounds,
my mind intent on tantric spells,
but failed to conjure a cowrie shell.
Let greed abandon me!


Her memory brings me pain,
her sight provokes my lust,
her touch confuses my mind,
What is left of her to love?


I wandered over steep and rugged country
but gained nothing from the journey.
I abandoned my rightful pride in family and race
to serve others without reward,
debasing myself at the table of strangers
like a crow fearful of being chased away.
Greed! Delighting in wickedness,
you grow unchecked and will not be satisfied.


We were patient but not through patience, renounced
the household pleasures but were not content,
endured the unendurable pains
of cold winds and heat but failed
the ascetic’s discipline.
We meditated day and night
on wealth – but not, with measured breath,
on Shiva’s feet. We performed
all the many acts of sages
but were cheated of their fruits.

Translated by Louis Hunt

Bhartrihari was a Sanskrit writer who is thought to have lived in the 5th century CE. His poetry is aphoristic, and comments on the social mores of the time. His collected work is known as Shatakatraya "the three shatakas or 'hundreds' ('centuries')", consisting of three thematic compilations on niti, shringara and vairagya (practical wisdom, erotic love and detachment ) of a hundred verses each.
Source: Wikipedia

If you have any thoughts on these translations, Louis Hunt
would be pleased to hear them.