178. Bhakṣite'pi laśune na śānto vyādhiḥ
‘Even after eating garlic the disease remained.’ Garlic is forbidden as per the śāstras. Notwithstanding that, it also has a foul odor. A patient somehow, with great difficulty, ate it assuming that when using it as a medicine it is pardonable. The disease wasn’t cured. But the foul odor stayed. When you do something which you don’t like but do it just for the sake of the result, and it turns out futile, this nyāya is used.
There was a great scholar named Bharma in the court of a king. The king respected him for his erudition. The other scholars in the court were jealous because of this. They realized that unless he was thrown out of the court and banished to some distant land, they wouldn’t be able to survive. They gathered to plan his downfall. They took Bharma to a dense forest with his eyes blindfolded, and left him there. They returned and reported to the king that Bharma died due to some mysterious disease and he has been cremated. The king believed them.
Bharma lost in the forest, wandered around for a long time and finally reached the city. The officials too were part of the cabal who left him in the forest and wouldn’t allow him to meet the king. Without choice he would wander in the outskirts of the city. The scholars further spread rumors that the ghost of Bharma is wandering around, making itself visible to people now and then. Once when the king was doing his rounds Bharma came to him. When the king asked him who he was, he replied, ‘I’m Bharma.’ The king assumed that it was a ghost and ran for his life. Finally, the king was able to see through all the machinations and realize that Bharma is indeed alive.
This is the story which is the source of this nyāya. The king, even after seeing Bharma through his own eyes, didn't believe that he was alive. This is because his intellect was corrupted. The name is Bharcchu in alternate versions.
The intellect corrupted due to prejudices or biases would not realize the truth and instead understands or perceives something else. This nyāya is used to illustrate this.
Wasting the ghee by pouring it in the ashes in the pretext of doing a homa. If the homa is done in the prescribed format by kindling the Agni and maintaining it till the end, one would reap the results. But instead one pours the ghee in ashes, the ghee is also wasted and we don’t get the desired results. Any deed should be done with discretion, understanding the capability and the status of the receiver will achieve desired results. This resembles the kannada proverb whose import is, sowing seeds in the sand, or adding some tamarind to the pond to make it sour.
Bhāṇḍā means a pot. Ālekhya is the design drawn on the pot. The potter uses some design as his signature. Maybe the sun, a wheel, or a tree, some design will be used like a trademark, even in the present times. Let’s assume a potter uses sun as his signature. One can say give a pot, why say a pot with the design? Since he uses the same signature, it won’t be useful to differentiate the pots which he has made. So that trademark is futile in that specific context. So when such a discerning factor becomes useless in a particular context, this nyāya is used to illustrate that.
This is called as Bhaṇḍālekhya by some scholars. Bhaṇḍa means a conman. Ālekhya is his writing. When an astrologer was asked, “Would Devadatta’s wife deliver a boy or a girl?” He wrote, “Boy not girl.” If the result is a boy, it can be read as, “Boy, not girl.” else it can be read as, “Boy not, girl.” (ignoring the word order).
When there are no fixed rules, goalposts can be shifted by any which way, this nyāya is used to describe such a situation.
Once a sannyāsin decided to stay in a rich man’s house and enjoy the hospitality. First time when he was hosted, he faked his appreciation to a tiny bit of hospitality the host showed. He grew acquainted and finally got the opportunity to enjoy the full hospitality.
This is the source of this nyāya. If you present a small window of opportunity to a wicked man he will abuse it to the fullest extent, and take away everything you have.
Same goes for the ‘uṣṭrapādaprasāraṇa-nyāya’. During the rains, a camel asked a poor man to place its leg inside his thatched hut to escape from the cold rain drops. The sympathetic host agreed. One by one it brought in all its legs. When the host objected, the camel said, ‘This is my house! You can go elsewhere.’
A warrior on a chariot would draw another chariot on the ground so that it can be used as a target to practice his skills. Just like how dummies are used now in weapon training. Such practices are prevalent so that the skills can be honed in such a way that it becomes useful during the actual war.
To describe such activities which even though doesn’t give any results in the short term, but helps in the long term, this nyāya is used.
Bhūliṅga is supposed to be a bird. Its call sounds like it is saying, ‘मा साहसम्’ (don’t be rash/hasty).
But the bird actually does such adventurous stuff! When a lion is eating the flesh of some animal, the bird goes and eats the flesh stuck on the teeth of the lion. Thus it goes head on directly into the mouth of a lion, but shouts, ‘मा साहसम्’! The import of this nyāya is, ‘Do as you say’.
This is the twenty-first part of the multi-part translation of the Kannada book "Sandarbha Sukti" by Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Dr. N Ranganatha Sharma. Thanks to Dr. Sharada Chaitra for granting us permission to translate this wonderful work. Thanks to Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh for his inputs. The original in Kannada can be read here