Chapter 20 — On Wisdom & Good Conduct

It is reasoning in the company of the respectable that leads most efficiently to the improvement of the understanding, and then to the making of a great man who has all the characteristics of greatness. Whatever man excels in any quality, that distinguishes him. Therefore learn and improve your understanding from him.

True greatness consists in quietness and other virtues. Without a knowledge of this it is impossible, O Rama, to be successful in anything. Learning produces quiet and other qualities and increases the virtues of good people. All this is praised because of their good effects on the mind, just like the rain is praised for growing new sprouts. The qualities of quietude and other virtues serve to increase the best knowledge, just like a sacrifice with rice serves to produce blissful rains for the harvest. As learning produces the qualities of quiet and the like, so do these qualities give rise to learning. Thus they serve to grow each other, just as lake and lotuses contribute to their mutual benefit. Learning is produced by right conduct as good conduct results from learning. Thus wisdom and morality are natural helps to one another.

An intelligent man who is possessed of quietude, meekness and good conduct, should practice wisdom and follow the ways of good people. Unless one practices wisdom and good conduct in an equal degree, he will never be successful in either of them. 10 Both of these should be joined together like the song united with percussion, or like the farmer and his wife sowing seeds and driving away the birds. 11 It is by practice of wisdom and right conduct that good people are enabled to acquire both in an equal degree.

12 I have already expounded to you, O Rama, the rule of good conduct. Now I will explain to you fully the way of gaining learning.

13 Learning leads to fame, long life and the acquisition of the object of your exertion. Therefore the intelligent should learn the good sciences from those who have studied and mastered them. 14 By hearing (these lectures) with a clear understanding, you will surely attain the state of perfection, just like dirty water is purified by infusion of kata fruit.

15 A sage who has known the knowable has his mind drawn imperceptibly to the state of bliss. Once known and felt, the impression of that highest state of unbounded joy is hard to loose at anytime.