का
कामं नीचमिदं वदन्तु पुरुषाः स्वप्ने च यद्वर्धते
विश्वस्तेषु च वञ्चनापरिभवश्चौर्यं न शौर्यं हि तत् ।।
स्वाधीना वचनीयतापि हि वरं बद्धो न सेवाञ्जलिः
मार्गो ह्येष नरेन्द्रसौप्तिकवधे पूर्वं कृतो द्रौणिना ।। (3, 11)

kāmaṁ nīcamidaṁ vadantu puruṣāḥ svapne ca yadvardhate
viśvasteṣu ca vañcanāparibhavaścauryaṁ na śauryaṁ hi tat
svādhinā vacanīyatāpi hi varaṁ baddho na sevāñjaliḥ
mārgo hyeṣa narendrasauptikavadhe pūrvaṁ kṛto drauṇinā

अयं श्लोकः शूद्रकप्रणीत मृच्छकटिकनाटकस्य तृतीयाऽङ्के अस्ति। चोरः शर्विलकः स्वचौर्यकार्यः नात्यधमः कार्यः इति वदति। परसेवाभ्यः वरं हि अयं कार्यः इत्युक्तवा – ‘निद्रावस्थायां जनान् वञ्चनं न प्रथमं मया क्रियते। पूर्वमेव अश्वत्थामा, कुरुक्षेत्रसंग्रामे रात्रौ पाण्डवशिविरं प्रविश्य सुखसुप्तान् पाण्डुपुत्रान् निजघान ‘ इति प्रस्थापयति।


The above verse is from the third act of the drama ‘mrchchakatikam’ written by sUdraka.

These are the words of the thief sharvIlaka who enters the house of chArudatta during the night to steal. He says- ‘Let the people say anything about thieving that is done during the night time. The good people always portray the art of thieving not as the work of a valorous person. Whatever it is, I am my own master in this field and I do not beg a rich man for a job. Moreover, I am not the first one to perform this deed while the people are asleep….who can forget the AshwathAma episode when he killed the sons of pANdavas while they were asleep.

पुरुषाः-Good men, इदं- call this theft and cheating, नीचं- as the lowest deed.
वदन्तु- let them say, कामं- as they wish.
तत् – cheating and thieving , शौर्यं न – are not a brave work, हि- because, चौर्यं - The theft, यद्वर्धते- happens , च – and the ,वञ्चनापरिभव – people are deceived or cheated , स्वप्ने – when they are asleep, च – and, विश्वस्तेषु – when it is calm.
(But I consider) वचनीयतापि- I am ready to accept the censure that I am a thief, (But I am proud that) स्वाधीना- I am doing a work not depending on anyone, हि – and this is definitely ,वरं – better than, बद्धो – bound to someone, सेवाञ्जलिः- with folded hands.
Moreover, एषः मार्गः – this way (Cheating the people while they are asleep) पूर्वं – before, न हि द्रौणिना कृतो – is this not done by droNa’s son ( ashwathAma), नरेन्द्रसौप्तिकवधे – by killing the sons of pANdavas. (ashwathAma killed the sons of pANdavas when they were asleep).


This piece is a gem for budding advocates who can take cue from the author to justify even grave deeds. The analogy he uses to compare the thief with AshwathAma and defending the act on the basis of self-reliance is to be appreciated.

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