Source my quote
May 6, 2006 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I would like to know, for real, the source of this (translated) sanskrit quote:

For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendor of achievement;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

I have seen it attributed to Kálidása and also to one of the upanishads. Can anyone give me a reference?
posted by shothotbot to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total)
Even the folks at Sanskrit Documents don't seem sure. If you have a reference indicating which Upanishad, I can try to confirm.
posted by Gyan at 9:02 PM on May 6, 2006

The most authoritative reference I can find (a compendium of quotations published in 1989) lists this as "author unknown", though as sometimes attributed to Kalidasa. It apparently appeared in an anthology of translated Sanskrit verse in 1948; see here for details.
posted by muhonnin at 12:30 AM on May 7, 2006

Sounds to me like one of the many, many fake quotations floating around. Some unknown person composed it, probably in the late 19th century (it has a very Victorian ring: "They are not long, the days of wine and roses..."), and somebody thought it sounded like an old Sanskrit poem, and it got included in that anthology, and presto, an unsourceable quote. This sort of thing happens all the time. It's particularly telling that Sanskrit specialists can't trace it. I think you should enjoy it for its own sake. But if you do get an ironclad sourcing, for heaven's sake post it here!
posted by languagehat at 6:48 AM on May 7, 2006

An excellent recitation for every morning! Thank you muchly, shothotbot.
posted by sgobbare at 1:29 PM on May 7, 2006

Languagehat - it could be, instead, simply translated in the 19th century. In my (limited to moderate) experience with sanskrit translations the bulk of them are Sir Richard F. Burton'ish victoriana.

cf. 1001 nights.
posted by metaculpa at 2:22 PM on May 30, 2006

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