Indian proverbs

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This page is for proverbs from any of the languages of India. There are 17 official languages and many more dialects (almost 500) in India. Note that proverbs in Kannada can be copy-pasted into Baraha(free transliteration software)[1] to see them in its actual script. See List of Indian Languages at Wikipedia


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

  • आपनॊ गूरॊ गूरॊ,दोसरा के गूरॊ समाठॊ लॆ कॆ हूरॊ ( Angika Language)
    • (Boils in own body is considered as painful though in others it is understood as painless).
    • Meaning that one can not understand and realise the pain of others .
  • Arandu ammaki pranthu pidichaal kanan nalla seela (Malayalam)
    • (If somebody's mother goes mad, it is a good scene to watch)
  • aalasyam amrutham visham (Telugu)
    • (Best Chances will become Odds if you don't react on time)
  • तुम जियो हजारों साल,साल के दिन हो एक हजार (Hindi)
    • (literal translation: May you live a thousand years and may each year have a thousand days)
    • (semantic translation: May you live your life to the fullest)

B

  • bekku kaNNu muchchikonDu hAlu kuDidante (Kannada)
    • (It is like a cat drinking milk with eyes closed).
    • Meaning that others can see through a misdeed despite pretensions.
  • bEline eddu hola mEdre hEge? (Kannada)
    • (The fence itself grazed through the field).
    • A fence is meant to stop cattle from grazing. What if the fence itself is a culprit? This proverb comes from a skepticism of those who break laws they are supposed to uphold.
  • bhangi dEvarige henDaguDuka pUjari (Kannada)
    • (For the God who is on dope you need a priest who is a drunk).
    • The underlings are usually quite a match for the rogues in power whom they serve.
  • bhikshukaha bhikshuken drishtwa kukkurenwat gurgurayate (sanskrit)
    • Upon seeing another beggar (in his territory) the beggar growls like a dog.
    • Professional Jealousy affects everybody including Beggars
  • बडों-बडों को पैंट नही ...छोटों को पयजाम (hindi)
    • Biggies are desparate for shorts and the kids are wearing pants.
  • बंदर क्या जाने अदरक का स्वाद (Bandar kya jaane adark ka swaad) (Hindi)
    • Literally: What does a monkey know of the taste of ginger? (someone who can't understand can't appreciate)
    • English equivalent: Laying pearls before swine
    • Kannada equivalent: Katthegenu gotthu Kasthuri vaasne (A donkey would not know the scent of Kasthuri)
    • Tamizh equivalent : Kazhudaikku theriyuma karpoora vaasanai (What does Donkey know about the smell of Camphor?).
    • Telugu equivalent : Gadida kemi thelusu Gandapu vasana (or) Pandi kemi thelusu panneru vasana.
    • Malayalam equivalent: Nallathe ariyo nayike
  • 'Bhens aagad bhaagvat'(Gujarati)
    • Translation in English 'Bhaagvat Gita in front of a Buffalo'
    • It means that if you need to explain to a person it should be at his or her level of understanding. You can only pass valuable lessons in front of a person in a way they will grasp it. Reading the Gita(Holy book for Hindus) in front of a Buffalo is a waste. Tailor your speech to your audience. The proverb has a deeper meaning.

C

  • chelige parupatya kotta haage (Kannada)
    • (It is like giving authority to a scorpion).
    • If the mean people get into positions of authority they cause a great damage like a scorpion, which needs no reason to sting, would work overtime if asked to do so.
  • chinte illadavanige santeyallU nidde (Kannada)
    • (One without worries can doze off in a market place).
  • Chinta sachina pulupu chavaledhu (Telugu)
  • chapti dhul ni jaroor pade (Gujarati)
    • Interpretation1-Sometimes only a pinch of sand is all you need.
    • Interpretation2-Sometimes you do need a pinch of sand too.
  • chorer mayer boro gola.(Bengali)
    • somebody who is the culprit shouts louder.

D

  • دال میں کچھ کالا दाल में कुछ काला (Urdu/Hindi)
    • Daal May Kuch Kala Hai (There's something black in the lentils)
    • (Similar to English's "Something is fishy," and "There is something rotten in the state of Denmark" meaning something arouses suspicion.
  • dEvaru vara koTTarU pUjari vara koDa (Kannada)
    • (The God may grant the boon but the priest will not).
    • Once again this is a dig at the underlings who are worse than the bureaucrats they serve.
  • dharmakke daTTi koTTare hittalige hOgi moLa hAkidaru (Kannada)
    • (When a cloth is given for charity it was measured in the backyard).i.e. looking a gift horse in the mouth.
  • دھوبی کا کتا، نہ گھر کا نہ گھاٹ کا धोबी का कुत्ता, न घर का न घाट का (Urdu/Hindi)
    • (Washerman's dog, not of the house, not of the riverside)
    • It refers to someone who doesn't really belong anywhere.
  • दुरुन डोंगर साजरे (Dooroon Dongar Saajare) (Marathi)
  • Dungra doorthi raliyamana (Gujrati)
    • Literally: Hills always look great from a distance.
  • Doorapu kondalu nunupu (Telugu)
  • dUrada beTTa nuNNage (Kannada)
    • (The hill appears smooth from a distance)
  • दूर के ढोल सुहाने लगते हैं (Hindi)
    • (The drums sound better at a distance)
    • We tend to like the ones we don't have. Similar to saying "the grass is greener on the other side."
    • Hidden difficulties don't seem obvious at the beginning.
    • The Drums sound better from a distance
  • चार आने की मुर्गी बारह आने का मसाला (Mumbaiya Hindi)
    • 25 cents Chicken consumes 75 cents Masala Coating
    • (Spending more on the Make-up then on self)
    • Spend on the main ingredient and spend twice more on the supporting ingredients.

E

  • Elaimayil kalvi, silaiyil ezhuthu (Tamil)
    • (Education in your childhood is like the letters in a sculpture)
    • What you study during your childhood will never be forgotten
  • ettu ErigeLeyitu, kONa nIrigeLeyitu. (Kannada)
    • (The ox pulled to the shore, the buffalo pulled to the water).
    • This is a scene of a cart pulled by an ox and a buffalo which do not co-ordinate well and do what they please leading to a disaster. Mismatched company of people could lead to a similar situation.
  • ettu Iyitu andare koTTigege kaTTu andarante (Kannada)
    • (“The ox has delivered”, “Tie up the calf in the pen.”)
    • Those who agree to everything without using their brains are made fun of in this way.

rakshit nanda

G

  • गाढवापुढे वाचली गीता, कालचा गोंधळ बरा होता - Gadhva pudhe vaachli Geeta, Kaalcha gondhal bara hota(MARATHI)
    • (Literal)After reading the Bhagwad Geeta to a donkey, it seems like yesterday's commotion was more bearable.
      • i.e.- It's no use wasting wisdom before a fool who thinks and acts like he is the only correct person in the world (he will yell louder than ever, that his words are wiser, and make more sense)
  • VeDa SuLaDaru GaaDe SuLaGaDhu (Kannada)
    • The vedas can go wrong but not the Proverbs.
  • ganDa henDira jagaLa unDu malago thanaka (Kannada)
    • The quarrel between a husband and wife is till they eat and go to bed.
    • i.e. disagreements between people in love is forgotten easily.
  • gaNEshanannu mADalu hOgi avara appanna mADidante (Kannada)
    • (It is like trying to make an idol of Ganesh and ending up with his father).
    • A warning for the bunglers who create more trouble than fixing them.
  • geddettina bAla hiDida hAge (Kannada)
    • (It is like holding the tail of the winning ox).
    • i.e. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.
  • giDavAgi baggaddu maravAgi baggIthe? (Kannada)
    • (If it does not bend as a sapling, will it when it is a tree?)
    • Those who have trouble following rules as young will get worse when they get older.
  • gubbi mEle bramhAstravE? (Kannada)
    • (A nuclear weapon on a sparrow?)
    • Meaning - Using more force than necessary can have consequences beyond proportion
    • This is said of actions beyond proportion taken on helpless people.
    • Incidentally, Brahmastra is the ultimate weapon of destruction with nothing to counter it except another Brahmastra.
    • Pichhuka pai Bramhastram(Telugu)
  • Ghar ka Jogi jogna, Aan gaon ka Sidh (Hindi)
    • (A wise man to the rest of the world, but a nobody at home.)
  • Ghar ki muragi, dal barabar (Hindi)
    • (Chicken curry prepared at home has the same value as a simple dal curry)
    • We do not value the the things that we already possess
  • Ikkaraikku Akkarai pachchai (Tamil)
    • Self possesions are always undermined and other's possesions seem better. Something like 'The grass is always greener on the other side'.
    • Your own wife feels very ordinary.
  • Ghar ka bhedi, lanka dhayey. (Hindi)
    • A person who betrays his own, can bring down lanka (a very prosperous city in Hindu mythology)
    • Beware of the insider, for he can bring down the biggest setup
    • This proverb refers to Vibhishana in the Ramayana

H

  • halliddAga kaDle illa; kaDle iddAga hallilla (Kannada)
    • (There are no nuts when one has teeth and there are no teeth when there are nuts).
    • Munching nuts is a sign of prosperity. It is frustrating that one is poor when the youth to enjoy the riches is abundant whereas when one finally gets rich the faculties to enjoy are gone.
  • ಹೋದ್ಯ್ ಪಿಶಾಚಿ ಅಂದರೆ ಬಂದೆ ಗವಾಕ್ಶಿ ಅಂತಂತೆ
    • Transliteration: Hodhya pisachi amdhare bamdhe gavakshili anthanthe
    • Just when you thought a burning issue was resolved, you see the very issue appearing in another form.
  • hALUrige uLidavanE GouDa (Kannada)
    • (One remaining in a ruined village is its chairman).
    • A dig at people in power at weak institutions.
  • hanigUDidare haLLa; tenegUDidare batha (Kannada)
    • (Drops join to make a stream; ears combine to make a crop).
    • i.e. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
  • hADidde hADO kisubAyi dAsA (Kannada)
    • (Sing the same song again, grin-mouthed beggar).
    • A rude putdown of those who keep repeating the same argument.
  • hAsige iddashTu kAlu chAchu (Kannada)
    • (Stretch your legs as far as the bed is)
    • This is a warning to live within one’s means.
  • hettorige hegNa muddu, kUDidorige kOdaga muddu (Kannada)
    • (A bandicoot is lovely to his parents; a mule is pretty to its mate).
    • This is a wacky statement of the somber truth: Love is blind.
  • hiriyaNNana chALi mane mandiigellA (Kannada)
    • (The elder brother’s habits are for all in the family).
    • The underlings follow the leader, especially his bad traits.
  • hithala giDa maddalla (Kannada)
    • (The plant in the backyard is not a medicinal herb).
    • Familiarity breeds contempt.
  • hoLe nIrige doNenAykana appaNe Eke? (Kannada)
    • (Who needs the approval of a city official for the water from a stream?)
    • This is a rudimentary opposition to taxation and control of things taken for granted in a village life.
  • hosataralli agasa gONi etti etti ogeda. (Kannada)
    • (When he was new, the washerman beat the jute bag repeatedly).
    • People who are new on the job work eagerly and enthusiastically until they find their way and slack off.Clothes were washed in villages by Dhobis who took them to a lake, soaked them and bet the hell out of them on a rock to rid of the dirt. The amount of beating was inversely proportional to the value of the cloth. A jute bag hardly deserved attention except by one who was new to the job.
  • hosa vaidyanigintha haLe rOgine mElu (Kannada)
    • (An old patient is better than a new doctor).
    • This stems from a suspicion of inexperienced and untested people with education vis a vis wise, familiar and old fellows of dubious qualifications.
  • hoTTege hiTTilladiddarU juTTige mallige hUvu (Kannada)
    • (There is no food to eat but there is jasmine in the crown).
    • Wearing jasmine in the hair is considered elegant for women, especially on their way to a temple or a wedding party. Dressing beyond one’s means is frowned upon as a sign of false pride.
  • huTTisida dEvaru hullu mEyisuttaneye? (Kannada)
    • (Will the God who brought us to the world make us graze on grass).
    • This proverb mouths faith and optimism in the face of adversity.
  • huchhu munDe maduveyalli unDavanE jaaNa (Kannada)
    • (In the wedding of the mad widow one who has a meal is the clever one).
    • This earthy saying implies that one who manages to get by in a wild and chaotic situation deserves compliments.
    • A widow's wedding, that too if she is insane, is highly improbable. Only a smart person can manage to find such a wedding and even enjoy a meal there.
  • hUvina jote nAru svarga sErithu. (Kannada)
    • (The string used to tie the flowers also reached heaven).
    • Those who are in the company of the noble will reap the benefits by association.
  • Haate mApi chAkhande chAla (Oriya)
    • Literel Meaning: Measure a Yard, but walk a step
    • English Equivalent: Look before you Leap.

I

  • It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.(Translation)
  • iddaddu idda hAge hELidre, siddappanige siDilu hoDeyitu. (Kannada)
    • (When facts are said as they are it was like the striking of lightning for Siddappa).
    • This is a dig on those who cannot take criticism and throw tantrums.
  • Hyderabad Naam Muraadi Upar Choona Nechai Khali (Urdu)
    • (Hyderabadi favourite saying in appeareance very smart but from inside bears nothing)
  • Ikyamathyam mahabalam. (malayalam)
    • (unity is the strength)
  • sindhi aur saap ko dekho to sindhi ko pehele maro (Hindi)
    • if you see a sindhi and a snake, kill the sindhi first

D

  • Do not blame God for having created the tiger, but thank him for not having given it wings (Translation)

J

  • jal mein rehkar magar se bair karna theek nahin (Hindi)
    • (Living in water and being an enemy of the crocodile is not good.)
    • (English Equivalent: It is hard to live in Rome and strive against the Pope.)
  • garajne wale badal baraste nahin hain (Hindi)
    • (Clouds that thunder seldom rain)
    • Those who make the most threats seldom do anything
    • (English Equivalent: Barking dogs seldom bite)
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Kuraikkum naai kadikkadhu)
  • jana marulo jatre marulo (Kannada)
    • (Are people stupid or the crowd stupid?)
    • This proverb bemoans the irrational behavior of normal people in large crowds.
  • जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी ॥
  • jananee janmabhoomiScha swargaadapi gareeyasi. (Sanskrit)
    • One's mother and homeland are greater than even heaven.
  • biddarU mIse maNNAgalilla (Kannada)
    • (Upon falling, he didn't bother as his moustache didn't get soiled).
    • Moustache is a sign of pride. One who manages not to lose face despite defeat gets such compliment.
  • Jitnee Lambi Chadar ho Utna hee pair failana Chahiye (Hindi)
    • Stretch your legs only until the size of your Counter pan.
    • ( Limit your Spendings To your Earnings)
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Viralukku thagundha veekkam venum: Meaning- The size of a finger can only be as much it is allowed, it cannot grow more than that.)

K

  • Kaali agge toi (Punjabi)
    • There will always be a ditch in front of a person in hurry.
  • Kal irundhaal, naai illai. Naai irandhaal, kal illai. (Tamil)
    • (When you have a rock in hand, usually there won't be a dog to hit nearby. When there is a dog nearby, you usually won't have the rock to hit it with.)
    • When it takes 2 items to do an action, when you have one you will have most likely misplaced the second item. Once you finally find the second item, you will have lost the first.

There is a second meaning to this: A dog is sculptored on a rock. If you look at that as a rock, u will not recognise the dog. If you look at that object as a dog, the rock is not recognised. This has huge philosophical content.

  • Kallaik kaNdAl nAyaik kANum, NAyaik kaNdAl kallaik kANum. (Tamil)
    • (When you see dog's figure in the rock you can't realise it's a rock, when you see the rock you can't realise it's a dog (Dog's figure))
    • This is a more common form of the previous proverb, and is easily misunderstood as "When there is a dog nearby, you usually won't find a stone (to throw at it)." However what it really means is that, if you look superficially, you fail to see the real meaning. The proverb itself is a good example.
  • Katrathu Kai aLavu, kallathathu ulaga aLavu (Tamil)
    • (What you know is as big as the size of your palm, what you do not know is as big as the size of the universe)
    • Mainly emphasizes the importance of humility, and an open mind. Only when we realize the magnitude of our own ignorance, we remain open to knowledge.
  • Kai kesaraadare baai mosaru (Kannada)
    • (You have to make your hands muddy to get curds to your mouth (In relation to agriculture))
    • English Equivalent: Hard work reaps sweet success
  • kAryavAsi katte kAlu (Kannada)
    • (If you need a job to be done, be prepared to fall at the feet of a donkey).
  • keTTa mEle buddhi bantu, aTTa mEle ole uriyitu (Kannada)
    • (Got wisdom after being ruined, the stove caught fire after the cooking was done).
    • In olden days the earthen stove (ole) used dried cowdung cakes to burn and it was no mean task to get it going. The dawn of wisdom after it is too late is often compared to the frustration with the stove which was too slow in becoming functional.
  • Khuda meherban tho ghada pehelwan (Hindi)
    • (If god blesses a donkey it can become a wrestler).
    • With grace of god even the most useless person can become great.
  • konkaNa suthi mailArakke banda hAge (Kannada)
    • (It is like circling Konkan to reach Mailar).
    • Those who do even a simple thing in a roundabout manner deserve this proverb.
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Thalaiyai suthi mookai thottathu pola. Meaning - Taking the hand around the head to touch one's nose.)
  • kOpadalli koyda mUgu shAntiyalli baruttadeye? (Kannada)
    • (Will the nose cut in anger recover in calmness?)
    • Rash acts done in anger lead to damages which cannot be undone.
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Aathirakkaranukku buthi mattu: Meaning - An angry person has less thinking power)
  • kOthi kaige mANikya kotta hAge (Kannada)
    • (It is like giving a gem to a monkey).
    • When undeserving or unqualified people are given valuable tasks such snide comments are made of them.
  • Kurangu kaiyile poo malai (Tamil)
    • (It is like giving a garland to a monkey).
  • kOti tAnU keDOdalde vanAnU keDisitu (Kannada)
    • (Not only did the monkey ruin himself, he also ruined the garden).
    • This warns one not to meddle with those who can bring down their detractors with them. This proverb is a bit mischievous because the reference is to a story in the Ramayana in which Hanuman sets fire to large parts of Lanka on his mission to find Sita who was under house arrest. In fact he succeeded in his mission to deliver a message of hope to her and intimidate her abductor, Ravana. His tail was set on fire by Ravana for which Hanuman paid back by torching his palaces.
  • koTTaddu tanage; bachchiTTaddu pararige. (Kannada)
    • (What you give away is yours and what you hide will go to others).
    • The virtue of charity and the evil of greed are emphasized here.
  • koTTavanu kOdangi, iskondavanu Irabhadra (Kannada)
    • (The one who gave is a mule, one who got it is a winner).
    • This proverb is in contrast to the above one. It suggests that it is better to get the best deal under bad circumstances than trying to be fair and patient. You may end up with nothing in the bargain.
  • kumbaLakAyi kaLLa andre hegalu muTTi nODida. (Kannada)
    • (When "Pumpkin thief!" was cried out, he touched his shoulder to check.)
    • One with a guilty conscience needs no accuser.
  • kumbAranige varusha; doNNege nimisha. (Kannada)
    • (It is a year for the potter and it is a minute for the stick).
    • It is easier to destroy than to build.
  • kuNiyalAradavaLu nela donku andaLante (Kannada)
    • (One Who could not dance said that the ground was uneven).
    • This is a dig on those who find excuses for their incompetence. This proverb comes from a time when women of ill repute, supported by the aristocracy, were expected to sing and dance to please their rich customers.
    • Eng: A bad workman blames his tools.
  • kUsu huttOke munche kulAvi holisidaru (Kannada)
    • (They got a cap stitched even before the baby was born).
    • This is a reference to things done prematurely. This proverb goes back to a time when infant mortality was very high and people postponed getting things for children until they were born and were in reasonable health. Clothes, toys etc. of children were a painful reminder to the bereaved parents. It was even considered a bad omen to prepare excessively for a child before its birth.
  • Kaikku Ettinathu Vaaikku Ettala. (Tamil)
  • kaige banda tuttu bAyige baralilla. (Kannada)
    • (The food which came to the hand did not come to mouth).
    • There is many a slip between the cup and the lip. Here the imagery is one of a child being fed by a mother who makes balls of rice mixed with curry (tuttu). This is an intimate moment of great joy and satisfaction for the child. It could lead to great unhappiness if the ball did not reach the mouth.
  • kaiyalli sharaNarthi, kankuLalli doNNe. (Kannada)
    • (Hands are folded but there is a stick under the arms).
    • This is a warning about those who speak softly but carry a big stick to strike when you least expect.
  • koopasta manDookamu. (Sanskrit)
    • (A frog in a well).
    • This is used to refer to narrow minded inviduals. According to the stories, a frog living in a well thinks the well itself is the universe.
  • Kutte Kee Poonch ko pipe main daloge to bhi seedhi nahin hogi (Hindi)
    • ( You cant straighten dog's tail by putting in a hose pipe )
    • This is to refer to the hard core people who don't change there attitude.
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Naai vaalai nimirtha mudiyathu)
  • Kama Poorta Mama Ani Taka Poorti Aaji (Marathi)
    • (Literal) Calls you uncle when he needs you, Calls you grandma when he needs to borrow buttermilk
    • (Translation)Selfish creature
  • Kandhe pe bithaya to kaan main moota (Mumbaiya Hindi)
    • You made him sit on your shoulder and he pisses in your ears
    • English version: Give a camel an inch and he will take an ell.
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Idathai koduthal madathai pidippadhu pola. Meaning: Give a person place to stay for a while, and he claims that the place belongs to him)
  • Kaala agare mulA chobeibA (Oriya)
    • To munch a raddish before a deaf person.
    • This is to refer to a futile exercise.
  • Kusuma parashe pata nistare (Oriya)
    • Literal Meaning: The thread (as in a garland) gets salvation in touch with the flower.
    • A novice can get recognition in the company of noble people.
    • (Tamil Equivalent: Poovodu serndha naarum manakkum: The thread of the garland also smells sweet)
  • koto dhaane koto chal (Bengali)
    • to know what it costs to get the result.

L

  • Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it. (Translation)
  • લક્ષ્મી ચાદલો કરવા આવે ત્યારે મોં ધોવા ન જવાય.
  • Laxmi chaandlo karva aave tyaarey mo dhova na javay (Gujarati)
    • Literally: When the goddess of wealth comes to give you a blessing, you should not go to wash your face
    • English equivalent: When opportunity knocks one's door, one should grab it

kaialavu manasu kadal alavu kanavu(tamil) english equivalent : more dreams in a small heart.

M

  • maduve mADi nODu, mane katti nODu. (Kannada)
    • (Perform a wedding and see, build a house and see).
    • When worthwhile but difficult acts are done, it is gratifying in the end.
  • maduveyAgO gunDa endare nInE nanna henDathi anda. (Kannada)
    • (I said “Get married, Gunda”. He said :”then you are my wife.”)
    • This is a warning about fellows who latch on to those who try to help them.
  • mADOdu durAchAra, mane munde brindAvana. (Kannada)
    • (What they do is evil but they have holy herbs in the front garden).
    • This is said of people whose outward behavior is impeccable but actions are despicable. Having a little garden of the Thulasi plant in front of a house was considered a sign of piety and goodness.
  • manege benki biddAga bhavi tODidaru (Kannada)
    • (When the house caught fire they began digging a well).
    • Too little, too late.
  • maneyalli ili, beediyali huli(Kannada)
    • He is a rat at home, but when he comes to the street he becomes a tiger
  • mantrakkinta uguLe jasti (Kannada)
    • (There is more spit than the chant).
    • This is said of people whose actions do not match their claims.
  • mAtu ballavanige jagaLavilla, UTa ballavanige rOgavilla (Kannada)
    • (One who knows how to talk will have no fights, one who knows how to eat will have no sickness).
    • The meaning is obvious here.
  • Minnunnathellaam ponnalla (Malayalam)
    • (All that glitters is not gold)
  • Mukilla Rajyathu Murimukkan Rajavu (Malayalam)
    • (In the land of people with no nose, the half-nose man is the king)
    • Similar to "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". Referring that among unscholared people, a half-knowledged man is a scholar.
  • mUrthi chikkadAdru kIrthi doDDadu (Kannada)
    • (Though the idol is small the fame is big).
    • This is a reference to self effacing people with accomplishments. Incidentally people with accomplishments are expected to be self effacing. If not, they may be termed arrogant.
  • muttathe mullaikku manamilla. (Malayalam)
    • (The jasmine flowers in the backyard do not have any fragrance.)
    • That is, the things that people already possess do not hold any charm and people fall for the delusion that what others possess is somehow more attractive.
  • mare bina swarg nahi milta (Hindi)
    • (without death, there can be no heaven)
    • Great things can be achieved only with great effort
  • mor na inda chitarva na pade. (Gujarati)
    • (You don't have to go and paint the eggs of peacocks.)
    • It suggests that great art,culture,skills comes in blood. As peacock is beautiful, so are its eggs, you need not to paint them separately to make them beautifull.
  • Mokkai vanganidi maanai vanguna(Telugu)
    • (If it doesn't bend as a small plant, will it if it grows huge)

N

  • naach na jaane aangan tedha (Hindi) नाच न जाने आँगन टेढ़ा. ناچ نہ جانے آنگن ٹیڑھا
    • (Knows no dance, claims the stage is tilted.) A person who cannot dance blames the stage for his inability.
    • Said of a person without skill who blames his failure on other things.
    • English equivalent: A bad workman blames his tools.
  • naate dhote reh gaye muh te makhi bai gaye (Punjabi)
    • English Translation: Got nothing after so much hullaabaloo
  • navilannu nODi kembuta gari kedarisaitu (Kannada)
    • (Seeing the peacock, the rooster spread his wings).
    • Those who try to imitate people of talent and beauty, not having either of them as their own, are ridiculed like this.
  • nAyi bogaLidare dEvalOka hALe? (Kannada)
    • (If the dog barks will it ruin the heaven?)
    • This is said of spiteful people who speak ill of others.
  • nAyi bAla Donku (Kannada)
    • (The tail of a dog is always crooked).
    • You cannot convince some people no matter what you do.
  • ના મામો કરતાં કાણો મામો સારો
  • Na maamo karta kaneeyo maamo saaro (Gujarati)
    • Literally: Having an uncle with only one eye is better than having no uncle.
    • English equivalent: Something is better than nothing
  • Nirai kudam Neerthalumbathu! (Thamizh/Tamil)
    • Experts Dont Advertise themselves!
    • The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.
  • Nirakudam Thulumbilla (Malayalam)
    • Experts Dont Advertise themselves!
  • Nai na dekhunu langalA (Oriya)
    • Literally: Getting ready to bath even before seeing the river
    • This is to refer to undue haste in anticipation of a future event.
  • NaanA Muni NaanA mata (Oriya)
    • Literally: Different sages have different opinions.
    • English Equivalent: Doctors Differ.

O

  • Odi Odi maruLAda kUchu bhaTTa (Kannada)
    • (The fellow became stupid by reading and reading).
    • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • ollada ganDanige mosaralli kallu (Kannada)
    • (The disagreeable husband finds stones in curds).
    • Faults are thick when the love is thin. The wife who is loved by her husband is complimented for her cooking. When faults are found which are clearly untrue the marriage is truly on the rocks.
  • Oont ke Muh mein Jeera. (Hindi)
    • (a small seed in a camel's mouth)
    • Too small an amount for a very large need.
  • Elamayil kal(Tamil)
    • Learn in childhood what ever you want to learn
  • Nane se woh nanhe rahe jese nani dub, ghas fis sabh udh gaya dub dub ki khun(Hindi)
    • Strong winds may blow the tree down, but the grass will still stand
    • English equivalent:The taller you are, the harder you fall. It's better to be small than big.

P

  • Pratyakshya ko praman ki aavashykta nahi (Hindi)
    • Translation: Facts don't require proof to stand correct
    • Things that are visible do not need proof for their existence
  • pApi samudra hokkrU moLakAludda nIru (Kannada)
    • (If a sinner enters the ocean the water only comes up to the knee).
    • This is said of those unlucky fellows for whom nothing goes well.
  • Pattikku muzhuvan thenga kittiyathu pole (Malayalam)
    • (Like a dog that gets a whole coconut.)
    • Used in the event of someone getting something that they cannot use.
  • Papi chellunnidam paathaalam (Malayalam)
    • (It's a hell wherever a sinner goes)
    • Said of those who seem to have all the bad luck.
  • Pen chollu kettavanu peruvazhi aadhaaram (Malayalam)
    • (He who listens to a woman will end up on the main street--that is, he will be reduced to begging in the street)
    • Said to any man who is so enamoured of a woman that he does not bother to use his own judgement, but blindly agrees to her wishes.
  • poriginti pulla kurra ruchi(telugu)
    • the fields on the other side look greener
  • pagole kina bole, chagole kina khay(Bengali)
    • no one can predict behaviours of a mad man.

R

  • rAmeshwarakke hOdaru shanIshwarana kATa tappalilla. (Kannada)
    • (Even after going to Rameshvaram (a holy place) the torture of Saturn (god of bad luck) did not stop.)
    • This is said of people whose bad luck does not go away whatever they do. Saturn is considered a bad sign in astrology bringing bad luck. A visit to holy places often counters the effect except for those unfortunate souls referred to in this proverb.
  • rOgi bayasiddu hAlu anna vaidya hELiddu hAlu anna. (Kannada)
    • (The patient wanted rice with milk and the doctor prescribed rice with milk).
    • This is what you say when things turn out fine under circumstances expected to be harsh. A meal of rice with milk is a euphemism for getting what one wants.
  • Rogi ichichathum pAlu, vaidyan kalpichathum pAlu (Malayalam)
    • (The patient wanted milk and the doctor prescribed milk).
    • This is what you say when things turn out fine under circumstances expected to be harsh.

S

  • सर सलामत, तो पगडी हज़ार(Hindi) .. Sar Salamat, to Pagdi hazaar
    • (Literal) If your head is intact, you can have a thousand turbans.
      • Meaning, in troubled times, save your head first, your possessions should not be your priority. You can buy worldy things anytime later.


  • सौ सोनार की, एक लोहार की (Hindi) Sau sunar ki, ek lauhar ki
    • (A single blow of a blacksmith is equal to a hundred blows of a goldsmith)
    • Generally used to demonstrate the power of a strong person to a weak one.
      • The power in one blow of hammer used by blacksmith equals hundred blows of hammer used by goldsmith.
  • सौ चूहे खाकर बिल्ली हज को चली (Hindi) Sau choohey khakar billi hajj ko chali
    • (Feasting on hundreds of mice the cat embarks on a pilgrimage)
    • A remark for a person who tries to veil his/her shameful - and in most cases deliberate acts - by trying to do righteous deeds in order to improve his/her image in the sight of the world.
    • An attempt to apparently undo detestable acts committed by a person.
  • Saddi na bulai, main laaddhe di tai (Punjabi)
    • (I need no invitation, I am aunt of the bridegroom)
    • Appearing at a party with full enthusiaim but without an invitation.
  • Sawan ke andhe ko sab hara hi hara nazar aata hai. (Hindi)
    • One who goes blind in spring, sees only greenery all around
      • Used for people who fail to see reality, especially dire circumstances when they have lived through prosperous times.
  • "Sweet are the sounds of the flute and the lute," say those who have not heard the prattle of their own children.
    • The Tirukural by Saint Tiruvalluvar (translation)
  • sAvira suLLu heLi onDu maDuve mAdu (Kannada)
    • (Utter a thousand lies and perform a wedding).
    • A little deceit in the performance of good deeds is forgivable. Arranging a wedding was considered a good deed worthy of praise in India. An old maid was a source of stigma for the family and one who came to the rescue by whatever means was considered a savior.
  • samsAra guTTu; vyAdhi raTTu (Kannada)
    • (Family matters should be kept secret; a disease should be brought to the open).
    • This is in a society where insurance companies are not watching. The reason to reveal ailments is with a hope that a cure may be found in the process. Laundering the dirty linen in public serves no purpose however.
  • sankaTa bandAga venkaTaramana (Kannada)
    • (Seeking God when in sorrow).
    • This is said of those who have no true faith or belief but seek God's help only when calamity strikes.
  • shiva pUje madhye karaDi biTTa hAge (Kannada)
    • (Like bringing a bear in the middle of a pUja).
    • This is said when bungling idiots intrude when they should not. NOTE: It was brought to my attention that the original version of the proverb is as follows:
  • shiva pUje madhye karaDige biTTa hAge (Kannada)
    • Lingayats wear a string around their body that has a small Linga, called KaraDige, tied to it. The gAde says that the Shiva Puje cannot go on if you forget the karadige, not withstanding all else you may have done in preparation. Over a period of time, the KaraDige has become KaraDi.

T

  • To the mediocre, mediocrity appears great (Translation)
  • To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak (Translation)
  • tumbida koDa tuLukuvudilla. (Kannada)
    • (The pot which is full does not splash).
    • This is said to contrast the unassuming good guys against the shallow show-offs. Or also, silence is an attribute of the wise.
  • Tumhara pyar pyar, mera pyar chakkar (Hindi)
    • (Your love is true love, my love is an affair)
    • When a person considers his cause greater than another person's cause
  • तेल गेले, तुप गेले, हाती आले धुपाटणे (tel gele toop gele, haati aale dhupaatane)(Marathi)
    • (Literal)Lost oil, lost butter, only left with two sided bowl.
    • (Translation)A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Y

  • Thala marannu enna thekaruthu. (Malayalam)
    • (Don't forget the head when applying oil to your body)
    • Should always remember the things (favour done to us) in priority

U

  • unDeyEnO gunDA endare munDAsu mUvattu moLa anda. (Kannada)
    • (When asked “Did you eat, Gunda?” he said “the turban is thirty feet long).
    • This is said of people who do not get what is asked of them and go round in circles.
  • unDU hOda, konDU hOda (Kannada)
    • (He ate and took some too).
    • This is said of a guy who snatches the hand if a finger is offered.
    • Given an inch, one takes a mile.
  • UrigobbaLu padmAvati (Kannada)
    • (only one beauty for the village).
    • This is a put down of leaders of mediocre groups.


V

  • वासरात लंगडी गाय शहाणी(vasarat langadi gaay shahani)(Marathi)
    • (Literal: Amongst calves handicapped cow is wise)
    • (Translation: In the land of the the blind, a one-eyed man is the king)
  • विनाशकाले विपरित बुध्दी(Vinashkale Vipareet Buddhi) (Sanskrit)
    • (Translation: When doomsday comes, one takes wrong decisions)

W

  • When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world will cry and you will rejoice. (Swami Vivekanand)

Z

bs:Indijske poslovice de:Indische Sprichwörter eo:Hindaj proverboj fr:Proverbes indiens (hindi) gl:Proverbios indios ko:인도속담 it:Proverbi indiani he:פתגמים הודיים nl:Indische spreekwoorden sl:Indijski pregovori tr:Hint atasözleri ku:Pendên hindî

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