Why The Sandalwood Tree Burnt?

चन्दनानपि दावोऽग्निर्दहत्येव।” is the inspirational Chanakya quote (चाणक्य सूत्र) that we will be discussing today. The English and Hindi Translations are stated below:

  • The forest fire burns even trees like sandalwood.
  • दावानल चन्दन अदि को भी जला देती है ।

This spiritual quote has multiple interpretations. Have a look…

  • Things affecting people around you will gradually affect you.
  • Being good is not enough.
  • Physical laws apply to all with no exception.
  • Don’t be rigid as a tree.

Here the sandalwood tree represents a man with qualities. It represents someone who isn’t ordinary and someone with value. On the other hand the forest fire represents the destroyer (Also interpreted as time i.e. काल the destroyer). It can also be compared to someone wicked or evil in other contexts.


We humans don’t live in isolation. As a social being we are connected to each other in some way or other. This means that things affecting our fellow beings are likely to affect us. The next paragraph might help in explaining the point.

There are few social evils (like corruption, radicalisation, terrorism, drug abuse etc.) that most people tend to ignore. They ignore because it’s a common psychological defect in animals to ignore almost everything that does not affects them directly. The inactivity of good people is sufficient enough for the rise of evil. This is how bad things grow in a society and for this reason even the sandalwood tree (a good man with qualities) burns when the forest (society) catches fire.

* Logically a tree cannot do anything to protect other trees or itself, because it’s a tree, but homo sapiens can. The precise message can be quoted as “If you lack in responsibility towards others, then you are next person standing in the line of destruction”.

* When the jungle (society) burns, every tree burns with it. Even the valuable ones.


The second interpretation says “being good is not enough”.

An evil person will have no hesitation in hurting a good man. A good man must ensure that he has sufficient safeguards for himself. A sandalwood tree lacks in safeguards and it burns in forest fire.

What kind of company you keep? People who do bad things will eventually pay the price. It’s better to maintain enough distance from such people than incurring collateral damage.

Let us now have a look at the third interpretation of this spiritual quote.


The third interpretations of this inspirational quote is about the reality of this world. The physical laws apply on each and everyone.

  • Death is eminent. Even good men will die one day.
  • Gravity will do it’s job no matter you are a good man or a bad man. In same manner the sandalwood tree burns like any other tree.

* Truth will be truth, no matter you believe in it or not.

* Truth is truth, no matter you like it or dislike it.


The fourth interpretation is about consequences of rigidity. Before explaining this I would like to present this Chanakya Quote.

In case of natural disasters, famine, and unstoppable enemy invasion; one should run away and save life.

The sandalwood tree is full of qualities, but is rigid like any other tree. It cannot/will not move even in case of a fire. The straightforward message is that a man must not be too rigid in his approach. Be firm wherever necessary, otherwise be fluid and be flexible in your approach. Prefer wisdom over ego.

In history many great rulers/leaders and their armies were doomed just because of the arrogance (inability to perform what’s really required). Ask yourself “What’s the point in holding a ground that will only add to the count of casualties?”. A smart man like you will have no problem in understanding the message.


If you have something to say about those inspirational messages then please comments.

Thank you!


23 responses to “Why The Sandalwood Tree Burnt?”

  1. urvesh Avatar

    its realy good exampe

  2. Kartik Avatar

    I would like to thank the writer of this blog for bringing those insightful thoughts.
    Really motivational and totally practical.

  3. Shweta Avatar

    Very incisive thanks

  4. Pravin Avatar

    I never expected this article to go this way. I am shivering after looking at the truth.

    Great blog. Keep it up!

  5. shankar dutta Avatar
    shankar dutta

    you are performing a social job by giving the nities but what will be our koushal in this society

  6. pawan dixit Avatar
    pawan dixit

    its a great xplanation
    Earliar….. it was not thought in this manner


  7. Vinay Avatar

    Yes! the writer appears to be a cool dude.

  8. jyotsnapathania Avatar


  9. sumeet bansal Avatar
    sumeet bansal

    very well explained…But what to do if the person at the other end is too egoistic for wisdom??

  10. prashant mahashabde Avatar
    prashant mahashabde

    very good.

  11. Dr Sanjeev Gupta Avatar
    Dr Sanjeev Gupta

    Very good and informative explanations. Helping me to teach my kids also. Thanks and keep it up…Looking forward to more pearls from Chanakya Niti..

  12. ajay Avatar

    The way to present article is superb .combination of examples is great .I really got into thought after reading 4th interpretation

  13. Arun Singh Manhas Avatar
    Arun Singh Manhas

    India was a sandlewood tree and there was nests of golden sparrow,
    but slavery was fire.
    Now there should be forest of sandlewood trees.
    And there should be every bird of gold.

    1. Saurabh Singh Chauhan Avatar
      Saurabh Singh Chauhan

      What happened, had happened. It is my acting right in present we can shape the future.

  14. Vern Avatar

    I believe that senior citizens are of great use. Even if they are not, we have a moral obligation towards them.

  15. S Saran Avatar
    S Saran

    If an honest man is surrounded by an ocean of evil then he too is sure to be killed and perish along with the evil doers, unless he creates safeguards for himself. Hence, the good should men should not be timid or foolish enough to leave everything to fate.They must act intelligent and create safeguards for themselves, even while sticking firmly to their ground.

  16. Shahinder Avatar

    great advice and well explained with sensible and practical examples

  17. Balamurugan Avatar

    “If you lack in responsibility towards others, then you are next person standing in the line of destruction”

    what a quote, we should think over it.

  18. TARUSHI Avatar

    I don’t know

  19. Vandana R Jaiswal Avatar
    Vandana R Jaiswal

    i really inspired by this and it really helpful in my whole life

  20. Priyanka Pawar Avatar
    Priyanka Pawar

    it is really good example

  21. Shubhankar Avatar

    Hey…is writer an incarnation of Chanakya himself!!??

  22. भोसले हेमंत Avatar
    भोसले हेमंत

    “गीता रहस्य” अभ्यासल्यावर लगेच आकलन होईल. बोध घेऊन आचरण केल्यावरच सार्थक होईल.

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