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Of all the ways to protect oneself, the foremost is this:
do not belittle the prowess of powerful men.
Disrespectful conduct toward great men will bring,
through those great men, unremitting miseries.
If you desire destruction, simply ignore the rules
and provoke those who, if they desire, can destroy you.
For the powerless to wreak harm upon the powerful
is to summon Death with a gesturing hand.
Once he incurs a fierce king's withering wrath,
one is doomed, wherever he wanders, whatever he does.
Though burned by a blazing fire, one may still survive;
but there is no survival for those who offend great men.
What is the use of a man's varied life and splendid wealth
if he reaps the wrath of great and righteous men?
If men of mountainous stature are meagerly esteemed,
others who seemed as enduring as earth will die, as will their kin.
The most kingly king will tumble from his throne and die,
should he unleash a towering sage's bridled temper.
Though he commands unrivaled powers of protection,
a king cannot survive the wrath of powerful ascetics.