Shantaram Quotes

Here’s a list of some of the best quotes I’ve come across in Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram”. I liked these lines very much and hence I’m trying to make a collection here so that I can refer to them whenever I want to. 🙂

  • Sometimes even with the purest intentions, we make things worse when we do our best to make things better – Lin
  • It is the mark of the age in which we live that the style becomes the attitude, instead of the attitude becoming the style – Didier
  • That is how they manage to live together, a billion of them, in reasonable peace. They are not perfect, of course. They know how to fight and lie and cheat each other, and all the things that all of us do. But more than any other people in the world, the Indians know how to love one another – Didier
  • It’s a fact of life on the run that you often love more people than you trust. For people in the safe world, of course, exactly the opposite is true – Lin
  • If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke – Karla (one of my all time favorite quotes 😉 )
  • The worst thing about corruption as a system of governance is that it works so well – Didier
  • There is no act of faith more beautiful than the generosity of the very poor – Abdullah
  • Sometimes the lion must roar, just to remind the horse of his fear – Abdullah
  • There is no believing in God. We either know God, or we don’t – Khader Bhai
  • Shame gives exultation its purpose, and exultation gives shame its reward – Lin
  • People do not understand the truly fantastic effort required in the corruption of a simple man. And the more simple the man, the more the effort it requires – Didier
  • News tells you what people did. Gossip tells you how much they enjoyed it – Didier
  • Only a wicked man can derive benefits from good works. A good man, on the other hand, would simply be worn out and bad tempered – Didier
  • When we act, even with the best of our intentions, when we interfere with the world, we always risk a new disaster that mightn’t be our making, but that wouldn’t occur without our action – Lin
  • Some of the worst wrongs were caused by people who tried to change things – Karla
  • Fear and guilt are the dark angels that haunt rich men – Khader Bhai
  • Despair and humiliation haunt the poor – Lin
  • Trouble is the only property that poor people are allowed to own – Johnny Cigar
  • Love seldom concerns itself with what we know or with what’s true – Lin
  • The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards – Abdul Ghani (how true!)
  • Nations neglect no men more shamefully than the heroes of their wars – Abdul Ghani
  • You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely, to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn love, truly and freely, of a child in return – Khader Bhai
  • Optimism is the first cousin of love, and it’s exactly like love in 3 ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humor, and it turns up where you least expect it – Lin
  • The sane man is simply a better liar than the insane man – Khader Bhai
  • Fate has every power over us, but two. Fate cannot control our free will and fate cannot control lie. Men lie, to themselves more than to others, and others more often than they tell the truth. But fate doesn’t lie – Khader Bhai
  • The truth is found more often in music, than it is in books of philosophy – Khader Bhai
  • Good doctors have at least three things in common: they know how to observe, they know how to listen and they are very tired – Lin
  • Suffering is the way we test our love, especially for God – Khader Bhai
  • Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and it’s duty, sorrow and it’s truth, In the end that’s all we have – Lin
  • Friendship is also a kind of medicine, and the markets for it too are sometimes black – Lin
  • There is no reason good enough to make us fight with each other – Qasim Ali
  • Justice is a judgment that is both fair and forgiving. Justice is not done until everyone is satisfied, even those who offend us and must be punished by us. Justice is not the only way we punish those who do wrong. It is the way we try to save them – Qasim Ali
  • Poverty and pride are devoted blood brothers until one, always and inevitably, kills the other – Lin
  • Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be – Didier
  • One of the ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone- Lin
  • There’s no meanness too spiteful or too cruel when we hate someone foe all the wrong reasons – Didier
  • Any Indian man will tell you that although love might not have invented in India, it was certainly perfected there.
  • We usually do, something worse than we can imagine is stalking us, and set to pounce. Fate’s way of beating us in a fair fight is to give us warnings that we hear, but never heed
  • Mistakes are like bad loves, the more you learn from them, the more you wished they’d never happened – Karla
  • Silence is the tortured man’s revenge – Lin
  • Prisons are the temples where devils learn to pray – Lin
  • In prisons, a man rations his smiles because predatory men see smiling as a weakness, weak men see it as an invitation, and prison guards see it as a provocation to some new torment – Lin
  • Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart and every risk that we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved – Khader Bhai
  • The only victory that counts in prison, is survival – Lin
  • Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and love is often the blade; but its worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end – Lin
  • You can never tell how much badness is in a man until you see him smile (a very nice thought, indeed)
  • Despotism despises nothing so much as righteousness in its victims – Lin
  • If you turn your heart as a weapon, you always end up using it on yourself – Lin
  • Gold fires the eyes with a different kind and color of greed. Money’s almost always just a means to an end; but, for many men, gold is an end in itself, and their love for it is the kind that can give love a bad name – Lin
  • Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy things – Karla
  • Redemption’s climb is steepest if the good we did is soiled with secret shame
  • The effect, no matter how skilfully achieved, is always born in the artist’s intuition. And intuition can’t be taught.
  • We can deny the past, but we can’t escape the torment. The past is a speaking shadow that keeps pace with the truth of what we are, step for step, until we die – Lin
  • It’s okay if we all learned what we should all learn, the first time round, we wouldn’t need love at all – Karla
  • Pity is the one part of love that asks for nothing in return and because of that, every act of pity is an act of prayer – Lin
  • Black money runs through the finger faster than the legal, hard-earned money. If we can’t respect the way we earn it, money has no value. If we can’t use it ti make life better for our families and loved ones, money has no purpose – Lin (again one of my fav quotes 🙂 )
  • I think wisdom is over-rated. Wisdom is just cleverness with all the guts kicked out of it. I’d rather be clever than wise, any day – Didier
  • There’s a kind of luck that’s much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that’s not much more that doing the right thing in the right way, and both only happen when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment.
  • The soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no color or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has it’s moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.
  • One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek for it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow.
  • The only force more ruthless and cynical than the business of big politics is the politics of big business – Didier.

These are some of the quotes that I have jotted down in my quote book while reading the book. However, there a few more quotes that I’ve highlighted in the book itself and I’d be writing them soon. Do comment if you like any of these quotes or come up with your own list of quotes from your fav book.

PS: I’ll be writing a review on Shantaram soon. It was an awesome read. And I urge everyone reading this post to read the book as well.


13 thoughts on “Shantaram Quotes

  1. Love the Blog. This was one of my favourite books of all time. You have to sit with a pen or highlighter while you read because almost everything is brilliant and worth repeating and sharing.

    It’s my pay it forward book.

  2. @Dushyant Parkhi: can you see the name of the character who said those lines towards the end of each line? do you see that pattern in the wiki quotes list (and i mean for each quote)? I have a small piece of advice for you: please think twice before you comment on anything. Do not form an opinion of anything just like that. You have no right to simply say that it’s a rip off from Wiki Quotes.

  3. You missed this one – Luck happens when fate gets tired of waiting – Didier
    and yes one more – I don’t see how much crime is in the sin I see how much sin is in the crime – Abdul Khader

  4. @rajnish: I think I didn’t mark them in the book probably because at that time I was traveling and had no pencil with me. Thanks for adding those quotes, anyways! 🙂

  5. I’m looking for the English version of the parallelism between Indians and Italians (beginning of chapter 26). I read the book in the italian translation and would like to have the original passage to quote it in a workshop. Can anybody help?

    Thank you

  6. “I think wisdom is over-rated. Wisdom is just cleverness with all the guts kicked out of it. I’d rather be clever than wise, any day – Didier”

    This quote is not from Didier by Karla…:)

  7. I just finished reading the book and I was feeling so bad about not having the quotes marked , because this book undoubtedly has some absolutely brilliant lines worth remembering .
    And then I came across this post of yours 🙂
    Since you have mentioned even the name of the characters here , it is even better , as it is easy to recall the instance when it was said .
    Job well done .

  8. I’m looking for the passage where they discuss the effect of a simply lie over tea, I need my daughter to understand it and I hope it sinks in!

  9. simply OUTSTANDING. I’m 3/4 of my journey through the book and I was afriad I would miss all the stimulation of the quotes. The journey has made a substantial impact.

  10. ‘You must be hungry, Mr. Lindsay,’ Prabaker observed. ‘You are a happy fellow, don’t mind I’m saying it, and happy always has it the good appetites.’
    ‘Well, I’m hungry enough, all right. Where is this place we’re going to, anyway? If I’d known it would take this long to get to the restaurant, I would’ve brought a cut lunch with me.’
    ‘Just a little bit not much too very far,’ he replied cheerfully.

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