Is there an English equivalent for the Indian saying " A wandering monk and running water never get polluted".

  • What is the saying supposed to mean?
    – Charon
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 8:03
  • wandering monk is an ascetic who is not a member of any established order,he travels from one place to another,mainly subsisting on alms (an old ascetic tradition in India). As the ascetic never stays for a longer duration at a particular place,he never gets attracted or attached to men and materials at that place. Similarly when water is kept stagnant at a place it turns stale with passage of time and running water always wash away dirt and filth and in the process cleanses itself.This is the idea behind the saying. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


A rolling stone gathers no moss.

  • Please add an explanation as to how this corresponds to the Indian saying. Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:07
  • @MattE.Эллен I don't know what there is to explain. Please show what you have in mind by editing this answer or submitting a new one with an explanation (and then tell me to delete this one).
    – Val Kornea
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 17:57

Here is the opening paragraph from Wikipedia's page on "A rolling stone gathers no moss":

A rolling stone gathers no moss is an old proverb, credited to Publilius Syrus, who in his Sententiae states, People who are always moving, with no roots in one place, avoid responsibilities and cares. As such, the proverb is often interpreted as referring to figurative nomads who avoid taking on responsibilities or cultivating or advancing their own knowledge, experience, or culture. Another interpretation equates "moss" to "stagnation"; as such the proverb can also refer to those who keep moving as never lacking for fresh ideas or creativity.

  • Welcome to ELU. This is potentially a very good answer, that could be improved with the addition of sources, references or further cited examples. For future reference, this kind of supporting evidence is usually a requirement for authoritative answers here.
    – JHCL
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 16:34
  • Hello, Kiruthiga Kuppuswamy. I added a link to the Wikipedia page that you took the quoted paragraph from, and I formatted the quotation as a block quote. Your original presentation did not make clear to a casual reader that none of the wording in the paragraph was your own work. Please consider adding an explanation of how the Wikipedia paragraph bears on the question of why "a rolling stone gathers no moss" is equivalent to the Indian saying "a wandering monk and running water never get polluted." As yet, neither answer to the poster's question directly addresses that important matter.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 21:14

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