The proverb ‘United we stand divided we fall’ professes that there is strength in unity. It means that together a community or a group of people can face adversities and threats; on the other hand, alone they will just crumble under the threats. The main purpose of the proverb is to inspire unity within a community or a group. It conveys that a group of people will overcome problems if they face them united, as a team, while alone they stand no chances.
A perfectly written example is the best way to understand what the proverb teaches or the true meaning of it. I have given below some examples on the proverb ‘United we stand, divided we fall’, for your knowledge. The examples will give you a better understanding of the meaning of the proverb.
“The British ruled India because of their policy of divide and rule until the effective leadership of national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, united people throughout the country, and they fought for independence together. It is a perfect example of ‘United we stand, divided we fall’.”
“The officer told his soldiers – remember that we have to stay together when the enemy comes. If we don’t then we could be easily overpowered by them. United we stand and divided we fall.”
“Rohan asked Mohan – do you know that the strongest rope is made from binding together hundreds of weak threads, those can be easily broken, even by a child. Whenever I see a rope, I remember this phrase ‘united we stand divided we fall’, Rohan added further.”
“African Cape buffaloes are known to resist a lion attack on one of their companions by forming a group and charging against the pride. It seems that even animals know the proverb – united we stand divided we fall.”
“A group of wild dogs is known to have overpowered even a tiger, because of their unity. It is true that united we stand divided we fall.”
The phrase ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ has been credited to 6th Century B.C Greek storyteller, Aesop. The phrase appears in one of the many fables credited to Aesop, named, the four oxen and the lion. Fable is a literary work, usually a fictional story kind of work featuring animals, legends, and all. In the story, the phrase appears exactly.
Another phrase with similar meaning also appears in the biblical New Testament. The phrase reads “and if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
The similar meaning verse appears in Matthew Gospel that reads – “But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”
Another most popular reference to the phrase was made by English Statesman, Robert Grosseteste in 1911, in Encyclopedia Britannica. He had said, “It is written that united we stand and divided we fall.”
Expansion of the Proverb
The proverb – united we stand, divided we fall, is a proverb that encourages people towards unity. The term ‘united we stand’ means that as long as a group of people stay united and protect each other, they will be able to protect themselves from bigger threats.
On the other hand, the term divided we fall implies that when people stay divided, they lose their strength and become more vulnerable to threats or external aggressions. Therefore, the group that stays together, stays safe while that is divided bears the brunt of the enemy.
The proverb teaches us the value of unity and its significance in a broader perspective. It promotes unity and harmony among citizens of a nation, most importantly if the nation is as culturally diverse as India.
It teaches people that as long as they stay united, their interests are protected. Unity is a big factor in the success of a democratic republic, because, if the people aren’t united, then there would be no democracy nor even uniform governance.
The proverb is also useful in everyday life. It teaches us to face the adversities together with our friends and family as well as help others in difficult times.
Short Stories on ‘United We Stand Divided We Fall’
A well-written story on proverb ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, is an entertaining way to understand the true meaning of the proverb. I have given below a couple of stories in this regard, hoping that they will be able to make you understand the proverb’s meaning in an entertaining way.
Short Story 1
Once there lived fur buffaloes and a lion in a jungle. The lion had tried many times to attack one among the buffaloes but the latter resisted his attempts together. Whenever the lion was after a buffalo, the remaining three would charge up against the lion, thwarting his attempt.
The lion thought out a plan and took the help of his cunning companion, the jackal. The jackal very cleverly instigated enmity among the buffaloes. They quarreled with each other and parted their ways. The buffaloes were now grazing alone, with no friends to cover them from a lion attack. This was the greatest mistake of their lives, they would soon understand.
Taking advantage of the dispute, the lion attacked all the four buffaloes one by one and ate them. True are the words of the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall”.
Short Story 2
Once there lived an old wealthy businessman in a village. He had four sons, but all of them were quarrelling with each other, on some issue or the other. Sometimes it is land, sometimes it is money, but the men quarrel always, almost every day.
One day the old businessman fell very ill. He had a feeling that he won’t live longer. He got more worried about his sons. He thought that if they keep on fighting among themselves then soon after he is gone, they could bring harm upon themselves. He wanted to teach his sons a lesson before he could die.
One morning he called his sons and asked them to get four sticks each of almost equal shape and size. He then asks them to break the sticks in two pieces. The men easily broke the sticks they had bought. The old man again asked them to get fresh sticks again. The sons had no clue about their father’s intentions; nevertheless, they did what their father had instructed.
The men returned with one stick each. The father asked them to tie them with a string and try breaking the bunch. One by one, all four of them tried but couldn’t break the bunch of sticks.
The father then said, “Sons, you all are also like sticks – if you stay divided and alone then you will be easily threatened by your enemies, on the other hand, if you stay united like this bunch, no enemy can harm you.” He further added, “All four of you must remember this line – united we stand, divided we fall.” The brothers understood what the father was trying to teach and resolved never to quarrel among them.