The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4
by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 ... 29     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The Mahabharata


Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa



Translated into English Prose from the Original Sanskrit Text


Kisari Mohan Ganguli


Scanned at, 2005. Proofed by John Bruno Hare, January 2005.





(Anusasanika Parva)

OM! HAVING BOWED down unto Narayana, and Nara the foremost of male beings, and unto the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, tranquillity of mind has been said to be subtile and of diverse forms. I have heard all thy discourses, but still tranquillity of mind has not been mine. In this matter, various means of quieting the mind have been related (by thee), O sire, but how can peace of mind be secured from only a knowledge of the different kinds of tranquillity, when I myself have been the instrument of bringing about all this? Beholding thy body covered with arrows and festering with bad sores, I fail to find, O hero, any peace of mind, at the thought of the evils I have wrought. Beholding thy body, O most valiant of men, bathed in blood, like a hill overrun with water from its springs, I am languishing with grief even as the lotus in the rainy season. What can be more painful than this, that thou, O grandsire, hast been brought to this plight on my account by my people fighting against their foes on the battle-field? Other princes also, with their sons and kinsmen, having met with destruction on my account. Alas, what can be more painful than this. Tell us, O prince, what destiny awaits us and the sons of Dhritarashtra, who, driven by fate and anger, have done this abhorrent act. O lord of men, I think the son of Dhritarashtra is fortunate in that he doth not behold thee in this state. But I, who am the cause of thy death as well as of that of our friends, am denied all peace of mind by beholding thee on the bare earth in this sorry condition. The wicked Duryodhana, the most infamous of his race, has, with all his troops and his brothers, perished in battle, in the observance of Kshatriya duties. That wicked-souled wight does not see thee lying on the ground. Verily, for this reason, I would deem death to be preferable to life. O hero that never swervest from virtue, had I with my brothers met with destruction ere this at the hands of our enemies on the battle-field, I would not have found thee in this pitiful plight, thus pierced with arrows. Surely, O prince, the Maker had created is to become perpetrators of evil deeds. O king, if thou wishest to do me good, do thou then instruct me in such a way that I may be cleansed of this sin in even another world.'

"Bhishma replied, 'Why, O fortunate one, dost thou consider thy soul, which is dependent (on God and Destiny and Time) to be the cause of thy actions? The manifestation of its inaction is subtle and imperceptible to the senses. In this connection is cited the ancient story of the conversation between Mrityu and Gautami with Kala and the Fowler and the serpent. There was, O son of Kunti, an old lady of the name of Gautami, who was possessed of great patience and tranquillity of mind. One day she found her son dead in consequence of having been bitten by a serpent. An angry fowler, by name Arjunaka, bound the serpent with a string and brought it before Gautami. He then said to her,—This wretched serpent has been the cause of thy son's death, O blessed lady. Tell me quickly how this wretch is to be destroyed. Shall I throw it into the fire or shall I hack it into pieces? This infamous destroyer of a child does not deserve to live longer.'

"Gautami replied, 'Do thou, O Arjunaka of little understanding, release this serpent. It doth not deserve death at thy hands. Who is so foolish as to disregard the inevitable lot that awaits him and burdening himself with such folly sink into sin? Those that have made themselves light by the practice of virtuous deeds, manage to cross the sea of the world even as a ship crosses the ocean. But those that have made themselves heavy with sin sink into the bottom, even as an arrow thrown into the water. By killing the serpent, this my boy will not be restored to life, and by letting it live, no harm will be caused to thee. Who would go to the interminable regions of Death by slaying this living creature?'

"The fowler said, 'I know, O lady that knowest the difference between right and wrong, that the great are afflicted at the afflictions of all creatures. But these words which thou hast spoken are fraught with instruction for only a self-contained person (and not for one plunged in sorrow). Therefore, I must kill this serpent. Those who value peace of mind, assign everything to the course of Time as the cause, but practical men soon assuage their grief (by revenge). People through constant delusion, fear loss of beatitude (in the next world for acts like these). therefore, O lady, assuage thy grief by having this serpent destroyed (by me).

"Gautami replied, 'People like us are never afflicted by (such misfortune). Good men have their souls always intent on virtue. The death of the boy was predestined: therefore, I am unable to approve of the destruction of this serpent. Brahmanas do not harbour resentment, because resentment leads to pain. Do thou, O good man, forgive and release this serpent out of compassion.'

"The fowler replied, 'Let us earn great and inexhaustible merit hereafter by killing (this creature), even as a man acquires great merit, and confers it on his victim sacrificed as well, by sacrifice upon the altar. Merit is acquired by killing an enemy: by killing this despicable creature, thou shalt acquire great and true merit hereafter.'

"Gautami replied, 'What good is there in tormenting and killing an enemy, and what good is won by not releasing an enemy in our power? Therefore, O thou of benign countenance, why should we not forgive this serpent and try to earn merit by releasing it?'

"The fowler replied, 'A great number (of creatures) ought to be protected from (the wickedness of) this one, instead of this single creature being protected (in preference to many). Virtuous men abandon the vicious (to their doom): do thou, therefore, kill this wicked creature.'

"Gautami replied, 'By killing this serpent, O fowler, my son will not be restored to life, nor do I see that any other end will be attained by its death: therefore, do thou, O fowler, release this living creature of a serpent.

"The fowler said, 'By killing Vritra, Indra secured the best portion (of sacrificial offerings), and by destroying a sacrifice Mahadeva secured his share of sacrificial offerings: do thou, therefore, destroy this serpent immediately without any misgivings in thy mind!'

"Bhishma continued, 'The high-souled Gautami, although repeatedly incited by the fowler for the destruction of the serpent did not bend her mind to that sinful act. The serpent, painfully bound with the cord: sighing a little and maintaining its composure with great difficulty, then uttered these words slowly, in a human voice.'

"The serpent said, 'O foolish Arjunaka, what fault is there of mine? I have no will of my own, and am not independent. Mrityu sent me on this errand. By his direction have I bitten this child, and not out of any anger or choice on my part. Therefore, if there be any sin in this, O fowler, the sin is his.'

"The fowler said, 'If thou hast done this evil, led thereto by another, the sin is thine also as thou art an instrument in the act. As in the making of an earthen vessel the potter's wheel and rod and other things are all regarded as causes, so art thou, O serpent, (cause in the production of this effect). He that is guilty deserves death at my hands. Thou, O serpent, art guilty. Indeed, thou confessest thyself so in this matter!'

"The serpent said, 'As all these, viz., the potter's wheel, rod, and other things, are not independent causes, even so I am not an independent cause. Therefore, this is no fault of mine, as thou shouldst grant. Shouldst thou think otherwise, then these are to be considered as causes working in unison with one another. For thus working with one other, a doubt arises regarding their relation as cause and effect. Such being the case, it is no fault of mine, nor do I deserve death on this account, nor am I guilty of any sin. Or, if thou thinkest that there is sin (in even such causation), the sin lies in the aggregate of causes.'

"The fowler said, 'If thou art neither the prime cause nor the agent in this matter, thou art still the cause of the death (of his child). Therefore, thou dost deserve death in my opinion. If, O serpent, thou thinkest that when an evil act is done, the doer is not implicated therein, then there can be no cause in this matter; but having done this, verily thou deservest death. What more dost thou think?'

"The serpent said, 'Whether any cause exists or not,[1] no effect is produced without an (intermediate) act. Therefore, causation being of no moment in either case, my agency only as the cause (in this matter) ought to be considered in its proper bearings. If, O fowler, thou thinkest me to be the cause in truth, then the guilt of this act of killing a living being rests on the shoulders of another who incited me to this end.'[2]

"The fowler said, 'Not deserving of life, O foolish one, why dost thou bandy so many words, O wretch of a serpent? Thou deservest death at my hands. Thou hast done an atrocious act by killing this infant.'

"The serpent said, 'O fowler, as the officiating priests at a sacrifice do not acquire the merit of the act by offering oblations of clarified butter to the fire, even so should I be regarded with respect as to the result in this connection.'

"Bhishma continued, 'The serpent directed by Mrityu having said this, Mrityu himself appeared there and addressing the serpent spoke thus.

"Mrityu said, 'Guided. by Kala, I, O serpent, sent thee on this errand, and neither art thou nor am I the cause of this child's death. Even as the clouds are tossed hither and thither by the wind, I am like the clouds, O serpent, influenced by Kala. All attitudes appertaining to Sattwa or Rajas, or Tamas, are provoked by Kala, and operate in all creatures. All creatures, mobile and immobile, in heaven, or earth, are influenced by Kala. The whole universe, O serpent, is imbued with this same influence of Kala. All acts in this world and all abstentions, as also all their modifications, are said to be influenced by Kala, Surya, Soma, Vishnu, Water, Wind, the deity of a hundred sacrificer, Fire, Sky, Earth, Mitra and Parjanya, Aditi, and the Vasus, Rivers and Oceans, all existent and non-existent objects, are created and destroyed by Kala. Knowing this, why dost thou, O serpent, consider me to be guilty? If any fault attaches to me in this, thou also wouldst be to blame.'

"The serpent said, 'I do not, O Mrityu, blame thee, nor do I absolve thee from all blame. I only aver that I am directed and influenced (in my actions) by thee. If any blame attaches to Kala, or, if it be not desirable to attach any blame to him, it is not for me to scan the fault. We have no right to do so. As it is incumbent on me to absolve myself from this blame, so it is my duty to see that no blame attaches to Mrityu.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Then the serpent, addressing Arjunaka, said—Thou hast listened to what Mrityu has said. Therefore, it is not proper for thee to torment me, who am guiltless, by tying me with this cord.'

"The fowler said, 'I have listened to thee, O serpent, as well as to the words of Mrityu, but these, O serpent, do not absolve thee from all blame. Mrityu and thyself are the causes of the child's death. I consider both of you to be the cause and I do not call that to be the cause which is not truly so. Accursed be the wicked and vengeful Mrityu that causes affliction to the good. Thee too I shall kill that art sinful and engaged, in sinful acts!'

"Mrityu said, 'We both are not free agents, but are dependent on Kala, and ordained to do our appointed work. Thou shouldst not find fault with us if thou dost consider this matter thoroughly.'

"The fowler said, 'If ye both, O serpent and Mrityu, be dependent on Kala, I am curious to know how pleasure (arising from doing good) and anger (arising from doing evil) are caused.'

"Mrityu said, 'Whatever is done is done under the influence of Kala. I have said it before, O fowler, that Kala is the cause of all and that for this reason we both, acting under the inspiration of Kala, do our appointed work and therefore, O fowler, we two do not deserve censure from thee in any way!'

"Bhishma continued, 'Then Kala arrived at that scene of disputation on this point of morality, and spoke thus to the serpent and Mrityu and the fowler Arjunaka assembled together.'

"Kala said, 'Neither Mrityu, nor this serpent, nor I, O fowler, am guilty of the death of any creature. We are merely the immediate exciting causes of the event. O Arjunaka, the Karma of this child formed the exciting cause of our action in this matter. There was no other cause by which this child came by its death. It was killed as a result of its own Karma. It has met with death as the result of its Karma in the past. Its Karma has been the cause of its destruction. We all are subject to the influence of our respective Karma. Karma is an aid to salvation even as sons are, and Karma also is an indicator of virtue and vice in man. We urge one another even as acts urge one another. As men make from a lump of clay whatever they wish to make, even so do men attain to various results determined by Karma. As light and shadow are related to each other, so are men related to Karma through their own actions. Therefore, neither art thou, nor am I, nor Mrityu, nor the serpent, nor this old Brahmana lady, is the cause of this child's death. He himself is the cause here. Upon Kala, O king, expounding the matter in this way, Gautami, convinced in her mind that men suffer according to their actions, spoke thus to Arjunaka.'

"Gautami said, 'Neither Kala, nor Mrityu, nor the serpent, is the cause in this matter. This child has met with death as the result of its own Karma. I too so acted (in the past) that my son has died (as its consequence). Let now Kala and Mrityu retire from this place, and do thou too, O Arjunaka, release this serpent.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Then Kala and Mrityu and the serpent went back to their respective destinations, and Gautami became consoled in mind as also the fowler. Having heard all this, O king, do thou forego all grief, and attain to peace of mind. Men attain to heaven or hell as the result of their own Karma. This evil has neither been of thy own creation, nor of Duryodhana's. Know this that these lords of Earth have all been slain (in this war) as a result of acts of Kalas.'"

Vaisampayana said, "Having heard all this, the powerful and virtuous Yudhishthira became consoled in mind, and again enquired as follows."


"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, O wisest of men, O thou that art learned in all the scriptures, I have listened to this great story, O foremost of intelligent men. I am desirous of again hearing the recital of some history full of religious instruction, and it behoves thee to gratify me. O lord of Earth, tell me if any householder has ever succeeded in conquering Mrityu by the practice of virtue. Do thou recite this to me with all details!'

"Bhishma said, 'This ancient history is recited as an illustration of the subject of the conquest by a householder, over Mrityu, through the practice of virtue. The Prajapati Manu had a son, O king, of the name of the Ikshwaku. Of that king, illustrious as Surya, were born a hundred sons. His tenth son, O Bharata, was named Dasaswa, and this virtuous prince of infallible prowess became the king of Mahismati. Dasaswa's son, O king, was a righteous prince whose mind was constantly devoted to the practice of truth and charity and devotion. He was known by the name of Madiraswa and ruled over the Earth as her lord. He was constantly devoted to the study of the Vedas as also of the science of arms. Madiraswa's son was the king named Dyutimat who possessed great good fortune and power and strength and energy. Dyutimat's son was the highly devout and pious king who was famous in all the worlds under the name of Suvira. His soul was intent on religion and he possessed wealth like another Indra, the lord of the deities. Suvira too had a son who was invincible in battle, and who was the best of all warriors and known by the name of Sudurjaya. And Durjya too, possessed of a body like that of Indra, had a son who beamed with splendour like that of fire. He was the great monarch named Duryodhana who was one of the foremost of royal sages. Indra used to pour rain profusely in the kingdom of this monarch, who never fled from the battlefield and was possessed of valour like unto Indra himself. The cities and the kingdom of this king were filled with riches and gems and cattle and grain of various kinds. There was no miser in his kingdom nor any person afflicted with distress or poverty. Nor was there in his kingdom any person that was weak in body or afflicted with disease. That king was very clever, smooth in speech, without envy, a master of his passions, of a righteous soul, full of compassion, endued with prowess, and not given to boasting. He performed sacrifices, and was self-restrained and intelligent, devoted to Brahmanas and Truth. He never humiliated others, and was charitable, and learned in the Vedas and the Vedanta. The celestial river Narmada, auspicious and sacred and of cool waters, in her own nature, O Bharata, courted him. He begot upon that river, a lotus-eyed daughter, by name Sudarsana, who was, O king, endued with great beauty. No creature, O Yudhisthira, had ever been born before among womankind, that was, possessed of such beauty as that excellent damsel who was the daughter of Duryodhana. The god Agni himself courted the beautiful princess Sudarsana, and taking the shape of a Brahmana, O monarch, sought her hand from the king. The king was unwilling to give his daughter in marriage to the Brahmana who was poor and not of the same rank with himself. Thereupon Agni vanished from his great sacrifice. The king, grieved at heart, then addressed the Brahmanas, saying,—Of what sin have I, ye excellent Brahmanas, or you, been guilty, that Agni should disappear from this sacrifice, even as good done unto wicked men disappears from their estimation. Great, indeed, must that sin of ours be for which Agni has thus disappeared. Either must the sin be yours, or, it must be mine. Do you fully investigate the matter.—Then hearing the king's words, O foremost prince of Bharata's race, the Brahmanas, restraining speech, sought with concentrated faculties the protection of the god of fire. The divine carrier of oblations, resplendent as the autumnal Sun, appeared before them, enveloping his self in glorious refulgence. The high-souled Agni then addressed those excellent Brahmanas, saying,—I seek the daughter of Duryodhana for my own self. At this all those Brahmanas were struck with wonder, and rising on the morrow, they related to the king what had been said by the fire-god. The wise monarch, hearing the words of those utterers of Brahma, was delighted at heart, and said,—Be it so.—The king craved a boon of the illustrious fire-god as the marriage dower,—Do thou, O Agni, deign to remain always with us here.—Be it so—said the divine Agni to that lord of Earth. For this reason Agni has always been present in the kingdom of Mahismati to this day, and was seen by Sahadeva in course of his conquering expedition to the south. Then the king gave his daughter, dressed in new garments and decked with jewels, to the high-souled deity, and Agni too accepted, according to Vedic rites, the princess Sudarsana as his bride, even as he accepts libations of clarified butter at sacrifices, Agni was well pleased with her appearance, her beauty, grace, character, and nobility of birth, and was minded to beget offspring upon her. And a son by Agni, of the name of Sudarsana, was soon born of her. Sudarsana also was, in appearance, as beautiful as the full moon, and even in his childhood he attained to a knowledge of the supreme and everlasting Brahma. There was also a king of the name of Oghavat, who was the grandfather of Nriga. He had a daughter of the name of Oghavati, and a son too of the name of Ogharatha born unto him. King Oghavat gave his daughter Oghavati, beautiful as a goddess, to the learned Sudarsana for wife. Sudarsana, O king, leading the life of a householder with Oghavati, used to dwell in Kurukshetra with her. This intelligent prince of blazing energy took the vow, O lord, of conquering Death by leading the life of even a householder. The son of Agni, O king, said to Oghavati,—Do thou never act contrary to (the wishes of) those that seek our hospitality. Thou shouldst make no scruple about the means by which guests are to be welcomed, even if thou have to offer thy own person. O beautiful one, this vow is always present in the mind, since for householders, there is no higher virtue than hospitality accorded to guests. Do thou always bear this in mind without ever doubting it, if my words be any authority with thee. O sinless and blessed one, if thou hast any faith in me, do thou never disregard a guest whether I be at thy side or at a distance from thee! Unto him, with hands clasped and placed on her head, Oghavati replied, saying,—'I shall leave nothing undone of what thou commandest me.—Then Mrityu, O king, desiring to over-reach Sudarsana, began to watch him for finding out his lathes. On a certain occasion, when the son of Agni went out to fetch firewood from the forest, a graceful Brahmana sought the hospitality of Oghavati with these words:—O beautiful lady, if thou hast any faith in the virtue of hospitality as prescribed for householders, then I would request thee to extend the rites of hospitality to me to-day.—The princess of great fame, thus addressed by that Brahmana, O king, welcomed him according to the rites prescribed in the Vedas. Having offered him a seat, and water to wash his feet, she enquired, saying,—What is thy business? What can I offer thee? The Brahmana said unto her,—My business is with thy person, O blessed one. Do thou act accordingly without any hesitation in thy mind. If the duties prescribed for householders be acceptable to thee, do thou, O princess, gratify me by offering up thy person to me.—Though tempted by the princess with offers of diverse other things, the Brahmana, however, did not ask for any other gift than the offer of her own person. Seeing him resolved, that lady, remembering the directions which had before been given to her by her husband, but overcome with shame, said, to that excellent Brahmana,—Be it so.—Remembering the words of her husband who was desirous of acquiring the virtue of householders, she cheerfully approached the regenerate Rishi. Meanwhile, the son of Agni, having collected his firewood, returned to his home. Mrityu, with his fierce and inexorable nature, was constantly by his side, even, as one attends upon one's devoted friend. When the son of Pavaka returned to his own hermitage, he called Oghavati by name, and (receiving no answer) repeatedly, exclaimed,—Whether art thou gone?—But the chaste lady, devoted to her husband, being then locked in the arms of that Brahmana, gave no reply to her husband. Indeed, that chaste woman, considering herself contaminated became speechless, overcome with shame. Sudarsana, addressing her again, exclaimed,—Where can my chaste wife be? Whither has she gone? Nothing can be of greater moment to me than this (her disappearance). Why does not that simple and truthful lady, devoted to her husband, alas, answer to my call today as she used to do before with sweet smiles? Then that Brahmana, who was within the hut, thus replied to Sudarsana,—Do thou learn, O son of Pavaka, that a Brahmana guest has arrived, and though tempted by this thy wife with diverse other offers of welcome, I have, O best of Brahmanas, desired only her person, and this fair-faced lady is engaged in welcoming me with due rites. Thou art at liberty to do whatever thou thinkest to be suitable to this occasion. Mrityu, armed with the iron club, pursued the Rishi at that moment, desirous of compassing the destruction of one that would, he thought, deviate from his promise. Sudarsana was struck with wonder, but casting off all jealousy and anger by look, word, deed, or thought, said,—Do thou enjoy thyself, O Brahmana. It is a great pleasure to me. A householder obtain the highest merit by honouring a guest. It is said by the learned that, as regards the householder, there is no higher merit than what results unto him from a guest departing from his house after having been duly honoured by him. My life, my wife, and whatever other worldly possessions I have, are all dedicated to the use of my guests. Even this is the vow that I have taken. As I have truly made this statement, by that truth, O Brahmana, I shall attain to the knowledge of Self. O foremost of virtuous men, the five elements, viz., fire, air, earth, water, and sky, and the mind, the intellect and the Soul, and time and space and the ten organs of sense, are all present in the bodies of men, and always witness the good and evil deeds that men do. This truth has today been uttered by me, and let the gods bless me for it or destroy me if I have spoken falsely. At this, O Bharata, there arose in all directions, in repeated echoes, a voice, crying,—This is true, this is not false. Then that Brahmana came out of the hovel, and like the wind rising and encompassing both Earth and sky, and making the three worlds echo with Vedic sounds, and calling that virtuous man by name, and congratulating him said,—O sinless one, I am Dharma; All glory to thee. I came here, O truth-loving one, to try thee, and I am well pleased with thee by knowing thee to be virtuous. Thou hast subdued and conquered Mrityu who always has pursued thee, seeking thy laches? O best of men, no one in the three worlds has the ability to insult, even with looks, this chaste lady devoted to her husband, far less to touch her person. She has been protected from defilement by thy virtue and by her own chastity. There can be nothing contrary to what this proud lady will say. This utterer of Brahma, endued with austere penances, shall, for the salvation of the world, be metamorphosed into a mighty river. And thou shalt attain to all the worlds in this thy body, and as truly as the science of Yoga is within her control, this highly blessed lady will follow thee with only half of her corporeal self, and with the other half will she be celebrated as the river Oghavati! And thou shalt attain with her to all the worlds that acquired through penances, Those eternal and everlasting worlds from which none cometh back will be attained by thee even in this gross body of thine. Thou hast conquered Death, and attained to the highest of all felicities, and by thy own power (of mind), attaining to the speed of thought, thou hast risen above the power of the five elements! By thus adhering to the duties of a householder, thou hast conquered thy passions, desires, and anger, and this princess, O prince of virtuous men has, by serving thee, conquered affliction, desire, illusion, enmity and lassitude of mind!'

"Bhishma continued, 'Then the glorious Vasava (the lord of the gods), riding in a fine chariot drawn by a thousand white horses, approached that Brahmana. Death and Soul, all the worlds, all the elements, intellect, mind, time, and space as also desire and wrath, were all conquered. There-fore, O best of men, do thou bear this in mind, that to a householder there is no higher divinity than the guest. It is said by the learned that the blessings of an honoured guest are more efficacious than the merit of a hundred sacrifices. Whenever a deserving guest seeks the hospitality of a householder and is not honoured by him, he takes away (with him) all the virtues of the latter giving him his sins (in return). I have now recited to thee, my son, this excellent story as to how Death was conquered of old by a householder. The recital of this excellent story confers glory, fame, and longevity (upon those that listen to it). The man that seeks worldly prosperity should consider it as efficacious in removing all evil. And, O Bharata, the learned man that daily recites this story of the life of Sudarsana attains to the regions of the blessed.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'If, O prince, Brahmanahood be so difficult of attainment by the three classes (Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras), how then did the high souled Viswamitra, O king, though a Kshatriya (by birth), attain to the status of a Brahmana? I desire to know this, O sire. Therefore, do thou truly relate this matter to me. That powerful man, O sire, by virtue of his austerities, destroyed in a moment the hundred sons of the high-souled Vasishtha. While under the influence of anger, he created numerous evil spirits and Rakshasas of mighty vigour and resembling the great destroyer Kala himself. The great and learned race of Kusika, numbering hundreds of regenerate sages and belauded by the Brahmanas, was founded in this world of men by him. Sunasepha of austere penances, the son of Richika, having been sought to be slain as an animal in the great sacrifice of Amvarisha, obtained his deliverance through Viswamitra. Harishchandra, having pleased the gods at a sacrifice, became a son of the wise Viswamitra. For not having honoured their eldest brother Devarat, whom Viswamitra got as a son from the gods, the other fifty brothers of his were cursed, and all of them became Chandalas. Trisanku, the son of Ikshwaku, through the curse of Vasistha became a Chandala, and when abandoned by his friends, and remaining suspended with his head downwards in the lower regions, was translated to heaven at the pleasure of Viswamitra. Viswamitra had a large river, by name Kausika, that was frequented by celestial Rishis. This sacred and auspicious stream was frequented by the gods and regenerate Rishis. For disturbing his devotions, the famous celestial nymph Rambha of fine bracelets, was cursed and metamorphosed into a rock. Through fear of Viswamitra the glorious Vasishtha, in olden times, binding himself with creepers, threw himself down into a river and again rose released from his bonds. In consequence of this, that large and sacred river become thenceforth celebrated by the name of Vipasa.[3] He prayed to the glorious and puissant Indra who was pleased with him and absolved him from a curse.[4] Remaining on the northern side of the firmament, he sheds his lustre from a position in the midst of the seven regenerate Rishis,[5] and Dhruva the son of Uttanpada[6]. These are his achievements as well as many others. O descendant of Kuru, as they were performed by a Kshatriya, my curiosity has been roused in this matter. Therefore, O foremost one of Bharata's race, do thou relate this matter to me truly. How without casting off his corporeal frame and taking another tenement of flesh could he become a Brahmana? Do thou, O sire, truly relate this matter to me as thou hast related to me the story of Matanga. Matanga was born as a Chandala,[7] and could not attain to Brahmanahood,(with all his austerities) but how could this man attain to the status of a Brahmana?"


"Bhishma said, 'Listen truly in detail, O son of Pritha, how in olden times Viswamitra attained to the status of a Brahmana Rishi. There was, O foremost of Bharata's descendants, in the race of Bharata, a king of the name of Ajamida, who performed many sacrifices and was the best of all virtuous men. His son was the great king named Jahnu. Ganga was the daughter of this high-minded prince. The farfamed and equally virtuous Sindhudwipa was the son of this prince. From Sindhudwipa sprung the great royal sage Valakaswa. His son was named Vallabha who was like a second Dharma in embodied form. His son again was Kusika who was refulgent with glory like unto the thousand-eyed Indra. Kusika's son was the illustrious King Gadhi who, being childless and desiring to have a son born unto him, repaired to the forest. Whilst living there, a daughter was born unto him. She was called Satyavati by name, and in beauty of appearance she had no equal on Earth. The illustrious son of Chyavana, celebrated by the name of Richika, of the race of Bhrigu, endued with austere penances, sought the hand of this lady. Gadhi, the destroyer of his enemies, thinking him to be poor, did not bestow her in marriage upon the high-souled Richika. But when the latter, thus dismissed, was going away, the excellent king, addressing him said,—'If thou givest me a marriage dower thou shalt have my daughter for thy wife.'

"Richika said, 'What dower, O king, shall I offer thee for the hand of thy daughter? Tell me truly, without feeling any hesitation in the matter. Gadhi said,—'O descendant of Bhrigu, do thou give me a thousand horses fleet as the wind, and possessing the hue of moon-beams, and each having one ear black.'

"Bhishma said, 'Then that mighty son of Chyavana who was the foremost of Bhrigu's race, besought the deity Varuna, the son of Aditi, who was the lord of all the waters.—O best of gods, I pray to thee to give me a thousand horses, all endued with the speed of the wind and with complexion as effulgent as the moon's, but each having one ear black. The god Varuna, the son of Aditi, said to that excellent scion of Bhrigu's race,—Be it so. Wheresoever thou shalt seek, the horses shalt arise (in thy presence).—As soon as Richika thought of them, there arose from the waters of Ganga thousand high-mettled horses, as lustrous in complexion as the moon. Not far from Kanyakubja, the sacred bank of Ganga is still famous among men as Aswatirtha in consequence of the appearance of those horses at that place. Then Richika, that best of ascetics, pleased in mind, gave those thousand excellent horses unto Gadhi as the marriage-dower. King Gadhi, filled with wonder and fearing to be cursed, gave his daughter, bedecked with jewels, unto that son of Bhrigu. That foremost of regenerate Rishis accepted her hand in marriage according to the prescribed rites. The princess too was well-pleased at finding herself the wife of that Brahmana. That foremost of regenerate Rishis, O Bharata, was well pleased with her conduct and expressed a wish to grant her boon. The princess, O excellent king, related this to her mother. The mother addressed the daughter that stood before her with down-cast eyes, saving,—It behoves thee, O my daughter, to secure a favour for me also from thy husband. That sage of austere penances is capable of granting a boon to me, the boon, viz. of the birth of a son to me.—Then, O king, returning quickly to her husband Richika, the princess related to him all that had been desired by her mother. Richika said,—By my favour, O blessed one, she will soon give birth to a son possessed of every virtue. May thy request be fulfilled. Of thee too shall be born a mighty and glorious son who, endued with virtue, shall perpetuate my race. Truly do I say this unto thee! When you two shall bathe in your season, she shall embrace a peepul tree, and thou, O excellent lady, shalt likewise embrace a fig tree, and by so doing shall ye attain the object of your desire. O sweetly-smiling lady, both she and you shall have to partake of these two sacrificial offerings (charu)[8]rated with hymns, and then shall ye obtain sons (as desired).—At this, Satyavati, delighted at heart, told her mother all that had been said by Richika as also of the two balls of charu. Then the mother, addressing her daughter Satyavati, said:—O daughter, as I am deserving of greater consideration from thee than thy husband, do thou obey my words. The charu, duly consecrated with hymns, which thy husband has given to thee, do thou give unto me and thyself take the one that has been prescribed for me. O sweetly-smiling one of blameless character, if thou hast any respect for my word, let us change the trees respectively designed for us. Every one desires to possess an excellent and stainless being for his own son. The glorious Richika too must have acted from a similar motive in this matter, as will appear in the end. For this reason, O beautiful girl, my heart inclines towards thy charu, and thy tree, and thou too shouldst consider how to secure an excellent brother for thyself.—The mother and the daughter Satyavati having acted in this way, they both, O Yudhishthira, became big with child. And that great Rishi, the excellent descendant of Bhrigu, finding his wife quick with child, was pleased at heart, and addressing her, said,—O excellent lady, thou hast not done well in exchanging the charu as will soon become apparent. It is also clear that thou hast changed the trees. I had placed the entire accumulated energy of Brahma in thy charu and Kshatriya energy in the charu of thy mother. I had so ordered that thou wouldst give birth to a Brahmana whose virtues would be famous throughout the three worlds, and that she (thy mother) would give birth to an excellent Kshatriya. But now, O excellent lady, that thou hast reversed the order (of the charu) so, thy mother will give birth to an excellent Brahmana and thou too, O excellent lady, will give birth to a Kshatriya terrible in action. Thou hast not done will, O lady, by acting thus out of affection for thy mother.—Hearing this, O king the excellent lady Satyavati, struck with sorrow, fell upon the ground like a beautiful creeper cut in twain. Regaining her senses and bowing unto her lord with head (bent), the daughter of Gadhi said to her husband, that foremost one of Bhrigu's race,—O regenerate Rishi, O thou that art foremost amongst those versed in Brahma, do thou take pity on me, thy wife, who is thus appeasing thee and so order that a Kshatriya son may not be born unto me. Let my grandson be such a one as will be famous for his terrible achievements, if it be thy desire, but not my son, O Brahmana. Do thou confer this favour on me.—Be it so,—said that man of austere penances to his wife and then, O king, she gave birth to a blessed son named Jamadagni. The celebrated wife of Gadhi too gave birth to the regenerate Rishi Viswamitra versed in the knowledge of Brahma, by favour of that Rishi. The highly devout Viswamitra, though a Kshatriya, attained to the state of a Brahmana and became the founder of a race of Brahmanas. His sons became high-souled progenitors of many races of Brahmanas who were devoted to austere penances, learned in the Vedas, and founders, of many clans. The adorable Madhuchcchanda and the mighty Devrat, Akshina, Sakunta, Vabhru, Kalapatha, the celebrated Yajnavalkya, Sthula of high vows, Uluka, Mudgala, and the sage Saindhavayana, the illustrious Valgujangha and the great Rishi Galeva, Ruchi, the celebrated Vajra, as also Salankayana, Liladhya and Narada, the one known as Kurchamuka, and Vahuli, Mushala, as also Vakshogriva, Anghrika, Naikadrik, Silayupa, Sita, Suchi, Chakraka, Marrutantavya, Vataghna, Aswalayana, and Syamayana, Gargya, and Javali, as also Susruta, Karishi, Sangsrutya, and Para Paurava, and Tantu, the great sage Kapila, Tarakayana, Upagahana, Asurayani, Margama, Hiranyksha, Janghari, Bhavravayani, and Suti, Bibhuti, Suta, Surakrit, Arani, Nachika, Champeya, Ujjayana, Navatantu, Vakanakha, Sayanya, Yati, Ambhoruha, Amatsyasin, Srishin, Gardhavi Urjjayoni, Rudapekahin, and the great Rishi Naradin,—these Munis were all sons of Viswamitra and were versed in the knowledge of Brahma. O king Yudhishthira, the highly austere and devout Viswamitra, although a Kshatriya (by descent), became a Brahmana for Richika having placed the energy of supreme Brahma (in the charu), O foremost prince of Bharata's race, I have now related to you, with all details, the story of the birth of Viswamitra who was possessed of energy of the sun, the moon, and the fire-god. O best of kings, if thou hast any doubt with regard to any other matter, do thou let me know it, so that I may remove it.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'O thou that knowest the truths of religion, I wish to hear of the merits of compassion, and of the characteristics of devout men. Do thou, O sire, describe them to me.'

"Bhishma said, In this connection, this ancient legend, the story of Vasava and the high-minded Suka, is cited as an illustration. In the territories of the king of Kasi, a fowler, having poisoned arrows with him went out of his village on a hunting excursion in search of antelopes. Desirous of obtaining, meat, when in a big forest in pursuit of the chase, he discovered a drove of antelopes not far from him, and discharged his arrow at one of them. The arrows of that folder of irresistible arms, discharged for the destruction of the antelope, missed its aim and pierced a mighty forest-tree. The tree, violently pierced with that arrow tipped with virulent poison, withered away, shedding its leaves and fruits. The tree having thus withered a parrot that had lived in a hollow of its trunk all his life, did not leave his nest out of affection for the lord of the forest. Motionless and without food silent and sorrowful, that grateful and virtuous parrot also withered away with the tree. The conqueror of Paka (Indra) was struck with wonder upon finding that high-souled, and generous-hearted bird thus uninfluenced by misery or happiness and possessing extraordinary resolution. Then the thought arose in Sakra's mind,—How could this bird come to possess humane and generous feelings which are impossible in one belonging to the world of lower animals? Perchance, there is nothing wonderful in the matter, for all creatures are seen to evince kindly and generous feelings towards others.—Assuming then the shape of a Brahmana, Sakra descended on the Earth and addressing the bird, said,—O Suka, O best of birds, the grand-daughter (Suki) of Daksha has become blessed (by having thee as her offspring). I ask thee, for what reason dost thou not leave this withered tree?—Thus questioned, the Suka bowed unto him and thus replied:—Welcome to thee O chief of the gods, I have recognised thee by the merit of my austere penances—Well-done, well-done!—exclaimed the thousand-eyed deity. Then the latter praised him in his mind, saying,—O, how wonderful is the knowledge which he possesses.—Although the destroyer of Vala knew that parrot to be of a highly virtuous character and meritorious in action, he still enquired of him about the reason of his affection for the tree. This tree is withered and it is without leaves and fruits and is unfit to be the refuge of birds. Why dost thou then cling to it? This forest, too, is vast and in this wilderness there are numerous other fine trees whose hollows are covered with leaves and which thou canst choose freely and to thy heart's content. O patient one exercising due discrimination in thy wisdom, do thou forsake this old tree that is dead and useless and shorn of all its leaves and no longer capable of any good.'"

"Bhishma said, 'The virtuous Suka, hearing these words of Sakra, heaved a deep sigh and sorrowfully replied unto him, saying—O consort of Sachi, and chief of the gods, the ordinances of the deities are always to be obeyed. Do thou listen to the reason of the matter in regard to which thou hast questioned me. Here, within this tree, was I born, and here in this tree have I acquired all the good traits of my character, and here in this tree was I protected in my infancy from the assaults of my enemies. O sinless one, why art thou, in thy kindness, tampering with the principle of my conduct in life? I am compassionate, and devoutly intent on virtue, and steadfast in conduct. Kindliness of feeling is the great test of virtue amongst the good, and this same compassionate and humane feeling is the source of perennial felicity to the virtuous. All the gods question thee to remove their doubts in religion, and for this reason, O lord, thou hast been placed in sovereignty over them all. It behoves thee not, O thousand-eyed one, to advise me now to abandon this tree for ever. When it was capable of good, it supported my life. How can I forsake it now?—The virtuous destroyer of Paka, pleased with these well-meant words of the parrot, thus said to him:—I am gratified with thy humane and compassionate disposition. Do thou ask a boon of me.—At this, the compassionate parrot craved this boon of him, saying,—Let this tree revive.—Knowing the great attachment of the parrot to that tree and his high character, Indra, well-pleased, caused the tree to be quickly sprinkled over with nectar. Then that tree became replenished and attained to exquisite grandeur through the penances of the parrot, and the latter too, O great king, at the close of his life, obtained the companionship of Sakra by virtue of that act of compassion. Thus, O lord of men, by communion and companionship with the pious, people attain all the objects of their desire even as the tree die through its companionship with the parrot.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O learned sire that art versed in all the scriptures, of Exertion and Destiny which is the most powerful?'

"Bhishma said, 'This ancient story of the conversation of Vasishtha and Brahma, O Yudhishthira, is an illustration in point. In olden times the adorable Vasishtha enquired of Brahma as to which among these two, viz., the Karma of a creature acquired in this life, or that acquired in previous lives (and called Destiny), is the more potent in shaping his life. Then, O king, the great god Brahma, who had sprung from the primeval lotus, answered him in these exquisite and well-reasoned words, full of meaning.'"

"Brahma said, 'Nothing comes into existence without seed. Without seed, fruits do not grow. From seeds spring other seeds. Hence are fruits known to be generated from seeds. Good or bad as the seed is that the husbandman soweth in his field, good or bad are the fruits that he reaps. As, unsown with seed, the soil, though tilled, becomes fruitless, so, without individual Exertion, Destiny is of no avail. One's own acts are like the soil, and Destiny (or the sum of one's acts in previous births) is compared to the seed. From the union of the soil and the seed doth the harvest grow. It is observed every day in the world that the doer reaps the fruit of his good and evil deeds; that happiness results from good deeds, and pain from evil ones; that acts, when done, always fructify; and that, if not done, no fruit arises. A man of (good) acts acquires merits with good fortune, while an idler falls away from his estate, and reaps evil like the infusion of alkaline matter injected into a wound. By devoted application, one acquires beauty, fortune, and riches of various kinds. Everything can be secured by Exertion: but nothing can be gained through Destiny alone, by a man that is wanting in personal Exertion. Even so does one attain to heaven, and all the objects of enjoyment, as also the fulfilment of one's heart's desires by well-directed individual Exertion. Al! the luminous bodies in the firmament, all the deities, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, as also the Sun and the Moon and the Winds, have attained to their high status by evolution from man's status, through dint of their own action. Riches, friends, prosperity descending from generation to generation, as also the graces of life, are difficult of attainment by those that are wanting in Exertion. The Brahmana attains to prosperity by holy living, the Kshatriya by prowess, the Vaisya by manly exertion, and the Sudra by service. Riches and other objects of enjoyment do not follow the stingy, nor the impotent, nor the idler. Nor are these ever attained by the man that is not active or manly or devoted to the exercise of religious austerities. Even he, the adorable Vishnu, who created the three worlds with the Daityas and all the gods, even He is engaged in austere penances in the bosom of the deep. If one's Karma bore no fruit, then all actions would become fruitless, and relying on Destiny men would become idlers. He who, without pursuing the human modes of action, follows Destiny only, acts in vain, like unto the woman that has an impotent husband. In this world the apprehension that accrues from performance of good or evil actions is not so great if Destiny be unfavourable as one's apprehension of the same in the other world if Exertion be wanting while here.[9] Man's powers, if properly exerted, only follow his Destiny, but Destiny alone is incapable of conferring any good where Exertion is wanting. When it is seen that even in the celestial regions, the position of the deities themselves is unstable, how would the deities maintain their own position or that of others without proper Karma? The deities do not always approve of the good deeds of others in this world, for, apprehending their own overthrow, they try to thwart the acts of others. There is a constant rivalry between the deities and the Rishis, and if they all have to go through their Karma, still it can never be averted that there is no such thing as Destiny, for it is the latter that initiates all Karma. How does Karma originate, if Destiny form the prime spring of human action? (The answer is) that by this means, an accretion of many virtues is made even in the celestial regions. One's own self is one's friend and one's enemy too, as also the witness of one's good and evil deeds. Good and evil manifest themselves through Karma. Good and evil acts do not give adequate results. Righteousness is the refuge of the gods, and by righteousness is everything attained. Destiny thwarts not the man that has attained to virtue and righteousness.

In olden times, Yayati, falling from his high estate in heaven descended on the Earth but was again restored to the celestial regions by the good deeds of his virtuous grandsons. The royal sage Pururavas, celebrated as the descendant of Ila, attained to heaven through the intercession of the Brahmanas. Saudasa, the king of Kosala, though dignified by the performance of Aswamedha and other sacrifices, obtained the status of a man-eating Rakshasa, through the curse of a great Rishi. Aswatthaman and Rama, though both warriors and sons of Munis, failed to attain to heaven by reason of their own actions in this world. Vasu, though he performed a hundred sacrifices like a second Vasava, was sent to the nethermost regions, for making a single false statement. Vali, the son of Virochana, righteously bound by his promise, was consigned to the regions under the Earth, by the prowess of Vishnu. Was not Janamejaya, who followed the foot-prints of Sakra, checked and put down by the gods for killing a Brahmana woman? Was not the regenerate Rishi Vaisampayana too, who slew a Brahmana in ignorance, and was polluted by the slaughter of a child, put down by the gods? In olden times the royal sage Nriga became transmuted into a lizard. He had made gifts of kine unto the Brahmanas at his great sacrifice, but this availed him not. The royal sage Dhundhumara was overwhelmed with decrepitude even while engaged in performing his sacrifices, and foregoing all the merits thereof, he fell asleep at Girivraja. The Pandavas too regained their lost kingdom, of which they had been deprived by the powerful sons of Dhritarashtra, not through the intercession of the fates, but by recourse to their own valour. Do the Munis of rigid vows, and devoted to the practice of austere penances, denounce their curses with the aid of any supernatural power or by the exercise of their own puissance attained by individual acts? All the good which is attained with difficulty in this world is possessed by the wicked, is soon lost to them. Destiny does not help the man that is steeped in spiritual ignorance and avarice. Even as a fire of small proportions, when fanned by the wind, becomes of mighty power, so does Destiny, when joined with individual Exertion, increase greatly (in potentiality). As with the diminution of oil in the lamp its light is extinguished so does the influence of Destiny is lost if one's acts stop. Having obtained vast wealth, and women and all the enjoyments of this world, the man, without action is unable to enjoy them long, but the high-souled man, who is even diligent, is able to find riches buried deep in the Earth and watched over by the fates. The good man who is prodigal (in religious charities and sacrifices) is sought by the gods for his good conduct, the celestial world being better than the world of men, but the house of the miser though abounding in wealth is looked upon by the gods as the house of dead. The man that does not exert himself is never contented in this world nor can Destiny alter the course of a man that has gone wrong. So there is no authority inherent in Destiny. As the pupil follows one's own individual perception, so the Destiny follows Exertion. The affairs in which one's own Exertion is put forth, there only Destiny shows its hand. O best of Munis, I have thus described all the merits of individual Exertion, after having always known them in their true significance with the aid of my yogic insight. By the influence of Destiny, and by putting forth individual Exertion, do men attain to heaven. The combined aid of Destiny and Exertion, becomes efficacious.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'O the best of Bharata's race and the foremost of great men, I wish to know what the fruits are of good deed. Do thou enlighten me on this point.'"

"Bhishma said, 'I shall tell thee what thou hast asked. Do thou, O Yudhishthira, listen to this which constitutes the secret knowledge of the Rishis. Listen to me as I explain what the ends, long coveted, are which are attained by men after death. Whatever actions are performed by particular corporeal beings, the fruits thereof are reaped by the doers while endued with similar corporeal bodies; for example, the fruits of actions done with mind are enjoyed at the time of dreams, and those of actions performed physically are enjoyed in the working state physically. In whatever states creatures perform good or evil deeds, they reap the fruits thereof in similar states of succeeding lives. No act done with the aid of the five organs of sensual perception, is ever lost. The five sensual organs and the immortal soul which is the sixth, remain its witnesses. One should devote one's eye to the service of the guest and should devote one's heart on the same; one should utter words that are agreeable; one should also follow and worship (one's guest). This is called Panchadakshin Sacrifice, (the sacrifice with five gifts). He who offers good food to the unknown and weary travellers fatigued by a long journey, attains to great merit. Those that use the sacrificial platform as their only bed obtain commodious mansions and beds (in subsequent births). Those that wear only rags and barks of trees for dress, obtain good apparel and ornaments in next birth. One possessed of penances and having his soul on Yoga, get vehicles and riding animals (as the fruit of their renunciation in this life). The monarch that lies down by the side of the sacrificial fire, attains to vigour and valour. The man who renounces the enjoyment of all delicacies, attains to prosperity, and he that abstains from animal food, obtains children and cattle, He who lies down with his head downwards, or who lives in water, or who lives secluded and alone in the practice of Brahmacharya, attains to all the desired ends. He who offers shelter to a guest and welcomes him with water to wash his feet as also with food, light and bed, attains to the merits of the sacrifice with the five gifts. He who lays himself down on a warrior's bed on the battle-field in the posture of a warrior, goes to those eternal regions where all the objects of desire are fulfilled. A man, O king, attains to riches that makes charitable gifts. One secures obedience to one's command by the vow of silence, all the enjoyments of life by practice of austerities, long life by Brahmacharya, and beauty, prosperity and freedom from disease by abstaining from injury to others. Sovereignty falls to the lot of those that subsist on fruits and roots only. Residence in heaven is attained by those that live on only leaves of trees. A man, O king, is said to obtain happiness, by abstention from food. By confining one's diet to herbs alone, one becomes possessed of cows. By living on grass one attains to the celestial regions. By foregoing all intercourse with one's wife and making ablutions three times during the day and by inhaling the air only for purposes of subsistence, one obtains the merit of a sacrifice. Heaven is attained by the practice of truth, nobility of birth by sacrifices. The Brahmana of pure practices that subsists on water only, and performs the Agnihotra ceaselessly, and recites the Gayatri, obtains a kingdom. By abstaining food or by regulating it, one attains to residence in heaven. O king, by abstaining from all but the prescribed diet while engaged in sacrifices, and by making pilgrimage for twelve years, one attains to a place better than the abodes reserved for heroes. By reading all the Vedas, one is instantly liberated from misery, and by practising virtue in thought, one attains to the heavenly regions. That man who is able to renounce that intense yearning of the heart for happiness and material enjoyments,—a yearning that is difficult of conquest by the foolish and that doth not abate with the abatement of bodily vigour and that clings like a fatal disease unto him,—is able to secure happiness. As the young calf is able to recognise its dam from among a thousand cows, so does the previous acts of a man pursue him (in all his different transformations). As the flowers and fruits of a tree, unurged by visible influences, never miss their proper season, so does Karma done in a previous existence bring about its fruits in proper time. With age, man's hair grows grey, his teeth become loose; his eyes and ears too become dim in action; but the only thing that does not abate is his desire for enjoyments. Prajapati is pleased with those acts that please one's father, and the Earth is pleased with those acts that please one's mother, and Brahma is adored with those acts that please one's preceptor. Virtue is honoured by him who honours these three. The acts of those that despise these three do not avail them.'"

"Vaisampayana said, 'The princes of Kuru's race became filled with wonder upon listening to this speech of Bhishma. All of them became pleased in mind and overpowered with joy. As Mantras applied with a desire to win victory, or the performance of the Shoma sacrifice made without proper gifts, or oblations poured on the fire without proper hymns, become useless and lead to evil consequences, even so sin and evil results flow from falsehood in speech. O prince, I have thus related to thee this doctrine of the fruition of good and evil acts, as narrated by the Rishis of old. What else dost thou wish to hear?"


"Yudhishthira said, 'Who are deserving of worship? Who are they unto whom one may bow? Who are they, O Bharata, unto whom thou wouldst bend thy head? Who, again, are they whom thou likest? Tell me all this, O prince. What is that upon which thy mind dwells when affliction overwhelms thee? Do thou discourse to me on what is beneficial here, that is, in this region of human beings, as also hereafter.'"[10]

"Bhishma said, 'I like those regenerate persons whose highest wealth is Brahman, whose heaven consists in the knowledge of the soul, and whose penances are constituted by their diligent study of the Vedas. My heart yearns after those in whose race persons, young and old diligently bear the ancestral burthens without languishing under them. Brahmanas well-trained in several branches of knowledge, self-controlled, mild-speeched, conversant with the scriptures, well-behaved, possessed of the knowledge of Brahman and righteous in conduct, discourse in respectable assemblies like flights of swans.[11] Auspicious, agreeable, excellent, and well-pronounced are the words, O Yudhishthira, which they utter with a voice as deep as that of the clouds. Fraught with happiness both temporal and spiritual, such words are uttered by them in the courts of monarchs, themselves being received with honour and attention and served with reverence by those rulers of men. Indeed, my heart yearns after them who listen to the words uttered in assemblies or the courts of kings by persons endued with knowledge and all desirable attributes, and are respected by others. My heart, O monarch, always yearns after them who, for the gratification of Brahmanas, O Yudhishthira, give unto them, with devotion, food that is well-cooked and clean and wholesome. It is easy to fight in battle, but not so to make a gift without pride or vanity. In this world, O Yudhishthira, there are brave men and heroes by hundreds. While counting them, he that is a hero in gifts should be regarded as superior, O amiable one, if I had been even a vulgar Brahmana, I would have regarded myself as very great, not to speak of one born in a good Brahmana family endued with righteousness of conduct, and devoted to penances and learning. There is no one, O son of Pandu, in this world that is dearer to me than thou, O chief of Bharata's race but dearer to me than thou are the Brahmanas. And since, O best of the Kurus, the Brahmanas are very much dearer to me than thou, it is by that truth that I hope to go to all those regions of felicity which have been acquired by my sire Santanu. Neither my sire, nor my sire's sire, nor any one else connected with me by blood, is dearer to me than the Brahmanas. I do not expect any fruit, small or great, from my worship of the Brahmanas (for I worship them as deities because they are deserving of such worship).[12] In consequence of what I have done to the Brahmanas in thought, word, and deed, I do not feel any pain now (even though I am lying on a bed of arrows). People used to call me as one devoted to the Brahmanas. This style of address always pleased me highly. To do good to the Brahmanas is the most sacred of all sacred acts. I behold many regions of beautitude waiting for me that have reverentially walked behind the Brahmanas. Very soon shall I repair to those regions for everlasting time, O son. In this world, O Yudhishthira, the duties of women have reference to and depend upon their husbands. To a woman, verily, the husband is the deity and he is the highest end after which she should strive. As the husband is to the wife, even so are the Brahmanas unto Kshatriyas. If there be a Kshatriya of full hundred years of age and a good Brahmana child of only ten years, the latter should be regarded as a father and the former as a son, for among the two, verily, the Brahmana is superior. A woman in the absence of her husband, takes his younger brother for her lord; even so the Earth, not having obtained the: Brahmana, made the Kshatriya her lord. The Brahmanas should be protected like sons and worshipped like sires or preceptors. Indeed, O best of the Kurus, they should be waited upon with reverence even as people wait with reverence upon their sacrificial or Homa fires. The Brahmanas are endued with simplicity and righteousness. They are devoted to truth. They are always engaged in the good of every creature. Yet when angry they are like snakes of virulent poison. They should, for these reasons, be always waited upon and served with reverence and humility. One should, O Yudhishthira, always fear these two, viz. Energy and Penances. Both these should be avoided or kept at a distance. The effects of both are speedy. There is the superiority, however, of Penances, viz., that Brahmanas endued with Penances, O monarch, can, if angry, slay the object of their wrath (regardless of the measure of Energy with which that object may be endued). Energy and Penances, each of the largest measure, become neutralised if applied against a Brahmana that has conquered wrath. If the two,—that is, Energy and Penances,—be set against each other, then destruction would overtake both but not destruction without, a remnant, for while Energy, applied against Penances, is sure to be destroyed without leaving a remnant. Penances applied against Energy cannot be destroyed completely.[13] As the herdsman, stick in hand, protects the herd, even so should the Kshatriya always protect the Vedas and the Brahmanas. Indeed, the Kshatriya should protect all righteous Brahmanas even as a sire protects his sons. He should always have his eye upon the house of the Brahmanas for seeing that their means of subsistence may not be wanting.'"


"Yudhisthira said, 'O grandsire, O thou of great splendour, what do those men become who, through stupefaction of intellect, do not make gifts unto Brahmanas after having promised to make those gifts? O thou that art the foremost of all righteous persons, do tell me what the duties are in this respect. Indeed, what becomes the end of those wicked wights that do not give after having promised to give.'"

"Bhishma said, 'The person that, after having promised, does not give, be it little or much, has the mortification to see his hopes (in every direction) become fruitless like the hopes of a eunuch in respect of progeny. Whatever good acts such a person does between the day of his birth and that of his death, O Bharata, whatever libations he pours on the sacrificial fire, whatever gifts he makes, O chief of Bharata's race, and whatever penances he performs all become fruitless. They that are conversant with the scriptures declare this as their opinion, arriving at it, O chief of the Bharatas, with the aid of a well-ordered understanding. Persons conversant with the scriptures are also of opinion that such a man may be cleansed by giving away a thousand horses with ears of a dark hue. In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between a jackal and an ape. While both were human beings, O scorcher of foes, they were intimate friends. After death one of them became a jackal and the other an ape. Beholding the jackal one day eating an animal carcase in the midst of a crematorium, the ape, remembering his own and his friend's former birth as human beings, addressed him, saying,—Verily, what terrible sin didst thou perpetrate in thy former birth in consequence of which thou art obliged in this birth to feed in a crematorium upon such repulsive fare as the putrid carcase of an animal?—Thus addressed, the jackal replied unto the ape, saying,—Having promised to give unto a Brahmana I did not make him the gift. It is for that sin, O ape, that I have fallen into this wretched order of existence. It is for that reason that, when hungry, I am obliged to eat such food.'

"Bhishma continued, 'The jackal then, O best of men, addressed the ape and said,—What sin didst thou commit for which thou hast become an ape?'

"The ape said, 'In my former life I used to appropriate the fruits belonging to Brahmanas. Hence have I become an ape. Hence it is clear that one possessed of intelligence and learning should never appropriate what belongs to Brahmanas. Verily, as one should abstain from this, one should avoid also all disputes with Brahmanas. Having promised, one should certainly make the promised gift unto them.'

"Bhishma continued, 'I heard this, O king, from my preceptor while he was engaged in discoursing upon the subject of Brahmanas. I heard this from that righteous person when he recited the old and sacred declaration on this topic. I heard this from Krishna also, O king, while he was engaged in discoursing, O son of Pandu, upon Brahmanas.[14] The property of a Brahmana should never be appropriated. They should always be let alone. Poor, or miserly, or young in years, they should never be disregarded. The Brahmanas have always taught me this. Having promised to make them a gift, the gift should be made. A superior Brahmana should never be disappointed in the matter of his expectations. A Brahmana, O king, in whom an expectation has been raised, has, O king, been said to be like a blazing fire.[15] That man upon whom a Brahmana with raised expectations casts his eye, is sure, O monarch, to be consumed even as a heap of straw is capable of being consumed by a blazing fire.[16] When the Brahmana, gratified (with honours and gifts) by the king addresses the king in delightful and affectionate words, he becomes, O Bharata, a source of great benefit to the king, for he continues to live in the kingdom like a physician combating against diverse ills of the body.[17] Such a Brahmana is sure to maintain by his puissance and good wishes, the sons and grandsons and animals and relatives and ministers and other officers and the city and the provinces of the king.[18] Even such is the energy, so great, of the Brahmana like unto that of the thousand-rayed Surya himself, on the Earth. There-fore, O Yudhishthira, if one wishes to attain to a respectable or happy order of being in one's next birth, one should, having passed the promise to a Brahmana, certainly keep it by actually making the gift to him. By making gifts to a Brahmana one is sure to attain to the highest heaven. Verily, the making of gifts is the highest of acts that one can achieve. By the gifts one makes to a Brahmana, the deities and the pitris are supported. Hence one possessed of knowledge should ever make gifts unto the Brahmanas. O chief of the Bharatas, the Brahmana is regarded as the highest object unto whom gifts should be made. At no time should a Brahmana be received without being properly worshipped."


"Yudhisthira said, 'I wish to know, O royal sage, whether any fault is incurred by one who from interested or disinterested friendship imparts instructions unto a person belonging to a low order of birth! O grandsire, I desire to hear this, expounded to me in detail. The course of duty is exceedingly subtile. Men are often seen to be stupefied in respect of that course.'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection, O king, I shall recite to thee, in due order, what I heard certain Rishis say in days of yore. Instruction should not be imparted unto one that belongs to a low or mean caste. It is said that the preceptor who imparts instruction to such a person incurs great fault. Listen to me, O chief of Bharata's race, as I recite to thee, O Yudhishthira, this instance that occurred in days of old, O monarch, of the evil consequences of the imparting of instruction unto a low-born person fallen into distress. The incident which I shall relate occurred in the asylum of certain regenerate sages that stood on the auspicious breast of Himavat. There, on the breast of that prince of mountains, was a sacred asylum adorned with trees of diverse kinds. Overgrown also with diverse species of creepers and plants, it was the resort of many animals and birds. Inhabited by Siddhas and Charanas also, it was exceedingly delightful in consequence of the woods that flowered these at every season. Many were the Brahmacharins that dwelt there, and many belonging to the forest mode of life. Many also were the Brahmanas that took up their residence there, that were highly blessed and that resembled the sun or the fire in energy and effulgence. Ascetics of diverse kinds, observant of various restraints and vows, as also others, O chief of the Bharatas, that had undergone Diksha and were frugal in fare and possessed of cleansed souls, took up their residence there. Large numbers of Valakhilyas and many that were observant of the vow of Sanyasa also, used to dwell there. The asylum, in consequence of all this, resounded with the chanting of the Vedas and the sacred Mantras uttered by its inhabitants. Once upon a time a Sudra endued with compassion for all creatures, ventured to come into that asylum. Arrived at that retreat, he was duly honoured by all the ascetics. Beholding those ascetics of diverse classes that were endued with great energy, that resembled the deities (in purity and power), and that were observing diverse kinds of Diksha, O Bharata, the Sudra became highly pleased at heart. Beholding everything, O chief of Bharata's race, the Sudra felt inclined to devote himself to the practice of penances. Touching the feet of the Kulapati (the head man of the group), O Bharata, he addressed him saying,[19] 'Through thy grace, O foremost of regenerate persons, I desire, to learn (and practise) the duties of religion. It behoveth thee, O illustrious one, to discourse to me on those duties and introduce me (by performing the rites of initiation) into a life of Renunciation. I am certainly inferior in colour, O illustrious one, for I am by caste a Sudra, O best of men. I desire to wait upon and serve you here. Be gratified with me that humbly seek thy shelter.'"

"The Kulapati said, 'It is impossible that a Sudra should live here adopting the marks specially intended for those practising lives of Renunciation. If it pleases thee, thou mayest stay here, engaged in waiting upon and serving us. Without doubt, by such service thou shalt attain to many regions of high felicity.'"

"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by the ascetic, the Sudra began to reflect in his mind, O king, saying, How should I now act? Great is my reverence for those religious duties that lead to merit. Let this, however, be settled, that I shall do what would be for my benefit.'[20] Proceeding to a spot that was distant from that asylum, he made a hut of the twigs and leaves of trees. Erecting also a sacrificial platform, and making a little space for his sleep, and some platforms for the use of the deities, he began, O chief of the Bharatas, to lead a life regulated by rigid observances and vows and to practise penances, abstaining entirely from speech all the while. He began to perform ablutions thrice a day, observe other vows (in respect of food and sleep), make sacrifices to the deities, pour libations on the sacrificial fire, and adore the worship and deities in this way. Restraining all carnal desires, living abstemiously upon fruits and roots, controlling all his senses, he daily welcomed and entertained all that came to his retreat as guests, offering them herbs and fruits that grew plentifully around. In this way he passed a very long time in that hermitage of his.[21] One day an ascetic came to that Sudra's retreat for the purpose of making his acquaintance. The Sudra welcomed and worshipped the Rishi with due rites, and gratified him highly. Endued with great energy, and possessed of a righteous soul, that Rishi of rigid vows conversed with his host on many agreeable subjects and informed him of the place whence he had come. In this way, O chief of the Bharatas, that Rishi, O best of men, came into the asylum of the Sudra times out of a number for the object of seeing him. On one of these occasions, the Sudra, O king, addressing the Rishi said,—I desire to perform the rites that are ordained for the Pitris. Do thou instruct me kindly in this matter.—Very well,—the Brahmana said in reply unto him, O monarch. The Sudra then, purifying himself by a bath, brought water for the Rishi to wash his feet, and he also brought some Kusa grass, and wild herbs and fruits, and a sacred seat, and the seat called Vrishi. The Vrishi, however, was placed by the Sudra towards the south, with his head turned to the west. Beholding, this and knowing that it was against the ordinance, the Rishi addressed the Sudra, saying,—Place the Vrishi with its head turned towards the East, and having purified thyself, do thou sit with thy face turned towards the north—The Sudra did everything as the Rishi directed. Possessed of great intelligence, and observant of righteousness, the Sudra received every direction, about the Sraddha, as laid down in the ordinance, from that Rishi endued with penances regarding the manner of spreading the Kusa grass, and placing the Arghyas, and as regards the rites to be observed in the matter of the libations to be poured and the food to be offered. After the rites in honour of the Pitris had been accomplished, the Rishi, was dismissed by the Sudra, whereupon he returned to his own abode.[22] After a long time, the whole of which he passed in the practice of such penances and vows, the Sudra ascetic met with his death in those woods. In consequence of the merit he acquired by those practices, the Sudra in the next life, took birth in the family of a great king, and in course of time became possessed of great splendour. The regenerate Rishi also, when the time came, paid his debt in Nature. In his next life, O chief of Bharata's race, he took birth in the family of a priest. It was in this way that those two, viz., that Sudra who had passed a life of penances and that regenerate Rishi who had in kindness given the former some instructions in the matter of the rites performed in honour of the Pitris, became reborn, the one as scion of a royal race and the other as the member of a priestly family. Both of them began to grow and both acquired great knowledge in the usual branches of study. The Brahmana became well versed in the Vedas as also in the Atharvans.[23] In the matter, again of all sacrifices ordained in the Sutras, of that Vedanga which deals with religious rites and observances, astrology and astronomy the reborn Rishi attained great excellence. In the Sankhya philosophy too he began to take great delight. Meanwhile, the reborn Sudra who had become a prince, when his father, the king died, performed his last rites; and after he had purified himself by accomplishing all the obsequial ceremonies, he was installed by the subjects of his father as their king on his paternal throne. But soon after his own installation as king, he installed the reborn Rishi as his priest. Indeed, having made the Brahmana his priest, the king began to pass his days in great happiness. He ruled his kingdom righteously and protected and cherished all his subjects. Everyday, however, the king on the occasion of receiving benedictions from his priest as also of the performance of religious and other sacred rites, smiled or laughed at him loudly. In this way, O monarch, the reborn Sudra who had become a king, laughed at sight of his priest on numberless occasions.[24] The priest, marking that the king always smiled or laughed whenever he happened to cast his eyes on him, became angry. On one occasion he met the king in a place where there was nobody else. He pleased the king by agreeable discourse. Taking advantage of that moment, O chief of Bharata's race, the priest addressed the king, saying,—'O thou of great splendour, I pray thee to grant me a single boon.'

"The king said, 'O best of regenerate persons, I am ready to grant thee a hundred of boons, what dost thou say then of one only? From the affection I bear thee and the reverence in which I hold thee, there is nothing that I cannot give thee.'

"The priest said, 'I desire to have only one boon, O king, thou hast been pleased with me. Swear that thou wouldst tell me the truth instead of any untruth.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by the priest, O Yudhishthira, the king said unto him—So be it. If what thou wouldst ask me be known to me, I shall certainly tell thee truly. If on the other hand, the matter be unknown to me, I shall not say anything.'

"The priest said, 'Every day, on occasions of obtaining my benedictions, when, again, I am engaged in the performance of religious rites on thy behalf, on occasions also of the Homa and other rites of propitiation, why is it that thou laughest upon beholding me? Seeing thee laugh at me on all occasions, my mind shrinks with shame. I have caused thee to swear, O king, that thou wouldst answer me truly. It does not behove thee to say what is untrue. There must be some grave reason for thy behaviour. Thy laughter cannot be causeless. Great is my curiosity to know the reason. Do thou speak truly unto me.'

"The king said, 'When thou hast addressed me in this strain, O regenerate one, I am bound to enlighten thee, even if the matter be one that should not be divulged in thy hearing. I must tell thee the truth. Do thou listen to me with close attention, O regenerate one. Listen to me, O foremost of twice-born persons, as I disclose to thee what happened (to us) in our former births. I remember that birth. Do thou listen to me with concentrated mind. In my former life I was a Sudra employed in the practice of severe penances. Thou, O best of regenerate persons, wert a Rishi of austere penances. O sinless one, gratified with me, and impelled by the desire of doing me good, thou, O Brahmana, wert pleased to give me certain instructions in the rites I performed (on one occasion) in honour of my Pitris. The instructions thou gayest me were in respect of the manner of spreading the Vrishi and the Kusa blades and of offering libations and meat and other food to the manes, O foremost of ascetics. In consequence of this transgression of thine thou hast taken birth as a priest, and I have taken birth as a king, O foremost of Brahmanas. Behold the vicissitudes that Time brings about. Thou hast reaped this fruit in consequence of thy having instructed me (in my former birth). It is for this reason, O Brahmana, that I smile at sight of thee, O foremost of regenerate persons. I do not certainly laugh at thee from desire of disregarding thee. Thou art my preceptor.[25] At this change of condition I am really very sorry. My heart burns at the thought. I remember our former births, hence do I laugh at sight of thee. Thy austere penances were all destroyed by the instructions thou gayest me. Relinquishing thy present office of priest, do thou endeavour to regain a superior birth. Do thou exert so that thou mayst not obtain in thy next life a birth meaner than thy present one. Take as much wealth as thou wishest. O learned Brahmana, and cleanse thy soul, O best of men.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Dismissed by the king (from the office of priest), the Brahmana made many gifts, unto persons of his own order, of wealth and land and villages. He observed many rigid and severe vows as laid down by the foremost of Brahmanas. He sojourned to many sacred waters and made many gifts unto Brahmanas in those places. Making gifts of kine unto persons of the regenerate order, his soul became cleansed and he succeeded in acquiring a knowledge of it. Repairing to that very asylum whither he had lived in his former birth, he practised very severe penances. As the consequence of all this, O foremost of kings, that Brahmana succeeded in attaining to the highest success. He became an object of veneration with all the ascetics that dwelt in that asylum. In this way, O best of monarchs, that regenerate Rishi fell into great distress. Unto Sudras, therefore, the Brahmanas should never give instructions. Hence, O king, the Brahmana should avoid imparting instructions (to such as are low-born), for it was by imparting instruction to a low-born person a Brahmana came to grief. O best of kings, the Brahmana should never desire to obtain instruction from, or impart instruction to, a person that belongs to the lowest order. Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, the three orders, are regarded as twice-born. By imparting instruction unto these, a Brahmana does not incur any fault. They, therefore, that are good, should never discourse on any subject, for imparting any instruction, before persons of the inferior order. The course of morality is exceedingly subtile and incapable of being comprehended by persons of uncleansed souls. It is for this reason that ascetics adopt the vow of silence, and being respected by all, pass through Diksha (initiation) without indulging in speech.[26] For fear of saying what is incorrect or what may offend, ascetics often forego speech itself. Even men that are righteous and possessed of every accomplishment, and endued with truth and simplicity of behaviour, have been known to incur great fault in consequence of words spoken improperly. Instruction should never be imparted on anything unto any person. If in consequence of the instructions imparted, the instructed commit any sin, that sin, attaches to the Brahmana who imparted the instruction. The man of wisdom, therefore, that desires to earn merit, should always act with wisdom. That instruction which is imparted in barter for money always pollutes the instructor.[27] Solicited by others, one should say only what is correct after settling it with the aid of reflection. One should impart instruction in such a way that one may, by imparting it, earn merit. I have thus told thee everything respecting the subject of instructions. Very often persons become plunged into great afflictions in consequence of imparting instructions. Hence it is meet that one should abstain from giving instruction unto others.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, in what kind of man or woman, O chief of the Bharatas, does the goddess of prosperity always reside?'

"Bhishma said, 'I shall, in this connection, narrate to thee what occurred and what I have heard. Once on a time, beholding the goddess of prosperity blazing with beauty and endued with the complexion of the lotus, the princess Rukmini the mother of Pradyumna that bore the device of the Makara on his banner, filled with curiosity, asked this question in the presence of Devaki's son. Who are those beings by whose side thou stayest and whom thou favours? Who again, are those whom thou dost not bless with favour. O thou that art dear unto Him that is the lord of all creatures, tell me this truly, O thou that art equal to a great Rishi in penances and puissance. Thus addressed by the princess, the goddess of prosperity, with a face as beautiful as the moon, and moved by grace, in the presence of him who has Garuda on his banner, said these words in reply that were sweet and charming.'

"Sree said, 'O blessed lady, I always reside with him that is eloquent, active, attentive to business, free from wrath, given to the worship of the deities, endued with gratitude, has his passions under complete control, and is high-minded in everything. I never reside with one that is inattentive to business, that is an unbeliever, that causes an intermixture of races in consequence of his lustfulness, that is ungrateful, that is of impure practices, that uses harsh and cruel words, that is a thief, that cherishes malice towards his preceptors and other seniors, those persons that are endued with little energy, strength, life, and honour, that are distressed at every trifle, and that always indulge in wrath. I never reside with these that think in one strain and act in a different one.[28] I never reside also with him who never desires any acquisition for himself, of him who is so blinded as to rest content with the lot in which he finds himself without any exertion or with those that are contented with small acquisitions. I reside with those that are observant of the duties of their own order, or those that are conversant with the duties of righteousness, or those that are devoted to the service of the aged or those that have their passions under control, or those that are endued with cleansed souls or those that observe the virtue of forgiveness, or those that are able and prompt in action, or with such women as are forgiving and self-restrained. I reside with those women also that are devoted to truth and sincerity and that worship the deities. I do not reside with those women also that do not attend to household furniture and provisions scattered all around the house, and that always utter words contrary to the wishes of their husbands. I always avoid those women that are fond of the houses of other people and that have no modesty. On the other hand, I reside with those women that are devoted to their husbands, that are blessed in behaviour, and that are always decked in ornaments and attired in good robes. I always reside with those women that are truthful in speech, that are of handsome and agreeable features, that are blessed and that are endued with all accomplishments. I always avoid such women as are sinful and unclean or impure, as always lick the corners of their mouths, as have no patience or fortitude, and as are fond of dispute and quarrelling, as are given to much sleep, and as always lie down. I always reside in conveyances and the animals that drag them, in maidens, in ornaments and good vestments, in sacrifices, in clouds charged with rain, in full-blown lotuses, and in those stars that bespangle the autumnal firmament. I reside in elephants, in the cow pen, in good seats, and in lakes adorned with full-blown lotuses. I live also in such rivers as babble sweetly in their course, melodious with the music of cranes, having banks adorned with rows of diverse trees, and restored to by Brahmanas and ascetics and others crowned with success. I always reside in those rivers also that have deep and large volumes of rolling waters rendered turbid by lions and elephants plunging into them for bathing or slaking their thirst. I reside also in infuriate elephants, in bovine bulls, in kings, on the throne and good men. I always reside in that house in which the inmate pours libation on the sacrificial fire and worships kine, Brahmanas and the deities. I reside in that house where at the proper time offerings are made unto the deities, in course of worship.[29] I always reside in such Brahmanas as are devoted to the study of the Vedas, in Kshatriyas devoted to the observance of righteousness, in Vaisyas devoted to cultivation, and the Sudras devoted to the (menial) service of the three upper classes. I reside, with a heart firm and unchangeable, in Narayana, in my embodied self. In Him is righteousness in its perfection and full measure, devotion to the Brahmanas, and the quality of agreeableness. Can I not say, O lady that I do not reside in my embodied form, (in any of these places that I have mentioned, except Narayana)? That person in whom I reside in spirit increases in righteousness and fame and wealth and objects of desire.'"


"Yudhishthira said, 'It behoveth, O king to tell me truly which of the two viz., man or woman derives the greater pleasure from an act of union with each other. Kindly resolve my doubt in this respect."

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited this old narrative of the discourse between Bhangaswana and Sakra as a precedent illustrating the question. In days of yore there lived a king of the name of Bhangaswana. He was exceedingly righteous and was known as a royal sage. He was, however, childless, O chief of man, and therefore performed a sacrifice from desire of obtaining an issue. The sacrifice which that mighty monarch performed was the Agnishtuta. In consequence of the fact that the deity of fire is alone adored in that sacrifice, this is always disliked by Indra. Yet it is the sacrifice that is desired by men when for the purpose of obtaining an issue they seek to cleanse themselves of their sins.[30] The highly blessed chief of the celestials, viz. Indra, learning that the monarch was desirous of performing the Agnishtuta, began from that moment to look for the laches of that royal sage of well-restrained soul (for if he could succeed in finding some laches, he could then punish his disregarder). Notwithstanding all his vigilance, however, O king, Indra failed to detect any laches, on the part of the high-souled monarch. Some time after, one day, the king went on a hunting expedition. Saying unto himself—This, indeed, is an opportunity,—Indra stupefied the monarch. The king proceeded alone on his horse, confounded because of the chief of the celestials having stupefied his senses. Afflicted with hunger and thirst, the king's confusion was so great that he could not ascertain the points of the compass. Indeed, afflicted with thirst, he began to wander hither and thither. He then beheld a lake that was exceedingly beautiful and was full of transparent water. Alighting from his steed, and plunging into the lake, he caused his animal to drink. Tying his horse then, whose thirst had been slaked, to a tree, the king plunged into the lake again for performing his ablutions. To his amazement he found that he was changed, by virtue of the waters, into a woman. Beholding himself thus transformed in respect of sex itself, the king became overpowered with shame. With his senses and mind completely agitated, he began to reflect with his whole heart in this strain:—Alas, how shall I ride my steed? How shall I return to my capital? In consequence of the Agnishtuta sacrifice I have got a hundred sons all endued with great might, and all children of my own loins. Alas, thus transformed, what shall I say unto them? What shall I say unto my spouses, my relatives and well-wishers, and my subjects of the city and the provinces? Rishis conversant with the truths of duty and religion and other matters say that mildness and softness and liability to extreme agitation are the attributes of women, and that activity, hardness, and energy are the attributes of men. Alas, my manliness has disappeared. For what reason has femininity come over me? In consequence of this transformation of sex, how shall I succeed in mounting my horse again?—Having indulged in these sad thoughts, the monarch, with great exertion, mounted his steed and came back to his capital, transformed though he had been into a woman. His sons and spouses and servants, and his subjects of the city and the provinces, beholding that extraordinary transformation, became exceedingly amazed. Then that royal sage, that foremost of eloquent men, addressing them all, said,—I had gone out on a hunting expedition, accompanied by a large force. Losing all knowledge of the points of the compass, I entered a thick and terrible forest, impelled by the fates. In that terrible forest, I became afflicted with thirst and lost my senses. I then beheld a beautiful lake abounding with fowl of every description. Plunging into that stream for performing my ablutions, I was transformed into a woman!—Summoning then his spouses and counsellors, and all his sons by their names, that best of monarchs transformed into a woman said unto them these words:—Do ye enjoy this kingdom in happiness. As regards myself, I shall repair to the woods, ye sons.—Having said so unto his children, the monarch proceeded to the forest. Arrived there, she came upon an asylum inhabited by an ascetic. By that ascetic the transformed monarch gave birth to a century of sons. Taking all those children of hers, she repaired to where her former children were, and addressing the latter, said,—Ye are the children of my loins while I was a man. These are my children brought forth by me in this state of transformation. Ye sons, do ye all enjoy my kingdom together, like brothers born of the same parents.—At this command of their parent, all the brothers, uniting together, began to enjoy the kingdom as their joint property. Beholding those children of the king all jointly enjoying the kingdom as brothers born of the same parents, the chief of the celestials, filled with wrath, began to reflect—By transforming this royal sage into a woman I have, it seems, done him good instead of an injury. Saying this, the chief of the celestials viz., Indra of a hundred sacrifices, assuming the form of a Brahmana, repaired to the capital of the king and meeting all the children succeeded in disuniting the princes. He said unto them—Brothers never remain at peace even when they happen to be the children of the same father. The sons of the sage Kasyapa, viz., the deities and the Asuras, quarrelled with each other on account of the sovereignty of the three worlds. As regards ye princes, ye are the children of the royal sage Bhangaswana. These others are the children of an ascetic. The deities and the Asuras are children of even one common sire, and yet the latter quarrelled with each other. How much more, therefore, should you quarrel with each other? This kingdom that is your paternal property is being enjoyed by these children of an ascetic. With these words, Indra succeeded in causing a breach between them, so that they were very soon engaged in battle and slew each other. Hearing this, king Bhangaswana, who was living as an ascetic woman, burnt with grief and poured forth her lamentations. The lord of the celestials viz. Indra, assuming the guise of a Brahmana, came to that spot where the ascetic lady was living and meeting her, said,—O thou that art possessed of a beautiful face, with what grief dost thou burn so that thou art pouring forth thy lamentations?—Beholding the Brahmana the lady told him in a piteous voice,—Two hundred sons of mine O regenerate one, have been slain by Time. I was formerly a king, O learned Brahmana and in that state had a hundred sons. These were begotten by me after my own form, O best of regenerate persons. On one occasion I went on a hunting expedition. Stupefied, I wandered amidst a thick forest. Beholding at last a lake, I plunged into it. Rising, O foremost of Brahmanas, I found that I had become a woman. Returning to my capital I installed my sons in the sovereignty of my dominions and then departed for the forest. Transformed into a woman, I bore a hundred sons to my husband who is a high souled ascetic. All of them were born in the ascetic's retreat. I took them to the capital. My children, through the influence of Time, quarrelled with each other, O twice-born one. Thus afflicted by Destiny, I am indulging in grief. Indra addressed him in these harsh words.—In former days, O lady, thou gayest me great pain, for thou didst perform a sacrifice that is disliked by Indra. Indeed, though I was present, thou didst not invoke me with honours. I am that Indra, O thou of wicked understanding. It is I with whom thou hast purposely sought hostilities. Beholding Indra, the royal sage fell at his feet, touching them with his head, and said,—Be gratified with me, O foremost of deities. The sacrifice of which thou speakest was performed from desire of offspring (and not from any wish to hurt thee). It behoveth thee therefore, to grant me thy pardon.—Indra, seeing the transformed monarch prostrate himself thus unto him, became gratified with him and desired to give him a boon. Which of your sons, O king, dost thou wish, should revive, those that were brought forth by thee transformed into a woman, or those that were begotten by thee in thy condition as a person of the male sex? The ascetic lady, joining her hands, answered Indra, saying, O Vasava, let those sons of mine come to life that were borne by me as a woman. Filled with wonder at this reply, Indra once more asked the lady, Why dost thou entertain less affection for those children of thine that were begotten by thee in thy form of a person of the male sex? Why is it that thou bearest greater affection for those children that were borne by thee in thy transformed state? I wish to hear the reason of this difference in respect of thy affection. It behoveth thee to tell me everything.'

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 ... 29     Next Part
Home - Random Browse