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Chapter 108

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus asked, the tiger among Munis then answeredthose Rishis of ascetic wealth, ‘Whom shall I blame for this?

In fact,none else (than my own self) hath offended against me!’ After this, Omonarch, the officers of justice, seeing him alive, informed the king ofit. The latter hearing what they said, consulted with his advisers, andcame to the place and began to pacify the Rishi. fixed on the stake. Andthe king said, ‘O thou best of Rishis, I have offended against thee inignorance. I beseech thee to pardon me for the same. It behoveth thee notto be angry with me.’ Thus addressed by the king, the Muni was pacified.And beholding him free from wrath, the king took him up with the stakeand endeavoured to extract it from his body. But not succeeding therein,he cut it off at the point just outside the body. The Muni, with aportion of the stake within his body, walked about, and in that statepractised the austerest of penances and conquered numberless regionsunattainable by others. And for the circumstances of a part of the stakebeing within his body, he came to be known in the three worlds by thename of Ani-Mandavya (Mandavya with the stake within). And one day thatBrahamana acquainted with the highest truth of religion went unto theabode of the god of justice. And beholding the god there seated on histhrone, the Rishi reproached him and said, ‘What, pray, is that sinfulact committed by me unconsciously, for which I am bearing thispunishment? O, tell me soon, and behold the power of my asceticism.’

“The god of justice, thus questioned, replied, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth,a little insect was once pierced by thee on a blade of grass. Thoubearest now the consequence of the act. O Rishi, as a gift, howeversmall, multiplieth in respect of its religious merits, so a sinful actmultiplieth in respect of the woe it bringeth in its train.’ On hearingthis, Ani-Mandavya asked, ‘O tell me truly when this act was committed byme. Told in reply by the god of justice that he had committed it, when achild, the Rishi said, ‘That shall not be a sin which may be done by achild up to the twelfth year of his age from birth. The scriptures shallnot recognise it as sinful. The punishment thou hast inflicted on me forsuch a venial offence hath been disproportionate in severity. The killingof a Brahmana involves a sin that is heavier than the killing of anyother living being. Thou shall, therefore, O god of justice, have to beborn among men even in the Sudra order. And from this day I establishthis limit in respect of the consequence of acts that an act shall not besinful when committed by one below the age of fourteen. But whencommitted by one above that age, it shall be regarded as sin.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Cursed for this fault by that illustriousRishi, the god of justice had his birth as Vidura in the Sudra order. AndVidura was well-versed in the doctrines of morality and also politics andworldly profit. And he was entirely free from covetousness and wrath.Possessed of great foresight and undisturbed tranquillity of mind, Vidurawas ever devoted to the welfare of the Kurus.'”

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