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Chapter 160

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, “On hearing these words of the Brahmana, his wifesaid, ‘Thou shouldst not, O Brahmana, grieve like an ordinary man. Nor isthis the time for mourning. Thou hast learning; thou knowest that all menare sure to die; none should grieve for that which is inevitable. Wife,son, and daughter, all these are sought for one’s own self.

As thou artpossessed of a good understanding, kill thou thy sorrows. I will myselfgo there. This indeed, is the highest and the eternal duty of a woman,viz., that by sacrificing her life she should seek the good of herhusband. Such an act done by me will make thee happy, and bring me famein this world and eternal bliss hereafter. This, indeed, is the highestvirtue that I tell thee, and thou mayest, by this, acquire both virtueand happiness. The object for which one desireth a wife hath already beenachieved by thee through me. I have borne thee a daughter and a son andthus been freed from the debt I had owed thee. Thou art well able tosupport and cherish the children, but I however, can never support andcherish them like thee. Thou art my life, wealth, and lord; bereft ofthee, how shall these children of tender years–how also shall I myself,exist? Widowed and masterless, with two children depending on me, howshall I, without thee, keep alive the pair, myself leading an honestlife? If the daughter of thine is solicited (in marriage) by personsdishonourable and vain and unworthy of contracting an alliance with thee,how shall I be able to protect the girl? Indeed, as birds seek withavidity for meat that hath been thrown away on the ground, so do mensolicit a woman that hath lost her husband. O best of Brahmanas,solicited by wicked men, I may waver and may not be able to continue inthe path that is desired by all honest men. How shall I be able to placethis sole daughter of thy house–this innocent girl–in the way alongwhich her ancestors have always walked? How shall I then be able toimpart unto this child every desirable accomplishment to make himvirtuous as thyself, in that season of want when I shall becomemasterless? Overpowering myself who shall be masterless, unworthy personswill demand (the hand of) this daughter of thine, like Sudras desiring tohear the Vedas. And if I bestow not upon them this girl possessing thyblood and qualities, they may even take her away by force, like crowscarrying away the sacrificial butter. And beholding thy son become sounlike to thee, and thy daughter placed under the control of someunworthy persons, I shall be despised in the world by even persons thatare dishonourable, and I will certainly die. These children also, bereftof me and thee, their father, will, I doubt not, perish like fish whenthe water drieth up. There is no doubt that bereft of thee the three willperish: therefore it behoveth thee to sacrifice me. O Brahmana, personsconversant with morals have said that for women that have borne children,to predecease their lords is an act of the highest merit. Ready am I toabandon this son and this daughter, these my relations, and life itself,for thee. For a woman to be ever employed in doing agreeable offices toher lord is a higher duty than sacrifices, asceticism, vows, andcharities of every description. The act, therefore, which I intend toperform is consonant with the highest virtue and is for thy good and thatof thy race. The wise have declared that children and relatives and wifeand all things held dear are cherished for the purpose of liberatingone’s self from danger and distress. One must guard one’s wealth forfreeing one’s self from danger, and it is by his wealth that he shouldcherish and protect his wife. But he must protect his own self both by(means of) his wife and his wealth. The learned have enunciated the truththat one’s wife, son, wealth, and house, are acquired with the intentionof providing against accidents, foreseen or unforeseen. The wise havealso said that all one’s relations weighed against one’s own self wouldnot be equal unto one’s self. Therefore, revered sir, protect thy ownself by abandoning me. O, give me leave to sacrifice myself, and cherishthou my children. Those that are conversant with the morals have, intheir treatises, said, that women should never be slaughtered and thatRakshasas are not ignorant of the rules of morality. Therefore, while itis certain that the Rakshasa will kill a man, it is doubtful whether hewill kill a woman. It behoveth thee, therefore, being conversant with therules of morality, to place me before the Rakshasa. I have enjoyed muchhappiness, have obtained much that is agreeable to me, and have alsoacquired great religious merit. I have also obtained from thee childrenthat are so dear to me. Therefore, it grieveth not me to die. I haveborne thee children and have also grown old; I am ever desirous of doinggood to thee; remembering all these I have come to this resolution. Orevered sir, abandoning me thou mayest obtain another wife. By her thoumayest again acquire religious merit. There is no sin in this. For a manpolygamy is an act of merit, but for a woman it is very sinful to betakeherself to a second husband after the first. Considering all this, andremembering too that sacrifice of thy own self is censurable, O, liberatetoday without loss of time thy own self, thy race, and these thy children(by abandoning me).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by her, O Bharata, the Brahmanaembraced her, and they both began to weep in silence, afflicted withgrief.'”

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