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Chapter 89

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Yayati said, ‘I am Yayati, the son of Nahusha and the father of Puru.Cast off from the region of the celestials and of Siddhas and Rishis forhaving disregarded every creature, I am falling down, my righteousnesshaving sustained diminution. In years I am older than you; therefore, Ihave not saluted you first. Indeed, the Brahmanas always reverence himwho is older in years or superior in learning or in ascetic merit.’

“Ashtaka then replied, ‘Thou sayest, O monarch, that he who is older inyears is worthy of regard. But it is said that he is truly worthy ofworship who is superior in learning and ascetic merit.’

“Yayati replied to this, ‘It is said that sin destroyeth the merits offour virtuous acts. Vanity containeth the element of that which leadethto hell. The virtuous never follow in the footsteps of the vicious. Theyact in such a way that their religious merit always increaseth. I myselfhad great religious merit, but all that, however, is gone. I willscarcely be able to regain it even by my best exertions. Beholding myfate, he that is bent upon (achieving) his own good, will certainlysuppress vanity. He who having acquired great wealth performethmeritorious sacrifices, who having acquired all kinds of learningremaineth humble, and who having studied the entire Vedas devotethhimself to asceticism with a heart withdrawn from all mundane enjoyments,goeth to heaven. None should exult in having acquired great wealth. Noneshould be vain of having studied the entire Vedas. In the world men areof different dispositions. Destiny is supreme. Both power and exertionare all fruitless. Knowing Destiny to be all-powerful, the wise, whatevertheir portions may be, should neither exult nor grieve. When creaturesknow that their weal and woe are dependent on Destiny and not on theirown exertion or power, they should neither grieve nor exult, rememberingthat Destiny is all powerful. The wise should ever live contented,neither grieving at woe nor exulting at weal. When Destiny is supreme,both grief and exultation are unbecoming. O Ashtaka, I never suffermyself to be overcome by fear, nor do I ever entertain grief, knowing forcertain that I shall be in the world what the great disposer of all hathordained. Insects and worms, all oviparous creatures, vegetableexistences, all crawling animals, vermin, the fish in the water, stones,grass, wood–in fact, all created things, when they are freed from theeffects of their acts, are united with the Supreme Soul. Happiness andmisery are both transient. Therefore, O Ashtaka, why should I grieve? Wecan never know how we are to act in order to avoid misery. Therefore,none should grieve for misery.’

“Possessed of every virtue, king Yayati who was the maternal grandfatherof Ashtaka, while staying in the welkin, at the conclusion of his speech,was again questioned by Ashtaka. The latter said, ‘O king of kings, tellme, in detail, of all those regions that thou hast visited and enjoyed,as well as the period for which thou hast enjoyed each. Thou speakest ofthe precepts of religion even like the clever masters acquainted with theacts and sayings of great beings!’ Yayati replied, ‘I was a great king onEarth, owning the whole world for my dominion. Leaving it, I acquired bydint of religious merit many high regions. There I dwelt for a fullthousand years, and then I attained to a very high region the abode ofIndra, of extraordinary beauty having a thousand gates, and extendingover a hundred yojanas all round. There too, I dwelt a full thousandyears and then attained to a higher region still. That is the region ofperfect beatitude, where decay never exists, the region, viz., that ofthe Creator and the Lord of Earth, so difficult of attainment. There alsoI dwelt for a full thousand years, and then attained to another very highregion viz., that of the god of gods (Vishnu) where, too, I had lived inhappiness. Indeed, I dwelt in various regions, adored by all thecelestials, and possessed of prowess and splendour equal unto those ofthe celestials themselves. Capable of assuming any form at will, I livedfor a million years in the gardens of Nandana sporting with the Apsarasand beholding numberless beautiful trees clad in flowery vesture andsending forth delicious perfume all round. And after many, many years hadelapsed, while still residing there in enjoyment of perfect beatitude,the celestial messenger of grim visage, one day, in a loud and deepvoice, thrice shouted to me–Ruined! Ruined! Ruined!–O lion among kings,this much do I remember. I was then fallen from Nandana, my religiousmerits gone! I heard in the skies, O king, the voices of the celestialsexclaiming in grief,–Alas! What a misfortune! Yayati, with his religiousmerits destroyed, though virtuous and of sacred deeds, is falling!–Andas I was falling, I asked them loudly, ‘Where, ye celestials, are thosewise ones amongst whom I am to fall?’ They pointed out to me this sacredsacrificial region belonging to you. Beholding the curls of smokeblackening the atmosphere and smelling the perfume of clarified butterpoured incessantly upon fire, and guided thereby, I am approaching thisregion of yours, glad at heart that I come amongst you.'”

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