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Chapter 91

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Ashtaka said, ‘Those cognisant of the Vedas differ in opinion as to howthe followers of each of the four modes of life, viz., Grihasthas,Bhikshus, Brahmacharins, and Vanaprashthas, should conduct themselves inorder to acquire religious merit.”

“Yayati answered, ‘These are what a Brahmacharin must do. While dwellingin the abode of his preceptor, he must receive lessons only when hispreceptor summons him to do so; he must attend to the service of hispreceptor without waiting for the latter’s command; he must rise from hisbed before his preceptor riseth, and go to bed after his preceptor hathgone to bed. He must be humble, must have his passions under completecontrol, must be patient, vigilant, and devoted to studies. It is thenonly that he can achieve success. It hath been said in the oldestUpanishad that a grihastha, acquiring wealth by honest means, shouldperform sacrifices; he should always give something in charity, shouldperform the rites of hospitality unto all arriving at his abode, andshould never use anything without giving a portion thereof to others. AMuni, without search for woods, depending on his own vigour, shouldabstain from all vicious acts, should give away something in charity,should never inflict pain on any creature. It is then only that he canachieve success. He, indeed, is a true Bhikshu who doth not supporthimself by any manual arts, who possesseth numerous accomplishments, whohath his passions under complete control, who is unconnected with worldlyconcerns, who sleepeth not under the shelter of a householder’s roof, whois without wife, and who going a little way every day, travelleth over alarge extent of the country. A learned man should adopt the Vanaprasthamode of life after performance of the necessary rites, when he hath beenable to control his appetites for enjoyment and desire of acquiringvaluable possessions. When one dieth in the woods while leading theVanaprastha mode of life, he maketh his ancestors and the successors,numbering ten generations including himself, mix with the Divine essence.’

“Ashtaka asked, ‘How many kinds of Munis are there (observers of the vowof the silence)?’

“Yayati answered, ‘He is, indeed, a Muni who, though dwelling in thewoods, hath an inhabited place near, or who, though dwelling in aninhabited place, hath the woods near.’

“Ashtaka enquired what is meant by Muni.’ Yayati replied, ‘A Muniwithdrawing himself from all worldly objects liveth in the woods. Andthough he might never seek to surround himself with those objects thatare procurable in an inhabited place, he might yet obtain them all byvirtue of his ascetic power. He may truly be said to dwell in the woodshaving an inhabited place near to himself. Again a wise man withdrawnfrom all earthly objects, might live in a hamlet leading the life of ahermit. He may never exhibit the pride of family, birth or learning. Cladin the scantiest robes, he may yet regard himself as attired in therichest vestments. He may rest content with food just enough for thesupport of life. Such a person, though dwelling in an inhabited place,liveth yet in the woods.

“The person again, who, with passions under complete control, adopteththe vow of silence, refraining from action and entertaining no desire,achieveth success. Why shouldst thou not, indeed, reverence the man wholiveth on clean food, who refraineth from ever injuring others, whoseheart is ever pure, who stands in the splendour of ascetic attributes,who is free from the leaden weight of desire, who abstaineth from injuryeven when sanctioned by religion? Emaciated by austerities and reduced inflesh, marrow and blood, such a one conquereth not only this but thehighest world. And when the Muni sits in yoga meditation, becomingindifferent to happiness and misery, honour and insult, he then leaveththe world and enjoyeth communion with Brahma. When the Muni taketh foodlike wine and other animals, i. e., without providing for it beforehandand without any relish (like a sleeping infant feeding on the mother’slap), then like the all-pervading spirit he becometh identified with thewhole universe and attaineth to salvation.'”

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