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Chapter 108

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Do thou tell me, O grandsire, of that which isregarded as the foremost of all Tirthas. Indeed, it behoveth thee toexpound to me what that Tirtha is which conduces to the greatestpurity.'[501]

“Bhishma said, ‘Without doubt, all Tirthas are possessed of merit.Listen, however, with attention to me as I tell thee what the Tirtha, thecleanser, is of men endued with wisdom. Adhering to eternal Truth, oneshould bathe in the Tirtha called Manasa, which is unfathomable (for itsdepth), stainless, and pure, and which has Truth for its waters and theunderstanding for its lake.[502] The fruits in the form of cleansing,that one acquires by bathing in that Tirtha, are freedom from cupidity,sincerity, truthfulness, mildness (of behaviour), compassion, abstentionfrom injuring any creature, self-restraint, and tranquillity. Those menthat are freed from attachments, that are divested of pride, thattranscend all pairs of opposites (such as pleasure and pain, praise andblame, heat and cold, etc.), that have no spouses and children and housesand gardens, etc., that are endued with purity, and that subsist upon thealms given to them by others, are regarded as Tirthas. He who isacquainted with the truths of all things and who is freed from the ideaof meum, is said to be the highest Tirtha.[503] In searching theindications of purity, the gaze should ever be directed towards theseattributes (so that where these are present, thou mayst take purity to bepresent, and where these are not, purity also should be concluded to benot). Those persons from whose souls the attributes of Sattwa and Rajasand Tamas have been washed off, they who, regardless of (external) purityand impurity pursue the ends they have proposed to themselves, they whohave renounced everything, they who are possessed of omniscience andendued with universal sight, and they who are of pure conduct, areregarded as Tirthas possessing the power of cleansing. That man whoselimbs only are wet with water is not regarded as one that is washed. He,on the other hand, is regarded as washed who has washed himself byself-denial. Even such a person is said to be pure both inwardly andoutwardly. They who never concern themselves with what is past, they whofeel no attachment to acquisitions that are present, indeed, they who arefree from desire, are said to be possessed of the highest purity.Knowledge is said to constitute the especial purity of the body. So alsofreedom from desire, and cheerfulness of mind. Purity of conductconstitutes the purity of the mind. The purity that one attains byablutions in sacred waters is regarded as inferior. Verily, that puritywhich arises from knowledge, is regarded as the best. Those ablutionswhich one performs with a blazing mind in the waters of the knowledge ofBrahma in the Tirtha called Manasa, are the true ablutions of those thatare conversant with Truth. That man who is possessed of true purity ofconduct and who is always devoted to the preservation of a properattitude towards all, indeed, he who is possessed of (pure) attributesand merit, is regarded as truly pure. These that I have mentioned havebeen said to be the Tirthas that inhere to the body. Do thou listen to meas I tell thee what those sacred Tirthas are that are situate on theearth also. Even as especial attributes that inhere to the body have beensaid to be sacred, there are particular spots on earth as well, andparticular waters, that are regarded as sacred. By reciting the names ofthe Tirthas, by performing ablutions there, and by offering oblations tothe Pitris in those places, one’s sins are washed off. Verily, those menwhose sins are thus washed off succeed in attaining to heaven when theyleave this world. In consequence of their association with persons thatare righteous, through the especial efficacy of the earth itself of thosespots and of particular waters, there are certain portions of the earththat have come to be regarded as sacred. The Tirthas of the mind areseparate and distinct from those of the earth. That person who bathes inboth attains to success without any delay. As strength without exertion,or exertion without strength can never accomplish anything, singly, andas these, when combined, can accomplish all things, even so one thatbecomes endued with the purity that is contributed by the Tirthas in thebody as also by that which is contributed by the Tirthas on the earth,becomes truly pure and attains to success. That purity which is derivedfrom both sources is the best.'”

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