Chapter 111

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, O thou that art possessed of greatwisdom and conversant with all the scriptures. I desire to know thoseexcellent ordinances in consequence of which mortal creatures have totravel through their rounds of rebirth. What is that conduct by followingwhich, O king, men succeed in attaining to high heaven, and what is thatconduct by which one sinks in Hell? When, abandoning the dead body thatis as inert as a piece of wood or clod of earth, people proceed to theother world, what are those that follow them thither?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Yonder comes the illustrious Vrihaspati of greatintelligence! Do thou ask his blessed self. The subject is an eternalmystery. None else is capable of explaining the matter. There is nospeaker like Vrihaspati.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘While the son of Pritha and the son of Ganga werethus speaking with each other, there came to that spot from the firmamentthe illustrious Vrihaspati of cleansed soul. King Yudhishthira, and allothers, with Dhritarashtra at their head, stood up and receivedVrihaspati with proper honours. Verily, the worship they offered to thepreceptor of the celestials was excellent. Then Dharma’s royal son,Yudhishthira, approaching the illustrious Vrihaspati, asked him thequestion in proper form, desirous of knowing the truth.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O illustrious one, thou art conversant with allduties and all the scriptures. Do thou tell me, what is truly the friendof mortal creatures? Is the father, or mother, or son, or preceptor, orkinsmen, or relatives, or those called friends, that may be said to trulyconstitute the friend of a mortal creature? One goes to the next world,leaving one’s dead body that is like a piece of wood or a clod of earth.Who is it that follows him thither?’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘One is born alone, O king, and one dies alone; onecrosses alone the difficulties one meets with, and one alone encounterswhatever misery falls to one’s lot. One has really no companion in theseacts. The father, the mother, the brother, the son, the preceptor,kinsmen, relatives, and friends, leaving the dead body as if it were apiece of wood or a clod of earth, after having mourned for only a moment,all turn away from it and proceed to their own concerns. OnlyRighteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them all. Hence,it is plain, that Righteousness is the only friend and that Righteousnessonly should be sought by all. One endued with righteousness would attainto that high end which is constituted by heaven. If endued withunrighteousness, he goes to Hell. Hence, the man of intelligence shouldalways seek to acquire religious merit through wealth won by lawfulmeans. Piety is the one only friend which creatures have in the worldhereafter. Let by cupidity, or stupefaction, or compassion, or fear, onedestitute of much knowledge is seen to do improper acts, for the sake ofeven another, his judgment thus stupefied by cupidity.[506] Piety, wealthand pleasure,–these three constitute the fruit of life. One shouldacquire these three by means of being free from impropriety and sin.’

“Yudhishthira, said, ‘I have carefully heard the words spoken by thyillustrious self,–these words that are fraught with righteousness, andthat are highly beneficial. I wish now to know of the existence of thebody (after death).[507] The dead body of man becomes subtil andunmanifest. It becomes invisible. How is it possible for piety to followit?’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘Earth, Wind, Ether, Water, Light, Mind, Yama (the kingof the dead), Understanding, the Soul, as also Day and Night, alltogether behold as witnesses the merits (and demerits) of all livingcreatures. With these, Righteousness follows the creature (whendead).[508] When the body becomes bereft of life, skin, bones, flesh, thevital seed, and blood, O thou of great intelligence, leave it at the sametime. Endued with merit (and demerit) Jiva (after the destruction of thisbody) attains to another. After the attainment by Jiva of that body, thepresiding deities of the five elements once more behold as witnesses allhis acts good and bad. What else dost thou wish to hear? If endued withrighteousness, Jiva enjoys happiness. What other topic, belonging to thisor the other world, shall I discourse upon?’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thy illustrious self has explained how Righteousnessfollows Jiva. I desire to know how the vital seed is originated.’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘The food that these deities, O king, who dwell in thebody, viz., Earth, Wind, Ether, Water, Light, and Mind eat, gratifiesthem. When those five elements become gratified, O monarch, with Mindnumbering as their sixth, their vital seed then becomes generated, O thouof cleansed soul! When an act of union takes place between male andfemale, the vital seed flows out and causes conception. I have thusexplained to thee what thou hast asked. What else dost thou wish to hear?’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O illustrious one, said how conceptiontakes place. Do thou explain how the Jiva that takes birth grows (bybecoming possessed of body).’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘As soon as Jiva enters the vital seed, he becomesoverwhelmed by the elements already mentioned. When Jiva becomesdisunited therewith, he is said to attain to the other end (viz., death).Endued as Jiva becomes with all those elements, he attains, inconsequence thereof, a body. The deities, that preside over thoseelements behold as witnesses all his acts, good and bad. What else dostthou wish to hear?’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Leaving off skin and bone and flesh, and becomingdestitute of all those elements, in what does Jiva reside, O illustriousone, for enjoying and enduring happiness and misery?’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘Endued with all his acts, the Jiva quickly enters thevital seed, and utilizing the functional flow of women, takes birth intime, O Bharata. After birth, the Jiva receives woe and death from themessengers of Yama. Indeed, misery and a painful round of rebirth are hisinheritance. Endued with life, O king, the Jiva in this world, from themoment of his birth, enjoys and endures his own (previous) acts,depending upon righteousness (and its reverse). If the Jiva, according tothe best of his power, follows righteousness from the day of his birth,he then succeeds in enjoying, when reborn, happiness withoutinterruption. If, on the other hand, without following righteousnesswithout interruption, he acts sinfully, he reaps happiness at first asthe reward of his righteousness and endures misery after that. Enduedwith unrighteousness, the Jiva has to go to the dominions of Yama andsuffering great misery there, he has to take birth in an intermediateorder of being,[509] Listen to me as I tell thee what the different actsare by doing which the diva, stupefied by folly, has to take birth indifferent orders of being, as declared in the Vedas, the scriptures, andthe (sacred) histories. Mortals have to go to the frightful regions ofYama. In those regions, O king, there are places that are fraught withevery merit and that are worthy on that account of being the abodes ofthe very deities. There are, again, places in those regions that areworse than those which are inhabited by animals and birds. Indeed, thereare spots of these kinds in the abode of Yama which (so far as itshappier regions are concerned) is equal to the region of Brahman himselfin merits. Creatures, bound by their acts, endure diverse kinds ofmisery. I shall, after this, tell thee what those acts and dispositionsare in consequence of which a person obtains to an end that is fraughtwith great misery and terror. If a regenerate person, having studied thefour Vedas, becomes stupefied by folly and accepts a gift from a fallenman, he has then to take birth in the asinine order. He has to live as anass for five and ten years. Casting off his asinine form, he has next totake birth as an ox, in which state he has to live for seven years.Casting off his bovine form, he has next to take birth as a Rakshasa ofregenerate order. Living as Rakshasa of the regenerate order for threemonths, he then regains his status (in his next birth) of aBrahmana.[510] A Brahmana, by officiating at the sacrifice of a fallenperson, has to take birth as a vile worm. In this form he has to live forfive and ten years, O Bharata. Freed from the status of a worm, be nexttakes birth as an ass. As an ass he has to live for five years, and thena hog, in which state also he has to remain for as many years. Afterthat, he takes birth as a cock, and living for five years in that form,he takes birth as a jackal and lives for as many years in that state. Hehas next to take birth as a dog, and living thus for a year he regainshis status of humanity. That foolish disciple who offends his preceptorby doing any injury to him, has certainly to undergo threetransformations in this world. Such a person, O monarch, has in the firstinstance to become a dog. He has then to become a beast of prey, and thenan ass. Living his asinine form, he has to wander for some time in greataffliction as a spirit. After the expiration of that period, he has totake birth as a Brahmana. That sinful disciple who even in thoughtcommits adultery with the wife of his preceptor, has in consequence ofsuch a sinful heart, to undergo many fierce shapes in this world. Firsttaking birth in the canine order he has to live for three years. Castingoff the canine form when death comes, he takes birth as a worm or vilevermin. In this form he has to live for a year. Leaving that form hesucceeds in regaining his status as a human being of the regenerateorder. If the preceptor kills, without reason, his disciple who is evenas a son to him, he has, in consequence of such a wilful act of sin onhis part, to take birth as a beast of prey. That son who disregards hisfather and mother, O king, has to take birth, after leaving off his humanform as an animal of the asinine order. Assuming the asinine form he hasto live for ten years. After that he has to take birth as a crocodile, inwhich form he has to live for a year. After that he regains the humanform. That son with whom his parents become angry, has, in consequence ofhis evil thoughts towards them, to take birth as an ass. As an ass he hasto live for ten months. He has then to take birth as a dog and to remainas such for four and ten months. After that he has to take birth as a catand living in that form for seven months he regains his status ofhumanity. Having spoken ill of parents, one has to take birth as aSarika. Striking them, one has to take birth, O king, as tortoise. Livingas a tortoise for ten years, he has next to take birth as a porcupine.After that he has to take birth as a snake, and living for six months inthat form he regains the status of humanity. That man who, whilesubsisting upon the food that his royal master supplies, commits actsthat are injurious to the interests of his master,–that man, thusstupefied by folly, has after death to take birth as an ape. For tenyears he has to live as an ape, and after that for five years as a mouse.After that he has to become a dog, and living in that form for a periodof six months he succeeds in regaining his status of humanity. That manwho misappropriates what is deposited with him in trustfulness has toundergo a hundred transformations. He at last takes birth as a vile worm.In that order he has to live for a period of ten and five years, OBharata. Upon the exhaustion of his great demerit in this way, hesucceeds in regaining his status of humanity. That man who harboursmalice towards others has, after death, to take birth as a Sarngaka. Thatman of wicked understanding who becomes guilty of breach of trust has totake birth as a fish. Living as a fish for eight years, he takes birth, OBharata, as a deer. Living as a deer for four months, he has next to takebirth as a goat. After the expiration of a full year he casts off hisgoatish body, he takes birth then as a worm. After that he succeeds inregaining his status of humanity. That shameless insensate man who,through stupefaction, steals paddy, barley, sesame, Masha, Kulattha,oil-seeds, oats, Kalaya, Mudga, wheat, Atasi, and other kinds of corn,has to take birth as a mouse[511]. After leading the life for some timehe has to take birth as a hog. As soon as he takes birth as a hog he hasto die of disease. In consequence of his sin, that foolish man has nextto take birth as a dog, O king. Living as a dog for five years, he thenregains his status of humanity. Having committed an act of adultery withthe spouse of another man, one has to take birth as a wolf. After that hehas to assume the forms of a dog and jackal and vulture. He has next totake birth as a snake and then as a Kanka and then as a crane.[512] Thatman of sinful soul who, stupefied by folly, commits an act of sexualcongress with the spouse of a brother, has to take birth as a male Kokilaand to live in that form for a whole year, O king. He who, through lust,commits an act of sexual congress with the wife of a friend, or the wifeof preceptor, or the wife of his king, has, after death, to take the formof a hog. He has to live in his porcine form for five years and then toassume that of a wolf for ten years. For the next five years he has toassume that of a wolf for ten years. For the next five years he has tolive as a cat and then for the next ten years as a cock. He has next tolive for three months as an ant, and then as a worm for a month. Havingundergone these transformations he has next to live as a vile worm forfour and ten years. When his sin becomes exhausted by such chastisement,he at last regains the status of humanity. When a wedding is about totake place, or a sacrifice, or an act of gifts is about to be made, Othou of great puissance, the man who offers any obstruction, has to takebirth in his next life as a vile worm, Assuming such a form he has tolive, O Bharata, for five and ten years. When his demerit is exhausted bysuch suffering, he regains the status of humanity. Having once bestowedhis daughter in marriage upon a person, he who seeks to bestow her againupon a second husband, has, O king, to take birth among vile worms.Assuming such a form, O Yudhisthira, he has to live for a period of threeand ten years. Upon the exhaustion of his demerit by such sufferance, heregains the status of humanity. He who eats without having performed therites in honour of the deities or those in honour of the Pitris orwithout having offered (even) oblations of water to both the Rishis andthe Pitris, has to take birth as a crow. Living as a crow for a hundredyears he next assumes the form of a cock. His next transformation is thatof a snake for a month. After this, he regains the status of humanity. Hewho disregards his eldest brother who is even like a sire, has, afterdeath, to take birth in the order of cranes. Having assumed that form hehas to live in it for two years. Casting off that form at the conclusionof that period, he regains the status of humanity. That Sudra who hassexual intercourse with a Brahmana woman, has, after death, to take birthas a hog. As soon as he takes birth in the porcine order he dies ofdisease, O king. The wretch has next to take birth as a dog. O king, inconsequence of his dire act of sin. Casting off his canine form heregains upon the exhaustion of his demerit, the status of humanity. TheSudra who begets offspring upon a Brahmana woman, leaving off his humanform, becomes reborn as a mouse. The man who becomes guilty ofingratitude O king, has to go to the regions of Yama and there to undergovery painful and severe treatment at the hands of the messengers,provoked to fury, of the grim king of the dead. Clubs with heavy hammersand mallets, sharp-pointed lances, heated jars, all fraught with severepain, frightful forests of sword-blades, heated sands, thornySalmalis–these and many other instruments of the most painful torturesuch a man has to endure in the regions of Yama, O Bharata! Theungrateful person, O chief of Bharata’s race, having endured suchterrible treatment in the regions of the grim king of the dead, has tocome back to this world and take birth among vile vermin.[513] He has tolive as a vile vermin for a period of five and ten years. O Bharata, Hehas then to enter the womb and die prematurely before birth. After this,that person has to enter the womb a hundred times in succession. Indeed,having, undergone a hundred rebirths, he at last becomes born as acreature in some intermediate order between man and inanimate nature.Having endured misery for a great many years, he has to take birth as ahairless tortoise. A person that steals curds has to take birth as acrane. One becomes a monkey by stealing raw fish. That man ofintelligence who steals honey has to take birth as a gadfly. By stealingfruits or roots or cakes one becomes an ant. By stealing Nishpava onebecomes a Halagolaka.[514] By stealing Payasa one becomes in one’s nextbirth a Tittiri bird. By stealing cakes one becomes a screech-owl. Thatman of little intelligence who steals iron has to take birth as a cow.That man of little understanding who steals white brass has to take birthas a bird of the Harita species. By stealing a vessel of silver onebecomes a pigeon. By stealing a vessel of gold one has to take birth as avile vermin. By stealing a piece of silken cloth, one becomes a Krikara.By stealing a piece of cloth made of red silk, one becomes aVartaka.[515] By stealing a piece of muslin one becomes a parrot. Bystealing a piece of cloth that is of fine texture, one becomes a duckafter casting off one’s human body. By stealing a piece of cloth made ofcotton, one becomes a crane. By stealing a piece of cloth made of jute,one becomes a sheep in one’s next life. By stealing a piece of linen, onehas to take birth as a hare. By stealing different kinds of colouringmatter one has to take birth as a peacock. By stealing a piece of redcloth one has to take birth as a bird of the Jivajivaka species. Bystealing unguents (such as sandal-paste) and perfumes in this world, theman possessed of cupidity, O king, has to take birth as a mole. Assumingthe form of a mole one has to live in it for a period of five and tenyears. After the exhaustion of his demerit by such sufferings he regainsthe status of humanity. By stealing milk, one becomes a crane. That man,O king, who through stupefaction of the understanding, steals oil, has totake birth, after casting off this body, as an animal that subsists uponoil as his form.[516] That wretch who himself well armed, slays anotherwhile that other is unarmed, from motives of obtaining his victim’swealth or from feelings of hostility, has, after casting off his humanbody, to take birth as an ass. Assuming that asinine form he has to livefor a period of two years and then he meets with death at the edge of aweapon. Casting off in this way his asinine body he has to take birth inhis next life as a deer always filled with anxiety (at the thought offoes that may kill him). Upon the expiration of a year from the time ofhis birth as a deer, he has to yield up his life at the point of aweapon. Thus casting off his form of a deer, he next takes birth as afish and dies in consequence of being dragged up in net, on theexpiration of the fourth month. He has next to take birth as a beast ofprey. For ten years he has to live in that form, and then he takes birthas a pard in which form he has to live for a period of five years.Impelled by the change that is brought about by time, he then casts offthat form, and his demerit having been exhausted he regains the status ofhumanity. That man of little understanding who kills a woman has to gothe regions of Yama and to endure diverse kinds of pain and misery. Hethen has to pass through full one and twenty transformations. After that,O monarch, he has to take birth as a vile vermin. Living as a vermin fortwenty years, he regains the status of humanity. By stealing food, onehas to take birth as a bee. Living for many months in the company ofother bees, his demerit becomes exhausted and he regains the status ofhumanity. By stealing paddy, one becomes a cat. That man who steals foodmixed with sesame cakes has in his next birth to assume the form of amouse large or small according to the largeness or smallness of thequantity stolen. He bites human beings every day and as the consequencethereof becomes sinful and travels through a varied round of rebirths.That man of foolish understanding who steals ghee has to take birth as agallinule. That wicked person who steals fish has to take birth as acrow. By stealing salt one has to take birth as a mimicking bird. Thatman who misappropriates what is deposited with him through confidence,has to sustain a diminution in the period of his life, and after deathhas to take birth among fishes. Having lived for some time as a fish hedies and regains the human form. Regaining, however, the status ofhumanity, he becomes short-lived. Indeed, having committed sins, OBharata, one has to take birth in an order intermediate between that ofhumanity and vegetables. Those people are entirely unacquainted withrighteousness which has their own hearts for its authority. Those menthat commit diverse acts of sin and then seek to expiate them bycontinuous vows and observances of piety, become endued with bothhappiness and misery and live in great anxiety of heart.[517] Those menthat are of sinful conduct and that yield to the influence of cupidityand stupefaction, without doubt, take birth as Mlechchhas that do notdeserve to be associated with. Those men on the other hand, who abstainfrom sin all their lives, become free from disease of every kind, enduedwith beauty of form and possessed of wealth. Women also, when they act inthe way indicated, attain to births of the same kind. Indeed, they haveto take births as the spouses of the animals I have indicated. I havetold thee all the faults that relate to the appropriation of what belongsto others. I have discoursed to thee very briefly on the subject, Osinless one. In connection with some other subject, O Bharata, thou shaltagain hear of those faults. I heard all this, O king, in days of old,from Brahman himself, and I asked all about it in a becoming way, when hediscoursed on it in the midst of the celestial Rishis. I have told theetruly and in detail all that thou hadst asked me. Having listened to allthis, O monarch, do thou always set thy heart on righteousness.'”

Chapter 110
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