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Chapter 112

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast told me, O regenerate one, what the end isof unrighteousness or sin. I desire now to hear, O foremost of speakers,of what the end is of Righteousness. Having committed diverse acts ofsin, by what acts of people succeed in attaining to an auspicious end inthis world? By what acts also do people attain to an auspicious end inheaven?’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘By committing sinful acts with perverted mind, oneyields to the sway of unrighteousness and as a consequence goeth to hell.That man who, having perpetrated sinful acts through stupefaction ofmind, feels the pangs of repentance and sets his heart on contemplation(of the deity), has not to endure the consequences of his sins. Onebecomes freed from one’s sins in proportion as one repents for them. Ifone having committed a sin, O king, proclaims it in the presence ofBrahmanas conversant with duties, one becomes quickly cleansed from theobloquy arising from one’s sin. Accordingly as one becomes cleansedtherefrom fully or otherwise, like a snake freed from his diseasedslough. By making, with a concentrated mind, gifts of diverse kinds untoa Brahmana, and concentrating the mind (on the deity), one attains to anauspicious end. I shall now tell thee what those gifts are, OYudhisthira, by making which a person, even if guilty of having committedsinful acts, may become endued with merit. Of all kinds of gifts, that offood is regarded as the best. One desirous of attaining to merit should,with a sincere heart, make gifts of food. Food is the life-breath of men.From it all creatures are born. All the worlds of living creatures areestablished upon food. Hence food is applauded. The deities, Rishis,Pitris, and men, all praise food. King Rantideva, in days of old,proceeded to Heaven by making gifts of food. Food that is good and thathas been acquired lawfully, should be given, with a cheerful heart, untosuch Brahmanas as are possessed of Vedic lore. That man has never to takebirth in an intermediate order, whose food, given with a cheerful heartis taken by a thousand Brahmanas. A person, O chief of men, by feedingten thousand Brahmanas, becomes cleansed of the piety and devoted to Yogapractices. A Brahmana conversant with the Vedas, by giving away foodacquired by him as alms, unto a Brahmana devoted to the study of theVedas, succeeds in attaining to happiness here. That Kshatriya who,without taking anything that belongs to a Brahmana, protects his subjectslawfully, and makes gifts of food, obtained by the exercise of hisstrength, unto Brahmanas foremost in Vedic knowledge, with concentratedheart, succeeds by such conduct, O thou of righteous soul, in cleansinghimself, O son of Pandu, of all his sinful acts. That Vaisya who dividesthe produce of his fields into six equal shares and makes a gift of oneof those shares unto Brahmanas, succeeds by such conduct in cleansinghimself from every sin. That Sudra who, earning food by hard labour andat the risk of life itself, makes a gift of it to Brahmanas, becomescleansed from every sin. That man who, by putting forth his physicalstrength, earns food without doing any act of injury to any creature, andmakes gift of it unto Brahmanas succeeds in avoiding all calamities. Aperson by cheerfully making gifts of food acquired by lawful means untoBrahmanas pre-eminent for Vedic lore, becomes cleansed of all his sins.By treading in the path of the righteous one becomes freed from all sins.A person by making gifts of such food as is productive of great energy,becomes himself possessed of great energy. The path made by charitablepersons is always trod by those that are endued with wisdom. They thatmake gifts of food are regarded as givers of life. The merit they acquireby such gifts is eternal. Hence, a person should, under allcircumstances, seek to earn food by lawful means, and having earned tomake always gifts of it unto deserving men. Food is the great refuge ofthe world of living creatures. By making gifts of food, one has never togo to hell. Hence, one should always make gifts of food, having earned itby lawful means. The householder should always seek to eat after havingmade a gift of food unto a Brahmana. Every man should make the dayfruitful by making gifts of food.[518] A person by feeding, O king, athousand Brahmanas all of whom are conversant with duties and thescriptures and the sacred histories, has not to go to Hell and to returnto this world for undergoing rebirths. Endued with the fruition of everywish, he enjoys great felicity hereafter. Possessed of such merit, hesports in happiness, freed from every anxiety, possessed of beauty ofform and great fame and endued with wealth. I have thus told thee allabout the high merit of gifts of food. Even this is the root of allrighteousness and merit, as also of all gifts, O Bharata!'”

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