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Chapter 114

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After this, king Yudhishthira, endued with greatenergy, and the foremost of eloquent men, addressed his grandsire lyingon his bed of arrows, in the following words.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O thou of great intelligence, the Rishis andBrahmanas and the deities, led by the authority of the Vedas, all applaudthat religion which has compassion for its indication. But, O king, whetI ask thee is this: how does a man, who has perpetrated acts of injury toothers in word, thought and deed, succeed in cleansing himself frommisery?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Utterers of Brahma have said that there are four kinds ofcompassion or abstention from injury. If even one of those four kinds benot observed, the religion of compassion, it is said, is not observed. Asall four-footed animals are incapable of standing on three legs, even sothe religion of compassion cannot stand if any of those four divisions orparts be wanting. As the footprints of all other animals are engulfed inthose of the elephant, even so all other religions are said to becomprehended in that of compassion. A person becomes guilty of injurythrough acts, words and thoughts[522]. Discarding it mentally at theoutset, one should next discard in word and thought. He who, according tothis rule, abstains from eating meat is said to be cleansed in athreefold way. It is heard that utterers of Brahma ascribe to threecauses (the sin of eating meat). That sin may attach to the mind, towords, and to acts. It is for this reason that men of wisdom who areendued with penances refrain from eating meat. Listen to me, O king, as Itell thee what the faults are that attach to the eating of meat. The meatof other animals is like the flesh of one’s son. That foolish person,stupefied by folly, who eats meat is regarded as the vilest of humanbeings. The union of father and mother produces an offspring. After thesame manner, the cruelty that a helpless and sinful wretch commits,produces its progeny of repeated rebirths fraught with great misery. Asthe tongue is the cause of the knowledge or sensation of taste, so thescriptures declare, attachment proceeds from taste.[523] Well-dressed,cooked with salt or without salt, meat, in whatever form one may take it,gradually attracts the mind and enslaves it. How will those foolish menthat subsist upon meat succeed in listening to the sweet music of(celestial) drums and cymbals and lyres and harps? They who eat meatapplaud it highly, suffering themselves to be stupefied by its tastewhich they pronounce to be something inconceivable, undescribable, andunimaginable. Such praise even of meat is fraught with demerit. In formerdays, many righteous men, by giving the flesh of their own bodies,protected the flesh of other creatures and as a consequence of such actsof merit, have proceeded to heaven. In this way, O monarch the religionof compassion is surrounded by four considerations. I have thus declaredto thee that religion which comprises all other religions within it.'”

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