“Bhishma said, ‘Thus addressed by Vyasa, Maitreya, who was a worshipperof acts, who had been born in a race endued with great prosperity, whowas wise and possessed of great learning said unto him these words’.
“Maitreya said, ‘O thou of great wisdom, without doubt it is as thou hastsaid, O puissant one, with thy permission I desire to say something.’
“Vyasa said, ‘Whatever thou wishest to say, O Maitreya, do thou say, Oman of great wisdom, for I wish to hear thee.
“Maitreya said. ‘Thy words on the subject of Gift are faultless and pure.Without doubt, thy soul has been cleansed by knowledge and penances. Inconsequence of thy soul being cleansed, even this is the great advantageI reap from it. With the aid of my understanding I see that thou artendued with high penances. As regards ourselves we succeed in acquiringprosperity through only a sight of personages like thee I think, that isdue to thy grace and flows from the nature of my own acts. Penances,knowledge of the Vedas, and birth in a pure race,–these are the causesof the status which one acquires of a Brahmana. When one has these threeattributes, then does he come to be called a regenerate person. If theBrahmana be gratified, the Pitris and the deities are also gratified.There is nothing superior to a Brahmana possessed of Vedic lore. Withoutthe Brahmana, all would be darkness. Nothing would be known. The fourorders would not exist. The distinction between Righteousness andUnrighteousness. Truth and Falsehood, would cease. On a well-tilledfield, an abundant harvest can be reaped. Even so, one may reap greatmerit by making gifts unto a Brahmana possessed of great learning. Ifthere were no Brahmanas endued with Vedic lore and good conduct foraccepting gifts, the wealth possessed by wealthy people would be useless.The ignorant Brahmana, by eating the food that is offered to him,destroys what he eats (for it produces no merit to him who gives it). Thefood that is eaten also destroys the eater (for the eater incurs sin byeating what is offered to him). That ought to be properly termed aneatable which is given away to a deserving man, in all other cases, hethat takes it makes the donor’s gift thrown away and the receiver islikewise ruined for his improperly accepting it. The Brahmana possessedof learning becomes the subjugator of the food that he eats. Having eatenit, he begets other food. The ignorant who eats the food offered to himloses his right to the children he begets, for the latter become hiswhose food has enabled the progenitor to beget them. Even this is thesubtle fault that attaches to persons eating other people’s food whenthey have not the puissance to win that food. The merit which the giveracquires by making the gift, is equal to what the taker acquires byaccepting the food. Both the giver and the acceptor depend equally uponeach other. Even this is what the Rishis have said. There where Brahmanasexist, possessed of Vedic lore and conduct, people are enabled to earnthe sacred fruits of gifts and to enjoy them both here and hereafter.Those men who are of pure lineage, who are exceedingly devoted topenances, and who make gifts, and study the Vedas, are regarded as worthyof the most reverent worship. It is those good men that have chalked outthe path by treading on which one does not become stupefied. It is thosemen that are the leaders of others to heaven. They are the men who bearon their shoulders the burden of sacrifices and live for eternity.”