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Chapter 125

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how a poor man, desirous ofachieving his own good, should bear himself after having acquired thestatus of humanity and come into this region of acts that is so difficultto attain. Tell me also what is the best of all gifts, and what should begiven under what circumstances. Tell me, O son of Ganga, who art trulydeserving of honour and worship. It behoveth thee to discourse to us onthese mysteries.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus questioned by that famous monarch, viz.,the son of Pandu, Bhishma explained (in these words) unto that king thesehigh mysteries appertaining to duty.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen to me with concentrated attention, O king, as Iexplain to thee, O Bharata, these mysteries appertaining to duties, afterthe same manner in which the holy Vyasa had explained them to me in daysof yore. This subject is a mystery to the very deities, O monarch. Yamaof stainless deeds, with the aid of vows well-observed and Yogameditation, had acquired the knowledge of these mysteries as the highfruits of his penances.[539] What pleases what deity, what pleases thePitris, the Rishis, the Pramathas (associates of Mahadeva), the goddessSri, Chitragupta (the recording assistant of Yama), and the mightyElephants at the cardinal points of the compass, what constitutes thereligion of the Rishis–the religion, which has many mysteries and whichis productive of high fruits,–the merits of what are called great gifts,and the merits that attach to all the sacrifices, he who knows these, Osinless one, and knowing acts according to his knowledge, becomes freedfrom stains if he has stains and acquires the merits indicated. Equal toten butchers is one oilman. Equal to ten oilmen is one drinker ofalcohol. Equal to ten drinkers of alcohol is one courtezan. Equal to tencourtezans is a single (territorial) chief.[540] A great king is said tobe equal to half of these all. Hence, one should not accept, gifts fromthese. On the other hand, one should attend to the science, that issacred and that has righteousness for its indications, of the aggregateof three (viz., Religion, Wealth, and Pleasure). Amongst these, Wealthand Pleasure are naturally attractive. Hence, one should, withconcentrated attention, listen to the sacred expositions of Religion (inparticular), for the fruits are very great of listening to the mysteriesof Religion. One should certainly hear every topic connected withReligion as ordained by the deities themselves. In it is contained theritual in respect of the Sraddha in which have been declared themysteries connected with the Pitris. The mysteries connected with all thedeities have also been explained there. It comprehends the duties andpractices, productive of great merit, of the Rishis also, together withthe mysteries attaching to them. It contains an exposition of the meritso f great sacrifices and those that attach to all kinds of gifts. Thosemen who always read the scriptures bearing on these topics, those whobear them properly in their mind, and he who, having listened to them,follows them in practice, are all regarded to be as holy and sinless asthe puissant Narayana himself. The merits that attach to the gift ofkine, those that belong to the performance of ablutions in sacred waters,those that are won by the performance of sacrifices,–all these areacquired by that man who treats guests with reverence. They who listen tothese scriptures, they who are endued with faith, and they who have apure heart, it is well-known, conquer many regions of happiness. Thoserighteous men who are endued with faith, become cleansed of all stainsand no sin can touch them. Such men always increase in righteousness andsucceed in attaining to heaven. Once on a time, a celestial messenger,coming to the court of Indra of his own accord, but remaining invisible,addressed the chief of the deities in these words, ‘At the command ofthose two deities who are the foremost of all physicians, and who areendued with every desirable attribute, I have come to this place where Ibehold human beings and Pitris and the deities assembled together. Why,indeed, is sexual congress interdicted for the man who performs a Sraddhaand for him also who eats at a Sraddha (for the particular day)? Why arethree rice-balls offered separately at a Sraddha? Unto whom should thefirst of those balls be offered? Unto whom should the second one beoffered? And whose has it been said is the third or remaining one? Idesire to know all this.’ After the celestial messenger had said thesewords connected with righteousness and duty, the deities who were seatedtowards the east, the Pitris also, applauding that ranger of the sky,began as follows.’

“The Pitris said, ‘Welcome art thou, and blessings upon thee! Do thoulisten, O best of all rangers of the sky! The question thou hast asked isa high one and fraught with deep meaning. The Pitris of that man whoindulges in sexual congress on the day he performs a Sraddha, or eats ata Sraddha have to lie for the period of a whole month on his vital seed.As regards the classification of the rice-balls offered at a Sraddha, weshall explain what should be done with them one after another. The firstrice-ball should be conceived as thrown into the waters. The second ballshould be given to one of the wives to eat. The third ball should be castinto the blazing fire. Even this is the ordinance that has been declaredin respect of the Sraddha. Even this is the ordinance that is followed inpractice according to the rites of religion. The Pitris of that man whoact according to this ordinance become gratified with him and remainalways cheerful. The progeny of such a man increases and inexhaustiblewealth always remains at his command.’

“The celestial messenger said, ‘Thou hast explained the division of therice-balls and their consignment one after another to the three (viz.,water, the spouse, and the blazing fire), together with the reasonsthereof.[541] Whom does that rice-tall which is consigned to the watersreach? How does it, by being so consigned, gratify the deities and howdoes it rescue the Pitris? The second ball is eaten by the spouse. Thathas been laid down in ordinance. How do the Pitris of that man (whosespouse eats the ball) become the eaters thereof? The last ball goes intothe blazing fire. How does that ball succeed in finding its way to thee,or who is he unto whom it goes? I desire to bear this,–that is, what arethe ends attained by the rice-balls offered at Sraddhas when thusdisposed of by being cast into the water, given to the spouse, and throwninto the blazing fire!

“The Pitris said, ‘Great is this question which thou hast asked. Itinvolves a mystery and is fraught with wonder. We have been exceedinglygratified with thee, O ranger of the sky! The very deities and the Munisapplaud acts done in honour of the Pitris. Even they do not know what thecertain conclusions are of the ordinances in respect of the acts done inhonour of the Pitris. Excepting the high souled, immortal, and excellentMarkandeya, that learned Brahmana of great fame, who is ever devoted tothe Pitris, none amongst them is conversant with the mysteries of theordinances in respect of the Pitris. Having heard from the holy Vyasawhat the end is of the three rice-balls offered at the Sraddha, asexplained by the Pitris themselves in reply to the question of thecelestial messenger, I shall explain the same to thee. Do thou hear, Omonarch, what the conclusions are with respect to the ordinances aboutthe Sraddha. Listen with rapt attention, O Bharata, to me as I explainwhat the end is of the three rice-balls. That rice-ball which goes intowater is regarded as gratifying the deity of the moon. That deity, thusgratified, O thou of great intelligence, gratifies in return the otherdeities and the Pitris also with them. It has been laid down that thesecond rice-ball should be eaten by the spouse (of the man that performsthe Sraddha). The Pitris, who are ever desirous of progeny, conferchildren on the woman of the house. Listen now to me as I tell thee whatbecomes of the rice-ball that is cast into the blazing fire. With thatball the Pitris are gratified and as the result thereof they grant thefruition of all wishes unto the person offering it. I have thus told theeeverything about the end of the three rice-balls offered at the Sraddhaand consigned to the three (viz., water, the spouse, and the fire). ThatBrahmana who becomes the Ritwik at a Sraddha constitutes himself, by thatact, the Pitri of the person performing the Sraddha. Hence, he shouldabstain that day from sexual intercourse with even his own spouse[542]. Obest of all rangers of the sky, the man who eats at Sraddha should bearhimself with purity for that day. By acting otherwise, one surely incursthe faults I have indicated. It cannot be otherwise. Hence, the Brahmanawho is invited to a Sraddha for eating the offerings should eat themafter purifying himself by a bath and bear himself piously for that dayby abstaining from every kind of injury or evil. The progeny of such aperson multiply and he also who feeds him reaps the same reward.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘After the Pitris said so, a Rishi of austerepenances, named Vidyutprabha, whose form shone with splendour like thatof the sun, spoke. Having heard those mysteries of religion as propoundedby the Pitris, he addressed Sakra, saying, ‘Stupefied by folly, men slaynumerous creatures born in the intermediate orders, such as worms andants and snakes and sheep and deer and birds. Heavy is the measure of sinthey incur by these acts. What, however, is the remedy? When thisquestion was asked, all the gods and Rishis endued with wealth ofpenances and the highly blessed Pitris, applauded that ascetic.’

“Sakra said, ‘Thinking in one’s mind of Kurukshetra and Gaya and Gangaand Prabhasa and the lakes of Pushkara, one should dip one’s head inwater. By so doing one becomes cleansed of all one’s sins like Chandramasfreed from Rahu. One should bathe in this way for three days insuccession and then fast for every day. Besides this, one should touch(after bathing) the back of a cow and bow one’s head to her tail.Vidyutprabha, after this, once more addressing Vasava, said, ‘I shalldeclare a rite that is more subtle. Listen to me, O thou of a hundredsacrifices. Rubbed with the astringent powder of the hanging roots of thebanian and anointed with the oil of Priyangu, one should eat theShashtika paddy mixed with milk. By so doing one becomes cleansed of allone’s sins[543]. Listen now to another mystery unknown to many but whichwas discovered by the Rishis with the aid of meditation. I heard it fromVrihaspati while he recited it in the presence of Mahadeva. O chief ofthe deities, do thou hear it with Rudra in thy company, O lord of Sachi!If a person, ascending a mountain, stands there on one foot, with armsupraised and joined together, and abstaining from food looks at a blazingfire, he acquires the merits of severe penances and obtains the rewardsthat attach to fasts. Heated by the rays of the sun, he becomes cleansedof all his sins. One who acts in this way in both the summer and thewinter seasons, becomes freed from every sin. Cleansed of every sin, oneacquires a splendour of complexion for all time. Such a man blazes withenergy like the Sun or shines in beauty like the Moon!’ After this, thechief of the deities, viz., he of a hundred sacrifices, seated in themidst of the gods, then sweetly addressed Vrihaspati, saying theseexcellent words, ‘O holy one, do thou duly discourse on what thosemysteries of religion are that are fraught with happiness to humanbeings, and what the faults are which they commit, together with themysteries that attach to them!’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘They who pass urine, facing the sun, they who do notshow reverence for the wind, they who do not pour libations on theblazing fire, they who milk a cow whose calf is very young, moved by thedesire of obtaining from her as much milk as possible, commit sins. Ishall declare what those faults are, O lord of Sachi! Do thou listen tome. The Sun, Wind, the bearer of sacrificial oblations, O Vasava, andkine who are the mothers of all creatures, were created by the Self bornhimself, for rescuing all the worlds, O Sakra! These are the deities ofhuman beings. Listen all of ye to the conclusions of religion. Thosewicked men and wicked women who pass urine facing the sun, live in greatinfamy for six and eighty years. That man, O Sakra, who cherishes noreverence for the wind, gets children that fall away prematurely from thewomb of his spouse. Those men who do not pour libations on the blazingfire find that the fire, when they do ignite it for such rites as theywish to perform, refuses to eat their libations[544]. Those men who drinkthe milk of kine whose calves are very young, never get children forperpetuating their races.[545] Such men see their children, die and theirraces shrink. Even these are the consequences of the acts referred to, asobserved by regenerate persons venerable for age in their respectiveraces. Hence, one should always avoid that which has been interdicted,and do only that which has been directed to be done, if one is desirousof achieving prosperity. This that I say unto thee is very true.’ Afterthe celestial preceptor had said this, the highly blessed deities, withthe Maruts, and the highly blessed Rishis questioned the Pitris, saying,’Ye Pitris, at what acts of human beings, who are generally endued withlittle understanding, do ye become gratified? What gifts, made in courseof such rites as are gone through for improving the position of deceasedpersons in the other world, become inexhaustible in respect of theirefficacy?[546] By performing what acts can men become freed from the debtthey owe to the Pitris? We desire to hear this. Great is the curiosity wefeel.’

“The Pitris said, ‘Ye highly blessed ones, the doubt existing in yourminds has been properly propounded. Listen as we declare what those actsare of righteous men that gratify us. Bulls endued with blue complexionshould be set free. Gifts should be made to us, on the day of the newmoon, of sesame seeds and water. In the season of rains, lamps should belighted. By these acts of men, they can free themselves from the debtthey owe to the Pitris.[547] Such gifts never become vain. On the otherhand, they become inexhaustible and productive of high fruits. Thegratification we derive from them is regarded to be inexhaustible. Thosemen who, endued with faith, beget offspring, rescue their deceasedancestors from miserable Hell’. Hearing these words of the Pitris,Vriddha-Gargya, possessed of wealth of penances and high energy, becamefilled with wonder so that the hair on his body stood erect. Addressingthem he said, ‘Ye that are all possessed of wealth of penances, tell us.what the merits are that attach to the setting free of bulls endued withblue complexion. What merits, again, attach to the gift of lamps in theseason of rains and the gift of water with sesame seeds?’

“The Pitris said, ‘If a bull of blue complexion, upon being set free,raises a (small) quantity of water with its tail, the Pitris (of theperson that has set that bull free) become gratified with that water forfull sixty thousand years. The mud such a bull raises with its horns fromthe banks (of a river or lake), succeeds, without doubt, in sending thePitris (of the person that sets the animal free) to the region of Soma.By giving lamps in the season of rains, one shines with effulgence likeSoma himself. The man who gives lamps is never subject to the attributeof Darkness. Those men who make gifts, on the day of the new moon, ofsesame seeds and water, mixed with honey and using a vessel of copper, Othou that art possessed of wealth of penances, are regarded as dulyperforming a Sraddha with all its mysteries. These men get children ofsound health and cheerful minds. The merit acquired by the giver of thePinda (to the Pitris) takes the form of the growth of his race. Verily,he who performs these acts with faith, becomes freed from the debt heowes to the Pitris. Even thus has been laid down the proper time for theperformance of the Sraddha, the ordinance in respect of the rites to beobserved, the proper person that should be fed at the Sraddha, and themerits that attach to it. I have declared everything to thee in dueorder.’

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