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Chapter 130

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘The Rishis there assembled, together with the Pitris andthe deities, then, with concentrated attention, questioned Arundhati (thespouse of Vasishtha) who was endued with great ascetic merit. Possessedof abundant wealth of penances, Arundhati was equal to her husband, thehigh-souled Vasishtha in energy for in both vows and conduct she was herhusband’s equal. Addressing her they said, ‘We desire to hear from theethe mysteries of duty and religion. It behoveth thee, O amiable lady, totell us what thou regardest as a high mystery.’

“Arundhati said, ‘The great progress I have been able to achieve inpenances is due to your consideration for me in thus remembering my poorself. With your gracious permission I shall now discourse on duties thatare eternal, on duties that are high mysteries. I shall discourse thereonwith the causes on which they depend. Listen to me as I discourse to youelaborately. A knowledge of these should be imparted unto him only thatis possessed of faith or that has a pure heart. These four, viz., he thatis bereft of faith, he that is full of pride, he that is guilty ofBrahmanicide, and he that violates the bed of his preceptor, should neverbe talked to. Religion and duty should never be communicated unto them.The merits acquired by a person who gives away a Kapila cow every day fora period of two and ten years, or by a person who adores the deitiesevery month in a sacrifice, or by him who gives away hundreds ofthousands of kine in the great Pushkara, do not come up to those that arehis with whom a guest is gratified. Listen now to another duty whoseobservance is fraught with happiness to mankind. It should be observedwith its secret ritual by a person endued with faith, Its merits arecertainly high. Listen to what they are. If a person, rising at earlydawn and taking with him a quantity of water and a few blades of Kusagrass, proceeds into a cow-pen and arriving there washes a cow’s horns bysprinkling thereon that water with those blades of Kusa grass and thencauses the water to drip down on his own head, he is regarded, inconsequence of such a bath, as one that has performed his ablutions inall the sacred waters that the wise have heard to exist in the threeworlds and that are honoured and resorted to by Siddhas and Charanas.’After Arundhati had said these words, all the deities and Pitrisapplauded her, saying, ‘Excellent, Excellent,’ Indeed, all the beingsthere were highly gratified and all of them worshipped Arundhati.’

“Brahman said, ‘O highly blessed one, excellent is the duty that thouhast enunciated, together with its secret ritual. Praise be to thee! Igrant thee this boon, viz., that thy penances will continually increase!’

“Yams said, ‘I have heard from thee an excellent and agreeable discourse.Listen now to what Chitragupta has said and what is agreeable to me.Those words relate to duty with its secret ritual, and are worthy ofbeing heard by the great Rishis, as also by men endued with faith anddesirous of achieving their own good. Nothing is lost of either piety orsin that is committed by creatures. On days of the full moon and the newmoon, those acts are conveyed to the sun where they rest. When a mortalgoes into the region of the dead, the deity of the sun bears witness toall his acts. He that is righteous acquires the fruits of hisrighteousness there. I shall now tell you of some auspicious duties thatare approved by Chitragupta. Water for drink, and lamps for lightingdarkness, should always be given, as also sandals and umbrellas andKapila kine with due rites. In Pushkara especially should one make thegift of a Kapila cow unto a Brahmana conversant with the Vedas. Oneshould also always maintain one’s Agnihotra with great care. Here isanother duty which was proclaimed by Chitragupta. It behoveth them thatare the best of creatures to listen to what the merits are of that dutyseparately. In course of time, every creature is destined to undergodissolution. They that are of little understanding meet with greatdistress in the regions of the dead, for they become afflicted by hungerand thirst. Indeed, they have to rot there, burning in pain. There is noescape for them from such calamity. They have to enter into a thickdarkness. I shall now tell you of those duties by performing which onemay succeed in crossing such calamity. The performance of those dutiescosts very little but is fraught with great merit. Indeed, suchperformance is productive of great happiness in the other world. Themerits that attach to the gift of water for drink are excellent. In thenext world in especial, those merits are very high. For them that makegifts of water for drink there is ordained in the other world a largeriver full of excellent water. Indeed, the water contained in that riveris inexhaustible and cool and sweet as nectar. He who makes gifts ofwater in this world drinks from that stream in the world hereafter whenhe goes thither. Listen now to the abundant merits that attach to thegiving of lamps. The man who gives lamps in this world has never to evenbehold the thick darkness (of Hell). Soma and Surya and the deity of firealways give him their light when he repairs to the other world. Thedeities ordain that on every side of such a person there should beblazing light. Verily, when the giver of lights repairs to the world ofthe dead, he himself blazes forth in pure effulgence like a second Surya.Hence, one should give lights while here and water for drink in especial.Listen now to what the merits are of the person who makes the gift of aKapila cow to a Brahmana conversant with the Vedas, especially if thegift be made in Pushkara. Such a man is regarded as having made a gift ofa hundred kine with a bull, a gift that is productive of eternal merit.The gift of a single Kapila cow is capable of cleansing whatever sins thegiver may be guilty of even if those sins be as grave. Brahmanicide, forthe gift of a single Kapila cow is regarded as equal in point of merit tothat of a hundred kine. Hence, one should give away a Kapila cow at thatPushkara which is regarded as the senior (of the two Tirthas known bythat name) on the day of the full moon in the month of Karttika. Men thatsucceed in making such a gift have never to encounter distress of anykind, or sorrow, or thorns giving pain. That man who gives away a pair ofsandals unto a superior Brahmana that is deserving of the gift, attainsto similar merits. By giving away an umbrella a person obtainscomfortable shade in the next world. (He will not have to be exposed tothe sun). A gift made to a deserving person is never lost. It is certainto produce agreeable consequences to the giver.’ Hearing these opinionsof Chitragupta, Surya’s hairs stood on their ends. Endued with greatsplendour, he addressed all the deities and the Pitris, saying ‘Ye haveheard the mysteries relating to duty, as propounded by the high-souledChitragupta. Those human beings who, endued with faith, make these giftsunto high-souled Brahmanas, become freed from fear of every kind. Thesefive kinds of men, stained with vicious deeds, have no escape. Verily, ofsinful behaviour and regarded as the worst of men, they should never betalked to. Indeed they should always be avoided. Those five are he who isthe slayer of a Brahmana, he who is the slayer of a cow, he who isaddicted to sexual congress with other people’s wives, he who is bereftof faith (in the Vedas), and he who derives his sustenance by selling thevirtue of his wife. These men of sinful conduct, when they repair to theregion of the dead, rot in hell like worms that live upon pus and blood.These five are avoided by the Pitris, the deities, the Snataka Brahmanas,and other regenerate persons that are devoted to the practice ofpenances.'”

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