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Chapter 135

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Who are those persons, O Bharata, from whom aBrahmana in this world may accept his food? From whom may a Kshatriya, aVaisya, and a Sudra take their food respectively?’

“Bhishma said, ‘A Brahmana may take his food from another Brahmana orfrom a Kshatriya or a Vaisya, but he must never accept food from a Sudra.A Kshatriya may take his food from a Brahmana, a Kshatriya or a Vaisya.He must, however, eschew food given by Sudras who are addicted to evilways and who partake of all manner of food without any scruple. Brahmanasand Kshatriyas can partake of food given by such Vaisyas as tend thesacred fire every day, as are faultless in character, and as perform thevow of Chaturmasya. But the man who takes food from a Sudra, swallows thevery abomination of the earth, and drinks the excretions of the humanbody, and partakes of the filth of all the world. He partakes of the veryfilth of the earth who takes his food thus from a Sudra. Verily, thoseBrahmanas that take their food from Sudras, take the dirt of the earth.If one engages in the service of a Sudra, one is doomed to perditionthough one may duly perform all the rites of one’s order. A Brahmana, aKshatriya, or a Vaisya, so engaging, is doomed, although devoted to thedue performance of religious rites. It is said that a Brahmana’s dutyconsists in studying the Vedas and seeking the welfare of the human race;that a Kshatriya’s duty consists in protecting men, and that a Vaisya’sin promoting their material prosperity. A Vaisya lives by distributingthe fruits of his own acts and agriculture. The breeding of kine andtrade are the legitimate work in which a Vaisya may engage without fearof censure. The man who abandons his own proper occupation and betakeshimself to that of a Sudra, should be considered as a Sudra and on noaccount should any food be accepted from him. Professors of the healingart, mercenary soldiers, the priest who acts as warder of the house, andpersons who devote a whole year to study without any profit, are all tobe considered as Sudras. And those who impudently partake of food offeredat ceremonials in a Sudra’s house are afflicted with a terrible calamity.In consequence of partaking such forbidden food they lose their family,strength, and energy, and attain to the status of animals, descending tothe position of dogs, fallen in virtue and devoid of all religiousobservances. He who takes food from a physician takes that which is nobetter than excrement; the food of a harlot is like urine; that of askilled mechanic is like blood. If a Brahmana approved by the good, takesthe food of one who lives by his learning, he is regarded as taking thefood of a Sudra. All good men should forego such food. The food of aperson who is censured by all is said to be like a draught from a pool ofblood. The acceptance of food from a wicked person is considered asreprehensible as the slaying of a Brahmana. One should not accept food ifone is slighted and not received with due honours by the giver. ABrahmana, who does so, is soon overtaken by disease, and his race soonbecomes extinct. By accepting food from the warder of a city, onedescends to the status of the lowest outcaste. If a Brahmana accepts foodfrom one who is guilty of killing either a cow or a Brahmana or from onewho has committed adultery with his preceptor’s wife or from a drunkard,he helps to promote the race of Rakshasas. By accepting food from aeunuch, or from an ungrateful person, or from one who has misappropriatedwealth entrusted to his charge, one is born in the country of the Savarassituated beyond the precincts of the middle country. I have thus dulyrecited to thee the persons from whom food may be accepted and from whomit may not. Now tell me, O son of Kunti, what else thou wishest to hearfrom me today.'”

Chapter 134
Chapter 136
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