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Chapter 142

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Uma said, ‘Forest recluses reside in delightful regions, among thesprings and fountains of rivers, in bowers by the sides of streams andrills, on hills and mountains, in woods and forests, and in sacred spotsfull of fruits and roots. With concentrated attention and observant ofvows and rules, they dwell in such places. I desire, O Sankara, to hearthe sacred ordinances which they follow. These recluses, O god of allgods, are persons that depend, for the protection of their bodies, uponthemselves alone.'[565]

Maheswara said, ‘Do thou hear with concentrated attention what the dutiesare of forest recluses. Having listened to them with one mind, O goddess,do thou set thy heart upon righteousness. Listen then to what the actsare that should be practised by righteous recluses crowned with success,observant of rigid vows and rules, and residing in woods and forests.Performing ablutions thrice a day, worshipping the Pitris and thedeities, pouring libations on the sacred fire, performing thosesacrifices and rites that go by the name of Ishti-homa, picking up thegrains of Nivara-paddy, eating fruit and roots, and using oil that ispressed out from Inguda and castor-seeds are their duties. Having gonethrough the practices of Yoga and become crowned with (ascetic) successand freed from lust and wrath, they should seat themselves in theattitude called Virasana. Indeed, they should reside in those placeswhich are inaccessible to cowards.[566] Observant of the excellentordinances relating to Yoga, sitting in summer in the midst of four fireson four sides with the sun overhead, duly practising what is calledManduka Yoga, and always seated in the attitude called Virasana, andlying on bare rocks or the earth, these men, with hearts set uponrighteousness, must expose themselves to cold and water and fire. Theysubsist upon water or air or moss. They use two pieces of stones only forhusking their corn. Some of them use their teeth only for such a purpose.They do not keep utensils of any kind (for storing anything for the dayto come). Some of them clothe themselves with rags and barks of trees ordeer-skins. Even thus do they pass their lives for the measure of timeallotted to them, according to the ordinances (set forth in thescriptures). Remaining in woods and forests, they wander within woods andforests, live within them, and are always to be found within them.Indeed, these forest recluses entering into woods and forests live withinthem as disciples, obtaining a preceptor, live with him. The performanceof the rites of Homa is their duty, as also the observance of the fivesacrifices. A due observance of the rules about distribution (in respectof time) of the fivefold sacrifices as laid down in the Vedas, devotionto (other) sacrifices, forming the eighth, observance of the Chaturmasya,performance of the Paurnamasya, and other sacrifices, and performance ofthe daily sacrifices, are the duties of these men dissociated from wives,freed from every attachment, and cleansed from every sin. Indeed, theyshould live even thus in the forest. The sacrificial ladle and thewater-vessel are their chief wealth. They are always devoted to the threefires. Righteous in their conduct and adhering to the path of virtue,they attain to the highest end. These Munis, crowned with (ascetic)success and ever devoted to the religion of Truth, attain to the highlysacred region of Brahman or the eternal region of Soma. O auspiciousgoddess, I have thus recited to thee, in brief, the outlines of thereligion that is followed by forest recluses and that has many practicesin detail.’

“Uma said, ‘O holy one, O lord of all creatures, O thou that artworshipped by all beings, I desire to hear what the religion is of thoseMunis that are followers of the scriptures treating of ascetic success.Do thou recite it to me. Residing in woods and forests andwell-accomplished in the scriptures of success, some amongst them liveand act as they like, without being restrained by particular practices;others have wives. How, indeed, have their practices been laid down?’

“Mahadeva said, ‘O goddess, the shaving of the head and the wearing ofthe brown robes are the indications of those recluses that rove about infreedom; while the indications of those that sport with wedded wivesconsist in passing their nights at home. Performing ablutions there timesa day is the duty of the classes, while the Homa, with water and fruitsfrom the wilderness, belongs to the wedded recluses as performed by theRishis in general. Absorption, Yoga-meditation, and adherence to thoseduties that constitute piety and that have been laid down as such (in thescriptures and the Vedas) are some of the other duties prescribed forthem. All those duties also of which I have spoken to thee before asappertaining to recluses residing in forests, are the duties of thesealso. Indeed, if those duties are observed, they that observe them,attain to the rewards that attach to severe penances. Those forestrecluses that lead wedded lives should confine the gratification of theirsenses to these wedded wives of theirs. By indulging in sexual congresswith their wives at only those times when their seasons come, theyconform to the duties that have been laid down for them. The religionwhich these virtuous men are to follow is the religion that has been laiddown and followed by the Rishis. With their eyes set upon the acquisitionof righteousness, they should never pursue any other object of desirefrom a sense of unrestrained caprice. That man who makes the gift untoall creatures of an assurance of perfect harmlessness or innocence, freedas his soul becomes from the stain of malice or harmfulness, becomesendued with righteousness. Verily, that person who shows compassion toall creatures, who adopts as a vow a behaviour of perfect sinceritytowards al creatures, and who constitutes himself the soul of allcreatures, becomes endued with righteousness. A bath in all the Vedas,and a behaviour of sincerity towards all creatures, are looked upon asequal in point of merit; or, perhaps, the latter is a littledistinguished above the other in point of merit. Sincerity, it has beensaid, is Righteousness; while insincerity or crookedness is the reverse.That man who conducts himself with sincerity becomes endued withRighteousness. The man who is always devoted to sincerity of behaviour,succeeds in attaining to a residence among the deities. Hence, he whowishes to achieve the merit of righteousness should become endued withsincerity. Possessed of a forgiving disposition and of self-restraint,and with wrath under complete subjection, one should transform oneselfinto an embodiment of Righteousness and become freed from malice. Such aman, who becomes devoted, besides, to the discharge of all the dutiesReligion, becomes endued with the merit of Righteousness. Freed fromdrowsiness and procrastination, the pious person, who adheres to the pathof Righteousness to the best of his power, and becomes possessed of pureconduct, and who is venerable in years, comes to be regarded as equal toBrahma himself.’

“Uma said. By what course of duties, O god, do those ascetics who areattached to their respective retreats and possessed of wealth ofpenances, succeed in becoming endued with great splendour? By what actsagain, do kings and princes who are possessed of great wealth, and otherswho are destitute of wealth, succeed in obtaining high rewards? By whatacts, O god, do denizens of the forest succeed in attaining to that placewhich is eternal and in adorning their persons with celestialsandal-paste? O illustrious god of three eyes, O destroyer of the triplecity, do thou dispel this doubt of mine connected with the auspicioussubject of the observance of penances by telling everything in detail.’

“The illustrious deity said, ‘Those who observe the vows relating tofasts and restrain their senses, who abstain from injury of any kind toany creature, and who practise truthfulness of speech, attain to successand ascending to Heaven sport in felicity with the Gandharvas as theircompanions, freed from every kind of evil. The righteous souled man wholies down in the attitude which appertains to Manduka-Yoga, and whoproperly and according to the ordinance performs meritorious acts afterhaving taken the Diksha, sports in felicity in the next world in thecompany of the Nagas. That man who lives in the company of deer andsubsists upon such grass and vegetables as fall off from their mouths,and who has undergone the Diksha and attends to the duties attached toit, succeeds in attaining to Amaravati (the mansions of Indra). That manwho subsists upon the moss he gathers and the fallen leaves of trees thathe picks up, and endures all the severities of cold, attains to very highplace. That man who subsists upon either air or water, or fruits androots, attains in after life to the affluence that belongs to the Yakshasand sports in felicity in the company of diverse tribes of Apsaras.Having practised for two and ten years, according to the rites laid downin the ordinances, the vow relating to the endurance of the five fires inthe summer season, one becomes in one’s next life a king. That man who,having observed vows with respect to food, practises penances for two andtwelve years, carefully abstaining from all interdicted food, taken atforbidden hours, during the periods becomes in his next life a ruler ofearth.[567] That man who sits and lies on the bare ground with the copeof the firmament alone for his shelter, observes the course of dutiesthat attach to Diksha, and then casts off his body by abstaining from allfood, attains to great felicity in Heaven. The rewards of one who sitsand lies down upon the bare ground (with the welkin alone for hisshelter) are said to be excellent vehicles and beds, and costly mansionspossessed of the resplendence of the moon, O lady! That man who, havingsubsisted upon abstemious diet and observed diverse excellent vows, livesdepending upon his own self and then casts off his body by abstainingfrom all food, succeeds in ascending to heaven and enjoying all itsfelicity. That man who, having lived in entire dependence upon his ownself, observes for two and ten years the duties that appertain to Diksha,and at last casts off his body on the great ocean, succeeds in attainingto the regions of Varuna after death. That man who, living in entiredependence upon his own self observes the duties that attach to Dikshafor two and ten years, and pierces his own feet with a sharp stone,attains to the felicity of the region that belongs to the Guhyakas. Hewho cultivates self with the aid of self, who frees himself from theinfluence of all pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, joy andsorrow, etc), who is freed from every kind of attachment, and whomentally observes for two and ten years such a course of conduct afterDiksha, attains to Heaven and enjoys every happiness with the deities ashis companions. He who lives in entire dependence upon his own self andobserves for two and ten years the duties that attach to Diksha andfinally casts off his body on the fire as an oblation to the deities,attains to the regions of Brahman and is held in high respect there. Thatregenerate man, O goddess, who having properly gone through the Dikshakeeps his senses under subjugation, and placing his Self on Self freeshimself from the sense of meum, desirous of achieving righteousness, andsets out, without a covering for his body, after the due observance ofthe duties of Diksha for two and ten years and after having placed hissacred fire on a tree, and walks along the path that belongs to heroesand lies down (when need for lying down comes) in the attitude of heroes,and conducts himself always after the manner of heroes, certainly attainsto the end that is reserved for heroes.[568] Such a man repairs to theeternal region of Sakra where he becomes crowned with the fruition of allhis wishes and where he sports in joy, his person decked with garlands ofcelestial flowers and celestial perfumes. Indeed, that righteous souledperson lives happily in Heaven, with the deities as his companions. Thehero, observant of the practices of heroes and devoted to that Yoga whichbelongs to heroes, living in the practice of Goodness, having renouncedeverything, having undergone the Diksha and subjugated his senses, andobserving purity of both body and mind, is sure to attain to that pathwhich is reserved for heroes. Eternal regions of happiness are his.Riding on a car that moves at the will of the rider, he roves through allthose happy regions as he likes. Indeed, dwelling in the region of Sakra,that blessed person always sports in joy, freed from every calamity.”

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