Chapter 145

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Uma said, ‘By what disposition, what conduct, what acts, and what gifts,does a man succeed in attaining to Heaven?’

“Maheswara said, ‘He who is endued with a liberal disposition, whohonours Brahmanas and treats them with hospitality, who makes gifts offood and drink and robes and other articles of enjoyment unto thedestitute, the blind, and the distressed, who makes gifts of houses,erects halls (for use of the public), digs wells, constructs shelterswhence pure and cool water is distributed (during the hot months untothirsty travellers), excavates tanks, makes arrangements for the freedistribution of gifts every day, gives to all seekers what each solicits,who makes gifts of seats and beds and conveyances, wealth, jewels andgems, houses, all kinds of corn, kine, fields, and women,–verily, he whoalways makes these gifts with a cheerful heart, becomes a denizen, Ogoddess, of Heaven. He resides there for a long period, enjoying diversekinds of superior articles. Passing his time happily in the company ofthe Apsaras, he sports in the woods of Nandana and other delightfulregions. After the exhaustion of his merits he falls down from Heaven andtakes birth in the order of humanity, in a family, O goddess, that ispossessed of wealth in abundance and that has a large command of everyarticle of enjoyments. In that life he becomes endued with all articlesfor gratifying his wishes and appetites. Indeed, blessed with thepossession of such articles, he becomes endued with affluence and awell-filled treasury. The self-born Brahman himself declared it in daysof old that it is even such persons, O goddess, that become highlyblessed and possessed of liberal dispositions and agreeable features.There are others, O goddess, that are incapable of making gifts. Enduedwith small understandings, they cannot make gifts even when solicited byBrahmanas and possessed of abundant wealth. Beholding the destitute, theblind, the distressed, and mendicants, and even guests arrived at theirabodes, those persons, always filled with the desire of gratifying theorgan of taste, turn away, even when expressly solicited by them. Theynever make gifts of wealth or robes, or viands, or gold, or kine, or anykind of food. Those men who are disinclined to relieve the distress ofothers, who are full of cupidity, who have no faith in the scriptures,and who never make gifts,–verily, these men of little understanding, Ogoddess, have to sink in Hell. In course of time, when their sufferingsin Hell come to an end, they take birth in the order of humanity, infamilies that are entirely destitute of wealth. Always suffering fromhunger and thirst, excluded from all decent society, hopeless of everenjoying good things, they lead lives of great wretchedness. Born infamilies that are destitute of all articles of enjoyment, these men neversucceed in enjoying the good things of the world. Indeed, O goddess, itis through their acts that persons become wretched and poor. There areothers who are full of arrogance and pride caused by the possession ofriches. Those senseless wretches never offer seats to those that deservesuch an offer. Endued with little understandings they do not give way tothem that deserve such an honour.[575] Nor do they give water for washingthe feet to persons unto whom it should be given. Indeed, they do nothonour, agreeably to the ordinance, with gifts of the Arghya, suchpersons as deserve to be honoured therewith. They do not offer water forwashing the mouth unto such as deserve to have that honour. They do nottreat their very preceptors, when the latter arrive at their houses, inthe manner in which preceptors should be treated. Living in cupidity andarrogance, they refuse to treat their seniors and aged men with love andaffection, even insulting those that deserve to be honoured and assertingtheir superiority over them without showing reverence and humility. Suchmen, O goddess, sink in Hell. When their sufferings come to an end aftera long course of years, they rise from Hell, and take birth in the orderof humanity, in low and wretched families. Indeed. they who humiliatetheir preceptors and seniors, have to take their birth in such castes asthose of Swapakas and Pukkasas who are exceedingly vile and bereft ofintelligence. He who is not arrogant or filled with pride, who is aworshipper of the deities and Brahmanas, who enjoys the respect of theworld, who bows to every one that deserves his reverence, who utterssmooth and sweet words, who benefits persons of all orders, who is alwaysdevoted to the good of all beings, who does not feel aversion foranybody, who is sweet-tongued, who is an utterer of agreeable and coolingwords, who gives way to one that deserves to have way, who adores hispreceptors in the manner in which preceptors deserve to be adored, whowelcomes all creatures with proper courtesy, who does not hear ill willtowards any creature, who lives, worshipping seniors and guests with suchhonours as they deserve, who is ever bent upon securing as many guests aspossible, and who worships all who honour his house with their presence,succeeds, O goddess, in ascending to Heaven. Upon the exhaustion of hismerit, he takes birth in the order of humanity in a high and respectablefamily. In that life he becomes possessed of all articles of enjoyment inabundance and jewels and gems and every kind of wealth in profusion. Hegives unto deserving persons what they deserve. He becomes devoted to theobservance of every duty and every act of righteousness. Honoured by allcreatures and receiving their reverence, he obtains the fruits of his ownacts. Even such a person acquires a high lineage and birth in this world.This that I have recited to thee was said by the Ordainer (Brahman)himself in days of old. That man who is fierce in conduct, who inspiresterror in all creatures, who injures other beings with hands or feet orcords or sticks, or brick-bats or clods of hard clay, or other means ofwounding and paining, O beautiful lady, who practises diverse kinds ofdeceit for slaying living creatures or vexing them, who pursues animalsin the chase and causes them to tremble in fear,–verily, that man, whoconducts himself in this way, is certain to sink in Hell. If in course oftime he takes birth in the order of humanity, he is obliged to be born ina low and wretched race or family that is afflicted with impediments ofevery kind on every side. He becomes an object of aversion to all theworld. Wretched among men, he becomes so through the consequence of hisown acts. Another, who is possessed of compassion, casts his eye on allcreatures. Endued with a friendly vision, behaving towards all creaturesas if he were their father, divested of every hostile feeling, with allhis passions under complete control, he never vexes any creature andnever inspires them with fear by means of his hands or feet which arealways under his control. He inspires the confidence of all beings. Henever afflicts any creature with either cords or clubs or brick-bats orclods of hard earth or weapons of any kind. His deeds are never fierce orcruel, and he is full of kindness. One who is endued with such practicesand conduct certainly ascend to Heaven. There he lives like a god in acelestial mansion abounding with every comfort. If, upon the exhaustionof his merit, he has to take birth in the order of humanity, he becomesborn as a man that has not to fight with difficulties of any kind or toencounter any fear. Indeed, he enjoys great happiness. Possessed offelicity, without the obligation of undergoing distressing labour for hissubsistence, he lives freed from every kind of anxiety. Even this, Ogoddess, is the path of the righteous. In it there are no impediments orafflictions.’

“Uma said, ‘In the world some men are seen well-versed in inferences andthe premises leading to them. Indeed, they are possessed of science andknowledge, have large progeny, and are endued with learning and wisdom.Others, O god, are destitute of wisdom, science, and knowledge, and arecharacterised by folly. By what particular acts does a person becomepossessed of wisdom? By what acts, again, does one become possessed oflittle wisdom and distorted vision? Do thou dispel this doubt of mine, Othou that art the foremost of all beings conversant with duties. Othersthere are, O god, that are blind from the moment of their birth. Othersthere are that are diseased and afflicted and impotent. Do thou, O god,tell me the reason of this.’

“Maheswara said, ‘Those men that always enquire, about what is for theirbenefit and what is to their detriment, Brahmanas learned in the Vedas,crowned with success, and conversant with all duties, that avoid allkinds of evil deeds and achieve only such deeds as are good, succeed inascending to Heaven after departing from this world and enjoy greathappiness as long as they live here. Indeed, upon the exhaustion of theirmerit when they take birth in the order of humanity, they become born asmen possessed of great intelligence. Every kind of felicity andauspiciousness becomes theirs in consequence of that intelligence withwhich they are born. Those men of foolish understandings who cast wickedeyes upon the wedded spouses of other men, become cursed with congenitalblindness in consequence of that sinfulness of theirs. Those men who,impelled by desire in their hearts, cast their eyes on naked women, thosemen of wicked deeds take birth in this world to pass their whole lives inone continuous disease. Those men of foolish and wicked deeds who indulgein sexual congress with women of orders different from their own,–thosemen of little wisdom,–have to take birth in their next lives as personsdestitute of virility. Those men who cause animals to be slain, and thosewho violate the beds of their preceptors, and those who indulgepromiscuously in sexual congress, have to take birth in their next livesas persons destitute of the virile power.’

“Uma said, ‘What acts, O foremost of the deities, are faulty, and whatacts are faultless? What, indeed, are those acts by doing which a mansucceeds in attaining to what is for your highest good?’

“Maheswara said, ‘That man who is desirous of ascertaining what isrighteousness, and who wishes to acquire prominent virtues andaccomplishments, and who always puts questions to the Brahmanas with aview to find out the path that leads to his highest good, succeed inascending to Heaven. If (after exhaustion of his merit) he takes birth inthe order of humanity, he becomes endued with intelligence and memory andgreat wisdom. This, O goddess, is the line of conduct that the righteousare to follow and that is fraught with great benefit. I have told thee ofit for the good of human beings.’

“Uma said, ‘There are men who hate righteousness and who are possessed oflittle understanding. They never wish to approach Brahmanas conversantwith the Vedas. There are others who are observant of vows and who aredevoted to the duty of performing Sraddhas. Others, again, are destituteof all vows. They are unmindful of observance and are like Rakshasas inconduct. Some there are who are devoted to the performance of sacrificesand some who are unmindful of the Homa. Through the consequences of whatacts do men become possessed of These different natures?’

“Maheswara said, ‘Through the Vedas, the limits have been assigned of allthe acts of human beings. Those men that conduct themselves according tothe authority of the Vedas, are seen (in their next lives) to becomedevoted to the observance of vows. Those men, however, who having becomesubject to the sway of folly accept unrighteousness for its reverse,become destitute of vows, transgress all restraints, and come to beregarded as Brahmarakshasas. Indeed, it is these men that becomeunmindful of the Homa, that never utter the Vashat and other sacredMantras, and that come to be regarded as the lowest and vilest of menThus, O goddess, have I explained to thee the entire ocean of duties inrespect of human beings for the sake of removing thy doubts, not omittingthe sins of which they become guilty.'”

Chapter 144
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