Chapter 151

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Who deserve to be worshipped? Who are they unto whomwe should bow? How, indeed, should we behave towards whom? What course ofconduct, O grandsire, towards what classes of persons is regardedfaultless?’

“Bhishma said, ‘The humiliation of Brahmanas would humiliate the verydeities. By bowing unto Brahmanas one does not, O Yudhishthira, incur anyfault. They, deserve to be worshipped. They deserve to have ourSalutations. Thou shouldst behave towards them as if they are thy sons.Indeed, it is those men endued with great wisdom that uphold all theworlds. The Brahmanas are the great causeways of Righteousness in respectof all the worlds. Their happiness consists in renouncing all kinds ofwealth. They are devoted to the vow of restraining speech. They areagreeable to all creatures, and observant of diverse excellent vows. Theyare the refuge of all creatures in the universe. They are the authors ofall the regulations which govern the worlds. They are possessed of greatfame Penances are always their great wealth. Their power consists inspeech. Their energy flows from the duties they observe. Conversant withall duties, they are possessed of minute vision, so that they arecognizant of the subtlest considerations. They are of righteous desires.They live the observance of well-performed duties. They are the causewaysof Righteousness. The four kinds of living creatures exist, dependingupon them as their refuge. They are the path or road along which allshould go. They are the guides of all. They are the eternal upholders ofall the sacrifices. They always uphold the heavy burdens of sires andgrandsires. They never droop under heavy weights even when passing alongdifficult-roads like strong cattle. They are attentive to therequirements of Piths and deities and guests. They are entitled to eatthe first portions of Havya and Kavya. By the very food they eat, theyrescue the three worlds from great fear. They are as it were, the Island(for refuge) for all worlds. They are the eyes of all persons endued withsight. The wealth they possess consists of all the branches of knowledgeknown by the name of Siksha and all the Srutis. Endued with great skill,they are conversant with the most subtle relations of things. They arewell-acquainted with the end of all things, and their thoughts are alwaysemployed upon the science of the soul. They are endued with the knowledgeof the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things, and they arepersons in whom doubts no longer exist in consequence of feeling certainof their knowledge. They are fully aware of the distinctions between whatis superior and what is inferior. They it is who attain to the highestend. Freed from all attachments, cleansed of all sins, transcending allpairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, happiness and misery, etc.),they are unconnected with all worldly things. Deserving of every honour,they are always held in great esteem by persons endued with knowledge andhigh souls. They cast equal eyes on sandal-paste and filth or dirt, onwhat is food and what is not rood. They see with an equal eye their brownvestments of coarse cloth and fabrics of silk and animal skins. Theywould live for many days together without eating any food, and dry uptheir limbs by such abstention from all sustenance. They devotethemselves earnestly to the study of the Vedas, restraining their senses.They would make gods of those that are not gods, and not gods of thosethat are gods. Enraged, they can create other worlds and other Regents ofthe worlds than those that exist. Through the course of those high-souledones, the ocean became so saline as to be undrinkable. The fire of theirwrath yet burns in the forest of Dandaka, unquenched by time. They arethe gods of the gods, and the cause of all cause. They are the authorityof all authorities. What man of intelligence and wisdom is there thatwould seek to humiliate them? Amongst them the young and the old alldeserve honours. They honour one another (not in consequence ofdistinctions of age but) in consequence of distinctions in respect ofpenances and knowledge. Even the Brahmana that is destitute of knowledgeis a god and is a high instrument for cleansing others. He amongst them,then, that is possessed of knowledge is a much higher god and like untothe ocean when full (to the brim). Learned or unlearned, Brahmana isalways a high deity. Sanctified or unsanctified (with the aid ofMantras), Fire is ever a great deity. A blazing fire even when it burnson a crematorium, is not regarded as tainted in consequence of thecharacter of the spot whereon it burns. Clarified butter looks beautifulwhether kept on the sacrificial altar or in a chamber. So, if a Brahmanabe always engaged in evil acts, he is still to be regarded as deservingof honour. Indeed, know that the Brahmana is always a high deity.'”

Chapter 150
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