Chapter 162

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Krishna, the son of Devaki, had said thesewords, Yudhishthira once more asked Bhishma the son of Santanu, saying,’O thou of great intelligence; O foremost of all persons conversant withduties, which, indeed, of the two, direct perception and the scriptures,is to be regarded as authority for arriving at a conclusion?’

“Bhishma said, ‘I think, there is no doubt in this. Listen to me, O thouof great wisdom! I shall answer thee. The question thou hast asked iscertainly proper. It is easy to cherish doubt. But the solution of thatdoubt is difficult. Innumerable are the instances, in respect of bothdirect perception and audition (or the scriptures), in which doubts mayarise. Certain persons, who delight in the name of logicians, verilyimagining themselves to be possessed of superior wisdom, affirm thatdirect perception is the only authority. They assert that nothing,however true, is existent which is not directly perceivable; or, at leastthey doubt the existence of those objects. Indeed, such assertionsinvolve an absurdity and they who make them are of foolish understanding,whatever may be their pride of learning. If, on the other hand, thoudoubtest as to how the one (indivisible Brahman) could be the cause, Ianswer that one would understand it only after a long course of years andwith the assistance of Yoga practised without idleness. Indeed, OBharata, one that lives according to such means as present themselves(without, i.e., one’s being wedded to this or that settled mode of life),and one that is devoted (to the solution of the question), would becapable of understanding it. None else, truly, is competent forcomprehending it. When one attains to the very end of reasons (orreasoning processes), one then attains to that excellent and allcomprehending knowledge–that vast mass of effulgence which illumines allthe universe (called Brahma). That knowledge, O king, which is derivedfrom reason (or inferences) can scarcely be said to be knowledge. Suchknowledge should be rejected. It should be noted that it is not definedor comprehended by the word. It should, therefore, be rejected!'”[619]

“Yudhisthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, which among these (four) ismost authoritative, viz., direct perception, inference from observation,the science of Agama or scriptures, and diverse kinds of practices thatdistinguish the good.’

“Bhishma said, ‘While Righteousness is sought to be destroyed by wickedpersons possessed of great might, it is capable of being protected forthe time being by those that are good exerting themselves with care andearnestness. Such protection, however, avails not in the long run, fordestruction does overtake Righteousness at the end. Then, again,Righteousness often proves a mask for covering Unrighteousness, likegrass and straw covering the mouth of a deep pit and concealing it fromthe view. Hear, again, O Yudhisthira! In consequence of this, thepractices of the good are interfered with and destroyed by the wicked.Those persons who are of evil conduct, who discard the Srutis–indeed,those wicked wights who are haters of Righteousness,–destroy that goodcourse of conduct (which could otherwise be set up as a standard). Hence,doubts attach to direct perception, inference, and good conduct.[620]Those, therefore, among the good that are possessed of understanding bornof (or cleansed by) the scriptures and that are ever contented, are to beregarded as the foremost. Let those that are anxious and deprived oftranquillity of soul, approach these. Indeed, O Yudhishthira., do thoupay court to them and seek of them the solutions of thy doubt![621]Disregarding both pleasure and wealth which always follow cupidity andawakened into the belief that only Righteousness should be sought, dothou, O Yudhishthira, wait upon and ask those persons (for enlighteningthyself). The conduct of those persons never goes wrong or meets withdestruction, as also their sacrifices and Vedic study and rites. Indeed,these three, viz., conduct as consisting of overt acts, behaviour inrespect of (mental) purity, and the Vedas together constituteRighteousness.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, my understanding is once more stupefiedby doubt. I am on this side the ocean, employed in searching after themeans of crossing it. I do not, however, behold the other shore of theocean! If these three, viz., the Vedas, direct perception (or acts thatare seen), and behaviour (or, mental purity) together constitute what isto be regarded as authority, it can be alleged that there is differencebetween them. Righteousness then becomes really of three kinds, althoughit is one and indivisible.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Righteousness is sometimes seen to be destroyed by wickedwights of great power. If thou thinkest, O king, that Righteousnessshould really be of three kinds, my reply is that thy conclusion iswarranted by reason. The truth is that Righteousness is one andindivisible, although it is capable of being viewed from three differentpoints. The paths (indications) of those three that constitute thefoundation of Righteousness have each been laid down. Do thou actaccording to the instructions laid down. Thou shouldst never wrangleabout Righteousness and then seek to have those doubts solved into whichthou mayst arrive. O chief of the Bharatas, let no doubts like these evertake possession of thy mind! Do thou obey what I say without scruple ofany kind. Follow me like a blind man or like one who, without beingpossessed of sense himself, has to depend upon that of another.Abstention from injury, truth, absence of wrath (or forgiveness), andliberality of gifts,–these four, O king, that hast no foe, do thoupractise, for these four constitute eternal Righteousness! Do thou also,O mighty-armed prince, pursue that conduct towards the Brahmanas which isconsistent with what has been observed towards them by thy sires andgrandsires. These are the principal indications of Righteousness. Thatman of little intelligence who would destroy the weight of authority bydenying that to be a standard which has always been accepted as suchwould himself fail to become an authority among men. Such a man becomesthe cause of much grief in the world. Do thou reverence the Brahmanas andtreat them with hospitality. Do thou always serve them in this way. Theuniverse rests on them. Do thou understand them to be such!’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, what the respective ends areof those that hate Righteousness and of those that adore and observe it!’

“Bhishma said, ‘Those men that hate Righteousness are said to have theirhearts overwhelmed by the attributes of passion and darkness. Such menhave always to go to Hell. Those men, on the other hand, O monarch, whoalways adore and observe Righteousness, those men who are devoted totruth and sincerity, are called good. They always enjoy the pleasures orfelicity of heaven. In consequence of their waiting upon their preceptorswith reverence their hearts always turn towards Righteousness. Verily,they who adore Righteousness attain to the regions of the deities. Thoseindividuals, whether human beings or deities who divest themselves ofcupidity and malice and who emaciate or afflict their bodies by theobservance of austerities, succeed, in consequence of the Righteousnesswhich then becomes theirs to attain to great felicity. Those that aregifted with wisdom have said that the Brahmanas, who are the eldest sonsof Brahmana, represent Righteousness. They that are righteous alwaysworship them, their hearts regarding them with as much love and affectionas a hungry man’s stomach entertains for ripe and delicious fruits.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘What is the appearance presented by those that arewicked, and what are those acts which they that are called good are todo? Explain to me this, O holy one! Indeed, tell me what the indicationsare of the good and the wicked.’

“Bhishma said, ‘They that are wicked are evil in their practices,ungovernable or incapable of being kept within the restraints of rules,and foul mouthed. They, on the other hand, they are good, are always goodin their acts. Verily, the acts these men do are regarded as theindications of that course of conduct which is called good. They that aregood or righteous, O monarch, never answer the two calls of nature on thepublic road, or in the midst of a cow-pen, or on a field of paddy, Afterfeeding the five they take their own food.[622] They never talk whileeating, and never go to sleep with wet hands (i.e., without rubbing themdry with towels or napkins). Whenever they see any of the following, theycircumambulate them for showing them reverence, viz., a blazing fire, abull, the image of a deity, a cow-pen, a place where four roads meet, andan old and virtuous Brahmana. They give the way, themselves standingaside, unto those that are old, those that are afflicted with burdens,ladies, those that hold high appointments in the village or townadministration, Brahmanas, kine, and kings. The righteous or good man ishe that protects his guests, servants and other dependents, his ownrelatives, and all those that seek his protection. Such a man alwayswelcomes these with the usual enquiries of politeness. Two times havebeen appointed by the deities for human beings to take their food, viz.,morning and evening. During the interval one should not eat anything. Byfollowing this rule about eating, one is said to observe a fast. As thesacred fire waits for libations to be poured upon it when the hour forHoma arrives, even so a woman, when her functional period is over,expects an act of congress with her husband. One that never approachesone’s spouses at any other time save after the functional period, is saidto observe the vow of Brahmacharya. Amrita (nectar), Brahmanas, andkine,–these three are regarded as equal. Hence, one should alwaysworship, with due rites, Brahmanas and kine. One does not incur any faultor stain by eating the meat of animals slain in sacrifices with the aidof Tantras from the Yajur Veda. The flesh of the back-bone, or that ofanimals not slain in sacrifice, should be avoided even as one avoids theflesh of one’s own son. One should never cause one’s guest to go withoutfood whether when one resides in one’s own country or in a foreign land.After completing one’s study one should present the Dakshina unto one’spreceptor. When one sees one’s preceptor, one should congratulate himwith reverence and worshipping him present him a seat. By worshippingone’s preceptor, one increases the period of one’s life as also one’sfame and prosperity. One should never censure the old, nor send them onany business[623]. One should never be seated when any one that is old isstanding. By acting in this way one protects the duration of one’s life.One should never cast one’s eyes on a naked woman, nor a naked man. Oneshould never indulge in sexual congress except in privacy. One should eatalso without being seen by others. Preceptors are the foremost ofTirthas; the heart is the foremost of all sacred objects; knowledge isthe foremost of all objects of search; and contentment is the foremost ofall happiness. Morning and evening one should listen to the gravecounsels of those that are aged. One attains to wisdom by constantwaiting upon those that are venerable for years. While reading the Vedasor employed in eating, one should use one’s right hand. One should alwayskeep one’s speech and mind under thorough control, as also one’s senses.With well-cooked frumenty, Yavaka, Krisara, and Havi (clarified butter),one should worship the Pitris and the deities in the Sraddha calledAshtaka. The same should be used in worshipping the Planets. One shouldnot undergo a shave without calling down a blessing upon oneself. If onesneezes, one should be blessed by those present. All that are ill orafflicted with disease, should be blessed. The extension of their livesshould be prayed for.[624] One should never address an eminent personfamiliarly (by using the word Twam). Under even the great difficultiesone should never do this. To address such a person as Twam and to slayhim are equal, persons of learning are degraded by such a style ofaddress. Unto those that are inferior, or equal, or unto disciples, sucha word can be used. The heart of the sinful man always proclaims the sinshe has committed. Those men who have deliberately committed sins meetwith destruction by seeking to conceal them from the good. Indeed, theythat are confirmed sinners seek to conceal their sinful acts fromothers.[625] Such persons think that their sins are witnessed by neithermen nor the deities. The sinful man, overwhelmed by his sins, takes birthin a miserable order of being. The sins of such a man continually grow,even as the interest the usurer charge (on the loans he grants) increasefrom day to day. If, having committed a sin, one seeks to have it coveredby righteousness, that sin becomes destroyed and leads to righteousnessinstead of other sins.[626] If a quantity of water be poured upon salt,the latter immediately dissolves away. Even so when expiation isperformed, sin dissolves away. For these reasons one should never conceala sin. Concealed, it is certain to increase. Having committed a sin, oneshould confess it in the presence of those that are good. They woulddestroy it immediately. If one does not enjoy in good time what one hasstored with hope, the consequence is that the stored wealth finds anotherowner after the death of him who has stored it. The wise have said thatthe mind of every creature is the true test of Righteousness. Hence, allcreatures in the world have an innate tendency to achieve Righteousness.One should achieve Righteousness alone or single-handed. Verily, oneshould not proclaim oneself Righteous and walk with the standard ofRighteousness borne aloft for purpose of exhibition. They are said to betraders in Righteousness who practise it for enjoying the fruits itbrings about. One should adore the deities without giving way tosentiments of pride. Similarly, one should serve one’s preceptor withoutdeceit. One should make arrangements for securing to oneself invaluablewealth in the hereafter which consists in gifts made here to deservingpersons.'”

Chapter 161
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