Chapter 164

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘If one does acts oneself that are good or causes othersto accomplish them, one should then expect to attain to the merits ofrighteousness. Similarly, if one does acts oneself that are evil, andcauses others to accomplish them, one should never expect to attain tothe merits of righteousness.[628] At all times, it is Time that, enteringthe understandings of all creatures, sets them to acts of righteousnessor unrighteousness, and then confer felicity or misery upon them. When aperson, beholding the fruits of Righteousness, understands Righteousnessto be superior, it is then that he inclines towards Righteousness andputs faith in it. One, however, whose understanding is not firm, fails toput faith in it, As regards faith in Righteousness, it is this (andnothing else). To put faith in Righteousness is the indication of thewisdom of all persons. One that is acquainted with both (i.e., whatshould be done and what should not be done), with a view toopportuneness, should, with care and devotion, achieve what is right.Those Righteous men who have in this life been blessed with affluence,acting of their own motion, take particular care of their souls so thatthey may not, in their next lives, have to take birth as persons with theattribute of Passion predominating in them. Time (which is the supremedisposer of all things) can never make Righteousness the cause of misery.One should, therefore, know that the soul which is righteous is certainlypure (i.e., freed from the element of evil and misery). As regardsUnrighteousness, it may be said that, even when of large proportions, itis incapable of even touching Righteousness which is always protected byTime and which shines like a blazing fire. These are the two resultsachieved by Righteousness, viz., the stainlessness of the soul andunsusceptibility of being touched by Unrighteousness. Verily,Righteousness is fraught with victory. Its effulgence is so great that itillumines the three worlds. A man of wisdom cannot catch hold of a sinfulperson and forcibly cause him to become righteous. When seriously urgedto act righteously, the sinful only act with hypocrisy, impelled by fear.They that are righteous among the Sudras never betake themselves to suchhypocrisy under the plea that persons of the Sudra order are notpermitted to live according to any of the four prescribed modes. I shalltell thee particularly what the duties truly are of the four orders. Sofar as their bodies are concerned, the individuals belonging to all thefour orders have the five primal elements for the constituentingredients. Indeed, in this respect, they are all of the same substance.For all that, distinctions exist between them in respect of bothpractices relating to life or the world and the duties of righteousness.Notwithstanding these distinctions, sufficient liberty of action is leftto them in consequence of which all individuals may attain to an equalityof condition. The regions of felicity which represent the consequences orrewards of Righteousness are not eternal, for they are destined to cometo an end. Righteousness, however, is eternal. When the cause is eternal,why is the effect not so?[629] The answer to this is as follows. Onlythat Righteousness is eternal which is not promoted by the desire offruit or reward. (That Righteous, however, which is prompted by thedesire of reward, not eternal. Hence, the reward though undesired thatattaches to the first kind of Righteousness, viz., attainment of identitywith Brahman, is eternal. The reward, however, that attaches to thatRighteousness prompted by desire of fruit. Heaven is not eternal).[630]All men are equal in respect of their physical organism. All of them,again, are possessed of souls that are equal in respect of their nature.When dissolution comes, all else dissolve away. What remains is theinceptive will to achieve Righteousness. That, indeed, reappears (in nextlife) of itself.[631] When such is the result (that is, when theenjoyments and endurance of this life are due to the acts of a pastlife), the inequality of lot discernible among human beings cannot beregarded in any way anomalous. So also, it is seen that those creaturesthat belong to the intermediate orders of existence are equally subject,in the matter of their acts, to the influence of example.'”

Chapter 163
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