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Chapter 23

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I desire thee, O grandsire, to tell me what theordinances are that have been laid down by the acts touching the deitiesand the (deceased) ancestors on occasions of Sraddhas.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Having purified oneself (by baths and other purificatoryacts) and then going through the well-known auspicious rites, one shouldcarefully do all act relating to the deities in the forenoon, and allacts relating to the Pitris in the afternoon. What is given to men shouldbe given in the midday with affection and regard. That gift which is madeuntimely is appropriated by Rakshasas.[211] Gifts of articles that havebeen leapt over by any one, o been licked or sucked, that are not givenpeacefully, that have been seen by women that are impure in consequenceof their season having come, do not produce any merit. Such gifts areregarded as the portion belonging to the Rakshasas. Gifts of articlesthat have been proclaimed before many people or from which a portion hasbeen eaten by a Sudra, or that have been seen or licked by a dog, formportions of Rakshasas. Food which is mixed with hair or in which thereare worms, or which has been stained with spittle or saliva or which hasbeen gazed at by a dog or into which tear-drops have fallen or which hasbeen trodden upon should be known as forming the portion of Rakshasa.Food that has been eaten by a person incompetent to utter the syllableOm, or that has been eaten by a person bearing arms, O Bharata, or thathas been eaten by a wicked person should be known to form the portion ofRakshasas.[212] The food that is eaten by a person from which a portionhas already been eaten by another, or which is eaten without a partthereof having been offered to deities and guests and children, isappropriated by Rakshasas. Such stained food, if offered to the deitiesand Pitris is never accepted by them but is appropriated by Rakshasas.The food offered by the three regenerate classes in Sraddhas, in whichMantras are either not uttered or uttered incorrectly and in which theordinances laid down in the scriptures are not complied with, ifdistributed to guests and other people, is appropriated by Rakshasas. Thefood that is distributed to guests without having been previouslydedicated to the deities or the Pitris with the aid of libation on thesacred fire, which has been stained in consequence of a portion thereofhaving been eaten by a person that is wicked or of irreligious behaviour,should be known to form the portion of Rakshasas.’

“‘I have told thee what the portions are of the Rakshasas. Listen now tome as I lay down the rules for ascertaining who the Brahmana is that isdeserving of gift.[213] All Brahmanas that have been outcasted (onaccount of the commission of heinous sins), as also Brahmanas that areidiots and out of mind, do not deserve to be invited to Sraddhas in whichofferings are made to either the deities or the Pitris. That Brahmana whois afflicted with leucoderma, or he that is destitute of virility, or hethat has got leprosy, or he that has got phthisis or he that is labouringunder epilepsy (with delusions of the sensorium), or he that is blind,should not, O king, be invited.[214] Those Brahmanas that practise thecalling of physicians, those that receive regular pay for worshipping theimages of deities established by the rich, or live upon the service ofthe deities, those that are observant of vows from pride or other falsemotives, and those that sell Soma, do not deserve to be invited. ThoseBrahmanas that are, by profession, vocalists, or dancers or players orinstrumental musicians, or reciters of sacred books, or warriors andathletes, do not, O king, deserve to be invited. Those Brahmanas who pourlibations on the sacred fire for Sudras, or who are preceptors of Sudras,or who as servants of Sudra masters, do not deserve to be invited. ThatBrahmana who is paid for his services as preceptor, or who attends aspupil upon the lectures of some preceptor because of some allowance thatis granted to him, does not deserve to be invited, for both of them areregarded as sellers of Vedic lore. That Brahmana who has been onceinduced to accept the gift of food in a Sraddha at the very outset, asalso he who has married a Sudra wife, even if possessed of every kind ofknowledge do not deserve to be invited.[215] Those Brahmanas that aredestitute of their domestic fire, and they that attend upon corpses, theythat are thieves, and they that have otherwise fallen away do not, Oking, deserve to be invited.[216] Those Brahmanas whose antecedents arenot known or are vile, and they that are Putrika-putras, do not, O king,deserve to be invited on occasions of Sraddhas.[217] That Brahmana whogives loans of money, or he who subsists upon the interest of the loansgiven by him, or he who lives by sale of living creatures, does notdeserve, O king, to be invited. Persons who have been subjugated by theirwives, or they who live by becoming the paramours of unchaste women, orthey who abstain from their morning and evening prayers do not deserve, Oking, to be invited to Sraddhas.’

“‘Listen now to me as I mention who the Brahmana is that has beenordained for acts done in honour of the deities and the Pitris. Indeed, Ishall tell thee what those merits, are in consequence of which one maybecome a giver or a recipient of gifts in Sraddhas (notwithstanding thefaults mentioned above).[218] Those Brahmanas that are observant of therites and ceremonies laid down in the scriptures, or they that arepossessed of merit, or they that are conversant with the Gayatri, or theythat are observant of the ordinary duties of Brahmanas, even if theyhappen to betake themselves to agriculture for a living, are capable, Oking, of being invited to Sraddhas. If a Brahmana happens to be wellborn,he deserves to be invited to Sraddhas notwithstanding his profession ofarms for fighting the battle of others.[219] That Brahmana, however, Oson, who happens to betake himself to trade for a living should bediscarded (even if possessed of merit). The Brahmana who pours libationsevery day on the sacred fire, or who resides in a fixed habitation, whois not a thief and who does the duties of hospitality to guests arrivedat his house, deserves, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas. The Brahmana,O chief of Bharata’s race, who recites the Savitri morning, noon, andnight, or who subsists upon eleemosynary charity, who is observant of therites and ceremonies laid down in the scriptures for persons of hisorder, deserves, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas.[220] That Brahmanawho having earned wealth in the morning becomes poor in the afternoon, orwho poor in the morning becomes wealthy in the evening or who isdestitute of malice, or is stained by a minor fault, deserves, O king, tobe invited to Sraddhas. That Brahmana who is destitute of pride or sin,who is not given to dry disputation, or who subsists upon alms obtainedin his rounds of mendicancy from house to house deserves, O king, to beinvited to sacrifices. One who is not observant of vows, or who isaddicted to falsehood (in both speech and conduct), who is a thief, orwho subsists by the sale of living creatures or by trade in general,becomes worthy of invitation to Sraddhas, O king, if he happens to offerall to the deities first and subsequently drink Soma. That man who havingacquired wealth by foul or cruel means subsequently spends it in adoringthe deities and discharging the duties of hospitality, becomes worthy, Oking, of being invited to Sraddhas. The wealth that one has acquired bythe sale of Vedic lore, or which has been earned by a women, or which hasbeen gained by meanness (such as giving false evidence in a court oflaw), should never be given to Brahmanas or spent in making offerings tothe Pitris. That Brahmana, O chief of Bharata’s race, who upon thecompletion of a Sraddha that is performed with his aid, refuses to utterthe words ‘astu swadha,’ incurs the sin of swearing falsely in a suit forland.[221] The time for performing Sraddha, O Yudhishthira, is that whenone obtains a good Brahmana and curds and ghee and the sacred day of thenew moon, and the meat of wild animals such as deer and others.[222] Uponthe completion of a Sraddha performed by a Brahmana the word Swadhashould be uttered. If performed by a Kshatriya the words that should beuttered are–Let thy Pitris be gratified.–Upon the completion of aSraddha performed by a Vaisya, O Bharata, the words that should beuttered are–Let everything become inexhaustible.–Similarly, upon theconclusion of a Sraddha performed by a Sudra, the word that should beuttered is Swasti,–In respect of a Brahmana, the declaration regardingPunyaham should be accompanied with the utterance of the syllable Om. Inthe case of a Kshatriya, such declaration should be without the utteranceof syllable Om. In the rites performed by a Vaisya, the words that shouldbe uttered, instead of beings the syllable Om, are,–Let the deities begratified.[223]–Listen now to me as I tell thee the rites that should beperformed, one after another, conformably to the ordinances, (in respectof all the orders). All the rites that go by the name of Jatakarma, OBharata, are indispensable in the case of all the three orders (that areregenerate). All these rites, O Yudhishthira, in the case of bothBrahmanas and Kshatriyas as also in that of Vaisyas are to be performedwith the aid of mantras. The girdle of a Brahmana should be made of Munjagrass. That for one belonging to the royal order should be a bowstring.The Vaisya’s girdle should be made of the Valwaji grass. Even this iswhat has been laid down in the scriptures. Listen now to me as I expoundto thee what constitutes the merits and faults of both givers andrecipients of gifts. A Brahmana becomes guilty of a dereliction of dutyby uttering a falsehood. Such an act on his part is sinful. A Kshatriyaincurs four times and a Vaisya eight times the sin that a Brahmana incursby uttering a falsehood. A Brahmana should not eat elsewhere, having beenpreviously invited by a Brahmana. By eating at the house of the personwhose invitation has been posterior in point of time, he becomes inferiorand even incurs the sin that attaches to the slaughter of an animal onoccasions other than those of sacrifices.[224] So also, if he eatselsewhere after having been invited by a person of the royal order or aVaisya, he falls away from his position and incurs half the sin thatattaches to the slaughter of an animal on occasions other than those ofsacrifices. That Brahmana, O king, who eats on occasions of such rites asare performed in honour of the deities or the Pitris by Brahmanas andKshatriyas and Vaisyas, without having performed his ablutions, incursthe sin of uttering an untruth for a cow. That Brahmana, O king, who eatson occasions of similar rites performed by persons belonging to the threehigher orders, at a time when he is impure in consequence either of abirth or a death among his cognates, through temptation, knowing wellthat he is impure incurs the same sin.[225] He who lives upon wealthobtained under false pretences like that of sojourns to sacred places orwho solicits the giver for wealth pretending that he would spend it inreligious acts, incurs, O monarch, the sin of uttering a falsehood.[226]That person, belonging to any of the three higher orders, O Yudhishthira,who at Sraddhas and on other occasions distributes food with the aid ofMantras, unto such Brahmanas as do not study the Vedas and as are notobservant of vows, or as have not purified their conduct, certainlyincurs sin.’

“Yudhishthira said,–‘I desire, O grandsire, to know by giving unto whomthe things dedicated to the deities and the Pitris, one may earn theamplest rewards.’

“Bhishma said,–‘Do thou, Yudhishthira, feed those Brahmanas whosespouses reverently wait for the remnants of the dishes of their husbandslike tillers of the soil waiting in reverence for timely showers of rain.One earn great merit by making gifts unto those Brahmanas that are alwaysobservant of pure conduct, O king, that are emaciated through abstentionfrom all luxuries and even full meals, that are devoted to theobservances of such vows as lead to the emaciation of the body, and thatapproach givers with the desire of obtaining gifts. By making gifts untosuch Brahmanas as regard conduct in this light of food, as regard conductin the light of spouses and children, as regard conduct in the light ofstrength, as regard conduct in the light of their refuge for crossingthis world and attaining to felicity in the next, and as solicit wealthonly when wealth is absolutely needed, one earns great merit. By makinggifts unto those persons, O Yudhishthira, that having lost everythingthrough thieves or oppressors, approach the giver, one acquires greatmerit.[227] By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as solicit food from thehands of even a poor person of their order who has just got somethingfrom others, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanasas have lost their all in times of universal distress and as have beendeprived of their spouses on such occasions, and as come to givers withsolicitations for alms, one acquires great merit. By making gifts untosuch Brahmanas as are observant of vows, and as place themselvesvoluntarily under painful rules and regulations, as are respectful intheir conduct to the declaration laid down in the Vedas, and as come tosolicit wealth for spending it upon the rites necessary to complete theirvows and other observances, one earns great merit. By making gifts untosuch Brahmanas as live at a great distance from the practices that areobserved by the sinful and the wicked, as are destitute of strength forwant of adequate support, and as are very poor in earthly possessions,one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as have beenrobbed of all their possessions by powerful men but as are perfectlyinnocent, and as desire to fill their stomachs any how without, that is,any scruples respecting the quality of the food they take, one earnsgreat merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as beg on behalf ofothers that are observant of penances and devoted to them and as aresatisfied with even small gifts, one earns great merit. Thou hast now, Obull of Bharata’s race, heard what the declarations are of the scripturesin respect of the acquisition of great merit by the making of gifts.Listen now to me as I expound what those acts are that lead to hell orheaven. They, O Yudhishthira, that speak an untruth on occasions otherthan those when such untruth is needed for serving the purpose of thepreceptor or for giving the assurance of safety to a person in fear ofhis life, sink into hell[228]. They who ravish other people’s spouses, orhave sexual congress with them, or assist at such acts of delinquency,sink in hell. They who rob others of their wealth or destroy the wealthand possessions of other people, or proclaim the faults of other people,sink in hell. They who destroy the containers of such pieces of water asare used by cattle for quenching thirst, as injure such buildings as areused for purposes of public meetings, as break down bridges andcauseways, and as pull down houses used for purposes of habitation, haveto sink to hell. They who beguile and cheat helpless women, or girls, oraged dames, or such women as have been frightened, have to sink to hell.They who destroy the means of other people’s living, they who exterminatethe habitations of other people, they who rob others of their spouses,they who sow dissensions among friends, and they who destroy the hopes ofother people, sink into hell. They who proclaim the faults of others,they who break down bridges or causeways, they who live by followingvocations laid down for other people, and they who are ungrateful tofriends for services received, have to sink in hell. They who have nofaith in the Vedas and show no reverence for them, they who break thevows made by themselves or oblige others to break them, and they who fallaway from their status through sin, sink in hell. They who betakethemselves to improper conduct, they who take exorbitant rates ofinterest, and they who make unduly large profits on sales, have to sinkin hell. They who are given to gambling, they who indulge in wicked actswithout any scruple, and they who are given to slaughter of livingcreatures, have to sink in hell. They who cause the dismissal by mastersof servants that are hoping for rewards or are expectant of definite needor are in the enjoyment of wages or salaries or are waiting for returnsin respect of valuable services already rendered, have to sink in hell.They who themselves eat without offering portions thereof unto theirspouse or their sacred fires or their servants or their guests, and theywho abstain from performing the rites laid down in the scriptures forhonouring the Pitris and deities, have to sink in hell. They who sell theVedas, they who find fault with the Vedas, and they who reduce the Vedasinto writing, have all to sink in hell.[229] They who are out of the paleof the four well-known modes of life, they who betake themselves topractices interdicted by the Srutis and the scriptures, and they who liveby betaking themselves to acts that are wicked or sinful or that do notbelong to their order of birth, have to sink in hell. They who live byselling hair, they who subsist by selling poisons, and they who live byselling milk, have to sink in hell. They who put obstacles in the path ofBrahmanas and kine and maidens, O Yudhishthira, have to sink in hell.They who sell weapons, they who forge weapons, they who make shafts, andthey who make bows, have to sink in hell. ‘I hey who obstruct paths androads with stones and thorns and holes have to sink in hell. They whoabandon and cast off preceptors and servants and loyal followers withoutany offence, O chief of Bharata’s race, have to sink in hell. They whoset bullocks to work before the animals attain to sufficient age, theywho bore the noses of bullocks and other animals for controlling them thebetter while employed in work, and they who keep animals always tethered,have to sink in hell. Those kings that do not protect their subjectswhile forcibly taking from them a sixth share of the produce of theirfields, and they who, though able and possessed of resources, abstainfrom making gifts, have to sink in hell. They who abandon and cast offpersons that are endued with forgiveness and self-restraint and wisdom,or those with whom they have associated for many years, when these are nolonger of services to them, have to sink in hell. Those men whothemselves eat without giving portions of the food to children and agedmen and servants, have to sink in hell.’

“‘All these men enumerated above have to go to hell. Listen now to me, Obull of Bharata’s race, as I tell thee who those men are that ascend toheaven. The man who transgresses against a Brahmana by impeding theperformances of all such acts in which the deities are adored, becomesafflicted with the loss of all his children and animals. (They who do nottransgress against Brahmanas by obstructing their religious acts ascendto heaven). Those men, O Yudhishthira, who follow the duties as laid downin the scriptures for them and practise the virtues of charity andself-restraint and truthfulness, ascend to heaven. Those men who havingacquired knowledge by rendering obedient services to their preceptors andobserving austere penances, become reluctant to accept gifts, succeed inascending to heaven. Those men through whom other people are relieved andrescued from fear and sin and the impediments that lie in the way of whatthey wish to accomplish and poverty and the afflictions of disease,succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who are endued with a forgivingdisposition, who are possessed of patience, who are prompt in performingall righteous acts, and who are of auspicious conduct, succeed inascending to heaven. Those men who abstain from honey and meat, whoabstain from sexual congress with the spouses of other people, and whoabstain from wines and spirituous liquors, succeed in ascending toheaven. Those men that help in the establishment of retreats forascetics, who become founders of families, O Bharata, who open up newcountries for purposes of habitation, and lay out towns and citiessucceed in ascending to heaven. Those men who give away cloths andornaments, as also food and drink, and who help in marrying others,succeed in ascending to heaven.[230] Those men that have abstained fromall kinds of injury or harm to all creatures, who are capable of enduringeverything, and who have made themselves the refuge of all creatures,succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who wait with humility upontheir fathers and mothers, who have subjugated their senses, and who areaffectionate towards their brothers, succeed in ascending to heaven.Those men that subjugate their senses notwithstanding the fact of theirbeing rich in worldly goods and strong in might and in the enjoyment ofyouth, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that are kind towardseven those that offend against them, that are mild of disposition, thathave an affection for all who are of mild behaviour, and that contributeto the happiness of others by rendering them every kind of service inhumility, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that protectthousands of people, that make gifts unto thousands of people, and thatrescue thousands of people from distress, succeed in ascending to heaven.Those men who make gifts of gold and of kine, O chief of Bharata’s race,as also those of conveyances and animals, succeed in ascending to heaven.Those men who make gifts of such articles as are needed in marriages, asalso those of serving men and maids, and cloths and robes, succeed inascending to heaven[231]. Those men who make public pleasure-houses andgardens and wells, resting houses and buildings for public meetings andtanks for enabling cattle and men to quench their thirst, and fields forcultivation, O Bharata, succeed in ascending to heaven.[232] Those menwho make gifts of houses and fields and populated villages unto personsthat solicit them, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who havingthemselves manufactured juicy drinks of sweet taste and seeds and paddyor rice, make gifts of them unto others succeed in ascending to heaven.Those men who being born in families high or low beget hundreds ofchildren and live long lives practising compassion and keeping wrathunder complete subjection, succeed in ascending to heaven. I have thusexpounded to thee, O Bharata, what the rites are in honour of the deitiesand the Pitris which are performed by people for the sake of the otherworld, what the ordinances are in respect of making gifts, and what theviews are of the Rishis of former times in respect of both the articlesof gift and the manner of giving them.'”

Chapter 22
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