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Chapter 33

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Which act, O grandsire, is the foremost of all thosethat have been laid down for a king? What is that act by doing which aking succeeds in enjoying both this world and the next?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Even this viz., the worship of the Brahmanas, is theforemost of all those act, O Bharata, which have been laid down for aking duly installed on the throne, if, indeed, he is desirous ofobtaining great happiness. Even this is what the foremost of all kingsshould do. Know this well, O chief of Bharata’s race. The king shouldalways worship with reverence all righteous Brahmanas possessed of Vediclore.[255] The king should, with bows and comforting speeches and giftsof all articles of enjoyment, worship all Brahmanas possessed of greatlearning who may dwell in his city or provinces. This is the foremost ofall acts laid down for the king. Indeed, the king should always keep hiseyes fixed on this. He should protect and cherish these, even as heprotects his own self or his own children. The king should worship withgreater reverence those amongst the Brahmanas that may be worthy of it(for their superior sanctity and learning). When such men are freed fromall anxiety, the whole kingdom blazes forth in beauty. Such individualsare worthy of adoration. Unto such the king should bow his head. Verily,they should be honoured, even as one honours one’s sires and grandsires.Upon them depends the course of conduct followed by men, even as theexistence of all creatures depends upon Vasava. Of prowess incapable ofbeing baffled and endued with great energy, such men, if enraged, arecapable of consuming the entire kingdom to ashes by only fiat of theirwill, or by acts of incantation, or by other means (derived from thepower of penance). I do not see anything that can destroy them. Theirpower seems to be uncontrolled, being capable of reaching to the farthestend of the universe. When angry, their glances fall upon men and thingslike a blazing flame of fire upon a forest. The most courageous men arestruck with fear at their men. Their virtues and powers are extraordinaryand immeasurable. Some amongst them are like wells and pits with mouthscovered by grass and creepers, while others resemble the firmamentcleared of clouds and darkness. Some amongst them are of fiercedispositions (like Durvasas and others of that stamp). Some are as mildand soft in disposition as cotton (like Gautama and others). Some amongstthem are very cunning (like Agastya who devoured the Asura Vatapi, andRishis of that class). Some amongst them are devoted to the practice ofpenances. Some amongst them are employed in agricultural pursuits (likethe preceptor of Uddalaka). Some amongst them are engaged in the keep ofkine (as Upamanyu while attending his preceptor). Some amongst them liveupon eleemosynary alms. Some amongst them are even thieves (like Valmikiin his early years and Viswamitra during a famine). Some amongst them arefond of fomenting quarrels and disputes (like Narada). Some, again,amongst them are actors and dancers (like Bharata). Some amongst them arecompetent to achieve all feats, ordinary and extraordinary (like Agastyadrinking up the entire ocean, as if it were a palmful of water). TheBrahmanas, O chief of Bharata’s race are of diverse aspects andbehaviour. One should always utter the praises of the Brahmanas who areconversant with all duties, who are righteous of behaviour, who aredevoted to diverse kinds of act, and who are seen to derive theirsustenance from diverse kinds of occupations.[256] The Brahmanas, O rulerof men, who are highly blessed, are elder in respect of their origin thanthe Pitris, the deities, human beings (belonging to the three otherorders), the Snakes and the Rakshasas. These regenerate persons areincapable of being vanquished by the deities or the Pitris, or theGandharvas or the Rakshasas, or the Asuras or the Pisachas. The Brahmanasare competent to make him a deity that is not a deity They can, again,divest one that is a deity of his status as such. He becomes a king whomthey wish to make a king. He, on the other hand, goes to the wall whomthey do not love or like. I tell thee truly, O king, that those foolishpersons, without doubt, meet with destruction who calumniate theBrahmanas and utter their dispraise. Skilled in praise and dispraise, andthemselves the origin or cause of other people’s fame and ignominy theBrahmanas, O king, always become angry with those that seek to injureothers. That man whom the Brahmanas praise succeeds in growing inprosperity. That man who is censured and is cast off by the Brahmanassoon meets with discomfiture. It is in consequence of the absence ofBrahmanas from among them that the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas andother Kshatriya tribes have become fallen and degraded into the status ofSudras. The Dravidas, the Kalingas, the Pulandas, the Usinaras, theKolisarpas, the Mahishakas and other Kshatriyas, have, in consequence ofthe absence of Brahmanas from among their midst, become degraded intoSudras. Defeat at their hands is preferable to victory over them, Oforemost of victorious persons. One slaying all other living creatures inthe world does not incur a sin so heinous as that of slaying a singleBrahmana. The great Rishis have said that Brahmanicide is a heinous sin.One should never utter the dispraise or calumny of the Brahmanas. Wherethe dispraise of Brahmanas is uttered, one should sit with face hangingdown or leave that spot (for avoiding both the utterer and his words).That man has not as yet been born in this world or will not take birthhere, who has been or will be able to pass his life in happiness afterquarrelling with the Brahmanas. One cannot seize the wind with one’shands. One cannot touch the moon with one’s hand. One cannot support theEarth on one’s arms. After the same manner, O king, one is not able tovanquish the Brahmanas in this world.'”

Chapter 32
Chapter 34
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