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Chapter 37

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Which amongst these three persons, O grandsire,should be regarded as the best for making gifts unto, viz., one who is athorough stranger, or one who is living with and who has been known tothe giver for a long time, or one who presents himself before the giver,coming from a long distance?’

“Bhishma said, ‘All these are equal. The eligibility of some consists intheir soliciting alms for performing sacrifices or for paying thepreceptor’s fee or for maintaining their spouses and children. Theeligibility of some for receiving gifts, consists in their following thevow of wandering over the earth, never soliciting anything but receivingwhen given. We should also give unto one what one seeks.[268] We should,however, make gifts without afflicting those that depend upon us. Eventhis is what we have heard. By afflicting one’s dependants, one afflictsone’s own self. The stranger,–one, that is, who has come for the firsttime,–should be regarded as a proper object of gifts. He who is familiarand well-known and has been living with the giver, should be regarded inthe same light. The learned know that he too who comes from a distantplace should be regarded in an equal light.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘It is true that we should make gifts unto otherswithout afflicting anyone and without doing violence to the ordinances ofthe scriptures. One should, however, correctly ascertain who the personis that should be regarded as a proper object for making gifts. He shouldbe such that the gift itself, by being made over to him, may notgrieve.'[269]

“Bhishma said, ‘If the Ritwik, the Purohita, the preceptor, the Acharya,the disciple, the relative (by marriage), and kinsmen, happen to bepossessed of learning and free from malice, then should they be deemedworthy of respect and worship. Those persons that do not possess suchqualifications cannot be regarded as worthy of gifts or hospitality.Hence, one should with deliberation examine persons with whom one comesinto contact. Absence of wrath, truthfulness of speech, abstention frominjury, sincerity, peacefulness of conduct, the absence of pride,modesty, renunciation, self-restraint, and tranquillity or contentment ofsoul, he in whom these occur by nature, and in whom there are no wickedacts, should be regarded as a proper object. Such a person deserveshonours. Whether the person he one who is well-known and familiar, or onewho has come newly, whether he has not been seen before, if he happens topossess these qualifications, he should be regarded as worthy of honoursand hospitality. He who denies the authority of the Vedas, or strives toshow that the scriptures should be disregarded, or approves of allbreaches or restraint in society,–simply brings about his own ruin (andshould not be regarded as worthy of gifts). That Brahmana who is vain ofhis learning, who speaks ill of the Vedas or who is devoted to thescience of useless disputation, or who is desirous of gaining victory (indisputations) in assemblies of good men by disproving the reasons thatexist for morality and religion and ascribing everything to chance, orwho indulges in censuring and reproaching others or who reprovesBrahmanas, or who is suspicious of all persons, or who is foolish andbereft of judgment, or who is bitter of speech, should be known to be ashateful as a dog. As a dog encounters others, barking the while andseeking to bite, such a person is even so, for he spends his breath invain and seeks to destroy the authority of all the scriptures. Thosepractices that support society, the duties of righteousness, and allthose acts which are productive of benefit to one’s own self, should beattended to. A person that lives, attending to these, grows in prosperityfor everlasting time. By paying off the debt one owes to the deities byperforming sacrifices, that to the Rishis by studying the Vedas, that tothe Pitris by procreating children, that to the Brahmanas by makingpresents unto them and that to guests by feeding them, in due order, andwith purity of intention, and properly attending to the ordinances of thescriptures, a householder does not fall away from righteousness.'”[270]

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