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Chapter 57

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Hearing thy words I become stupefied, O grandsire!Reflecting that the earth is now destitute of a very large number ofkings all of whom were possessed of great prosperity, my heart becomesfilled with grief. Having conquered the earth and acquired kingdomsnumbered by hundreds, O Bharata, I turn with grief, O Grandsire, at thethought of the millions of men I have slaughtered. Alas, what will be theplight of those foremost ladies who have been deprived by us of husbandsand sons and maternal uncles and brothers? Having slain those Kurus–ourkinsmen, that is, our friends and well-wishers,–we shall have to sink inhell, beads (hanging) downwards. There is no doubt of this. I desire, OBharata, to address my body to severe penances. With that end in view, Oking, I wish to receive instructions from thee.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The high-souled Bhishma, hearing these words ofYudhishthira, reflected upon them acutely with the aid of hisunderstanding, and addressed Yudhishthira in reply.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Hear what I say unto thee. It is exceedingly wonderful,and constitutes a great mystery. The topic is the object that creaturesobtain after death as the rewards of particular acts or courses ofconduct they follow. One attains to Heaven by penances. By penances oneattains to fame. By penances, O puissant king, one attains to length oflife and all articles of enjoyment. By penances one attains to knowledge,to science, to health and freedom from disease, beauty of person,prosperity, and blessedness, O chief of Bharata’s race. By penances oneattains to wealth. By observing the vow of taciturnity one succeeds inbringing the whole world under one’s sway. By making gifts one acquiresall kinds of enjoyable articles. By observing the right of Diksha oneacquires birth in a good and high family. Those that spend their livessubsisting only upon fruits and roots (and avoiding cooked food) succeedin obtaining kingdom and sovereignty. Those that live upon the leaves ofplants and trees as their food succeed in attaining to heaven. One thatsubsists upon water only attains to heaven. By making gifts one simplyincreases one’s wealth. By serving with reverence one’s preceptor oneacquires learning. By performing Sraddhas every day in honour of one’sPitris (manes), one acquires a large number of children. By observingDiksha upon potherbs and vegetables, one acquires a large number of kine.Those that subsist upon grass and straw succeed in attaining to heaven.By bathing thrice every day with the necessary rites one acquires a largenumber of spouses. By drinking water alone one acquires residence in theregions of Prajapati. The Brahmana, who bathes every day and recitessacred Mantras in the twilights, becomes possessed of the status ofDaksha himself. By worshipping the deities in a wilderness or desert, oneacquires a kingdom or sovereignty, and by observing the vow of castingoff the body by a long fast, one ascends to Heaven. One possessed of thewealth of penances and always passing his days in Yoga obtains good bedsand seats and vehicles. Casting off the body by entering a blazing fire,one becomes an object of reverence in the region of Brahman. Those thatlie on the hard and bare ground acquire houses and beds. Those thatclothe themselves in rags and barks obtain good robes and ornaments. Byavoiding the several agreeable tastes one succeeds in acquiring greatprosperity. By abstaining from meat and fish, one gets long-livedchildren. One who passes some time in that mode of life which is calledUdavasa, becomes the very lord of Heaven. The man who speaks the truth, Obest of men, succeeds in sporting happily with the deities themselves. Bymaking gifts one acquires great fame in consequence of one’s highachievements. By abstention from cruelty one acquires health and freedomfrom disease. By serving Brahmanas with reverence one attains to kingdomand sovereignty, and the high status of a Brahmana. By making gifts ofwater and other drinks, one acquires eternal fame in consequence of highachievements. By making gifts of food one acquires diverse articles ofenjoyment. One who gives peace unto all creatures (by refraining fromdoing them any injury), becomes freed from every region. By serving thedeities one obtains a kingdom and celestial beauty. By presenting lightsat places which are dark and frequented by men, one acquires a goodvision. By giving away good and beautiful objects one acquires a goodmemory and understanding. By giving away scents and garlands, oneacquires fame that spreads over a large area. Those who abstain fromshaving off their hair and beards succeed in obtaining excellentchildren.. By observing fasts and Diksha and baths, O Bharata, for twelveyears (according to the ordinance), one acquires a region that issuperior to that attainable by unreturning heroes. By bestowing one’sdaughter on an eligible bridegroom according to the Brahma form, oneobtains, O best of men, male and female slaves and ornaments and fieldsand houses. By performing sacrifices and observing fasts, one ascends toHeaven, O Bharata. The man who gives away fruits and flowers succeeds inacquiring auspicious knowledge. The man who gives a thousand kine withhorns adorned with gold, succeeds in acquiring heaven. Even this has beensaid by the very deities in a conclave in heaven. One who gives away aKapila cow with her calf, with a brazen pot of milking with horns adornedwith gold, and possessed of diverse other accomplishments, obtains thefruition of all his wishes from that cow. Such a person, in consequenceof that act of gift, resides in heaven for as many years as there arehairs on the body of the cow and rescues in the next world (from themisery of hell) his sons and grandsons and all his race to the seventhdegree.[314] The regions of the Vasus become attainable to that man whogives away a cow with horns beautifully decorated with gold, accompaniedwith a brazen jar for milking, along with a piece of cloth embroideredwith gold, a measure of sesame and a sum of money as Dakshina. A gift ofkine rescues the giver in the next world then he finds himself fallinginto the deep darkness of hell and restrained by his own acts in thisworld, like a boat with sails that have caught the air rescuing a personfrom being drowned in the sea. He who bestows a daughter according to theBrahma form upon an eligible person, or who makes a gift of land unto aBrahmana, or who gives food (to a Brahmana) according to due rites,succeeds in attaining to the region of Purandara. That man who makes agift of a house, equipped with every kind of furniture, unto a Brahmanagiven to Vedic studies and possessed of every accomplishment and goodbehaviour, acquires residence in the country of the Uttara-Kurus. Bymaking gifts of draft bullocks, a person acquires the region of theVasus. Gifts of gold lead to heaven. Gifts of pure gold lead to greatermerit still. By making a gift of an umbrella one acquires a palatialmansion. By making a gift of a pair of sandals or shoes one acquires goodvehicles. The reward attached to a gift of cloths is personal beauty, andby making gifts of scents one becomes a fragrant person in one’s nextlife. One who gives flowers and fruits and plants and trees unto aBrahmana, acquires, without any labour, palatial mansion equipped withbeautiful women and full of plenty of wealth. The giver of food and drinkof different tastes and of other articles of enjoyment succeeds inacquiring a copious supply of such articles. The giver, again, of housesand cloths gets articles of a similar kind. There is no doubt about it.That person who makes gifts of garlands and incense and scents andunguents and the articles needed by men after a bath, and floral wreaths,unto Brahmanas, becomes freed from every disease and possessed ofpersonal beauty, sports in joy in the region reserved for great kings.The man, O king, who makes unto a Brahmana the gift of a house that isstored with grain, furnished with beds full of much wealth, auspicious,and delightful, acquires a palatial residence. He who gives unto aBrahmana a good bed perfumed with fragrant scents, overlaid with anexcellent sheet, and equipped with pillows, wins without any effort onhis part a beautiful wife, belonging to a high family and of agreeablemanners. The man who takes to a hero’s bed on the field of battle becomesthe equal of the Grandsire Brahman himself. There is no end higher thanthis. Even this is what the great Rishis have declared.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of his grandfather,Yudhishthira, the delighter of the Kurus, became desirous of the end thatis reserved for heroes and no longer expressed any disgust at leading ahouseholder’s mode of life. Then, O foremost of men, Yudhishthira,addressing all the other sons of Pandu, said unto them, ‘Let the wordswhich our grandfather has said command your faith.’ At this, all thePandavas with the famous Draupadi amongst them, applauded the words ofYudhishthira and said, ‘Yes’.'”

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