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Chapter 58

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I desire, O chief of the Bharatas, to hear from theewhat the rewards are which are attached, O best of the Kurus, to theplanting of trees and the digging of tanks.’

“Bhishma said, ‘A piece of land that is agreeable to the sight, fertile,situate in the midst of delightful scenes adorned with diverse kinds ofmetals, and inhabited by all sorts of creatures, is regarded as theforemost of sports. A particular portion of such land should be selectedfor digging a tank. I shall tell thee, in due order, about the differentkinds of tanks. I shall also tell thee what the merits also are thatattach to the digging of tanks (with the view of drawing water for thebenefit of all creatures). The man who causes a tank to be dug becomesentitled to the respect and worship of the three worlds. A tank full ofwater is as agreeable and beneficial as the house of a friend. It isgratifying to Surya himself. It also contributes to growth to thedeities. It is the foremost of all things that lead to fame (with respectto the person who causes it to be excavated). The wise have said that theexcavation of a tank contributes to the aggregate of three,Righteousness, Wealth and Pleasure. A tank is said to be properlyexcavated, if it is made on a piece of land that is inhabited byrespectable persons. A tank is said to be subservient to all the fourpurposes of living creatures. Tanks, again, are regarded as constitutingthe excellent beauty of a country. The deities and human beings andGandharvas and Pitris and Uragas and Rakshasas and even immobilebeings–all resort to a tank full of water as their refuge. I shall,therefore, tell thee what the merits are that have been said by greatRishis to be attached to tanks, and what the rewards are that areattainable by persons that cause them to be excavated. The wise have saidthat that man reaps the merit of an Agnihotra sacrifice in whose tankwater is held in the season of the rains. The high reward in the worldthat is reaped by the person who makes a gift of a thousand kine is wonby that man in whose tank water is held in the season of autumn. Theperson in whose tank water occurs in the cold season acquires the meritof one who performs a sacrifice with plentiful gifts of gold. That personin whose tanks water occurs in the season of dew, wins, the wise havesaid, the merits of an Agnishtoma sacrifice. That man in whose well-madetank water occurs in the season of spring acquires the merit of theAtiratra sacrifice. That man in whose tank water occurs in the season ofsummer acquires, the Rishis say, the merits that attach to ahorse-sacrifice. That man rescues all his race in whose tank kine areseen to allay their thirst and from which righteous men draw their water.That man in whose tank kine slake their thirst as also other animals andbirds, and human beings, acquires the merits of a horse-sacrifice.Whatever measure of water is drunk from one’s tank and whatever measureis taken therefrom by others for purposes of bathing, all become storedfor the benefit of the excavator of the tank and he enjoys the same forunending days in the next world. Water, especially in the other world, isdifficult to obtain, O son. A gift of drink produces eternal happiness.Make gifts of sesame here. Make gifts of water. Do thou also give lamps(for lighting dark places.) While alive and awake, do thou sport inhappiness with kinsmen. These are acts which thou shalt not be able toachieve in the other world.[315] The gift of drink, O chief of men, issuperior to every other gift. In point of merit it is distinguished aboveall other gifts. Therefore, do thou make gifts of water. Even thus havethe Rishis declared what the high merits of the excavation of tanks are Ishall now discourse to thee on the planting of trees. Of immobile objectssix classes have been spoken of. They are Vrikshas, Gulmas, Latas,Vallis, Twaksaras, and Trinas of diverse kinds.[316] These are theseveral kinds of vegetables. Listen now to the merit that attaches totheir planting. By planting trees one acquires fame in the world of menand auspicious rewards in the world hereafter. Such a man is applaudedand reverenced in the world of the Pitris. Such a man’s name does notperish even when he becomes a citizen of the world of deities. The manwho plants trees rescues the ancestors and descendants of both hispaternal and maternal lines. Do thou, therefore, plant trees, OYudhishthira! The trees that a man plants become the planter’s children.There is no doubt about this. Departing from this world, such a manascends to Heaven. Verily many eternal regions of bliss become his. Treesgratify the deities by their flowers; the Pitris by their fruits; and allguests and strangers by the shadow they give. Kinnaras and Uragas andRakshasas and deities and Gandharvas and human beings, as also Rishis,all have recourse to trees as their refuge. Trees that bear flowers andfruits gratify all men. The planter of trees is rescued in the next worldby the trees he plants like children rescuing their own father.Therefore, the man that is desirous of achieving his own good, shouldplant trees by the side of tanks and cherish them like his own children.The trees that a man plants are, according to both reason and thescriptures, the children of the planter. That Brahmana who excavates atank, and he that plants trees, and he that performs sacrifices, are allworshipped in heaven even as men that are devoted to truthfulness ofspeech. Hence one should cause tanks to be excavated and trees to beplanted, worship the deities in diverse sacrifices, and speak the truth.'”

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