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Chapter 60

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Unto which of two Brahmanas, when both happen to beequally pure in behaviour, equally possessed of learning and purity, ofbirth and blood, but differing from each other in only this, viz., theone solicits and the other does not,–I ask, O grandsire, unto which ofthese two would a gift be more meritorious?”

“Bhishma said, ‘It has been said. O son of Pritha, that a gift made untoan unsoliciting person is productive of greater merit than one made to aperson who solicits. One possessed of contentment is certainly moredeserving than that person who is destitute of that virtue and is,therefore, helpless amidst the storms and buffets of the world. Thefirmness of a Kshatriya consists in the protection he gives to others.The firmness of a Brahmana consists in his refusal to solicit. TheBrahmana possessed of steadiness and learning and contentment gladdensthe deities. The wise have said that an act of solicitation on the partof a poor man is a great reproach. Those persons that solicit others aresaid to annoy the world like thieves and robbers.[323] The person whosolicits is said to meet with death. The giver, however, is said not tomeet with death. The giver is said to grant life unto him who solicits.By an act of gift, O Yudhishthira, the giver is said to rescue his ownself also. Compassion is a very high virtue. Let people make gift fromcompassion unto those that solicit. Those, however, that do not beg, butare plunged into poverty and distress should be respectfully invited toreceive assistance. If such Brahmanas, who must be regarded as theforemost of their order, live in thy kingdom, thou shouldst regard themas fire covered with ashes. Blazing with penances, they are capable ofconsuming the whole earth. Such persons, O son of Kuru’s race, though notgenerally worshipped, should still be regarded as deserving of worship inevery way. Endued with knowledge and spiritual vision and penances andYoga, such persons always deserve our worship. O scorcher of foes, dothou always offer worship unto such Brahmanas. One should repair of one’sown accord unto those foremost of Brahmanas that do not solicit anybodyand make unto them gifts of diverse kinds of wealth in abundance. Themerit that flows from properly pouring libations into the sacred fireevery morning and evening is won by the person who makes gifts unto aBrahmana endued with learning, with the Vedas and with high and excellentvows. Thou shouldst, O son of Kunti, invite those foremost of Brahmanaswho are cleansed by learning and the Vedas and vows, who live inindependence, whose Vedic studies and penances are hidden without beingproclaimed from the house-top, and who are observant of excellent vows,and honour them with gifts of well-constructed and delightful housesequipped with servitors and robes and furniture, and with all otherarticles of pleasure and enjoyment. Conversant with all duties andpossessed of minute vision, those foremost of Brahmanas, O Yudhishthira,may accept the gifts offered to them with devotion and respect, thinkingthat they should not refuse and disappoint the giver. Thou shouldstinvite those Brahmanas whose wives wait for their return like tillers inexpectation of rain. Having fed them well thou shouldst make gifts ofadditional food unto them so that upon their return home their expectantwives might be able to distribute that food among their children that hadclamoured for food but that had been pacified with promises Brahmacharinsof restrained senses, O son, by eating at one’s house in the forenoon,cause the three sacrificial fires to be gratified with the householder atwhose house they eat. Let the sacrifice of gift proceed in thy house atmidday, O son, and do thou also give away kine and gold and robes (untothy guests after feeding them well). By conducting thyself, in this way,thou art sure to gratify the chief of the celestials himself. That wouldconstitute thy third sacrifice, O Yudhishthira, in which offerings aremade unto the deities, the Pitris, and the Brahmanas. By such sacrificethou art sure to gratify the Viswedevas. Let compassion unto allcreatures, giving unto all creatures what is due unto them, restrainingthe senses, renunciation, steadiness, and truth, constitute the finalbath of that sacrifice which is constituted by gift. Even this is thesacrifice that is spread out for thee,–a sacrifice that is sanctified bydevotion and faith, and that has a large Dakshina attached to it. Thissacrifice which is constituted by gift is distinguished above all othersacrifices, O son, let this sacrifice be always performed by thee.'”

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