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Chapter 61

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I wish to know in detail, O Bharata, where one meetswith the high rewards of gifts and sacrifices. Are those rewards earnedhere or are they to come hereafter? Which amongst these two (viz., Giftand Sacrifice) is said to be productive of superior merit? Unto whomshould gifts be made? In what manner are gifts and sacrifices to be made?When also are they to be made? I ask thee all these. O learned sire! Dothou discourse to me on the duty of gifts! Do tell me, O grandsire, whatleads to the highest reward, viz., gifts made from the sacrificialplatform or those made out of that place?[324]

‘Bhishma said, ‘O son, a Kshatriya is generally employed in deeds offierceness. In his case, sacrifices and gifts are regarded as cleansingor sanctifying him. They, that are good and righteous, do not accept thegifts of persons of the royal order, who are given to sinful acts. Forthis reason, the king should perform sacrifices with abundant gifts inthe form of Dakshina.[325] If the good and righteous would accept thegifts made unto them, the Kshatriya, O monarch, should incessantly makegifts with devotion and faith unto them. Gifts are productive of greatmerit, and are highly cleansing. Observant of vows, one should performsacrifices and gratify with wealth such Brahmanas as are friends of allcreatures, possessed of righteousness, conversant with the Vedas, andpreeminent for acts, conduct, and penances. If such Brahmanas do notaccept thy gifts, no merit becomes thine. Do thou perform sacrifices withcopious Dakshina, and make gifts of good and agreeable food unto thosethat are righteous. By making an act of gift thou shouldst regard thyselfas performing a sacrifice. Thou shouldst with gifts adore those Brahmanaswho perform sacrifices. By doing this thou will acquire a share in themerits of those sacrifices of theirs. Thou shouldst support suchBrahmanas as are possessed of children and as are capable of sendingpeople to Heaven. By conducting thyself in this way thou art sure to geta large progeny–in fact as large a progeny as the Prajapati himself.They that are righteous support and advance the cause of all righteousacts. One should, by giving up one’s all, support such men, as also thosethat do good unto all creatures. Thyself being in the enjoyment ofaffluence, do thou, O Yudhishthira, make unto Brahmanas gifts of kine andbullocks and food and umbrellas, and robes and sandals or shoes Do thougive unto sacrificing Brahmanas clarified butter, as also food and carsand vehicles with horses harnessed thereto, and dwelling houses andmansions and beds. Such gifts are fraught with prosperity and affluenceto the giver, and are regarded as pure, O Bharata. Those Brahmanas thatare not censurable for anything they do, and that have no means ofsupport assigned to them, should be searched out. Covertly or publicly dothou cherish such Brahmanas by assigning them the means of support. Suchconduct always confers higher benefit upon Kshatriyas than the Rajasuyaand the Horse-sacrifices. Cleansing thyself of sin, thou art sure ofattaining to Heaven. Filling thy treasury thou shouldst do good to thykingdom. By such conduct thou art sure to win much wealth and become aBrahmana (in thy next life). Do thou, O Bharata, protect thy own means(of support and of doing acts of righteousness), as also the means ofother people’s subsistence. Do thou support thy servants as thy ownchildren. Do thou, O Bharata, protect the Brahmanas in the enjoyment ofwhat they have and make gifts unto them of such articles as they havenot. Let thy life be devoted to the purpose of the Brahmanas. Let itnever be said that thou dost not grant protection to the Brahmanas. Muchwealth or affluence, when possessed by a Brahmana, becomes a source ofevil to him. Constant association with affluence and prosperity iscertain to fill him with pride and cause him to be stupefied (in respectof his true duties). If the Brahmanas become stupefied and steeped infolly, righteousness and duties are sure to suffer destruction. Withoutdoubt, if righteousness and duty come to an end, it will lead to thedestruction of all creatures. That king who having amassed wealth makesit over (for safe keep) to his treasury officers and guards, and thencommences again to plunder his kingdom, saying unto his officers, ‘Do yebring me as much wealth as you can extort from the kingdom,’ and whospends the wealth that is thus collected at his command undercircumstances of fear and cruelty, in the performance of sacrifices,should know that those sacrifices of his are never applauded by therighteous. The king should perform sacrifices with such wealth as iswillingly paid into his treasury by prosperous and unpersecuted subjects.Sacrifices should never be performed with wealth acquired by severity andextortion. The king should then perform great sacrifices with largepresents in the shape of Dakshina, when in consequence of his beingdevoted to the good of his subjects, the latter bathe him with copiousshowers of wealth brought willingly by them for the purpose. The kingshould protect the wealth of those that are old, of those that areminors, of those that are blind, and of those that are otherwisedisqualified. The king should never take any wealth from his people, ifthey, in a season of drought, succeed in growing any corn with the aid ofwater obtained from wells. Nor should he take any wealth from weepingwomen.[326] The wealth taken from the poor and the helpless is sure todestroy the kingdom and the prosperity of the king. The king shouldalways make unto the righteous gifts of all enjoyable articles inabundance. He should certainly dispel the fear of famishing which thosemen may have.[327] There are no men more sinful than those upon whosefood children look with wistfulness without being able to eat them duly.If within thy kingdom any learned Brahmana languishes with hunger likeany of those children, thou shalt then incur the sin of foeticide forhaving allowed such an act. King Sivi himself had said this, viz., ‘Fieon that king in whose kingdom a Brahmana or even any other man languishesfrom hunger.’ That kingdom in which a Brahmana of the Snataka classlanguishes with hunger becomes overwhelmed with adversity. Such a kingdomwith its king also incurs reproach. That king is more dead than alive inwhose kingdom women are easily abducted from the midst of husbands andsons, uttering cries and groans of indignation and grief The subjectsshould arm themselves to slay that King who does not protect them, whosimply plunders their wealth, who confounds all distinctions, who is everincapable of taking their lead, who is without compassion, and who isregarded as the most sinful of kings. That king who tells his people thathe is their protector but who does not or is unable to protect them,should be slain by his combined subjects, like a dog that is affectedwith the rabies and has become mad. A fourth part of whatever sins arecommitted by the subjects clings to that king who does not protect, OBharata. Some authorities say that the whole of those sins is taken bysuch a king. Others are of opinion that a half thereof becomes his.Bearing in mind, however, the declaration of Manu, it is our opinion thata fourth part of such sins becomes the unprotecting king’s. That king, OBharata, who grants protection to his subjects obtains a fourth part ofwhatever merits his subjects acquire living under his protection. Dothou, O Yudhishthira, act in such a way that all thy subjects may seekthee as their refuge as long as thou art alive, even as all creaturesseek the refuge of the deity of rain or even as the winged denizens ofthe air seek the refuge of a large tree. Let all thy kinsmen and all thyfriends and well-wishers, O scorcher of foes, seek thee as their refugeeven as the Rakshasas seek Kuvera or the deities seek Indra as theirs.'”



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