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Chapter 77

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘King Yudhishthira endued with humility, once againquestioned the royal son of Santanu on the subject of gifts of kine indetail.’

“The king said, ‘Do thou, O Bharata, once more discourse to me in detailon the merits of giving away kine. Verily, O hero, I have not beensatiated with hearing thy nectar-like words!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by king Yudhishthira the just,Santanu’s son began to discourse to him once again, in detail on themerits attaching to the gift of kine.’

“Bhishma said, ‘By giving unto a Brahmana a cow possessed of a calf,endued with docility and other virtues, young in years, and wrapped roundwith a piece of cloth, one becomes cleansed of all one’s sins. There aremany regions (in Hell) which are sunless. One who makes the gift of a cowhas not to go thither. That man, however, who gives unto a Brahmana a cowthat is incapable of drinking or eating, that has her milk dried up, thatis endued with senses all of which have been weakened, and that isdiseased and overcome with decrepitude, and that may, therefore, belikened to a tank whose water has been dried up,–indeed, the man whogives such a cow unto a Brahmana and thereby inflicts only pain anddisappointment upon him, has certainly to enter into dark Hell. That cowwhich is wrathful and vicious, or diseased, or weak or which has beenpurchased without the price agreed upon having been paid,–or which wouldonly afflict the regenerate recipient with distress and disappointment,should never be given. The regions such a man may acquire (as the rewardsof other acts of righteousness performed by him) would fail to give himany happiness or impart to him any energy. Only such kine as are strong,endued with good behaviour, young in years, and possessed of fragrance,are applauded by all (in the matter of gift). Verily, as Ganga is theforemost of all rivers, even so is a Kapila cow the foremost of all kine.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Why, O grandsire, do the righteous applaud the giftof a Kapila cow (as more meritorious) when all good kine that are givenaway should be regarded as equal? O thou of great puissance, I wish tohear what the distinction is that attaches to a Kapila cow. Thou art,verily, competent to discourse to me on this topic!'[371]

“Bhishma said, ‘I have, O son, heard old men recite this historyrespecting the circumstances under which the Kapila cow was created. Ishall recite that old history to thee! In days of yore, the Self-bornBrahman commanded the Rishi Daksha, saying,–Do thou create livingcreatures! From desire of doing good to creatures, Daksha, in the firstinstance, created food. Even as the deities exist, depending upon nectar,all living creatures, O puissant one, live depending upon the sustenanceassigned by Daksha. Among all objects mobile and immobile, the mobile aresuperior. Among mobile creatures Brahmanas are superior. The sacrificesare all established upon them. It is by sacrifice that Soma (nectar) isgot. Sacrifice has been established upon kine.[372] The gods becomegratified through sacrifices. As regards the Creation then, the means ofsupport came first, creatures came next. As soon as creatures were born,they began to cry aloud for food. All of them then approached theircreator who was to give them food like children approaching their fatheror mother. Knowing the intention which moved all his creatures, the holylord of all creatures, viz., Daksha, for the sake of the beings he hadcreated, himself drank a quantity of nectar. He became gratified with thenectar he quaffed and thereupon an eructation came out, diffusing anexcellent perfume all around. As the result of that eructation. Dakshasaw that it gave birth to a cow which he named Surabhi. This Surabhi wasthus a daughter of his, that had sprung from his mouth. The cow calledSurabhi brought forth a number of daughters who came to be regarded asthe mothers of the world. Their complexion was like that of gold, andthey were all Kapilas. They were the means of sustenance for allcreatures. As those kine, whose complexion resembled that of Amrita,began to pour milk, the froth of that milk arose and began to spread onevery side, even as when the waves of a running stream dashing againstone another, copious froth is produced that spreads on every side. Someof that froth fell, from the mouths of the calves that were sucking, uponthe head of Mahadeva who was then sitting on the Earth. The puissantMahadeva thereupon, filled with wrath, cast his eyes upon those kine.With that third eye of his which adorns his forehead, he seemed to burnthose kine as he looked at them. Like the Sun tingeing masses of cloudswith diverse colours the energy that issued from the third eye ofMahadeva produced, O monarch, diverse complexion in those kine. Thoseamongst them, however, which succeeded in escaping from the glance ofMahadeva by entering the region of Soma, remained of the same colour withwhich they were born, for no change was produced in their complexion.Seeing that Mahadeva had become exceedingly angry; Daksha, the lord ofall creatures, addressed him, saying–Thou hast, O great deity, beendrenched with nectar. The milk or the froth that escapes from the mouthsof calves sucking their dams is never regarded as impure remnant.[373]Chandramas, after drinking the nectar, pours it once more. It is not,however, on that account, looked upon as impure. After the same manner,the milk that these kine yield, being born of nectar, should not beregarded as impure (even though the udders have been touched by thecalves with their mouths). The wind can never become impure. Fire cannever become impure. Gold can never become impure. The Ocean can neverbecome impure. The Nectar, even when drunk by the deities, can neverbecome impure. Similarly, the milk of a cow, even when her udders aresucked by her calf, can never become impure. These kine will support allthese worlds with the milk they will yield and the ghee that will bemanufactured therefrom. All creatures wish to enjoy the auspiciouswealth, identifiable with nectar, that kine possess!–Having said thesewords, the lord of creatures, Daksha, made a present unto Mahadeva of abull with certain kine. Daksha gratified the heart of Rudra, O Bharata,with that present, Mahadeva, thus gratified, made that bull his vehicle.And it was after the form of that bull that Mahadeva adopted the deviceon the standard floating on his battle-car. For this reason it is thatRudra came to be known as the bull-bannered deity. It was on thatoccasion also that the celestials, uniting together, made Mahadeva thelord of animals. Indeed, the great Rudra became the Master of kine and isnamed as the bull-signed deity. Hence, O king, in the matter of givingaway kine, the gift is regarded as primarily desirable of Kapila kinewhich are endued with great energy and possessed of colour unchanged(from white). Thus are kine, the foremost of all creatures in the world.It is from them that the means have flowed of the sustenance of all theworlds. They have Rudra for their master. They yield Soma (nectar) in theform of milk. They are auspicious and sacred, and grantors of every wishand givers of life. A person by making a gift of a cow come to beregarded as making a gift of every article that is desired to be enjoyedby men. That man who, desiring to attain to prosperity, reads with a pureheart and body these verses on the origin of kine, becomes cleansed ofall his sins and attains to prosperity and children and wealth andanimals. He who makes a gift of a cow, O king, always succeeds inacquiring the merits that attach to gifts of Havya and Kavya, to theoffer of oblations of water unto the Pitris, to other religious actswhose performance brings peace and happiness, to the gift of vehicles andcloths, and to the cherishing of children and the old.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of his grandsire, Pritha’sson, viz., the royal Yudhishthira of Ajamida’s race, uniting with hisbrothers, began to make gifts of both bulls and kine of different coloursunto foremost of Brahmanas. Verily, for the purpose of subduing regionsof felicity in the next, and winning great fame, king Yudhishthiraperformed many sacrifices and, as sacrificial presents, gave awayhundreds of thousands of kine unto such Brahmanas.'”

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