Chapter 182

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “O son of Kuru, they, Yudhishthira and others, havingreached the forest of Kamyaka, were, hospitably received by hosts ofsaints and they lived together with Krishna. And while the sons of Panduwere dwelling in security in that place, many Brahmanas came to wait uponthem. And a certain Brahmana said, ‘He the beloved friend of Arjuna, ofpowerful arms and possessed of self control, descendant of Sura, of alofty intellect, will come, for, O ye foremost of the descendants ofKuru, Hari knows that ye have arrived here. For, Hari has always alonging for your sight and always seeks your welfare. And Markandeya, wholived very many years devoted to great austerities, given to study andpenance, will erelong come and meet you.’ And the very moment that he wasuttering these words, there was beheld Krishna, coming thitherward upon acar unto which were yoked the horses Saivya and Sugriva,–he the best ofthose that ride on cars, accompanied by Satyabhama, is like Indra bySachi, the daughter of Pulaman. And the son of Devaki came, desirous tosee those most righteous of the descendants of Kuru. And the sagaciousKrishna, having alighted from the car, prostrated himself, with pleasurein his heart, before the virtuous king, in the prescribed way, and alsobefore Bhima, that foremost of powerful men. And he paid his respects toDhaumya, while the twin brothers prostrated themselves to him. And heembraced Arjuna of the curly hair; and spoke words of solace to thedaughter of Drupada. And the descendant of the chief of the Dasarahatribe, that chastiser of foes, when he saw the beloved Arjuna come nearhim, having seen him after a length of time, clasped him again and again.And so too Satyabhama also, the beloved consort of Krishna, embraced thedaughter of Drupada, the beloved wife of the sons of Pandu. Then thesesons of Pandu, accompanied by their wife and priests, paid their respectsto Krishna, whose eyes resembled the white lotus and surrounded him onall sides. And Krishna, when united with Arjuna, the son of Pritha, thewinner of riches and the terror of the demons assumed a beauty comparableto that of Siva, the magnanimous lord of all created beings, when he, themighty lord, is united with Kartikeya (his son). And Arjuna, who bore acirclet of crowns on his head, gave an account of what had happened tohim in the forest to Krishna, the elder brother of Gada. And Arjunaasked, saying, ‘How is Subhadra, and her son Abhimanyu?’ And Krishna, theslayer of Madhu, having paid his respects in the prescribed form to theson of Pritha, and to the priest, and seating himself with them there,spoke to king Yudhishthira, in words of praise. And he said, ‘O king,Virtue is preferable to the winning of kingdoms; it is, in fact, practiceof austerities! By you who have obeyed with truth and candour what yourduty prescribed, have been won both this world and that to come! Firstyou have studied, while performing religious duties; having acquired in asuitable way the whole science of arms, having won wealth by pursuing themethods prescribed for the military caste, you have celebrated all thetime-honoured sacrificial rites. You take no delight in sensualpleasures; you do not act, O lord of men, from motives of enjoyment, nordo you swerve from virtue from greed of riches; it is for this, you havebeen named the Virtuous King, O son of Pritha! Having won kingdoms andriches and means of enjoyment, your best delight has been charity andtruth and practice of austerities, O King, and faith and meditation andforbearance and patience! When the population of Kuru-jangala beheldKrishna outraged in the assembly hall, who but yourself could brook thatconduct, O Pandu’s son, which was so repugnant both to virtue and usage?No doubt, you will, before long, rule over men in a praiseworthy way, allyour desires being fulfilled. Here are we prepared to chastise the Kurus,as soon as the stipulation made by you is fully performed! And Krishna,the foremost of the Dasarha tribe, then said to Dhaumya and Bhima andYudhishthira, and the twins and Krishna, ‘How fortunate that by yourblessing Arjuna the bearer of the coronet, has arrived after havingacquired the science of arms!” And Krishna, the leader of the Dasarhatribe, accompanied by friends, likewise spoke to Krishna, the daughter ofYajnasena, saying, ‘How fortunate that you are united, safe and secure,with Arjuna, the winner of riches!’ And Krishna also said, ‘O Krishna, Odaughter of Yajnasena, those sons of yours, are devoted to the study ofthe science of arms, are well-behaved and conduct themselves on thepattern, O Krishna, of their righteous friends. Your father and youruterine brothers proffer them a kingdom and territories; but the boysfind no joy in the house of Drupada, or in that of their maternal uncles.Safely proceeding to the land of the Anartas, they take the greatestdelight in the study of the science of arms. Your sons enter the town ofthe Vrishnis and take an immediate liking to the people there. And as youwould direct them to conduct themselves, or as the respected Kunti woulddo, so does Subhadra direct them in a watchful way. Perhaps, she is stillmore careful of them. And, O Krishna, as Rukmini’s son is the preceptorof Aniruddha, of Abhimanyu, of Sunitha, and of Bhanu; so he is thepreceptor and the refuge of your sons also! And a good preceptor, wouldunceasingly give them lessons in the wielding of maces and swords andbucklers, in missiles and in the arts of driving cars and of ridinghorses, being valiant. And he, the son of Rukmini, having bestowed a verygood training upon them, and having taught them the art of using variousweapons in a proper way, takes satisfaction at the valorous deeds of yoursons, and of Abhimanyu. O daughter of Drupada! And when your son goesout, in pursuit of (out-door) sports, each one of them is followedthither by cars and horses and vehicles and elephants.’ And Krishna saidto the virtuous king, Yudhishthira, The fighting men of the Dasarhatribe, and the Kukuras, and the Andhakas–let these, O king, placethemselves at thy command–let them perform what thou desirest them. Olord of men, let the army of the tribe of Madhus, (resistless) like thewind, with their bows and led by Balarama whose weapon is the plough–letthat army, equipped (for war), consisting of horsemen and foot soldiersand horses and cars and elephants, prepare to do your bidding. O son ofPandu! Drive Duryodhana, the son of Dhritarashtra, the vilest of sinfulmen, together with his followers and his hosts of friends to the pathbetaken by the lord of Saubha, the son of the Earth! You, O ruler of men,are welcome to stick to that stipulation which was made in theassembly-hall–but let the city of Hastina be made ready for you, whenthe hostile force has been slain by the soldiers of the Dasarha tribe!Having roamed at your pleasure in all those places where you may desireto go, having got rid of your grief and freed from all your sins–youwill reach the city of Hastina–the well-known city situated in the midstof a fine territory!–Then the magnanimous king having been acquaintedwith the view, thus clearly set forth by Krishna that best of men, and,having applauded the same, and having deliberated, thus spoke with joinedpalms unto Kesava, ‘O Kesava, no doubt, thou art the refuge of the sonsof Pandu; for the sons of Pandu have their protector in thee! When thetime will come, there is no doubt that thou wilt do all the work justmentioned by thee; and even more than the same! As promised by us, wehave spent all the twelve years in lonely forests. O Kesava, having inthe prescribed way completed the period for living unrecognised, the sonsof Pandu will take refuge in thee. This should be the intention of thosethat associate with thee, O Krishna! The sons of Pandu swerve not fromthe path of truth, for the sons of Pritha with their charity and theirpiety with their people and their wives and with their relations havetheir protector in thee!”

Vaisampayana said, ‘O descendant of Bharata, while Krishna, thedescendant of the Vrishnis and the virtuous king, were thus talking,there appeared then the saint Markandeya, grown grey in the practise ofpenances. And he had seen many thousand years of life, was of a pioussoul, and devoted to great austerities. Signs of old age he had none; anddeathless he was, and endued with beauty and generous and many goodqualities. And he looked like one only twenty-five years old. And whenthe aged saint, who had seen many thousand years of life, came, all theBrahamanas paid their respects to him and so did Krishna together withPandu’s son. And when that wisest saint, thus honoured, took his seat ina friendly way, Krishna addressed him, in accordance with the views ofthe Brahmanas and of Pandu’s sons, thus,–

“The sons of Pandu, and the Brahmanas assembled here, and the daughter ofDrupada, and Satyabhama, likewise myself, are all anxious to hear yourmost excellent words, O Markandeya! Propound to us the holy stories ofevents of bygone times, and the eternal rules of righteous conduct bywhich are guided kings and women and saints!”

Vaisampayana continued, “When they had all taken their seats, Naradaalso, the divine saint, of purified soul, came on a visit to Pandu’ssons. Him also, then, of great soul, all those foremost men of superiorintellect, honoured in the prescribed form, by offering water to wash hisfeet, and the well-known oblation called the Arghya. Then the godlikesaint, Narada, learning that they were about to hear the speech ofMarkandeya, expressed his assent to the arrangement. And he, thedeathless, knowing what would be opportune, said smilingly, ‘O saint ofthe Brahmana caste, speak what you were about to say unto the sons ofPandu!’ Thus addressed, Markandeya, devoted to great austerities,replied, ‘Wait a moment. A great deal will be narrated.’ Thus addressed,the sons of Pandu, together with those twice-born ones, waited a moment,looking at that great saint, (bright) as the mid-day sun.”

Vaisampayana continued, “Pandu’s son, the king of the Kuru tribe, havingobserved that the great saint as willing to speak, questioned him with aview to suggesting topics to speak upon, saying, ‘You who are ancient (inyears), know the deeds of gods and demons, and illustrious saints, and ofall the royal ones. We consider you as worthy of being worshipped andhonoured; and we have long yearned after your company. And here is thisson of Devaki, Krishna, who has come to us on a visit. Verily, when Ilook at myself, fallen away from happiness, and when I contemplate thesons of Dhritarashtra, of evil life, flourishing in every way, the ideaarises in me that it is man who does all acts, good or bad, and that itis he that enjoys the fruit the acts bring forth. How then is god theagent? And, O best of those that are proficient in the knowledge of God,how is it that men’s actions follow them? Is it in this world? Or is itin some subsequent existence? And, O best of righteous men among thetwice-born, in what way is an embodied animated being joined by his goodand evil deeds that seek him out? Is it after death? Or is it in thisworld? And, O descendant of Bhrigu, is what we experience in this worldthe result of the acts of this very life? Or will the acts of this lifebear fruit in the world to come? And where do the actions of an animatedbeing who is dead find their resting place?”

“Markandeya said, ‘O best of those that can speak, this question befitsthee, and is just what it should be? Thou knowest all that there is toknow. But thou art asking this question, simply for the sake of form.Here I shall answer thee: listen to me with an attentive mind, as to howin this world and in that to come, a man experienceth happiness andmisery. The lord of born beings, himself sprung first of all, created,for all embodied beings, bodies which were stainless, pure, and obedientto virtuous impulses, O wisest of the descendants of Kuru! The ancientmen had all their desires fulfilled, were given to praiseworthy coursesof life, were speakers of truth, godly and pure. All were equal to thegods, could ascend to the sky at their pleasure, and could come backagain; and all went about at their pleasure. And they had their death andtheir life also under their own control; and they had few sufferings; hadno fear; and had their wishes fulfilled; and they were free from trouble;could visit the gods and the magnanimous saints; knew by heart allrighteous rules; were self-controlled and free from envy. And they livedmany thousand years; and had many thousand sons. Then in course of timethey came to be restricted to walking solely on the surface of the earth,overpowered by lust and wrath, dependent for subsistence upon falsehoodand trick, overwhelmed by greed and senselessness. Then those wicked men,when disembodied, on account of their unrighteous and unblessed deeds,went to hell in a crooked way. Again and again, they were grilled, and,again and again they began to drag their miserable existence in thiswonderful world. And their desires were unfulfilled, the objectsunaccomplished, and their knowledge became unavailing. And their senseswere paralysed and they became apprehensive of everything and the causeof other people’s sufferings. And they were generally marked by wickeddeeds, and born in low families; they became wicked and afflicted withdiseases, and the terror of others. And they became short-lived andsinful and they reaped the fruit of their terrible deeds. And covetingeverything, they became godless and indifferent in mind, O son of Kunti!The destiny of every creature after death is determined by his acts inthis world. Thou hast asked me where this treasure of acts of the sageand the ignorant remain, and where they enjoy the fruit of their good andevil deeds! Do thou listen to the regulations on this subject! Man withhis subtle original body created by God lays up a great store of virtueand vice. After death he quits his frail (outer) body and is immediatelyborn again in another order of beings. He never remains non-existent fora single moment. In his new life his actions follow him invariably asshadow and, fructifying, makes his destiny happy or miserable. The wiseman, by his spiritual insight, knows all creatures to be bound to animmutable destiny by the destroyer and incapable of resisting thefruition of his actions in good or evil fortune. This, O Yudhishthira, isthe doom of all creatures steeped in spiritual ignorance. Do thou nowhear of the perfect way attained by men of high spiritual perception!Such men are of high ascetic virtue and are versed in all profane andholy writ, diligent in performing their religious obligations and devotedto truth. And they pay due homage to their preceptors and superiors andpractise Yoga, are forgiving, continent and energetic and pious and aregenerally endowed with every virtue. By the conquest of the passions,they are subdued in mind; by practising yoga they become free fromdisease, fear and sorrow; they are not troubled (in mind). In course ofbirth, mature or immature, or while ensconced in the womb, in everycondition, they with spiritual eyes recognize the relation of their soulto the supreme Spirit. Those great-minded Rishis of positive andintuitive knowledge passing through this arena of actions, return againto the abode of the celestials. Men, O king, attain what they have inconsequence of the grace of the gods of Destiny or of their own actions.Do thou not think otherwise. O Yudhishthira, I regard that as the highestgood which is regarded so in this world. Some attain happiness in thisworld, but not in the next; others do so in the next, but not in this.Some, again, attain happiness in this as well as in the next world; andothers neither here nor in the next world. Those that have immensewealth, shine every day with well-decorated persons. O slayer of mightyfoes, being addicted to carnal pleasures, they enjoy happiness only inthis world, but not in the next. But those who are engaged in spiritualmeditations and the study of the Vedas, who are diligent in asceticism,and who impair the vigour of their bodies by performing their duties, whohave subdued their passions, and who refrain from killing any animatedbeing, those men, O slayer of thy enemies, attain happiness in the nextworld, but not in this! Those who first live a pious life, and virtuouslyacquire wealth in due time and then marry and perform sacrifices, attainbliss both in this and the next world. Those foolish men again who do notacquire knowledge, nor are engaged in asceticism or charity or increasingtheir species; or in encompassing the pleasures and enjoyments of thisworld, attain bliss neither in this nor in the next world. But all of youare proficient in knowledge and possessed of great power and strength andcelestial vigour. For the extermination (of the wicked) and for servingthe purposes of the gods, ye have come from the other world and havetaken your birth in this! Ye, who are so valiant, and engaged inasceticism, self-restraining exercises, and religious ordinances, andfond of exertion, after having performed great deeds and gratified thegods and Rishis and the Pitris, ye will at last in due course attain byyour own acts the supreme region–the abode of all virtuous men! Oornament of Kuru’s race, may no doubts cross thy mind on account of thesethy sufferings, for this affliction is for thy good!”

Chapter 181
Chapter 183
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