Chapter 184

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya continued, ‘Do ye again hear from me the glory of theBrahmanas! It is said that a royal sage of the name of Vainya was onceengaged in performing the horse-sacrifice and that Atri desired to go tohim for alms.But Atri subsequently gave up his desire of wealth, fromreligious scruples. After much thought he, of great power, becamedesirous of living in the woods, and, calling his wife and sons together,addressed them thus, ‘Let us attain the highly tranquil and completefruition of our desires. May it, therefore, be agreeable to you to repairquickly to the forest for a life of great merit.’ His wife, arguing frommotives of virtue also then said to him, ‘Hie thee to the illustriousprince Vainya, and beg of him vast riches! Asked by thee, that royalsage, engaged in sacrifice will give thee wealth. Having gone there, Oregenerate Rishi, and received from him vast wealth, thou canstdistribute it among thy sons and servants and then thou canst gowhithersoever thou pleasest. This, indeed, is the higher virtue asinstanced by men conversant with religion.’ Atri replied, ‘I am informed,O virtuous one, by the high-souled Gautama, that Vainya is a piousprince, devoted to the cause of truth; but there are Brahmanas (about hispersons) who are jealous of me; and as Gautama hath told me this, I donot venture to go there, for (while) there, if I were to advise what isgood and calculated to secure piety and the fulfilment of one’s desires,they would contradict me with words unproductive of any good. But Iapprove of any counsel and will go there; Vainya will give me kine andhoards of riches.’

“Markandeya continued, ‘So saying, he, of great ascetic merit, hastenedto Vainya’s sacrifice and reaching the sacrificial altar and making hisobeisance to the king and praising him with well-meaning speeches, hespoke these words, ‘Blessed art thou, O king! Ruling over the earth, thouart the foremost of sovereigns! The Munis praise thee, and besides theethere is none so versed in religious lore’! To him the Rishi Gautama, ofgreat ascetic merit, then indignantly replied saying, ‘Atri, do notrepeat this nonsense. (It seems) thou art not in thy proper senses. Inthis world of ours, Mahendra the lord of all created beings (alone) isthe foremost of all sovereigns!’ Then, O, great prince, Atri said toGautama, ‘As Indra, the lord of all creatures, ruleth over our destinies,so doth this king! Thou art mistaken. It is thou who hast lost thinesenses from want of spiritual perception!’ Gautama replied, ‘I know I amnot mistaken; it is thou who art labouring under a misconception in thismatter. To secure the king’s countenance, thou art flattering him in(this) assembly of the people. Thou dost not know what the highestvirtue, is nor dost thou feel the need for it. Thou art like a childsteeped in ignorance, for what then hast thou become (so) old in years?’

“Markandeya continued, ‘While those two men were thus disputing in thepresence of the Munis, who were engaged in Vainya’s sacrifice the latterenquired, ‘What is the matter with them, that maketh them talk sovociferously?’ Then the very pious Kasyapa learned in all religious lore,approaching the disputants asked them what was the matter. And thenGautama, addressing that assembly of great Munis said, ‘Listen, O greatBrahmanas, to the point in dispute between us. Atri hath said that Vainyais the ruler of our destinies; great is our doubt on this point.’

“Markandeya continued, ‘On hearing this, the great-mind Munis wentinstantly to Sanatkumara who was well versed in religion to clear theirdoubt. And then he of great ascetic merit, having heard the particularsfrom them addressed them these words full of religious meaning. AndSanatkumara said, ‘As fire assisted by the wind burneth down forests, soa Brahmana’s energy in union with a Kshatriya’s or a Kshatriya’s joinedwith a Brahmana’s destroyeth all enemies. The sovereign is thedistinguished giver of laws and the protector of his subjects. He is (aprotector of created beings) like Indra, (a propounder of morals) likeSukra, (a counsellor) like Vrihaspati and (hence he is also called) theruler of men’s destinies. Who does not think it proper to worship theindividual of whom such terms as ‘preserver of created beings,’ ‘royal,”emperor,’ ‘Kshatriya’ (or saviour of the earth), ‘lord of earth’, ‘rulerof men’, are applied in praise? The king is (also) styled the prime cause(of social order, as being the promulgator of laws), ‘the virtuous inwars,’ (and therefore, preserver after peace), ‘the watchman,’ ‘thecontented,’ ‘the lord,’ ‘the guide to salvation,’ ‘the easilyvictorious,’ ‘the Vishnu like,’ ‘of effective wrath,’ ‘the winner ofbattles’ and ‘the cherisher of the true religion.’ The Rishis, fearful ofsin, entrusted (the temporal) power to the Kshatriyas. As among the godsin heaven the Sun dispelleth darkness by his effulgence, so doth the kingcompletely root out sin from this earth. Therefore is the king’sgreatness reduced from the evidences of the sacred books, and we arebound to pronounce for that side which hath spoken in favour of the king.’

“Markandeya continued, ‘Then that illustrious prince, highly pleased withthe victorious party, joyfully said to Atri, who had praised himerewhile. ‘O regenerate Rishi, thou hast made and styled me the greatestand most excellent of men here, and compared me to the gods; therefore,shall I give thee vast and various sorts of wealth. My impression is thatthou art omniscient. I give thee, O well-dressed and well-adorned one, ahundred millions of gold coins and also ten bharas of gold. Then Atri, ofhigh austere virtues and great spiritual powers, thus welcomed (by theking), accepted all the gifts without any breach of propriety, andreturned home. And then giving his wealth to his sons and subduing hisself, he cheerfully repaired to the forest with the object of performingpenances.”

Chapter 183
Chapter 185
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