Chapter 185

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya continued, ‘O thou conqueror of hostile cities, in thisconnection Saraswati too, when interrogated by that intelligent MuniTarkshya, had said (this). Do thou listen to her words! Tarkshya hadasked, saying, ‘Excellent lady, what is the best thing for a man to dohere below, and how must he act so that he may not deviate from (the pathof) virtue. Tell me all this, O beautiful lady, so that instructed bythee, I may not fall away from the path of virtue! When and how must oneoffer oblations to the (sacred) fire and when must he worship so thatvirtue may not be compromised? Tell me all this, O excellent lady, sothat I may live without any passions, craving, or desire, in this world.’

“Markandeya continued, ‘Thus questioned by that cheerful Muni and seeinghim eager to learn and endued with high intelligence, Saraswati addressedthese pious and beneficial words to the Brahmana, Tarkshya.’

“Saraswati said, ‘He who is engaged in the study of the Vedas, and withsanctity and equanimity perceives the supreme Godhead in his propersphere, ascends the celestial regions and attains supreme beatitude withthe Immortals. Many large, beautiful, pellucid and sacred lakes arethere, abounding with fish, flowers, and golden lilies. They are likeshrines and their very sight is calculated to assuage grief. Pious men,distinctively worshipped by virtuous well-adorned golden-complexionedApsaras, dwell in contentment on the shores of those lakes. He who givethcows (to Brahmanas) attaineth the highest regions; by giving bullocks hereacheth the solar regions, by giving clothes he getteth to the lunarworld, and by giving gold he attaineth to the state of the Immortals. Hewho giveth a beautiful cow with a fine calf, and which is easily milkedand which doth not run away, is (destined) to live for as many years inthe celestial regions as there are hairs on the body of that animal. Hewho giveth a fine, strong, powerful, young bullock, capable of drawingthe plough and bearing burdens, reacheth the regions attained by men whogive ten cows. When a man bestoweth a well-caparisoned kapila cow with abrazen milk-pail and with money given afterwards, that cow becoming, byits own distinguished qualities, a giver of everything reacheth the sideof the man who gave her away. He who giveth away cows, reapethinnumerable fruits of his action, measured by the hairs on the body ofthat animal. He also saveth (from perdition) in the next world his sonsand grandsons and ancestors to the seventh generation. He who presentethto a Brahmana, sesamum made up in the form of a cow, having horns made ofgold, with money besides, and a brazen milk-pail, subsequently attainetheasily to the regions of the Vasus. By his own acts man descends into thedarksome lower regions, infested by evil spirits (of his own passions)like a ship tossed by the storm in the high seas; but the gift of kine toBrahmanas saves him in the next world. He who giveth his daughter inmarriage, in the Brahma form, who bestoweth gifts of land on Brahmanasand who duly maketh other presents, attaineth to the regions ofPurandara. O Tarkshya, the virtuous man who is constant in presentingoblations to the sacred fire for seven years, sanctifieth by his ownaction seven generations up and down.’

“Tarkshya said, ‘O beautiful lady, explain to me who ask thee, the rulesfor the maintenance of the sacred fire as inculcated in the Vedas. Ishall now learn from thee the time-honoured rules for perpetually keepingup the sacred fire.'”

Chapter 184
Chapter 186
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