Chapter 28

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Draupadi continued, ‘On this subject, the ancient story of theconversation between Prahlada and Vali, the son of Virochana, is quotedas an example. One day Vali asked his grand-father Prahlada, the chief ofthe Asuras and the Danavas, possessed of great wisdom and well-versed inthe mysteries of the science of duty, saying, ‘O sire, is forgivenessmeritorious or might and energy such? I am puzzled as regards this; Osire, enlighten me who ask thee this! O thou conversant with all duties,tell me truly which of these is meritorious? I will strictly obeywhatever thy command may be! Thus asked (by Vali), his wise grandfather,conversant with every conclusion, replied upon the whole subject unto hisgrand-son who had sought at his hands the resolution of his doubts. AndPrahlada said, ‘Know, O child, these two truths with certainty, viz.,that might is not always meritorious and forgiveness also is not alwaysmeritorious! He that forgiveth always suffereth many evils. Servants andstrangers and enemies always disregard him. No creature ever bendeth downunto him. Therefore it is, O child, that the learned applaud not aconstant habit of forgiveness! The servants of an ever-forgiving personalways disregard him, and contract numerous faults. These mean-minded menalso seek to deprive him of his wealth. Vile souled servants alsoappropriate to themselves his vehicles and clothes and ornaments andapparel and beds and seats and food and drink and other articles of use.They do not also at the command of their master, give unto others thethings they are directed to give Nor do they even worship their masterwith that respect which is their master’s due. Disregard in this world isworse than death. O child, sons and servants and attendants and evenstrangers speak harsh words unto the man who always forgiveth. Persons,disregarding the man of an ever-forgiving temper, even desire his wife,and his wife also, becometh ready to act as she willeth. And servantsalso that are ever fond of pleasure, if they do not receive even slightpunishments from their master, contract all sorts of vices, and thewicked ever injure such a master. These and many other demerits attach tothose that are ever-forgiving!

“Listen now, O son of Virochana, to the demerits of those that are neverforgiving! The man of wrath who, surrounded by darkness, alwaysinflicteth, by help of his own energy, various kinds of punishment onpersons whether they deserve them or not, is necessarily separated fromhis friends in consequence of that energy of his. Such a man is hated byboth relatives and strangers. Such a man, because he insulteth others,suffereth loss of wealth and reapeth disregard and sorrow and hatred andconfusion and enemies. The man of wrath, in consequence of his ire,inflicteth punishments on men and obtaineth (in return) harsh words. Heis divested of his prosperity soon and even of life, not to say, offriends and relatives. He that putteth forth his might both upon hisbenefactor and his foe, is an object of alarm to the world, like a snakethat hath taken shelter in a house, to the inmates thereof. Whatprosperity can he have who is an object of alarm to the world? Peoplealways do him an injury when they find a hole. Therefore, should mennever exhibit might in excess nor forgiveness on all occasions. Oneshould put forth his might and show his forgiveness on proper occasions.He that becometh forgiving at the proper time and harsh and mighty alsoat the proper time, obtaineth happiness both in this world and the other.

“‘I shall now indicate the occasions in detail of forgiveness, as laiddown by the learned, and which should ever be observed by all. Hearkenunto me as I speak! He that hath done thee a service, even if he isguilty of a grave wrong unto thee, recollecting his former service,shouldst thou forgive that offender. Those also that have becomeoffenders from ignorance and folly should be forgiven for learning andwisdom are not always easily attainable by man. They that having offendedthee knowingly, plead ignorance should be punished, even if theiroffences be trivial. Such crooked men should never be pardoned. The firstoffence of every creature should be forgiven. The second offence,however, should be punished, even if it be trivial. If, however, a personcommiteth an offence unwillingly, it hath been said that examining hisplea well by a judicious enquiry, he should be pardoned. Humility mayvanquish might, humility may vanquish weakness. There is nothing thathumility may not accomplish. Therefore, humility is truly fiercer (thanit seemeth)! One should act with reference to place and time, taking noteof his own might or weakness. Nothing can succeed that hath beenundertaken without reference to place and time. Therefore, do thou everwait for place and time! Sometimes offenders should be forgiven from fearof the people. These have been declared to be times of forgiveness. Andit hath been said that on occasions besides these, might should be putforth against transgressors.’

“Draupadi continued, ‘I, therefore, regard, O king, that the time hathcome for thee to put forth thy might! Unto those Kurus the covetous sonsof Dhritarashtra who injure us always, the present is not the time forforgiveness! It behoveth thee to put forth thy might. The humble andforgiving person is disregarded; while those that are fierce persecuteothers. He, indeed, is a king who hath recourse to both, each accordingto its time!'”

Chapter 27
Chapter 29