Chapter 46

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Brahmana said, ‘Duly studying thus to the best of his power, in the waydescribed above, and likewise living as a Brahmacharin, one that isdevoted to the duties of one’s own order, possessed of learning,observant of penances, and with all the senses under restraint, devotedto what is agreeable and beneficial to the preceptor, steady inpractising the duty of truth, and always pure, should, with thepermission of the preceptor, eat one’s food without decrying it. Heshould eat Havishya made from what is obtained in alms, and should stand,sit, and take exercise (as directed).[136] He should pour libations onthe fire twice a day, having purified himself and with concentrated mind.He should always bear a staff made of Vilwa or Palasa.[137] The robes ofthe regenerate man should be linen, or of cotton, or deer-skin, or acloth that is entirely brown-red. There should also be a girdle made ofMunja-grass. He should bear matted locks on head, and should perform hisablutions every day. He should bear the sacred thread, study thescriptures, divest himself of cupidity, and be steady in the observanceof vows. He should also gratify the deities with oblations of pure water,his mind being restrained the while. Such a Brahmacharin is worthy ofapplause. With vital seed drawn up and mind concentrated, one that isthus devoted succeeds in conquering Heaven. Having attained to thehighest seat, he has not to return to birth. Cleansed by all purificatoryrites and having lived as a Brahmacharin, one should next go out of one’svillage and next live as an ascetic in the woods, having renounced (allattachments). Clad in animal skins or barks of trees he should performhis ablutions morning and evening. Always living within the forest, heshould never return to an inhabited place. Honouring guests when theycome, he should give them shelter, and himself subsist upon fruits andleaves and common roots, and Syamaka. He should, without being slothfulsubsist on such water as he gets, and air, and all forest products. Heshould live upon these, in due order, according to the regulations of hisinitiation.[138] He should honour the guest that comes to him with almsof fruits and roots. He should then, without sloth, always give whateverother food he may have. Restraining speech the while, he should eat aftergratifying deities and guests. His mind should be free from envy. Heshould eat little, and depend always on the deities. Self-restrained,practising universal compassion, and possessed of forgiveness, he shouldwear both beard and hair (without submitting to the operations of thebarber). Performing sacrifices and devoting himself to the study of thescriptures, he should be steady in the observance of the duty of truth.With body always in a state of purity, endued with cleverness, everdwelling in the forest, with concentrated mind, and senses in subjection,a forest-recluse, thus devoting himself, would conquer Heaven. Ahouseholder, or Brahmacharin, or forest-recluse, who would wish toachieve Emancipation, should have recourse to that which has been calledthe best course of conduct. Having granted unto all creatures the pledgeof utter abstention from harm, he should thoroughly renounce all action.He should contribute to the happiness of all creatures, practiseuniversal friendliness, subjugate all his senses, and be an ascetic.Subsisting upon food obtained without asking and without trouble, andthat has come to him spontaneously, he should make a fire. He should makehis round of mendicancy in a place whence smoke has ceased to curl up andwhere all the inhabitants have already eaten.[139] The person who isconversant with the conduct that leads to Emancipation should seek foralms after the vessels (used in cooking) have been washed. He shouldnever rejoice when he obtains anything, and never be depressed if heobtains nothing. Seeking just what is needed for supporting life, heshould, with concentrated mind, go about his round of mendicancy, waitingfor the proper time. He should not wish for earnings in common withothers, nor eat when honoured. The man who leads the life of mendicancyshould conceal himself for avoiding gifts with honour. While eating, heshould not eat such food as forms the remains of another’s dish, nor suchas is bitter, or astringent, or pungent. He should not also eat suchkinds of food as have a sweet taste. He should eat only so much as isneeded to keep him alive. The person conversant with Emancipation shouldobtain his subsistence without obstructing any creature. In his rounds ofmendicancy he should never follow another (bent on the same purpose). Heshould never parade his piety; he should move about in a secluded place,freed from passion. Either an empty house, or a forest, or the foot ofsome tree, or a river, or a mountain-cave, he should have recourse to forshelter. In summer he should pass only one night in an inhabited place;in the season of rains he may live in one place. He should move about theworld like a worm, his path pointed out by the Sun. From compassion forcreatures, he should walk on the Earth with his eyes directed towards it.He should never make any accumulations and should avoid residence withfriends. The man conversant with Emancipation should every day do all hisacts with pure water. Such a man should always perform his ablutions withwater that has been fetched up (from the river or the tank).[140]Abstention from harm, Brahmacharyya, truth, simplicity, freedom fromwrath, freedom from decrying others, self-restraint, and habitual freedomfrom backbiting: these eight vows, with senses restrained, he shouldsteadily pursue. He should always practise a sinless mode of conduct,that is not deceptive and not crooked. Freed from attachment, he shouldalways make one who comes as a guest eat (at least) a morsel of food. Heshould eat just enough for livelihood, for the support of life. He shouldeat only such food as has been obtained by righteous means, and shouldnot pursue the dictates of desire. He should never accept any other thingthan food and clothing only. He should, again, accept only as much as hecan eat and nothing more. He should not be induced to accept gifts fromothers, nor should he make gifts to others. Owing to the helplessness ofcreatures, the man of wisdom should always share with others. He shouldnot appropriate what belongs to others, nor should he take anythingwithout being asked. He should not, having enjoyed anything become soattached to it as to desire to have it once more. One should take onlyearth and water and pebbles and leaves and flowers and fruits, that arenot owned by any body, as they come, when one desires to do any act. Oneshould not live by the occupation of an artisan, nor should one covetgold. One should not hate, nor teach (one that does not seek to betaught); nor should one have any belongings. One should eat only what isconsecrated by faith. One should abstain from controversies. One shouldfollow that course of conduct which has been said to be nectarine. Oneshould never be attached to anything, and should never enter intorelations of intimacy with any creature. One should not perform, norcause to perform, any such action as involves expectation of fruit ordestruction of life or the hoarding of wealth or articles. Rejecting allobjects, content with a very little, one should wander about (homeless)pursuing an equal behaviour towards all creatures mobile and immobile.One should never annoy another being; not should one be annoyed withanother. He who is trusted by all creatures is regarded as the foremostof those persons that understand Emancipation. One should not think ofthe past, nor feel anxious about the future. One should disregard thepresent, biding time, with concentrated mind.[141] One should neverdefile anything by eye, mind, or speech. Nor should one do anything thatis wrong, openly or in secret. Withdrawing one’s senses like the tortoisewithdrawing its limbs, one should attenuate one’s senses and mind,cultivate a thoroughly peaceful understanding, and seek to master everytopic. Freed from all pairs of opposites, never bending one’s head inreverence, abstaining from the rites requiring the utterance of Swaha,one should be free from mineness, and egoism. With cleansed soul, oneshould never seek to acquire what one has not and protect what one has.Free from expectations, divested of qualities, wedded to tranquillity,one should be free from all attachments and should depend on none.Attached to one’s own self and comprehending all topics, one becomesemancipated without doubt. Those who perceive the self, which is withouthands and feet and back, which is without head and without stomach, whichis free from the operation of all qualities, which is absolute,untainted, and stable, which is without smell, without taste, and touch,without colour, and without sound, which is to be comprehended (by closestudy), which is unattached, which is without flesh, which is free fromanxiety, unfading, and divine, and, lastly, which though dwelling in ahouse resides in all creatures, succeed in escaping death. There theunderstanding reaches not, nor the senses, nor the deities, nor theVedas, nor sacrifices, nor the regions (of superior bliss), nor penance,nor vows. The attainment to it by those who are possessed of knowledge issaid to be without comprehension of symbols. Hence, the man who knows theproperties of that which is destitute of symbols, should practise thetruths of piety.[142] The learned man, betaking himself to a life ofdomesticity, should adopt that conduct which is conformable to trueknowledge. Though undeluded, he should practise piety after the manner ofone that is deluded, without finding fault with it. Without finding faultwith the practices of the good, he should himself adopt such a conductfor practising piety as may induce others to always disrespect him. Thatman who is endued with such a conduct is said to be the foremost ofascetics. The senses, the objects of the senses, the (five) greatelements, mind, understanding, egoism, the unmanifest, Purusha also,after comprehending these duly with the aid of correct inferences, oneattains to Heaven, released from all bonds. One conversant with thetruth, understanding these at the time of the termination of his life,should meditate, exclusively resting on one point. Then, depending onnone, one attains to Emancipation. Freed from all attachments, like thewind in space, with his accumulations exhausted, without distress of anykind, he attains to his highest goal.'”

Chapter 47
Chapter 45
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