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Chapter 91

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Janamejaya said, ‘O puissant Rishi, kings are attached to sacrifices.The great Rishis are attached to penances. Learned Brahmanas areobservant of tranquillity of mind, peacefulness of behaviour, andself-restraint. Hence it seems that nothing can be seen in this worldwhich can compare with the fruits of sacrifices. Even this is myconviction. That conviction, again, seems to be undoubtedly correct.Innumerable kings, O best of regenerate persons, having worshipped thedeities in sacrifices, earned high fame here and obtained Heavenhereafter. Endued with great energy, the puissant chief of the deitiesviz., Indra of a thousand eyes, obtained the sovereignty over the deitiesthrough the many sacrifices he performed with gifts in profusion andattained to the fruition of all his wishes. When king Yudhishthira, withBhima and Arjuna by him, resembled the chief of the deities himself inprosperity and prowess, why then did that mongoose depreciate that greatHorse-sacrifice of the high-souled monarch?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Do thou listen to me, O king, as I discourse to theeduly, O Bharata, on the excellent ordinances relating to sacrifice andthe fruits also, O ruler of men, that sacrifice yields. Formerly, on oneoccasion Sakra performed a particular sacrifice. While the limbs of thesacrifice were spread out, the Ritwijas became busy in accomplishing thediverse rites ordained in the scriptures. The pourer of libations,possessed of every qualification, became engaged in pouring libations ofclarified butter. The great Rishis were seated around. The deities weresummoned one by one by contented Brahmanas of great learning utteringscriptural Mantras in sweet voices. Those foremost of Adhwaryyus, notfatigued with what they did, recited the Mantras of the Yajurveda in softaccents. The time came for slaughtering the animals. When the animalsselected for sacrifice were seized, the great Rishis, O king, feltcompassion for them. Beholding that the animals had all become cheerless,those Rishis, endued with wealth of penances, approached Sakra and saidunto him, ‘This method of sacrifice is not auspicious. Desirous ofacquiring great merit as thou art, this is verily an indication of thyunacquaintance with sacrifice. O Purandara, animals have not beenordained to be slaughtered in sacrifices. O puissant one, thesepreparations of thine are destructive of merit. This sacrifice is notconsistent with righteousness. The destruction of creatures can never besaid to be an act of righteousness. If thou wishest it, let thy priestsperform thy sacrifice according to the Agama. By performing a sacrificeaccording to the (true import of the) scriptural ordinances, great willbe the merit achieved by thee. O thou of a hundred eyes, do thou performthe sacrifice with seeds of grain that have been kept for three years.Even this, O Sakra, would be fraught with great righteousness andproductive of fruits of high efficacy.’ The deity of a hundredsacrifices, however, influenced by pride and overwhelmed by stupefaction,did not accept these words uttered by the Rishis. Then, O Bharata, agreat dispute arose in that sacrifice of Sakra between the ascetics as tohow sacrifices should be performed, that is, should they be performedwith mobile creatures or with immobile objects. All of them were worn outwith disputation. The Rishis then, those beholders of truth, having madean understanding with Sakra (about referring the matter to arbitration)asked king Vasu, ‘O highly blessed one, what is the Vedic declarationabout sacrifices? Is it preferable to perform sacrifices with animals orwith steeds and juices? Hearing the question, king Vasu, without alljudging of the strength or weakness of the arguments on the two sides, atonce answered, saying, ‘Sacrifices may be performed with whichever of thetwo kinds of objects is ready.’ Having answered the question thus, he hadto enter the nether regions. Indeed the puissant ruler of the Chedis hadto undergo that misery for having answered falsely. Therefore, when adoubt arises, no person, however wise, should singly decide the matter,unless he be the puissant and self-born Lord himself of creatures. Giftsmade by a sinner with an impure understanding, even when they are verylarge, become lost. Such gifts go for nothing. By the gifts made by aperson of unrighteous conduct,–one, that is, who is of sinful soul andwho is a destroyer, just fame is never acquired either here or hereafter.That person of little intelligence who, from desire of acquiring merit,performs sacrifices with wealth acquired by unrighteous means, neversucceeds in earning merit. That low wretch of sinful soul, whohypocritically assuming a garb of righteousness mikes gifts untoBrahmanas, only creates the conviction in men about his own righteousness(without earning true merit). That Brahmana of uncontrolled conduct, whoacquires wealth by sinful acts, over overwhelmed by passion andstupefaction, attains at last to the goal of the sinful. Someone,overwhelmed by cupidity and stupefaction, becomes bent on strong wealth.He is seen to persecute all creatures, urged by a sinful and impureunderstanding. He who, having acquired wealth by such means, makes giftsor performs sacrifices therewith, never enjoys the fruits of those giftsor sacrifices in the other world in consequence of the wealth having beenearned by unrighteous means. Men endued with wealth of penances, bygiving away, to the best of their power, grains of corn picked up fromthe fields or roots or fruits or pot-herbs or water or leaves, acquiregreat merit and proceed to Heaven. Even such gifts, as also compassion toall creatures, and Brahmacharyya, truthfulness of speech and kindness,and fortitude, and forgiveness, constitute the eternal foundations ofRighteousness which itself is eternal. We hear of Visvamitra and otherkings of ancient times. Indeed, Visvamitra, and Asita, and king Janaka,and Kakshasena and Arshtisena, and king Sindhudwipa,–these and manyother kings, endued with wealth of penances, having made gifts ofarticles acquired lawfully, have attained to high success. Those amongstBrahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras who betake themselves topenances, O Bharata, and who purify themselves by gifts and other acts ofrighteousness, proceed to Heaven.”

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