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Chapter 104

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘How should a righteous king, who is opposed by hisown officers, whose treasury and army are no longer under his control,and who has no wealth, conduct himself for acquiring happiness?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection, the story of Kshemadarsin is oftenrecited. I shall narrate that story to thee. Listen to it, OYudhishthira! It has been heard by us that in days of old, when princeKshemadarsin became weak in strength and fell into great distress, herepaired to the sage Kalakavrikshiya, and saluting him humbly, said untohim these words.'[317]

“The king said, ‘What should a person like me who deserves wealth but whohas, after repeated efforts, failed to recover his kingdom, do, OBrahmana, excepting suicide, thieving and robbery, acceptance of refugewith others, and other acts of meanness of a similar kind? O best of men,tell me this. One like thee that is conversant with morality and full ofgratefulness is the refuge of a person afflicted by disease either mentalor physical. Man should cast off his desires. By acting in that way, byabandoning joy and sorrow, and earning the wealth of knowledge, hesucceeds in obtaining felicity.[318] I grieve for them that adhere toworldly happiness as dependent on wealth. All that, however, vanisheslike a dream. They that can abandon vast wealth achieve a very difficultfeat. As regards ourselves we are unable to abandon that wealth which iseven no longer existent.[319] I am divested of prosperity and have falleninto a miserable and joyless plight. Instruct me, O Brahmana, whathappiness I may yet strive for.’ Thus addressed by the intelligent princeof Kosala, the sage Kalakavrikshiya of great splendour made the followinganswer.’

“The sage said, ‘Thou hast, it seems, already understood it. Possessed ofknowledge as thou art, thou shouldst act as thou thinkest. Thy belief isright, viz., All this that I see is unstable, myself as also everythingthat I have. Know, O prince, that those things which thou regardest asexisting are in reality non-existent. The man of wisdom knows this, andaccordingly is never pained whatever the distress that may overwhelm him.Whatever has taken place and whatever will take place are all unreal.When thou wilt know this which should be known by all, thou shalt befreed from unrighteousness. Whatever things had been earned and acquiredby those that came before, and whatever was earned and acquired by thosethat succeeded them, have all perished. Reflecting on this, who is therethat will yield to grief? Things that were, are no more. Things that are,will again be (no more). Grief has no power to restore them. One shouldnot, therefore, indulge in grief. Where, O king, is thy sire to-day, andwhere thy grandsire? Thou seest them not today, nor do they see thee now.Reflecting on thy own instability, who dost thou grieve for them? Reflectwith the aid of thy intelligence, and thou wilt understand that verilythou shalt cease to be. Myself, thyself, O king, thy friends, and thyfoes, shall, without doubt, cease to be. Indeed, everything will cease tobe. Those men that are now of twenty or thirty years of age will, withoutdoubt, all die within the next hundred years. If a man cannot have theheart to give up his vast possessions, he should then endeavour to thinkhis possessions are not his own and by that means seek to do good tohimself.[320] Acquisitions that are future should be regarded by one asnot one’s own. Acquisitions that have disappeared, should also beregarded by one as not one’s own. Destiny should be regarded as allpowerful. They that think in this strain are said to be possessed ofwisdom. Such a habit of looking at things is an attribute of the good.Many persons who are equal or superior to thee in intelligence andexertion, though deprived of wealth, are not only alive but are neverruling kingdoms. They are not, like thee. They do not indulge in grieflike thee. Therefore, cease thou to grieve in this way. Art thou notSuperior to those men, or at least equal to them in intelligence andexertion?'” The king said, ‘I regard the kingdom which I had with all itsappendages to have been won by me without any exertion. All-powerfulTime, however, O regenerate one, has swept it away. The consequence,however, that I see, of my kingdom having been swept away by Time as by astream, is that I am obliged to support upon whatever I obtain (bycharity).’

“The sage said, ‘Moved by the knowledge of what is true (in life) oneshould never grieve for either the past or the future. Be thou of such aframe of mind. O prince of Kosala, in respect of every affair that mayengage thy attention. Desiring to obtain only that which is obtainableand not that which is unobtainable, do thou enjoy thy present possessionsand never grieved for that which is absent. Be thou delighted, O princeof Kosala, with whatever thou succeedest in winning with ease. Even ifdivested of prosperity, do not grieve for Abut seek to preserve a puredisposition. Only an unfortunate man who is of a foolish understanding,when deprived of former prosperity, censures the supreme Ordainer,without being contented with his present possessions. Such a personregards others, however undeserving, as men blessed with prosperity. Forthis reason, they that are possessed of malice and vanity and filled witha sense of their own importance, suffer more misery still. Thou however,O king, art not stained by such vices. Endure the prosperity of othersalthough thou art thyself divested of prosperity. They that are possessedof dexterity succeed in enjoying that prosperity which is vested inothers.[321] Prosperity leaves the person that hates others. Menpossessed of righteous behaviour and wisdom and conversant with theduties of Yoga renounce prosperity and sons and grandsons of their ownaccord. Others, regarding earthly wealth to be exceedingly unstable andunattainable, dependent as it is upon ceaseless action and effort, arealso seen to renounce it.[322] Thou seemest to be possessed of wisdom.Why dost thou then grieve so piteously, desiring things that should notbe desired, that are unstable, and that are dependent on others? Thoudesirest to enquire after that particular frame of mind (which wouldenable thee to enjoy felicity notwithstanding the loss of thypossessions). The advice I give thee is to renounce all those objects ofdesire. Objects that should be avoided appear in the guise of those thatshould be striven for, while those that should be striven for appear inthe guise of objects that should be avoided. Some lose their wealth inthe pursuit of wealth. Others regard wealth as the root of infinitehappiness, and, therefore pursue it eagerly. Some again, delighted withwealth, think that there is nothing superior to it. In his eager desirefor the acquisition of wealth, such a person loses all other objects oflife. If, O prince of Kosala, a person loses that wealth which had beenearned with difficulty and which had been proportionate to his desires,he then, overcome by the inactivity of despair, gives up all desire ofwealth. Some persons of righteous souls and high birth betake themselvesto the acquisition of virtue. These renounce every kind of worldlyhappiness from desire of winning felicity in the other world. Somepersons lay down life itself, moved by the desire of acquiring wealth.These do not think that life has any use if dissociated from wealth.Behold their pitiable condition. Behold their foolishness. When life isso short and uncertain, these men, moved by ignorance, set their eyes onwealth. Who is there that would set his heart upon hoarding whendestruction is its end, upon life when death is its end, and upon unionwhen separation is its end? sometimes man renounces wealth, and sometimeswealth renounces man. What man possessed of knowledge is there that wouldfeel grieved at the loss of wealth? There are many other persons in theworld that lose wealth and friends. Behold, O king, with thyintelligence, and thou wilt understand that the calamities which overtakemen are all due to the conduct of men themselves. Do thou, therefore, (asa remedy), restrain thy senses and mind and speech. For, if those becomeweak and productive of evil there is no man who can keep himself freefrom temptation of external objects by which he is always surrounded. Asno one can form an adequate idea of the past nor can foresee the future,there being many intervals of time and place, a person like thee who ispossessed of such wisdom and such prowess, never indulges in grief forunion and separation, for good or evil. A person of such mildness ofdisposition, well-restrained soul, and settled conclusions, and observantof Brahmacharya vows, never indulges in grief and never becomes restlessfrom desire of acquiring or fear of losing anything of small value. It isnot fit that such a man should adopt a deceitful life of mendicancy, alife that is sinful and wicked and cruel and worthy of only a wretchamong men. Do thou repair to the great forest and lead a life ofhappiness there, all alone and subsisting upon fruit and roots,restraining speech and soul, and filled with compassion for allcreatures. He that cheerfully leads such a life in the forest, withlarge-tusked elephants for companions, with no human being by his side,and contented with the produce of the wilderness, is said to act afterthe manner of the wise. A large lake when it becomes turbid, resumes itstranquillity of itself. Similarly, a man of wisdom, when disturbed insuch matters, becomes tranquil of himself. I see that a person that hasfallen into such a plight as thine may live happily even thus. When thyprosperity is almost impossible to recover, and when thou art withoutministers and counsellors, such a course is open to thee. Dost thou hopeto reap any benefit by depending upon destiny?'”

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