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Chapter 108

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘The path of duty is long. It has also, O Bharata,many branches. What, however, according to thee, are those duties thatmost deserve to be practised? What acts, according to thee, are the mostimportant among all duties, by the practice of which I may earn thehighest merit both here and hereafter?’

“Bhishma said, ‘The worship of mother, father, and preceptor is mostimportant according to me. The man who attends to that duty here,succeeds in acquiring great fame and many regions of felicity. Worshippedwith respect by thee, whatever they will command thee, be it consistentwith righteousness or in consistent with it, should be doneunhesitatingly, O Yudhishthira! One should never do what they forbid.Without doubt, that which they command should always be done.[332] Theyare the three worlds. They are the three modes of life. They are thethree Vedas. They are the three sacred fires. The father is said to bethe Garhapatya fire; the mother, the Dakshina fire, and the preceptor isthat fire upon which libations are poured. These three fires are, ofcourse, the most eminent. If thou attendest with heedfulness to thesethree fires, thou wilt succeed in conquering the three worlds. By servingthe father with regularity, one may cross this world. By serving themother in the same way, one may attain to regions of felicity in thenext. By serving the preceptor with regularity one may obtain the regionof Brahma. Behave properly towards these three, O Bharata, thou shaltthen obtain great fame in the three worlds, and blessed be thou, greatwill be thy merit and reward. Never transgress them in any act. Never eatbefore they eat, nor eat anything that is better than what thy eat. Neverimpute any fault to them. One should always serve them with humility.That is an act of high merit. By acting in that way, O best of kings,thou mayst obtain fame, merit, honour, and regions of felicity hereafter.He who honours these three is honoured in all the worlds. He, on theother hand, who disregards these three, falls to obtain any merit fromany of his acts. Such a man, O scorcher of foes, acquires merit neitherin this world nor in the next. He who always disregards these threeseniors never obtains fame either here or hereafter. Such a man neverearns any good in the next world. All that I have given away in honour ofthose three has become a hundredfold or a thousandfold of its actualmeasure. It is in consequence of that merit that even now, OYudhishthira, the three worlds are clearly before my eyes. One Acharya issuperior to ten Brahmanas learned in the Vedas. One Upadhyaya is againsuperior to ten Acharyas. The father, again, is superior to tenUpadhyayas. The mother again, is superior to ten fathers, or perhaps, thewhole world, in importance. There is no one that deserves such reverenceas the mother. In my opinion, however, the preceptor is worthy of greaterreverence than the father or even the mother. The father and the motherare authors of one’s being. The father and the mother, O Bharata, onlycreate the body. The life, on the other hand, that one obtains from one’spreceptor, is heavenly. That life is subject to no decay and is immortal.The father and the mother, however much they may offend, should never beslain. By not punishing a father and a mother, (even if they deservepunishment), one does not incur sin. Indeed, such reverend persons, byenjoying impunity, do not stain the king. The gods and the Rishis do notwithhold their favours from such persons as strive to cherish even theirsinful fathers with reverence. He who favours a person by imparting tohim true instruction, by communicating the Vedas, and giving knowledgewhich is immortal, should be regarded as both a father and a mother. Thedisciple, in grateful recognition of what the instructor has done, shouldnever do anything that would injure the latter. They that do notreverence their preceptors after receiving instruction from them byobeying them dutifully in thought and deed, incur the sin of killing afoetus. There is no sinner in this world like them.[333] Preceptorsalways show great affection for their disciples. The latter should,therefore, show their preceptors commensurate reverence. He, therefore,that wishes to earn that high merit which has existed from ancient days,should worship and adore his preceptors and cheerfully share with themevery object of enjoyment. With him who pleases his father is pleasedPrajapati himself. He who pleases his mother gratifies the earth herself.He who pleases his preceptor gratifies Brahma by his act. For thisreason, the preceptor is worthy of greater reverence than either thefather or the mother. If preceptors are worshipped, the very Rishis, andthe gods, together with the Pitris, are all pleased. Therefore, thepreceptor is worthy of the highest reverence. The preceptor should neverbe disregarded in any manner by the disciple. Neither the mother nor thefather deserves such regard as the preceptor. The father, the mother, andthe preceptor, should never be insulted. No act of theirs should be foundfault with. The gods and the great Rishis are pleased with him thatbehaves with reverence towards his preceptors. They that injure inthought and deed their preceptors, or fathers, or mothers, incur the sinof killing a foetus. There is no sinner in the world equal to them. Thatson of the sire’s loins and the mother’s womb, who, being brought up bythem and when he comes to age, does not support them in his turn, incursthe sin of killing a foetus. There is no sinner in the world like untohim. We have never heard that these four, viz., he who injures a friend,he who is ungrateful, he who slays a woman, and he who slays a preceptor,ever succeed in cleansing themselves. I have now told thee generally allthat a person should do in this world. Besides those duties that I haveindicated, there is nothing productive of greater felicity. Thinking ofall duties, I have told thee their essence.'”

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