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Chapter 123

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I wish, O sire, to hear the settled conclusions onthe subject of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure. Depending upon which ofthese does the course of life proceed? What are the respective roots ofVirtue, Wealth, and Pleasure? What are again the results of those three?They are sometimes see n to mingle with one another, and sometimes toexist separately and independently of one another.’

“Bhishma said, ‘When men in this world endeavour with good hearts toachieve Wealth with the aid of Virtue, then those three, viz., Virtue,Wealth, and Pleasure, may be seen to co-exist in a state of union inrespect of time, cause, and action.[374] Wealth has its root in Virtue,and Pleasure is said to be the fruit of Wealth. All the three again havetheir root in Will. Will is concerned with objects. All objects, again,in their entirety, exist for gratifying the desire of enjoyment. Uponthese then does the aggregate of three depend. Entire abstraction fromall objects is Emancipation. It is said that Virtue is sought for theprotection of the body, and Wealth is for the acquisition of Virtue.Pleasure is only the gratification of the senses. All the three have,therefore, the quality of Passion.[375] Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure,when sought for the sake of heaven or such other rewards, are said to beremote because the rewards themselves are remote. When sought, however,for the sake of Knowledge of Self, they are said to be proximate. Oneshould seek them when they are of such a character.[376] One should notcast them off even mentally. If Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure are to beabandoned, one should abandon them when one has freed one’s self byascetic penances.[377] The aim of the triple aggregate is towardsemancipation. Would that man could obtain it! One’s acts, undertaken andcompleted with eve tithe aid of intelligence may or may not lead to theexpected results. Virtue is not always the root of Wealth, for otherthings than Virtue lead to Wealth (such as service, agriculture, &c).There is again a contrary opinion (for some say that Wealth is earnedthrough chance or birth or like causes). In some instances, Wealthacquired has been productive of evil. Other things again that Wealth(such as fasts and vows) have led to the acquisition of Virtue. Asregards this topic, therefore, a dullard whose understanding has beendebased by ignorance, never succeeds in acquiring the highest aim ofVirtue and Wealth, viz., Emancipation. Virtue’s dross consists in thedesire of reward; the dross of Wealth consists in hoarding it; whenpurged of these impurities, they are productive of great results. In thisconnection is cited the narrative of the discourse that look place indays of old between Kamandaka and Angaristha. One day, king Angaristha,having waited for the opportunity, saluted the Rishi Kamandaka as he wasseated at his ease and asked him the following questions, ‘If a king,forced by lust and folly, commits sin for which he afterwards repents, bywhat acts, O Rishi, can those sins be destroyed? If again a man impelledby ignorance, does what is sinful in the belief that he is actingrighteously, how shall the king put a stop to that sin come into vogueamong men?’

“Kamandaka said, ‘That man who, abandoning Virtue and Wealth pursues onlyPleasure, reaps as the consequence of such conduct the destruction of hisintelligence. The destruction of intelligence is followed by heedlessnessthat is at once destructive of both Virtue and Wealth. From suchheedlessness proceed dire atheism and systematic wickedness of conduct.If the king does not restrain those wicked men of sinful conduct, allgood subjects then live in fear of him like the inmate of a room withinwhich a snake has concealed itself. The subjects do not follow such aking. Brahmanas and all pious persons also act in the same way. As aconsequence the king incurs great danger, and ultimately the risk ofdestruction itself. Overtaken by infamy and insult, he has to drag on amiserable existence. A life of infamy, however, is equal to death. Menlearned in the scriptures have indicated the following means for checkingsin. The king should always devote himself to the study of the threeVedas. He should respect the Brahmanas and do good offices unto them. Heshould be devoted to righteousness. He should make alliance (of marriage)with high families. He should wait upon high-minded Brahmanas adornedwith the virtue of forgiveness. He should perform ablutions and recitesacred mantras and thus pass his time happily. Banishing all wickedsubjects from himself and his kingdom, he should seek the companionshipof virtuous men. He should gratify all persons by speeches or good acts.He should say unto all–‘I am yours,’–proclaim the virtues of even hisfoes. By pursuing such conduct he may soon cleanse himself of his sinsand win the high regard of all. Without doubt, by conduct such as thisall his sins will be destroyed. Thou shouldst accomplish all those highduties which thy seniors and preceptors would indicate. Thou art sure toobtain great blessing through the grace of thy seniors and preceptors.'”

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