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Chapter 179

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O thou that art conversant with the conduct of men,tell me by what conduct a person may succeed in this world, freed fromgrief. How also should a person act in this world so that he may attainto an excellent end?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story of thediscourse between Prahlada and the sage Ajagara. Once on a time kingPrahlada of great intelligence questioned a wandering Brahmana of greatintelligence and a cleansed and tranquil soul.’

“Prahlada said, ‘Freed from desire, with a cleansed soul, possessed ofhumility and self-restraint, without desire of action, free from malice,agreeable in speech, endued with dignity and intelligence and wisdom,thou livest (in simplicity) like a child. Thou never covetest any kind ofgain, and never grievest at any kind of loss. Thou art always contented,O Brahmana, and dost not seem to regard anything in the world. While allother creatures are being borne away in the current of desire andpassion, thou art perfectly indifferent to all acts appertaining toReligion, Profit, and Pleasure. Thou seemest to be in a state of quietude(without the possibility of agitation). Disregarding all objects of thesenses, thou movest like an emancipated self, only witnessing everything(but never taking part in anything). What, O sage, is thy wisdom, whatthy learning, and what thy behaviour (in consequence of which all thisbecomes possible)? Tell me this without delay, if, O Brahmana, thouthinkest it will do me good!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘That intelligent Brahmana who was well-conversantwith the duties of the world, thus questioned by Prahlada, answered himin sweet words of grave import. Behold, O Prahlada, the origin ofcreatures, their growth, decay, and death, are traceable to no(intelligible) cause. It is for this that I do not indulge in either joyor sorrow.[536] All the propensities (for action) that exist in theuniverse may be seen to flow from the very natures of the creatures (towhich they inhere). All things (in the universe) are depended on theirrespective natures. Hence, I am not delighted with anything.[537] Behold,O Prahlada, all kinds of union have an aptitude for disunion. Allacquisitions are certain to end in destruction. Hence I never set myheart upon the acquisition of any object. All things possessed ofattributes are certain to meet with destruction. What remains there for aperson then to do who (like me) is conversant with both the origin andthe end of things? Of all things, large or small, born in the ocean ofwaters, the end is noticeable. I see also the death, which is manifest, Ochief of Asuras, of all things, mobile and immobile, belonging to theland. O best of Danavas, death comes in season unto even the strongest ofwinged creatures which range the sky. I see again that the luminousbodies, large and small, which move in the firmament, fall down whentheir time comes. Beholding all created things Possessed of knowledge, tobe thus liable to be affected by death, and thinking all things to bepossessed of the same nature, I sleep in peace without any anxiety ofheart. If I get without trouble a copious repast, I do not scruple toenjoy it. On the other hand, I pass many days, together without eatinganything. Sometimes people feed me with costly viands in profusion,sometimes with a small quantity, sometimes with even less, and sometimesI get no food whatever. I sometimes eat only a portion of a grain;sometimes the dry sesame cakes from which the oil has been pressed out, Isometimes eat rice and other food of the richest kind. Sometimes I sleepon an elevated bedstead of the best kind. Sometimes I sleep on the bareground. Sometimes my bed is made within a fine palace or mansion. I amsometimes clad in rags, sometimes in sackcloth, sometimes in raiments offine texture, sometimes in deer-skins, sometimes in robes of thecostliest kind. I never reject such enjoyments as are consistent withvirtue and as are obtained by me without effort. I do not, at the sametime, strive for attaining such objects as are difficult of acquisition.The rigid vow I have adopted is called Ajagara.[538] That vow can secureimmortality. It is auspicious and griefless. It is incomparable and pure.It is consistent with the counsels of the wise. It is disapproved bypersons of foolish understanding who never follow it. With a pure heart Iconduct myself according to it. My mind never swerves from this vow. Ihave not swerved from the practices of my order. I am abstemious ineverything. I know the past and the present. Divested of fear and wrathand cupidity and errors of judgment, I follow this vow with a pure heart.There are no restrictions in respect of food and drink and other objectsof enjoyment for one practising this vow. As everything is dependent ondestiny, there is no observance of the considerations of time and placefor one like us. The vow I follow contributes to true happiness of theheart. It is never observed by those that are wicked. I follow it with apure heart. Induced by cupidity, men pursue different kinds of wealth. Ifbaffled in the pursuit, they become depressed by sorrow. Reflectingproperly upon all this by the aid of my intelligence which has penetratedthe truths of things, I follow this vow with a pure heart. I have seenpersons in distress seeking, for the acquisition of wealth, the shelterof men, good and bad. Devoted to tranquillity, and with my passions undercontrol, I follow this vow with a pure heart. Beholding, by the aid oftruth, that happiness and misery, loss and gain, attachment andrenunciation, death and life, are all ordained by destiny, I follow thisvow with a pure heart. Divested of fear and attachment and errors ofjudgment and pride, and endued with wisdom, intelligence, andunderstanding, and devoted to tranquillity and hearing that large snakeswithout moving enjoy the fruit that comes to them of itself, I followtheir practice with a pure heart. Without restrictions of any kind inrespect of bed and food, endued by my nature with self-restraint,abstemiousness, pure vow, truth, and purity of conduct, and without anydesire to store (for future use) the rewards of action, I follow, with adelighted and pure heart, this vow. All causes of sorrow have fled fromme in consequence of my having driven off the object of desire. Havingreceived an accession of light, I follow this vow with a pure heart, forcontrolling my soul which is thirsty and unrestrained but which iscapable (under proper culture) of depending upon itself (without thenecessity of external objects to keep it engaged). Without paying anyheed to the concerns towards which my heart, mind, words would like tolead me, and marking that the happiness which is connected with these isboth difficult of acquisition and fleeting in respect of duration, Ifollow this vow with a pure heart. Learned men possessed of greatintelligence, desirous of proclaiming their own feats, have whileestablishing their own theories and censuring those of others, said thisand that on this topic which is incapable of being settled bydisputation. Foolish men fail to understand this vow in a proper light.I, however, see it to be destructive of Ignorance. Regarding it also asfraught with immortality and as a remedy against diverse kinds of evil, Iwander among men, having subdued all faults and having freed myself fromthirst (after worldly goods)!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘That high-souled person who, having freed himselffrom attachments and divested himself of fear, cupidity; foolishness, andwrath, follows this Ajagara vow, or indulges in this sport, as it may becalled, certainly succeeds in passing his days in great delight.'”

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Chapter 2
Chapter 1
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