Chapter 193

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I think, O grandsire, that thou art acquainted witheverything, O thou that art conversant with duties. I desire to hear theediscourse to me, O sinless one, of the ordinances about conduct.’

“Bhishma said, ‘They that are of bad conduct, of bad acts, of wickedunderstanding, and excessive rashness, are called evil or wicked men.They, however, that are called good are distinguished by purity ofconduct and practices. They are good men who never answer calls of natureon the high roads, in cow-pens, or in fields overgrown with paddy. Havingfinished the necessary acts one should perform his ablutions inriver-water and gratify the deities with oblations of water. This is saidto be the duty of all men. Surya should be always worshipped. One shouldnot sleep after sunrise. Morning and evening the prayers (ordained in thescriptures) should be said, sitting with face turned towards the east andtowards the west respectively. Washing the five limbs,[589] one shouldeat silently with face turned towards the east. One should neverdisparage the food which one is to eat. One should eat food that is goodto the taste. After eating one should wash one’s hands and rise.[590] Oneshould never go to sleep at night with wet feet. The celestial RishiNarada said that these are indications of good conduct. One should everyday circumambulate a sacred spot, a bull, a sacred image, a cow-pen, aplace where four roads meet, a pious Brahmana, and sacred tree. Oneshould not make distinctions between one’s guests and attendants andkinsmen in matters of food. Equality (in this respect) with servants isapplauded. Eating (twice a day) in the morning and evening is anordinance of the gods. It is not laid down that one should eat (oncemore) at any intermediate period. He who eats according to this ruleacquires the merit of a fast.[591] At the hours ordained for Homa oneshould pour libations on the sacred fire. Without seeking thecompanionship of other people’s wives, the man of wisdom who seeks hisown wife in her season acquires the merit of Brahmacharyya. The remnantsof a Brahmana’s dish are like ambrosia. They are like the lactealsustenance that is yielded by the mother’s breast. People highly prizethose remnants. The good, by eating them attain to Brahma. He who poundsturf to clay (for making sacrificial altars), or he who cuts grass (formaking sacrificial fuel), or he who uses his nails only (and not weaponsof any kind) for eating (sanctified meat), or he who always subsists onthe remnants of Brahmana’s dishes, or he who acts, induced by desire forreward, has not to live long in the world.[592] One who has abstainedfrom meat (under any vow) should not take meat even if it be sanctifiedwith mantras from the Yajurveda. One should also avoid the flesh aboutthe vertebral column (of any animal) and the flesh of animals not slainin sacrifices.[593] Whether at one’s own place or in a strange land, oneshould never cause one’s guest to fast. Having obtained alms and otherfruits of optional acts, one should offer them to one’s seniors. Oneshould offer seats to one’s seniors and salute them with respect. Byworshipping one’s seniors, one obtains long life, fame, and prosperity.One should never behold the Sun at the moment of rising, nor should oneturn one’s gaze towards a naked woman that is another man’s spouse.Congress with one’s wife (in her season) is not sinful but it is an actthat should always be done in privacy. The heart of all sacred spots andshrines is the Preceptor. The heart of all pure and cleansing things isFire. All acts done by a good and pious person are good and laudable,including even the touching of the hair of a cow’s tail. Every time onemeets with another, one should make polite enquiries. The saluting ofBrahmanas every morning and evening is ordained. In temples of gods, amidcows, in performing the rites of religion laid down for Brahmanas, inreading the Vedas, and in eating, the right hand should be raised.[594]The worship of Brahmanas, morning and evening, according to due rites,produces great merit. In consequence of such worship the stock-in-tradeof the merchant, become abundant and the produce of the agriculturist.Great also becomes the yield of all kinds of corn and the supply of allarticles that the senses can enjoy becomes copious. When giving eatablesto another (seated at his dish), one should say, ‘Is it sufficient?’ Whenpresenting drink, one should ask, ‘Will it gratify,’ and when givingsweetened milk and rice, or sugared gruel of barley, or milk with sesameor pease, one should ask ‘Has it fallen?'[595] After shaving, afterspitting, after bathing, and after eating, people should worshipBrahmanas with reverence, Such worship is sure to bestow longevity onsickly men. One should not pass urine with face turned towards the sun,nor should one see one’s own excreta. One should not lie on the same bedwith a woman, nor eat with her. In addressing seniors one should neverapply the pronoun you to them or take their names. Thouing or the takingof names is not censurable in addressing inferiors or equals in age.[596]The hearts of sinful men betray the sins committed by them. Those sinfulmen that conceal their conscious sins from good men meet withdestruction. Only ignorant fools seek to conceal the sins which theycommit consciously. It is true that human beings do not see those sinsbut the gods see them. A sin concealed by another sin leads to freshsins. An act of merit, again, if concealed by an act of merit, increasesthe merit. The acts of a virtuous man always follow in the wake ofvirtue. A man destitute of understanding never thinks of the sinscommitted by him. Those sins, however, overtake the doer that has fallenaway from the scriptures. As Rahu comes to Chandra (at his proper time),those sinful acts come to the foolish man.[597] The objects that arestored with expectation are scarcely enjoyed. Such storing is neverapplauded by the wise, for death waits for no one (but snatches his preywhether the latter be ready or unready). The wise have said that therighteousness of all creatures is an attribute of the mind. For thisreason, one should, in one’s mind, do good to all.[598] One shouldpractise virtue singly. In the practice of virtue one has no need for thehelp of others. If one obtains only the ordinances of the scriptures,what can an associate do?[599] Righteousness is the origin of mankind.Righteousness is the ambrosia of the gods. After death, men enjoy,through Righteousness, eternal happiness.’

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