“Suka said, ‘I have now understood that there are two kinds of creation,viz., one commencing with Kshara (which is universal), and which is fromthe (universal) Soul. The other, consisting of the senses with theirobjects, is traceable to the puissance of the knowledge. This lasttranscends the other and is regarded to be the foremost. I desire,however, to once more hear of that course of righteousness which runs inthis world, regulated by the virtue of Time and according to which allgood men frame their conduct. In the Vedas there are both kinds ofdeclarations, viz., do acts and avoid acts. How shall I succeed inascertaining the propriety of this or that? It behoveth thee to expoundthis clearly. Having obtained, through thy instructions, a thoroughknowledge of the course of conduct of human beings, having purifiedmyself by the practice of only righteousness, and having cleansed myunderstanding, I shall, after casting off my body, behold theindestructible Soul.'
“Vyasa said, ‘The course of conduct that was first established by Brahmahimself was duly observed by the wise and pious persons of old, viz., thegreat Rishis of ancient times. The great Rishis conquer all the worlds bythe practice of Brahmacharya. Seeking all things that are good forhimself by fixing the mind on the knowledge, practising severeausterities by residing in the forest and subsisting on fruits and roots,by treading on sacred spots, by practising universal benevolence, and bygoing on his rounds of mendicancy at the proper time to the huts offorest recluses when these become smokeless and the sound of the huskingrod is hushed, a person succeeds in attaining to Brahma. Abstainingfrom flattery and from bowing thy heads to others, and avoiding both goodand evil, live thou in the forest by thyself, appeasing hunger by anymeans that comes by the way.’
“Suka said, ‘The declarations of the Vedas (already referred to inrespect of acts) are, in the opinion of the vulgar, contradictory.Whether this is authoritative or that is so, when there is this conflict,how can they be said to be scriptural? I desire to hear this: howcan both be regarded as authoritative? How, indeed, can Emancipation beobtained without violating the ordinance about the obligatory characterof acts?’
“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed, the son of Gandhavati, viz., theRishi, applauding these words of his son possessed of immeasurableenergy, replied unto him, saying the following.’
“Vyasa said, ‘One that is a Brahmacharin, one that leads a life ofdomesticity, one that is a forest recluse, and one that leads a life of(religious) mendicancy, all reach the same high end by duly observing theduties of their respective modes of life. Or, if one and the same person,freed from desire and aversion, practises (one after another) all thesefour modes of life according to the ordinances that have been laid down,he is certainly fitted (by such conduct) to understand Brahma. The fourmodes of life constitute a ladder or flight of steps. That flight isattached to Brahma. By ascending that Right one–succeeds in reaching theregion of Brahma. For the fourth part of his life, the Brahmacharin,conversant–with the distinctions of duty and freed from malice, shouldlive with his preceptor or his preceptor’s son. While residing in thepreceptor’s house, he should go to bed after the preceptor has gone tohis, and rise therefrom before the preceptor rises from his. Allsuch acts again as should be done by the disciple, as also those whichshould be done by a menial servant, should be accomplished by him.Finishing these he should humbly take his stand by the side of thepreceptor. Skilled in every kind of work, he should conduct himself likea menial servant, doing every act for his preceptor. Having accomplishedall acts (without leaving any portion undone), he should study, sittingat the feet of his preceptor, with eager desire to learn. He shouldalways behave with simplicity, avoid evil, speech, and take lessons onlywhen his preceptor invites him for it. Become pure in body and mind,and acquiring cleverness and other virtues, he should now and then speakwhat is agreeable. Subduing his senses, he should look at his preceptorwithout eyes of longing curiosity. He should never eat before hispreceptor has eaten; never drink before his preceptor has drunk; neversit down before his preceptor has sat down; and never go to bed beforehis preceptor has gone to bed. He should gently touch his preceptor’sfeet with upturned palms, the right foot with the right and the left withthe left. Reverentially saluting the preceptor, he should say unto him,’O illustrious one, teach me. I shall accomplish this (work), Oillustrious one! This (other work) I have already accomplished. Oregenerate one, I am ready to accomplish whatever else thy reverend selfmay be pleased to command.’ Having said all this, and having duly offeredhimself unto him (thus), he should accomplish whatever acts of hispreceptor wait for accomplishment, and having completed them inform thepreceptor once more of their completion. Whatever scents or tastes theBrahmacharin may abstain from while actually leading a life ofBrahmacharya may be used by him after his return from the preceptor’sabode. This is consistent with the ordinance. Whatever observances havebeen elaborately laid down for Brahmacharins (in the scriptures) shouldall be regularly practised by him. He should, again, be always near hispreceptor (ready within call). Having contributed to his preceptor’sgratification in this way to the best of his powers, the disciple should,from that mode of life, pass into the others (one after another) andpractise the duties of each. Having (thus) passed a fourth part of hislife in the study of the Vedas, and observance of vows and fasts, andhaving given the preceptor the (final) fee, the disciple should,according to the ordinance, take his leave and return home (for enteringinto a life of domesticity). Then, having taken spouses, obtainingthem in the ways indicated in the ordinances, and having carefullyestablished the domestic fire, he should, observant all the while of vowsand fasts, become a house-holder and pass the second period of life.'”