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Chapter 265

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited an old narrative of what wasrecited by king Vichakhy through compassion for all creatures. Beholdingthe mangled body of a bull, and hearing the exceedingly painful groans ofthe kine in a cow-slaying sacrifice, and observing the cruel Brahmanasthat gathered there for assisting at the ceremonies, that king[1195]uttered these words, ‘Prosperity to all the kine in the world.’ When theslaughter had commenced, these words expressive of a blessing (to thosehelpless animals) were pronounced. And the monarch further said, ‘Onlythose that are transgressors of defined limits, that are destitute ofintelligence, that are atheists and sceptics, and that desire theacquisition of celebrity through sacrifices and religious rites speakhighly of the slaughter of animals in sacrifices.[1196] Therighteous-souled Manu has applauded (the observance of) harmlessness inall (religious) acts. Indeed, men slaughter animals in sacrifices, urgedby only the desire of fruit.[1197] Hence, guided by authority (in respectof slaughter and abstention from slaughter or harmlessness) oneconversant (with the scriptures) should practise the true course of dutywhich is exceedingly subtile. Harmlessness to all creatures is thehighest of all duties. Living in the vicinity of an inhabited place andinjuring oneself to the observance of rigid vows, and disregarding thefruits indicated of Vedic acts, one should give up domesticity, adoptinga life of Renunciation. Only they that are mean are urged by the desireof fruit.[1198] Reverentially mentioning sacrifices and trees andsacrificial stakes, men do not eat tainted meat. This practice, however,is not worthy of applause.[1199] Wine, fish, honey, meat, alcohol, andpreparations of rice and sesame seeds, have been introduced by knaves.The use of these (in sacrifices) is not laid down in the Vedas. Thehankering after these arises from pride, error of judgment, and cupidity.They that are true Brahmanas realise the presence of Vishnu in everysacrifice. His worship, it has been laid down, should be made withagreeable Payasa. (The leaves and flowers of) such trees as have beenindicated in the Vedas, whatever act is regarded as worthy and whateverelse is held as pure by persons of pure hearts and cleansed natures andthose eminent for knowledge and holiness, are all worthy of being offeredto the Supreme Deity and not unworthy of His acceptance.'[1200]

“Yudhishthira said, ‘The body and all sorts of dangers and calamities arecontinually at war with each other. How, therefore, will a person who istotally free from the desire of harming and who on this account will notbe able to act, succeed in keeping up his body?'[1201]

“Bhishma said, ‘One should, when able, acquire merit and act in such away that one’s body may not languish and suffer pain, and that death maynot come.'”[1202]

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