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Chapter 271

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘The Vedas, O Bharata, discourse of Religion. Profit,and Pleasure. Tell me, however, O grandsire, the attainment of which(amongst these three) is regarded as superior.’

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall, in this connection, recite to thee the ancientnarrative of the benefit that Kundadhara in days of old had conferredupon one who was devoted to him. Once on a time a Brahmana destitute ofwealth sought to acquire virtue, induced by the desire of fruit. Hecontinually set his heart upon wealth for employing it in the celebrationof sacrifices. For achieving his purpose he set himself to the practiceof the austerest penances. Resolved to accomplish his purpose, he beganto worship the deities with great devotion. But he failed to obtainwealth by such worship of the deities. He thereupon began to reflect,saying unto himself, ‘What is that deity, hitherto unadored by men, whomay be favourably disposed towards me without delay?’ While reflecting inthis strain with a cool mind, he beheld stationed before him thatretainer of the deities, viz., the Cloud called Kundadhara. As soon as hebeheld that mighty-armed being, the Brahmana’s feelings of devotion wereexcited, and he said unto himself, ‘This one will surely bestowprosperity upon me. Indeed, his form indicates as much. He lives in closeproximity to the deities. He has not as yet been adored by other men. Hewill verily give me abundant wealth without any delay.’ The Brahmana,then, having concluded thus, worshipped that Cloud with dhupas andperfumes and garlands of flowers of the most superior kind, and withdiverse kinds of offerings. Thus worshipped, the Cloud became very soonpleased with his worshipper and uttered these words fraught with benefitto that Brahmana, ‘The wise have ordained expiation for one guilty ofBrahmanicide, or of drinking alcohol or of stealing, or of neglecting allmeritorious vows. There is no expiation, however, for one that isungrateful.[1278] Expectation hath a child named Iniquity. Ire, again, isregarded to be a child of Envy. Cupidity is the child of Deceit.Ingratitude, however, is barren (and hath no offspring). After this, thatBrahmana, stretched on a bed of Kusa grass, and penetrated with theenergy of Kundadhara, beheld all living beings in a dream. Indeed, inconsequence of his absence of passion, penances, and devotion, thatBrahmana of cleansed soul, standing aloof from all (carnal) enjoyments,beheld in the night that effect of his devotion to Kundadhara. Indeed, OYudhishthira, he beheld the high-souled Manibhadra of great effulgencestationed in the midst of the deities, employed in giving his orders.There the gods seemed to be engaged in bestowing kingdoms and riches uponmen, induced by their good deeds, and in taking them away when men felloff from goodness.[1279] Then, O bull of Bharata’s race, Kundadhara ofgreat effulgence, bending himself low, prostrated himself on the groundbefore the gods in the presence of all the Yakshas. At the command of thegods the high-souled Manibhadra addressed the prostrate Kundadhara andsaid, ‘What does Kundadhara want?’ Thereupon Kundadhara replied, ‘If,indeed, the gods are pleased with me, there, that Brahmana reverences megreatly. I pray for some favour being shown to him, something, that is,that may bring him happiness.’ Hearing this, Manibhadra, commanded by thegods, once more said unto Kundadhara of great intelligence these words,’Rise, rise up, O Kundadhara! Thy suit is successful. Be thou happy. Ifthis Brahmana be desirous of wealth, let wealth be given to him, that is,as much wealth as this thy friend desires. At the command of the gods Ishall give him untold wealth.’ Kundadhara, then, reflecting upon thefleeting and unreal character of the status of humanity, set his heart, OYudhishthira, upon inclining the Brahmana to penances. Indeed, Kundadharasaid, ‘I do not, O giver of wealth, beg for wealth on behalf of thisBrahmana. I desire the bestowal of another favour upon him. I do notsolicit for this devotee of mine mountains of pearls and gems or even.the whole earth with all her riches. I desire, however, that he should bevirtuous. Let his heart find pleasure in virtue. Let him have virtue forhis stay. Let virtue be the foremost of all objects with him. Even thisis the favour that meets with my approval.’ Manibhadra said, ‘The fruitsof virtue are always sovereignty and happiness of diverse kinds. Let thisone enjoy those fruits, always freed from physical pain of every kind.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed, Kundadhara, however, of greatcelebrity, repeatedly solicited virtue alone for that Brahmana. The godswere highly pleased at it. Then Manibhadra said, ‘The gods are allpleased with thee as also with this Brahmana. This one shall become avirtuous-souled person. He shall devote his mind to virtue.’ The Cloud,Kundadhara, became delighted, O Yudhishthira, at thus having beensuccessful in obtaining his wish. The boon that he had got was one thatwas unattainable by anybody else. The Brahmana then beheld scatteredaround him many delicate fabrics of cloth. Without minding them at all(although so costly), the Brahmana came to disrelish the world.’

“The Brahmana said, ‘When this one doth not set any value upon gooddeeds, who else will? I had better go to the woods for leading a life ofrighteousness.'[1280]

“Bhishma continued, ‘Cherishing a distaste for the world, and through thegrace also of the gods, that foremost of Brahmanas entered the woods andcommenced to undergo the austerest of penances. Subsisting upon Suchfruits and roots as remained after serving the deities and guests, themind of that regenerate person, O monarch, was firmly set upon virtue.Gradually, the Brahmana, renouncing fruits and roots, betook himself toleaves of trees as his food. Then renouncing leaves, he took to wateronly as his subsistence. After that he passed many years by subsistingupon air alone. All the while, his strength did not diminish. This seemedexceedingly marvellous. Devoted to virtue and engaged in the practice ofthe severest austerities, after a long time he acquired spiritual vision.He then reflected, saying unto himself, ‘If, being gratified withanybody, I give him wealth, my speech would never be untrue.'[1281] Witha face lighted up by smiles, he once more began to undergo severerausterities. And once more, having won (higher) success, he thought thathe could, by a fiat of the will, then create the very highest objects.’If, gratified with any person whatsoever I give him even sovereignty, hewill immediately become a king, for my words will never be untrue.’ Whilehe was thinking in this way, Kundadhara, induced by his friendship forthe Brahmana and no less by the ascetic success which the Brahmana hadachieved, showed himself, O Bharata (unto his friend and devotee).Meeting with him the Brahmana offered him worship according to theobservances ordained. The Brahmana, however, felt some surprise, O king.Then Kundadhara addressed the Brahmana, saying, ‘Thou hast now got anexcellent and spiritual eye. Behold with this vision of thine the endthat is attained by kings, and survey all the worlds besides.’ TheBrahmana then, with his spiritual vision, beheld from a distancethousands of kings sunk in hell.’

“Kundadhara said, ‘After having worshipped me with devotion thou didstget sorrow for thy share, what then would have been the good done to theeby me, and what the value of my favour? Look, look for what end mendesire the gratification of carnal enjoyments. The door of heaven isclosed unto men.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘The Brahmana then beheld many men living in thisworld, embracing lust, and wrath, and cupidity, and fear, and pride, andsleep and procrastination, and inactivity.’

“Kundadhara said, ‘With these (vices) all human beings are enchained. Thegods are afraid of men. These vices, at the command of the gods, mar anddisconcert on every side.[1282] No man can become virtuous unlesspermitted by the gods. (In consequence of their permission) thou hastbecome competent to give away kingdoms and wealth through thy penances.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed, the righteous-souled Brahmana,bending his head unto that Cloud, prostrated himself on the ground, andsaid, ‘Thou hast, indeed, done me a great favour. Unconscious of thegreat affection shown by thee towards me, I had through the influence ofdesire and cupidity, failed to display good will towards thee.’ ThenKundadhara said unto that foremost of regenerate persons, ‘I haveforgiven thee,’ and having embraced him with his arms disappeared thereand then. The Brahmana then roamed through all the worlds, havingattained to ascetic success through the grace of Kundadhara. Through thepuissance gained from virtue and penances, one acquires competence tosail through the skies and to fructify all one’s wishes and purposes, andfinally attain to the highest end. The gods and Brahmanas and Yakshas andall good men and Charanas always adore those that are virtuous but neverthose that are rich or given up to the indulgence of their desires. Thegods are truly propitious to thee since thy mind is devoted to virtue. Inwealth there may be a very little happiness but in virtue the measure ofhappiness is very great.'”

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