“Bhishma said, ‘Once on a time a king of Janaka’s race, while ranging theuninhabited forests in pursuit of deer, saw a superior Brahmana or Rishiof Bhrigu’s race. Bowing with his head unto the Rishi who was seated athis ease, king Vasuman took his seat near him and obtaining hispermission put to him this question: O holy one, what is productive ofthe highest benefit, both here and hereafter, to man who is endued withan unstable body and who is the slave of his desires? Properly honouredby the king, and thus questioned, that high-souled Rishi possessed ofascetic merit then said these words unto him that were highly beneficial.
“The Rishi said, If thou desirest both here and hereafter what isagreeable to thy mind, do thou then, with restrained senses, abstain fromdoing what is disagreeable to all creatures. Righteousness is beneficialunto them that are good. Righteousness is the refuge of those that aregood. From Righteousness have flowed the three worlds with their mobileand immobile creatures. O thou that art eagerly desirous of enjoying allagreeable objects, how is it that thou art not yet satiated with objectsof desire? Thou seest the honey, O thou of little understanding, but artblind to the fall. As one desirous of earning the fruits ofknowledge should set oneself to the acquisition of knowledge, even so onedesirous of earning the fruits of Righteousness should set oneself to theacquisition of Righteousness. If a wicked man from desire of virtue,strives to accomplish an act that is pure and stainless, the fulfilmentof his desire becomes impossible. If, on the other hand, a good man,impelled by the desire of earning virtue, strives to accomplish an actthat is even difficult, its accomplishment becomes easy for him. If,while residing in the woods, one acts in such a way as to enjoy all thepleasures of a residence amidst men in towns, one comes to be looked uponnot as a forest recluse but as a denizen of towns. Similarly, if one,while residing in towns, acts in such a way as to enjoy the felicity thatattaches to the life of a forest recluse, once comes to be looked uponnot as a denizen of towns but as a forest recluse. Ascertaining themerits of the religion of Acts and that of Abstention from acts, do thou,with concentrated senses, be devoted to the practices of righteousnessthat appertain to thought, words, and deed. Judging of the propriety oftime and place, purified by the observance of vows and other cleansingrites, and solicited (by them), do thou, without malice, make large giftsunto them that are good. Acquiring wealth by righteous means, oneshould give it away unto those that are deserving. One should make gifts,casting off anger; and having made gifts one should never give way tosorrow nor proclaim those gifts with one’s own mouth. The Brahmana who isfull of compassion, who is observant of candour, and whose birth is pure,has been regarded as a person deserving of gifts. A person is said to bepure in birth when he is born of mother that has only one husband andthat belongs to the same order to which her husband belongs. Indeed, sucha Brahmana, conversant with the three Vedas, viz., Rich, Yajush, andSaman, possessed of learning, duly observant of the six duties (ofsacrificing on his own account, officiating at the sacrifices of others,learning, teaching, making gifts, and receiving gifts), has been regardedas deserving of gifts. Righteousness becomes unrighteousness, andunrighteousness becomes righteousness, according to the character of thedoer, of time, and of place. Sin is cast off like the filth onone’s body,–a little with a little exertion and a greater quantity whenthe exertion is greater. A person, after purging his bowels, should takeghee, which operates most beneficially on his system (as a healthytonic). After the same manner, when one has cleansed oneself of allfaults and sets oneself to the acquisition of righteousness, thatrighteousness, in the next world, proves to be productive of the highesthappiness. Good and evil thoughts exist in the minds of all creatures.Withdrawing the mind from evil thoughts, it should always be directedtowards good thoughts. One should always reverence the practices of one’sown order. Do thou strive, therefore, to act in such a way that thoumayst have faith in the practices of thy own order. O thou that artendued with an impatient soul, betake thyself to the practice ofpatience. O thou that art of a foolish understanding, seek thou to bepossessed of intelligence! Destitute of tranquillity, seek thou to betranquil, and bereft of wisdom as thou art, do thou seek to act wisely!He who moves in the companionship of the righteous succeeds, by his ownenergy, in acquiring the means of accomplishing what is beneficial forhim both in this and the next world. Verily, the root of the benefit(which thus becomes his here and hereafter) is unwavering firmness. Theroyal sage Mahabhisha, through want of this firmness, fell from heaven.Yayati, also, though his merits had become exhausted (in consequence ofhis boastfulness and thought was hurled down from heaven) succeeded inregaining regions of felicity through his firmness. Thou art sure toattain to great intelligence, as also to what is for thy highest good, bypaying court to virtuous and learned persons possessed of ascetic merit.’
“Bhishma continued, ‘Hearing these words of the sage, king Vasuman,possessed of a good disposition, withdrawing his mind from the pursuitsof desire, set it upon the acquisition of Righteousness.'”