“Sauti said, ‘After Vaisampayana had explained to king Janamejaya in thisway the glory of Narayana, he began to discourse on another topic byreciting the question of Yudhishthira and the answer that Bhishma gave inthe presence of all the. Pandavas and the Rishis as also of Krishnahimself. Indeed, Vaisampayana began by saying what follows.
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O grandsire discoursed to us on theduties appertaining to the religion of Emancipation. It behoveth thee nowto tell us what the foremost duties are of persons belonging to theseveral modes of life!'
“Bhishma said, ‘The duties ordained in respect of every mode of life arecapable, if well performed, of leading to heaven and the high fruit ofTruth. Duties which are as so many doors, to great sacrifices and giftsand none of the practices inculcated by them are futile in respect ofconsequence. One who adopts particular duties with steady and firm faith,praises these duties adopted by him to the exclusion of the rest, O chiefof Bharata’s race. This particular topic, however, on which thou wishestme to discourse was in days of yore the subject of conversation betweenthe celestial Rishi Narada and the chief of the deities, viz., Indra. Thegreat Rishi Narada, O king, revered by all the world is a siddha i.e.,his sadhana has met fulfilment. He wanders through all the worldsunobstructed by anything, like the all-pervading wind itself. Once upon atime he repaired to the abode of Indra. Duly honoured by the chief of thedeities, he sat close to his host. Beholding him seated at his ease andfree from fatigue, the lord of Sachi addressed him, saying,–O greatRishi, is there any thing wonderful that has been beheld by thee, Osinless one? O regenerate Rishi, crowned with ascetic success, thourovest, moved by curiosity, through the universe of mobile and immobileobjects, witnessing all things. O celestial Rishi, there is nothing inthe universe that is unknown to thee. Do thou tell me, therefore, of anywonderful incident which thou may t have seen or heard of or felt. Thusquestioned, Narada, that foremost of speakers, O king, then commented torecite unto the chief of the celestials the extensive history thatfollows. Listen now to me as I recite that story which Narada told beforeIndra. I shall narrate it in the same manner in which the celestial Rishihad narrated it, and for the same purpose that he had in view!'”