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Chapter 4

Mahabharata English - STRI PARVA

“Dhritarashtra said, O foremost speakers, how may the wilderness of thisworld be known? I desire to hear this. Asked by me, tell me this.

“Vidura said, I will describe to thee all the acts of creatures fromtheir first conception. At the outset it lives in the admixture of bloodand the vital fluid. Then it grows little by little. Then on the expiryof the fifth month it assumes shape. It next becomes a foetus with allits limbs completed, and lives in a very impure place, covered with fleshand blood. Then, through the action of the wind, its lower limbs areturned upwards and the head comes downwards. Arriving in this posture atthe mouth of the uterus, it suffers manifold woes. In consequence of thecontractions of the uterus, the creature then comes out of it, enduedwith the results of all his previous acts. He then encounters in thisworld other evils that rush towards him. Calamities proceed towards himlike dogs at the scent of meat. Next diverse diseases approach him whilehe is enchained by his previous acts. Bound by the chains of the sensesand women and wealth and other sweet things of life, diverse evilpractices also approach him then, O king! Seized by these, he neverobtains happiness. At that season he succeeds not in obtaining the fruitof his acts, right or wrong. They, however, that set their hearts onreflection, succeed in protecting their souls. The person governed by hissenses does not know that death has come at his door. At last, dragged bythe messengers of the Destroyer, he meets with destruction at theappointed time. Agitated by his senses, for whatever good and evil hasbeen done at the outset and having enjoyed or suffered the fruits ofthese, he once more becomes indifferent to his acts of self-slaughter.Alas, the world is deceived, and covetousness brings it under itsdominion. Deprived of understanding by covetousness, wrath, and fear, oneknows not ones own self. Filled with joy at ones own respectability ofbirth, one is seen to traduce those that are not high-born. Swelled alsowith pride of wealth, one is seen to contemn the poor. One regards othersto be ignorant fools, but seldom takes a survey of ones own self. Oneattributes faults to others but is never desirous to punish ones ownself. Since the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, thehigh-born and the lowborn, the honoured and the dishonoured, all go tothe place of the dead and sleep there freed from every anxiety, withbodies divested of flesh and full only of bones united by dried-uptendons, whom amongst them would the survivors look upon as distinguishedabove the others and by what signs would they ascertain the attributes ofbirth and beauty? When all, stretched after the same fashion, sleep onthe bare ground, why then should men, taking leave of their senses,desire to deceive one another? He that, looking at this saying (in thescriptures) with his own eyes or hearing it from others, practisethvirtue in this unstable world of life and adhereth to it from early age,attaineth to the highest end. Learning all this, he that adhereth toTruth, O king, succeedeth in passing over all paths.”

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