“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O thou of great intelligence, tell me again wordssuch as these, consistent with religion and profit. My thirst for hearingthem is not quenched. What thou sayst is charming!”
“Vidura said, ‘Ablution in all the holy places and kindness to allcreatures,–these two are equal. Perhaps, kindness to all creaturessurpasseth the former. O master, show kindness unto all thy sons, for bythat winning great fame in this world, thou wilt have heaven hereafter.As long as a man’s good deeds are spoken of in this world, so long, Otiger among men, is he glorified in heaven. In this connection is citedan old story about the conversation between Virochana and Sudhanwan, bothsuitors for Kesini’s hand. Once on a time, O king, there was a maiden ofthe name of Kesini, unrivalled for beauty; moved by the desire ofobtaining a good husband, she resolved to choose her lord in Swayamvara.Then one of the sons of Diti, Virochana by name, went to that spot,desirous of obtaining the maiden. Beholding that chief of the Daityas,Kesini addressed him, saying, ‘Are Brahmanas superior, O Virochana, orare the sons of Diti superior? And why also should not Sudhanwan sit onthe sofa?’ Virochana said, ‘Sprung from Prajapati himself, we, O Kesini,are the best and at the top of all creatures, and this world is ourswithout doubt. Who are the gods, and who are the Brahmanas?’ Kesini said,’We will, O Virochana, stay here in this very pavilion. Sudhanwan willcome here on the morrow, and let me see both of you sitting together.’Virochana said, ‘O amiable and timid girl, I will do what thou sayst.Thou wilt behold Sudhanwan and myself met together in the morning.’
“Vidura continued, ‘When the night had passed away and the solar disc hadrisen, Sudhanwan, O best of kings, came to that place where, O master,Virochana was waiting with Kesini. And Sudhanwan saw there bothPrahlada’s son and Kesini. And beholding the Brahmana arrived, Kesini, Obull of the Bharata race, rising up from hers, offered him a seat, waterto wash his feet, and Arghya. And asked by Virochana (to share his seat)Sudhanwan said, ‘O son of Prahlada, I touch thy excellent golden seat. Icannot, however, suffer myself to be regarded as thy equal, and sit on itwith thee.’ Virochana said, ‘A piece of wooden plank, an animal skin, ora mat of grass or straw,–these only, O Sudhanwan, are fit for thee. Thoudeservest not, however, the same seat with me.’ Sudhanwan said, ‘Fatherand son. Brahmanas of the same age and equal learning, two Kshatriyas,two Vaisyas and two Sudras, can sit together on the same seat, Exceptthese, no other can sit together. Your father used to pay his regards tome, taking a seat lower than that occupied by me. Thou art a child,brought tip in every luxury at home and thou understandest nothing.’Virochana said, ‘Staking all the gold, kine, horses, and every other kindof wealth that we have among the Asuras, let us, O Sudhanwan, ask themthis question that are able to answer.’ Sudhanwan said, ‘Let alone yourgold, kine, and heroes, O Virochana? Making our lives forfeited, we willask them this question that are competent.’ Virochana said, ‘Wagering ourlives where shall we go? I will not appear before any of the gods andnever before any among men.’ Sudhanwan said, ‘Having wagered our lives,we will approach thy father, for he, Prahlada, will never say an untrutheven for the sake of his son.’
“Vidura continued, ‘Having thus laid a wager, Virochana and Sudhanwan,both moved by rage, proceeded to that place where Prahlada was. Andbeholding them together, Prahlada said, ‘These two who had never beforebeen companions, are now seen together coming hither by the same road,like two angry snakes. Have ye now become companions,–ye who were nevercompanions before? I ask thee, O Virochana, has there been friendshipbetween thee and Sudhanwan?’ Virochana said, ‘There is no friendshipbetween me and Sudhanwan. On the other hand, we have both wagered ourlives. O chief of the Asuras, I shall ask thee a question, do not answerit untruly!’ Prahlada said, ‘Let water, and honey and curds, be broughtfor Sudhanwan. Thou deservest our worship, O Brahmana. A white and fatcow is ready for thee.’ Sudhanwan said, ‘Water and honey and curds, havebeen presented to me on my way hither. I shall ask thee a question.Prahlada, answer it truly! are Brahmanas superior, or is Virochanasuperior?’ Prahlada said, O Brahmana, this one is my only son. Thou alsoart present here in person. How can one like us answer a question aboutwhich ye two have quarrelled? Sudhanwan said, ‘Give unto thy son thy kineand other precious wealth that thou mayst have, but, O wise one, thoushouldst declare the truth when we two are disputing about it.’ Prahladasaid, ‘How doth that misuser of his tongue suffer, O Sudhanwan, whoanswereth not truly but falsely, a question that is put to him? I askthee this.’ Sudhanwan said, ‘The person that misuseth his tongue sufferslike the deserted wife, who pineth, at night, beholding her husbandsleeping in the arms of a co-wife; like a person who hath lost at dice,or who is weighed down with an unbearable load of anxieties. Such a manhath also to stay, starving outside the citygates, into which hisadmission is barred. Indeed, he that giveth false evidence is destined toalways find his foes. He that speaketh a lie on account of an animal,casteth down from heaven five of his sires of the ascending order. Hethat speaketh a lie on account of a cow casteth down from heaven ten ofhis ancestors. A lie on account of a horse causeth the downfall of ahundred; and a lie on account of a human being, the downfall of athousand of one’s sires of the ascending order. An untruth on account ofgold ruineth the members of one’s race both born and unborn, while anuntruth for the sake of land ruineth everything. Therefore, never speakan untruth for the sake of land.’ Prahlada said, ‘Angiras is superior tomyself, and Sudhanwan is superior to thee, O Virochana. Mother also ofSudhanwan is superior to thy mother; therefore, thou, O Virochana, hathbeen defeated by Sudhanwan. This Sudhanwan is now the master of thy life.But, O Sudhanwan, I wish that thou shouldst grant Virochana his life.’Sudhanwan said, ‘Since, O Prahlada, thou hast preferred virtue and hastnot, from temptation, said an untruth, I grant thy son his life that isdear to thee. So here is thy son Virochana, O Prahlada, restored by me tothee. He shall, however, have to wash my feet in the presence of themaiden Kesini.’
“Vidura continued, ‘For these reasons, O king of kings, it behoveth theenot to say an untruth for the sake of land. Saying an untruth fromaffection for thy son, O king, hasten not to destruction, with all thychildren and counsellors. The gods do not protect men, taking up clubs intheir hands after the manner of herdsmen; unto those, however, they wishto protect, they grant intelligence. There is no doubt that one’s objectsmeet with success in proportion to the attention he directs torighteousness and morality. The Vedas never rescue from sin a deceitfulperson living by falsehood. On the other hand, they forsake him while heis on his death-bed, like newly fledged birds forsaking their nests.Drinking, quarrels, enmity with large numbers of men, all connectionswith connubial disputes, and severance of relationship between husbandand wife, internal dissensions, disloyalty to the king,–these and allpaths that are sinful, should, it is said, be avoided. A palmist, a thiefturned into a merchant, a fowler, a physician, an enemy, a friend, and aminstrel, these seven are incompetent as witness. An Agnihotra performedfrom motives of pride, abstention from speech, practised from similarmotives, study and sacrifice from the same motives,–these four, ofthemselves innocent, become harmful when practised unduly. One thatsetteth fire to a dwelling house, an administerer of poison, a pander, avendor of the Soma-juice, a maker of arrows, an astrologer, one thatinjureth friends, an adulterer, one that causeth abortion, a violater ofhis preceptor’s bed, a Brahmana addicted to drink, one that issharp-speeched, a raker of old sores, an atheist, a reviler of the Vedas,and taker of bribes, one whose investiture with the sacred thread hasbeen delayed beyond the prescribed age, one that secretly slayeth cattle,and one that slayeth him who prayeth for protection,–these all arereckoned as equal in moral turpitude as the slayers of Brahmanas. Gold istested by fire; a well-born person, by his deportment; an honest man, byhis conduct. A brave man is tested during a season of panic; he that isself-controlled, in times of poverty; and friends and foes, in times ofcalamity and danger. Decrepitude destroyeth beauty; ambitious hopes,patience; death, life, envy, righteousness, anger, prosperity,companionship with the low, good behaviour; lust, modesty, and pride,everything. Prosperity taketh its birth in good deeds, groweth inconsequence of activity, driveth its roots deep in consequence of skill,and acquireth stability owing to self-control. Wisdom, good lineage,self-control, acquaintance with the scriptures, prowess, absence ofgarrulity, gift to the extent of one’s power, and grateful ness,–theseeight qualities shed a lustre upon their possessor. But, O sire, there isone endowment which alone can cause all these attributes to cometogether; the fact is, when the king honoureth a particular person, theroyal favour can cause all these attributes to shed their lustre (on thefavourite). Those eight, O king, in the world of men, are indications ofheaven. Of the eight (mentioned below) four are inseparably connected,with the good, and four others are always followed by the good. The firstfour which are inseparably connected with the good, are sacrifice, gift,study and asceticism, while the other four that are always followed bythe good, are self-restraint, truth, simplicity, and abstention frominjury to all.
‘Sacrifice, study, charity, asceticism, truth, forgiveness, mercy, andcontentment constitute the eight different paths of righteousness. Thefirst four of these may be practised from motives of pride, but the lastfour can exist only in those that are truly noble. That is no assemblywhere there are no old men, and they are not old who do not declare whatmorality is. That is not morality which is separated from truth, and thatis not truth which is fraught with deceit. Truth, beauty, acquaintancewith the scriptures, knowledge, high birth, good behaviour, strength,wealth, bravery, and capacity for varied talk,–these ten are of heavenlyorigin. A sinful person, by committing sin, is overtaken by evilconsequences. A virtuous man, by practising virtue, reapeth greathappiness. Therefore, a man, rigidly resolved, should abstain from sin.Sin, repeatedly perpetrated, destroyeth intelligence; and the man whohath lost intelligence, repeatedly committeth sin. Virtue, repeatedlypractised, enhanceth intelligence; and the man whose intelligence hathincreased, repeatedly practiseth virtue. The virtuous man, by practisingvirtue, goeth to regions of blessedness. Therefore, a man should, firmlyresolved, practise virtue. He that is envious, he that injureth othersdeeply, he that is cruel, he that constantly quarreleth, he that isdeceitful, soon meeteth with great misery for practising these sins. Hethat is not envious and is possessed of wisdom, by always doing what isgood, never meeteth with great misery; on the other hand, he shinetheverywhere. He that draweth wisdom from them that are wise is reallylearned and wise. And he that is wise, by attending to both virtue andprofit, succeedeth in attaining to happiness. Do that during the daywhich may enable thee to pass the night in happiness; and do that duringeight months of the year which may enable thee to pass the season ofrains happily. Do that during youth which may ensure a happy old age; anddo that during thy whole life here which may enable thee to live happilyhereafter. The wise prize that food which is easily digested, that wifewhose youth hath passed away, that hero who is victorious and thatascetic whose efforts have been crowned with success. The gap that issought to be filled by wealth acquired wrongfully, remaineth uncovered,while new ones appear in other places. The preceptor controlleth themwhose souls are under their own control; the king controlleth personsthat are wicked; while they that sin secretly have their controller inYama, the son of Vivaswat. The greatness of Rishis, of rivers, ofriver-banks, of high-souled men, and the cause of woman’s wickedness,cannot be ascertained. O king, he that is devoted to the worship of theBrahmanas, he that giveth away, he that behaveth righteously towards hisrelatives, and the Kshatriya that behaveth nobly, rule the earth forever. He that is possessed of bravery, he that is possessed of learning,and he that knows how to protect others,–these three are always able togather flowers of gold from the earth. Of acts, those accomplished byintelligence are first; those accomplished by the arms, second; those bythe thighs, and those by bearing weights upon the head, are the veryworst. Reposing the care of thy kingdom on Duryodhana, on Sakuni, onfoolish Dussasana, and on Karna, how canst thou hope for prosperity?Possessed of every virtue, the Pandavas, O bull of the Bharata race,depend on thee as their father. O, repose thou on them as on thy sons!”