“Yudhishthira said, ‘The path of duty is long. It has also, O Bharata,many branches. What, however, according to thee, are those duties thatmost deserve to be practised? What acts, according to thee, are the mostimportant among all duties, by the practice of which I may earn thehighest merit both here and hereafter?’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, O chastiser of foes,Nakula of mighty arms and a broad chest, temperate in speech andpossessed of great wisdom, with face whose colour then resembled that ofcopper, looked at the king, that foremost of all righteous persons, andspoke these words, besieging his brother’s heart (with reason).’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘I wish, O sire, to hear the settled conclusions onthe subject of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure. Depending upon which ofthese does the course of life proceed? What are the respective roots ofVirtue, Wealth, and Pleasure? What are again the results of those three?They are sometimes see n to mingle with one another, and sometimes toexist separately and independently of one another.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘All persons on earth, O foremost of men, applaudvirtuous behaviour. I have, however, great doubts with respect to thisobject of their praise. If the topic be capable of being understood byus, O foremost of virtuous men, I desire to hear everything about the wayin which virtuous behaviour can be acquired. How indeed, is thatbehaviour acquired, O Bharata! I desire to hear it. Tell me also, Oforemost of speakers, what has been said to be the characteristics ofthat behaviour.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘When practices fraught with high morality andbeneficial to the world, (viz., those that appertain to righteous rule)disappear, when all the means and resources for the support of life fallinto the hands of robbers, when, indeed, such a calamitous time sets in,by what means should a Brahmana, O grandsire, who from affection isunable to desert his sons and grandsons, subsist?’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘If that which is so horrible and which likefalsehood should never be an object of regard, be cited (as duty), thenwhat act is there from which I should forbear? Why also should notrobbers then be respected? I am stupefied! My heart is pained! All theties that bind me to morality are loosened! I cannot tranquillise my mindand venture to act in the way suggested by you.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Brahmanas and Rishis and Pitris and the gods allapplaud the duty of truth. I desire to hear of truth. Discourse to meupon it, O grandsire! What are the indications, O king, of truth? How mayit be acquired? What is gained by practising truth, and how? Tell me allthis.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O thou of great wisdom, everything aboutthat from which spring wrath and lust, O bull of Bharata’s race, andsorrow and loss of judgment, and inclination to do (evil to others), andjealousy and malice and pride, and envy, and slander, and incapacity tobear the good of others, and unkindness, and fear. Tell me everythingtruly and in detail about all these.’
“Bharadwaja said, ‘When the high-souled Brahman has created thousands ofcreatures, why is it that only these five elements which he createdfirst, which pervade all the universe and which are great creatures, havecome to have the name of creatures applied to them exclusively?'
“Bhrigu said, ‘There is no destruction of the living creature, or of whatis given, or of our other acts. The creature that dies only goes intoanother form. The body along dissolves away. The living creature, thoughdepending upon the body, does not meet with destruction when the body isdestroyed.