The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'For a little while, O Arjuna, concentrate thy attention and fix thy mind and hearing on thy inner soul. If thou listenest to my words in such a frame of mind, they will meet with thy approbation. Abandoning all worldly pleasures, I shall betake myself to that path which is trod by the righteous. I shall not, for thy sake, tread along the path thou recommendest. If thou askest me what path is auspicious that one should tread alone, I shall tell thee. If thou dost not desire to ask me, I shall yet, unasked by thee, tell thee of it. Abandoning the pleasures and observance of men of the world, engaged in performing the austerest of penances, I shall wander in the forest, with the animals that have their home there, living on fruit and roots. Pouring libations on the: fire at due hours, and performing ablutions at morn and eve, I shall thin myself by reduced diet, and covering myself with skins, bear matted locks on my head. Enduring cold, wind, and heat as also hunger and thirst and toil, I shall emaciate my body by penances as laid down in the ordinance.
[paragraph continues] Charming to the heart and the ear, I shall daily listen to the clear strains of, cheerful birds and animals residing in the woods. I shall enjoy the fragrance of flower-burthened trees and creepers, and see diverse kinds of charming products that grow in the forest. I shall also see many excellent recluses of the forest. I shall not do the slightest injury to any creature, what need be said then of those that dwell in villages and towns? 1 Leading a retired life and devoting myself to contemplation, I shall live upon ripe and unripe fruits and gratify the Pitris and the deities with offerings of wild fruits and spring water and grateful hymns. Observing in this way the austere regulations of a forest life, I shall pass my days, calmly awaiting the dissolution of my body. Or, living alone and observing the vow of taciturnity, with my head shaved clean, I shall derive my sustenance by begging each day of only one tree. 2 Smearing my body with ashes, and availing of the shelter of abandoned houses, or lying at the foot of trees, I shall live, casting off all things dear or hateful. Without indulging in grief or joy, and regarding censure and applause, hope and affliction, equally, and prevailing over every couple of opposites, I shall live casting off all the things of the world. Without conversing with anybody, I shall assume the outward form of a blind and deaf idiot, while living in contentment and deriving happiness from my own soul. Without doing the least injury to the four kinds of movable and immovable creatures, I shall behave equally towards all creatures whether mindful of their duties or following only the dictates of the senses. I shall not jeer at any one, nor shall I frown at anybody. Restraining all my senses, I shall always be of a cheerful face. Without asking anybody about the way, proceeding along any route that I may happen to meet with, I shall go on, without taking note of the country or the point of the compass to which or towards which I may go. Regardless of whither I may proceed, I shall not look behind. Divesting myself of desire and wrath, and turning my gaze inwards, I shall go on, casting off pride of soul and body. Nature always walks ahead; hence, food and drink will somehow be accomplished. I shall not think of those pairs of opposites that stand in the way of such a life. If pure food in even a small measure be not obtainable in the first house (to which I may go), I shalt get it by going to other houses. If I fail to procure it by even such a round, I shall proceed to seven houses in succession and fill my craving. When the smoke of houses will cease, their hearth-fires having been extinguished, when husking-rods will be kept aside, and all the inmates will have taken their food, when mendicants and guests Will cease to wander, I shall select a moment for my round of mendicancy and solicit alms at two, three, or five houses at the most. I shall wander over the earth, after breaking the bonds of desire. Preserving equability in success and failure, I shall earn great ascetic merit. I shall behave neither like one that is fond of life nor like one that is about to die.
[paragraph continues] I shall not manifest any liking for life or dislike for death. If one strikes off one arm of mine and another smears the other arm with sandal-paste, I shall not wish evil to the one or good to the other. Discarding all those acts conducive to prosperity that one can do in life, the only acts I shall perform will be to open and shut my eyes and take as much food and drink as will barely keep up life. Without ever being attached to action, and always restraining the functions of the senses, I shall give up all desires and purify the soul of all impurities. Freed from all attachments and tearing off all bonds and ties, I shall live free as the wind. Living in such freedom from affections, everlasting contentment will be mine. Through desire, I have, from ignorance, committed great sins. A certain class of men, doing both auspicious and inauspicious acts here, maintain their wives, children, and kinsmen, all bound to them in relations of cause and effect. 1 When the period of their life runs out, casting off their weakened bodies, they take upon themselves all the effects of their sinful acts, for none but the actor is burdened with the consequences of his acts. 2 Even thus, endued with actions, creatures come into this wheel of life that is continually turning like the wheel of a car, and even thus, coming thither, they meet with their fellow-creatures. He, however, who abandons the worldly course of life, which is really a fleeting illusion although it looks eternal, and which is afflicted by birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain, is sure to obtain happiness. When again, the very gods fall down from heaven and great Rishis from their respective positions of eminence who, that is acquainted with truths of causes (and effects) would wish to have even heavenly prosperity? 3 Insignificant kings, having performed diverse acts relating to the diverse means of kingcraft (known by the means of conciliation, gift, &c.) often slay a king through some contrivance. Reflecting on these circumstances, this nectar of wisdom hath come to me. Having attained it, I desire to get a permanent, eternal, and unchangeable place (for myself). Always (conducting myself) with such wisdom and acting in this way, I shall, by betaking myself to that fearless path of life, terminate this physical frame that is subject to birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain.'"
14:1 The sense is that when I will not wrong the denizens of even the woods, there is little chance of my wronging men of the world.
14:2 There is a class of recluses who support life by gathering the fallen fruits of trees. Taking the tree for a living person, they walk under its shade and beg of it its fruits. Those fruits that fall down on such occasions are regarded as the alms granted by the tree to its mendicant guest.
15:1 All the possessions of a man depend upon the acts of a previous life. Wives, children and kinsmen, therefore, as agents of happiness or the reverse, depend upon one's past acts. They are effects of pre-existing causes. Then again, they may be causes of effects to be manifested in the next life, for their acts also are supposed to affect the next life of him to whom they belong.
15:2 i.e., they for whom he acts do not take the consequences of his acts.
15:3 Bhagena is explained by Nilakantha as swargaisysaryena.
Next: Section X