The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'If there is any efficacy in gifts, in sacrifices, in penances well-performed, and in dutiful services rendered to preceptors and other reverend seniors, do thou, O grandsire, speak of the same to me. "Bhishma said, 'An understanding associated with evil causes the mind to fall into sin. In this state one stains one's acts, and then falls into great distress. Those that are of sinful acts have to take birth as persons of very indigent circumstances. From famine to famine, from pain to pain, from fear to fear, is their change. They are more dead than those that are dead. Possessed of affluence, from joy to joy, from heaven to heaven, from happiness to happiness, proceed they that are possessed of faith, that are self-restrained, and that are devoted to righteous deeds. They that are unbelievers have to pass, with groping hands, through regions infested by beasts of prey and elephants and pathless tracts teeming with snakes and robbers and other causes of fear. What more need be said of these? They, on the other hand, that are endued with reverence for gods and guests, that are liberal, that have proper regard for persons that are good, and that make gifts in sacrifices, have for theirs the path (of felicity) that belongs to men of cleansed and subdued souls. Those that
are not righteous should not be counted among men even as grains without kernel are not counted among grain and as cockroaches are not counted among birds. The acts that one does, follow one even when one runs fast. Whatever acts one does, lie down with the doer who lays himself down. Indeed, the sins one does, sit when the doer sits, and run when he runs. The sins act when the doer acts, and, in fact follow the doer like his shadow. Whatever the acts one does by whatever means and under whatever circumstances, are sure to be enjoyed and endured (in respect of their fruits) by the doer in his next life. From every side Time is always dragging all creatures, duly observing the rule in respect of the distance to which they are thrown and which is commensurate with their acts. 1 As flowers and fruits, without being urged, never suffer their proper time to pass away without making their appearance, even so the acts one has done in past life make their appearance at the proper time. Honour and dishonour, gain and loss, destruction and growth, are seen to set in. No one can resist them (when they come). One of them is enduring, for disappear it must after appearance. The sorrows one suffers is the result of one's acts. The happiness one enjoys flows from one's acts. From the time when one lies within the mother's womb one begins to enjoy and endure one's acts of a past life. Whatever acts good and bad one does in childhood, youth, or old age, one enjoys and endures their consequences in one's next life in similar ages. As the calf recognises its dam even when the latter may stand among thousands of her species, after the same manner the acts done by one in one's past life come to one n one's next life (without any mistake) although one may live among thousands of one's species. As a piece of dirty cloth is whitened by being washed in water, after the same manner, the righteous, cleansed by continuous exposure unto the fire of fasts and penances, at last attain to unending happiness. O thou of high intelligence, the desires and purposes of those whose sins have been washed off by long-continued penances well-performed, become crowned with fruition. The track of the righteous cannot be discerned even as that of birds in the, sky or that of fishes in the water. There is no need of speaking ill of others, nor of reciting the instances in which others have tripped. On the other hand, one should always do what is delightful, agreeable, an beneficial to one's own self.'" 2
81:1 Time, as a personified agent, is throwing all creatures at unequal distances. Some are thrown near and some to a great distance. These distances are regulated by the nature of the acts done by the creatures thrown. Some are cast among animals, some among men. Throwing or hurling them thus, Time drags them again, the binding-cords being always in his hands.
81:2 Both the vernacular translators have misunderstood the first line of this verse although there is no difficulty in it. Apastamva says drishto dharma-vyatikrama; Sahasancha purvesham. What Bhishma says here is that one should not speak of those instances of Vyatikramah and Sahasam.
Next: Section CCCXXIV