The Mahabharata Home
'Sisupala said,--'Old and infamous wretch of thy race, art thou not ashamed of affrighting all these monarchs with these numerous false terrors! Thou art the foremost of the Kurus, and living as thou dost in the third state (celibacy) it is but fit for thee that thou shouldst give such counsel that is so wide of morality. Like a boat tied to another boat or the blind following the blind, are the Kurus who have thee for their guide. Thou hast once more simply pained our hearts by reciting particularly the deeds of this one (Krishna), such as the slaying of Putana and others. Arrogant and ignorant as thou art, and desirous of praising Kesava, why doth not this tongue of thine split up into a hundred parts? How dost thou, superior as thou art in knowledge, desire to praise that cow-boy in respect of whom even men of little intelligence may address invectives? If Krishna in his infancy slew a vulture, what is there remarkable in that, or in that other feat of his, O Bhishma, viz., in his slaughter of Aswa and Vrishava, both of whom were unskilled in battle? If this one threw drown by a kick an inanimate piece of wood, viz., a car, what is there, O Bhishma, wonderful in that? O Bhishma, what is there remarkable in this one's having supported for a week the Govardhan mount which is like an anthill? 'While sporting on the top of a mountain this one ate a large quantity of food,'--hearing these words of thine many have wondered exceedingly. But, O thou who art conversant with the rules of morality, is not this still more wrongful that that great person, viz., Kansa, whose food this one ate, hath been slain by him? Thou infamous one of the Kuru race, thou art ignorant of the rules of morality. Hast thou not ever heard, from wise men speaking unto thee, what I would now tell thee? The virtuous and the wise always instruct the honest that weapons must never be made to descend upon women and kine and Brahmanas and upon those whose food hath been taken, as also upon those whose shelter hath been enjoyed. It seemeth, O Bhishma, that all these teachings hath been thrown away by thee. O infamous one of the Kuru race, desiring to praise Kesava, thou describest him before me as great and superior in knowledge and in age, as if I knew nothing. If at thy word, O Bhishma, one that hath slain women (meaning Putana) and kine be worshipped, then what is to become of this great lesson? How can one who is such, deserve praise, O Bhishma? 'This one is the foremost of all wise men,--'This one is the lord of the universe'--hearing these words of thine, Janarddana believeth that these are all true. But surely, they are all false. The verses that a chanter sings, even if he sings them often, produce no impression on him. And every creature acts according to his disposition,
even like the bird Bhulinga (that picks the particles of flesh from between the lion's teeth, though preaching against rashness). Assuredly thy disposition is very mean. There is not the least doubt about it. And so also, it seemeth, that the sons of Pandu who regard Krishna as deserving of worship and who have thee for their guide, are possessed of a sinful disposition. Possessing a knowledge of virtue, thou hast fallen off from the path of the wise. Therefore thou art sinful. Who, O Bhishma, knowing himself to be virtuous and superior in knowledge, will so act as thou hast done from motives of virtue? If thou knowest the ways of the morality, if thy mind is guided by wisdom, blessed be thou. Why then, O Bhishma, was that virtuous girl Amva, who had set her heart upon another, carried off by thee, so proud of wisdom and virtue? Thy brother Vichitravirya conformably to the ways of the honest and the virtuous, knowing that girl's condition, did not marry her though brought by thee. Boasting as thou dost of virtue, in thy very sight, upon the widow of thy brother were sons begotten by another according to the ways of the honest. Where is thy virtue, O Bhishma? This thy celebacy, which thou leadest either from ignorance or from impotence, is fruitless. O thou who art conversant with virtue, I do not behold thy well-being. Thou who expoundest morality in this way dost not seem to have ever waited upon the old. Worship, gift, study,--sacrifices distinguished by large gifts to the Brahmanas,--these all equal not in merit even one-sixteenth part of that which is obtainable by the possession of a son. The merit, O Bhishma, that is acquired by numberless vows and fasts assuredly becomes fruitless in the case of one that is childless. Thou art childless and old and the expounder of false morality. Like the swan in the story, thou shalt now die at the hands of thy relatives. Other men possessed of knowledge have said this of old. I will presently recite it fully in thy hearing.
"There lived of yore an old swan on the sea-coast. Ever speaking of morality, but otherwise in his conduct, he used to instruct the feathery tribe. Practise ye virtue and forego sin,--these were the words that other truthful birds, O Bhishma, constantly heard him utter And the other oviparous creatures ranging the sea, it hath been heard by us, O Bhishma use for virtue's sake to bring him food. And, O Bhishma, all those other birds, keeping their eggs, with him, ranged and dived in the waters of the sea. And the sinful old swan, attentive to his own pursuits, used to eat up the eggs of all those birds that foolishly trusted in him. After a while when the eggs were decreasing in number, a bird of great wisdom had his suspicions roused and he even witnessed (the affair) one day. And having witnessed the sinful act of the old swan, that bird in great sorrow spoke unto all the other birds. Then, O thou best of the Kurus, all those birds witnessing with their own eyes the act of the old swan, approached that wretch of false conduct and slew him.
"Thy behaviour, O Bhishma, is even like that of the old swan. These lords of earth might slay thee in anger like those creatures of the feathery tribe slaying the old swan. Persons conversant with the Puranas recite a proverb, O Bhishma, as regards this occurrence, I shall, O Bharata, repeat it to thee fully. It is even this: O thou that supportest thyself on thy wings, though thy heart is affected (by the passions), thou preachest yet (of virtue); but this thy sinful act of eating up the eggs transgresseth thy speech!"
Next: Section XLI