The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thy speech, O Yajnaseni, is delightful, smooth and full of excellent phrases. We have listened to it (carefully). Thou speakest, however, the language of atheism. O princess, I never act, solicitous of the fruits of my actions. I give away, because it is my duty to give; I sacrifice because it is my duty to sacrifice! O Krishna, I accomplish to the best of my power whatever a person living in domesticity should do, regardless of the fact whether those acts have fruits or not. O thou of fair hips, I act virtuously, not from the desire of reaping the fruits of virtue, but of not transgressing the ordinances of the Veda, and beholding also the conduct of the good and wise! My heart, O Krishna, is naturally attracted towards virtue. The man who wisheth to reap the fruits of virtue is a trader in virtue. His nature is mean and he should never be counted amongst the virtuous. Nor doth he ever obtain the fruits of his virtues! Nor doth he of sinful heart, who having accomplished a virtuous act doubteth in his mind, obtain the fruits of his act, in consequence of that scepticism of his! I speak unto thee, under the authority of the Vedas, which constitute the highest proof in such matters, that never shouldst thou doubt virtue! The man that doubteth virtue is destined to take his birth in the brute species. The man of weak understanding who doubteth religion, virtue or the words of the Rishis, is precluded from regions of immortality and bliss, like Sudras from the Vedas! O intelligent one, if a child born of a good race studieth the Vedas and beareth himself virtuously, royal sages of virtuous behaviour regard him as an aged sage (not withstanding his years)! The sinful wretch, however, who doubteth religion and transgresseth the scriptures, is regarded as lower even than Sudras and robbers! Thou hast seen with thy own eyes the great ascetic Markandeya of immeasurable soul come to us! It is by virtue alone that he hath acquired immortality in the flesh. Vyasa, and Vasistha and Maitreya, and Narada and Lomasa, and Suka, and other Rishis have all, by virtue alone, become of pure soul! Thou beholdest them with thy own eyes as furnished with prowess of celestial asceticism, competent to curse or bless (with effect), and superior to the very gods! O sinless one, these all, equal to the celestials themselves, behold with their eyes what Is written in the Vedas, and describe virtue as the foremost duty! It behoveth thee not, therefore, O amiable Queen, to either doubt or censure God or act, with a foolish heart. The fool that doubteth religion and disregardeth virtue, proud of the proof derived from his own reasoning, regardeth not other proofs and holdeth the Rishis, who are capable of knowing the future as present as mad men. The fool regardeth only the external world capable of gratifying his senses, and is blind to everything else. He that doubteth
religion hath no expiation for his offence. That miserable wretch is full of anxiety and acquireth not regions of bliss hereafter. A rejector of proofs, a slanderer of the interpretation of the Vedic scriptures, a transgressor urged by lust and covetousness, that fool goeth to hell. O amiable one, he on the other hand, who ever cherisheth religion with faith, obtaineth eternal bliss in the other world. The fool who cherisheth not religion, transgressing the proofs offered by the Rishis, never obtaineth prosperity in any life, for such transgression of the scriptures. It is certain, O handsome one, that with respect to him who regardeth not the words of the Rishis or the conduct of the virtuous as proof, neither this nor the other world existeth. Doubt not, O Krishna, the ancient religion that is practised by the good and framed by Rishis of universal knowledge and capable of seeing all things! O daughter of Drupada, religion is the only raft for those desirous of going to heaven, like a ship to merchants desirous of crossing the ocean. O thou faultless one, if the virtues that are practised by the virtuous had no fruits, this universe then would be enveloped in infamous darkness. No one then would pursue salvation, no one would seek to acquire knowledge not even wealth, but men would live like beasts. If asceticism, the austerities of celibate life, sacrifices, study of the Vedas, charity, honesty,--these all were fruitless, men would not have practised virtue generation after generation. If acts were all fruitless, a dire confusion would ensue. For what then do Rishis and gods and Gandharvas and Rakshasas who are all independent of human conditions, cherish virtue with such affection? Knowing it for certain that God is the giver of fruits in respect of virtue, they practise virtue in this world. This, O Krishna, is the eternal (source of) prosperity. When the fruits of both knowledge and asceticism are seen, virtue and vice cannot be fruitless. Call to thy mind, O Krishna, the circumstances of thy own birth as thou that heard of them, and recall also the manner in which Dhrishtadyumna of great prowess was born! These, O thou of sweet smiles, are the best proofs (of the fruits of virtue)! They that have their minds under control, reap the fruits of their acts and are content with little. Ignorant fools are not content with even that much they get (here), because they have no happiness born of virtue to acquire to in the world hereafter. The fruitlessness of virtuous acts ordained in the Vedas, as also of all transgressions, the origin and destruction of acts are, O beautiful one, mysterious even to the gods. These are not known to any body and everybody. Ordinary men are ignorant in respect of these. The gods keep up the mystery, for the illusion covering the conduct of the gods is unintelligible. Those regenerate ones that have destroyed all aspirations, that have built all their hopes on vows and asceticism, that have burnt all their sins and have acquired minds where quest and peace and holiness dwell, understand all these. Therefore, though you mayst not see the fruits of
virtue, thou shouldst not yet doubt religion or gods. Thou must perform sacrifices with a will, and practise charity without insolence. Acts in this world have their fruits, and virtue also is eternal. Brahma himself told this unto his (spiritual) sons, as testified to by Kashyapa. Let thy doubt, therefore, O Krishna, be dispelled like mist. Reflecting upon all this, let thy scepticism give way to faith. Slander not God, who is the lord of all creatures. Learn how to know him. Bow down unto him. Let not thy mind be such. And, O Krishna, never disregard that Supreme Being through whose grace mortal man, by piety, acquireth immortality!'"
Next: Section XXXII