The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "O son of Kuru, they, Yudhishthira and others,
having reached the forest of Kamyaka, were, hospitably received by hosts of saints and they lived together with Krishna. And while the sons of Pandu were dwelling in security in that place, many Brahmanas came to wait upon them. And a certain Brahmana said, 'He the beloved friend of Arjuna, of powerful arms and possessed of self control, descendant of Sura, of a lofty intellect, will come, for, O ye foremost of the descendants of Kuru, Hari knows that ye have arrived here. For, Hari has always a longing for your sight and always seeks your welfare. And Markandeya, who lived very many years devoted to great austerities, given to study and penance, will erelong come and meet you.' And the very moment that he was uttering these words, there was beheld Krishna, coming thitherward upon a car unto which were yoked the horses Saivya and Sugriva,--he the best of those that ride on cars, accompanied by Satyabhama, is like Indra by Sachi, the daughter of Pulaman. And the son of Devaki came, desirous to see those most righteous of the descendants of Kuru. And the sagacious Krishna, having alighted from the car, prostrated himself, with pleasure in his heart, before the virtuous king, in the prescribed way, and also before Bhima, that foremost of powerful men. And he paid his respects to Dhaumya, while the twin brothers prostrated themselves to him. And he embraced Arjuna of the curly hair; and spoke words of solace to the daughter of Drupada. And the descendant of the chief of the Dasaraha tribe, that chastiser of foes, when he saw the beloved Arjuna come near him, having seen him after a length of time, clasped him again and again. And so too Satyabhama also, the beloved consort of Krishna, embraced the daughter of Drupada, the beloved wife of the sons of Pandu. Then these sons of Pandu, accompanied by their wife and priests, paid their respects to Krishna, whose eyes resembled the white lotus and surrounded him on all sides. And Krishna, when united with Arjuna, the son of Pritha, the winner of riches and the terror of the demons assumed a beauty comparable to that of Siva, the magnanimous lord of all created beings, when he, the mighty lord, is united with Kartikeya (his son). And Arjuna, who bore a circlet of crowns on his head, gave an account of what had happened to him in the forest to Krishna, the elder brother of Gada. And Arjuna asked, saying, 'How is Subhadra, and her son Abhimanyu?' And Krishna, the slayer of Madhu, having paid his respects in the prescribed form to the son of Pritha, and to the priest, and seating himself with them there, spoke to king Yudhishthira, in words of praise. And he said, 'O king, Virtue is preferable to the winning of kingdoms; it is, in fact, practice of austerities! By you who have obeyed with truth and candour what your duty prescribed, have been won both this world and that to come! First you have studied, while performing religious duties; having acquired in a suitable way the whole science of arms, having won wealth by pursuing the methods prescribed for the military caste, you have celebrated all the time-honoured sacrificial rites. You take no delight in sensual pleasures; you do not act, O lord of men, from motives of enjoyment, nor do you swerve from virtue from greed of riches; it is for this, you have been named the Virtuous King, O son of Pritha! Having won
kingdoms and riches and means of enjoyment, your best delight has been charity and truth and practice of austerities, O King, and faith and meditation and forbearance and patience! When the population of Kuru-jangala beheld Krishna outraged in the assembly hall, who but yourself could brook that conduct, O Pandu's son, which was so repugnant both to virtue and usage? No doubt, you will, before long, rule over men in a praiseworthy way, all your desires being fulfilled. Here are we prepared to chastise the Kurus, as soon as the stipulation made by you is fully performed! And Krishna, the foremost of the Dasarha tribe, then said to Dhaumya and Bhima and Yudhishthira, and the twins and Krishna, 'How fortunate that by your blessing Arjuna the bearer of the coronet, has arrived after having acquired the science of arms!" And Krishna, the leader of the Dasarha tribe, accompanied by friends, likewise spoke to Krishna, the daughter of Yajnasena, saying, 'How fortunate that you are united, safe and secure, with Arjuna, the winner of riches!' And Krishna also said, 'O Krishna, O daughter of Yajnasena, those sons of yours, are devoted to the study of the science of arms, are well-behaved and conduct themselves on the pattern, O Krishna, of their righteous friends. Your father and your uterine brothers proffer them a kingdom and territories; but the boys find no joy in the house of Drupada, or in that of their maternal uncles. Safely proceeding to the land of the Anartas, they take the greatest delight in the study of the science of arms. Your sons enter the town of the Vrishnis and take an immediate liking to the people there. And as you would direct them to conduct themselves, or as the respected Kunti would do, so does Subhadra direct them in a watchful way. Perhaps, she is still more careful of them. And, O Krishna, as Rukmini's son is the preceptor of Aniruddha, of Abhimanyu, of Sunitha, and of Bhanu; so he is the preceptor and the refuge of your sons also! And a good preceptor, would unceasingly give them lessons in the wielding of maces and swords and bucklers, in missiles and in the arts of driving cars and of riding horses, being valiant. And he, the son of Rukmini, having bestowed a very good training upon them, and having taught them the art of using various weapons in a proper way, takes satisfaction at the valorous deeds of your sons, and of Abhimanyu. O daughter of Drupada! And when your son goes out, in pursuit of (out-door) sports, each one of them is followed thither by cars and horses and vehicles and elephants.' And Krishna said to the virtuous king, Yudhishthira, The fighting men of the Dasarha tribe, and the Kukuras, and the Andhakas--let these, O king, place themselves at thy command--let them perform what thou desirest them. O lord of men, let the army of the tribe of Madhus, (resistless) like the wind, with their bows and led by Balarama whose weapon is the plough--let that army, equipped (for war), consisting of horsemen and foot soldiers and horses and cars and elephants, prepare to do your bidding. O son of Pandu! Drive Duryodhana, the son of Dhritarashtra, the vilest of sinful men, together with his followers and his hosts of friends to the path betaken by the lord of Saubha, the son of the Earth! You, O ruler of men, are welcome to stick to that stipulation which was made in the assembly-hall--but
let the city of Hastina be made ready for you, when the hostile force has been slain by the soldiers of the Dasarha tribe! Having roamed at your pleasure in all those places where you may desire to go, having got rid of your grief and freed from all your sins--you will reach the city of Hastina--the well-known city situated in the midst of a fine territory!--Then the magnanimous king having been acquainted with the view, thus clearly set forth by Krishna that best of men, and, having applauded the same, and having deliberated, thus spoke with joined palms unto Kesava, 'O Kesava, no doubt, thou art the refuge of the sons of Pandu; for the sons of Pandu have their protector in thee! When the time will come, there is no doubt that thou wilt do all the work just mentioned by thee; and even more than the same! As promised by us, we have spent all the twelve years in lonely forests. O Kesava, having in the prescribed way completed the period for living unrecognised, the sons of Pandu will take refuge in thee. This should be the intention of those that associate with thee, O Krishna! The sons of Pandu swerve not from the path of truth, for the sons of Pritha with their charity and their piety with their people and their wives and with their relations have their protector in thee!"
Vaisampayana said, 'O descendant of Bharata, while Krishna, the descendant of the Vrishnis and the virtuous king, were thus talking, there appeared then the saint Markandeya, grown grey in the practise of penances. And he had seen many thousand years of life, was of a pious soul, and devoted to great austerities. Signs of old age he had none; and deathless he was, and endued with beauty and generous and many good qualities. And he looked like one only twenty-five years old. And when the aged saint, who had seen many thousand years of life, came, all the Brahamanas paid their respects to him and so did Krishna together with Pandu's son. And when that wisest saint, thus honoured, took his seat in a friendly way, Krishna addressed him, in accordance with the views of the Brahmanas and of Pandu's sons, thus,--
"The sons of Pandu, and the Brahmanas assembled here, and the daughter of Drupada, and Satyabhama, likewise myself, are all anxious to hear your most excellent words, O Markandeya! Propound to us the holy stories of events of bygone times, and the eternal rules of righteous conduct by which are guided kings and women and saints!"
Vaisampayana continued, "When they had all taken their seats, Narada also, the divine saint, of purified soul, came on a visit to Pandu's sons. Him also, then, of great soul, all those foremost men of superior intellect, honoured in the prescribed form, by offering water to wash his feet, and the well-known oblation called the Arghya. Then the godlike saint, Narada, learning that they were about to hear the speech of Markandeya, expressed his assent to the arrangement. And he, the deathless, knowing what would be opportune, said smilingly, 'O saint of the Brahmana caste, speak what you were about to say unto the sons of Pandu!' Thus addressed, Markandeya, devoted to great austerities, replied, 'Wait a moment. A great deal will be narrated.' Thus addressed, the sons of Pandu, together with those twice-born
ones, waited a moment, looking at that great saint, (bright) as the mid-day sun."
Vaisampayana continued, "Pandu's son, the king of the Kuru tribe, having observed that the great saint as willing to speak, questioned him with a view to suggesting topics to speak upon, saying, 'You who are ancient (in years), know the deeds of gods and demons, and illustrious saints, and of all the royal ones. We consider you as worthy of being worshipped and honoured; and we have long yearned after your company. And here is this son of Devaki, Krishna, who has come to us on a visit. Verily, when I look at myself, fallen away from happiness, and when I contemplate the sons of Dhritarashtra, of evil life, flourishing in every way, the idea arises in me that it is man who does all acts, good or bad, and that it is he that enjoys the fruit the acts bring forth. How then is god the agent? And, O best of those that are proficient in the knowledge of God, how is it that men's actions follow them? Is it in this world? Or is it in some subsequent existence? And, O best of righteous men among the twice-born, in what way is an embodied animated being joined by his good and evil deeds that seek him out? Is it after death? Or is it in this world? And, O descendant of Bhrigu, is what we experience in this world the result of the acts of this very life? Or will the acts of this life bear fruit in the world to come? And where do the actions of an animated being who is dead find their resting place?"
"Markandeya said, 'O best of those that can speak, this question befits thee, and is just what it should be? Thou knowest all that there is to know. But thou art asking this question, simply for the sake of form. Here I shall answer thee: listen to me with an attentive mind, as to how in this world and in that to come, a man experienceth happiness and misery. The lord of born beings, himself sprung first of all, created, for all embodied beings, bodies which were stainless, pure, and obedient to virtuous impulses, O wisest of the descendants of Kuru! The ancient men had all their desires fulfilled, were given to praiseworthy courses of life, were speakers of truth, godly and pure. All were equal to the gods, could ascend to the sky at their pleasure, and could come back again; and all went about at their pleasure. And they had their death and their life also under their own control; and they had few sufferings; had no fear; and had their wishes fulfilled; and they were free from trouble; could visit the gods and the magnanimous saints; knew by heart all righteous rules; were self-controlled and free from envy. And they lived many thousand years; and had many thousand sons. Then in course of time they came to be restricted to walking solely on the surface of the earth, overpowered by lust and wrath, dependent for subsistence upon falsehood and trick, overwhelmed by greed and senselessness. Then those wicked men, when disembodied, on account of their unrighteous and unblessed deeds, went to hell in a crooked way. Again and again, they were grilled, and, again and again they began to drag their miserable existence in this wonderful world. And their desires were unfulfilled, the objects unaccomplished, and their knowledge became unavailing. And their senses were paralysed and they became apprehensive of everything and the cause
of other people's sufferings. And they were generally marked by wicked deeds, and born in low families; they became wicked and afflicted with diseases, and the terror of others. And they became short-lived and sinful and they reaped the fruit of their terrible deeds. And coveting everything, they became godless and indifferent in mind, O son of Kunti! The destiny of every creature after death is determined by his acts in this world. Thou hast asked me where this treasure of acts of the sage and the ignorant remain, and where they enjoy the fruit of their good and evil deeds! Do thou listen to the regulations on this subject! Man with his subtle original body created by God lays up a great store of virtue and vice. After death he quits his frail (outer) body and is immediately born again in another order of beings. He never remains non-existent for a single moment. In his new life his actions follow him invariably as shadow and, fructifying, makes his destiny happy or miserable. The wise man, by his spiritual insight, knows all creatures to be bound to an immutable destiny by the destroyer and incapable of resisting the fruition of his actions in good or evil fortune. This, O Yudhishthira, is the doom of all creatures steeped in spiritual ignorance. Do thou now hear of the perfect way attained by men of high spiritual perception! Such men are of high ascetic virtue and are versed in all profane and holy writ, diligent in performing their religious obligations and devoted to truth. And they pay due homage to their preceptors and superiors and practise Yoga, are forgiving, continent and energetic and pious and are generally endowed with every virtue. By the conquest of the passions, they are subdued in mind; by practising yoga they become free from disease, fear and sorrow; they are not troubled (in mind). In course of birth, mature or immature, or while ensconced in the womb, in every condition, they with spiritual eyes recognize the relation of their soul to the supreme Spirit. Those great-minded Rishis of positive and intuitive knowledge passing through this arena of actions, return again to the abode of the celestials. Men, O king, attain what they have in consequence of the grace of the gods of Destiny or of their own actions. Do thou not think otherwise. O Yudhishthira, I regard that as the highest good which is regarded so in this world. Some attain happiness in this world, but not in the next; others do so in the next, but not in this. Some, again, attain happiness in this as well as in the next world; and others neither here nor in the next world. Those that have immense wealth, shine every day with well-decorated persons. O slayer of mighty foes, being addicted to carnal pleasures, they enjoy happiness only in this world, but not in the next. But those who are engaged in spiritual meditations and the study of the Vedas, who are diligent in asceticism, and who impair the vigour of their bodies by performing their duties, who have subdued their passions, and who refrain from killing any animated being, those men, O slayer of thy enemies, attain happiness in the next world, but not in this! Those who first live a pious life, and virtuously acquire wealth in due time and then marry and perform sacrifices, attain bliss both in this and the next world. Those foolish men again who do not acquire knowledge, nor are engaged in asceticism or charity or increasing their species; or in encompassing the pleasures and
enjoyments of this world, attain bliss neither in this nor in the next world. But all of you are proficient in knowledge and possessed of great power and strength and celestial vigour. For the extermination (of the wicked) and for serving the purposes of the gods, ye have come from the other world and have taken your birth in this! Ye, who are so valiant, and engaged in asceticism, self-restraining exercises, and religious ordinances, and fond of exertion, after having performed great deeds and gratified the gods and Rishis and the Pitris, ye will at last in due course attain by your own acts the supreme region--the abode of all virtuous men! O ornament of Kuru's race, may no doubts cross thy mind on account of these thy sufferings, for this affliction is for thy good!"
Next: Section CLXXXIII