The Mahabharata Home
"Vidura said, 'In this connection is cited the old story of the discourse between the son of Atri and the deities called Sadhyas is as heard by us. In days of old, the deities known by the name of Sadhyas questioned the highly wise and great Rishi of rigid vows (the son of Atri), while the latter was wandering in the guise of one depending on eleemosynary charity for livelihood. The Sadhyas said, 'We are, O great Rishi, deities known as Sadhyas. Beholding thee, we are unable to guess who thou art. It seemeth to us, however, that thou art possessed of intelligence and self-control in consequence of acquaintance with the scriptures. It, therefore, behoveth thee to discourse to us in magnanimous words fraught with learning.' The mendicant Rishi answered, 'Ye immortals, it hath been heard by me that by untying all the knots in the heart by the aid of tranquillity, and by mastery over all the passions, and observance of true religion, one should regard both the agreeable and the disagreeable like his own self. One should not return the slanders or reproaches of others for the pain that is felt by him who beareth silently, consumeth the slanderer; and he that beareth, succeedeth also in appropriating the virtues of the slanderer. Indulge not in slanders and reproaches. Do not humiliate and insult others. Quarrel not with friends. Abstain from companionship with those that are vile and low. Be not arrogant and ignoble in conduct. Avoid words that are harsh and fraught with anger. Harsh words burn and scorch the very vitals, bones, heart, and the very sources of the life of men. Therefore, he, that is virtuous, should always abstain from harsh and angry words. That
worst of men is of harsh and wrathful speech, who pierceth the vitals of others with wordy thorns, beareth hell in his tongue, and should ever be regarded as a dispenser of misery to men. The man that is wise, pierced by another's wordy arrows, sharp-pointed and smarting like fire or the sun, should, even if deeply wounded and burning with pain, bear them patiently remembering that the slanderer's merits become his. He that waiteth upon one that is good or upon one that is wicked, upon one that is possessed of ascetic merit or upon one that is a thief, soon taketh the colour from that companion of his, like a cloth from the dye in which it is soaked. The very gods desire his company, who, stung with reproach, returneth if not himself nor causeth others to return it, or who being struck doth not himself return the blow nor causeth other to do it, and who wisheth not the slightest injury to him that injureth him. Silence, it is said, is better than speech, if speak you must, then it is better to say the truth; if truth is to be said, it is better to say what is agreeable; and if what is agreeable is to be said, then it is better to say what is consistent with morality. A man becometh exactly like him with whom he liveth, or like him whom he regardeth, or like that which he wisheth to be. One is freed from those things from which one abstaineth, and if one abstaineth from everything he hath not to suffer even the least misery. Such a man neither vanquisheth others, nor is vanquished by others. He never injureth nor opposeth others. He is unmoved by praise or blame. He neither grieveth nor exalteth in joy. That man is regarded as the first of his species who wisheth for the prosperity of all and never setteth his heart on the misery of others, who is truthful in speech, humble in behaviour, and hath all his passions under control. That man is regarded as a mediocre in goodness who never consoleth others by saying what is not true; who giveth having promise; and who keepeth an eye over the weakness of others. These, however, are the indications of a bad man, viz., incapacity to be controlled; liability to be afflicted by dangers; proneness to give way to wrath, ungratefulness; inability to become another's friend, and wickedness of heart. He too is the worst of men, who is dissatisfied with any good that may come to him from others who is suspicious of his own self, and who driveth away from himself all his true friends. He that desireth prosperity to himself, should wait upon them that are good, and at times upon them that are indifferent, but never upon them that are bad. He that is wicked, earneth wealth, it is true, by putting forth his strength, by constant effort, by intelligence, and by prowess, but he can never win honest fame, nor can he acquire the virtues and manners of high families (in any of which he may be born).'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'The gods, they that regard both virtue and profit without swerving from either, and they that are possessed of great learning, express a liking for high families. I ask thee, O Vidura, this question,--what are those families that are called high?'
"Vidura said, 'Asceticism, self-restraint, knowledge of the Vedas, sacrifices, pure marriages, and gifts of food,--those families in which these seven exist or are practised duly, are regarded as high. There are high families who deviate not from the right course whose deceased ancestors are never pained (by witnessing the wrong-doings of their descendants), who cheerfully practise all the virtues, who desire to enhance the pure fame of the line in which they are born, and who avoid every kind of falsehood. Families that are high, fall down and become low owing to the absence of sacrifices, impure marriages, abandonment of the Vedas, and insults offered to Brahmanas. High families fall off and become low owing to their members disregarding or speaking ill of Brahmanas, or to the misappropriation, O Bharata, of what had been deposited with them by others. Those families that are possessed of members, wealth and kine, are not regarded as families if they be wanting in good manners and conduct, while families wanting in wealth but distinguished by manners and good conduct are regarded as such and win great reputation. Therefore, should good manners and good conduct be maintained with care, for, as regards wealth, it cometh or goeth. He that is wanting in wealth is not really wanting, but he that is wanting in manners and conduct is really in want. Those families that abound in kine and other cattle and in the produce of the field are not really worthy of regard and fame if they be wanting in manners and conduct. Let none in our race be a fomenter of quarrels, none serve a king as minister, none steal the wealth of others, none provoke intestine dissensions, none be deceitful or false in behaviour, and none eat before serving the Rishis, the gods, and guests. He, in our race, who slayeth Brahmanas, or entertaineth feelings of aversion towards them, or impedeth or otherwise injureth agriculture, doth not deserve to mix with us. Straw (for a seat), ground (for sitting upon), water (to wash the feet and face), and, fourthly sweet words,--these are never wanting in the houses of the good. Virtuous men devoted to the practice of righteous acts, when desirous of entertaining (guests), have these things ready for being offered with reverence. As the Sandal tree, O king, though thin, is competent to bear weights which timbers of other trees (much thicker) cannot; so they that belong to high families are always able to bear the weight of great cares which ordinary men cannot. He is no friend whose anger inspireth fear, or who is to be waited upon with fear. He, however, on whom one can repose confidence as on a father, is a true friend. Other friendships are nominal connection. He that beareth himself as a friend, even though unconnected by birth of blood, is a true friend, a real refuge, and a protector. He, whose heart is unsteady, or who doth not wait upon the aged, or who is of a restless disposition cannot make friends. Success (in the attainment of objects) forsaketh the person whose heart is unsteady, or who hath no control over his mind, or who is a slave of his senses, like swans forsaking a tank whose waters have dried up. They that are of weak minds suddenly give way to anger
and are gratified without sufficient cause; they are like clouds that are so inconstant. The very birds of prey abstain from touching the dead bodies of those who having been served and benefited by friends, show ingratitude to the latter. Beest thou poor or beest thou rich, thou shouldst honour thy friends. Until some service is asked, the sincerity or otherwise of friends cannot be known. Sorrow killeth beauty; sorrow killeth strength; sorrow killeth the understanding; and sorrow bringeth on disease. Grief, instead of helping the acquisition of his object, drieth up the body, and maketh one's foes glad. Therefore, do not yield to grief, Men repeatedly die and are reborn; repeatedly they wither away and grow; repeatedly they ask others for help, and they themselves are asked for help; repeatedly they lament and are lamented. Happiness and misery, plenty and want, gain and loss, life and death, are shared by all in due order. Therefore, he that is self-controlled should neither exult in joy nor repine in sorrow. The six senses are always restless. Through the most predominant one amongst them one's understanding escapeth in proportion to the strength it assumes, like water from a pot through its holes.'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'King Yudhishthira who is like a flame of fire, has been deceived by me. He will surely exterminate in battle all my wicked sons. Everything, therefore, seems to me to be fraught with danger, and my mind is full of anxiety, O thou of great intelligence, tell me such words as may dispel my anxiety.'
"Vidura said, 'O sinless one, in nothing else than knowledge and asceticism, in nothing else than restraining the senses, in nothing else than complete abandonment of avarice, do I see thy good. Fear is dispelled by self-knowledge; by asceticism one winneth what is great and valuable; by waiting upon superiors learning is acquired; and peace is gained by self-restraint. They that desire salvation without having acquired the merit attainable by gifts, or that which is attainable by practising the ritual of the Vedas, do not sojourn through life, freed from anger and aversion. The happiness that may be derived from a judicious course of study, from a battle fought virtuously, from ascetic austerities performed rigidly, always increaseth at the end. They that are no longer in peace with their relatives, obtain no steep even if they have recourse to well-made beds; nor do they, O king, derive any plea. sure from women, or the laudatory hymns of bards and eulogists. Such persons can never practise virtue. Happiness can never be theirs, in this world. Honours can never be theirs, and peace hath no charm for them. Counsels that are for their benefit please them not. They never acquire what they have not, nor succeed in retaining what they have, O king, there is no other end for such men save destruction. As milk is possible in kine, asceticism in Brahmanas, and inconstancy in women, so fear is possible from relatives. Numerous thin threads of equal length, collected together, are competent to bear, from the strength of numbers, the constant rolling of the shuttle-cock over them. The case is even so with
relatives that are good, O bull of the Bharata race, separated from one another, burning brands produce only smoke; but brought together they blaze forth into a powerful flame. The case is even so, O Dhritarashtra, with relatives. They, O Dhritarashtra, who tyrannise over Brahmanas, women, relatives, and kine, soon fall off their stalks, like fruits that are ripe. And the tree that stands singly, though gigantic and strong and deep-rooted, hath its trunk soon smashed and twisted by a mighty wind. Those trees, however, that grow in close compact are competent owing to mutual dependence to resist winds more violent still. Thus he that is single, however, endowed with all the virtues, is regarded by foes as capable of being vanquished like an isolated tree by the wind. Relatives, again, in consequence of mutual dependence and mutual aid, grow together, like lotus-stalks in a lake. These must never be slain, viz., Brahmanas, kine, relatives, children, women, those whose food is eaten, and those also that yield by asking for protection. O king, without wealth no good quality can show itself in a person. If, however, thou art in health, thou canst achieve thy good, for he is dead who is unhealthy and ill. O king, anger is a kind of bitter, pungent, acrid, and hot drink, painful in its consequences: it is a kind of headache not born of any physical illness, and they that are unwise can never digest it. Do thou, O king, swallow it up and obtain peace. They that are tortured by disease have no liking for enjoyments, nor do they desire any happiness from wealth. The sick, however, filled with sorrow, know not what happiness is or what the enjoyments of wealth are. Beholding Draupadi won at dice, I told thee before, O king, these words,--They that are honest avoid deceit in play. Therefore, stop Duryodhana! Thou didst not, however, act according to my words. That is not strength which is opposed to softness. On the other hand, strength mixed with softness constitutes true policy which should ever be pursued. That prosperity which is dependent on crookedness alone is destined to be destroyed. That prosperity, however, which depends on both strength and softness, descends to sons and grandsons in tact. Let, therefore, thy sons cherish the Pandavas, and the Pandavas also cherish thy sons. O king, let the Kurus and the Pandavas, both having same friends and same foes, live together in happiness and prosperity. Thou art, today, O king, the refuge of the sons of Kuru. Indeed, the race of Kuru, O Ajamida, is dependent on thee. O sire, preserving thy fame unsullied, cherish thou the children of Pandu, afflicted as they are with the sufferings of exile. O descendant of Kuru, make peace with the sons of Pandu. Let not thy foes discover thy holes. They all, O god among men, are devoted to truth. O king of men, withdraw Duryodhana from his evil ways.'"
Next: Section XXXVII