The Mahabharata Home
"Vidura said, 'O son of Vichitravirya, Manu, the son of the Self-created, hath, O king, spoken of the following seven and ten kinds of men, as those that strike empty space with their fists, or seek to bend the vapoury bow of Indra in the sky, or desire to catch the intangible rays of the sun. These seven and ten kinds of foolish men are as follow: he who seeketh to control a person that is incapable of being controlled; he who is content with small gains; he who humbly pays court to enemies; he who seeks to restrain women's frailty; he who asketh him for gifts who should never be asked; he who boasteth, having done anything; he who, born in a high family, perpetrateth an improper deed; he who being weak always wageth hostilities with one that is powerful; he who talketh to a person listening scoffingly; he who desireth to have that which is unattainable; he who being a father-in-law, jesteth with his daughter-in-law; he who boasteth at having his alarms dispelled by his daughter-in-law; he who scattereth his own seeds in another's field; he who speaketh ill of his own wife; he who having received anything from another sayeth that he doth not remember it, he who, having given away anything in words in holy places, boasteth at home when asked to make good his words, and he who striveth to prove the truth of what is false. The envoys of Yama, with nooses in hand, drag those persons to hell. One should behave towards another just as that other behaveth towards him. Even this is consistent with social polity. One may behave deceitfully towards him that behaveth deceitfully, but honestly towards him that is honest in his behaviour. Old age killeth beauty; patience, hope; death, life; the practice of virtue, worldly enjoyments; lust, modesty; companionship with the wicked, good behaviour; anger, prosperity; and pride, everything.'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Man hath been spoken of in all the Vedas as having hundred years for the period of his life. For what reason then, do not all men attain the allotted period?'
"Vidura said, 'Excess of pride, excess in speech, excess in eating, anger, the desire of enjoyment, and intestine dissensions,--these, O king, are six sharp swords that cut off the period of life allotted to creatures. It is these which kill men, and not death. Knowing this, blessed be thou!'
'He who appropriates to himself the wife of one who hath confided in him; he who violates the bed of his preceptor; that Brahmana, O Bharata, who becomes the husband of a Sudra woman, or drinks wines; he who commendeth Brahmanas or becometh their master, or taketh away the lands that support them; and he who taketh the lives of those who yield asking for protection, are all guilty of the sin of slaying Brahmanas. The Vedas declare that contact with these requires expiation. He that accepts the teaching of the wise; he that is acquainted with the
rules of morality; he that is liberal; he that eateth having first dedicated the food to the gods and Pitris; he that envieth none; he that is incapable of doing anything that injureth others; he that is grateful, truthful, humble and learned, succeedeth in attaining to heaven.
'They are abundant, O king, that can always speak agreeable words. The speaker, however, is rare, as also the hearer, of words that are disagreeable but medicinal. That man who, without regarding what is agreeable or disagreeable to his master but keeping virtue alone in view, sayeth what is unpalatable, but medicinal, truly addeth to the strength of the king. For the sake of the family a member may be sacrificed; for the sake of the village, a family may be sacrificed; for the sake of a kingdom a village may be sacrificed; and for the sake of one's soul, the whole earth may be sacrificed. One should protect his wealth in view of the calamities that may overtake him; by his wealth one should protect his wives, and by both his wealth and wives one should protect his own self. From very olden times it hath been seen that gambling provoketh quarrels. Therefore, he that is wise, should not resort to it even in jest. O son of Pratipa, at the time of that gambling match I told thee, O king--this is not proper. But, O son of Vichitravirya, like medicine to a sick man, those words of mine were not agreeable to thee. O king, thou desirest to vanquish the sons of Pandu, who are just as peacocks of variegated plumage, whereas thy sons are all as crows. Forsaking lions thou art protecting jackals! O king, when the time cometh, thou wilt have to grieve for all this. That master, O sire, who doth not give vent to his displeasure with devoted servants zealously pursuing his good, enlisteth the confidence of his servants. In fact, the latter adhere to him even in distress. By confiscating the grants to one's servants or stopping their pay, one should not seek to amass wealth, for even affectionate counsellors deprived of their means of life and enjoyment, turn against him and leave him (in distress). Reflecting first on all intended acts and adjusting the wages and allowances of servants with his income and expenditure, a king should make proper alliances, for there is nothing that cannot be accomplished by alliances. That officer who fully understanding the intentions of his royal master dischargeth all duties with alacrity, and who is respectable himself and devoted to his master, always telleth what is for his master's good, and who is fully acquainted with the extent of his own might and with that also of those against, whom he may be engaged, should be regarded by the king as his second self. That servant, however, who commanded (by his master) disregardeth the latter's injunctions and who enjoined to do anything refuseth to submit, proud as he is of his own intelligence and given to arguing against his master, should be got rid of without the least delay. Men of learning say that a servant should be endued with these eight qualities, viz., absence of pride, ability, absence of procrastination, kindness, cleanliness, incorruptibility, birth in a family free from the taint of disease, and weightiness of speech. No man should confidently enter an
enemy's house after dusk even with notice. One should not at night lurk in the yard of another's premises, nor should one seek to enjoy a woman to whom the king himself might make love. Never set thyself against the decision to which a person hath arrived who keepeth low company and who is in the habit of consulting all he meeteth. Never tell him,--I do not believe thee,--but assigning some reason send him away on a pretext. A king who is exceedingly merciful, a woman of lewd character, the servant of a king, a son, a brother, a widow having an infant son one serving in the army, and one that hath suffered great losses, should never be engaged in pecuniary transactions of lending or borrowing. These eight qualities shed a lustre on men, viz., wisdom, high lineage, acquaintance with scriptures, self-restraint, prowess, moderation in speech, gift to the extent of one's power, and gratefulness. These high qualities, O sire, are necessarily brought together by one only by gifts. When the king favours a person, that incident (of royal favour) bringeth in all others and holdeth them together. He that performeth ablutions winneth these ten, viz., strength, beauty, a clear voice, capacity to utter all the alphabetical sounds, delicacy of touch, fineness of scent, cleanliness, gracefulness, delicacy of limbs, and beautiful women. He that eateth sparingly winneth these six, viz., health, long life, and ease; his progeny also becometh healthy, and nobody reproacheth him for gluttony. One should not give shelter to these in his house, viz., one that always acteth improperly, one that eateth too much, one that is hated by all, one that is exceedingly deceitful, one that is cruel, one that is ignorant of the proprieties of time and place, and one that dresseth indecently. A person, however distressed, should never solicit a miser for alms, or one that speaketh ill of others, or one that is unacquainted with the shastras, or a dweller in the woods, or one that is cunning, or one that doth not regard persons worthy of regard, or one that is cruel, or one that habitually quarrels with others, or one that is ungrateful. A person should never wait upon these six worst of men, viz., one that is a foe, one that always errs, one that is wedded to falsehood, one that is wanting in devotion to the gods, one that is without affection, and one that always regards himself competent to do everything. One's purposes depend (for their success) on means; and means are dependent, again, on the nature of the purposes (sought to be accomplished by them). They are intimately connected with each other, so that success depends on both. Begetting sons and rendering them independent by making some provision for them, and bestowing maiden daughters on eligible persons, one should retire to the woods, and desire to live as a Muni. One should, for obtaining the favours of the Supreme Being, do that which is for the good of all creatures as also for his own happiness, for it is this which is the root of the successful of all one's objects. What anxiety hath he for a livelihood that hath intelligence, energy, prowess, strength, alacrity and perseverance?
'Behold the evils of a rupture with the Pandavas which would sadden the very gods with Sakra. These are, first, enmity between them that are all thy sons; secondly, a life of continued anxiety; thirdly, the loss of the fair fame of the Kurus; and lastly, the joy of those that are thy enemies. The wrath of Bhishma, O thou of the splendour of Indra, of Drona, and the king Yudhishthira, will consume the whole world, like a comet of large proportions falling transversely on the earth. Thy hundred sons and Karna and the sons of Pandu can together rule the vast earth with the belt of the seas. O king, the Dhartarashtras constitute a forest of which the Pandavas are, I think, tigers. O, do not cut down that forest with its tigers! O, let not the tigers be driven from that forest! There can be no forest without tigers, and no tigers without a forest. The forest shelters the tigers and tigers guard the forest!'
They that are sinful never seek so much to ascertain the good qualities of others as to ascertain their faults. He that desires the highest success in all matters connected with worldly profit, should from the very beginning practise virtue, for true profit is never separated from heaven. He whose soul hath been dissociated from sin and firmly fixed on virtue, hath understood all things in their natural and adventitious states; he that followeth virtue, profit, and desire, in proper seasons, obtaineth, both here and hereafter, a combination of all three. He that restraineth the force of both anger and joy, and never, O king, loseth his senses under calamities, winneth prosperity. Listen to me, O king. Men are said to have five different kinds of strength, Of these, the strength of arms is regarded to be of the most inferior kind. Blessed be thou, the acquisition of good counsellors is regarded as the second kind of strength. The wise have said that the acquisition of wealth is the third kind of strength. The strength of birth, O king, which one naturally acquireth from one's sires and grandsires, is regarded as the fourth kind of strength. That, however, O Bharata, by which all these are won, and which is the foremost of all kinds of strength, is called the strength of the intellect. Having provoked the hostility of a person who is capable of inflicting great injury on a fellow creature, one should not gather assurance from the thought that one liveth at a distance from the other. Who that is wise that can place his trust on women, kings, serpents, his own master, enemies, enjoyments, and period of life? There are no physicians nor medicines for one that hath been struck by the arrow of wisdom. In the case of such a person neither the mantras of homa, nor auspicious ceremonies, nor the mantras of the Atharva Veda, nor any of the antidotes of poison, are of any efficacy. Serpents, fire, lions, and consanguineous relatives,--none of these, O Bharata, should be disregarded by a man; all of these are possessed of great power. Fire is a thing of great energy in this world. It lurketh in wood and never consumeth it till it is ignited by others. That very fire, when brought out by friction, consumeth by its energy not only the wood in which it lurketh, but also an entire forest and many other things. Men of high
lineage are just like fire in energy. Endued with forgiveness, they betray no outward symptoms of wrath and are quiet like fire in wood. Thou, O king, with thy sons art possessed of the virtue of creepers, and the sons of Pandu are regarded as Sala trees. A creeper never groweth unless there is a large tree to twine round. O king, O son of Ambika, thy son is as a forest. O sire, know that the Pandavas are the lions of that forest. Without its lions the forest is doomed to destruction, and lions also are doomed to destruction without the forest (to shelter them).'"
Next: Section XXXVIII