The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Man is not the disposer of either his prosperity or adversity. He is like a wooden doll moved by strings. Indeed, the Creator hath made man subject to Destiny. Go on telling me, I am attentive to what thou sayest.'
"Vidura said, 'O Bharata, by speaking words out of season even Vrihaspati himself incurreth reproach and the charge of ignorance, one becometh agreeable by gift, another by sweet words, a third by the force of incantation and drugs. He, however, that is naturally agreeable, always remaineth so. He that is hated by another is never regarded by that other as honest or intelligent or wise. One attributeth everything good to him one loveth; and everything evil to him one hateth. O king, as soon as Duryodhana was born I told thee,--thou shouldst abandon this one son, for by abandoning him thou wouldst secure the prosperity of thy hundred sons,--and by keeping him, destruction would overtake thy hundred sons, that gain should never be regarded highly which leadeth to loss. On the other hand, that loss even should be regarded highly which would bring on gain. That is no loss, O king, which bringeth on gain. That, however, should be reckoned as loss which is certain to bring about greater losses still. Some become eminent in consequence of good qualities; others become so in consequence of wealth. Avoid them, O Dhritarashtra, that are eminent in wealth but destitute of good qualities!'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'All that you sayest is approved by the wise and is for my future good. I dare not, however, abandon my son. It is well-known that where there is righteousness there is victory.'
"Vidura said, 'He that is graced with every virtue and is endued with humility, is never indifferent to even the minutest sufferings of living creatures. They, however, that are ever employed in speaking ill of others, always strive with activity quarrelling with one another and in all matters, calculated to give pain to others. There is sin in accepting gifts from, and danger in making gifts to them, whose very sight is inauspicious and whose companionship is fraught with danger. They that are quarrelsome, covetous, shameless, deceitful, are known unrighteous, and their companionship should always be avoided. One should also avoid those men that are endued with similar faults of a grave nature, When the
occasion that caused the friendship is over the friendship of those that are low, the beneficial result of that connection, and the happiness also derivable from it, all come to an end. They then strive to speak ill of their (late) friend and endeavour to inflict loss on him, and if the loss they sustain be even very small, for all that they, from want of self-control, fail to enjoy peace. He that is learned, examining everything carefully and reflecting well, should, from a distance, avoid the friendship of vile and wicked-minded persons such as these. He that helpeth his poor and wretched and helpless relatives, obtain children and animals and enjoyeth prosperity that knoweth no end. They that desire their own benefit should always succour their relatives. By every means, therefore, O king, do thou seek the growth of thy race. Prosperity will be thine, O Monarch, if thou behavest well towards all thy relatives. Even relatives that are destitute of good qualities should be protected. O bull of the Bharata race, how much more, therefore, should they be protected that are endued with every virtue and are humbly expectant of thy favours? Favour thou the heroic sons of Pandu, O monarch, and let a few villages be assigned to them for their maintenance. By acting thus, O king, fame will be thine in this world. Thou art old; thou shouldst, therefore, control thy sons. I should say what is for thy good. Know me as one that wishes well to thee. He that desireth his own good should never quarrel, O sire, with his relatives. O bull of the Bharata race, happiness should ever be enjoyed with one's relatives, and not without them, to eat with one another, to talk with one another, and to love one another, are what relatives should always do. They should never quarrel. In this world it is the relatives that rescue, and the relatives that ruin (relatives). Those amongst them that are righteous rescue; while those that are unrighteous sink (their brethren). O king, be thou, O giver of honours, righteous in thy conduct towards the sons of Pandu. Surrounded by them, thou wouldst be unconquerable by thy foes. If a relative shrinks in the presence of a prosperous relative, like a deer at sight of a hunter armed with arrows, then the prosperous relative hath to take upon himself all the sins of the other. O best of men, repentance will be thine (for this thy inaction at present) when in future thou wilt hear of the death of either the Pandavas or thy sons. O, think of all this. When life itself is unstable, one should in the very beginning avoid that act in consequence of which one would have to indulge in regrets having entered the chamber of woe. True it is that a person other than Bhargava, the author of the science of morality is liable to commit actions that go against morality. It is seen, however, that a just notion of consequence is present in all persons of intelligence. Thou art an aged scion of Kuru's race. If Duryodhana inflicted these wrongs on the sons of Pandu, it is thy duty, O king of men, to undo them all. Re-instating them in their position, thou wilt, in this world, be cleansed of all thy sins and be, O king of men, an object of worship with even those that have their souls under control. Reflecting on the well-spoken words of the wise according to
their consequences, he that engageth in acts never loseth fame. The knowledge imparted by even men of learning and skill is imperfect, for that which is sought to be inculcated is ill-understood, or, if understood, is not accomplished in practice. That learned person who never doth an act, the consequences of which are sin and misery, always groweth (in prosperity). The person, however, of wicked soul, who from folly pursueth his sinful course commenced before falleth into a slough of deep mire. He that is wise should ever keep in view the (following) six conduits by which counsels become divulged, and he that desireth success and a long dynasty should ever guard himself from those six. They are, intoxication, sleep, inattention to spies, set over one by another, one's own demeanour as dependent on the working of one's own heart, confidence reposed on a wicked counsellor, and unskilful envoys. Knowing these six doors (through which counsels are divulged), he that keepeth them shut while pursuing the attainment of virtue, profit, and desire, succeedeth in standing over the heads of his foes. Without an acquaintance with the scriptures and without waiting upon the old, neither virtue nor profit can be known (or won) by persons blessed even with the intelligence of Vrihaspati. A thing is lost if cast into the sea; words are lost if addressed to one that listens not; the scriptures are lost on one that hath not his soul under control; and a libation of clarified butter is lost if poured over the ashes left by a fire that is extinguished. He that is endued with the intelligence maketh friendships with those that are wise, having first examined by the aid of his intelligence, repeatedly searching by his understanding, and using his ears, eyes, and judgment. Humility removeth obloquy, ears, failure, prowess; forgiveness always conquereth anger; and auspicious rites destroy all indications of evil. One's lineage, O king, is tested by his objects of enjoyment, place of birth, house, behaviour, food, and dress. When an object of enjoyment is available, even that one who hath attained emancipation is not unwilling to enjoy; what, again, need be said of him that is yet wedded to desire? A king should cherish a counsellor that worshippeth persons of wisdom, is endued with learning, virtue, agreeable appearance, friends, sweet speech, and a good heart. Whether of low or high birth, he who doth not transgress the rules of polite intercourse, who hath an eye on virtue, who is endued with humility and modesty, is superior to a hundred persons of high birth. The friendship of those persons never cooleth, whose hearts, secret pursuits, and pleasures, and acquirements, accord in every respect. He that is intelligent should avoid an ignorant person of wicked soul, like a pit whose mouth is covered with grass, for friendship with such a person can never last. The man of wisdom should never contract friendship with those that are proud, ignorant, fierce, rash and fallen off from righteousness. He that is grateful, virtuous, truthful, large-hearted, and devoted, and he that hath his senses under control, preserveth his dignity, and never forsaketh a friend, should be desired for a friend. The withdrawal of the senses from their respective objects is
equivalent to death itself. Their excessive indulgence again would ruin the very gods. Humility, love of all creatures, forgiveness, and respect for friends,--these, the learned have said, lengthen life. He who with a firm resolution striveth to accomplish by a virtuous policy purposes that have once been frustrated, is said to possess real manhood. That man attaineth all his objects, who is conversant with remedies to be applied in the future, who is firmly resolved in the present, and who could anticipate in the past how an act begun would end. That which a man pursueth in word, deed, and thought, winneth him for its own; therefore, one should always seek that which is for his good. Effort after securing what is good, the properties of time, place, and means, acquaintance with the scriptures, activity, straightforwardness, and frequent meetings with those that are good,--these bring about prosperity. Perseverance is the root of prosperity, of gain, and of what is beneficial. The man that pursueth an object with perseverance and without giving it up in vexation, is really great, and enjoyeth happiness that is unending. O sire, there is nothing more conducive of happiness and nothing more proper for a man of power and energy as foregiveness in every place and at all times. He that is weak should forgive under all circumstances. He that is possessed of power should show forgiveness from motives of virtue; and he, to whom the success or failure of his objects is the same, is naturally forgiving. That pleasure the pursuit of which doth not injure one's virtue and profit, should certainly be pursued to one's fill. One should not, however, act like a fool by giving free indulgence to his senses. Prosperity never resides in one who suffers himself to be tortured by a grief, who is addicted to evil ways, who denies Godhead, who is idle, who hath not his senses under control, and who is divested of exertion. The man that is humble, and who from humility is modest is regarded as weak and persecuted by persons of misdirected intelligence. Prosperity never approacheth from fear the person that is excessively liberal, that giveth away without measure, that is possessed of extraordinary bravery, that practiseth the most rigid vows, and that is very proud of his wisdom. Prosperity doth not reside in one that is highly accomplished, nor in one that is without any accomplishment. She doth not desire a combination of all the virtues, nor is she pleased with the total absence of all virtues. Blind, like a mad cow, prosperity resides with some one who is not remarkable. The fruits of the Vedas are ceremonies performed before the (homa) fire; the fruits of an acquaintance with the scriptures are goodness of disposition and conduct. The fruits of women are the pleasures of intercourse and offspring; and the fruits of wealth are enjoyment and charity. He that performeth acts tending to secure his prosperity in the other world with wealth acquired sinfully, never reapeth the fruits of these acts in the other world, in consequence of the sinfulness of the acquisitions (spent for the purpose). In the midst of deserts, or deep woods, or inaccessible fastnesses, amid all kinds of dangers and alarms or in view of deadly weapons upraised for striking
him, he that hath strength of mind entertaineth no fear. Exertion, self-control, skill, carefulness, steadiness, memory, and commencement of acts after mature deliberation,--know that these are the roots of prosperity. Austerities constitute the strength of ascetics; the Vedas are the strength of those conversant with them; in envy lieth the strength of the wicked; and in forgiveness, the strength of the virtuous. These eight, viz., water, roots, fruits, milk, clarified butter (what is done at) the desire of a Brahmana, (or at) the command of a preceptor, and medicine, are not destructive of a vow. That which is antagonistic to one's own self, should never be applied in respect of another. Briefly even this is virtue. Other kinds of virtue there are, but these proceed from caprice. Anger must be conquered by forgiveness; and the wicked must be conquered by honesty; the miser must be conquered by liberality, and falsehood must be conquered by truth. One should not place trust on a woman, a swindler, an idle person, a coward, one that is fierce, one that boasts of his own power, a thief, an ungrateful person, and an atheist. Achievements, period of life, fame, and power--these four always expand in the case of him that respectfully saluteth his superiors and waiteth upon the old. Do not set thy heart after these objects which cannot be acquired except by very painful exertion, or by sacrificing righteousness, or by bowing down to an enemy. A man without knowledge is to be pitied; an act of intercourse that is not fruitful is to be pitied; the people of a kingdom that are without food are to be pitied; and a kingdom without a king is to be pitied. These constitute the source of pain and weakness to embodied creatures; the rains, decay of hills and mountains; absence of enjoyment, anguish of women; and wordy arrows of the heart. The scum of the Vedas is want of study; of Brahmanas, absence of vows; of the Earth, the Vahlikas; of man, untruth; of the chaste woman, curiosity; of women, exile from home. The scum of gold is silver; of silver, tin; of tin, lead; and of lead, useless dross. One cannot conquer sleep by lying down; women by desire; fire by fuel; and wine by drinking. His life is, indeed, crowned with success who hath won his friends by gifts, his foes in battle, and wife by food and drink; they who have thousands live; they, who have hundreds, also live. O Dhritarashtra, forsake desire. There is none who cannot manage to live by some means or other. Thy paddy, wheat, gold, animals, and women that are on earth all cannot satiate even one person .. Reflecting on this, they that are wise never grieve for want of universal dominion. O king, I again tell thee, adopt an equal conduct towards thy children, i.e., towards the sons of Pandu and thy own sons.'"
Next: Section XL