The Mahabharata Home
"Vidura said, 'Worshipped by the good and abandoning pride, that good man who pursueth his objects without outstepping the limits of his power, soon succeedeth in winning fame, for they that are good, when gratified with a person, are certainly competent to bestow happiness on him. He that forsaketh, of his own accord, even a great object owing to its being fraught with unrighteousness, liveth happily, casting off all foes, like a snake that hath cast off its slough. A victory gained by an untruth, deceitful conduct towards the king, and insincerity of intentions expressed before the preceptor,--these three are each equal to the sin of slaying a Brahmana. Excessive envy, death, and boastfulness, are the causes of the destruction of prosperity. Carelessness in waiting upon preceptor, haste, and boastlessness, are the three enemies of knowledge. Idleness, inattention, confusion of the intellect, restlessness, gathering for killing time, haughtiness, pride, and covetous ness,--these seven constitute, it is said, the faults of students in the pursuit of learning. How can they that desire pleasure have knowledge? Students, again, engaged in the pursuit of learning, cannot have pleasure. Votaries of pleasure must give up knowledge, and votaries of knowledge must give up pleasure. Fire is never gratified with fuel (but can consume any measure thereof). The great ocean is never gratified with the rivers it receives (but can receive any number of them). Death is never gratified even with entire living creatures. A beautiful woman is never gratified with any number of men (she may have). O king, hope killeth patience; Yama killeth growth; anger killeth prosperity; miserliness killeth fame; absence of tending killeth cattle; one angry Brahmana destroyeth a whole kingdom. Let goats, brass, silver, honey, antidotes of poison, birds, Brahmanas versed in the Vedas, old relatives, and men of high birth sunk in poverty, be always present in thy house. O Bharata, Manu hath said that goats, bulls, sandal, lyres, mirrors, honey, clarified butter, iron, copper, conch-shells, salagram (the stony-image of Vishnu with gold within) and gorochana should always be kept in one's house for the worship of the gods. Brahmanas, and guests, for all those objects are auspicious. O sire, I would impart to thee another sacred lesson productive of great fruits, and which is the highest of all teachings, viz., virtue should never be forsaken from desire, fear, or temptation, nay, nor for the sake of life itself. Virtue is everlasting; pleasure and pain are transitory; life is, indeed, everlasting but its particular phases are transitory. Forsaking those which are transitory, betake thyself to that which is everlasting, and let contentment be thine, for contentment is the highest of all acquisitions. Behold, illustrious and mighty kings, having ruled lands abounding with wealth and corn, have become the victims of the Universal Destroyer, leaving behind their kingdoms and vast sources of enjoyment. The son brought up with anxious care, when dead, is taken up and carried away by men
[paragraph continues] (to the burning ground). With the dishevelled hair and crying piteously, they then cast the body into the funeral pyre, as if it were a piece of wood. Others enjoy the deceased's wealth, while birds and fire feast on the elements of his body. With two only he goeth to the other world, viz., his merits and his sins which keep him company. Throwing away the body, O sire, relatives, friends, and sons retrace their steps, like birds abandoning trees without blossoms and fruits. The person cast into the funeral pyre is followed only by his own acts. Therefore, should men carefully and gradually earn the merit of righteousness. In the world above this, and also in that below this, there are regions of great gloom and darkness. Know, O king, that those are regions where the senses of men are exceedingly afflicted. Oh, let not any of those places to thine. Carefully listening to these words, if thou canst act according to them, thou wilt obtain great fame in this world of men, and fear will not be thine here or hereafter. O Bharata, the soul is spoken of as a river; religious merit constitutes its sacred baths; truth, its water; self-control, its banks; kindness, its waves. He that is righteous purifieth himself by a bath therein, for the soul is sacred, and the absence of desire is the highest merit. O king, life is a river whose waters are the five senses, and whose crocodiles and sharks are desire and anger. Making self-control thy raft, cross thou its eddies which are represented by repeated births! Worshipping and gratifying friends that are eminent in wisdom, virtue, learning, and years, he that asketh their advice about what he should do and should not do, is never misled. One should restrain one's lust and stomach by patience; one's hands and feet by one's eyes; one's eyes and ears by one's mind; and one's mind and words by one's acts. That Brahmana who never omitteth to perform his ablutions, who always weareth his sacred thread, who always attendeth to the study of the Vedas, who always avoideth food that is unclean, who telleth the truth and performeth acts in honour of his preceptor, never falleth off from the region of Brahma. Having studied the Vedas, poured libations into fire, performed sacrifices, protected subjects, sanctified his soul by drawing weapons for protecting kine and Brahmanas, and died on the field of battle, the Kshatriya attaineth to heaven. Having studied the Vedas, and distributed in proper time, his wealth among Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and his own dependents, and inhaled the sanctified smoke of the three kinds of fires, the Vaisya enjoyeth heavenly bliss in the other world. Having properly worshipped Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisayas in due order, and having burnt his sins, by gratifying them, and then peacefully casting off his body, the Sudra enjoyeth the bliss of heaven. The duties of the four orders are thus set forth before thee. Listen now to the reason of my speech as I discourse it. Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, is falling off from the duties of the Kshatriya order. Place him, therefore, O king, in a position to discharge the duties of kings.'
"Dhritarashtra said, It is even so as thou always teachest me. O amiable one, my heart also inclineth that very way of which thou tellest
me. Although, however, I incline in my mind towards the Pandavas even as thou teachest me to do, yet as soon as I come in contact with Duryodhana it turneth off in a different way. No creature is able to avert fate. Indeed, Destiny, I think, is certain to take its course; individual exertion is futile.'"
Next: Section XLI