The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, O foremost speakers, how may the wilderness of this world be known? I desire to hear this. Asked by me, tell me this.
"Vidura said, I will describe to thee all the acts of creatures from their first conception. At the outset it lives in the admixture of blood and the vital fluid. Then it grows little by little. Then on the expiry of the fifth month it assumes shape. It next becomes a foetus with all its limbs completed, and lives in a very impure place, covered with flesh and blood. Then, through the action of the wind, its lower limbs are turned upwards and the head comes downwards. Arriving in this posture at the mouth of the uterus, it suffers manifold woes. In consequence of the contractions of the uterus, the creature then comes out of it, endued with the results of all his previous acts. He then encounters in this world other evils that rush towards him. Calamities proceed towards him like dogs at the scent of meat. Next diverse diseases approach him while he is enchained by his previous acts. Bound by the chains of the senses and women and wealth and other sweet things of life, diverse evil practices also approach him then, O king! Seized by these, he never obtains happiness. At that season he succeeds not in obtaining the fruit of his acts, right or wrong. They, however, that set their hearts on reflection, succeed in protecting their souls. The person governed by his senses does not know that death has come at his door. At last, dragged by the messengers of the Destroyer, he meets with destruction at the appointed time. Agitated by his senses, for whatever good and evil has been done at the outset and having enjoyed or suffered the fruits of these, he once more becomes indifferent to his acts of self-slaughter. Alas, the world is deceived, and covetousness brings it under its dominion. Deprived of understanding by covetousness, wrath, and fear, one knows not ones own self. Filled with joy at ones own respectability of birth, one is seen to traduce those that are not high-born. Swelled also with pride of wealth, one is seen to contemn the poor. One regards others to be ignorant fools, but seldom takes a survey of ones own self. One attributes faults to others but is never desirous to punish ones own self. Since the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the high-born and the lowborn, the honoured and the dishonoured, all go to the place of the dead and sleep there freed from every anxiety, with bodies divested of flesh and full only of bones united by dried-up tendons, whom amongst them would the survivors look upon as distinguished above the others and by what signs would they ascertain the attributes of birth and beauty? When all, stretched after the same fashion, sleep on the bare ground, why then should men, taking leave of their senses, desire to deceive one another? He that, looking at this saying (in the scriptures) with his own eyes or hearing it from others, practiseth virtue in this unstable world of life and adhereth to it from early age, attaineth to the highest end. Learning all this, he that adhereth to Truth, O king, succeedeth in passing over all paths."
Next: Section 5