The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "In this connection, the high-souled Yudhishthira said unto Arjuna these words fraught with reason. 'Thou thinkest, O Partha, that there is nothing superior to wealth, and that the poor man can neither have heaven, nor happiness, nor the acquisition of his wishes. This, however, is not true. Many persons are seen that have been crowned with success through sacrifice in the shape of Vedic study. Many sages are seen by devotion to penances to have acquired eternal regions of bliss. They, O Dhananjaya, who always observe the practices of the Rishis by betaking themselves to Brahmacharya and who become acquainted with all duties, are regarded by the gods as Brahmanas. O Dhananjaya, thou shouldst always regard those Rishis that are devoted to the study of the Vedas and those that are devoted to the pursuit of true knowledge as persons that are truly virtuous. O son of Pandu, all our acts depend upon those that are devoted to the acquisition of true knowledge. 1 We know this to be the opinion of the Vaikhanasas, O puissant one! The Ajas, the Prishnis, the Sikatas, O Bharata, the Arunas, and the Kitavas, have all gone to heaven through the merit of Vedic study. By performing those acts, O Dhananjaya, that are indicated in the Vedas, viz., battle, study of the Vedas, sacrifices, the restraint of passion that is so difficult, one goes to heaven by the southern path of the Sun (Dakshinayana). I have, before this, told thee that those very regions belong to persons that are observant of (Vedic) acts. Thou shalt see, however, that the northern path (Uttarayana) is travelled by those that are devoted to Yoga penances. Those eternal and bright regions to which that path leads belong to men of Yoga. Of these two, the northern path is much applauded by those conversant with the Puranas. Thou shouldst know that one acquires heaven through contentment. From contentment springs great happiness. There is nothing higher than contentment. Unto the Yogin who has controlled wrath and joy, contentment is his high praise and success. In this connection is cited the discourse by Yayati of old. Listening to that discourse one may succeed in withdrawing all his desires like a tortoise drawing in all his limbs. When one cherishes no fear of anything, when one is not feared by anything, when one cherishes no desire, when one bears no hate, then is one said to have attained to the state of Brahma. When one does not bear sinfully towards any creature, in act, thought, or word, one is then said to have attained to Brahma. When one has controlled his pride and folly, and withdrawn himself from all attachments, it is then that that pious man of irradiated soul becomes fit for attaining to that salvation which consists in the annihilation of separate existence. Listen now to me with concentrated attention, O son of Pritha, as I say it unto thee. Some desire virtue; some, good conduct; and some wealth. One may desire wealth ( as a means for the acquisition of virtue). The abandonment,
however, of such desire would be better for him. 1 There are many faults attached to wealth and consequently to those religious acts that are performed with wealth. We have seen it with our own eyes. It behoveth thee also to see this. He that desires wealth finds it very difficult to abandon that which should by every means be abandoned. Good deeds are very rare in those that amass riches. It is said that wealth can never be acquired without injuring others, and that, when earned, it brings numerous troubles. A person of narrow heart, setting at naught the fear of repentance, commits acts of aggression towards others, tempted by even a little wealth, unconscious all the while of the sin of Brahmanicide that he incurs by his acts. Obtaining wealth which is so difficult of acquisition, one burns with grief if one has to give a portion of it to one's servants,--with grief, that is, which is equal to what one would feet if one is actually robbed by depredators. If, on the other hand, one does not part with one's wealth, obloquy becomes one's share. One, however, that has no wealth, never becomes the subject of censure. Withdrawn from all attachments, such a person can become happy in all respects by supporting life upon what little he may obtain as alms. No one, however, can be happy by the acquisition of wealth. In this connection certain verses relating to sacrifices are recited by persons conversant with ancient scriptures. Wealth was created by the Creator for the sake of sacrifices, and man was created by him for protecting that wealth and performing sacrifices. For this, all wealth should be applied to sacrifices. It is not proper that it should be spent for the gratification of desire of enjoyment. The Creator then confers wealth upon mortals for the sake of sacrifices. Know this, O son of Kunti, thou that art the foremost of all wealthy persons! It is for this that the wise think that wealth, without doubt, is nobody's on earth. One should perform sacrifices with it and give it away with a trustful heart. One should spend (in gift) what one has acquired, and not waste or spend it in gratifying one's desire of enjoyment. What use is there in amassing wealth when such proper objects exist in which to spend it? Those persons of little understanding that give away (wealth) unto men that have swerved from the duties of their order, have to subsist hereafter for a hundred years on ordure and dirt. That men give unto the undeserving and refrain from giving unto the deserving is due to inability to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving. For this reason the practice of even the virtue of charity is difficult. These are the two faults connected with wealth even when acquired, viz., gift to an undeserving person and abstaining from giving unto him that is deserving.'"
47:1 True knowledge is knowledge of Brahma. What is said here is that our conduct (acts) should be framed according to the opinion of persons possessed of such knowledge.
48:1 What the poet says here is this: it is better not to wish for or covet wealth as a means for the performance of sacrifices than to covet it for performing sacrifices. A poor man will act better by not performing sacrifices at all than by performing them with wealth acquired by the usual means.
Next: Section XXVII