The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'I wish, O sire, to hear the settled conclusions on the subject of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure. Depending upon which of these does the course of life proceed? What are the respective roots of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure? What are again the results of those three? They are sometimes see n to mingle with one another, and sometimes to exist separately and independently of one another.'
"Bhishma said, 'When men in this world endeavour with good hearts to achieve Wealth with the aid of Virtue, then those three, viz., Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure, may be seen to co-exist in a state of union in respect of time, cause, and action. 1 Wealth has its root in Virtue, and Pleasure is said to be the fruit of Wealth. All the three again have their root in Will. Will is concerned with objects. All objects, again, in their entirety, exist for gratifying the desire of enjoyment. Upon these then does the aggregate of three depend. Entire abstraction from all objects is Emancipation. It is said that Virtue is sought for the protection of the body, and Wealth is for the acquisition of Virtue. Pleasure is only the gratification of the senses. All the three have, therefore, the quality of Passion. 2 Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure, when sought for the sake of heaven or such other rewards, are said to be remote because the rewards themselves are remote. When sought, however, for the sake of Knowledge of Self, they are said to be proximate. One should seek them when they are of such a character. 3 One should not cast them off even mentally. If Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure are to be abandoned, one should abandon them when one has freed one's self by ascetic penances. 4 The aim of the triple aggregate is towards emancipation.
[paragraph continues] Would that man could obtain it! One's acts, undertaken and completed with eve tithe aid of intelligence may or may not lead to the expected results. Virtue is not always the root of Wealth, for other things than Virtue lead to Wealth (such as service, agriculture, &c). There is again a contrary opinion (for some say that Wealth is earned through chance or birth or like causes). In some instances, Wealth acquired has been productive of evil. Other things again that Wealth (such as fasts and vows) have led to the acquisition of Virtue. As regards this topic, therefore, a dullard whose understanding has been debased by ignorance, never succeeds in acquiring the highest aim of Virtue and Wealth, viz., Emancipation. Virtue's dross consists in the desire of reward; the dross of Wealth consists in hoarding it; when purged of these impurities, they are productive of great results. In this connection is cited the narrative of the discourse that look place in days of old between Kamandaka and Angaristha. One day, king Angaristha, having waited for the opportunity, saluted the Rishi Kamandaka as he was seated at his ease and asked him the following questions, 'If a king, forced by lust and folly, commits sin for which he afterwards repents, by what acts, O Rishi, can those sins be destroyed? If again a man impelled by ignorance, does what is sinful in the belief that he is acting righteously, how shall the king put a stop to that sin come into vogue among men?'
"Kamandaka said, 'That man who, abandoning Virtue and Wealth pursues only Pleasure, reaps as the consequence of such conduct the destruction of his intelligence. The destruction of intelligence is followed by heedlessness that is at once destructive of both Virtue and Wealth. From such heedlessness proceed dire atheism and systematic wickedness of conduct. If the king does not restrain those wicked men of sinful conduct, all good subjects then live in fear of him like the inmate of a room within which a snake has concealed itself. The subjects do not follow such a king. Brahmanas and all pious persons also act in the same way. As a consequence the king incurs great danger, and ultimately the risk of destruction itself. Overtaken by infamy and insult, he has to drag on a miserable existence. A life of infamy, however, is equal to death. Men learned in the scriptures have indicated the following means for checking sin. The king should always devote himself to the study of the three Vedas. He should respect the Brahmanas and do good offices unto them. He should be devoted to righteousness. He should make alliance (of marriage) with high families. He should wait upon high-minded Brahmanas adorned with the virtue of forgiveness. He should perform ablutions and recite sacred mantras and thus pass his time happily. Banishing all wicked subjects from himself and his kingdom, he should seek the companionship of virtuous men. He should gratify all persons by speeches or good acts. He should say unto all--'I am yours,'--proclaim the virtues of even his foes. By pursuing such conduct he may soon cleanse himself of his sins and win the high regard of all. Without doubt, by conduct such as this all his sins will be destroyed. Thou shouldst accomplish all those high duties which thy seniors and preceptors would indicate. Thou art sure to obtain great blessing through the grace of thy seniors and preceptors.'"
268:1 The commentator illustrates this by the action of a virtuous husband seeking congress with his wedded wife in the proper season. There is religious merit in the performance of the rites known by the name of Garbhadhana; there is pleasure in the act itself; and lastly, wealth or profit in the form of a son is also acquired.
268:2 There are three qualities or attributes that characterise human acts, viz., Goodness, Passion, and Darkness. Vide the latter sections of the Bhagavadgita. Such Virtue and Wealth and Pleasure, therefore, are not very high objects of pursuit. Things possessing the, attribute of Goodness only are worthy of pursuit.
268:3 i.e., one should seek virtue for only compassing purity of soul; Wealth in order that one may spend it in acts undertaken without desire of fruit; and Pleasure for only supporting the body.
268:4 Dharmadinkamanaishthikan, i.e., having Dharma for the first and Karna for the last, hence Virtue, Wealth and Pleasure.
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