The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'The fowler, seeing the pigeon fall into the fire, became filled with compassion and once more said, 'Alas, cruel and senseless that I am, what have I done! I ant certainly a mean wretch! Great will be my sin for everlasting years! Indulging in such self-reproaches he began to say, repeatedly, 'I am unworthy of credit. My understanding is wicked. I am ever sinful in my resolves. Alas, abandoning all kinds of honourable occupation, I have become a fowler A cruel wretch that I am, without doubt, this high-souled pigeon, by laying down his own life, has read me a grave lesson. Abandoning wives and sons, I shall certainly cast off my very life-breaths that are so dear. The high-souled pigeon has taught me that duty. From this day, denying every comfort to my body, I shall wear it out even as a shallow tank in the season of summer. Capable of bearing hunger, thirst, and penances, reduced to emaciation, and covered with visible veins all over, I shall, by diverse kinds of practise such vows as have a reference to the other world. Alas, by giving up his body, the pigeon has shown the worship that should be paid to a guest. Taught by his example. I shall henceforth practise righteousness. Righteousness is the highest refuge (of all creatures). Indeed, I shall practise such righteousness as has been seen in the righteous pigeon, that foremost of all
winged creatures.' Having formed such a resolution and said these words, that fowler, once of fierce deeds, proceeded to make an unreturning tour of the world, 1 observing for the while the most rigid vows. He threw away his stout staff, his sharp-pointed iron-stick, his nets and springes, and his iron cage, and set at liberty the she-pigeon that he had seized and immured.'"
328:1 Mahaprasthana is literally an unreturning departure. When a person leaves home for wandering through the world till death puts a stop to his wanderings, he is said to go on Mahaprasthana.
Next: Section CXLVIII