The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Thus addressed, Janamejaya replied unto the sage, saying, 'Thou rebukest one that deserves to be rebuked. Thou censurest one that is deserving of censure. Thou upbraidest me and my acts. I implore thee to be graceful towards me. All my acts have been sinful. I burn, however, with repentance as if I am in the midst of blazing fire! My mind, in remembrance of my deeds, is exceedingly cheerless. Verily, I am much afraid of Yama. How can I bear to live without extracting that dart from my heart? O Saunaka, suppressing all thy wrath, instruct me now. Formerly I used to show regard for Brahmanas. I solemnly declare that I shall once more show the same regard for thee. Let not my line be extinct. Let not the race in which I am born sink into the dust. It is not proper that they who have wronged Brahmanas and have for that, in consequence of the injunctions of the Vedas, forfeited all claim to the respect of the world and to social intercourse with their fellowmen, should have any bearer of their names for continuing their races. I am overwhelmed with despair. I, therefore, repeat my resolves (about mending my conduct). I pray you to protect me like sages that do not accept gifts protecting the poor. Sinful wights abstaining from sacrifices never attain to heaven. 1 Leaving (this world), they have to pass their time in the pits of hell like Pullindas and Khasas. 2 Ignorant that I am, give me wisdom like a learned preceptor to his pupil or like a sire to his son. Be gratified with me, O Saunaka!'
"Saunaka said, 'What wonder is there that a person destitute of wisdom should do many improper acts? Knowing this, a. person of real wisdom is never angry with creatures (when they become guilty of folly). By ascending upon the top of wisdom's palace, one grieves for others, one's own self being then too pure for becoming an object of other people's grief. In consequence of one's wisdom one surveys all creatures in the world like a person on a mountain-top surveying people below. The person who becomes an object of censure with good men, who hates good men and who hides himself from their view, never succeeds in obtaining any blessing and never understands the
propriety of acts. Thou knowest what the energy and the nobility of the Brahmana is as laid down in the Vedas and other scriptures. Act now in such a way that tranquillity of heart may be thine and let Brahmanas be thy refuge, If the Brahmanas cease to be angry with thee, that will ensure thy felicity in heaven. If, again, thou repentest in sin, thy sight will be clear and thou wilt succeed in beholding righteousness.'
"Janamejaya said, 'I am repenting of my sins. I will never again seek to extinguish virtue. I desire to obtain blessedness. Be thou gratified with me.'
"Saunaka said, 'Dispelling arrogance and pride, O king, I wish thee to show regard for me! 1 Employ thyself in the good of all creatures, ever remembering the mandates of righteousness. I am not reproving thee from fear or narrowness of mind or covetousness. Listen now, with these Brahmanas here, to the words of truth I utter. I do not ask for anything. I shall, however, instruct thee in the ways of righteousness. All persons will croak and bray and cry fie on me (for what I am going to do). They will even call me sinful. My kinsmen and friends will discard me. 2 Without doubt, however, my kinsmen and friends, hearing the words I speak, will succeed in vigorously crossing the difficulties of life. Some that are possessed of great wisdom will understand (my motives) rightly. Know, O child, what my views are, O Bharata, in respect of the Brahmanas. Do thou (after listening to me) act in such away that they may, through my efforts, obtain every blessing. Do thou also, O king, pledge thy word that thou wilt not again injure the Brahmanas.'
"Janamejaya said, 'I swear, touching even thy feet, that I shall never again, in thought, word, or deed, injure the Brahmanas.'"
331:1 Here amum (the accusative of adas) evidently means 'that' and not 'this.' I think the reference, therefore, is to heaven and not to this world.
331:2 These are Mleccha tribes of impure behaviour.
332:1 i.e., for my instructions.
332:2 So great was the repugnance felt for the slayer of a Brahmana that to even talk with him was regarded a sin. To instruct such a man in the truths of the Vedas and of morality was to desecrate religion itself.
Next: Section CLII