The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma continued, 'In this connection is also cited the old narrative of the verses sung by Janaka the ruler of the Videhas, who had attained to tranquillity of soul. What the monarch said was, 'Unlimited is my wealth. At the same time I have nothing, if the whole of (my kingdom) Mithila be consumed in a conflagration, I shall incur no loss.' In the connection is also cited the speech of Vodhya uttered in respect of this very topic, viz., freedom from attachments. Listen to it O Yudhishthira! Once on a time the royal son of Nahusha (Yayati) questioned the Rishi Vodhya who had, in consequence of the abandonment of desire, attained to tranquillity of soul and who had an intimate acquaintance with the scriptures. The monarch said, 'O thou of great wisdom, give me instructions about tranquillity. What is that under
standing relying upon which thou succeedest in wandering over the world in tranquillity of soul and disengaged from all acts?'
"Vodhya said, 'I conduct myself according to the instructions of others but never instruct others myself. I shall, however, mention the indications of those instructions (according to which my conduct is framed). Thou mayst catch their spirit by reflection. My six preceptors are Pingala, the osprey, the snake, the bee in the forest, the maker of shafts (in the story), and the maiden (in the story)!' 1
"Bhishma continued, 'Hope is very powerful (in agitating the heart), O King! Freedom from hope is high felicity. Reducing hope to an absence of expectation, Pingala sleeps in peace. 2 Beholding an osprey with meat in his beaks, others, that have not found any meat, assail and destroy him. A certain osprey, by altogether abstaining from meat obtained felicity. To build a house for one's own self is productive of sorrow and not of happiness. The snake, taking up his residence in another creature's abode, lives in felicity. The ascetics live happily, betaking themselves to mendicancy, without being injured by any creature, like bees in the forest. A certain maker of shafts, while employed at his work, was so deeply attentive to it that he did not notice the king who passed by his side. When many are together, dispute ensues. Even when two reside together, they are sure to converse. I, however, wander alone like the anklet made of sea-shells in the wrist of the maiden in the story.'" 3
14:1 Nilakantha explains that by Saranga here is meant the bee. The anweshanam following it is 'going behind.' The whole compound means 'imitation of the bee in the forest.'
14:2 The allusion is to the story of Pingala, in Section 74 ante.
14:3 The story, evidently a very ancient one, is given in full in the Bhagavat. Once on a time, a maiden, residing in her father's house, wished to feed secretly a number of Brahmanas. While removing the grain from the barn, her anklets, made of shells, began to jingle. Fearing discovery through that noise, she broke all her anklets except one for each hand.
Next: Section CLXXIX