The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'Thou hadst asked me about the Creation of all beings; I have now narrated that to thee in full. Listen to me as I tell thee now what the duties are of a Brahmana. The rituals of all ceremonies for which sacrificial fees are enjoined, commencing with Jatakarma and ending with Samavartana, depend for their performance upon a preceptor competent in the Vedas. 2 Having studied all the Vedas and having displayed a submissive behaviour towards his preceptor during his residence with him, and having paid the preceptor's fee, the youth should return home with a thorough knowledge of all sacrifices. 3 Receiving the permission of his preceptor, he should adopt
one of the four modes of life and live in it in due observance of its duties till he casts off his body. He should either lead a life of domesticity with spouses and engaged in creating offspring, or live in the observance of Brahmacharya; or in the forest in the company of his preceptor, or in the practice of the duties laid down for a yati. A life of domesticity is said to be the root of all the other modes of life. A self-restrained householder who has conquered all his attachments to worldly objects always attains to success (in respect of the great object of life). A Brahmana, by begetting children, by acquiring a knowledge of the Vedas, and by performing sacrifices, pays off the three debts he owes. 1 He should then enter the other modes of life, having cleansed himself by his acts. He should settle in that place which he may ascertain to be the most sacred spot on earth, and he should strive in all matters that lead to fame, for attaining to a position of eminence. The fame of Brahmanas increases through penances that are very austere, through mastery of the various branches of knowledge, through sacrifices, and through gifts. Indeed, a person enjoys endless regions of the righteous (in the next world) as long as his deeds or the memory thereof lasts in this world. A Brahmana should teach, study, officiate at other people's sacrifices, and offer sacrifices himself. He should not give away in vain or accept other people's gifts in vain. Wealth, sufficient in quantity, that may come from one who is assisted in a sacrifice, from a pupil, or from kinsmen (by marriage) of a daughter, should be spent in the performance of sacrifice or in making gifts. Wealth coming from any of these sources should never be enjoyed by a Brahmana singly. 2 For a Brahmana leading a life of domesticity there is no means save the acceptance of gifts for the sake of the deities, or Rishis, or Pitris, or preceptor or the aged, or the diseased, or the hungry. 3 Unto those that are persecuted by unseen foes, or those that are striving to the best of their power to acquire knowledge, one should make gifts from one's own possessions, including even cooked food, more than one can fairly afford. 4 Unto a deserving person there is nothing that cannot be given. They that are good and wise deserve to have even the prince of steeds, called Uchchaisravas, belonging to Indra himself. 5 Of high vows (king) Satyasandha, having, with due humility, offered his own life-breaths for saving those of a Brahmana, ascended to heaven. Sankriti's son Rantideva, having given only lukewarm water to the high-souled Vasishtha, ascended to heaven and received high honours there.
[paragraph continues] Atri's royal son Indradamana, possessed of great intelligence, having given diverse kinds of wealth to a deserving person, acquired diverse regions of felicity in the next world. Usinara's son Sivi, having given away his own limbs and the dear son of loins for the sake of a Brahmana, ascended to heaven from this world. Pratardana, the ruler of Kasi, having given away his very eyes to a Brahmana, obtained great fame both here and hereafter. King Devavridha, having given away a very beautiful and costly umbrella, with eight golden ribs, proceeded to heaven with all the people of his kingdom. Sankriti of Atri's race, possessed of great energy, having given instruction to his disciples on the subject of Impersonal Brahma, proceeded to regions of great felicity. Amvarisha of great prowess, heaving given unto the Brahmanas eleven Arvudas of kine, proceeded to heaven with all the people of his kingdom. Savitri, by giving away her ear-rings, and king Janamejaya, by giving away his own body, both proceeded to high regions of felicity. Yuvanaswa, the son of Vrishadarbha, by giving away diverse kinds of gems, a fine mansion, and many beautiful women, ascended to heaven. Nimi, the ruler of the Videhas, gave away his kingdom, Jamadagni's son (Rama) gave away the whole earth; and Gaya gave away the earth with all her towns and cities, unto the Brahmanas. Once when the clouds ceased to pour, Vasishtha, resembling Brahman himself, kept alive all creatures like Prajapati keeping them alive (by his energy and kindness). Karandhama's son Marutta of cleansed soul, by giving away his daughter to Angiras, speedily ascended to heaven. Brahmadatta, the ruler of the Panchalas, possessed of superior intelligence, by giving away two precious jewels called Nidhi and Sankha unto some of the foremost of the Brahmanas, obtained many regions of felicity. King Mitrasaha, having given his own dear wife Madayanti unto the high-souled Vasishtha, ascended to heaven with that wife of his. The royal sage Sahasrajit, possessed of great fame having cast off dear life itself for the sake of a Brahmana, ascended to regions of great felicity. King Satadyumna, having given to Mudgala a mansion made of gold and full of every object of comfort and use, ascended to heaven. The king of the Salwas, known by the name of Dyutimat, possessed of great prowess, gave unto Richika his entire kingdom and ascended to heaven. The Royal sage Madiraswa, by giving away his daughter of slender waist to Hiranyahasta, ascended to such regions as are held in esteem by the very gods. The royal sage Lomapada, of great prowess, by giving away his daughter Santa to Rishyasringa, obtained the fruition of all his wishes. King Prasenajit, of great energy, by giving away a hundred thousand kine with calves, ascended to excellent regions of felicity. These and many others, possessed of great and well-ordered souls and having their senses under control, ascended, by means Of gifts and penances, to heaven. Their fame will last as long as the earth herself will last. All of them have, by gifts, sacrifices and procreation of issue, proceeded to heaven.'"
163:2 Jatakarma is the ceremony that is performed with certain Vedic mantras immediately after a child's birth. There are many such ceremonies to be performed till Samavartana or return from the preceptor's home after completion of the period of pupilage. These ceremonies are necessarily such that they must be performed by the child's father or somebody else whom the latter might call in.
163:3 In this country, no fees are charged for tuition. The pupil, however, after completing his studies, may give his preceptor a final fee which is determined by the choice of the preceptor himself and which varies according to the means of the pupil leaving the preceptor's home for his own.
164:1 By begetting children, one pays off one's debt to ancestors; by studying the Vedas, one pays off one's debt to the Rishis; and by performing sacrifices one pays off one's debt to the deities.
164:2 It is a deadly sin to take anything from the father-in-law or other relatives (by marriage) of a daughter. What is got from such sources is, to this day, spent freely. Those persons that sell their daughters in marriage are universally reckoned as fallen.
164:3 The fact is, the duty of the householder obliges him to worship the deities and the Pitris, and to become hospitable to the others named. The Brahmana, however, has no ostensible means for discharging this duty. The only means open to him is acceptance of gifts. In this case, acceptance, therefore, for such ends is not productive of demerit.
164:4 Kritadapi is explained by the commentator as pakvannadapi.
164:5 The sense is that there is no gift which is too valuable for such persons.
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