The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'Observant of meritorious vows, the householder, for the second period of life, should dwell in his house, having taken spouses according to the ways indicated in the ordinance and having established afire (of his own). As regards the domestic mode of life, four kinds of conduct have been laid down by the learned. The first consists of keeping a store of grain sufficient
to last for three years. The second consists of keeping a store to last for one year. The third consists of providing for the day without thinking of the morrow. The fourth consists of collecting grain after the manner of the pigeon. 1 Of these, each succeeding one is superior in point of merit to that which precedes it, according to what has been laid down in the scriptures. 2 A householder observing the first kind of conduct may practise all the six well-known duties (viz., sacrifice on his own account, sacrifice on that of others, teaching, learning, making gifts, and accepting gifts). He who observes the second kind of conduct should practise three only, of these duties (viz., learning, giving, and taking). He who observes the third kind of conduct should practise only two of the duties of domesticity (viz., learning and giving). The householder practising the fourth kind of domesticity should observe only one duty (viz., learning the scriptures). The duties of the householder are all said to be exceedingly meritorious. The householder should never cook any food for only his own use; nor should be slaughter animals (for food) except in sacrifices. 3 If it be an animal which the householder desires to kill (for food), or if it be a tree which he wishes to cut down (for fuel), he should do either act according to the ritual laid down in the Yajuses for that much is due to both animate and inanimate existences. The house-holder should never sleep during the day, or during the first part of the night, or during the last part thereof. He should never eat twice between morning and evening, and should never summon his wife to bed except in her season. In his house, no Brahmana should be suffered to remain unfed or unworshipped. He should always worship such guests as are presenters of sacrificial offerings, as are cleansed by Vedic lore and observance of excellent vows, as are high-born and conversant with the scriptures, as are observers of the duties of their own order, as are self-restrained, mindful of all religious acts, and devoted to penances. The scriptures ordain that what is offered to the deities and the Pitris in sacrifices and religious rites is meant for the service of guests like these. In this mode of life the scriptures ordain that a share of the food (that is cooked) should be given unto every creature (irrespective of his birth or character), unto one, that is, who for the sake of show keeps his nails and beard, unto one who from pride displays what his own (religious) practices are, unto one who has improperly abandoned his sacred fire, and even unto one who has injured his preceptor. One leading a domestic mode of life should give (food) unto Brahmacharins and Sannyasins. The householder should every day become an eater of vighasa, and should
every day eat amrita. Mixed with clarified butter, the remains of the food that is offered in sacrifices constitute amrita. That householder who eats after having fed (all relatives and) servants is said to eat vighasa. The food that remains after the servants have been fed is called vighasa, and that which is left after the presentation of sacrificial offerings is called amrita. One leading a domestic mode of life should be content with his own wedded wife. He should be self-restrained. He should avoid malice and subdue his senses. He should never quarrel with his Ritwik, Purohita, and preceptor, with his maternal uncle, guests and dependants, with the aged and the young in years, with those that are afflicted with diseases, with those that practise as physicians, with kinsmen, relatives, and friends, with his parents, with women that belong to his own paternal family, with his brother and son and wife, with his daughter, and with his servants. By avoiding disputes with these, the householder becomes cleansed of all sins. By conquering such disputes, he succeeds in conquering all the regions of felicity (in the world hereafter). There is no doubt in this. 1 The preceptor (if duly reverenced) is able to lead one to the regions of Brahman. The father (if reverenced) can lead to the regions of Prajapati. The guest is puissant enough to lead to the region of Indra. The Ritwik has power in respect of the regions of the deities. Female relatives of the paternal line have lordship in respect of the regions of the Apsaras, and kinsmen (by blood), in respect of the region of the Viswedevas. Relatives by marriage and collateral kinsmen have power in respect of the several quarters of the horizon (viz., north, etc.), and the mother and the maternal uncle have power over the earth. The old, the young, the afflicted the wasted have power over the sky. 2 The eldest brother is like unto the sire himself (to all his younger brothers). The wife and the son are one's own body. One's menial servants are one's own shadow. The daughter is an object of great affection. For these reason, a house-holder endued with learning, observant of duties, and possessed of endurance, should bear, without warmth or anxiety of heart every kind of annoyance and even censure from the last named relatives. No righteous household should do any act, urged by considerations of wealth. There are three courses of duty in respect of a life of domesticity. Of these, that which comes next (in the order of enumeration) is more meritorious than the preceding one. 3 As regards the four (principal) modes of life also, the same rule of merit applies, viz., the one that comes after is superior to the one preceding it. Accordingly, domesticity is superior to Brahmacharya, forest life is superior to domesticity, and a life of mendicancy or complete renunciation is superior to a forest life.
[paragraph continues] One desirous of prosperity should accomplish all those duties and rites that have been ordained in the scriptures in respect of those modes. That kingdom grows in prosperity where these highly deserving persons live, viz., those that lead a life of domesticity according to the Kumbhadhanya method, they that lead it according to the Unchha method, and they that lead it according to the Kapoti method. 1 That man who cheerfully leads a life of domesticity in the observance of those duties, succeeds in sanctifying ten generations of his ancestors above and ten generations of descendants below. A householder, duly observing the duties of domesticity, obtains an end that yields felicity equal to what occurs in the regions attained by great kings and emperors. Even this is the end that has been ordained for those who have subdued their senses. For all high-souled householders heaven has been ordained. That heaven is equipped with delightful cars for each (moving at the will of the rider). Even that is the delightful heaven indicated in the Vedas. For all householders of restrained souls, the regions of heaven constitute the high reward. The Self-born Brahman ordained that the domestic mode of life should be the productive cause of heaven. And since it has been so ordained, a person, by gradually attaining to the second mode of life, obtains happiness and respect in heaven. After this comes that high and superior mode of life, called the third, for those that are desirous of casting off their bodies. Superior to that of householders, that is the life of forest recluses,--of those, that is, who waste their bodies (by diverse kinds of austerities) into skeletons overlaid with dried skins. Listen as I discourse to thee upon it.'"
190:1 The fourth kind of conduct, called kapoti is also called unchha. It consists of collecting such seeds of grain as have fallen down from the ears and as have been abandoned by the reapers.
190:2 Thus the second is more meritorious than the first, the third than the second, and the fourth than the third. The fourth or last, therefore, is the first in point of merit.
190:3 It is said that the householder who cooks must give a share of the cooked food to a Brahmacharin or Yati or any one who comes as a guest. If he does not do it but eats the whole of what has been cooked, he is regarded as eating what belongs to a Brahmana. This, of course, is a high sin.
191:1 The commentator supposes that these relatives and kinsmen are named because of the great likelihood there is of disputes arising with them on account of shares of inheritance.
191:2 The sense is this: these various persons, if duly reverenced by the householder, are able to send the latter to the places indicated or make him comfortable in those places.
191:3 Vide verses 2 and 3 of this Section. Of the four courses, the first or Kusaladhanya, is left out here. The three others, of course, are the Kumbhadhanya, the Aswastana (otherwise called Unchhasila), and the Kapoti. The Burdwan translator makes a blunder in enumerating the three kinds of domesticity here referred to.
192:1 The Burdwan version of this verse is incorrect.
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