The Mahabharata Home
"Parasara said, 'Nobody in this world does good to another. Nobody is seen to make gifts to others. All persons are seen to act for their own selves. People are seen to cast off their very parents and their uterine brothers when these cease to be affectionate. What need be said then or relatives of other degrees? 3 Gifts to a distinguished person and acceptance of the gifts made by a distinguished person both lead to equal merit. Of these two acts, however,
the making of a gift is superior to the acceptance of a gift. 1 That wealth which is acquired by proper means and increased also by proper means, should be protected with care for the sake of acquiring virtue. This is an accepted truth. One desirous of acquiring righteousness should never earn wealth by means involving injury to others. One should accomplish one's acts according to one's power, without zealously pursuing wealth. By giving water, whether cold or heated by fire, with a devoted mind, unto a (thirsty) guest, according to the best of one's power, one earns the merit that attaches to the act of giving food to a hungry man. The high-souled Rantideva obtained success in all the worlds by worshipping the ascetics with offerings of only roots and fruits leaves. The royal son of Sivi also won the highest regions of felicity by having gratified Surya along with his companion with offerings of the same kind. All men, by taking birth, incur debts to gods, guests, servants, Pitris, and their own selves. Everyone should, therefore, do his best for freeing himself from those debts. One frees oneself from one's debt to the great Rishis by studying the Vedas. One pays off one's debts to the gods by performing sacrifices. By performing the rites of the Sraddha one is freed from one's debts to the Pitris. One pays off one's debt to one's fellowmen by doing good offices to them. One pays off the debts one owes to one's own self by listening to Vedic recitations and reflecting on their import, by eating the remnants of sacrifices, and by supporting one's body. One should duty discharge all the acts, from the beginning, that one owes to one's servants. Though destitute of wealth, men are seen to attain to success by great exertions. 2 Munis by duly adoring the deities and by duty pouring libations of clarified butter on the sacred fire, have been seen to attain to ascetic success. Richika's son became the son of Vishwamitra. By adoring the deities who have shares in sacrificial offerings, with Richs (he attained to success in after life). Usanas became Sukra by having gratified the god of gods. Indeed., by hymning the praises of the goddess (Uma), he sports in the firmament, endued with great splendour. 3 Then, again, Asita and Devala, and Narada and Parvata, and Karkshivat, and Jamadagni's son Rama, and Tandya possessed of cleansed soul, and Vasishtha, and Jamadagni, and Viswamitra and Atri, and Bharadwaja, and Harismasru, and Kundadhara, and Srutasravas,--these great Rishis, by adoring Vishnu with concentrated minds with the aid of Richs, and by penances, succeeded in attaining to success through the grace of that great deity endued with intelligence. Many undeserving men, by adoring that good deity, obtained great distinction. One should not seek for advancement by achieving any wicked or censurable act. That wealth which is earned by righteous ways is true wealth. Fie on that wealth, however, which is earned by unrighteous means. Righteousness is eternal. It should never, in this world, be
abandoned from desire of wealth. That righteous-souled person who keeps his sacred fire and offers his daily adorations to the deities is regarded as the foremost of righteous persons. All the Vedas, O foremost of kings, are established on the three sacred fires (called Dakshina, Garhapatya, and Ahavaniya). That Brahmana is said to possess the sacred fire whose acts exist in their entirety. It is better to at once abandon the sacred fire than to keep it, abstaining the while from acts. The sacred fire, the mother, the father who has begotten, and the preceptor, O tiger among men, should all be duly waited upon and served with humility. That man who, casting off all feelings of pride, humbly waits upon and serves them that are venerable for age, who is possessed of learning and destitute of lust, who looketh upon all creatures with an eye of love, who has no wealth, who is righteous in his acts, and who is destitute of the desire of inflicting any kind of harm (upon any one), that truly respectable man is worshipped in this world by those that are good and pious.'" 1
350:3 The sense seems to be that when even such near relatives are cast off if found to be wanting in affection, the fact cannot be gainsaid that people never do good to others except when they hope to benefit themselves by such acts.
351:1 What is intended to be said is that the acceptance of a gift from a superior person is equal in point of merit to a gift made by a poor person. A wealthy man, by making a gift, earns greater merit than by accepting a gift.
351:2 i.e., by Dhyana and Dharana.
351:3 This has reference to Usanas' attaining to the status of a planet (Venus) in the firmament.
352:1 Nadantah is one word. It means Hinsa-sunyah. Danti cchinatti iti danta. Its reverse is Nadantah.
Next: Section CCXCIV