The Mahabharata Home
"Parasara said, 'In the Brahmana, wealth acquired by acceptance of gifts, in the Kshatriya that won by victory in battle, in the Vaisya that obtained by
following the duties laid down for his order, and in the Sudra that earned by serving the three other orders, however small its measure, is worthy of praise, and spent for the acquisition of virtue is productive of great benefits. The Sudra is said to be the constant servitor of the three other classes. If the Brahmana, pressed for a living, betakes himself to the duties of either the Kshatriya or the Vaisya, he does not fall off from righteousness. When, however, the Brahmana betakes himself to the duties of the lowest order, then does he certainly fall off. When the Sudra is unable to obtain his living by service of the three other orders, then trade, rearing of cattle, and the practice of the mechanical arts are lawful for him to follow. Appearance on the boards of a theatre and disguising oneself in various forms, exhibition of puppets, the sale of spirits and meat, and trading in iron and leather, should never be taken up for purposes of a living by one who had never before been engaged in those professions every one of which is regarded as censurable in the world. It hath been heard by us that if one engaged in them can abandon them, one then acquires great merit. When one that has become successful in life behaves sinfully in consequence of one's mind being filled with arrogance, one's acts under such circumstances can never pass for authority. It is heard in the Puranas that formerly mankind were self-restrained; that they held righteousness in great esteem; that the practices they followed for livelihood were all consistent with propriety and the injunctions laid down in the scriptures: and that the only punishment that was required for chastising them when they went wrong was the crying of fie on them. 1 At the time of which we speak, O king, Righteousness, and nothing else, was much applauded among men. Having achieved great progress in righteousness, men in those days worshipped only all good qualities that they saw. The Asuras, however, O child, could not bear that righteousness which prevailed in the world. Multiplying (in both number and energy), the Asuras (in the form of Lust and Wrath) entered the bodies of men. Then was pride generated in men that is so destructive of righteousness. From pride arose arrogance, and from arrogance arose wrath. When men thus became overwhelmed with wrath, conduct implying modesty and shame disappeared from them, and then they were overcome by heedlessness. Afflicted by heedlessness, they could no longer see as before, and as the consequence thereof they began to oppress one another and thereby acquire wealth without any compunction. When men became such, the punishment of only crying fie on offenders failed to be of any effect. Men, showing no reverence for either the gods or Brahmanas, began to indulge their senses to their fill. 2 At that time the deities
repaired to that foremost of gods, viz., Siva, possessed of patience, of multiform aspect, and endued with the foremost of attributes, and sought his protection. The deities imparted unto him their conjoined energy, and thereupon the great god, with a single shaft, felled on the earth those three Asuras, viz., Desire, Wrath, and Cupidity, who were staying in the firmament, along with their very habitations. 1 The fierce chief of those Asuras possessed of fierce, prowess, who had struck the Devas with terror, was also slain by Mahadeva armed with the lance. 2 When this chief of the Asuras was slain, men once more obtained their proper natures, and once more began to study the Vedas and the other scriptures as was in former times. Then the seven ancient Rishis came forward and installed Vasava as the chief of the gods and the ruler of heaven. And they took upon themselves the task of holding the rod of chastisement over mankind. After the seven Rishis came king Viprithu (to rule mankind), and many other kings, all belonging to the Kshatriya order for separately ruling separate groups of human beings. (When Mahadeva dispelled all evil passions from the minds of creatures) there were, in those ancient times, certain elderly men from whose minds all wicked feelings did not fly away. Hence, in consequence of that wicked state of their minds and of those incidents that were connected with it, there appeared many kings of terrible prowess who began to indulge in only such acts as were fit for Asuras. Those human beings that are exceedingly foolish adhere to those wicked acts, establish them as authorities, and follow them in practice to this day. 3 For this reason, O king, I say unto thee, having reflected properly with the aid of the scriptures, that one should abstain from all acts that are fraught with injury or malice and seek to acquire a knowledge of the Soul. 4The man possessed of wisdom would not seek wealth for the performance of religious rites by ways that are unrighteous and that involve an abandonment of morality. Wealth earned by such means can never prove beneficial. Do thou then become a Kshatriya of this kind. Do thou restrain thy senses, be agreeable to thy friends, and cherish, according to the duties of thy order, thy subjects, servants, and children. Through the union of both prosperity and adversity (in man's life), there arise friendships and animosities.
[paragraph continues] Thousands and thousands of existences are continually revolving (in respect of every Jiva), and in every mode of Jiva's existence these must occur. 1 For this reason, be thou attached to good qualities of every kind, but never to faults. Such is the character of good qualities that if the most foolish person, bereft of every virtue, hears himself praised for any good quality, he becomes filled with joy. Virtue and sin exist, O king, only among men. These do not exist among creatures other than man. One should therefore, whether in need of food and other necessaries of life or transcending such need, be of virtuous disposition, acquire knowledge, always look upon all creatures as one's own self, and abstain totally from inflicting any kind of injury. When one's mind becomes divested of desire, and when all Darkness is dispelled from it, it is then that one succeeds in obtaining what is auspicious.'"
354:1 The Burdwan translator gives a most ridiculous version of the expression Dhigdandasasanah. Unable to catch the sense, which however is certainly very plain, he actually interprets the words to mean 'living under the sway of king Dhigdanda.' K.P. Singha gives the correct meaning.
354:2 In this verse also, the Burdwan translator takes Dhigdanda as the name of a king. He gives an equally ridiculous version of the second line. Abhyagachchan is explained by the commentator as having vishayan understood after it. The sense is that they began to enjoy all objects of the senses to an excess. Both Devan and Brahman are accusatives governed by Avamanya. K.P. Singha translates both the lines correctly.
355:1 This verse is taken as a metaphorical statement. The three Asuras are, of course, Kama, Krodha, and Lobha. Gaganagah (staying in the firmament) is interpreted as 'existing in Maya'. Sapurah as 'with their gross, subtile, and potential forms;' 'felled on the earth is explained as 'merged into the pure chit.' The whole is taken to imply a spiritual destruction of all the evil passions and a restoration of man to his original state of purity.
355:2 This chief of the Asura passions was Mahamoha or great Heedlessness. The word Devas here is taken to mean the senses. Of course, if verse 16 be not taken metaphorically, then may Devas be taken in its ordinary sense of the deities.
355:3 The genius of the two languages being different, it is very difficult to render the phraseology of the first line. Literally rendered, the line would read 'they remain or stay on those acts, and establish them.' Besides being unidiomatic, the sentence would be unmeaning. 'To stay or remain on any act' is to adhere to it. 'To establish it' is to regard it as a precedent and cause it to be regarded by others as a precedent.
355:4 Samsiddhadhigamam is explained by the commentator thus: Samsiddhah is nityasiddah, i.e., atman; tadadhigamam is atmajnanam.
356:1 The very gods are subject to prosperity and adversity, and their effects of loves and hates. There is no mode of life in which these may not be found.
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