The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O the best of Bharata's race and the foremost of great men, I wish to know what the fruits are of good deed. Do thou enlighten me on this point.'"
"Bhishma said, 'I shall tell thee what thou hast asked. Do thou, O Yudhishthira, listen to this which constitutes the secret knowledge of the Rishis. Listen to me as I explain what the ends, long coveted, are which are attained by men after death. Whatever actions are performed by particular corporeal beings, the fruits thereof are reaped by the doers while endued with similar corporeal bodies; for example, the fruits of actions done with mind are enjoyed at the time of dreams, and those of actions performed physically are enjoyed in the working state physically. In whatever states creatures perform good or evil deeds, they reap the fruits thereof in similar states of succeeding lives. No act done with the aid of the five organs of sensual perception, is ever lost. The five sensual organs and the immortal soul which is the sixth, remain its witnesses. One should devote one's eye to the service of the guest and should devote one's heart on the same; one should utter words that are agreeable; one should also follow and worship (one's guest). This is called Panchadakshin Sacrifice, (the sacrifice with five gifts). He who offers good food to the unknown and weary travellers fatigued by a long journey, attains to great merit. Those that use the sacrificial platform as their only bed obtain commodious mansions and beds (in subsequent births). Those that wear only rags and barks of trees for dress, obtain good apparel and ornaments in next birth. One possessed of penances and having his soul on Yoga, get vehicles and riding animals (as the fruit of their renunciation in this life). The monarch that lies down by the side of the sacrificial fire, attains to vigour and valour. The man who renounces the enjoyment of all delicacies, attains to prosperity, and he that abstains from animal food, obtains children and cattle, He who lies down with his head downwards, or who lives in water, or who lives secluded and alone in the practice of Brahmacharya, attains to all the desired ends. He who offers shelter to a guest and welcomes him with water to wash his feet as also with food, light and bed, attains to the merits of the sacrifice with the five gifts. He who lays himself down on a warrior's bed on the battle-field in the posture of a
warrior, goes to those eternal regions where all the objects of desire are fulfilled. A man, O king, attains to riches that makes charitable gifts. One secures obedience to one's command by the vow of silence, all the enjoyments of life by practice of austerities, long life by Brahmacharya, and beauty, prosperity and freedom from disease by abstaining from injury to others. Sovereignty falls to the lot of those that subsist on fruits and roots only. Residence in heaven is attained by those that live on only leaves of trees. A man, O king, is said to obtain happiness, by abstention from food. By confining one's diet to herbs alone, one becomes possessed of cows. By living on grass one attains to the celestial regions. By foregoing all intercourse with one's wife and making ablutions three times during the day and by inhaling the air only for purposes of subsistence, one obtains the merit of a sacrifice. Heaven is attained by the practice of truth, nobility of birth by sacrifices. The Brahmana of pure practices that subsists on water only, and performs the Agnihotra ceaselessly, and recites the Gayatri, obtains a kingdom. By abstaining food or by regulating it, one attains to residence in heaven. O king, by abstaining from all but the prescribed diet while engaged in sacrifices, and by making pilgrimage for twelve years, one attains to a place better than the abodes reserved for heroes. By reading all the Vedas, one is instantly liberated from misery, and by practising virtue in thought, one attains to the heavenly regions. That man who is able to renounce that intense yearning of the heart for happiness and material enjoyments,--a yearning that is difficult of conquest by the foolish and that doth not abate with the abatement of bodily vigour and that clings like a fatal disease unto him,--is able to secure happiness. As the young calf is able to recognise its dam from among a thousand cows, so does the previous acts of a man pursue him (in all his different transformations). As the flowers and fruits of a tree, unurged by visible influences, never miss their proper season, so does Karma done in a previous existence bring about its fruits in proper time. With age, man's hair grows grey, his teeth become loose; his eyes and ears too become dim in action; but the only thing that does not abate is his desire for enjoyments. Prajapati is pleased with those acts that please one's father, and the Earth is pleased with those acts that please one's mother, and Brahma is adored with those acts that please one's preceptor. Virtue is honoured by him who honours these three. The acts of those that despise these three do not avail them.'"
"Vaisampayana said, 'The princes of Kuru's race became filled with wonder upon listening to this speech of Bhishma. All of them became pleased in mind and overpowered with joy. As Mantras applied with a desire to win victory, or the performance of the Shoma sacrifice made without proper gifts, or oblations poured on the fire without proper hymns, become useless and lead to evil consequences, even so sin and evil results flow from falsehood in speech. O prince, I have thus related to thee this doctrine of the fruition of good and evil acts, as narrated by the Rishis of old. What else dost thou wish to hear?"
Next: Section VIII