The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'I desire thee, O grandsire, to tell me what the ordinances are that have been laid down by the acts touching the deities and the (deceased) ancestors on occasions of Sraddhas.'
"Bhishma said, 'Having purified oneself (by baths and other purificatory acts) and then going through the well-known auspicious rites, one should carefully do all act relating to the deities in the forenoon, and all acts relating to the Pitris in the afternoon. What is given to men should be given in the midday with affection and regard. That gift which is made
untimely is appropriated by Rakshasas. 1 Gifts of articles that have been leapt over by any one, o been licked or sucked, that are not given peacefully, that have been seen by women that are impure in consequence of their season having come, do not produce any merit. Such gifts are regarded as the portion belonging to the Rakshasas. Gifts of articles that have been proclaimed before many people or from which a portion has been eaten by a Sudra, or that have been seen or licked by a dog, form portions of Rakshasas. Food which is mixed with hair or in which there are worms, or which has been stained with spittle or saliva or which has been gazed at by a dog or into which tear-drops have fallen or which has been trodden upon should be known as forming the portion of Rakshasa. Food that has been eaten by a person incompetent to utter the syllable Om, or that has been eaten by a person bearing arms, O Bharata, or that has been eaten by a wicked person should be known to form the portion of Rakshasas. 2 The food that is eaten by a person from which a portion has already been eaten by another, or which is eaten without a part thereof having been offered to deities and guests and children, is appropriated by Rakshasas. Such stained food, if offered to the deities and Pitris is never accepted by them but is appropriated by Rakshasas. The food offered by the three regenerate classes in Sraddhas, in which Mantras are either not uttered or uttered incorrectly and in which the ordinances laid down in the scriptures are not complied with, if distributed to guests and other people, is appropriated by Rakshasas. The food that is distributed to guests without having been previously dedicated to the deities or the Pitris with the aid of libation on the sacred fire, which has been stained in consequence of a portion thereof having been eaten by a person that is wicked or of irreligious behaviour, should be known to form the portion of Rakshasas.'
"'I have told thee what the portions are of the Rakshasas. Listen now to me as I lay down the rules for ascertaining who the Brahmana is that is deserving of gift. 3 All Brahmanas that have been outcasted (on account of the commission of heinous sins), as also Brahmanas that are idiots and out of mind, do not deserve to be invited to Sraddhas in which offerings are made to either the deities or the Pitris. That Brahmana who is afflicted with leucoderma, or he that is destitute of virility, or he that has got leprosy, or he that has got phthisis or he that is labouring under epilepsy (with delusions of the sensorium),
or he that is blind, should not, O king, be invited. 1 Those Brahmanas that practise the calling of physicians, those that receive regular pay for worshipping the images of deities established by the rich, or live upon the service of the deities, those that are observant of vows from pride or other false motives, and those that sell Soma, do not deserve to be invited. Those Brahmanas that are, by profession, vocalists, or dancers or players or instrumental musicians, or reciters of sacred books, or warriors and athletes, do not, O king, deserve to be invited. Those Brahmanas who pour libations on the sacred fire for Sudras, or who are preceptors of Sudras, or who as servants of Sudra masters, do not deserve to be invited. That Brahmana who is paid for his services as preceptor, or who attends as pupil upon the lectures of some preceptor because of some allowance that is granted to him, does not deserve to be invited, for both of them are regarded as sellers of Vedic lore. That Brahmana who has been once induced to accept the gift of food in a Sraddha at the very outset, as also he who has married a Sudra wife, even if possessed of every kind of knowledge do not deserve to be invited. 2 Those Brahmanas that are destitute of their domestic fire, and they that attend upon corpses, they that are thieves, and they that have otherwise fallen away do not, O king, deserve to be invited. 3 Those Brahmanas whose antecedents are not known or are vile, and they that are Putrika-putras, do not, O king, deserve to be invited on occasions of Sraddhas. 4 That Brahmana who gives loans of money, or he who subsists upon the interest of the loans given by him, or he who lives by sale of living creatures, does not deserve, O king, to be invited. Persons who have been subjugated by their wives, or they who live by becoming the paramours of unchaste women, or they who abstain from their morning and evening prayers do not deserve, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas.'
"'Listen now to me as I mention who the Brahmana is that has been ordained for acts done in honour of the deities and the Pitris. Indeed, I shall tell thee what those merits, are in consequence of which one may become a giver or a recipient of gifts in Sraddhas (notwithstanding the faults mentioned above). 5 Those Brahmanas that are observant of the
rites and ceremonies laid down in the scriptures, or they that are possessed of merit, or they that are conversant with the Gayatri, or they that are observant of the ordinary duties of Brahmanas, even if they happen to betake themselves to agriculture for a living, are capable, O king, of being invited to Sraddhas. If a Brahmana happens to be wellborn, he deserves to be invited to Sraddhas notwithstanding his profession of arms for fighting the battle of others. 1 That Brahmana, however, O son, who happens to betake himself to trade for a living should be discarded (even if possessed of merit). The Brahmana who pours libations every day on the sacred fire, or who resides in a fixed habitation, who is not a thief and who does the duties of hospitality to guests arrived at his house, deserves, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas. The Brahmana, O chief of Bharata's race, who recites the Savitri morning, noon, and night, or who subsists upon eleemosynary charity, who is observant of the rites and ceremonies laid down in the scriptures for persons of his order, deserves, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas. 2 That Brahmana who having earned wealth in the morning becomes poor in the afternoon, or who poor in the morning becomes wealthy in the evening or who is destitute of malice, or is stained by a minor fault, deserves, O king, to be invited to Sraddhas. That Brahmana who is destitute of pride or sin, who is not given to dry disputation, or who subsists upon alms obtained in his rounds of mendicancy from house to house deserves, O king, to be invited to sacrifices. One who is not observant of vows, or who is addicted to falsehood (in both speech and conduct), who is a thief, or who subsists by the sale of living creatures or by trade in general, becomes worthy of invitation to Sraddhas, O king, if he happens to offer all to the deities first and subsequently drink Soma. That man who having acquired wealth by foul or cruel means subsequently spends it in adoring the deities and discharging the duties of hospitality, becomes worthy, O king, of being invited to Sraddhas. The wealth that one has acquired by the sale of Vedic lore, or which has been earned by a women, or which has been gained by meanness (such as giving false evidence in a court of law), should never be given to Brahmanas or spent in making offerings to the Pitris. That Brahmana, O chief of Bharata's race, who upon the completion of a Sraddha that is performed with his aid, refuses to utter the words 'astu swadha,' incurs the sin of swearing falsely in a suit for land. 3 The time for performing Sraddha, O Yudhishthira, is that
when one obtains a good Brahmana and curds and ghee and the sacred day of the new moon, and the meat of wild animals such as deer and others. 1 Upon the completion of a Sraddha performed by a Brahmana the word Swadha should be uttered. If performed by a Kshatriya the words that should be uttered are--Let thy Pitris be gratified.--Upon the completion of a Sraddha performed by a Vaisya, O Bharata, the words that should be uttered are--Let everything become inexhaustible.--Similarly, upon the conclusion of a Sraddha performed by a Sudra, the word that should be uttered is Swasti,--In respect of a Brahmana, the declaration regarding Punyaham should be accompanied with the utterance of the syllable Om. In the case of a Kshatriya, such declaration should be without the utterance of syllable Om. In the rites performed by a Vaisya, the words that should be uttered, instead of beings the syllable Om, are,--Let the deities be gratified. 2--Listen now to me as I tell thee the rites that should be performed, one after another, conformably to the ordinances, (in respect of all the orders). All the rites that go by the name of Jatakarma, O Bharata, are indispensable in the case of all the three orders (that are regenerate). All these rites, O Yudhishthira, in the case of both Brahmanas and Kshatriyas as also in that of Vaisyas are to be performed with the aid of mantras. The girdle of a Brahmana should be made of Munja grass. That for one belonging to the royal order should be a bowstring. The Vaisya's girdle should be made of the Valwaji grass. Even this is what has been laid down in the scriptures. Listen now to me as I expound to thee what constitutes the merits and faults of both givers and recipients of gifts. A Brahmana becomes guilty of a dereliction of duty by uttering a falsehood. Such an act on his part is sinful. A Kshatriya incurs four times and a Vaisya eight times the sin that a Brahmana incurs by uttering a falsehood. A Brahmana should not eat elsewhere, having been previously invited by a Brahmana. By eating at the house of the person whose invitation has been posterior in point of time, he becomes inferior and even incurs the sin that attaches to the slaughter of an animal on occasions other than those of sacrifices. 3 So also, if he eats elsewhere after having been invited by a person of the royal order or a Vaisya, he falls away from his position and incurs half the sin that attaches to the slaughter of an animal on occasions other than those of sacrifices. That Brahmana, O king, who eats on occasions of such rites as are performed in honour of the deities or the Pitris by Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, without having performed his ablutions, incurs the sin of uttering an untruth for a cow. That Brahmana,
[paragraph continues] O king, who eats on occasions of similar rites performed by persons belonging to the three higher orders, at a time when he is impure in consequence either of a birth or a death among his cognates, through temptation, knowing well that he is impure incurs the same sin. 1 He who lives upon wealth obtained under false pretences like that of sojourns to sacred places or who solicits the giver for wealth pretending that he would spend it in religious acts, incurs, O monarch, the sin of uttering a falsehood. 2 That person, belonging to any of the three higher orders, O Yudhishthira, who at Sraddhas and on other occasions distributes food with the aid of Mantras, unto such Brahmanas as do not study the Vedas and as are not observant of vows, or as have not purified their conduct, certainly incurs sin.'
"Yudhishthira said,--'I desire, O grandsire, to know by giving unto whom the things dedicated to the deities and the Pitris, one may earn the amplest rewards.'
"Bhishma said,--'Do thou, Yudhishthira, feed those Brahmanas whose spouses reverently wait for the remnants of the dishes of their husbands like tillers of the soil waiting in reverence for timely showers of rain. One earn great merit by making gifts unto those Brahmanas that are always observant of pure conduct, O king, that are emaciated through abstention from all luxuries and even full meals, that are devoted to the observances of such vows as lead to the emaciation of the body, and that approach givers with the desire of obtaining gifts. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as regard conduct in this light of food, as regard conduct in the light of spouses and children, as regard conduct in the light of strength, as regard conduct in the light of their refuge for crossing this world and attaining to felicity in the next, and as solicit wealth only when wealth is absolutely needed, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto those persons, O Yudhishthira, that having lost everything through thieves or oppressors, approach the giver, one acquires great merit. 3 By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as solicit food from the hands of even a poor person of their order who has just got something from others, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as have lost their all in times of universal distress and as have been deprived of their spouses on such occasions, and as come to givers with solicitations for alms, one acquires great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as are observant of vows, and as place themselves
voluntarily under painful rules and regulations, as are respectful in their conduct to the declaration laid down in the Vedas, and as come to solicit wealth for spending it upon the rites necessary to complete their vows and other observances, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as live at a great distance from the practices that are observed by the sinful and the wicked, as are destitute of strength for want of adequate support, and as are very poor in earthly possessions, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as have been robbed of all their possessions by powerful men but as are perfectly innocent, and as desire to fill their stomachs any how without, that is, any scruples respecting the quality of the food they take, one earns great merit. By making gifts unto such Brahmanas as beg on behalf of others that are observant of penances and devoted to them and as are satisfied with even small gifts, one earns great merit. Thou hast now, O bull of Bharata's race, heard what the declarations are of the scriptures in respect of the acquisition of great merit by the making of gifts. Listen now to me as I expound what those acts are that lead to hell or heaven. They, O Yudhishthira, that speak an untruth on occasions other than those when such untruth is needed for serving the purpose of the preceptor or for giving the assurance of safety to a person in fear of his life, sink into hell 1. They who ravish other people's spouses, or have sexual congress with them, or assist at such acts of delinquency, sink in hell. They who rob others of their wealth or destroy the wealth and possessions of other people, or proclaim the faults of other people, sink in hell. They who destroy the containers of such pieces of water as are used by cattle for quenching thirst, as injure such buildings as are used for purposes of public meetings, as break down bridges and causeways, and as pull down houses used for purposes of habitation, have to sink to hell. They who beguile and cheat helpless women, or girls, or aged dames, or such women as have been frightened, have to sink to hell. They who destroy the means of other people's living, they who exterminate the habitations of other people, they who rob others of their spouses, they who sow dissensions among friends, and they who destroy the hopes of other people, sink into hell. They who proclaim the faults of others, they who break down bridges or causeways, they who live by following vocations laid down for other people, and they who are ungrateful to friends for services received, have to sink in hell. They who have no faith in the Vedas and show no reverence for them, they who break the
vows made by themselves or oblige others to break them, and they who fall away from their status through sin, sink in hell. They who betake themselves to improper conduct, they who take exorbitant rates of interest, and they who make unduly large profits on sales, have to sink in hell. They who are given to gambling, they who indulge in wicked acts without any scruple, and they who are given to slaughter of living creatures, have to sink in hell. They who cause the dismissal by masters of servants that are hoping for rewards or are expectant of definite need or are in the enjoyment of wages or salaries or are waiting for returns in respect of valuable services already rendered, have to sink in hell. They who themselves eat without offering portions thereof unto their spouse or their sacred fires or their servants or their guests, and they who abstain from performing the rites laid down in the scriptures for honouring the Pitris and deities, have to sink in hell. They who sell the Vedas, they who find fault with the Vedas, and they who reduce the Vedas into writing, have all to sink in hell. 1 They who are out of the pale of the four well-known modes of life, they who betake themselves to practices interdicted by the Srutis and the scriptures, and they who live by betaking themselves to acts that are wicked or sinful or that do not belong to their order of birth, have to sink in hell. They who live by selling hair, they who subsist by selling poisons, and they who live by selling milk, have to sink in hell. They who put obstacles in the path of Brahmanas and kine and maidens, O Yudhishthira, have to sink in hell. They who sell weapons, they who forge weapons, they who make shafts, and they who make bows, have to sink in hell. 'I hey who obstruct paths and roads with stones and thorns and holes have to sink in hell. They who abandon and cast off preceptors and servants and loyal followers without any offence, O chief of Bharata's race, have to sink in hell. They who set bullocks to work before the animals attain to sufficient age, they who bore the noses of bullocks and other animals for controlling them the better while employed in work, and they who keep animals always tethered, have to sink in hell. Those kings that do not protect their subjects while forcibly taking from them a sixth share of the produce of their fields, and they who, though able and possessed of resources, abstain from making gifts, have to sink in hell. They who abandon and cast off persons that are endued with forgiveness and self-restraint and wisdom, or those with whom they have associated for many years, when these are no longer of services to them, have to sink in hell. Those men who themselves eat without giving portions of the food to children and aged men and servants, have to sink in hell.'
"'All these men enumerated above have to go to hell. Listen now to me, O bull of Bharata's race, as I tell thee who those men are that
ascend to heaven. The man who transgresses against a Brahmana by impeding the performances of all such acts in which the deities are adored, becomes afflicted with the loss of all his children and animals. (They who do not transgress against Brahmanas by obstructing their religious acts ascend to heaven). Those men, O Yudhishthira, who follow the duties as laid down in the scriptures for them and practise the virtues of charity and self-restraint and truthfulness, ascend to heaven. Those men who having acquired knowledge by rendering obedient services to their preceptors and observing austere penances, become reluctant to accept gifts, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men through whom other people are relieved and rescued from fear and sin and the impediments that lie in the way of what they wish to accomplish and poverty and the afflictions of disease, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who are endued with a forgiving disposition, who are possessed of patience, who are prompt in performing all righteous acts, and who are of auspicious conduct, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who abstain from honey and meat, who abstain from sexual congress with the spouses of other people, and who abstain from wines and spirituous liquors, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that help in the establishment of retreats for ascetics, who become founders of families, O Bharata, who open up new countries for purposes of habitation, and lay out towns and cities succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who give away cloths and ornaments, as also food and drink, and who help in marrying others, succeed in ascending to heaven. 1 Those men that have abstained from all kinds of injury or harm to all creatures, who are capable of enduring everything, and who have made themselves the refuge of all creatures, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who wait with humility upon their fathers and mothers, who have subjugated their senses, and who are affectionate towards their brothers, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that subjugate their senses notwithstanding the fact of their being rich in worldly goods and strong in might and in the enjoyment of youth, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that are kind towards even those that offend against them, that are mild of disposition, that have an affection for all who are of mild behaviour, and that contribute to the happiness of others by rendering them every kind of service in humility, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that protect thousands of people, that make gifts unto thousands of people, and that rescue thousands of people from distress, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who make gifts of gold and of kine, O chief of Bharata's race, as also those of conveyances and animals, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who make gifts of such articles as are needed in marriages, as also those of serving men and
maids, and cloths and robes, succeed in ascending to heaven 1. Those men who make public pleasure-houses and gardens and wells, resting houses and buildings for public meetings and tanks for enabling cattle and men to quench their thirst, and fields for cultivation, O Bharata, succeed in ascending to heaven. 2 Those men who make gifts of houses and fields and populated villages unto persons that solicit them, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who having themselves manufactured juicy drinks of sweet taste and seeds and paddy or rice, make gifts of them unto others succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who being born in families high or low beget hundreds of children and live long lives practising compassion and keeping wrath under complete subjection, succeed in ascending to heaven. I have thus expounded to thee, O Bharata, what the rites are in honour of the deities and the Pitris which are performed by people for the sake of the other world, what the ordinances are in respect of making gifts, and what the views are of the Rishis of former times in respect of both the articles of gift and the manner of giving them.'"
120:1 One makes gifts unto the deities, the Pitris, and unto human beings. There is a time for each kind of gift. If made untimely, the gift, instead of producing any merit, becomes entirely futile, if not sinful. Untimely gifts are appropriated by Rakshasas. Even food that is taken untimely, does not strengthen the body but goes to nourish the Rakshasas and other evil beings.
120:2 i.e., any food, a portion of which has been eaten by any of these persons, is unworthy of being given away. If given, it is appropriated by Rakshasas. One incompetent to utter Om is, of course, a Sudra.
120:3 The speaker, by first mentioning who are unworthy, means to point out those that are worthy.
121:1 Apasmara is a peculiar kind of epilepsy in which the victim always thinks that he is pursued by some monster who is before his eyes. When epilepsy is accompanied by some delusion of the sensorium, it comes to be called by Hindu physicians as Apasmara.
121:2 An Agrani or Agradani is that Brahmana unto whom the food and other offerings to the Preta in the first Sraddha are given away. Such a person is regarded as fallen.
121:3 When corpses are taken to crematoria, certain rites have to be performed upon them before they can be consumed. Those Brahmanas that assist at the performance of those rites are regarded as fallen.
121:4 Sometimes the father of a daughter bestows her upon a bridegroom under the contract that the son born of that daughter by her husband should be the son of the daughter's father. Such a son, who is dissociated from the race of his own father, is called a Putrika-putra.
121:5 Anugraham is that merit in consequence of which faults become neutralised and the stained person may come to be regarded as deserving.
122:1 As Drona, Aswatthaman, Kripa, Rama and others.
122:2 Uditastamita means one who having earned wealth spends it all in gifts. Astamitodita is one who though poor at first succeed in earning wealth afterwards; i.e., one who having become rich, keeps that wealth for spending it on good purposes.
122:3 Upon the completion of a Sraddha, the Brahmana who is officiating at it should utter the words yukta which means well-applied. Certain other words such as Swadha, etc., have to be uttered. The meaning is that the Brahmana who assists the performer of the Sraddha by reciting the Mantras should, upon completion, say unto the performer that the Sraddha is well-performed. As the custom is, these words are still uttered by every Brahmana officiating at Sraddhas.
123:1 K. P. Singha wrongly renders the word somakshayah as equivalent to somarasah.
123:2 Upon the conclusion of a Sraddha or other rites, the Brahmana who officiates at it, addresses certain other Brahmanas that are invited on the occasion and says,--Do you say Punyaham--The Brahmana addressed say,--Om, let it be Punyaham!--By Punyaham is meant sacred day.
123:3 The fact is, the slaughter of animals in a sacrifice leads to no sin but if slaughtered for nothing (i.e., for purposes of food only), such slaughter leads to sin.
124:1 One is said to become impure when a birth or a death occurs among one's cognates of near degree. The period of impurity varies from one day to ten days in case of Brahmanas. Other periods have been prescribed for the other orders. During the period of impurity one cannot perform one's daily acts of worship, etc.
124:2 In this country, to this day, there are many persons that go about begging, stating that they desire to go to Banaras or other places of the kind. Sometimes alms are sought on the ground of enabling the seeker to invest his son with the sacred thread or perform his father's Sraddha, etc. The Rishi declares such practices to be sinful.
124:3 Literally that are afraid of thieves and others. The sense, of course, is that have suffered at the hands of thieves and others and are still trembling with fear.
125:1 The two exceptions have been much animadverted upon by unthinking persons. I have shown that according to the code of morality, that is in vogue among people whose Christianity and civilisation are unquestionable, a lie may sometimes be honourable. However casuists may argue, the world is agreed that a lie for saving life and even property under certain circumstances, and for screening the honour of a confiding woman, is not inexcusable. The goldsmith's son who died with a lie on his lips for saving the Prince Chevalier did a meritorious act. The owner also who hides his property from robbers, cannot be regarded as acting dishonourably.
126:1 By selling the Vedas is meant the charging of fees for teaching them. As regards the Vedas, the injunction in the scriptures is to commit them to memory and impart them from mouth to mouth. Hence to reduce them into writing was regarded as a transgression.
127:1 In this country to this day, the act of marrying a helpless person with a good girl by paying all the expenses of the marriage, is regarded as an act of righteousness. Of course, the man that is so married is also given sufficient property for enabling him to maintain himself and his wife.
128:1 Articles needed in marriages are, of course, girls and ornaments.
128:2 Vapra has various meanings. I think, it means here a field. Large waste lands often require to be enclosed with ditches and causeways. Unless so reclaimed, they cannot be fit for cultivation.
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