The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old history of the discourse between Sakra and Samvara. Do thou listen to it, O Yudhishthira. Once upon a time Sakra, assuming the guise of an ascetic with matted locks on his head and body smeared with ashes all over, rode on an ugly car and repaired to the presence of the Asura Samvara.'
"Sakra said, 'Through what conduct, O Samvara, hast thou been able to get at the head of all individuals of thy race? For what reason do all people regard thee as superior? Do thou tell me this truly and in detail.'
"Samvara said, 'I never cherish any ill-feelings towards the Brahmanas. Whatever instructions they impart I accept with unquestioning reverence. When the Brahmanas are engaged in interpreting the scriptures, I listen to them with great happiness. Having heard their interpretations I never disregard them. Nor do I ever offend against the Brahmanas in any way. I always worship those Brahmanas that are endued with intelligence. I always seek information from them. I always worship their feet. Approaching me with confidence, they always address me with affection and enquire after my welfare. If they ever happen to be heedless, I am always heedful. If they happen to sleep, I always remain wakeful. Like bees drenching the cells of the comb with honey, the Brahmanas, who are my instructors and rulers, always drench me with the nectar of knowledge--me that am always devoted to the path pointed out by the scriptures, that am devoted to the Brahmanas, and that am perfectly free from malice or evil passion. Whatever they say with cheerful hearts, I always accept aided by memory and understanding. I am always careful of my own faith in them and I always think of my own inferiority to them. I always lick the nectar that dwells at the end of their tongue, and it is for this reason that I occupy a position far above that of all others of my race like the Moon transcending all the stars. The scriptural interpretations which fall from the lips of the Brahmanas and listening to which every wise man acts in the world, constitute nectar on earth and may also be likened to eyes of remarkable excellence. 1 Witnessing the encounter between the deities and the Asuras in days of old, and understanding the puissance of the instructions that fell from the Brahmanas, my father became filled with delight and wonder. 2 Beholding the puissance of high-souled Brahmanas,
my sire asked Chandramas the question, 'How do the Brahmanas attain to success?
'Soma said, 'The Brahmanas become crowned with success through their penances. Their strength consists in speech. The prowess of persons belonging to the kingly order resides in their arms. The Brahmanas, however, have speech for their weapons. Undergoing the discomforts of a residence in the abode of his preceptor, the Brahmana should study the Vedas or at least the Pranava. Divesting himself of wrath and renouncing earthly attachments, he should become a Yati, viewing all things and all creatures with equal eyes. If remaining in the abode of his sire he masters all the Vedas and acquiring great knowledge attains to a position that should command respect people still condemn him as untravelled or homekeeping. Like a snake swallowing mice, the earth swallows up these two, viz., a king that is unwilling to fight and a Brahmana that is unwilling to leave home for acquiring knowledge. 1 Pride destroys the prosperity of persons of little intelligence. A maiden, if she conceives, becomes stained. A Brahmana incurs reproach by keeping at home. Even this is what my father heard from Soma of wonderful aspect. My father, in consequence of this, began to worship and reverence the Brahmanas. Like him, I also worship and adore all Brahmanas of high vows.'
"Bhishma continued, "Hearing these words that fell from the mouth of that prince of Danavas, Sakra began to worship the Brahmanas, and as a consequence thereof he succeeded in obtaining the chiefdom of the deities.'"
1:1 The construction is Etat Brahmana-mukhat sastram, yat srutwaiha pravartate, prithivyam etc, etc. Both the vernacular translators have misunderstood the verse.
1:2 Etat karanam seems to refer to Brahamana-mukhat sastram. The sense seems to be that in the encounter between the deities and the Asuras the power of the Brahmanas was p. 2 abundantly proved, for Sukra aided the Asuras with his Mantras and incantations, while Vrihaspati and others aided the deities by the same means.
2:1 In some of the Bengal texts for Bhumiretau the reading Bhumireto occurs. The fact is, the latter is a misprint or a mere clerical error. The etau has reference to the two mentioned in the second line. The Burdwan translator actually takes Bhumireto as a correct reading and makes nonsense of the verse.
Next: Section XXXVII