The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'I have been greatly assured, O thou of puissance, by thee thus discoursing unto me of duties. I shall, however, give expression to the doubts I have. Do thou explain them to me, O grandsire! What are the fruits, declared in the scriptures, of the vows that men observe. Of what nature are the fruits, O thou of great splendour, of observances of other kinds? What, again, are the fruits, of one's studying the Vedas properly? 1 What are the fruits of gifts, and what those of holding the Vedas in memory? What are the fruits that attach to the teaching of the Vedas? I desire to know all this. What, O grandsire, are the merits attaching to the non-acceptance of gifts in this world? What fruits are
seen to attach to him who mazes gifts of knowledge? What are the merits acquired by persons that are observant of the duties of their order, as also by heroes that do not flee from battle? What are the fruits that have been declared to attach to the observance of purity and to the practice of Brahmacharya? What are the merits that attach to the service of the father and of the mother? What also are the merits of serving preceptors and teachers, and what are the merits of compassion and kindness? I desire to know all these, O grandsire, truly and in detail, O thou that art conversant with all the scriptures! Great is the curiosity f feel.'
"Bhishma said, 'Eternal regions of felicity become his, who, having properly commenced a Vrata (vow) completes its observance according to the scriptures, without a break. The fruits of Niyamas, O king, are visible even in this world. These rewards that thou hast won are those of Niyamas and sacrifices. The fruits that attach to the study of the Vedas are seen both here and hereafter. The person, who is devoted to the study of the Vedas is seen to sport in felicity both in this world and in the region of Brahma. Listen now to me, O king, as I tell thee in detail what the fruits are of self-restraint. They that are self-restrained are happy everywhere. They that are self-restrained are always in the enjoyment of that felicity which attaches to the absence or subjugation of desire. They that are self-restrained are competent to go everywhere at will. They that are self-restrained are capable of destroying every foe. Without doubt, they that are self-restrained succeed in obtaining everything they seek. They that are self-restrained, O son of Pandu, obtain the fruition of every wish. The happiness that men enjoy in heaven through penances and prowess (in arms) through gift, and through diverse sacrifices, becomes theirs that are self-restrained and forgiving. Self-restraint is more meritorious than gift. A giver, after making a gift unto the Brahmanas, may yield to the Influence of wrath. A self-restrained man, however, never yields to wrath. Hence, self-restraint is superior (in point of merit) to gift. That man, who makes gifts without yielding to wrath, succeeds in attaining to eternal regions of felicity. Wrath destroys the merit of a gift. Hence, self-restraint is superior to gift. There are various invisible places, O monarch, numbering by ten thousands, in heaven. Existing in all the regions of heaven, these places belong to the Rishis. Persons, leaving this world, attain to them and become transformed into deities. O king, the great Rishis repair thither, aided only by their self-restraint, and as the end of their efforts to attain to a region of superior happiness. Hence, self-restraint is superior (in efficacy) to gift. The person, who becomes a preceptor (for teaching the Vedas), and who duly worships the fire, taking leave of all his afflictions in this world, enjoys inexhaustible felicity, O king, in the region of Brahma. That man, who, having himself studied the Vedas, imparts a knowledge thereof unto righteous disciples, and who praises the acts of his own preceptor, attain to great honours in heaven. That Kshatriya, who takes to the study of the Vedas, to the performance of sacrifices, to the making of gifts, and who rescues the lives of others in battle, similarly
attains to great, honours in heaven. The Vaisya, who, observant of the duties of his order, makes gifts, reaps as the fruit of those gifts, a crowning reward. The Sudra, who duly observes the duties of his order (which consist of services rendered to the three other orders) wins heaven as the reward of such services. Diverse kinds of heroes have been spoken of (in the scriptures). Listen to me as I expound to thee what the rewards are that they attain to. The rewards are fixed of a hero belonging to a heroic race. There are heroes of sacrifice, heroes of self-restraint, heroes of truth, and others equally entitled to the name of hero. There are heroes of battle, and heroes of gift of liberality among men. There are many persons, who may be called the heroes of the Sankhya faith as, indeed, there are many others that are called heroes of Yoga. There are others that are regarded as heroes in the matter of forest-life, of householding or domesticity, and of renunciation (or Sannyasa). Similarly, there are others that are called heroes of the intellect, and also heroes of forgiveness. There are other men, who live in tranquillity and who are regarded as heroes of righteousness. There are diverse other kinds of heroes that practise diverse other kinds of vows and observances. There are heroes devoted to the study of the Vedas and heroes devoted to the teaching of the same. There are, again, men that come to be regarded as heroes for the devotion with which they wait upon and serve their preceptors, as indeed, heroes in respect of the reverence they show to their sires. There are heroes in respect of obedience to mothers, and heroes in the matter of the life of mendicancy they lead. There are heroes in the matter of hospitality to guests, whether living as householders. All these heroes attain to very superior, regions of felicity which are, of course, acquired by them as the rewards of their own acts. Holding all the Vedas in memory, or ablutions performed in all the sacred waters, may or may not be equal to telling the Truth every day in one's life. A thousand horse sacrifices and Truth were once weighed in the balance. It was seen that Truth weighed heavier than a thousand horse-sacrifices. It is by Truth that the sun is imparting heat, it is by Truth that fire blazes up, it is by Truth that the winds blow; verily, everything rests upon Truth. It is Truth that gratifies the deities, the Pitris and the Brahmanas. Truth has been said to be the highest duty. Therefore, no one should ever transgress Truth. The Munis are all devoted to Truth. Their prowess depends upon Truth. They also swear by Truth. Hence, Truth is pre-eminent. All truthful men, O chief of Bharata's race, succeed by their truthfulness in attaining to heaven and sporting there in felicity. Self-restraint is the attainment of the reward that attaches to Truth. I have discoursed on it with my whole heart. The man of humble heart who is possessed of self-restraint, without doubt, attains to great honours in heaven. Listen now to me, O lord of Earth, as I expound to thee the merits of Brahmacharya. That man, who practises the vow of Brahmacharya from his birth to the time of his death, know, O king, has nothing unattainable! Many millions of Rishis are residing in the region of Brahma. All of them, while here, were devoted to Truth, and self-restrained and
had their vital seed drawn up. The vow of Brahmacharya, O king, duly observed by a Brahmana, is sure to burn all his sins. The Brahmana is said to be a blazing fire. In those Brahmanas that are devoted to penances, the deity of fire becomes visible. If a Brahmacharin yields to wrath in consequence of any slight the chief of the deities himself trembles in fear. Even this is the visible fruit of the vow of Brahmacharya that is observed by the Rishis. Listen to me, O Yudhishthira, what the merit is that attaches to the worship of the father and the mother. He, who dutifully serves his father without ever crossing him in anything, or similarly serves his mother or (elder) brother or other senior or preceptor, it should be known, O king, earns a residence in heaven. The man of cleansed soul, in consequence of such service rendered to his seniors, has never even to behold hell.'"
103:1 Vratas (rendered as 'vows') and Niyamas (rendered as observances) differs in this respect that the former involves positive acts of worship along with the observance of, or abstention from, particular practices, while the latter involves only such observance or abstention.
Next: Section LXXVI