The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In days of yore, king Saudasa born of Ikshvaku's race, that foremost of eloquent men, on one occasion approached his family priest, viz., Vasishtha, that foremost of Rishis, crowned with ascetic success, capable of wandering through every region, the receptacle of Brahma, and endued with eternal life and put him the following question.'
"Saudasa said, 'O holy one, O sinless one, what is that in the three
worlds which is sacred and by reciting which at all times a man may acquire high merit?'
"Bhishma said, 'Unto king Saudasa who stood before him with head bent in reverence, the learned Vasishtha having first bowed unto kine and purified himself (in body and mind), discoursed upon the mystery relating to kine, a topic that is fraught with result highly beneficial to all persons.'
"Vasishtha said, 'Kine are always fragrant. The perfume emanated by the exudation of the Amytis agallochum issues out of the bodies. Kine are the great refuge of all creatures. Kine constitute the great source of blessing unto all. 1 Kine are the Past and the Future. Kine are the source of eternal growth. Kine are the root of Prosperity. Anything given to kine is never lost. Kine constitute the highest food. They are the best Havi for the deities. The Mantras called Swaha and Vashat are forever established in kine. Kine constitute the fruit of sacrifices. Sacrifices are established in kine. Kine are the Future and the Past, and Sacrifice rest on them. Morning and evening kine yield unto the Rishis, O foremost of men, Havi for use in Homa, O thou of great effulgence. They who make gift of kine succeed in transcending all sins which they may have committed and all kinds of calamities into which they may fall, O thou of great puissance. The man possessing ten kine and making a gift of one cow, he possessing a hundred kine and making a gift of ten kine, and he possessing a thousand kine and making a gift of a hundred kine, all earn the same measure of merit. The man who, though possessed of hundred kine, does not establish a domestic fire for daily worship, that man who though possessed of a thousand kine does not perform sacrifices, and that man who though possessed of wealth acts as a miser (by not making gift and discharging the duties of hospitality), are all three regarded as not worthy of any respect. Those men who make gift of Kapila king with their calves and with vessel of white brass for milking them,--kine, that is, which are not vicious and which while given away, are wrapped round with cloths,--succeed in conquering both this and the other world. Such persons as succeed in making gift of a bull that is still in the prime of youth, that has all its senses strong, and that may be regarded as the foremost one among hundreds of herds, that has large horns adorned with ornaments (of gold or silver), unto a Brahmana possessed of Vedic learning, succeed, O scorcher of foes, its attaining to great prosperity and affluence each time they take birth in the world. One should never go to bed without reciting the names of kine. Nor should one rise from bed in the morning without a similar recitation of the names of kine. Morning and evening one should bend one's head in reverence to kine. As the consequence of such acts, one is sure to attain to great prosperity. One should never feel any repugnance for the urine and the dung of the cow. One should never eat the flesh of kine. As the consequence of this, one is sure to attain to
great prosperity. One should always take the names of kine. One should never show any disregard for kine in any way. If evil dreams are seen, men should take the names of kine. One should always bathe, using cow-dung at the time. One should sit on dried cowdung. One should never cast one's urine and excreta and other secretions on cowdung. One should never obstruct kine in any way. One should eat, sitting on a cowhide purified by dipping it in water, and then cast one's eyes towards the west, Sitting with restrained speech, one should eat ghee, using the bare earth as one's dish. One reaps, in consequence of such acts, that prosperity of which kine are the source 1. One should pour libations on the fire, using ghee for the purpose. One should cause Brahmanas to utter blessings upon one, by presents of ghee. One should make gift of ghee. One should also eat ghee. As the reward of such acts one is sure to attain to that prosperity which kine confer. That man who inspires a vaccine form made of sesame seeds by uttering the Vedic Mantras called by the name of Gomati, and then adorns that form with every kind of gems and makes a gift of it, has never to suffer any grief on account of all his acts of omission and commission,--Let kine that yield copious measures of milk and that have horns adorned with gold,--kine viz., that are Surabhis or the daughters of Surabhis.--approach me even as rivers approach the ocean! I always look at kine. Let kine always look at me. Kine are ours. We are theirs. Ourselves are there where kine are!--Even thus, at night or day, in happiness or woe, verily, at times of even great fear,--should a man exclaim. By uttering such words he is certain to become freed from every fear.'"
113:1 Swastayana is a ceremony of propitiation, productive of blessing and destructive of misery of every kind.
114:1 The commentator explains that by a wet cowhide is meant a piece of cowhide that has been dipped in water and thus purified. Upavisya is understood after Charmani. The mention of bhumau implies the avoidance of dishes or plates or cups of white brass or other allowable metals. Gavam pushtim, I understand, means 'the prosperity in respect of kine.' i.e., the prosperity which kine confer.
Next: Section LXXIX