The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'They who make gifts of kine, and who subsist upon the remnants of things offered as libations on the sacred fire, are regarded, O Yudhishthira, as always performing sacrifices of every kind. No sacrifice can be performed without the aid of curds and ghee. The very character as sacrifice which sacrifices have, depends upon ghee. Hence ghee (or, the cow from which it is produced) is regarded as the very root of sacrifice. Of all kinds of gifts, the gift of kine is applauded as the highest. Kine are the foremost of all things. Themselves sacred, they are the best of cleansers and sanctifiers. People should cherish kine for obtaining prosperity and even peace. The milk, curds, and ghee that kine yield are capable of cleansing one from every kind of sin. Kine are said to represent the highest energy both in this world and the world that is above. There is nothing that is more sacred or sanctifying than kine, O chief of Bharata's race. In this connection is recited the ancient narrative, O Yudhishthira, of the discourse between the Grandsire and the chief of celestials. After the Daityas had been defeated and Sakra had become the lord of the three worlds all creatures grew in prosperity and became devoted to the true religion. Then, on one occasion, the Rishis, the Gandharvas, the Kinnaras, the Uragas, the Rakshasas, the Deities, the Asuras, the winged creatures and the Prajapatis, O thou of Kuru's race, all assembled together and adored the Grandsire. There were Narada and Parvata and Viswavasu and Haha-Huhu, who sang in celestial strains for adoring that puissant lord of all creatures. The deity of wind bore thither the fragrance of celestial flowers. The Seasons also, in their embodied forms, bore the perfumes of flowers peculiar to each, unto that conclave of celestials, that gathering of all creatures of the universe, where celestial maidens danced and sang in accompaniment with celestial music. In the midst of that assembly, Indra, saluting the Lord of all the deities and bowing his head unto him with reverence, asked him, saying, 'I desire, O Grandsire, to know why the region of kine is higher, O holy one, than the region of the deities themselves who are the lords of all the worlds. What austerities, what Brahmacharya, O lord, did kine perform in consequence of which they are able to reside happily in a region that is even above that of the deities?' Thus addressed by Indra, Brahman said unto the slayer of Vala, 'Thou hast always, O slayer of Vala, disregarded kine. Hence, thou art not acquainted with the glorious pre-eminence of kine. Listen now to me, O puissant one, as I explain to thee the high energy and glorious pre-eminence of kine, O chief of the celestials! Kine have been said to be the limbs of sacrifice. They represent sacrifice itself, O Vasava! Without them, there can be no sacrifice. With their milk and the Havi produced therefrom, they uphold all creatures. Their male calves are engaged in assisting at tillage and thereby produce diverse kinds of paddy and other seeds. From them flow sacrifices and Havya and Kavya, and milk and curds and ghee. Hence, O chief of the
deities, kine are sacred. Afflicted by hunger and thirst, they bear diverse burdens. Kine support the Munis. They uphold all creatures by diverse acts, O Vasava, kine are guileless in their behaviour. In consequence of such behaviour and of many well-performed acts, they are enabled to live always in regions that are even above ours. I have thus explained to thee today, O thou of a hundred sacrifices, the reason, O Sakra of kine residing in a place that is high above that of the deities. Kine obtained many excellent forms, O Vasava, and are themselves givers of boons (to others). They are called Surabhis. Of sacred deeds and endued with many auspicious indications, they are highly sanctifying Listen to me also, O slayer of Vala, as I tell thee in detail the reason why kine,--the offspring of Surabhi,--have descended on the earth, O best of the deities. In day of yore, O son, when in the Devayuga the high soused Danavas became lords of the three world, Aditi underwent the severest austerities and got Vishnu within her womb (as the reward thereof). Verify, O chief of the celestials, she had stood upon one leg for many long years, desirous of having a son. 1 Beholding the great goddess Aditi thus undergoing the severest austerities, the daughter of Daksha, viz., the illustrious Surabhi, herself devoted to righteousness, similarly underwent very severe austerities upon the breast of the delightful mountains of Kailasa that are resorted to by both the deities and the Gandharvas. Established on the highest Yoga she also stood upon one leg for eleven thousand years. The deities with the Rishis and the great Nagas all became scorched with the severity of her penances. Repairing thither with me, all of them began to adore that auspicious goddess. I then addressed that goddess endued with penances and said, 'O goddess, O thou of faultless conduct, for what purpose, dost thou undergo such severe austerities. O highly blessed one, I am gratified with thy penances, O beautiful one! Do thou, O goddess, solicit what boon thou desirest. I shall grant thee whatever thou mayst ask.' Even these were my words unto her, O Purandara. Thus addressed by me, Surabhi answered me, saying, 'I have no need, O Grandsire, of boons. Even this, O sinless one, is a great boon to me that thou hast been gratified with me.' Unto the illustrious Surabhi, O chief of the celestials who said so unto me, O lord of Sachi, I answered even in these words, O foremost of the deities, viz., 'O goddess, at this exhibition of thy freedom from cupidity and desire and at these penances of thine, O thou of beautiful face, I have been exceedingly gratified. I, therefore, grant thee the boon of immortality. Thou shalt dwell in a region that is higher than the three worlds, through my grace. That region shall be known to all by the name of Goloka. Thy offspring, ever engaged in doing good acts, will reside in the world of men. In fact, O highly blessed one, thy daughters will reside there. All kinds of enjoyment, celestial and human, that thou mayst think of, will immediately be thine. Whatever happiness exists in Heaven, will also be thine, O blessed one.' The regions, O thou of a
hundred eyes, that are Surabhi's are endued with means for the gratification of every wish. Neither Death, nor Decrepitude, nor fire, can overcome its denizens. No ill luck, O Vasava, exists there. Many delightful woods, and delightful ornaments and objects of beauty may be seen there. There many beautiful cars, all excellently equipped, which move at the will of the rider, may be seen, O Vasava, O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, it is only by Brahmacharya, by penances, by Truth, by self-restraint, by gifts, by diverse kinds of righteous deeds, by sojourns to sacred waters, in fact, by severe austerities and righteous acts well-performed, that one can attain to Goloka. Thou hast asked me, O Sakra, and I have answered the in full, O slayer of Asuras, thou shouldst never disregard kine.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Having heard these words of the self-born Brahman, O Yudhishthira, Sakra of a thousand eyes began from that time to worship kine every day and to show them the greatest respect. I have thus told thee everything about the sanctifying character of kine, O thou of greet splendour. The sacred and high pre-eminence and glory of kine, that is capable of cleansing one from every sin, has, O chief of men, been thus explained to thee. That man who with senses withdrawn from every other object will recite this account unto Brahmanas, on occasions when Havya and Kavya are offered, or at sacrifices, or on occasions of adoring the Pitris, succeeds in conferring upon his ancestors an inexhaustible felicity fraught with the fruition of every wish. That man who is devoted to kine succeeds in obtaining the fruition of every wish of his. Indeed, even those women that are devoted to kine succeed in obtaining the accomplishment of every wish of theirs. He that desireth sons obtaineth them. He that desireth daughters obtaineth them. He that desireth wealth succeedeth in aquiring it and he that desireth religious merit succeedeth in winning it. He that desireth knowledge acquireth it and he that desireth felicity succeedeth in acquiring it. Indeed, O Bharata, there is nothing that is unattainable to one that is devoted to kine.'"
124:1 Devendreshu is evidently a misreading for Daitendreshu.
Next: Section LXXXIV