The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O thou that art conversant with all duties, I desire to hear, in detail, what the excellent behaviour is of good and chaste women. Do thou, O grandsire, discourse to me on this.'
"Bhishma said, 'Once on a time, in the celestial regions, a lady named Sumana of Kekaya's race addressing Sandili possessed of great energy and conversant with the truth relating to everything and endued with omniscience, said, 'By what conduct, O auspicious lady, by what course of acts, hast thou succeeded in attaining to heaven, purged of every sin? Thou blazest forth with thy own energy like a flame of fire. Thou seemest to be a daughter of the Lord of stars, come to heaven in thy own effulgence. Thou wearest vestments of pure white, and art quite cheerful and at thy ease. Seated on that celestial chariot, thou shinest, O auspicious dame, with energy multiplied a thousandfold. Thou hast not, I ween, attained to this region of happiness by inconsiderable penances and gifts and vows. Do thou tell me the truth'. Thus questioned sweetly by Sumana, Sandili of sweet smiles, addressing her fair interrogatrix, thus answered her out of the hearing of others, I did not wear yellow robes; nor barks of trees. I did not shave my head; nor did I keep matted locks on my head. It is not in consequence of these acts that I have attained to the status of a celestial. I never, in heedlessness, addressed any disagreeable or evil speech to my husband. I was always devoted to the worship of the deities, the Pitris, and the Brahmanas. Always heedful I waited upon and served my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Even this was my resolution that I should never behave with deceit. I never used to stay at the door of our house nor did I speak long with anybody. I never did any evil act; I never laughed aloud; I never did any injury. I never disclosed any secret. Even thus did I bear myself always. When my husband, having left home upon any business, used to come back, I always served him by giving him a seat, and worshipped him with reverence. I never ate food of any kind which was unknown to my husband and at which my husband was not pleased. Rising at early dawn I did and caused to be done whatever was brought about and required to be accomplished for the sake of relatives and kinsmen. When my husband leaves home for going to a distant place on any business, I remain at home engaged in diverse kinds of auspicious acts for blessing his enterprise. Verily, during the absence of my husband I never use collyrium, or ornaments; I never wash myself properly or use garlands and unguents, or deck my feet with lac-dye, or person with ornaments. When my husband sleeps in peace I never awake him even if important business required his attention. I was happy to sit by him lying asleep. I never urged my husband to exert more energetically for earning wealth to support his family and relatives. I always kept secrets without disclosing them to others. I used to keep always our premises clean. That woman who with concentrated attention, adheres to this path of duty, becomes the recipient of considerable honours in heaven like a second Arundhati.'
''Bhishma continued, 'The illustrious and highly blessed Sandili, of righteous conduct, having said these words unto Sumana on the subject of woman's duties towards her husband, disappeared there and
then. That man, O son of Pandu, who reads this narrative at every full moon and new moon, succeeds in attaining to heaven and enjoying great felicity in the woods of Nandana."
Next: Section CXXIV