The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Which is of superior efficacy, Conciliation or Gifts? Tell me, O chief of Bharata's race, which of these two is superior in point of efficacy.'
'Bhishma said, 'Some become gratified by conciliation, while others are gratified by gifts. Every man, according to his own nature, affects the one or the other. Listen to me, O king, as I explain to thee the merits of conciliation, O chief of Bharata's race, so that the most furious creatures may be appeased by it. In this connection is cited the ancient narrative of how a Brahmana, who had been seized in the forest by a Rakshasa, was freed (with the aid of conciliation). A certain Brahmana, endued with eloquence and intelligence, fell into distress, for he was seized in a lone forest by a Rakshasa who wished to feed on him. The Brahmana, possessed of understanding and learning, was not at all agitated.' Without suffering himself to be stupefied at the sight of that terrible cannibal, he resolved to apply conciliation and see its effect on the Rakshasa. The Rakshasa, respectfully saluting the Brahmana so far as words went, asked him this question, 'Thou shalt escape, but tell me for what reason I am pale of hue and so lean!' Reflecting for a brief space of time, the Brahmana accepted the question of the Rakshasa and replied in the following well-spoken words'.
"The Brahmana said, 'Dwelling in a place that is distant from thy abode, moving in a sphere that is not thy own, and deprived of the companionship of thy friends and kinsmen, thou art enjoying vast affluence. It is for this that thou art so pale and lean. Verily, O Rakshasa, thy friends, though well-treated by thee, are still not well-disposed towards thee in consequence of their own vicious nature. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Thou art endued with merit and wisdom and a well-regulated soul. Yet it is thy lot to see others that are destitute of merit and wisdom honoured in preference to thyself. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Persons possessed of wealth and affluence much greater than thine but inferior to thee in point of accomplishments are, verily, disregarding thee. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Though distressed through want of the means of support, thou art led by the highness of thy soul to disregard such means as are open to thee for drawing thy sustenance. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. In consequence of thy righteousness thou hadst stinted thyself for doing good to another, This other, O righteous Rakshasa, thinks thee deceived
and subjugated (by his superior intelligence). It is for this that thou art pale and lean. I think, thou art grieving for those persons who with souls overwhelmed by the lust and wrath are suffering misery in this world. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Though graced with the possession of wisdom, thou art ridiculed by others who are entirely destitute of it. Verily, persons of wicked conduct are condemning thee. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, some enemy of thine, with a friendly tongue, coming to thee behaved at first like a righteous person and then has left thee, beguiling thee like a knave. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Thou art well-conversant with the course of world's affairs. Thou art well-skilled in all mysteries. Thou art endued with capacity. Those who know thee to be such do not yet respect and praise thee. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Staying in the midst of bad men engaged together in some enterprise, thou hadst discoursed to them, dispelling their doubts. For all that they did not admit thy superior merits. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, though destitute of wealth and intelligence and Vedic lore, thou desirest yet, with the aid of thy energy alone, to accomplish something great. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. It seems that although thou art resolved to undergo severe austerities by retiring into the forest, yet thy kinsmen art not favourably inclined towards this project of thine. It is this for that thou art pale and lean. Some neighbour of thine, possessed of great wealth and endued with youth and handsome features, verily, covets thy dear spouse. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. The words spoken by thee, even when excellent, in the midst of wealthy men, are not regarded by them as wise or well-timed. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Some dear kinsman of thine, destitute of intelligence though repeatedly instructed in the scriptures, has become angry. Thou hast not succeeded in pacifying him. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, some-body, having first set thee to the accomplishment of some object desirable to thee is now seeking to snatch the fruit thereof from thy grasp. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, though possessed of excellent accomplishments and worshipped by all on that account, thou art yet regarded by thy kinsmen as worshipped for their sake and not for thy own. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, through shame thou art unable to give out some purpose in thy heart, moved also by the inevitable delay that will occur in its accomplishment. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, thou desirest, with the aid of thy intelligence, to bring under thy influence, diverse persons with diverse kinds of understandings and inclinations. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. 1 Destitute of learning, without courage, and without much wealth, thou seekest such fame as is won by knowledge and prowess and gifts. Verily, it is for this that thou hast been pale and lean. Thou hast not
been able to acquire something upon which thou hast set thy heart for a long time. Or, that which thou seekest to do is sought to be undone by somebody else. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Verily, without being able to see any fault on thy part, thou hast been cursed by somebody. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. 1 Destitute of both wealth and accomplishments thou seekest in vain to dispel the grief of thy friends and the sorrows of sorrowing men. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Beholding righteous persons the domestic mode of life, unrighteous persons living according to the forest mode, and emancipated persons attached to domesticity and fixed abodes, thou hast become pale and lean. Verily, thy acts connected with Righteousness, with Wealth, and with Pleasure, as also the well-timed words spoken by thee, do not bear fruit. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Though endued with wisdom, yet desirous of living, thou livest with wealth obtained by thee in gift from somebody of evil conduct. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Beholding unrighteousness increasing on every side and righteousness languishing, thou art filled with grief. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Urged by time thou seekest to please all thy friends even when they are disputing and ranged on sides opposite to one another. It is for this that thou art pale and lean. Beholding persons possessed of Vedic lore engaged in improper acts, and persons of learning unable to keep their senses under control, thou art filled with grief. It is for this that thou art pale and lean.' Thus praised, the Rakshasa worshipped that learned Brahmana in return, and making him his friend and bestowing sufficient wealth upon him in gift, let him off (without devouring him).'"
256:1 Such an object can never be accomplished. Hence thy paleness and leanness.
257:1 Though completely innocent, thou hast yet been cursed. The anxiety due to this has made thee so.
Next: Section CXXV