The Mahabharata Home
"Uma said, 'O holy one, O Lord of all beings, O thou that art worshipped by the deities and Asuras equally, tell me what are the duties and derelictions of men. Indeed, O puissant one, resolve my doubts. It is by these three, viz., thought, word, and deed, that men become bound with bonds. It is by these same three that they become freed from those bonds. By pursuing what conduct, O god,--indeed, by what kind of acts,--by what behaviour and attributes and words, do men succeed in ascending to heaven?'
"The god of gods said, 'O goddess, thou art well-conversant with the true import of duties. Thou art ever devoted to righteousness and self-restraint. The question thou hast asked me is fraught with
the benefit of all creatures. It enhances the intelligence of all persons. Do thou, therefore, listen to the answer. Those persons that are devoted to the religion of Truth, that are righteous and destitute of the indications of the several modes of life, and that enjoy the wealth earned by righteous means, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that are freed from all doubts, that are possessed of omniscience, and that have eyes to behold all things, are never enchained by either virtue or sin. Those men that are freed from all attachments can never be bound by the chains of action. They who never injure others in thought, word, or deed, and who never attach themselves to anything, can never be bound by acts. They who abstain from taking the lives of any creature, who are pious in conduct, who have compassion, who regard friends and foes in an equal light and who are self-restrained, can never be bound by acts. Those men that are endued with compassion towards all beings, that succeed in inspiring the confidence of all living creatures, and that have cast off malice in their behaviour, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that have no desire to appropriate what belongs to others, that keep themselves aloof from the wedded wives of others, and that enjoy only such wealth as has been earned by righteous means, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men who behave towards the wives of other people as towards their own mothers and sisters and daughters, succeed in attaining to heaven. Those men that abstain from appropriating what belongs to others, that are perfectly contented with what they possess, and that live depending upon their own destiny, succeed in ascending to heaven. Those men that, in their conduct, always shut their eyes against association with other people's spouses, that are masters of their senses, and that are devoted to righteous conduct, succeed in ascending to heaven. Even this is the path, created by the gods, that the righteous should follow. This is the path, freed from passion and aversion, laid down for the righteous to follow. Those men who are devoted to their own spouses and who seek them only in their seasons, and who turn themselves away from indulgence in sexual pleasure, succeed in ascending to Heaven Conduct marked by charity and penances, and characterised by righteousness of deeds and purity of both body and heart, should be followed by those that are wise for the sake of adding to their merit or for earning their means of subsistence. Those who wish to ascend to Heaven should follow in this track and not in any other.'
"Uma said, 'Tell me, O illustrious deity, O sinless lord of all creatures, what are those words by which one becomes enchained and what are those words by uttering which one may be freed from one's bonds.'
"Maheswara said, 'Those men who never tell lies for either themselves or for others, or in jest or for exciting laughter, succeed in ascending to Heaven. They who never tell lies for earning their subsistence
or for earning merit or through mere caprice, succeed in ascending to Heaven. They who utter words that are smooth and sweet and faultless, and who welcome all whom they meet with sincerity, succeed in ascending to Heaven. They who never utter words that are harsh and bitter and cruel. and who are free from deceitfulness and evil of every kind, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men who never utter words that are fraught with deceit or that cause breach of understanding between friends, and who always speak what is true and what promotes good feelings, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men who avoid harsh speeches and abstain from quarrels with others, who are impartial in their behaviour to all creatures, and who have subjugated their souls, succeed in ascending to Heaven. They who abstain from evil speech or sinful conversation, who avoid such speeches as are disagreeable, and who utter only such words as are auspicious and agreeable, succeed in ascending to Heaven. They who never utter, under anger, such words as tear the hearts of other people, and who, even when under the influence of wrath, speak words that are peaceful and agreeable, succeed in ascending to Heaven. The religion, O goddess, appertaining to speech, should always be followed by men. It is auspicious and characterised by truth. They that are possessed of wisdom should always avoid untruth.'
"Uma said, 'Do thou tell me, O god of gods, O wielder of Pinaka, O thou that art highly blessed, what those mental acts or thoughts are by which a person may be enchained.'
"Maheswara said, 'Endued with merit that arises from mental acts, O goddess, one ascends to Heaven. Listen to me, O auspicious one, as I recite to thee what those acts are. Listen to me, O thou of sweet face, how also a mind of ill-regulated features becomes enchained by ill-regulated or evil thoughts. Those men who do not seek even mentally, to take what belongs to others even when they see it lying in a lone forest, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men who care not to appropriate what belongs to others even when they see it lying in a house or a village that has been deserted, ascend to Heaven. Those men that do not seek, even mentally, to associate with the wedded spouses of others even when they behold them in deserted places and under the influence of desire, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men who, meeting with friends or foes, behave in the same friendly way towards all, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men that are possessed of learning and compassion, that are pure in body and mind, that are firm in their adherence to truth, and that are contented with what belongs to them, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men that do not bear ill-will to any creature, that do not stand in need of labour for their subsistence, that bear friendly hearts towards all beings, and that entertain compassion towards all, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men that are endued with faith, that have compassion, that are holy, that seek the company of holy men,
and that are conversant with the distinctions between right and wrong, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men, O goddess, that are conversant with what the consequences are of good and bad deeds, succeed in ascending to Heaven. Those men that are just in all their dealings, that are endued with all desirable accomplishments, that are devoted to the deities and the Brahmanas, and that are endued with perseverance in the doing of good acts, succeed in ascending to Heaven. All these men, O goddess, succeed in ascending to Heaven through the meritorious consequences of their deeds. What else dost thou wish to hear?'
"Uma said, 'I have a great doubt, O Maheswara, on a subject connected with human beings. It behoveth thee to explain it to me carefully. By what acts does a man succeed, O puissant deity, in acquiring a long life? By what penances also does one acquire a long life? By what acts does one become shortlived on earth? O thou that art perfectly stainless, it behoveth thee to tell me what the consequences are of acts (in the matter of bestowing a long or a short life on the doer). Some are seen to be possessed of great good fortune and some weighted with misfortune. Some are of noble birth while others of ignoble birth. Some are of such repulsive features as if they are made of wood, while others are of very agreeable features at even the first sight. Some appear to be destitute of wisdom while others are possessed of it. Some, again, are seen endued with high intelligence and wisdom, enlightened by knowledge and science. Some have to endure little pain, while others there are that are weighted with heavy calamities. Even such diverse sights are seen with respect to men. It behoveth thee, O illustrious one, to tell me the reason of all this.'
"The god of gods said, 'Verily, O goddess, I shall discourse to thee on the manifestation of the fruits of acts. It is by the rules of that manifestation that all human beings in this world enjoy or endure the consequences of their acts. That man who assumes a fierce aspect for the purpose of taking the lives of other creatures, who arms himself with stout sticks for injuring other creatures, who is seen with uplifted weapons, who slays living creatures, who is destitute of compassion, who always causes agitation to living beings, who refuses to grant protection to even worms and ants, who is endued with cruelty,--one who is such, O goddess, sinks in Hell. One who is endued with an opposite disposition and who is righteous in acts, is born as a handsome man. The man who is endued with cruelty, goes to Hell, while he that is endued with compassion ascends to Heaven. The man who goes to Hell has to endure excruciating misery. One who, having sunk in Hell, rises therefrom, take birth as a man endued with short life. That man who is addicted to slaughter and injury, O goddess, becomes, through his sinful deeds, liable to destruction. Such a person becomes disagreeable to all creatures and endued with a short life. That man who belongs to what is called the White class, who abstains from the slaughter of living creatures, who has
thrown away all weapons, who never inflicts any chastisement on any body, who never injures any creatures, who never causes any body to slay creatures for him, who never slays or strikes even when struck or attempted to be slain, who never sanctions or approves an act of slaughter, who is endued with compassion towards all creatures, who behaves towards others as towards his own self,--such a superior man, O goddess, succeeds in attaining to the status of a deity. Filled with joy, such a man enjoys diverse kinds of luxurious articles. If such a person ever takes birth in the world of men, he becomes endued with longevity and enjoys great happiness. Even this is the way of those that are of righteous conduct and righteous deeds and that are blessed with longevity, the way that was indicated by the Self-born Brahman himself and that is characterised by abstention from the slaughter of living creatures.'"
Next: Section CXLV