The Mahabharata Home
"Uma said, 'By what disposition, what conduct, what acts, and what gifts, does a man succeed in attaining to Heaven?'
"Maheswara said, 'He who is endued with a liberal disposition, who honours Brahmanas and treats them with hospitality, who makes gifts of food and drink and robes and other articles of enjoyment unto the destitute, the blind, and the distressed, who makes gifts of houses, erects halls (for use of the public), digs wells, constructs shelters whence pure and cool water is distributed (during the hot months unto thirsty travellers), excavates tanks, makes arrangements for the free distribution of gifts every day, gives to all seekers what each solicits, who makes gifts of seats and beds and conveyances, wealth, jewels and gems, houses, all kinds of corn, kine, fields, and women,--verily, he who always makes these gifts with a cheerful heart, becomes a denizen, O goddess, of Heaven. He resides there for a long period, enjoying diverse kinds of superior articles. Passing his time happily in the company of the Apsaras, he sports in the woods of Nandana and other delightful regions. After the exhaustion of his merits he falls down from Heaven and takes birth in the order of humanity, in a family, O goddess, that is possessed of wealth in abundance and that has a large command of every article of enjoyments. In that life he becomes endued with all articles for gratifying his wishes and appetites. Indeed, blessed with the possession of such articles, he becomes endued with affluence and a well-filled treasury. The self-born Brahman himself declared it in days of old that it is even such persons, O goddess, that become highly blessed and possessed of liberal dispositions
and agreeable features. There are others, O goddess, that are incapable of making gifts. Endued with small understandings, they cannot make gifts even when solicited by Brahmanas and possessed of abundant wealth. Beholding the destitute, the blind, the distressed, and mendicants, and even guests arrived at their abodes, those persons, always filled with the desire of gratifying the organ of taste, turn away, even when expressly solicited by them. They never make gifts of wealth or robes, or viands, or gold, or kine, or any kind of food. Those men who are disinclined to relieve the distress of others, who are full of cupidity, who have no faith in the scriptures, and who never make gifts,--verily, these men of little understanding, O goddess, have to sink in Hell. In course of time, when their sufferings in Hell come to an end, they take birth in the order of humanity, in families that are entirely destitute of wealth. Always suffering from hunger and thirst, excluded from all decent society, hopeless of ever enjoying good things, they lead lives of great wretchedness. Born in families that are destitute of all articles of enjoyment, these men never succeed in enjoying the good things of the world. Indeed, O goddess, it is through their acts that persons become wretched and poor. There are others who are full of arrogance and pride caused by the possession of riches. Those senseless wretches never offer seats to those that deserve such an offer. Endued with little understandings they do not give way to them that deserve such an honour. 1 Nor do they give water for washing the feet to persons unto whom it should be given. Indeed, they do not honour, agreeably to the ordinance, with gifts of the Arghya, such persons as deserve to be honoured therewith. They do not offer water for washing the mouth unto such as deserve to have that honour. They do not treat their very preceptors, when the latter arrive at their houses, in the manner in which preceptors should be treated. Living in cupidity and arrogance, they refuse to treat their seniors and aged men with love and affection, even insulting those that deserve to be honoured and asserting their superiority over them without showing reverence and humility. Such men, O goddess, sink in Hell. When their sufferings come to an end after a long course of years, they rise from Hell, and take birth in the order of humanity, in low and wretched families. Indeed. they who humiliate their preceptors and seniors, have to take their birth in such castes as those of Swapakas and Pukkasas who are exceedingly vile and bereft of intelligence. He who is not arrogant or filled with pride, who is a worshipper of the deities and Brahmanas, who enjoys the respect of the world, who bows to every one that deserves his reverence, who utters smooth and sweet words, who benefits persons of all orders, who is always devoted to the good of all beings, who does not feel aversion for anybody, who is sweet-tongued, who is an utterer of agreeable
and cooling words, who gives way to one that deserves to have way, who adores his preceptors in the manner in which preceptors deserve to be adored, who welcomes all creatures with proper courtesy, who does not hear ill will towards any creature, who lives, worshipping seniors and guests with such honours as they deserve, who is ever bent upon securing as many guests as possible, and who worships all who honour his house with their presence, succeeds, O goddess, in ascending to Heaven. Upon the exhaustion of his merit, he takes birth in the order of humanity in a high and respectable family. In that life he becomes possessed of all articles of enjoyment in abundance and jewels and gems and every kind of wealth in profusion. He gives unto deserving persons what they deserve. He becomes devoted to the observance of every duty and every act of righteousness. Honoured by all creatures and receiving their reverence, he obtains the fruits of his own acts. Even such a person acquires a high lineage and birth in this world. This that I have recited to thee was said by the Ordainer (Brahman) himself in days of old. That man who is fierce in conduct, who inspires terror in all creatures, who injures other beings with hands or feet or cords or sticks, or brick-bats or clods of hard clay, or other means of wounding and paining, O beautiful lady, who practises diverse kinds of deceit for slaying living creatures or vexing them, who pursues animals in the chase and causes them to tremble in fear,--verily, that man, who conducts himself in this way, is certain to sink in Hell. If in course of time he takes birth in the order of humanity, he is obliged to be born in a low and wretched race or family that is afflicted with impediments of every kind on every side. He becomes an object of aversion to all the world. Wretched among men, he becomes so through the consequence of his own acts. Another, who is possessed of compassion, casts his eye on all creatures. Endued with a friendly vision, behaving towards all creatures as if he were their father, divested of every hostile feeling, with all his passions under complete control, he never vexes any creature and never inspires them with fear by means of his hands or feet which are always under his control. He inspires the confidence of all beings. He never afflicts any creature with either cords or clubs or brick-bats or clods of hard earth or weapons of any kind. His deeds are never fierce or cruel, and he is full of kindness. One who is endued with such practices and conduct certainly ascend to Heaven. There he lives like a god in a celestial mansion abounding with every comfort. If, upon the exhaustion of his merit, he has to take birth in the order of humanity, he becomes born as a man that has not to fight with difficulties of any kind or to encounter any fear. Indeed, he enjoys great happiness. Possessed of felicity, without the obligation of undergoing distressing labour for his subsistence, he lives freed from every kind of anxiety. Even this, O goddess, is the path of the righteous. In it there are no impediments or afflictions.'
"Uma said, 'In the world some men are seen well-versed in inferences and the premises leading to them. Indeed, they are possessed of science
and knowledge, have large progeny, and are endued with learning and wisdom. Others, O god, are destitute of wisdom, science, and knowledge, and are characterised by folly. By what particular acts does a person become possessed of wisdom? By what acts, again, does one become possessed of little wisdom and distorted vision? Do thou dispel this doubt of mine, O thou that art the foremost of all beings conversant with duties. Others there are, O god, that are blind from the moment of their birth. Others there are that are diseased and afflicted and impotent. Do thou, O god, tell me the reason of this.'
"Maheswara said, 'Those men that always enquire, about what is for their benefit and what is to their detriment, Brahmanas learned in the Vedas, crowned with success, and conversant with all duties, that avoid all kinds of evil deeds and achieve only such deeds as are good, succeed in ascending to Heaven after departing from this world and enjoy great happiness as long as they live here. Indeed, upon the exhaustion of their merit when they take birth in the order of humanity, they become born as men possessed of great intelligence. Every kind of felicity and auspiciousness becomes theirs in consequence of that intelligence with which they are born. Those men of foolish understandings who cast wicked eyes upon the wedded spouses of other men, become cursed with congenital blindness in consequence of that sinfulness of theirs. Those men who, impelled by desire in their hearts, cast their eyes on naked women, those men of wicked deeds take birth in this world to pass their whole lives in one continuous disease. Those men of foolish and wicked deeds who indulge in sexual congress with women of orders different from their own,--those men of little wisdom,--have to take birth in their next lives as persons destitute of virility. Those men who cause animals to be slain, and those who violate the beds of their preceptors, and those who indulge promiscuously in sexual congress, have to take birth in their next lives as persons destitute of the virile power.'
"Uma said, 'What acts, O foremost of the deities, are faulty, and what acts are faultless? What, indeed, are those acts by doing which a man succeeds in attaining to what is for your highest good?'
"Maheswara said, 'That man who is desirous of ascertaining what is righteousness, and who wishes to acquire prominent virtues and accomplishments, and who always puts questions to the Brahmanas with a view to find out the path that leads to his highest good, succeed in ascending to Heaven. If (after exhaustion of his merit) he takes birth in the order of humanity, he becomes endued with intelligence and memory and great wisdom. This, O goddess, is the line of conduct that the righteous are to follow and that is fraught with great benefit. I have told thee of it for the good of human beings.'
"Uma said, 'There are men who hate righteousness and who are possessed of little understanding. They never wish to approach Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas. There are others who are observant of vows
and who are devoted to the duty of performing Sraddhas. Others, again, are destitute of all vows. They are unmindful of observance and are like Rakshasas in conduct. Some there are who are devoted to the performance of sacrifices and some who are unmindful of the Homa. Through the consequences of what acts do men become possessed of These different natures?'
"Maheswara said, 'Through the Vedas, the limits have been assigned of all the acts of human beings. Those men that conduct themselves according to the authority of the Vedas, are seen (in their next lives) to become devoted to the observance of vows. Those men, however, who having become subject to the sway of folly accept unrighteousness for its reverse, become destitute of vows, transgress all restraints, and come to be regarded as Brahmarakshasas. Indeed, it is these men that become unmindful of the Homa, that never utter the Vashat and other sacred Mantras, and that come to be regarded as the lowest and vilest of men Thus, O goddess, have I explained to thee the entire ocean of duties in respect of human beings for the sake of removing thy doubts, not omitting the sins of which they become guilty.'"
311:1 In India an inferior should always stand aside for letting his superior pass. The Kshatriya should give way to the Brahmana, the Vaisya to the Kshatriya, and the Sudra to the Vaisya.
Next: Section CXLVI