The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'O Yudhishthira, thy wisdom, I conceive, is not adequate. None doth any act by virtue of his own power. It is God. who engageth him in acts good or bad, O bestower of honour. Where then is the room for repentance? Thou deemest thyself as having perpetrated impious acts. Do thou, therefore, O Bharata, harken as to the way in which sin may be removed. O Yudhishthira, those that commit sins, can always free themselves from them through penance, sacrifice and gifts. O king, O foremost of men, sinful people are purified by sacrifice, austerities and charity. The high-souled celestials and Asuras perform sacrifices for securing religious merit; and therefore sacrifice are of supreme importance. It is through sacrifices that the high-souled celestials had waxed so wondrously powerful; and having celebrated rites did they vanquish the Danavas. Do thou, O Yudhishthira, prepare for the Rajasuya, and the horse-sacrifice, as well as, O Bharata, for the Sarvamedha and the Naramedha. 1 And then as Dasaratha's son, Rama, or as Dushmanta's and Sakuntala's son, thy ancestor, the lord of the Earth, the exceedingly puissant king Bharata, had done, do thou agreeably to the ordinance celebrate the Horse-sacrifice with Dakshinas. Yudhishthira replied, 'Beyond a doubt, the Horse-sacrifice purifieth princes. But I have a purpose of which it behoveth thee to hear. Having caused this huge carnage of kindred, I cannot, O best of the regenerate ones, dispense gifts even on a small scale; I have no wealth to give. Nor can I for wealth solicit these juvenile sons of kings, staying in sorry plight, with their wounds yet green, and undergoing suffering. How, O foremost of twice-born ones, having myself destroyed the Earth can I, overcome by sorrow, levy dues for celebrating a sacrifice? Through Duryodhana's fault, O best of ascetics, the kings of the Earth have met with destruction, and we have reaped ignominy. For wealth
[paragraph continues] Duryodhana hath wasted the Earth; and the treasury of that wicked-minded son of Dhritarashtra is empty. (In this sacrifice), the Earth is the Dakshina; this is the rule that is prescribed in the first instance. The usual reversal of this rule, though sanctioned, is observed, by the learned as such. Nor, O ascetic, do I like to have a substitute (for this process). In this matter, O reverend sir, it behoveth thee to favour me with thy counsel'. Thus addressed by Pritha's son, Krishna Dwaipayana, reflecting for a while, spoke unto the righteous king,--'This treasury, (now) exhausted, shall be full. O son of Pritha, in the mountain Himavat (The Himalayas) there is gold which had been left behind by Brahmanas at the sacrifice of the high-souled Marutta.' 1 Yudhishthira asked, 'How in that sacrifice celebrated by Marutta was so much gold amassed? And, O foremost of speakers, when did he reign?' Vyasa said 'If, O Pritha's son, thou art anxious to hear concerning that king sprung from the Karandhama race, then listen to me as I tell thee when that highly powerful monarch possessed of immense wealth reigned.'"
3:1 i.e., human sacrifice. From this it appears that the sacrifice of human beings was in vogue at the time.
4:1 King Marutta celebrated a sacrifice in the Himalayas, bestowing gold on Brahmanas. Not being able to carry the entire quantity, they had carried as much as they could, throwing away the remainder.
Next: Section IV