The Mahabharata Home
"Brahmana said, 'Duly studying thus to the best of his power, in the way described above, and likewise living as a Brahmacharin, one that is devoted to the duties of one's own order, possessed of learning, observant of penances, and with all the senses under restraint, devoted to what is agreeable and beneficial to the preceptor, steady in practising the duty of truth, and always pure, should, with the permission of the preceptor, eat one's food without decrying it. He should eat Havishya made from what is obtained in alms, and should stand, sit, and take exercise (as directed). 1 He should pour libations on the fire twice a day, having purified himself and with concentrated mind. He should always bear a staff made of Vilwa or Palasa. 2 The robes of the regenerate man should be linen, or of cotton, or deer-skin, or a cloth that is entirely brown-red. There should also be a girdle made of Munja-grass. He should bear matted locks on head, and should perform his ablutions every day. He should bear the sacred thread, study the scriptures, divest himself of cupidity, and be steady in the observance of vows. He should also gratify the deities with oblations of pure water, his mind being restrained the while. Such a Brahmacharin is worthy of applause. With vital seed drawn up and mind concentrated, one that is thus devoted succeeds in conquering Heaven. Having attained to the highest seat, he has not to return to birth. Cleansed by all purificatory rites and having lived as a Brahmacharin, one should next go out of one's village and next live as an ascetic in the woods, having renounced (all attachments). Clad in animal skins or barks of trees he should perform his ablutions morning and evening. Always living within the forest, he should never return to an inhabited place. Honouring guests when they come, he should give them shelter, and himself subsist upon fruits and leaves and common roots, and Syamaka. He should, without being slothful subsist on such water as he gets, and air, and all forest products. He should live upon these, in due order, according to the regulations of his initiation. 3 He should honour the guest that comes to him with alms of fruits and roots. He should then, without sloth, always give whatever other food he may have. Restraining speech the while, he should eat after gratifying deities and guests. His mind should be free from envy. He should eat little, and depend always on the deities. Self-restrained, practising universal compassion, and possessed of forgiveness, he should wear both beard and hair (without submitting to the operations of the barber). Performing sacrifices and devoting himself to the study of the scriptures, he should be steady in the observance of the duty of
truth. With body always in a state of purity, endued with cleverness, ever dwelling in the forest, with concentrated mind, and senses in subjection, a forest-recluse, thus devoting himself, would conquer Heaven. A householder, or Brahmacharin, or forest-recluse, who would wish to achieve Emancipation, should have recourse to that which has been called the best course of conduct. Having granted unto all creatures the pledge of utter abstention from harm, he should thoroughly renounce all action. He should contribute to the happiness of all creatures, practise universal friendliness, subjugate all his senses, and be an ascetic. Subsisting upon food obtained without asking and without trouble, and that has come to him spontaneously, he should make a fire. He should make his round of mendicancy in a place whence smoke has ceased to curl up and where all the inhabitants have already eaten. 1 The person who is conversant with the conduct that leads to Emancipation should seek for alms after the vessels (used in cooking) have been washed. He should never rejoice when he obtains anything, and never be depressed if he obtains nothing. Seeking just what is needed for supporting life, he should, with concentrated mind, go about his round of mendicancy, waiting for the proper time. He should not wish for earnings in common with others, nor eat when honoured. The man who leads the life of mendicancy should conceal himself for avoiding gifts with honour. While eating, he should not eat such food as forms the remains of another's dish, nor such as is bitter, or astringent, or pungent. He should not also eat such kinds of food as have a sweet taste. He should eat only so much as is needed to keep him alive. The person conversant with Emancipation should obtain his subsistence without obstructing any creature. In his rounds of mendicancy he should never follow another (bent on the same purpose). He should never parade his piety; he should move about in a secluded place, freed from passion. Either an empty house, or a forest, or the foot of some tree, or a river, or a mountain-cave, he should have recourse to for shelter. In summer he should pass only one night in an inhabited place; in the season of rains he may live in one place. He should move about the world like a worm, his path pointed out by the Sun. From compassion for creatures, he should walk on the Earth with his eyes directed towards it. He should never make any accumulations and should avoid residence with friends. The man conversant with Emancipation should every day do all his acts with pure water. Such a man should always perform his ablutions with water that has been fetched up (from the river or the tank). 2 Abstention from harm, Brahmacharyya, truth, simplicity, freedom from wrath, freedom from decrying others, self-restraint, and habitual freedom from backbiting: these eight vows, with senses restrained, he should steadily pursue. He should always practise a sinless mode of conduct, that is not deceptive and not crooked. Freed from attachment, he should always make one who comes as a guest eat
[paragraph continues] (at least) a morsel of food. He should eat just enough for livelihood, for the support of life. He should eat only such food as has been obtained by righteous means, and should not pursue the dictates of desire. He should never accept any other thing than food and clothing only. He should, again, accept only as much as he can eat and nothing more. He should not be induced to accept gifts from others, nor should he make gifts to others. Owing to the helplessness of creatures, the man of wisdom should always share with others. He should not appropriate what belongs to others, nor should he take anything without being asked. He should not, having enjoyed anything become so attached to it as to desire to have it once more. One should take only earth and water and pebbles and leaves and flowers and fruits, that are not owned by any body, as they come, when one desires to do any act. One should not live by the occupation of an artisan, nor should one covet gold. One should not hate, nor teach (one that does not seek to be taught); nor should one have any belongings. One should eat only what is consecrated by faith. One should abstain from controversies. One should follow that course of conduct which has been said to be nectarine. One should never be attached to anything, and should never enter into relations of intimacy with any creature. One should not perform, nor cause to perform, any such action as involves expectation of fruit or destruction of life or the hoarding of wealth or articles. Rejecting all objects, content with a very little, one should wander about (homeless) pursuing an equal behaviour towards all creatures mobile and immobile. One should never annoy another being; not should one be annoyed with another. He who is trusted by all creatures is regarded as the foremost of those persons that understand Emancipation. One should not think of the past, nor feel anxious about the future. One should disregard the present, biding time, with concentrated mind. 1 One should never defile anything by eye, mind, or speech. Nor should one do anything that is wrong, openly or in secret. Withdrawing one's senses like the tortoise withdrawing its limbs, one should attenuate one's senses and mind, cultivate a thoroughly peaceful understanding, and seek to master every topic. Freed from all pairs of opposites, never bending one's head in reverence, abstaining from the rites requiring the utterance of Swaha, one should be free from mineness, and egoism. With cleansed soul, one should never seek to acquire what one has not and protect what one has. Free from expectations, divested of qualities, wedded to tranquillity, one should be free from all attachments and should depend on none. Attached to one's own self and comprehending all topics, one becomes emancipated without doubt. Those who perceive the self, which is without hands and feet and back, which is without head and without stomach, which is free from the operation of all qualities, which is absolute, untainted, and stable, which is without smell, without taste, and touch, without colour, and without sound, which is to be comprehended (by close study), which is unattached, which is without flesh, which is free from anxiety, unfading, and divine, and, lastly, which though
dwelling in a house resides in all creatures, succeed in escaping death. There the understanding reaches not, nor the senses, nor the deities, nor the Vedas, nor sacrifices, nor the regions (of superior bliss), nor penance, nor vows. The attainment to it by those who are possessed of knowledge is said to be without comprehension of symbols. Hence, the man who knows the properties of that which is destitute of symbols, should practise the truths of piety. 1 The learned man, betaking himself to a life of domesticity, should adopt that conduct which is conformable to true knowledge. Though undeluded, he should practise piety after the manner of one that is deluded, without finding fault with it. Without finding fault with the practices of the good, he should himself adopt such a conduct for practising piety as may induce others to always disrespect him. That man who is endued with such a conduct is said to be the foremost of ascetics. The senses, the objects of the senses, the (five) great elements, mind, understanding, egoism, the unmanifest, Purusha also, after comprehending these duly with the aid of correct inferences, one attains to Heaven, released from all bonds. One conversant with the truth, understanding these at the time of the termination of his life, should meditate, exclusively resting on one point. Then, depending on none, one attains to Emancipation. Freed from all attachments, like the wind in space, with his accumulations exhausted, without distress of any kind, he attains to his highest goal.'"
78:1 Havishya is food cooked in a particular way and offered to the deities. It must be free from meat. There may be milk or ghee in it, but the cooking must be done in a single pot or vessel continuously; no change of vessels is allowed.
78:2 Vilwa is the Ægle marmelos, and Palasa is the Butea frondosa of Roxburgh.
78:3 At first he should live on fruits and roots and leaves, etc. Next on water, and then on air. There are different sects of forests recluses. The course of life is settled at the time of the initiatory rites.
79:1 What is stated here is this. The Sannyasin should not ask for alms: or, if he ever seeks for aims, he should seek them in a village or house where the cooking has been already done and where every one has already eaten. This limitation is provided as otherwise the Sannyasin may be fed to his fill by the householder who sees him.
79:2 He should never plunge into a stream or lake or tank for bathing.
80:1 Kalakankhi implies, probably 'simply biding time', i.e., allowing time to pass indifferently over him.
Next: Section XLVII