The Mahabharata Home
"The Rishis said,--'Which among the duties is deemed to be the most worthy of being performed? The diverse modes of duty, we see, are contradictory.
[paragraph continues] Some say that (it remains) after the body (is destroyed). Others say that it does not exist. Some say that everything is doubtful. Others have no doubts. 1 Some say that the eternal (principle) is not eternal. Some say that it exists, and some that it exists not. Some say it is of one form, or two-fold, and others that it is mixed. Some Brahmanas who are conversant with Brahman and utterers of truth regard it to be one. Others, that it is distinct; and others again that it is manifold. Some say that both time and space exist; others, that it is not so. Some bear matted locks on their heads and are clad in deer-skins. Others have shaven crowns and go entirely naked. Some are for entire abstention from bathing, and some for bathing. Such differences of views may be seen among deities and Brahmanas conversant with Brahman and endued with perceptions of truth. Some are for taking food; while some are devoted to fasts. Some applaud action; others applaud perfect tranquillity. Some applaud Emancipation; some, various kinds of enjoyments. Some desire diverse kinds of wealth; some, poverty. Some say that means should be resorted to; others, that this is not so. Some are devoted to a life of abstention from harm; others are addicted to destruction. Some are for merit and glory, others say that this is not so. Some are devoted to goodness; others are established on doubt. Some are for pleasure; some are for pain. Other people say that it is meditation. Other learned Brahmanas say that it is Sacrifice. Others, again, say that it is gift. Others applaud penances; others, the study of the scriptures. Some say that knowledge and renunciation (should be followed). Others who ponder on the elements say that it is Nature. Some extol everything; others, nothing. O foremost one of the deities, duty being thus confused and full of contradictions of various kinds, we are deluded and unable to come to any conclusion. People stand up for acting, saying,--This is good,--This is good--He that is attached to a certain duty applauds that duty as the best. For this reason our understanding breaks down and our mind is distracted. We therefore, wish, O best of all beings, to know what is good. It behoves thee to declare to us, after this, what is (so) mysterious, and what is the cause of the connection between the Kshetrajna and Nature. Thus addressed by those learned Brahmanas, the illustrious creator of the worlds, endued with great intelligence and possessed of a righteous soul, declared to them accurately what they asked.'"
84:1 The doubts appertain to duties, that is whether they should be done or not, and whether they have any effects here and hereafter.
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