BY: SUN STAFF
Kunti leads Dhritarashtra and Gandhar to the Forest
Ashramavasika Parva, c. 1598
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (published between 1883 and 1896)
Apr 15, 2012 CANADA (SUN)
Book 14 - Aswamedha Parva, Anugita Parva - Section 87, Part Two.
The father-in-law said, 'O thou of excellent vows and conduct, beholding thee wasted by wind and sun, deprived of thy very complexion, emaciated and almost destitute of consciousness through hunger, how can I be such a transgressor against the rules of righteousness as to take thy share of the barley?
O auspicious damsel, it behoves thee not to say so, for the sake of those auspicious results for which every family must strive. O auspicious damsel, how can I behold thee: at even this, the sixth division of the day, abstaining from food and observing vows? Thou art endued with purity and good conduct and penances. Alas, even thou hast to pass thy days in so much misery. Thou art a child, afflicted by hunger, and belongest to the softer sex. Thou shouldst be always protected by me. Alas, I have to see thee worn out with fasts, O thou that art the delighter of all thy kinsmen.'
The daughter-in-law said, 'Thou art the senior of my senior since thou art the deity of my deity. Thou art verily the god of my god. Do thou, therefore, O puissant one, take my share of the barley. My body, life-breaths, and religious rites have all one purpose viz., the service of my senior. Through thy grace, O learned Brahmana, I shall obtain many regions of happiness hereafter. I deserve to be looked after by thee. Know, O regenerate one, that I am wholly devoted to thee. Cherishing also this thought, viz., that my happiness is thy concern, it behoveth thee to take this my share of the barley.'
The father-in-law said, 'O chaste lady, in consequence of such conduct of thine thou wilt for ever shine in glory, for endued with vows and steadiness in religious rites, thy eyes are directed to that conduct which should be observed towards seniors. Therefore, O daughter-in-law, I shall take thy share of the barley. Thou deservest not to be deceived by me, reckoning all thy virtues. Thou art truly, O blessed damsel, the foremost of all persons observing the duties of righteousness.' Having said so unto her, the Brahmana took her share of the barley and gave it unto his guest. At this the guest became gratified with the high-souled Brahmana endued with great piety.
With gratified soul, that first of regenerate person, possessed of great eloquence, who was none else than the deity of Righteousness in a human form, then addressed that foremost of Brahmanas and said, 'O best of regenerate ones, I am exceedingly gratified with this pure gift of thine, this gift of what was acquired by lawful means by thee, and which thou didst freely part with, agreeably to the rules of righteousness. Verily, this gift of thine is being bruited about in Heaven by the denizens of that happy region. Behold, flowers have been rained down from the firmament on the Earth. The celestial Rishis, the deities, the Gandharvas, those who walk before the deities, and the celestial messengers, are all praising thee, struck with wonder at thy gift. The regenerate Rishis who dwell in the regions of Brahma, seated on their cars, are solicitous of obtaining thy sight. O foremost of regenerate persons, go to Heaven. The Pitris residing in their own region have all been rescued by thee.
Others also who have not attained to the position of Pitris have equally been rescued by thee for countless Yugas. For thy Brahmacharyya, thy gifts, thy sacrifices, thy penances, and thy acts of piety done with a pure heart, go thou to Heaven. O thou of excellent vows, thou practisest penances with great devotion. Thy gifts have, therefore, gratified the deities highly, O best of regenerate ones. Since thou hast made this gift, in a season of great difficulty, with a pure heart, thou hast, by this act of thine, conquered Heaven. Hunger destroys one's wisdom and drives off one's righteous understanding. One whose intelligence is overwhelmed by hunger casts off all fortitude.
He, therefore, that conquers hunger conquers Heaven without doubt. One's righteousness is never destroyed as long as one cherishes the inclination of making gifts. Disregarding filial affection, disregarding the affection one feels for one's wife, and reckoning righteousness as the foremost, thou hast paid no heed to the cravings of nature. The acquisition of wealth is an act of slight merit. Its gift to a deserving person is fraught with greater merit. Of still greater merit is the (proper) time. Lastly, devotion (in the matter of gift) is fraught with the highest merit. The door of Heaven is very difficult to see. Through heedlessness men fail to obtain a sight of it. The bar of Heaven's door has cupidity for its seed. That bar is kept fastened by desire and affection. Verily, Heaven's door is unapproachable.
Those men who subdued wrath and conquered their passions, those Brahmanas who are endued with penances and who make gifts according to the measure of their ability, succeed in beholding it. It has been said that he that gives away a hundred, having a thousand, he that gives away ten, having a hundred, and he that gives a handful of water, having no wealth, are all equal in respect of the merit they earn. King Rantideva, when divested of all his wealth, gave a small quantity of water with a pure heart. Through this gift, O learned Brahmana, he went to Heaven. The deity of righteousness is never gratified so much with large gifts of costly things as with gifts of even things of no value, if acquired lawfully and given away with devotion and faith. King Nriga had made gifts of thousands of kine unto the regenerate class. By giving away only one cow that did not belong to him, he fell into Hell. Usinara's son Sivi of excellent vows, by giving away the flesh of his own body, is rejoicing in Heaven, having attained to the regions of the righteous. Mere wealth is not merit. Good men acquire merit by exerting to the best of their power and with the aid of pious meals. One does not acquire such merit by means of even diverse sacrifices as with even a little wealth that has been earned lawfully.
Through wrath, the fruits of gifts are destroyed. Through cupidity one fails to go to Heaven. One conversant with the merits of gift, and leading a just course of conduct succeeds, through penances, in enjoying Heaven. The fruit, O Brahmana, of this gift made by thee (of a prastha of powdered barley) is much greater than what one acquires by many Rajasuya sacrifices with profuse gifts or many Horse-sacrifices. With this prastha of powdered barley thou hast conquered the eternal region of Brahman. Go thou in happiness, O learned Brahmana, to the abode of Brahman that is without the stain of darkness. O foremost of regenerate persons, a celestial car is here for all of you. Do thou ascend it as pleasest thee, O Brahmana, I am the deity of Righteousness. Behold me!
Thou hast rescued thy body. The fame of thy achievement will last in the world. With thy wife, thy son, and thy daughter-in-law, go now to Heaven.'--After the deity of Righteousness had said these words, that Brahmana, with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, proceeded to Heaven. After that learned Brahmana, conversant with all duties, had thus ascended to Heaven with his son, daughter-in-law, and wife numbering the fourth, I came out of my hole. There with the scent of that powdered barley, with the mire caused by the water (which the Brahmana had given to his guest), with the contact (of my body) with the celestial flowers that had been rained down, with the particles of the barley-powder which that good man had given away, and the penances of that Brahmana, my head became gold, Behold, in consequence of the gift of that Brahmana who was firm in truth, and his penances, half of this my ample body has become golden. Ye regenerate ones, for converting the rest of my body into gold I repeatedly repair, with a cheerful heart, to the retreats of ascetics and the sacrifices performed by kings.
Hearing of this sacrifice of the Kuru king endued with great wisdom, I came hither with high hopes. I have not, however, been made gold. Ye foremost of Brahmanas, it was for this that I uttered those words, viz., that this sacrifice can by no means compare with (the gift of) that prastha of powdered barley. With the grains of that prastha of powdered barley, I was made gold on that occasion. This great sacrifice however, is not equal to those grains. Even this is my opinion.' Having said those words unto all those foremost of Brahmanas, the mongoose disappeared from their sight. Those Brahmanas then returned to their respective homes.'
Vaisampayana continued, 'O conquerer of hostile towns, I have now told thee all relating to that wonderful incident which occurred in that great Horse-sacrifice. Thou shouldst not, O king, think highly of sacrifice. Millions of Rishis have ascended to Heaven with the aid of only their penances. Abstention from injury as regards all creatures, contentment, conduct, sincerity, penances, self-restraint, truthfulness, and gifts are each equal in point of merit to sacrifice."'
Thus ends section 87, Part Two of the Anugita Parva, Aswamedha Parva of Sri Mahabharata.