(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Yayati said, 'I am Yayati, the son of Nahusha and the father of Puru. Cast off from the region of the celestials and of Siddhas and Rishis for having disregarded every creature, I am falling down, my righteousness having sustained diminution. In years I am older than you; therefore, I have not saluted you first. Indeed, the Brahmanas always reverence him who is older in years or superior in learning or in ascetic merit.'
"Ashtaka then replied, 'Thou sayest, O monarch, that he who is older in years is worthy of regard. But it is said that he is truly worthy of worship who is superior in learning and ascetic merit.'
"Yayati replied to this, 'It is said that sin destroyeth the merits of four virtuous acts. Vanity containeth the element of that which leadeth to hell. The virtuous never follow in the footsteps of the vicious. They act in such a way that their religious merit always increaseth. I myself had great religious merit, but all that, however, is gone. I will scarcely be able to regain it even by my best exertions. Beholding my fate, he that is bent upon (achieving) his own good, will certainly suppress vanity. He who having acquired great wealth performeth meritorious sacrifices, who having acquired all kinds of learning remaineth humble, and who having studied the entire Vedas devoteth himself to asceticism with a heart withdrawn from all mundane enjoyments, goeth to heaven. None should exult in having acquired great wealth. None should be vain of having studied the entire Vedas. In the world men are of different dispositions. Destiny is supreme. Both power and exertion are all fruitless. Knowing Destiny to be all-powerful, the wise, whatever their portions may be, should neither exult nor grieve. When creatures know that their weal and woe are dependent on Destiny and not on their own exertion or power, they should neither grieve nor exult, remembering that Destiny is all powerful. The wise should ever live contented, neither grieving at woe nor exulting at weal. When Destiny is supreme, both grief and exultation are unbecoming. O Ashtaka, I never suffer myself to be overcome by fear, nor do I ever entertain grief, knowing for certain that I shall be in the world what the great disposer of all hath ordained. Insects and worms, all oviparous creatures, vegetable existences, all crawling animals, vermin, the fish in the water, stones, grass, wood--in fact, all created things, when they are freed from the effects of their acts, are united with the Supreme Soul. Happiness and misery are both transient. Therefore, O Ashtaka, why should I grieve? We can never know how we are to act in order to avoid misery. Therefore, none should grieve for misery.'
"Possessed of every virtue, king Yayati who was the maternal grandfather of Ashtaka, while staying in the welkin, at the conclusion of his
speech, was again questioned by Ashtaka. The latter said, 'O king of kings, tell me, in detail, of all those regions that thou hast visited and enjoyed, as well as the period for which thou hast enjoyed each. Thou speakest of the precepts of religion even like the clever masters acquainted with the acts and sayings of great beings!' Yayati replied, 'I was a great king on Earth, owning the whole world for my dominion. Leaving it, I acquired by dint of religious merit many high regions. There I dwelt for a full thousand years, and then I attained to a very high region the abode of Indra, of extraordinary beauty having a thousand gates, and extending over a hundred yojanas all round. There too, I dwelt a full thousand years and then attained to a higher region still. That is the region of perfect beatitude, where decay never exists, the region, viz., that of the Creator and the Lord of Earth, so difficult of attainment. There also I dwelt for a full thousand years, and then attained to another very high region viz., that of the god of gods (Vishnu) where, too, I had lived in happiness. Indeed, I dwelt in various regions, adored by all the celestials, and possessed of prowess and splendour equal unto those of the celestials themselves. Capable of assuming any form at will, I lived for a million years in the gardens of Nandana sporting with the Apsaras and beholding numberless beautiful trees clad in flowery vesture and sending forth delicious perfume all round. And after many, many years had elapsed, while still residing there in enjoyment of perfect beatitude, the celestial messenger of grim visage, one day, in a loud and deep voice, thrice shouted to me--Ruined! Ruined! Ruined!--O lion among kings, this much do I remember. I was then fallen from Nandana, my religious merits gone! I heard in the skies, O king, the voices of the celestials exclaiming in grief,--Alas! What a misfortune! Yayati, with his religious merits destroyed, though virtuous and of sacred deeds, is falling!--And as I was falling, I asked them loudly, 'Where, ye celestials, are those wise ones amongst whom I am to fall?' They pointed out to me this sacred sacrificial region belonging to you. Beholding the curls of smoke blackening the atmosphere and smelling the perfume of clarified butter poured incessantly upon fire, and guided thereby, I am approaching this region of yours, glad at heart that I come amongst you.'"