"Dhritarashtra said, 'O thou of great intelligence, tell me again words such as these, consistent with religion and profit. My thirst for hearing them is not quenched. What thou sayst is charming!"
"Vidura said, 'Ablution in all the holy places and kindness to all creatures,--these two are equal. Perhaps, kindness to all creatures surpasseth the former. O master, show kindness unto all thy sons, for by that winning great fame in this world, thou wilt have heaven hereafter. As long as a man's good deeds are spoken of in this world, so long, O tiger among men, is he glorified in heaven. In this connection is cited an old story about the conversation between Virochana and Sudhanwan, both suitors for Kesini's hand. Once on a time, O king, there was a maiden of the name of Kesini, unrivalled for beauty; moved by the desire of obtaining a good husband, she resolved to choose her lord in Swayamvara. Then one of the sons of Diti, Virochana by name, went to that spot, desirous of obtaining the maiden. Beholding that chief of the Daityas, Kesini addressed him, saying, 'Are Brahmanas superior, O Virochana, or are the sons of Diti superior? And why also should not Sudhanwan sit on the sofa?' Virochana said, 'Sprung from Prajapati himself, we, O Kesini, are the best and at the top of all creatures, and this world is ours without doubt. Who are the gods, and who are the Brahmanas?' Kesini said, 'We will, O Virochana, stay here in this very pavilion. Sudhanwan will come here on the morrow, and let me see both of you sitting together.' Virochana said, 'O amiable and timid girl, I will do what thou sayst. Thou wilt behold Sudhanwan and myself met together in the morning.'
"Vidura continued, 'When the night had passed away and the solar disc had risen, Sudhanwan, O best of kings, came to that place where, O master, Virochana was waiting with Kesini. And Sudhanwan saw there both Prahlada's son and Kesini. And beholding the Brahmana arrived, Kesini, O bull of the Bharata race, rising up from hers, offered him a seat, water to wash his feet, and Arghya. And asked by Virochana (to share his seat) Sudhanwan said, 'O son of Prahlada, I touch thy excellent golden seat. I cannot, however, suffer myself to be regarded as thy equal, and sit on it with thee.' Virochana said, 'A piece of wooden plank, an animal skin, or a mat of grass or straw,--these only, O Sudhanwan, are fit for thee. Thou deservest not, however, the same seat with me.' Sudhanwan said, 'Father and son. Brahmanas of the same age and equal learning, two Kshatriyas, two Vaisyas and two Sudras, can sit together on the same seat, Except these, no other can sit together. Your father used to pay his regards to me, taking a seat lower than that occupied by me. Thou art a child, brought tip in every luxury at home and thou understandest nothing.' Virochana said, 'Staking all the gold, kine, horses, and every other kind of wealth that we have among the
[paragraph continues] Asuras, let us, O Sudhanwan, ask them this question that are able to answer.' Sudhanwan said, 'Let alone your gold, kine, and heroes, O Virochana? Making our lives forfeited, we will ask them this question that are competent.' Virochana said, 'Wagering our lives where shall we go? I will not appear before any of the gods and never before any among men.' Sudhanwan said, 'Having wagered our lives, we will approach thy father, for he, Prahlada, will never say an untruth even for the sake of his son.'
"Vidura continued, 'Having thus laid a wager, Virochana and Sudhanwan, both moved by rage, proceeded to that place where Prahlada was. And beholding them together, Prahlada said, 'These two who had never before been companions, are now seen together coming hither by the same road, like two angry snakes. Have ye now become companions,--ye who were never companions before? I ask thee, O Virochana, has there been friendship between thee and Sudhanwan?' Virochana said, 'There is no friendship between me and Sudhanwan. On the other hand, we have both wagered our lives. O chief of the Asuras, I shall ask thee a question, do not answer it untruly!' Prahlada said, 'Let water, and honey and curds, be brought for Sudhanwan. Thou deservest our worship, O Brahmana. A white and fat cow is ready for thee.' Sudhanwan said, 'Water and honey and curds, have been presented to me on my way hither. I shall ask thee a question. Prahlada, answer it truly! are Brahmanas superior, or is Virochana superior?' Prahlada said, O Brahmana, this one is my only son. Thou also art present here in person. How can one like us answer a question about which ye two have quarrelled? Sudhanwan said, 'Give unto thy son thy kine and other precious wealth that thou mayst have, but, O wise one, thou shouldst declare the truth when we two are disputing about it.' Prahlada said, 'How doth that misuser of his tongue suffer, O Sudhanwan, who answereth not truly but falsely, a question that is put to him? I ask thee this.' Sudhanwan said, 'The person that misuseth his tongue suffers like the deserted wife, who pineth, at night, beholding her husband sleeping in the arms of a co-wife; like a person who hath lost at dice, or who is weighed down with an unbearable load of anxieties. Such a man hath also to stay, starving outside the citygates, into which his admission is barred. Indeed, he that giveth false evidence is destined to always find his foes. He that speaketh a lie on account of an animal, casteth down from heaven five of his sires of the ascending order. He that speaketh a lie on account of a cow casteth down from heaven ten of his ancestors. A lie on account of a horse causeth the downfall of a hundred; and a lie on account of a human being, the downfall of a thousand of one's sires of the ascending order. An untruth on account of gold ruineth the members of one's race both born and unborn, while an untruth for the sake of land ruineth everything. Therefore, never speak an untruth for the sake of land.' Prahlada said, 'Angiras is superior to myself, and Sudhanwan is superior to thee, O Virochana. Mother also of Sudhanwan is
superior to thy mother; therefore, thou, O Virochana, hath been defeated by Sudhanwan. This Sudhanwan is now the master of thy life. But, O Sudhanwan, I wish that thou shouldst grant Virochana his life.' Sudhanwan said, 'Since, O Prahlada, thou hast preferred virtue and hast not, from temptation, said an untruth, I grant thy son his life that is dear to thee. So here is thy son Virochana, O Prahlada, restored by me to thee. He shall, however, have to wash my feet in the presence of the maiden Kesini.'
"Vidura continued, 'For these reasons, O king of kings, it behoveth thee not to say an untruth for the sake of land. Saying an untruth from affection for thy son, O king, hasten not to destruction, with all thy children and counsellors. The gods do not protect men, taking up clubs in their hands after the manner of herdsmen; unto those, however, they wish to protect, they grant intelligence. There is no doubt that one's objects meet with success in proportion to the attention he directs to righteousness and morality. The Vedas never rescue from sin a deceitful person living by falsehood. On the other hand, they forsake him while he is on his death-bed, like newly fledged birds forsaking their nests. Drinking, quarrels, enmity with large numbers of men, all connections with connubial disputes, and severance of relationship between husband and wife, internal dissensions, disloyalty to the king,--these and all paths that are sinful, should, it is said, be avoided. A palmist, a thief turned into a merchant, a fowler, a physician, an enemy, a friend, and a minstrel, these seven are incompetent as witness. An Agnihotra performed from motives of pride, abstention from speech, practised from similar motives, study and sacrifice from the same motives,--these four, of themselves innocent, become harmful when practised unduly. One that setteth fire to a dwelling house, an administerer of poison, a pander, a vendor of the Soma-juice, a maker of arrows, an astrologer, one that injureth friends, an adulterer, one that causeth abortion, a violater of his preceptor's bed, a Brahmana addicted to drink, one that is sharp-speeched, a raker of old sores, an atheist, a reviler of the Vedas, and taker of bribes, one whose investiture with the sacred thread has been delayed beyond the prescribed age, one that secretly slayeth cattle, and one that slayeth him who prayeth for protection,--these all are reckoned as equal in moral turpitude as the slayers of Brahmanas. Gold is tested by fire; a well-born person, by his deportment; an honest man, by his conduct. A brave man is tested during a season of panic; he that is self-controlled, in times of poverty; and friends and foes, in times of calamity and danger. Decrepitude destroyeth beauty; ambitious hopes, patience; death, life, envy, righteousness, anger, prosperity, companionship with the low, good behaviour; lust, modesty, and pride, everything. Prosperity taketh its birth in good deeds, groweth in consequence of activity, driveth its roots deep in consequence of skill, and acquireth stability owing to self-control. Wisdom, good lineage, self-control, acquaintance with the scriptures, prowess, absence of garrulity,
gift to the extent of one's power, and grateful ness,--these eight qualities shed a lustre upon their possessor. But, O sire, there is one endowment which alone can cause all these attributes to come together; the fact is, when the king honoureth a particular person, the royal favour can cause all these attributes to shed their lustre (on the favourite). Those eight, O king, in the world of men, are indications of heaven. Of the eight (mentioned below) four are inseparably connected, with the good, and four others are always followed by the good. The first four which are inseparably connected with the good, are sacrifice, gift, study and asceticism, while the other four that are always followed by the good, are self-restraint, truth, simplicity, and abstention from injury to all.
'Sacrifice, study, charity, asceticism, truth, forgiveness, mercy, and contentment constitute the eight different paths of righteousness. The first four of these may be practised from motives of pride, but the last four can exist only in those that are truly noble. That is no assembly where there are no old men, and they are not old who do not declare what morality is. That is not morality which is separated from truth, and that is not truth which is fraught with deceit. Truth, beauty, acquaintance with the scriptures, knowledge, high birth, good behaviour, strength, wealth, bravery, and capacity for varied talk,--these ten are of heavenly origin. A sinful person, by committing sin, is overtaken by evil consequences. A virtuous man, by practising virtue, reapeth great happiness. Therefore, a man, rigidly resolved, should abstain from sin. Sin, repeatedly perpetrated, destroyeth intelligence; and the man who hath lost intelligence, repeatedly committeth sin. Virtue, repeatedly practised, enhanceth intelligence; and the man whose intelligence hath increased, repeatedly practiseth virtue. The virtuous man, by practising virtue, goeth to regions of blessedness. Therefore, a man should, firmly resolved, practise virtue. He that is envious, he that injureth others deeply, he that is cruel, he that constantly quarreleth, he that is deceitful, soon meeteth with great misery for practising these sins. He that is not envious and is possessed of wisdom, by always doing what is good, never meeteth with great misery; on the other hand, he shineth everywhere. He that draweth wisdom from them that are wise is really learned and wise. And he that is wise, by attending to both virtue and profit, succeedeth in attaining to happiness. Do that during the day which may enable thee to pass the night in happiness; and do that during eight months of the year which may enable thee to pass the season of rains happily. Do that during youth which may ensure a happy old age; and do that during thy whole life here which may enable thee to live happily hereafter. The wise prize that food which is easily digested, that wife whose youth hath passed away, that hero who is victorious and that ascetic whose efforts have been crowned with success. The gap that is sought to be filled by wealth acquired wrongfully, remaineth uncovered, while new ones appear in other places. The preceptor controlleth them whose souls are under their own control; the king controlleth persons that are
wicked; while they that sin secretly have their controller in Yama, the son of Vivaswat. The greatness of Rishis, of rivers, of river-banks, of high-souled men, and the cause of woman's wickedness, cannot be ascertained. O king, he that is devoted to the worship of the Brahmanas, he that giveth away, he that behaveth righteously towards his relatives, and the Kshatriya that behaveth nobly, rule the earth for ever. He that is possessed of bravery, he that is possessed of learning, and he that knows how to protect others,--these three are always able to gather flowers of gold from the earth. Of acts, those accomplished by intelligence are first; those accomplished by the arms, second; those by the thighs, and those by bearing weights upon the head, are the very worst. Reposing the care of thy kingdom on Duryodhana, on Sakuni, on foolish Dussasana, and on Karna, how canst thou hope for prosperity? Possessed of every virtue, the Pandavas, O bull of the Bharata race, depend on thee as their father. O, repose thou on them as on thy sons!"