"Yudhishthira said, 'Do thou tell us, O slayer of Madhu, what the prosperity is that attaches to the worship of the Brahmanas. Thou art well-conversant with this topic. Verily, our grandsire knows thee.'
"Vasudeva said, 'Hear, O king, with rapt attention to me, O chief of Bharata's race, as I recite to thee what the merits of the Brahmanas are, in accordance with truth, O foremost one of Kuru's race! Once on a time while I was seated at Dwaravati, O delighter of the Kurus, my son Pradyumna, enraged by certain Brahmanas, came to me and said, 'O slayer of Madhu, what merit attaches to the worship of the Brahmanas? Whence is their lordship derived both here and hereafter? O giver of honours, what rewards are won by constantly Worshipping the Brahmanas? Do thou kindly explain this clearly to me, for my mind is disturbed by doubts in respect of this.' When these words were addressed to me by Pradyumna, I answered him as follows, Do thou hear, O king, with close attention, what those words were, 'O child of Rukmin, listen to me as I tell thee what the prosperity is that one may win by worshipping the Brahmanas. When one sets oneself to the acquisition of the well-known aggregate of three (viz., Righteousness, Wealth, and Pleasure), or to the achievement of Emancipation, or to that of fame and prosperity, or to the treatment and cure of disease, or to the worship of the deities and the Pitris, one should take care to gratify the regenerate ones. They are each a king Soma (that sheds such agreeable light in the firmament.) They are dispensers of happiness and misery. O child of Rukmini, whether in this or in the next world, O son, everything agreeable has its origin in the Brahmanas. I have no doubt in this! From the worship of the Brahmanas flow mighty achievements and fame and strength. The denizens of all the worlds, and the Regents of the universe, are all worshippers of Brahmanas. How then, O son, can we disregard them, filled with the idea that we are lords of the earth? O mighty-armed one, do not suffer thy wrath to embrace the Brahmanas as its object. In this as also in the
next world, Brahmanas are regarded as beings. They have direct knowledge of everything in the universe. Verily, they are capable of reducing everything into ashes, if angry. They are capable of creating other worlds and other Regents of worlds (than those that exist). Why then should not persons who are possessed of energy and correct knowledge behave with obedience and respect towards them? Formerly, in my house, O son, dwelt the Brahmana Durvasa whose complexion was green and tawny. Clad in rags, he had a stick made of the Vilwa tree. 1 His beard was long and he was exceedingly emaciated. He was taller in stature than the tallest man on earth. Wandering over all the worlds, viz., that which belongs to human beings and those that are for the deities and other superior beings, even this was the verse which he sang constantly among assemblies and in public squares. 'Who is there that would cause the Brahmana Durvasa to dwell in his house, doing the duties of hospitality towards him? He becomes enraged with every one if he finds even the slightest transgression? Hearing this regarding my disposition, who is there that will give me refuge? Indeed, he that would give me shelter as a guest should not do anything to anger me!' When I saw that no one ventured to give him shelter in his house. I invited him and caused him to take up his residence in my abode. On certain days he would eat the food sufficient for the needs of thousands of persons. On certain other days he would eat very little. On some days he would go out of my house and would not return. He would sometimes laugh without any ostensible reason and sometimes cry as causelessly. At that time there was nobody on earth that was equal to him in years. One day, entering the quarters assigned to him he burnt all the beds and coverlets and all the well-adorned damsels that were there for serving him. Doing this, he went out. Of highly praiseworthy vows, he met me shortly after this and addressing me, said, 'O Krishna, I wish to eat frumenty without delay!' Having understood his mind previously, I had set my servants to prepare every kind of food and drink. Indeed, many excellent viands had been kept ready. As soon as I was asked, I caused hot frumenty to be brought and offered to the ascetic. Having eaten some, he quickly said unto me, 'Do thou, O Krishna, take some of this frumenty and smear all thy limbs with it!' Without any scruple I did as directed. Indeed, with the remnant of that frumenty I smeared my body and head. The ascetic at that time saw thy mother of sweet face standing near. Laughing the while, he smeared her body also with that frumenty. The ascetic then caused thy mother, whose body was smeared over with frumenty, to be yoked unto a car without any delay. Ascending that car he set out of my house. Endued with great intelligence, that Brahmana blazed with effulgence like fire, and struck, in my presence,
my Rukmini endued with youth, as if she were an animal destined to drag the cars of human beings. Beholding this, I did not feel the slightest grief born of malice or the desire to injure the Rishi. Indeed, having yoked Rukmini to the car, he went out, desirous of proceeding along the high road of the city. Seeing that extraordinary sight, some Dasarhas, filled with wrath, addressed one another and began to converse in this way, 'Who else is there on earth that would draw breath after having yoked Rukmini to a car! Verily, let the world be filled with Brahmanas only! Let no other orders take birth here. The poison of a virulent snake is exceedingly keen. Keener than poison is a Brahmana. There is no physician for a person that has been bitten or burnt by the virulent snake of a Brahmana, 'As the irresistible Durvasa proceeded on the car, Rukmini tottered on the road and frequently fell down. At this the regenerate Rishi became angry and began to urge Rukmini on by striking her with the whip. At last, filled with a towering passion, the Brahmana leapt down from the car, and fled towards the south, running on foot, over a pathless ground. Beholding that foremost of Brahmanas flying along the pathless ground, we followed him, although we were smeared with frumenty, exclaiming behind him, 'Be gratified with us, O holy one! Endued with great energy, the Brahmana, seeing me, said, 'O mighty-armed Krishna, thou hast subdued wrath by the strength of thy nature? O thou of excellent vows, I have not found the slightest fault in thee! O Govinda, I have been highly gratified with thee. Do thou solicit the fruition of such wishes as thou pleasest! Behold duly, O son, what the puissance is of myself when I become gratified with any one. As long as deities and human beings will continue to entertain a liking for food, so long will every one among them cherish the same liking for thee that they cherish for their food! As long, again, as there will be Righteousness in the several world, so long will the fame of thy achievements last! Indeed, thy distinction will last so long in the three worlds! O Janardana, agreeable thou shalt be to all persons! Whatever articles of thine have been broken or burnt or otherwise destroyed (by me), thou shalt see restored, O Janardana, to their former state or they will reappear even in a better form! As long, again, O thou of unfading glory, as thou wilt wish to live, so long wilt thou have no fear of death assailing thee through such parts of thy body as have been smeared with the frumenty I gave thee! O son, why didst thou not smear that frumenty on the soles of thy feet as well? By not doing it, thou have acted in a way that is not approved by me! Even these were the words that he said, well-pleased with me on that occasion. After he had ceased speaking, I saw that my body became endued with great beauty and splendour. Unto Rukmini also, the Rishi, well-pleased with her, said, 'O beautiful lady, thou shalt be the foremost one of thy sex in fame, and great glory and achievements will be thine. Decrepitude or disease or loss of complexion
will never be thine! Every one will see thee engaged in waiting upon Krishna, possessed as thou already art with a fragrant odour which is always present in thee. Thou shalt become the foremost of all spouses, numbering sixteen thousand, O Kesava. At last, when the time comes for thy departure from the world, thou shalt attain to the inseparable companionship of Krishna hereafter!' Having said these words unto thy mother, the Rishi once more addressed me and uttering following words, left the spot. Indeed, the Rishi Durvasa, blazing like a fire, said, 'O Kesava, let thy understanding be always disposed even thus towards the Brahmana!' Verily after uttering these words, that Brahmana disappeared there and then before my eyes. After his disappearance I took to the observance of the vow of uttering certain Mantras silently without being heard by anybody. Verily, from that day I resolved to accomplish whatever behests I should receive from the Brahmanas. Having adopted this vow, O son, along with thy mother, both of us, with hearts filled with joy re-entered our palace, Entering our house I saw that everything which the Rishi had broken or burnt had reappeared and become new. Beholding those new articles, which had besides become more durable, I became filled with wonder. Verily, O son of Rukmini, from that day forth I have always worshipped the Brahmanas in my mind! Even this, O chief of Bharata's race, is what I said on that occasion regarding the greatness of those Brahmanas who are the foremost of their order. Do thou also, O son of Kunti, worship the highly blessed Brahmanas every day with gifts of wealth and kine, O puissant one! It was in this way that I acquired the prosperity I enjoy, the prosperity that is born of the grace of Brahmanas. Whatever, again, Bhishma has said of me, O chief of the Bharatas, is all true!'"
373:1 Eagle marmelos, Linn.